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Title: Just A Kiss
Author/pseudonym: HawkeCrystal
Email address: HawkeCrystal@prodigy.net
Date: 5/05/2000
Disclaimer: Standard, characters not mine, so forth and so on about please don't sue me, I'm in debt up to my eyes as it is
Warnings: angst, depression, darker side of Duo

Authors notes at end

~ ~ = character's thoughts

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A kiss.

Just a kiss. A promise of more to come?

Just a kiss that cut through the nothingness that was enveloping him.

Duo looked down at the welling red line of blood on his left forearm. A sigh escaped his lips.

~I've done it again.~ He shuddered looking at the remnants of other 'kisses', some nothing more than scabbed lines, others fresher, barely closed.

~Why do I keep doing this?~ He dropped the knife on the bed next to him.

He knew why. ~Pain is about the only feeling left. If I can feel the pain, then I know I'm still here, still alive, still existing. Do I want to be? Wouldn't it be better to just end this all?~

Another feeling left to him was fear. Fear at his own actions, fear of his own mental state, fear that he was drowning and no one else knew or cared.

~Not like anyone will miss me if I was gone.~ Then the guilt hit, adding to the pain and fear, intensifying the pain that only the nothingness seemed to ease.

~Quatre would, and Wufei. Can't be the cause of more pain to them. I've hurt Quatre enough with what I've been doing. He knows something is wrong, but I can't tell him. He noticed the cuts. I told him it was from missions or carelessness while doing repairs, but I know he doesn't believe me. Can see it in his eyes. He asked me to come and talk with him, tell him what is wrong. How can I tell him when I don't really understand it myself? He'll probably be up here soon. I'm not down at dinner.~

His thoughts started the same old circle that had been eating at him for weeks. The remorse at the deaths by his hands. The exhaustion of too many missions with no down time. The despair of loving someone that didn't even see him. The fear that he was failing and would fail those he loved. The fear that his love alone would cause their deaths. The fear of being alone, always so alone. The pain that his nightmares and demons of the past inflicted upon him. His feelings of not being worthy of his friends love, and of not being worthy of the one that he loved with all his soul. The stress of keeping up his jester's mask to keep those that he loved from worrying about him. All revolved through his mind, faster and faster in a never ending downward spiral, till his emotions shut down and numbness covered all. That is when he reached again for the knife, setting it against his arm. The physical pain focused his mind as another bloody mark appeared in the path of the blade.

A sound escaped his lips, born of pain and the depression he'd sunk into. He closed his eyes as sobs wracked his thin frame.

*******

Duo was right that Quatre had noticed. For weeks he'd seen his friend hiding behind his mask of jokes. He'd been the one to notice how little Duo ate, how much he avoided sleep, how he overdosed on coffee to keep awake. They'd all noticed the increase in Duo's nightmares when he did sleep. It was hard to miss when his screams woke everyone regularly.

Quatre had privately approached Duo a number of times asking if he was all right. Each time he'd found Duo balled up, sitting with his knees drawn up to his chest, arms curled around them, head resting on his knees and rocking slowly. Duo had just put him off each time, turning everything to a laugh or joke, and Quatre was afraid to press the matter. He didn't want to add anymore to the stress that Duo was under. But Duo's laugh and smile never touched those violet eyes anymore.

Trowa knew Quatre's worries. He'd also noticed the change in Duo. The lovers had discussed the situation and agreed that something had to be done. They planned to tell the others after dinner, lay out all that was going on.

That night when Duo hadn't come down to dinner, again, Quatre spoke up about all he and Trowa had observed. Heero had just looked at him as if he was telling the weather, cobalt blue eyes showing no expression. Wufei had become angry. His anger was somewhat at Duo for not coming to him, but mostly at himself for not noticing how badly his friend was hurting, at his once again failing another that he cared for.

That anger turned upon Heero who had just sat there. When Quatre had asked for suggestions of how to help Duo, how to ease what was eating him, Wufei had lashed out at Heero.

"How can you sit there so still, saying nothing?! Are you truly made of stone?! Or are you blind?!" He'd screamed at Heero just before slapping him.

Heero put his hand to the red mark on his cheek and glared at Wufei as he stood. "Wufei . . .,"he growled, glaring at the angry Chinese pilot.

Trowa moved in between the two hoping to prevent bloodshed.

"This won't help Duo!" Quatre yelled at them.

Wufei looked at the other two. "We know part of what is destroying Maxwell. HIM!" Wufei glared again at Heero.

Heero actually looked puzzled at that remark. He looked at the other two pilots. Quatre blushed and looked down. Trowa met his stare and quietly said, "Duo's in love with you."

"Yes!" Wufei turned again towards Heero. "And what response does he get from you? Punches, his braid pulled, silences, or threats of death! You never have had to deal with seeing his smile fade when something he does to get your attention fails and you leave the room without even acknowledging him. You haven't seen him crying alone in the night while you sit at your laptop. You haven't sat there while he's drunk himself into oblivion to try and escape thoughts of you." Wufei noticed the others intense stares at him. He hung his head in embarrassment as his anger ran down. "He is my friend, Heero. I've kept my silence towards you as he asked me to, but I can't keep silent while you help destroy him."

Heero looked toward the others. "You all knew?"

Quatre wouldn't meet his eyes. He just blushed and nodded.

Trowa's quiet words cut into him. "He asked us not to talk to you about his feelings towards you. He was frightened that he'd disgust you. As long as you didn't reject him, he could keep hope."

Heero glanced at each in turn, then his sight turned introspective. "Ninmu ryokai." He left the room and headed upstairs to the room he shared with Duo.

*******

Heero paused outside the door listening for a sound from within. All was silent. He stood there a moment lost in thought.

~Duo loves me?~ Wonder spread throughout his soul. For months he'd been fighting to hold his feelings towards the violet eyed pilot in check, to not let out that he cared about the braided boy.

~He was worried that he'd disgust me and here that is what I've worried about him. I . . .~ His thoughts faltered, then continued. ~I don't know if I know what love is, but I know that Duo means life to me.~

He remembered how seeing Duo smile caused his heart to race faster, a flush to spread throughout his body. He remembered the cold dread that passed through him when Duo's mission had gone badly and they thought Duo had been killed, the despair at never seeing him again. He remembered nights spent at his laptop not working, but using it a ruse, to see what crazy stunt Duo would pull next in his attempts to break him away. He remembered how Duo looked when staring at the night sky, so full of wonder, and how Duo made him feel the same wonder when he watched Duo sleeping. All this and more passed behind his eyes. He felt angry, angry at himself for not saying anything, for not having the courage to be open to the one he cared for, and angry at Duo for the worry that he now felt.

He opened the door and rushed to knock the knife from the hand of the blankly staring occupant of the bed. "DUO!", he yelled as he grabbed both wrists of his partner. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?"

The shock of having Heero yelling at him and the pain in both his wrists, penetrated the shell around Duo. He looked up into Heero's wide eyes and flinched, dropping his gaze to rest on the cuts on his arm.

~Oh, God! No, not him! Let this be another nightmare! Please, don't let Heero be here! I don't want him to know, please, God!~ Duo started shaking.

Heero sat next to him on the bed. The look that Duo had turned on him when he'd grabbed his wrists had chilled him to the bone. Duo's eyes were red and swollen, tears still wet his cheeks, but the gaze had been unfocused, his eyes without light, as if he'd had all life sucked out of him. The sight of all the cuts on Duo's arm caused Heero to gasp. As Duo's shoulders started shaking, Heero let go of his wrists and drew Duo into a fierce embrace.

"Duo? Don't cry, Please tell me what is wrong." Heero's hand started to gentle the back of the sobbing boy. He'd dreamed of holding Duo for weeks, but now the act was breaking him inside.

Duo didn't answer but tried to push himself away from Heero. His struggles became stronger. "NO! Let me go! Please, Go Away, Please! Oh God! I don't want you to see me like this, go away, please, please . . ." His pleading trailed off into heartbreaking sobs.

Heero was at a loss. He didn't know what to do. He wanted to comfort Duo but his attempts seemed to increase Duo's emotional pain. He sat back and started talking, low, quietly, as one would to calm a wild animal. ~Yes, right now Duo is like a wild animal, one that is hurt and frightened. I can't push him. I have to draw him out to me.~ He started telling Duo what he'd been feeling outside the door.

"Duo, please talk to me. Don't close me out. I know you're hurting, you're frightened. But it's all right. You aren't alone, I'll never leave you alone again. Come back to me, Duo. Don't run as I have. Don't close me out as I've mistakenly done with you. I need you Duo. I need your smile, your laughs. I need your driving me crazy. I need you to teach me to live. You have so much life, Duo. You make days brighter. You keep the night and dark away. I know right now you are locked in that dark. I know the dark, Duo. I've lived there most of my life. You brought me out of it, let me bring you out. Please Duo, come back to me. I love you, don't leave me."

At first, Duo couldn't hear what Heero was saying. His mind was filled with shame at Heero discovering him in the condition he was in. Despair that Heero would reject him completely for the mess he was, closed his mind to outside stimulus. Heero was repeating himself, in the same low tone, still comforting, without any anger. It soothed the tumble in Duo's brain, and he started to hear what Heero was telling him. Wonder spread across his mind, pushing out the shame and fear. He looked up at Heero with red rimmed eyes full of hope.

"You love me?" Duo gasped.

Heero had been talking more than he ever had in his life. His voice was husky from the exertion. "Yes, Duo, I love you," he replied. He leaned in and once more hugged Duo. "Now, what is all *this* about?" He asked as he leaned back and took hold of Duo's lacerated arm, closely examining the cuts.

Duo stared at his own arm. He glanced up at Heero who just stared at him and waited silently. A shudder ran through Duo as he lowered his gaze to the bed. When his words finally came, they were almost too low for Heero to hear. "I've been feeling so lost, so alone. I look at my hands and they're coated in blood. The dead call to me, sing in my dreams. I can't sleep because it is all waiting in there. I don't want to eat, and when I do, I usually throw it back up. I hurt, inside, so much *pain* . . .I try to shut it out but it just keeps coming back. I don't know what to do, I'm so afraid. I know I should have said something, but I was afraid that . . ." His voice trailed off.

"That I wouldn't care?" Heero asked.

Duo nodded. "I've loved you for so long, but you never showed you cared. I felt so worthless that I couldn't show you I cared. Then I started feeling that no one cared. I don't know what all is wrong, Heero. I feel *lost*. Things go round and round in my head and I can't get it to stop. I goes faster and faster, and the pain gets so much that everything just shuts down and I feel like I've died. That's why the cuts, kisses of pain, of death. Pain to prove that I'm alive. I know it was stupid, but I couldn't stop, I just couldn't *stop* . . ." Duo broke down into tears again.

Heero gathered him close, and this time, Duo didn't pull away, but embraced him back. Heero rocked his hurting love and stroked his back. The sobs wracked Duo, but finally he started to quiet under Heero's soothing.

Duo finally settled against Heero. "Duo?"

"Hnn?" He received in reply.

0"You need to see someone about this." Duo's frightened look had Heero hurrying to add, "You won't be alone, I'll be with you, but you can't continue this way. Sleep, rest, eating right, I'm going to make sure you do all that, and it will help. The others will help, they're all worried about you, but none of us knows what else to do. Talking to someone trained in this will help. I'll ask Sally to recommend someone we can trust."

He hugged Duo again tightly and then cupped his hand under Duo's chin, turning his face upwards. Duo looked into Heero's eyes, so filled with care for him. The exhausted fog around him shattered as Heero leaned in and kissed him.

Heero heard and felt the sigh of pleasure that ran through Duo as they kissed, but could feel the exhausted shudders of Duo's muscles. He moved to lay down on the bed, pulling Duo down next to him, never breaking his embrace. He kissed the line from Duo's mouth to his ear. Nuzzling Duo's ear and drawing Duo's left arm to where he could see the marks, he whispered in Duo's ear. "Duo, please, no more 'kisses'."

Duo rested his head against Heero's shoulder and snuggled against him. "No more of those, Heero, no more death kisses, just those of life." With that he turned his face again to Heero and kissed him deeply. The two held each other through the night. A night where Duo slept without nightmares.

end

 

Authors notes: I'd started this before Erin Johnson posted "Hurt", but the inspiration of her take on Duo and a battle with the depression demons, started me working again on this. Thanks for the inspiration, Erin. Much of Duo's reactions are from personal experience, I know the demons of depression and cuts well but things get better.

I hope that all those that suffer from having looked into the void are peaceful this night.