Title: Silence
Author: lil*shinigami
Pairings: it *will* be 2x1 eventually, provided it finish it.
Warnings: AU fic...that it i think...
Disclaimer: nothing is mine.

 

~*~Duo’s POV~*~

He never talked. Not a single word. He never left his little corner, except to return to his room. He never let anyone touch him, not even casually, as if to get his attention or an accidental brush in a crowded hallway. He avoided them all together. Silent, unmoving, all day, every day since the day he was first admitted into Happy Acres Asylum for the Mentally Unbalanced. No one could get him to do anything else. A hopeless case, at least that's what they told me. That's what attracted me to him. After all, they said I was hopeless too. Or maybe it was that palpable aura of silence that surrounded him.

******

~*~Heero’s POV~*~

They're all out to get me. i'm sure of it. The way they look at me-pity, contempt, fear- they don't think i see it, but i do. All of theem. Except for him. Hn, he's too happy. Something's wrong with him. Of course something's wrong with him. That's why he's here. That's why everyone's here.

I remember his first fit that i saw. The chairs had to be replaced. He'd thrown them against the wall 'till they broke into splintered remains. Everyone huddled in a corner, fearful of what he might do after the chairs couldn't be broken any smaller. But no one came near my corner. No one ever does. In silence, i watched him, and for the first time, i glimpsed the desperate pain and rage behind his mask of inhuman cheerfulness.

Then it ended. As quick as it came. That's why the orderlies couldn't control him. He was uncontrolable, unpredictable. A ball of energy just waiting to explode, which he did, at unexpected intervals of course. Which might be why, for some reason, i felt drawn to him. He intrigued me from the very beginning. And...I wanted to talk to him.

*******

~*~Duo’s POV~*~

It all started when he appeared at the weekly group therapy meeting I've been required to attend since I was released from the Asylum. At least, until the repercussions of fits stopped. They don't happen as often, but they still do, so I gotta go. But I'm straying from the topic. There he was, crouched in a corner, glaring at the world around him as if it was the cause of his problems. Probably was, too.

"Dr. Winner," I ask, "Who is he?" I'm pointing at the boy my age silently staring at everything.

"Oh, that would be Heero, our resident watchdog. Those eyes of his never miss a thing. The Headmaster thought group therapy could do him some good, open him up a bit, you know? But, he has to speak first..." the doctor mused, thoughtfully studying the boy in the corner.

"He doesn't speak? At all?! Is that even possible?!" I find that hard to believe. Me, who can't stop talking, even if I wanted to.

"It's possible all right. He doesn't speak at all. Not a word, and no one can lay a hand on him. He probably stays up all night as well, watching the door. You're best to leave him be; he prefers to be left alone." Dr. Winner looked at Heero sympathetically.

Bad move. Telling me not to do something, that's like saying, 'go ahead, give it your best shot.' "Why won't he speak?" I question, curious eyes never leaving the dark haired boy.

Dr. Winner chuckled and smiled at me. "If you can get him to tell you, I don't know what I'll do." That said, he walked away. Doctors can't spend all their time with one patient, ya know.

My eye caught his, and I smile tentatively, giving a small wave and a gesture to come sit in the empty seat next to me. in response, I get the finger and a glare. Fine, be that way. I'll get through to you, somehow. I shrug carelessly and return my attentions to Dr. Winner starting the meeting. But he's still pulling at the back of my "unbalanced" mind, begging to be noticed.

*******

~*~Heero’s POV~*~

It's pointless. Pointless sending me here to these group therapy things. I won't speak. They can't make me. And I'm not leaving this corner. If I do, I won't be able to see everything that happens! And I have to. It's the only necessity in my screwed life. I refuse to even try. It won't work. See? Look at the way they look at me! Even the doctors. Father was right; I am beyond help.

Except for him. Hn, he's always the exception it seems. What was that? No one's ever smiled at me before like that! He actually looked happy to see me! That just doesn't happen. I'm not worthy to be smiled at. No, I can't leave my corner. You come here. But of course, I can't tell him that. Inside I scream, wanting to sit next to the boy who seems so kind and understanding, while the outside forms my customary aggravated glare as my hand moves. Why did I give him the finger? Why? WHY?! Gods, I am hopeless. Stupid. Something is terribly wrong with me. Something that can't ever be fixed. Hell, no one even wants to try. They all hate me. I know they do. All they want me to do is talk. Father says not to talk; no one cares about what I have to say. Who do I believe? Of course, Father knows me better, right?

Not some stranger who looks nice; he could be evil. Like me.

What? I missed that, lost in my thoughts. I guess the dumb doctor introduced me. Oh on, he's coming near me! Don't touch me, you'll be tainted, just like me!

"Heero? Would you like to come sit with everyone else? Heero? Are you okay?" Would I be here in this damn jail for crazy people if I was okay?! What a stupid question. He belongs on his own dumb ward. Dr. 'Loser' [1] sounds concerned, but I can't trust him; he could be lying. What if he wants my corner? No, it's mine, all mine! He can't have it! I won't let him! [2] I shake my head and glare at him too, pointing at the circle of chairs as if to say 'return to somebody who cares' before curling up, watching from the tops of my knees. Satisfactorily, I smirk when he returns to his happy little circle of crazy patients, who all look at me sympathetically as well, except for him, as usual. Stop! You're no better off than me! I don't need your pity- give it to someone who does!

"Heero? Why not?" Who told him my name? Must've been dumb Dr. Loser- he's too damn friendly to be real. The braided idiot actually looks sad! Why? 'Cause I won't sit next to him? He wants me to? Jeez, he's more insane than I thought!

I shake my head again, and try to make myself smaller, invisible. I'm not leaving my corner. You come here!! But I can't say that. No one cares about what I have to say anyway- I'm a worthless reject who was brought into this sorry excuse for a world accidentally. I deserve to be locked up. It may look like they do, but deep down, it's only that damn pity again. Even him. He's not an exception to this rule. I can't believe it. But still...I can wonder and hope...can't I?

*******

~*~Heero’s POV~*~

Well, everyone’s huddled in corners. Again. Duo’s having yet another breakdown. What else is new. He can’t be stopped. It seems no one can break Duo out of his trance. Not even a straight jacket can contain him! They’re becoming more frequent. I overheard 2 stupid, unobservant orderlies saying that he might have to be readmitted if things don’t get better. Hn, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

The chairs are going to have to be replaced. Again. Tables too. I wonder what he’s thinking about. Hn, is he even thinking? Well, he’s shattered all the wood now. Windows next, I’ll bet. You’d think they’d learn to replace them with Plexiglass or something less breakable, but no. That’d be the smart thing to do. Windows are hard to replace. I know, Father broke them a lot.

It seems everywhere I go, problems arise. It’s all my fault, too, and Father agrees. Or was it his idea in the first place? I can’t remember. Oh well, no big deal.

Yep, there go the windows. Duo’s arms are all bloody with little cuts from the shattered glass. I hope he isn’t severely injured; wait a minute, what am I saying?! I shouldn’t care about him. But why, then, do I? No one cares about me. I almost forgot. Almost.

*******

~*~Duo’s POV~*~

Yikes, I’m in for it this time. It’s back to the puffy padded walls for me. They are fun though, bouncing all over without having to worry about hurting yourself. Is that what it’s like to walk on the moon? I think I want to be an astronaut.

Stupid Shinigami. It’s all his fault. Why did he have to come and posses me like that? I thought he was gone for good, but I guess not. He really shouldn’t go around possessing people like that. He posses my half-uncle's brother's friend's step-sister too, ya know. But not as often as me. I'm is favorite. Joy of all joys. Ooooo, it’s times like these that make me want to -

“Duo...” Dr. Winner interrupts my wicked thoughts. He’s looking at me seriously. Uh oh, I knew it. Looks like I’ll be getting a lot of practice for being an astronaut.

I gulp and say: “To the padded room, aa Doctor?”

Dr. Winner sees my semi-eager face and laughs. “No, Duo, but I think you’d better stay here for awhile. At least until the fits lessen in number.”

“All right.” I say, turning to look at the damage I’ve done. The room is a wreck! It’s going to cost a lot of money and take awhile to clean up, and all because of me! I look at the people huddled in corners, a few brave ones crawling out. They all seem to be unharmed, I think. I glance at down at Heero, who’s corner I’m closest to, and notice him nursing an injured arm, blood trickling through his fingers. “Heero!” I exclaim, kneeling next to him. Great, I’ve hurt him, now he’ll never trust me! “Gods, I didn’t mean that! Honestly! I had no clue what I was doing! Are you all right?” I reach out with a towel to wrap it around the cut I caused. He flinches at my touch and pulls back, trying to become one with the corner. Glaring as usual, he nods. “Oi, Heero, I’m sorry. Here. You’re loosing blood. Am I forgiven?”

The perpetual glare seems to lessen a bit as his eyes meet mine, and he nods shortly. Still, he hides his arm away from me, and if I try to come closer, his glare strengthens. “Why Heero? I’m only trying to help!” He looks at me pleadingly, as if to say “Please. Don’t touch me.” Sighing sadly, I nod and turn away, and head for the door, the towel falling from my hands. The doctors move at him, trying to help him. But they’re using force. That’s not going to work, don’t you see? If you want to get through to him, you have to use kindness and love. And be patient, for he isn’t going to trust you at first, you have to win it. You have to show him that you care. And I will. Somehow. ‘Cause I do.

*******

“Room 13B. This must be it.” Duo sighed and pushed the creaking door open slowly. Hopefully he wouldn’t get an old guy for a roommate, or a pyromaniac. He liked his room warm, and pyro’s rooms were rarely warm. Maybe, if he was lucky, he’d have a roommate who was never in his room, ‘cause he was always in solitary confinement or something. But what he saw in the room was nothing that he’d pictured.

Heero Yuy was on the bed, crouched in a cat-like position, glaring at the door.

“Hiya Hee-chan!” Duo waved as he plopped his meager belongings onto the bed next to the one Heero crouched on.

Heero glared at him as if to say, “Why are you here and when are you leaving?”

“Oi, Heero, relax man! I’m your roommate from now on! Isn’t that great?” Heero didn’t move a muscle. Keeping a constant monotone, Duo put his clothes away in the chipped and peeling dresser. When completed, he turned to Heero, whose face was as stony as ever, cold eyes meeting laughing ones and clashing. Duo stopped talking to study the silent boy thoughtfully. “Ya know, Heero, it’d do you some good if you smiled more.” He smiled at Heero, who shook his head. “Why not?” He pouted cutely.

Resisting the urge to smile so Duo wouldn’t frown anymore, Heero shrugged.

“You don’t want to?” A shake of unruly hair said that wasn’t the reason. “You scared to?” An angry glare and a violent shake told him definitely not. “Ummm…You don’t feel like it?” A half-shake told him he was close. “Ah…oh! You’ve got no reason to?” A short nod, followed by arms crossing was the only affirmative he received. “Awwww, c’mon Heero! Smile!! Please? For me?” he pleaded, pouting and making his amethyst eyes big and pleading, hands clasped tightly.

Heero shook his head stubbornly, but the coldness in his eyes had diminished somewhat as he looked at Duo.

Duo sighed and plopped down on the bed, kicking his feet in the air like he was riding a bicycle, staring at the ceiling as he landed. “Ya know Heero, if you look close enough at the ceiling, you can see pictures formed by the plaster!” he pointed, “See, look there! A train...and there’s a mountain...and an airplane...”

Heero looked at Duo in mild amusement. The boy was laughing as he pointed at sights only he could see. Heero sighed. It wasn’t a sad sigh, nor an angry sigh, just a sigh. Heero wasn’t used to this, actually having people trying to get him to talk. And for some reason, he had a feeling Duo wouldn’t give up until he did. This was going to be a long day.

“Hey, Heero?” Duo paused his laughing to look at the boy seriously. “Can I ask you something?”

Heero nodded and shrugged. Much to his surprise, Duo interpreted his shrug correctly.

“Yeah, I doubt you’ll answer too.” Duo paused, “Heero, why don’t you talk? I want to hear your voice!”

Heero's eyes widened and he shook his head. Duo opened his mouth to speak some more, but was stopped by a knock on the door. Hopping up, he skipped to the door, braid bouncing merrily.

“Duo? The doctor needs you to come fill out some papers.” The nurse smiled kindly. Duo sighed. “All right. We shall finish this discussion as soon as I get back!” he started to shut the door, but stopped. He poked his head back in. “Oh, and Heero? I want to know, and I always get what I want!” He shut the door.

Heero sat, silently staring at the door for a few moments. Then, he rose to his feet and began looking around for a pad of paper and a writing utensil. Duo wanted to know why he wouldn’t talk? Fine, he’d tell him. In his own way. He wasn’t ready for speech quite yet.

*******

Heero sat at the scrubby desk in the room he now shared with Duo. The aforementioned had yet to return; he supposed there were more papers to sign than Duo imagined. Pencil in hand, Heero glared at the blank paper before him, willing the words in his head to appear magically on the paper so he wouldn’t have to write them. No such luck. He sighed and reluctantly began writing.

*******

Duo hopped through the door. “Gods, my hand kills from signing so much!! I wish my name were shorter!!” He looked around. “Oi, Heero? Where are you?” Duo looked around, even peeking under the bad. Sighing, he plopped on the bed. Heero was nowhere to be found.

Moving, his hand brushed against a small envelope, with the word “Duo” neatly written on it. “What the-?” He opened the envelope and began reading the neat print.

*******

~*~Heero’s POV~*~

I don’t know when it started. I guess I was too little to remember. My father has always been like that, and Mother? When she was around, she never did much. She was too sick and weak, so she let him reign while she sat in bed watching TV or reading a book. That’s all I can remember her doing. He used to disappear for days, leaving us, my sister and I, to fend for ourselves. One time, when he was away, mother got really ill. I was little, my sister even littler, and we didn’t know what to do. He returned, all red-faced and angry, and i guess it was when she died that he became worse.

He was never a good father-figure, yet Relena still loved him to pieces. It was torture watching her toddle after him, craving his attentions. But he never gave them. The only attention we had were the beatings. Not many physical blows; he knew the charges for abuse and didn’t want to get into that trouble. Instead, he’d scream at us, telling us we were nothing, and the like. Plus there were other ways of hurting us besides hitting.

Eventually, she gave up, and clung to me. She was much younger than me, and he blamed her for Mother’s death, since Mother was never completely well after giving birth to her. He blamed me too, I guess, for not doing anything. It was my fault too, I should’ve known what to do.

He screamed more at me than her; said I was a man, I could take it. Told me I was nothing, shouldn’t bother talking. When I tried to speak to him, ask him a question; stick up for Relena, whatever, he’d slap me and say not to talk ‘cause no one cared. No one wants to hear me speak anyway.

The police came one day. Apparently a neighbor had called. He had broken the vase in the foyer that Mother had always placed flowers in, even when she was bed-ridden. She’d have us put them in. They were more important to her than us. So it had made a loud noise and cut our bare toes. We hadn’t had shoes or socks for awhile. The officer interrogated him a lot, but he made up excuses, saying Relena broke it while running around. Then the officer checked us over for cuts/bruises. Of course we had few, he knew better than to hit us a lot. He was best at emotional abuse anyway.

After that incident, he grew really edgy, and snapped at anything we did. He’d scream more, asking why God gave him devils like us instead of children, saying that we were stupid, too skinny, too fat, whatever came to his mind. He meant it. And I guess it was true. It got so bad, that every time I spoke, even to Relena, he’d slap me and say he was sick of hearing me bitching about whatever.

One day, he finally snapped. It was a day never to be forgotten. He broke Relena’s arm that day, along with her 6-year-old soul. And my 9-year-old tainted one. And I couldn’t do anything about it. He’d tied me to a chair, making me watch as he claimed her his. And that was only the beginning.

And so I stopped talking. He always told me never to talk, I had nothing good to say, I was spawned from the devil, sin itself, unclean, dirty, worthless, the list goes on. It was all my fault he did what he did. ‘Cause I’m tainted. He tried to get me to talk after that, but I didn’t do much except sit there, staring into space I guess.

It was a few years before he was caught- Relena still crying in the bed, me next to her. They came at the right time, and put us in foster homes. But still I wouldn’t talk. So they sent me here. They said they’d help me. Make me all better. But no one can, remember?

So, Duo, there you go. You said you wanted to know, you still think that?

*******

Duo stared in shock at the paper in front of him. “Poor Heero!! What he went through, no wonder he is the way he is!” he whispered hoarsely.

But instead of scaring the braided boy away like Heero’d thought it would, it only made Duo more determined. “I’ll open you up Heero. You’ll see. Not everyone in this world is that cruel and uncaring. I’ll show you.” He ran out to find and confront Heero, heading to the corner where he knew the dark-haired boy would most likely be.

*******

Duo ran into the therapy room where he knew Heero would be. And he was, sitting in his corner as usual. He waved, trying to act as if nothing had changed, and Duo still knew nothing about Heero's past. “Hiya Heero!”

Heero nodded hello and drifted off into his own little world. Duo was pretty used to this by now, so he didn’t care much, just wandered around, eventually resting himself on the window ledge closest to Heero's corner. He glanced over at the ever-silent boy and thought. It was while he was studying Heero that the world began spinning.

*******

~*~DUO’S POV~*~

I’m studying Heero; he’s always so quiet, I wonder what his voice sounds like. It must be mesmerizing. I sigh and realize I’m staring. Pulling away, I stand up to walk around, grinning and happily waving to Dr. Winner. And then world turns all hazy and reddish. Oh, no, Shinigami not now! Not when I’m this close to Heero! But the thoughts end there, I’m never really thinking when I’m possessed. Shinigami is.

Look at them all, all happy and laughing. They don’t deserve to be so happy!! Why do they get to be happy when I can’t?! It makes me so mad! I toss a chair around, laughing when it splinters. But that’s the only wooden one I see; they’ve got metal ones now.

They’re all looking frightened now; no more happy faces. Good. They can’t be happy when others aren’t. ‘Specially when I caused that to happen. Now no one can be happy; Shinigami’s gonna make sure of it!

Seeing red now. They’re all angry and glaring at me, hideous features and sharp claws. Tall, hairy bodies, and sharp teeth dripping with saliva and anticipation. There out to kill everyone. NO! My job! I don’t need help killing people! That’s the only thing I don’t need help with! NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! Now you’ve gone and made me angry! Picking up a metal chair, I throw it at a monster. Throwing chair after chair until there isn’t any more left. But they’re not dead yet! DIE! I should be able to kill you, after all, I’m Shinigami!

*******

~*~DR.WINNER’S POV~*~

“Gods, Duo’s never been this violent before.” I turn to the person next to me in shock. “What normal person could bend that chair like that?”

“Remember Dr. Quatre, that’s why they’re here; they’re abnormal.” Chang sneers as he loads a tranquilizer gun. He was a military dropout hired to make sure everything was in order. Seeing my surprised look, he adds: “Winner, what else can we do? You know as well as I that he can’t be stopped once he’s started! And this is the most violent of them all!”

“Really, Chang, must that course of action be taken?” Chang doesn’t understand what the people living here are going through. Especially Duo.

“Winner, you know what you’re problem is? You are too damn soft!”

Glaring at Chang, I hurry over to the wild boy. His eyes gleam an angry amethyst, and the flecks of orange-red that signify his fit flicker in and out. “Duo! DUO!!” I shake him roughly, only to be thrown off. As I hit the ground, quickly fading into oblivion, the last thing I see is Duo, a metal chair raised high above his head.

*******

~*~DUO’S POV~*~

Wrestling with Dr. Winner. Doesn’t he see that I’m only trying to save him? The monsters will spare no one.

“Duo! DUO!” Ha, he’s screaming, doesn’t even know I’m saving his life. I really shouldn’t. But I’m not Duo, I’m Shinigami! Hey, don’t touch me! I push him to the floor, reveling in the shock apparent on his face. Holding a chair high above my head, I prepare to crush the beast straddling him.

I pause and glance around. Everyone, human and beast alike is staring at me, petrified. I glare at the boy in the corner, the one with the tousled hair. Glaring, I snarl, “What are you looking at?!”

The boy recoils under my glare, and softly answers, “You.”

*******

~*~DUO’S POV~*~

“You.”

Instantly, the orange-red flecks in my eyes vanish, and the monsters disappear with a pop. I relax placing the chair on the ground safely. “Heero... you spoke!” I grin widely at him. He shakes his head stubbornly, hand over his mouth in alarm. Why is he so scared? I’m not mad - happy really.

“Duo... come this way. The nurse would like to see you.” Dr. Winner is off the ground, and is gently pulling on my arm. I protest, staring at Heero, who is hiding his face in his arms, scrunched up tightly. and he responds, “Go on now, Heero isn’t going anywhere fast.” I sigh dejectedly and trudge for the office, waving to Heero as I go.

*******

~*~Heero's POV~*~

What did I do?! What did I start?! I’m not supposed to talk! People like me more when I don’t! But Duo seemed happy when I... spoke! Great, what did I do? Now he’s gonna be at me to talk to him more! And I want to, but I don’t want him to hate me... and everybody hates me when I talk.

What’s wrong with me?! why did I feel that sudden urge to respond?! Why did I give in to the temptation?! I thought I was stronger than that! But I’m not, I’m just a weak, worthless nothing! I slump into the corner, burying my face as much as possible, so only my eyes are visible.

Oh no, Dr. Winner’s coming over! He’s gonna yell at me for talking, just like Father did. Everyone gets mad when I talk. Except for Duo. He smiled. Hn, probably didn’t hear me. But I think he did. Hn, why is everything so complicated?!

“Heero?” Dr. Winner has knelt down by me, soft blue eyes parallel to my icy ones, an ice pack clinging to his cheek from where Duo hit him. I narrow my eyes and meet his kindly gaze head on. He pauses for a moment before continuing. “I... just wanted to thank you.” For what?! What did I do? I’m worthless, no one cares about me. Not even Duo. Not after what I told him. He’s probably being nice to me only because he pities me.

“Heero? I’m not done yet.” Damn, will you go away? “I wanted to thank you.” You said that already. “And I wanted to make sure you understood what you caused when you spoke.” Gods, here comes the reprimand. I shake my head stubbornly and brace myself for the verbal blows that I expect out of his mouth.

But what comes out of his mouth is completely unexpected. “No one has ever been able to break Duo Maxwell out of his trance when the unexpected fits arrive. No one. But you, you spoke a simple word, and he stopped! That was not coincidence, Heero Yuy.” I flinch. He’s not mad at me? Was that a...compliment? I’ve never gotten one of those before... at least that I can remember.

But as much of a surprise as that was, I was totally unprepared for his next sentence. “You and Duo... something special is going on between you two. Only you have been able to break his trance, and only he has been able to get you to speak, even though he didn’t realize it at the time. I think, if you help each other out, you just might be able to get out of here.” I stared at him in disbelief. He wanted me to get better??

From behind Dr. Winner, Wufei snorted. “Winner, that’s impossible. Duo’s been in and out since the accident. Even you have to realize that. Duo will never be fully healed.” He glances at me decisively and smirks. “And him? How can he go through life without talking? Their both useless.” I glare at him angrily. It one thing to tell me I’m useless, but Duo? He has just as much a chance as anyone! I’ll show him.

Right then and there I decided that I’m going to prove to all the dumb doctors and ex-military leader Wufei that Duo Maxwell was not a hopeless case. That Duo Maxwell could, and would get better. At all costs. Even if it meant speaking.

*******

~*~Duo’s POV~*~

I walk back into the room, not knowing what to expect. I hope Heero will talk more, but I think he deserves an explanation as well. What should I say? I could tell him about Shinigami. I guess. Wufei and Dr. Winner are arguing about something, Heero glaring at the Wufei angrily. I don’t think I’ve seen him this angry before. I’m worried.

Heero spots me hovering by the door and relaxes. The Glare disappears, replaced with determination. What is he planning? Gesturing for him to follow, I head to our room and close the door after he enters. Sitting on his bed, he looks at me curiously, as if to say, “What’s wrong?”

I plop on my own bed and sigh, looking at the ground. Fingering the fringe accenting the throw pillow on the bed, I say, “I just thought you deserved an explanation, is all. I mean, you told me all about your past, and...well...I thought I should probably tell you mine...” I look up at him, and he nods, eyes calmer than they were in the common room. Almost...kind.

“When I was little, I lived on the streets. An orphan, I guess you could say. I never knew my parents, at least not well enough to remember them. I’ve been on the streets for as long as I can remember. There was a bunch of us, a pack I guess you could say. My best friend, Solo, was the leader.” Here I paused. He nodded, urging me on.

*******

“What do you suppose that was about, Winner?”

“Huh?”

Wufei sighed. “Yuy suddenly getting up and following Maxwell. What was that about?”

Dr. Winner shrugged. “I don’t know. I think that if they stay together, though, they’ll make it through.”

Wufei snorted. “Doubtful. Maxwell’s been in and out since the day he was born practically. You know that.”

A smile. “Yeah, but they have this...effect...on each other. I can’t really explain it...but somehow, I think that, together, they’ll make it out of here. Soon.”

*******

~*~Duo’s POV~*~

“And so Solo died. In my arms. It’s my fault. If I had gotten him the medicine sooner, he would’ve survived. But no, Shinigami came along and ruined everything!” I look at the ground, trying to hide the pain in my eyes. “That’s the first time Shinigami came. At least, that I can remember. He could’ve come when – if – my parents died, but I don’t remember that.” I risk a glance to Heero and he nods, looking at me, telling me in his own way to continue. On his face is an expression I’d never seen before.

“So I wandered around for awhile. Then a church took me in. Father Maxwell...Sister Helen...” I pause once more. Fiddling with my braid, I continue. “She used to braid my hair every morning.”

*******

“Winner, you know what you’re problem is? You are too damn optimistic!”

“And you aren’t optimistic enough!”

“Yes, well, there’s no way that Maxwell will make it out.” Wufei crossed his arms in defiance.

“Oh really?”

“Really.”

“That’s no attitude that someone who works at the asylum should have, Wufei.”

“Well, I never asked to work here.” Dr. Winner nods and begins to walk away. “Hey, Winner! I have a proposition for you. How much do you want to bet that Maxwell will still be here come summer?”

Dr. Winner paused.

*******

~*~Duo’s POV~*~

“Then, when I returned, I came home to find the church destroyed, everyone dead...Shinigami strikes again.” I sigh, then continue. “It seems he comes just in time to kill all the people I love.” I look up into Heero. “Why me, Heero, why me? What did I do to deserve this?!” I gesture around us.

“Nothing.” Heero murmured.

My eyes widen in surprise, and I take a sharp intake of breath.

*******

“Deal.” Dr. Winner looked at Wufei squarely. “What happens if I win and Duo gets out before spring?”

Wufei thought and whispered something into the doctor’s ear. Dr. Winner flushed. “Wufei...”

Wufei hardened his gaze. “You never specified what grounds, Winner. What are you, chicken?”

“N-n-noo. But if I win...” Dr. Winner happily whispered into Wufei's ear, which darkened to a deep red like the rest of his face. “A bet’s a bet, Wufei."

Wufei sighed. “Deal.”

*******

Headmaster Trowa Barton was not a happy Headmaster. Rumors were being spread that Dr. Winner, his most reliable doctor in the premises, as well as best friend, had made a bet. And not just any bet, but a bet with Chang Wufei. Headmaster Barton did not like Wufei, nope, not one bit. He only kept the ex-military official because he did do a good job with keeping everyone in line, although he himself rarely stayed in line. Which made Headmaster Barton worried. “Sally?” he called, signaling to his secretary just outside his door.

“Yes, Headmaster?”

“Would you please tell Dr. Winner I’d like to see him?” He said this while leafing through the boring contracts one must do as headmaster.

“Certainly sir.” Sally put down the paperwork she was busily transferring into the computer, and hurried to Dr. Winner’s office, taking a slight detour on the way. Wufei's office wasn’t that much out of her way.

*******

Wufei sat in thought. Then, standing, he began pacing. That lasted about 20 seconds before he decided that sitting was much more productive. But as soon as he was comfortably seated, he changed his mind. This went on for awhile. “Oh, the injustice of it all!” he finally cried. “I’m not going to lose anyway.”

“What aren’t you going to lose?” a melodic voice filtered in through the doorway, snapping Wufei out of his thoughts.

“Oh, Sally! I...uh...didn’t realize you were here.” Flustered, Wufei leaned against the mahogany desk behind him for support, accidentally knocking over the cream-colored phone neatly placed at the corner. Fumbling with the cord, Wufei swore under his breath, muttering something along the lines of “clumsy...fool...dishonorable...unworthy for her...”

“Here, Wufei, let me help.” Sally stifled a chuckle as she unraveled Wufei's arm from the tangled cord and placed it on the desk. “You were saying...?”

Wufei flushed. “Oh...nothing. I was only saying that, ah...I didn’t want to lose my, ahh...pen! ” He nodded as if to convince himself, snatching it off the desk and holding it out. “It has a lot of sentimental value.”

“Oh, I see.” Sally grinned, knowing that wasn’t the truth but that Wufei probably wouldn’t tell her anyway.

“Well, the Headmaster sent me to get Quatre, so I’d best be going. Just wanted to make sure you didn’t need anything.” Wufei shook his head. “Okay, then bye.” She waved, smiling, and walked out the door, turning the corner.

Wufei sighed. He didn’t like how she had that effect on him, but at the same time, he was attracted to her.

*******

“Headmaster? You wanted to see me?” Dr. Winner played with the hems of his sleeves, unsure on why he was here.

“No, no, no!” The young Headmaster shook his head and waved his hand carelessly. “Quatre, drop the ‘Headmaster.’ You know I hate it!” Quatre nodded dumbly. “Now, what’s this I hear about you and Agent Wufei?”

Quatre’s expression hardens. “Oh, Wufei. He seems to think that Heero and Duo will never make it out. It’s all he talks about. Even in front of them.” He shook his head sadly. “Even though Heero doesn’t speak, he has perfectly good hearing! And that’s not what he should be hearing!”

“So you made a bet with him?” Trowa’s queried softly.

Quatre flushed. “Well, what was I supposed to do? He’s not helping the patients by telling them they’ll never make it out!” Determination flashed across his face. “Heero and Duo will get out, Trowa, I know they will!”

“Yes, Quatre, so do I.”

*******

~*~Duo’s POV~*~

“But...Heero, if I did nothing, then why am I stuck here forever?!” I wail, plopping on the bed like someone who’s lost all hope. “You hear the doctors...I’m never going to get out!”

“You will not be here forever! I won’t allow it!” Uncharacteristic determination can be heard in his voice as he glares at me, voice louder than its usual whisper.

I chuckle ruefully. “I’m glad you won’t, but you’re not the doctor, and unfortunately, Shinigami won’t go away.” Heero shakes his head stubbornly. “I’ll help!” he states as the bell rings for dinner.

“You will? How?” I question.

He’s never offered to do anything up until now. Heero stands up and heads for the door. “By stopping Shinigami from coming,” he says simply, as if that explains everything. Well, it doesn’t. In fact, it only makes me more confused. No one’s been able to prevent Shinigami from coming.

“But...but...Heero!!” I call, running out of the door to catch up with him.

~*~end Duo’s POV and start Heero's~*~

 

Heading to dinner. Dinner is good. I can eat so that I don’t have to comment to Duo. I want to talk to him, just not in front of everybody else. Least no yet. I let a small smile turn my lips upward as I hear Duo’s footsteps behind me, hurrying to catch up. But as I turn the corner and enter the dining hall, the footsteps cease sound.

“Duo?” I hesitantly whisper, turning around in time to see Duo’s expression change. Fists clenching and unclenching, he growls and moves toward the dinning hall and the patients and doctors happily eating their hearts out, unbeknownst of the danger so close to them. He brushes past me, pushing me into the wall as he heads for an empty chair. Rushing after him, I try to figure out what to do. I must not panic, cause then I couldn’t be helpful. Dr. Winner sees Duo...Shinigami...and heads over. Hn, what can he do? Hell, what can I do?! I think of what I did before and...maybe that will work...

Running up to him, I poke his shoulder, wincing as I do so. I hate touching people. Really I do. But desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess, right? With a growl, he turns, a chair in hand. “Duo! Stop!” I whisper, pleading as I hold out my arms to shield myself from the oncoming chair, shutting my eyes. Surprisingly, the blow never comes.

“Heero! You did it!” In a flash my eyes are open, and I back away. Duo looks like he’s about to hug me. He grins happily.

“Yes, Heero, you did!” I spin around to see Dr. Winner’s smiling face. I nod and head for the line to get my food.

~*~end Heero's POV~*~

*******

<few months later (first day of summer)>

“I don’t get it Heero. What did I do to deserve this? What did we do to deserve this?” Duo complained, attempting to glare holes through the already ruined enough ceiling, as he picked at the seams of the frayed comforter, if you could still call it that.

“I don’t know, Duo, I honestly don’t know.” Heero whispered, flickering his gaze to rest on Duo almost lovingly. These past few months had been the best time of his entire life. He was quite content to spend the rest of his life right here, as long as Duo was next to him. The braided boy was the only person who had ever been nice to him, and Heero didn’t want him to go anywhere. Duo sighed. Hearing the normally-silent boy talking made staying in this hell-hole bearable. He knew that if it weren’t for Heero's help these past months, Duo would be in solitary confinement. Whenever he felt Shinigami coming, Heero would tap him, or whisper softly in his ears, a whisper so soft no one else could hear him. In fact, no one else had ever heard him talk, Duo being the exception, The braided youth looked forward to these days, where they’d spend the afternoons on their beds, Duo talking, Heero softly adding to the conversation invariably. It was very relaxing, unlike the “tranquil” medicine given to Duo every morning.

“Oh, it’s so unfair.” Duo sighed again, turning to look at Heero.

Surprisingly, the quiet boy laughed. “You sounded like Wufei just then.”

“Agh!” Duo’s hand flew to his mouth in consternation. “Oh god, what is happening to me?” He stood up dramatically. “The day I act like Wufei is the day I die!” He staggered around for a bit, faking the throes of a painful death, complete with moans and cries expertly inserted. Then, without warning, he collapsed in a heap on the ground, positioned like a forgotten ragdoll dropped to the floor by a child, unmoving. “Duo!” Heero stood up and ran to him, kneeling worriedly over him, but not touching.

Abruptly, Duo sat up, face inches from Heero's. “Relax, Hee-chan, I was only pretending! Didn’t you ever do that when you were younger?” Wide-eyed, Heero shook his head. “Oh, well, when we get out of this place, the first thing you and I are doing is going to the movie theater! Ever been?” Another shake. Duo whistled, surprised. “Wow. In that case, we are going to se every movie playing!” Duo spread his arms wide for emphasis.

Heero nodded slowly. “You will come too?”

A grin spread across Duo’s face. “Of course! Movies are no fun unless you’ve got friends to see them with!”

Heero looked at Duo worriedly. “You’re my friend, right?”

Duo looked at the quiet boy and collapsed in a fit of giggles. “Yes! If I weren’t your friend, would I be here?”

Heero looked doubtful, and inched back to lean against the headboard of his bed. “Well, this is your room too,” he replied in his soft voice.

Covering his hand with his mouth, Duo fought back the giggles threatening to come, knowing it would hurt the boy in front of him. “So? You’re still my friend!” Duo would’ve hugged Heero then and there for the expression on his face, but reluctantly refrained. The quiet boy still disliked being touched. <I’ll get over that obstacle. Soon.>

Heero's expression had changed from doubt to happiness. He gave Duo a small smile. If the world had ended right then and there, Duo Maxwell would have never noticed, nor would he have cared.

A knock sounded on the door, ruining the moment. Sighing, Duo got up and answered it. “Dr. Winner? What’s up?” Dr. Winner was bubbling from happiness. “Oh, Duo, Heero, the Headmaster wishes to see you! C’mon!” He tugged at Duo’s shirt.

“And that’s a good thing?” he whispered to Heero as they followed the bouncy doctor through the hallways and towards the Headmaster’s office. Heero shrugged.

********

Headmaster Trowa Barton shuffled through the files in his filing cabinet. A great invention they were, filing cabinets. Finding the two he was looking for, he headed for his desk. It was days like today that made his job worthwhile.

“Headmaster?” Sally poked her head in. Headmaster Trowa looked up. “Dr. Winner and 2 patients are here. Shall I send them in?” The young headmaster nodded. “Yes, Sally, right away.”

The door opened completely a moment later. “Heero Yuy, Duo Maxwell. Please be seated. Thank you Quatre, you may go.” The blonde doctor nodded and left, shutting the door behind him. As soon as he was gone, the headmaster held up 2 folders. “Do you know what these are?”

Duo nodded. “Our records.”

*******

“Wufei! I won!” Dr. Winner beamed. “At this very moment, Headmaster Barton is signing their papers, freeing them from the Asylum. So, a bet’s a bet!”

Wufei paled visibly. “How about I just give you money?” Dr. Winner shook his head. “No, Wufei, it’s not gonna work!” Wufei sighed. “All right, all right! Where’s the costume?”

*******

“That’s right, Duo.” Headmaster Barton smiled as he picked up a pen. “Your performance this past month has dramatically improved...Duo, you haven’t had a fit in awhile, and Heero, you are doing well too.” He smiled as he wrote on their papers, then held them up.

Duo squinted as he read the print above the Headmaster’s name. “We’re...done? We can go?” The Headmaster nodded. “Really?!” He grinned at Heero, who smiled back.

“Now why don’t you pack up and eat dinner here, then you can leave in the morning?” The Headmaster winked. “Dr. Winner’s planning something.” Duo grinned. “Okay!”

*******

(dinner)

Wufei tugged on his outfit. “Remind me again why I’m doing this?” he grumbled.

“Because you lost the bet and it’d be dishonorable to back down!” Quatre giggled, putting the beak on over Wufei's nose.

“I still don’t see why it has to be yellow!!” Wufei complained, glaring at the people eating dinner. “And why-”

“Oh, hush up, Wufei and go!” Dr. Winner pushed him onto the small stage, where instantly, all eyes turned to him. I mean, c’mon, if a former military officer can walking onto the stage wearing a bright yellow chicken costume, would you not look at him?! Wufei looked around, and sighed. At the top of his lungs, he began singing. “Oh, I’m a little tea pot, short and stout...” <I’m going to kill Winner!!> He glared at the people laughing, patients and doctors alike, as he reenacted the bombing of pearl harbor, still singing the “teapot” song.

*******

(next morning)

Duo giggled, milk dribbling down his chin and into the cereal bowl. “Last night was great! With Wufei being an idiot!” He giggled again. Heero grinned and nodded. “Are you ready to go?” Heero nodded again. They headed for the door leading outside, meeting Dr. Winner, Wufei (who was back in normal clothes) and Headmaster Barton.

Dr. Winner was practically bouncing. “I knew you’d do it if you stayed together!!!!” Duo grinned happily.

Wufei snorted. “I was wrong. I apologize.” Duo doubled over, laughing. “Oh, Wufei, that was great. Maybe you should look into becoming a singer since the military didn’t work out!!”

Wufei growled. “Not funny. Maxwell!”

Heero smiled and whispered, “I thought it was...”

Duo’s grin widened. “There. If Heero thought it was funny, then it was,”

Headmaster Barton shook Duo’s hand and nodded at Heero. “Congratulations!” He stepped aside to let them access the door.

Dr. Winner smiled. “Come back and visit?”

Duo nodded. “Course!” Happy, he skipped outdoors, spinning in circles, arms outspread and face tilted upward, looking at the sky above him. “Oh, Heero! Free, free at last! No more whitewashed rooms and crummy bedspreads!! No more medicine!” He stopped spinning. “Heero?”

Heero looked at Duo and smiled. “Know what the best part is?”

“What?” Duo smiled back.

Heero reached and took Duo’s hand in his, holding it tightly. “I get to be with you.” Hand in hand, the two walked into the distance, not knowing what the future would throw at them, but not caring either.

**OWARI**