Title: The Forsworn ~ Departure
Author: Sita Seraph
Genre: Angst
Pairing: Unknown
Rated: R
Warning: Suicide, angst, depression
Summary: None yet.


I walked calmly behind Quatre. Or at least I seemed calm. Inside, my gut was doing double flip-flops. I can't explain the feeling. I barely knew the answer of why I was so nervous. I think, perhaps, that the reason why I was afraid was what I might see. I was still imagining the cowering Duo, covered in webs of decay, and his mouth open in screaming terror but no sound left his parched lips. I was still imagining dead, dead eyes that stared at a world with no life, with no compassion. I think I might have been frightened. Delirious, perhaps. Trowa didn't warn me what to expect. Quatre never said a word. I wish I knew what I was stepping into. I didn't like being curious, blind, and shocked. I liked knowing.

We had eventually reached the end of the corridor. There was no security at this part of the hall, unlike the ones we had passed. I knew then that whoever lay in these silent, miserable rooms, they would be no threat at all to the patients or the nurses. They must have been as good as dead. I didn't like the thought of thinking of Duo dead. He was still alive in my mind. He was still bouncing around, giddy, and a beautiful mask on his face. But that was just it: a mask. Nothing more. He was hiding something much, much deeper, shielding and protecting us from it.

Damnit. I wish I had noticed earlier.

Quatre looked at me from over his shoulder and I gave an affirmative nod. He gave a weak smile in return and turned his head back around. He reached forward and turned the silver knob. A soft click and the faint trace of light crept across the tile floor. I watched the glittering light with an odd interest. It was peculiar; for some reason, I never imagined Duo staying in a sunny room. As I had walked down the silent corridor, I had imagined opening the door and it would as dark as night inside. But the darkness would stay in the room, as if locked inside. And if one did step in, the darkness would immediately swallow you up and you would be forever lost in the darkness and become part of it. Like Duo. The real Duo. He had been locked within the darkness so long. He didn't know light. He had been in there so long, that he had become part of the black night, no longer able to tell apart from the Joker or Shinigami. I shook my head wearily to call back my wandering and dazed mind.

Ever since after the war, my mind had been drifting away from me more and more these days. Relena said I should become a writer…


I watched, almost mesmerized, as the light had started to creep up my thighs. It was beautiful, actually. The way my small wallet chain hanging out of my jean pocket would catch the light and flash against the wall. But the light was suddenly blocked and I looked up quickly. Trowa and Quatre had entered the tiny, lit room and it was my turn to join them as well. I took a step forward, the light consuming me and I tore my eyes away; it was so damn bright. I almost felt ashamed to enter this colorless oblivion. It was Duo's home now. They were trying to get him to come back to the light, away from the darkness, but I felt like I was a forbidden shadow in a strange land. I felt like I had crossed a line that I was warned to never touch. But it was too late now, wasn't it? I listened as the door clicked shut behind me on its own and slowly I looked forward, the light still blindingly bright…

When my eyes had adjusted fairly to the light, I recognized what I was looking at. Before me, across the room and in front of a large, glass window that looked out over the front yard of the hospital, was a wheel chair placed neatly in the middle of the window of nature.

And there was a dark form, silhouetted by the white of the room; lying limply against the back of the chair it rested in. Layers of hair were obvious as it melted down the back of the chair, nearly touching the floor in lazy curls. An arm had fallen off the arm of the chair, curled fingers stretched to the ceiling. Light seemed to wisp by in the palm of the pale hand and so to get even, a dark, threatening shadow had stretched itself across the room and to the door. The hand on the floor was larger, bigger but still limp and lifeless. The light caved in around the shadow, threatening to break it into bits. Soon, the shadow would crawl back to its master as the sun would fall and disappear back under the form it was born from.

The shadow was Duo. Not the form in the chair that did not turn around at the presence of three other forms in the room. Not the body that seemed to be asleep in all aspects. Duo was never the figure, never the outward appearance. It had always been a shell.

Duo had been the shadow that trekked along behind the happy, go-lucky form. No one took notice of a shadow. No one cared about one. They only saw the most noticeable thing around them: the mask. The thing that distracted them from the wilting shadow that flopped along behind.

K'so. I wish I had noticed this all sooner. But…during the war…

Nothing was more important then the mission. I couldn't be distracted. Hell, I couldn't distract myself when I was on a mission. My brain would be like some tracking device and once it got a good lock-on, it would cling till death do we part. I didn't have time to notice things…

And yet I had, at some point. I remember knowing that Trowa liked black coffee. I remember Quatre loving the scent of the spring rain showers when they ended. I remember Wufei's favorite book was an old classic called The Count of Monte Cristo. I knew, for a fact, that Duo loved 20th Century music. I knew that because I had watched him one day.

It had been after a mission. I was successful, as always, and I was walking to the safe house. I still remembered the adrenaline pumping in my veins, staying with me like a faint drug, after the stealth mission. I was jumpy, ready to get my gun off at any sort of threat. But in the dark night, there was none. There wasn't even a dog barking in the distance for some fanatical reason. There was just wind and I. Oh, and the heavy beat of steel against metal as my gun bumped continuously in the strap that held it. My feet were still light and quick; the night was cold and it nipped at my nearly bare legs. My hair was messy as well, I remember brushing the stupid strands away from my face so I could see what was in front of me. My hand had closed in on the knob; the metal was cool against my flesh. The door was unlocked and I opened it, stepping into the dark and silent house. Duo must have gone to bed, but the TV was still on. Different hues of light flashed across the bare walls and I watched it for a moment. It was the only thing moving, only thing alive in the living room.

But the spell was broken quickly; I couldn't be wasting time watching colors of light when I had to catch up on my rest. I walked over to the TV. It had been put on mute. I raised a curious eyebrow, wondering why on earth Duo would ever put anything to silence, especially the TV. Quietly, I turned the colors and flashes of scenery off and I was enclosed in darkness. But I made my way across the room just fine and down the tiny hallway to my bedroom. But I had only taken a few steps into the hall when I noticed something. I froze where I stood and slowly placed my hand against the wall next to me. It was vibrating. The floor was vibrating. There was no earthquake, but something was making the wall and floors quiver. I took a step forward and it increased. I raised my eyes from the floor and looked at the last room in the hallway. No light tried to escape from under the door but as I watched closely, I noticed that the knob of my bedroom was trembling. I rushed forward and placed my hand on the warm knob. Faintly, from the other side, I could hear the booming music, the hiss of the speakers as the song was turned up to its max volume. Was…Was Duo in there?

I threw open the door and I was greeted with the yells and cries of voices on the stereo, the guitar screeching and playing a rhythm so horrifying loud that I thought my ears were going to explode. I was winded to say the least, taken aback that a stereo could contain so much power. But as I peered in, hands covering my ears, I saw Duo splayed across my bed upon his back. His hair was scattered everywhere in chestnut strands, littering my white and brown sheets with glistening auburn locks. His legs were bent, his black pants clinging to steel legs, and spread wide. Hands rested on his heaving stomach, rising and falling against each pant. He was out of breath, eyes glued shut, as his chest rose and fell with a hiss of air.

Sweat covered his nearly bare form and he would tremble just so from time to time, the faint light of a nearby lamp grazing his skin like a hungry animal, trying to lap up all the delicious fluids covering his body and make him alight in all his brilliant glory.

"Dance with the dead in my dreams
Listen to their hallowed screams
The dead have taken my soul
Temptation's lost all control!"

But his flesh was too pale. He was breathing too heavy. He didn't look well. I had moved forward without knowing and hastily crawled onto the bed. I didn't hear the music anymore, no more then I believe Duo could. I had set myself up snugly between his legs, hands upon his cheeks, and calling his name.

"Duo, Duo," I called, screaming till my voice cracked to be heard over the stereo. I never thought about turning it down. "Wake up!"

I shook his head violently, but he wouldn't open his eyes. It seemed that he tightened them more, as if he was trying to block me out. Me and the music, he didn't want to let me in. I shook him harder, panic piling up in my throat. I didn't know what was wrong with him. I still don't. But I kept shaking him, trying to get him to open his eyes. Trying to get him to come back to reality. For a moment, I thought he was dying, that he had taken some drugs to kill himself. But, no…I was wrong.

"In the depths of a mind insane
Fantasy and reality are the SAAAAAMMMMMMEEEEE!!!!"

Finally, I slapped him. Hard. His head whipped to the side and I heard him gasp. The force of the blow disturbed his hair and it was carried with him. Strands of russet fell across his red cheek and hastily I brushed them aside, tilting his head back towards me. His eyes peeked open, violet hues gleaming up at me. A tear trickled down his cheek and I was beyond speechless. I had never seen Duo cry. It was odd…something twisted within my gut and though I didn't know what it was back then, I know what it was now.

Duo stared up at me, that single tear taking a very slow course out of the corner of his eye and towards his mass of hair. Then, startled as I was, he said something. But the sound never left his lips and I couldn't read what he said for it was a murmured word and his parched lips stuck together. Suddenly, his arms were around my neck, fingers in my hair and he was pulling himself up towards me. My stupor was increased and wide-eyed, I watched as Duo rose and nearly brought his lips to mine. I felt the breath of his body leave his mouth, circled over my own suddenly dry lips, and I waited. For what, I didn't know. But I held still, eyes still terribly wide to watch Duo's closed eyes and lips nearly on mine…

And then Duo's grip weakened and he collapsed back onto the bed, features drawn into relaxation as he was suddenly out of his nightmare or dream and passed out into another one. And all I could do was stare mutely back at his sleeping face.

"Dance with the dead in my dreams [Hello? Hello Mr. Gein?]
Listen to their hollowed screams [Mr. Gein?]
The dead have taken my soul [Lemme out of here Mr. Gein]
Temptation's lost all control [Mr. Gein? I don't wanna play anymore Mr. Gein]
[Dance with the dead in my dreams [Mr. Gein, it's not any fun anymore,]
Listen to their hollowed screams [I don't want to play anymore Mr. Gein]
The dead have taken my soul [Mr. Gein? Lemme out of here Mr. Gein]
Temptation's lost all control] [Lemme out, LEMMMMEEE OOUUUUUUTTT NOOOOOWWWWWWW!!]"

"Heero! Heero, hey!"

I blinked wildly, jerking out of my daydream and looked towards Quatre who stood right in front of me. His eyes were wide, worried lines creasing near his eyes and I noticed, for the first time, that if Quatre didn't stop worrying about all of us, that he would have visible wrinkles and gray hair by the age of 20.

"Are…Are you all right…?" Quatre asked softly. I felt embarrassment well up inside me, but I didn't let Quatre see it. It was stupid to go daydreaming again, off into harder times that I found enjoyable to look back to. I didn't even remember how I started calling up the memory. I didn't know how I remembered even the lyrics. I was flustered, to say the least. But at least it didn't show.

"Its…its stuffy in here…" I said quietly, my lie floating in the air. Quatre took the bait though and he smiled faintly at me.

"Yeah, I guess it is," Quatre replied. "They always keep this room locked up so tight, for no apparent reason."

In other words, Duo wasn't going to escape anytime soon.

"Come on," Quatre urged and stepped behind me. I once again saw the form in the chair, lazily lying against the back of the wheelchair and head tilted to the side. The flip-flopping of my stomach started again; I didn't want to see Duo's shell. I didn't want to see what he had become. Oh, God, even from here, he looked dead. Like he had died in his sleep. Oh, God, don't make me look.

But Quatre had pushed me forward. I couldn't turn back. I couldn't close my eyes either. Slowly, I walked unsteadily forward, the taps of our feet against the floor the only sound in the quiet room. I licked my dry lips and I grasped onto my self-control with a death grip, refusing to let myself stumble. I didn't want to see him. I didn't want to see him. I didn't want to see him…

But I did.

At first it was just the arm. My eyes immediately went to it and I hid a small grimace. Bandages were wrapped up tight and snug on the wilted limb. I remembered reading about how he had slit his arm upwards, over the artery, and that he was even lucky at being alive in the first place. Once I thought about it, I knew it was impossible for Duo to be even breathing at this moment. No one had found him immediately after he tried suicide and he had slit open a vein…

But then again, Shinigami was a work of wonders, wasn't he?

I moved past the outstretched arm and slowly forced my eyes towards Duo's shell. He had lost a considerable amount of weight since I had last seen him. The muscle that was once in his legs were shabby and fat, or what I could see before the patient dress covered the rest of his flesh. He was pale too, very white, and he almost blended in with his white surroundings. He no longer seemed like the shadow anymore. He seemed like a sick patient that had lost a will to live. He wasn't Duo, not even the man behind the damned mask. I let my eyes continue their search, carefully securing a blank mask of my own on my face. I was able to handle Duo's weight problem. I knew to expect Duo's pale flesh, since he had always been white in the first place. But I hadn't been prepared for my next sight. I hadn't been warned. I was completely off-guard…

Duo's eyes were so empty. His head was tilted slightly to the side and those lavender orbs just stared out the window. Nothing was there on his face. Total emptiness. Not aware, but not afraid. He wasn't tense, but he wasn't relaxed. It was just a blank stare, a void of nothingness. Not even the light was caught into those violet eyes. No emotion whatsoever. A haunting chill ran down my spine and I drew my eyes hastily away from the hideous, cold sight. But the blankness was still there, burning and twisting in my mind so hard that my gut twisted with it. I didn't want to believe it. I wanted to be sick, it was so ugly. The emotionless eyes were…were…. Dead. That's all I could say to describe it. It was just a blank void of lilac now, passive and vacant. Dead eyes. I had imagined it, but not like this. I couldn't believe they were dead. No emotion at all.

"N-Nothing…" I hadn't realized I said it out loud. But when I did, I jerked my eyes up to see Trowa and Quatre watching me intensely, a look of pity washing their faces. They knew what I was feeling right now. It wasn't right, this look on Duo's face. Mask or no mask. It wasn't right. I felt so sick right now. I closed my eyes and put a hand up to cover my own eyesight, trying to block out the light. I did it successfully, but I couldn't block out Duo's bare stare out the window. He…He was really gone…

Hastily, I found myself sitting on the window seat and I took a deep breath. I needed to get myself together. I wouldn't fall apart now; Duo seriously needed me. I took another breath. He had to get out. I had to bring life back into those eyes. Another long breath. I had…I had to get Duo back.

Sudden movement and I opened my eyes to see Quatre pulling up a chair I had dismissed in my scan of the room. I watched him put the chair right in front of Duo and sit down. He was used to this. He had gotten used to the vacant look. He even smiled at that doll-plastered face. God, Quatre. How much are you hurting right now?

"Hi, Duo," Quatre said cheerfully. "We're back. Seems you've really been chilling out lately."

I didn't know what Quatre was trying to do. Duo couldn't hear him; he probably didn't want to. So then why go through all of the trouble to speak to him? I was even angry; was he making a mockery about this? This wasn't something to joke about. Duo wasn't in some sort of daze. Why? What are you trying to do, Quatre? My eyes ran to Trowa and he caught my gaze almost immediately. And then I understood. It was suppose to help the Shinigami pilot. But how…?

"Wufei couldn't come today," Quatre continued on. "Go figure huh? Ah, well, we have a new visitor though! I know you've been waiting to see him for a long time. Heero, come here. Say hi to Duo." I didn't know what to do. This was ridiculous. Duo couldn't see us. He couldn't hear us. But…Quatre was at least trying. And it was a start, I suppose. But I felt stupid still as I rose from my seat and walked over to Duo. I kept my eyes downcast most of the time; I couldn't look at that face for very long.

"Hi, Duo," I said, feeling stupid all over again. I shifted to my other foot casually beside Quatre and he looked up at me.

"Look at him," he said.

I couldn't help it; I gritted my teeth. I didn't want to look. I couldn't face that it. I couldn't…

"Heero, look at him."

I gave up eventually and my eyes slowly rose from the floor to look at Duo's empty face.

"Hi, Duo," I said, yet again. I didn't know what I thought I was expecting. A sign perhaps? Like all of a sudden, he was going to snap out of it and look at me with deep passionate eyes and… My gaze drew to the floor again when I saw no response from the corpse in front of me.

"There," Quatre said, as cheerfully as he could muster. "Now lets see if we can play a few new games."

"What?" I asked and I looked at him. Quatre looked up and smiled slightly. Then he looked away and dug through his pocket for a moment before pulling out a little pocket watch on a gold chain. I was hoping Quatre didn't think he was going to get a response out of asking Duo what time it was because…

Suddenly, Quatre started to swing it in front of Duo's face. I stared for a minute, bewildered, when I began to notice something…. Something that wasn't there a moment ago.

Duo's eyes began to follow the swaying watch.