I don't own the GW boys or other characters, and I'm glad.  Have you ever thought about how much it would cost to FEED them?!?  Sure, I could borrow money from Quatre, but...  Anyways, yaoi, angst, and death, because I like to dabble with death.  And I DON'T believe in happy endings.

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Part Ten:

                That night, around midnight, I snuck out of my room again.  Lon was a surprisingly heavy sleeper, as I quickly found out when I managed to accidentally knock a book off the table and onto the floor.  When Lon continued his slumber, I let out a long sigh of relief.  Although he might have looked and acted like Heero, he sure didn't sleep like him.  I had made an extensive study out of that; while Heero slept, his features had all remained guarded, the Perfect Soldier even in sleep.  But Lon totally relaxed, even letting a tiny smile tweak the corners of his mouth now and then.  And Heero had been an amazingly light sleeper.  The slightest sound could wake that guy up; he was better than any mechanical security system.  I used to be tempted to take him apart and see if the guy wasn't a machine.

                I really don't know why I risked going out of the room.  I didn't have anywhere to go, now that I had managed to transfer the ownership of that dream book from the dusty library shelf to the dusty darkness under my bed.  I guess I just needed to think, and I couldn't do that knowing that Lon could wake up at any moment for a drink of water or an unexpected trip to the bathroom.  And the memory of my encounter with Heero- perhaps fantasy, perhaps not, neither one really made any sense- still lingered in my mind.  I couldn't think about that in the exact same place where it had occurred!  And so I made my way, as quietly as I could, out of my room, through the hallway, and down the stairs, until I reached the courtyard door.

                The courtyard is a really nice place.  It's right smack dab in the middle of the school in that little unroofed area that doesn't have a ceiling, so it's pretty open.  A few benches are scattered strategically around the place, providing us students with some nice places to sit down, and the place is covered with bushes and flowerbeds and trees.  In the fall, the place was a magical looking one and it probably would be again, maybe even more so, in the spring and summer.  If a person placed themselves in just the right position, so that they couldn't see the walls or the doors through the trees, they could almost believe that they were free.  Free of all the troubles that school and everyday life presented.  Free of all the curve balls that Fate likes to throw.  But this was the middle of winter, and pretty much all of the plants were dead, except for the pine trees, and there weren't enough of those to hide the old, depressing brick walls and the heavy metal doors on either end of the courtyard, leading back into the school.  It was impossible to be free of anything like that in the middle of the winter.  Not here.

                And yet here I was, ready to face the bitter cold winter wind in my thin clothes, which I hadn't bothered to remove after dinner, having had the faintest suspicion that I would be taking a midnight walk at one point or another.  I rested my hand on the door handle.  What was wrong with this picture?  I shook my head, shutting my eyes and trying to clear out all the garbage collecting in my brain.  No use.  Sighing, I looked down at my hand where it rested on the door.  It was so pale and thin...  if I thought about it, I could almost see the purple and blue veins underneath the skin and the blood flowing so freely through them.  I blinked.  If I got a pair of scissors, I could probably cut in there and yank out a vein or two and cut it.  It would be such an easy way to make all my problems go away.  So easy...

                I shook my head again.  No.  Why was I thinking like this?  I had promised Wufei that I wouldn't think about suicide or of hurting myself again and I hadn't since I left the hospital.  So why was I thinking about it now, of all times?  I never break promises and I never tell lies.  Was I really so desperate to make everything go away?  Some people who had slid off the bubble thought that.  Just like some of them talked to themselves or to the people who only they could see.  Like some people who just weren't safe to be around in an uncontrolled environment.  I groaned, hitting my head against the door.  I wasn't crazy.  I wasn't.  I just thought I was Shinigami and had perverted dreams about my missing best friend and thought about inflicting bloody, gruesome deaths upon myself.  I wasn't crazy.  A lot of people were like that.  Sure they were.  And, maybe, if I kept telling myself that, it would be true.

                I wrenched open the door, trying to shock the thought out of my head with a blast of cold air and snowflakes.  Shutting my eyes and grinding my teeth together, I went into the courtyard, making my way over to one of the benches and sitting down, the cold metal of the sides and edges pressing against my skin even through my clothes.  The wind whipped through my skin, chilling me through the length and breadth of my skin.  Snow piled up around my feet as I sat, thinking.

                I wasn't crazy.  That wasn't even an option.

                But if that was true, then what was wrong with me?

                I held my head in my hands.  Life was just going down the toilet.  And I thought I had it bad before.  Now that I was questioning my sanity, I wasn't sure if I knew which end was up anymore.  At least during the war and when I was living on the streets I knew that I was at least partially sensible!  I sighed.  Fate was throwing me one of her famous curve balls.  Damn.

                Miserable as I was, I decided quickly that freezing my arms off in this cold tempest wasn't going to make things any better and it sure as hell wasn't helping me think.  I stood up and went back into the hallway, where I leaned against the wall, shivering.  Okay, so I was allowed to have one or two bad ideas every so often.  Going outside to think was definitely one of them.

                I was also torturing myself by reliving that night's dinner experience in my mind, over and over and over again.  Thinking about how it could have been worse, if I had so wished it, but how it could have been better still.  Damn Relena and her endless pursuit to best me!

                Maybe, just maybe, if the day hadn't been so messed up already, I would have been able to watch my tongue around her.  But no, I had to be the same Duo everyone expected me to be, letting my tongue flap around where it wasn't wanted.  And when I had accidentally let slip to Relena that I was going to see the school shrink in the morning, I hadn't missed that far too familiar hungry glint in her eye.  She was planning something, but I had no idea what.  And that wasn't a comforting thought at all.

                I must have dozed off there against the wall, because the next thing I knew it was nearly two o'clock and every bone and muscle in my body ached from being pressed into the wall.  Groaning, I sat up, wincing as my bones snapped and creaked.  This wasn't going to make for good jogging like I had told Wufei I'd be up for.  Wu-man was looking for a good jogging partner, and my tired body was going to be somewhat of a disappointment unless I went back up to my room and took a little nap.

                Yawning widely, I got to my feet, letting the wall do its part in supporting my weight.  And why not; it wasn't doing much else at the time.  I saw absolutely no harm in it.  Why should I?  I sincerely doubted that the wall had anywhere near as many problems as I did.

      I walked into the dorm room to find him sitting out on the balcony, in the cold, wearing only his boxers and a pair of socks, as the snow started to fall.  The door was shut, and bolted from the inside.  Lon was just sitting out there, snow glistening in his hair, calmly as could be.  I swore and opened the door.

                I was wearing my clothes, the whole pants, shirt, and over shirt combo Wufei had handed to me earlier, and I was freezing.  "What the hell do you think you're doing?" I called to him over the raging winds.  "This is suicide!"

                Lon looked at me, and I could see his face, which was leaden and like ash.  He had been out here for a while, then.  "I know."  He made no attempt to move, so I grabbed his arm and literally dragged him inside.  He stared at me like I was crazy, which, I suddenly realized, was quite possible.  I'm such a damn hypocrite.  I set him next to the heater, and wrapped him in about a million blankets.

                "You idiot.  What are you trying to do, get yourself killed?" I asked him, ripping the quilts from off my bed and wrapping them around his muscular body.

                "Yes."  He shivered, and I frowned at him.

                "Why?  Besides the fact that you have to marry Relena, I mean."

                "Isn't that enough?"  He pulled the blankets closer to him and scowled weakly at me.  The effect was kind of ruined by the chattering teeth, but I got the picture.  "That's one reason, I guess.  The other would have to be...." His voice broke off, and I smiled at him.

                "What else?"

                Lon was silent for a minute.  When he began to speak, it was with a slow, soft tone, like he was thinking over everything he said.  "I was a soldier."

                "Okay," I said slowly.  "So was I.  What's so bad about that?"

                "I'm not done.  I don't remember any of it, I was in some sort of mobile suit accident, and I nearly died.  Relena found me, and told me about what had happened.  I don't remember anything before that, either."  He smiled, a bitter smile.  "I didn't even remember my own fucking name.  Relena told me about life before the accident, and how we had been engaged."  He shut his eyes.  "That was a lot to swallow in itself.  But then I started having odd dreams, little flashes of life before, and though I could never really grasp what they were about, I sort of knew.  I know I had a friend before, and something tells me we were more than good friends, but I think he died in the war, like I did."

                "You aren't dead, unless you know something that I don't.  You're still breathing and talking, aren't you?"

                "No thanks to you," he spat at me.  "I can't stand not knowing, Duo.  It's ripping me apart from the inside, and I still need to figure out why I hate Relena so much, even though I apparently proposed to her and everything."  Lon slammed his fist against his thigh.  "I hate her."

                "Trust me, you aren't the only one."  I leaned back on my chair.  "Why did you choose that method of suicide?  Wouldn't it have been a hell of a lot quicker to put a gun to your head?"

                "That's too unpredictable.  You could wake up paralyzed in a hospital, instead of dying.  Besides, Relena took my gun away."  He smiled, a very weak smile, but it was a smile nonetheless.  We were making progress here.  "I considered jumping off the balcony instead."

                "And end up alive?  No way.  There's always the baggy-over-the-head trick."

                "Takes too long."  He stared up at the ceiling.  "How do you know so much about this type of thing?  Don't tell me it was basic training."  I think that, for the first time, I could hear actual emotion in his voice.  Well, emotion besides hatred and annoyance, I mean.  It was actually kind of nice.

                "Nope.  I've tried one or two ways myself."  I showed him the twin scars snaking up my arms, and he recoiled.  Scars do that to people, I've found, especially when they're still shiny and new.  Long sleeve shirts are your friends.  "I tried slicing my veins open a few months back.  Only problem was that Wufei decided he wanted breakfast or something equally disturbing and caught me in the middle of passing out.  He and my other friends got me into a hospital."  I grinned.  "It's pretty efficient, I suppose."
                "I think it's too unsure and unpredictable," he protested.  "You're living proof of that."  He nodded towards my arms.  "I think cutting is only for people who are practicing for the real thing.  What about drowning?" he asked.  Intrigued at finding someone who was almost as morbid as I was, I continued in the conversation, but this little voice in the back of my head was asking why I was egging on this guy, since he was already suicidal enough without my help.  And how was it possible that the two of us, who, up until this time, hadn't exchanged more than three sentences, were actually holding a fairly sensible conversation?  Life sure is funny sometimes.

                "Takes longer than the bag-over-the-head," I protested.  "I still think a gun to the head is the most efficient way to do it.  It always worked in the war.  Stick a gun against someone's temple and pull the trigger.  Their whole head pretty much explodes.  It's the Hemmingway factor."

                Lon smiled at that.  Really.  He actually gave me a real, honest to goodness smile.  "It's not as efficient as you seem to think.  You risk the consequences of hitting nerves, not going straight through the skull, and being only half a person the rest of your life."  He thought about something for a moment.  "My people, the Japanese, have an interesting way of doing it."

                "What's that?"

                "Tie one end of a rope around your neck, and the other end to a large rock.  Put the rock on the seat of a chair, and then sit down with you back braced so that you can't fall backwards but have to keep sitting.  Tip the chair over and the rock falls off, and you'll live maybe three to five more minutes, in a growing dream.  Then gray fades to black, and bang, it's all over."  Lon made hand gestures as he said this, trying to illustrate it in my mind.  It worked.  I shivered as chills wormed their way up my spine.

                "Groovy."  I grinned.  "So why didn't you do that, if you're so insistent on suicide?"

                He shrugged.  "No big rocks."  He met my eyes, and we both started laughing, like two friends sharing a huge secret.  It felt good; I hadn't laughed like that for a long time and I got the feeling Lon hadn't either.  We laughed for ages, until the door blew open and I ran over to latch it shut.  And then we started laughing again.  It's amazing how well you can get to know someone when you're contemplating death.

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Not really much to say.  This chapter was too long in coming and I really don't like it all that much.  Basically nothing of importance happens and it's too damn short.  But it's there, so don't complain.  I don't think I could take it, since life has been going to hell lately…  Yippy skippy.  I'm at triumph@white-star.com, you know the deal.  C&C is necessary if this story is going to go anywhere.  Ja ne.       ~*Hawk*~