The Perfect Escape
Part 1 - Forgetting
Duo dashed away his tears angrily, biting his lips against the oncoming wail. The pain was unbearable, pounding away at his heart and soul like a sharp edged hammer.
‘Damn you, Heero.’
More tears fell and he could no longer hold back the screams that he had held back. His lungs exploded and a cry permeated in sorrow broke through the silent air before him.
‘Damn you, Heero.’
Duo cried and screamed until he had no energy. Even then, he felt his heart scream louder than his voice had. Wearily, Duo looked around the apartment that he and Heero shared.
Duo’s body shook in dry sobs as he sank onto the hardwood floor of the bedroom he and Heero had shared for the last year. In the eerie silence, Duo imagined that he could hear his heart rip.
‘He left me.’
Bitterness and disbelief coated his dulled violet eyes.
‘He left me for.. Her.’
Anger and betrayal etched themselves onto his beautiful face.
‘I can’t stand this.’
With that final thought, Duo closed his eyes and fell into exhausted slumber.
Somewhere far beneath the surface of the earth, a being felt Duo’s pain. Usually, this being relished in the negative emotions of the human race, but this particular human, this Duo Maxwell, exhibited suffering that repulsed even him. For the first time in the being’s existence, he swam up to the surface of the mortal realm with one objective in mind - to end Duo Maxwell’s suffering.
"Wake up, mortal."
Duo groggily lifted his head at a slightly amused voice whispering into his ear.
When Duo opened his eyes, he was greeted with a face that he never expected to wake up next to. His own.
"Oh. I have gone insane. That’s nice."
His clone merely laughed at him.
"No. You’re not insane, so don’t be so glum. I’m here to do you a favor, you know."
Duo pondered about the depth of his insanity. If it had a sense of humor, being bonkers could not be that bad.
"You’re going to do me a favor? That’s good. I can really use one right now."
His insanity induced clone smiled.
"So, what is it that you wish, Duo Maxwell?"
The being who had taken Duo’s form watched in silence as the mortal pondered the question. Some of his brethren had done this wish thing before to mortals in pain and the mortals had always asked for escape from pain. Usually, the solution was death. He wondered if the mortal would ask for the same thing everyone else did. Somehow, he doubted it. This mortal was different.
"Well, my clone that my crazy mind has conjured up, I wish to forget."
The being sighed. Maybe Duo Maxwell was not so different as he had hoped.
"Is that all.."
So it was death this mortal desired. Easy escape, death.
"No, that’s not all."
The being raised his eyebrows at the mortal’s tone. It was as hot as the flames of his home.
"You see, I don’t just want to forget. Too easy. I want to stop feeling pain. I want to stop feeling anything that makes me like this, ever again."
"You want to escape pain by stop feeling?"
"No escaping. I don’t want to remember that I ever felt this way. I never want to feel this way again. No escape, just a different road."
The being eyed the mortal, thinking about his request. It was most unusual and it had some interesting consequences.
"I can do that for you, mortal. But you should know, if you cannot feel pain, you cannot feel joy. As they say, no pain, no gain."
"Whatever. If pain is the price I pay for joy, I’d rather not have it. Just, no more. I can’t do this anymore."
"Fine, mortal. You will have your wish. Just remember, the Devil never deals fairly."
"Neither does Shinigami."
Duo watched as his clone reached out and touched his forehead. For a moment, Duo felt a searing physical pain wrack his body. Then the world went dark and it was over.
Trowa squeezed Quatre’s hand, trying to pour reassurance into his lover’s worried mind. They were both sitting next to a hospital bed that contained one of their closest friends, Duo Maxwell.
A month ago, they had worried because Heero had left Duo to go to Relena for some inexplicable reason. A month ago, they had thought to help Duo through an ordeal. A month ago, they had found Duo lying on the floor of his bedroom, unconscious and unresponsive. A month ago, Duo had been admitted to this hospital and had yet to wake up.
"Do you think he will come back to us?"
Trowa could not answer his love’s quiet question. Quatre asked every time they visited and he had yet to come up with a satisfactory answer.
"Do you think he wants to?"
Yet another question with no answer. Trowa struggled to reply, if only to ease the pain in Quatre’s heart. But he could say nothing. Nothing at all.
The clock on the mantle signaled that it was two in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day with sunshine and flowers, the kind of day that Duo would have enjoyed. It was the type of day that Duo would have pestered Heero to go on a picnic with him. It was the kind of day that brought out Duo’s inner shine to the fullest.
‘So what are you doing on that bed, Duo?’
Trowa’s silent question would not be answered either. These days, there were more questions than answers. More worry than happiness. All because of a boy Duo had loved so dearly.
Quatre stood and planted a firm kiss onto Duo’s forehead, praying for him to wake and join them in life. Trowa followed the motions, then the two lovers turn to the door to walk out. However, at that same moment, the door opened and a figure walked in.
Quatre’s shocked voice did not seem to register with Heero. He ignored them both and walked to Duo. Heero tenderly pulled back Duo’s bangs obscuring his face, smoothing the fine lines of his nose, his cheeks. Then as sudden as his entrance, Heero buried his head onto Duo’s chest and cried.
Quatre and Trowa watched stunned as Heero Yuy, the ubiquitous emotionless man cried into his former lover’s chest. It was not a gentle cry, but a full blown body shaking wailing kind of cry that put funeral mourners to shame. Quatre winced at the regret, the pain and the sorrow pouring forth from Heero, not believing the intensity of the emotions buffeting his mind.
"I didn’t know.. I’m so sorry.. Sorry.."
Heero’s mumbled apology cleared the shock in Trowa’s mind. He could not feel Heero’s pain like Quatre, but he could see it. Still, there was no excuse.
"What are you doing here Heero? Where were you a month ago?"
Heero did not bother to raise his head. He heard the accusation and censure in Trowa’s voice. He deserved it all, of course. He deserved that and so much more.
"Do you know what you did to him, Heero? Look at him! Why?"
Quatre put a restraining hand on Trowa’s elbow, silently pleading with him not to lose his already precarious temper. It would accomplish nothing at this point in time.
Heero continued to shed his tears, but words finally formed and the story came forth.
"Duo.. Please, wake up. Please. I don’t care if you don’t forgive me, just wake up. I only left because I was a coward. I could not bear to feel so much. I.. I just.. The way you made me feel.. I was so afraid.. I’m sorry.. Sorry.."
Heero lifted his head and leaned his forehead against Duo’s. His words came out in tumbles, desperate to be heard, to be understood.
"Don’t you see? I love you so much.. So much that it scared me.. So I ran from you, hoping to find peace.. You made me feel so much.. Always confused, always in turmoil.. Never felt that before you.. It was too much for me, the love I have for you.. So I ran to the person who never made me feel that way.. Please, wake up! Tell me I was an idiot! Tell me you hate me! WAKE UP!"
It was as if Duo heard, because by some miracle, his eyes opened.
"Oh my.. Duo!"
Quatre shouted joyously and ran to the bed. It was not wishful thinking. Violet eyes were really twinkling at him.
"Hey, Quat.. Tro.. Heero.."
His voice was raspy, scratchy from disuse. But it was Duo. He had finally woken up. All it had taken was Heero.
Heero stared at Duo, shocked and ecstatic.
His ecstasy, nor Quatre and Trowa’s joy, would last long.
"Why are you all crying?"
Duo looked at his friends with slight amusement tinting his eyes.
"Because we’re happy, baka!"
Duo chucked at Quatre. It seemed incongruous, the whole happy thing and the whole crying thing.
"Well, if you’re happy, you shouldn’t cry, right?"
Duo smiled a little when Quatre burst into fresh tears. It seemed that he could say nothing to make him stop. So he turned his attention to Heero who was holding him.
"So, Heero, what’s up?"
Heero’s breath hitched and his heart came to a near halt. What could he possibly say now to make up for what he had done?
"Duo, I’m sorry."
"Sorry? About what?"
Heero could detect no artifice in the question. Duo was genuinely confused.
"About what? For making you lie in a coma. For causing you pain. I’m sorry."
The words sounded so inadequate. Hell, they were inadequate. Heero searched his vast brain for more suitable words, something to convey how truly sorry he really was and how he was willing to do anything to make it up to Duo. But he never got the chance.
"Pain? What on earth are you talking about?"
Duo’s innocent question rocked the foundation of Heero’s heart. Did he not remember?
"When I left.. I didn’t mean to make you suffer like this."
"Suffer? I don’t remember that at all. There was no pain. I’m fine."
Heero could not believe what he was hearing. Maybe Duo really didn’t remember. Maybe it was for the best.
"Don’t worry, Duo. I’m here to stay. I love you."
Heero put all his emotions into his voice, trying to tell Duo with more than words how much he loved him. It was his first step to redeem himself for Duo.
A cold uneasiness began to settle in Heero’s stomach with Duo’s friendly but nonchalant comment. Trowa and Quatre stood by nonplussed at Duo’s reaction. The Duo they knew would have lashed out in anger, or maybe would have hugged Heero in joy. There was none of that. There was just a friendly façade, as if Heero’s declaration had meant nothing.
"Are you feeling okay, Duo?"
Duo smiled at Trowa. Of course he was okay. What else would he be?
In the depth of the earth, the Devil smiled toothily. The mortal, Duo, was awake. And as he had promised, Duo did not remember the pain. Or the joy. He remembered pleasantness, concern, the light emotions. He remembered nothing of love or mind-numbing worry. He would never remember those feelings or experience them again.
The games had begun.