Title: none, really. Let's just call it "Brain-Dead"
Author: J. Strahan
Rating: PG
Pairing: 1+2, 2+1
Warning: More angst than before - pretty short
Disclaimer: Chars not mine. Fic is.
Dedication: To Misuzu, who said she wanted to read it! It's got a little bit mroe angst, and a less happy ending - it's still semi- happy, though.

A Portrait + Brain-Dead

Duo packed up what little he had, and stood in the doorway or the bedroom, watching Heero type furiously on his laptop. He still hadn't told his companion and his plans but he had to now, while he still had the courage. He was sick of loving Heero from afar. "Heero?"

"..."

"I... I'm leaving, Heero."

Heero immediately froze, then spun around to study Duo's face, his deep blue eyes narrowed. After a few seconds he responded. "What did you say?"

Duo lowered his head so his baseball cap covered his eyes, so the other boy couldn't see. "I'm leaving. I can't stay here any longer... You know how I... but... you don't.... Forget it. I have to go." He turned, his head still bowed, and headed to the door, where the bag containing his possessions leaned against the door frame.

He was stopped from behind by strong hands on his shoulders. "Don't."

The American boy shrugged Heero's hands away. "I have to. I have to sort my life out." He continued to the doorway, where he swept up his bag midstride.

"Don't..."

As he opened the front door, he dared a sidelong glance behind him, and his resolve nearly evaporated. The Japanese boy stood motionless a few paces behind him, one hand still slightly outstretched towards Duo, slowly withdrawing. His face was blank, except for his eyes, which held an emotion that he coudn't identify. Never had he looked so forlorn.

"I'm so sorry, Heero, I have to do this." Duo took a deep breath and turned away, the door clicking as he shut it behind him. He hated having to do this, knowing he was the only friend that Heero had, but Duo wanted more than friendship, and he wasn't getting it being Heero's roommate.

Heero's words went unheard. "I need you, Duo. Don't leave me..."

+

Ending #16 Months Later [1]

Heero Yuy's apartment was nearly always silent. There was no TV, no radio, no phone, no lights, even. He barely spoke to the other three pilots. They would stop in every now and then to check on him, only to find him indifferent to the world; his eyes dead, his speech forced, his will to live shattered. Ever since the day Duo had left, Heero's life quickly destroyed itself. All the pilots knew that Heero's whole world had walked out on him, leaving him as nothing more than a shell. All the pilots except for one.

There was a knock on the door. Heero turned his head towards the door, then turned back. If it was important, then whoever it was would come in anyway. He returned his attention to the void he'd trapped himself in before the noise had caught his attention. The knocking began again, this time completely ignored.

"Heero? Are you here? Heero?"

That voice. The Japanese boy was jerked back into the present. It was impossible. He was imagining it.

"Heero?! Open the door! You here, Heero?!"

He stared at the door, eyes wide, not daring to believe it.

The words left his lips in a whisper. "...You came back...?"

The doorknob turned, and then the door swung open, revealing none other than Duo Maxwell.

Duo glanced inside the apartment, seeing nothing but shadows. He stepped inside and shut the door, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. When they did, he saw Heero, sitting in an old, dirty, overstuffed chair, staring straight at him like a deer watching headlights. He took in Heero's appearance, complexion paler than could possible be healthy, the same old tank top and biker shorts stained and unfit to be worn. It looked as though he hadn't bathed in weeks... or longer.

He tried to smile, but failed, immediately knowing that this had somehow been his fault. The boy who had once been meticulously exact in everything he did, was practically dead to the world, uncaring for anything. "Oh, Heero... what's happened to you?" he breathed.

Heero just stared at him. Duo dropped his bag and dashed to where Heero sat and pulled him into an embrace. "This is all my fault... I never should have left..."

After a few minutes, Heero finally found his voice. "Duo? You...came back?"

Duo pulled away, kneeling next to the chair, staring up at his old friend, his eyes beginning to sting from restrained tears. "Yeah. I came back. I guess I forgot to tell you that it was just temporary, huh?" He clasped one of Heero's hands in his own and brought it to his own face, laying a gentle kiss on each knuckle. "I always planned on coming back to you... You never left my mind... Oh, Heero.... I'm so sorry."

"Duo... I've missed you."

For the first time since Duo walked out months before, there was life in those piercing blue eyes again. And there was hope.

~Owari~  

[back to J. Strahan's fic]