"Minnie? Are you even listening?" Minnie snapped out of her brooding reverie to see Daisy frowning slightly. She blushed slightly; how long had her friend been talking?
"Sorry Daisy. I guess my mind was just… wandering a little." Daisy looked closely at her friend's face, and then smiled sadly.
"You were thinking about Mickey, weren't you?" The female mouse sighed heavily and nodded.
"I know it's only been a few weeks, but… he's like a completely different person, Daisy. He's so quiet, and he barely comes out… I'm getting worried something might be really wrong." The duck patted her friend's shoulder gently.
"You know this was the hardest on him," she said softly. Minnie nodded slightly, and then looked down sadly.
"What?" Daisy asked. Minnie looked at her feet for a while, then back at Daisy.
"It's just…" she whispered. "When I call him or visit him, I can tell he's been crying, but he tries not to show it. He's hurting so much and I can't help. He won't talk to me."
Daisy put an arm around her shoulder. "He loves you, Minnie. He just doesn't want to make things harder for you."
Minnie nodded. "I know, but…" She closed her eyes, tears stinging in them. "I don't want him to if it means making them harder for himself."
Daisy stood quietly for a minute, then smiled slightly. "Then maybe you should say so."
Minnie looked up. "What do you mean?"
Daisy patted her arm. "Maybe you should go tell him that."
Minnie sighed softly. "I don't know… Do you think it'll help?"
Daisy smiled. "Yeah, I do. But there's only one way to know for sure." Minnie thought for a while. She wanted to help Mickey more than anything. She didn't like the idea of getting stern with him, but if it would get him to finally open up and let out his pain…
She nodded. "Thanks, Daisy." After she left her friend's house, Minnie walked slowly to Mickey's, wondering how she'd say what she needed to. But even as she turned up his walk, she still didn't know what to say. Still, she took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
The sight that met her eyes when the door opened broke her heart.
"Mickey…" He smiled weakly, but his eyes were dark ringed and bloodshot.
"Hey, Minnie…" he said softly. "C'mon in… sorry the place doesn't look so great… I, uh, guess I've been neglecting things a bit."
Minnie stepped in and gently laid a hand on his arm. "Are you all right? You don't look so good."
Mickey sighed. "Yeah, just… haven't been sleepin' so well. I'll get over it." He took a shaky breath and smiled slightly. "Don't worry, Min." Suddenly, he closed his eyes and swayed slightly on his feet.
"Mickey?" Minnie grabbed his arm and looked at him; his eyes were dim with exhaustion. She pulled him toward the couch. "Come on, sit down." She sat down alongside him, rubbing his back. "Just take it easy."
"Mickey." The firm tone of her voice made him look up, startled. "I can tell you're not," she said firmly.
Mickey shifted uneasily. "I… I just…"
Minnie took his hands in hers. "I know you're trying to deal with this on your own, Mickey. But you don't have to do it alone. You don't have to keep what you're feeling hidden. You know that's not what Walt would have wanted."
Mickey closed his eyes, and she could see the tears he was struggling to hold back. "Mickey…" she said, tears stinging her own eyes. "Please don't keep doing this."
Finally, Mickey slumped forward. "I'm sorry…" he whispered, but that was all he got out before the tears started flowing. Minnie put her arms around his shaking form, drawing him close to her.
"It's all right, baby," she murmured, remembering how he had held her as she cried. She kept holding him, rocking slightly, until his quiet sobs finally started to fade.
Mickey took a deep breath and wiped his eyes. Minnie moved back, but kept her arm around his shoulders. "Feel better now?" she asked gently.
Mickey gave her a wobbly smile and nodded. "Yeah," And in fact, he did. It almost felt as though the last of a very heavy burden had been lifted from him. "Thank you, Min," he said softly, squeezing her hand. Minnie smiled and laid her head on his shoulder.
"You're welcome, Mickey. I told you we'd get through this together, and I meant it."
"I know. I'm sorry for how I've been actin' lately," he said sadly. "Guess I wasn't handling it as well s' I thought I could."
Minnie gently kissed his cheek. "You don't have anything to be sorry for. I know how you must feel." She drew back and took his hands again. "Just let us be there for you, the way you're always there for us."
Mickey sat for a while, and then slowly nodded. "Okay," he said softly. Raising his head, he smiled and interlaced his fingers with hers. "You're really something, y' know that?"
Minnie giggled and touched noses with her love. "Right back at you, handsome," she said. As they drew back, Mickey's eyes grew distant. Minnie smiled gently.
"I wish he was here too," she said. Mickey looked at her, then smiled and scooted closer to her.
"Well," he said, and then lightly laid a hand over her heart. "He is, in a way. If there's one thing he showed everyone, it's that no matter what, the good things… the magic… always lives in our hearts." He kissed her forehead. "And times like these don't mean it's gone… it just means we have to remember."
"Oh, Mickey…" Minnie leaned closer. "I know I'll never lose the magic in my heart," she murmured, nuzzling him lovingly. "It's right here."
Mickey smiled and put his arms around her, pulling her close. "Mine too," he said softly. "And I'm so thankful for it." They both sat together for a long time, thinking. They had lost a dear friend, but they still had each other and they had the joy they were brought into the world to give it. That was what really mattered.
And those were the things that would last forever.
I'd like to dedicate this story to anyone who has lost a loved one, and to Walt Disney, who gave me one of the sources of light and laughter in my dark times. May God rest your soul and thank you. Please R&R, and I'd appreciate no flames.