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fic - a ghost story [misc] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - a ghost story [misc]
Title:  A Ghost Story
Summary:  Duo finds out this haunting gig's not half bad.
Warning:  Duo is dead.  Dead, but hardly gone.  The thing started with a comedic feel, the dialogue and so forth.  But then since Duo's, you know, dead, it got bittersweet kind of fast.  Well, one might even argue the relative sweetness of the bittersweet.  One could even argue its angst.  I leave that as an exercise to the reader.  I still find it somewhat comedic.

Notes:  A ghostish story for Halloweenish.  Why does Halloween seem to be the only holiday I can actually ever hit?  (great, now that i've said it, i'll never hit it again.  ah well.  i think i'm so unlikely to ever write another ghost story that i went ahead and titled this 'ghost story'.)

A Ghost Story

Heero was restless, torn between wanting to be anywhere but here and not wanting to be anywhere but here.  He could concentrate well enough in the office, but here, in this place, he couldn't even concentrate well enough to read through the daily news reports.  He finally pushed his chair away from his laptop and headed toward the kitchen.

His eyes did a near double take as they passed over the sofa in the living room.  For just a moment there, he'd thought he saw Duo sitting on the back of it, just as he always used to, wearing out a spot on the upholstery with his heels.  He turned away, took a deep breath, and continued along his way.  Yes, maybe a nice cup of tea would help calm him down.

Relena claimed chamomile did wonders.  She'd given him a box, but he hadn't taken a shine to it.  Maybe some good old-fashioned green tea.  Maybe anything warm and soothing would do.  How many more hours of this day did he have to get through?  He glanced at the wall clock in the living room and once again spotted the faint vision of Duo, kicking his heels on the back of the sofa.  He stared at the sight like a man picking at a scab.

The apparition seemed to notice him after a second.  It turned and smiled at him -- a little sadly, he thought -- and even wiggled its fingers in greeting.

Heero flinched and turned quickly back for the kitchen.

Duo stared wide-eyed at his back.  "Hey, can you see me?" he asked, just as soon as he got over his surprise.  He hopped off the sofa and held a breath he didn't have anymore, waiting for an answer.  The only response he received was the sight of Heero's shoulders, squared and tense in the way they got when he was determined to bull his way through something unpleasant.

He shuffled quickly through the kitchen door, calling out loudly.  "Hey, Heero?  Heero?"

The man in question paid no attention to him and finished filling the kettle from the tap.

Hurt, and a little bit anxious, Duo ran over and waved his hand right in front of Heero's face.  "Hello?"

The kettle clattered loudly into the sink as Heero jumped back from his position, looking as scared as Duo had ever seen him.  His eyes were a little wild around the edges as he stared straight at Duo's position.  "Shit," he cursed softly to himself.  "I must be going mad."

"No, you're not!"  Duo pumped his fist in victory.  "Aw, no way, you can really see me!  That's so crazy awesome!"  He noted Heero's eyes following his movements and did a happy little dance.  The crazed feel to Heero's expression multiplied, which dampened his mood a little.  "What, this isn't great?"  No response.  "Okay, maybe he can't hear me.  Can you hear me?  Heero?"

Heero took a slow step back, his breathing still shallow and quick.

Desperation gripped him.  "Aw, come on!  Even if you can't hear me, I know you can read my lips!  Right?  Look, I realize this may be kind of weird, but...!"

Heero raised his hand tentatively into the space in front of him and met with absolutely no resistance.  His hand clenched into a fist, his expression hardened, and he shook his head sharply.  "Shit, what the hell am I thinking?"  The tea was forgotten as he turned on his heel and strode toward the door.

"Heero!"  Duo reached out automatically to him, expected his hand to land on Heero's shoulder with a firm, recalling force, and was unprepared for the way it completely failed to do so.  He stared at his insubstantial excuse for a hand with a betrayed look on his face.  "Well, fuck."

He watched Heero stop in the living room and plant his hands on the arm of the sofa.  Head hanging low between his shoulders, he was clearly concentrating on taking slow, deep breaths.  Duo found this completely unacceptable.  "What to do, what to do...?" he muttered to himself.  He tried to pick up the tea kettle.  He failed.  He went into the living room and tried to touch a framed photo of the two of them sitting on an end table.  Also a failure.  "Aw, come on, come on!  This works in the movies!  Okay, Maxwell, concentrate!"  He attempted to clear his mind and focus all his will and energy into the tips of his fingers, and in return, his fingers went straight through the picture.  "Fuck!"

Heero's head raised hesitantly.  "...Duo?"

"What?  You can't hear anything else I can say, but you can hear me swearing?  What the hell kind of twisted rule is that?"

Heero was staring at him now, eyes fixed on his lips.  "No... I can... almost..."  He blinked hard and shook his head again.  "Crazy.  I'm going crazy."  He slapped himself lightly and went around to the front of the sofa.  "I hear nothing, see nothing, not going to--"

Duo jumped in front of him again, making him stumble back in surprise.  "Aw, come on!  You're not going crazy, baby, I swear it!  I know you don't believe in ghosts, but... but can't you believe in me?"

With a heavy sigh, Heero slumped onto the sofa with careless force, staring down at his hands in his lap as he struggled to decide what he wanted to believe.  At length, he raised his head with a vulnerable look on his face and decided to return to what had always given him comfort -- the facts.  "You're dead, Duo.  Dead."

He had no idea how relieved Duo was just to be spoken to directly and acknowledged.  "Well, yeah, okay.  I agree with that.  This isn't some creepy thing where I don't know it."  Duo ran his hand through his bangs in frustration.  "But, well... look, I don't know what happened!  One second I'm hurting like a motherfucker and next thing I know, suddenly I'm like 'waking up' in our living room!  Um, well, okay, I guess maybe I had some awareness in between there since I know I'm dead, but, well, you know what I mean!  I didn't ask to be here!"

Heero had watched Duo's movements with some fascination, distractedly noting that at least Duo's fingers were physical with respect to his own hair.  But with Duo's last words, he broke out of that state with a startled, wounded look.

Duo backpedaled quickly, not noticing Heero's wince when his leg went right through the coffee table.  "No, that's not what I mean!  I mean, I didn't... Of course I want to be here!  I'd happily haunt you for the rest of time!  I just mean I don't have a stinkin' clue how I ended up here, but now that I'm here, I'm certainly not going to complain.  I just... just... don't you want me here?"

There was no way a ghost should look that dejected, Heero decided.  How could a ghost read him so clearly?  "You're a figment of my imagination.  You have to be."  He lay down on the sofa, closed his eyes, and focused on hearing the sound of only his own voice.  "Not going mad... I am *not* going there...!"

Duo knelt at his side and easily broke through his attempt at calm.  "Aw, come on...!  I mean, geez!  So what if I'm a figment of your imagination?  Not saying I am, but there'd be no harm in that, right?  I'm still sitting there in your head, in your memories, right?  What'd be so crazy about seeing me around?  Projecting once in a while?

Heero's eyes snapped open and pinned him with an angry glare.  "Do NOT rationalize this for me!"  With a frustrated sound, he rose from the sofa and started pacing the living room.

Outrage did battle with absurdity, and Duo spun around with a mixture of both in his head.  "Do NOT just walk through me like I'm not even here!"

"You aren't here!"

"Then why are you arguing with me!?"

Absurdity started a second battle in Heero's head against desperation and despair, leaving the words so tangled in his mind that he was unable to utter any.

"Aha!  See, either I'm a ghost, or you're already completely out of your mind!  Wouldn't you rather me be a ghost?"

"I'd rather you weren't dead at all!"

That deflated Duo's spirit rather swiftly.  He thought the same.  "Well... nothing to be done about that now, right?  This is like the second best thing, though!"

"Being a ghost!?"

"Well, if I have to be dead, then yeah.  I mean, it's a bit better than being a zombie or a vampire or something, I think."

This was too much.  Something had to give.  Would it be his sanity?  "But... you can't be here..."

"Well, where the hell else do you think I'd... Oh my god, what if I'm in hell?  Getting to be with you, but doomed to being ignored for the rest of your life?"  He pulled on the end of his braid in distress and cast his eyes toward the heavens.  "Shit, I know I've done some pretty dirty things in my time, God, but this is too cruel!"

He hadn't a clue whether Duo was real or not, but he knew damn straight that he himself was.  Or if he wasn't, he'd be asserting it until he was blue in the face because he was quickly losing ground to stand on.  "This isn't hell."

"Says you!"

"And you're a ghost, says you!  I'm supposed to believe you, but you won't believe me?"  There was a moment of awkward silence.  Heero wondered if any of the neighbors could hear him shouting.  He was pretty certain none of them could hear Duo.  "This is absurd."

Duo latched on to whatever opening he could get.  "You're right.  So absurd that you couldn't possibly be having this conversation with yourself, right?  You've only ever reached these depths of absurdity when talking to me... So I must be here, right?"

"What if I just miss you so much that--"  He didn't cut himself off harshly so much as choke himself off.

"Heero..."  He approached Heero hesitantly, rubbing his palms against his thighs, but no matter how much force he exerted, he had to admit that even he barely registered any pressure there, and if that was the case, then there wasn't a chance in heaven, hell, or anywhere in between that he could reach out like he wanted to and comfort his partner, his lover, his friend.  He could only offer a weak smile.  "Hey, maybe missing me so much brought me back."

Unaware of Duo's efforts, Heero reached out his own hand and tested the space his eyes told him Duo occupied.  "I don't feel a thing," he whispered.  "Nothing.  Not a shiver, not a tingle.  You... you can't be here."

"I beg to differ."  As painful as it was, there wasn't anywhere else he'd rather be.  The thought lightened his mood.  "Well, okay, maybe I wouldn't believe it either if I weren't here... but I am, though!  I really truly am!"

Something in Heero's body language shifted.  It could have been resignation, cautious optimism, or sheer perverse stubborness.  "...How long?

Duo was lost in the transition.  "Huh?"

"Don't ghosts normally just stick around long enough to take care of unfinished business?"

How the bloody hell was he supposed to know?  He was new to this whole thing, and didn't think popular cinema was a very good reference guide.  "Uh... well... I know who killed me, so it's not like... Heeeey, why are you home in the middle of the workday?  Bereavement leave?"

Heero blinked, then averted his eyes suspiciously.  Upon Duo's prodding, he provided a mumbly answer.  "Disciplinary."

"For me?"  Duo couldn't help the pleased grin that sprang to his lips.

He glanced over to Duo out of the corner of his eye, saw the delight, and immediately took on a more guarded aspect.  "I'm not telling you anything!"

"What?  You can't just leave me hanging!"  It took a moment of analysis for Duo to comprehend the reasoning.  "Oh, unfinished business.  Well, I know how the story ends now, even if I don't know all the details, and I'm still here, right?  I haven't disappeared!"

Heero's wariness did not decrease in the slightest.

"Well, come on, I mean... If I'm gonna disappear, you probably just want to get it over with, right?  So test your theory.  Tell me what happened, and if I go poof, well... that'll suck, but better now than later, right?"

He swallowed.  Perhaps Duo was right.  The longer he indulged in this madness, the harder it would be to withdraw.  He took a deep breath to steady himself.  "I love you, Duo."

Sudden emotion welled up from somewhere inside Duo when he realized that at some point between being fatally wounded and opening his eyes on the afterlife, he'd thought he would never hear those words again.  He forced a chuckle out.  "Well, shit, Heero, I love you, too, but... fuck, don't say it like it's goodbye!  Come on, now.  I'm not going poof.  I better not go poof.  Or when I get back upstairs, there's gonna be hell to pay."

Not particularly reassured, but still willing to try, Heero tied the shreds of his sanity up in a neat little bundle and set it aside for the moment.  "I... didn't kill him or anything."

Duo smiled encouragingly.  "Aw, I know you wouldn't.  I wouldn't expect you to.  You just... roughed him up a bit?"

"...Just a bit."

"That's my guy."  His affection was genuine.  "If you're satisfied that justice will be served on him, then I'm satisfied.  What about the rest of them?"

"The rest... oh.  Them.  A few minor injuries.  Don't worry, you got them out safe."

"Oh, that's a relief.  I'd hate to have died for nothing."

"Don't worry..."  He understood that need.  Most of the time, it was the only thing standing between him and a senseless rage over Duo's untimely demise.  "You lived well, you... died... okay."

"What?  Just okay?"  Definitely not the end of the sentence that Duo had been expecting.  "Geez, Yuy, what the hell kind of standards do you have?"

"It'd have been better if you hadn't died at all."  He glared at Duo, but it was hard to pull off when he could see through that ghostly form.  He sighed.  "But... if you have to, it wasn't a bad way to go.  So... don't worry.  Your reputation's safe."  He found a smile somewhere and dragged it out.  It was a little bit lopsided, but it was a smile.

Duo lifted his hand to touch him, but aborted the action before he could fail at it.  "Hey... I'm sorry, Heero.  You know... for putting you through this."

Heero shrugged awkwardly.  "It hasn't been too bad.  I mean, I haven't been 'sad', per se... I just miss you."

The words sent a little tingle of emotion through him.  "You really miss me enough to believe you might hallucinate me coming back?"

The initial response was a defiant tilt of Heero's head.  "...This could be an episode of delayed PTSD, for all I know."

Duo snorted.  "You've never believed any of that PTSD crap before.  Don't you start now."

Post-traumatic... The philosopher in him wondered if waking up every day and remembering was a little trauma all its own.  "Was that your only unfinished business, you think?"

Duo usually felt angry where Heero felt resigned.  He held on to that emotion.  Angry ghosts didn't pass on, right?  "Argh!  You're my unfinished business, then!  You!  Us!  Our relationship ain't over 'til I say it's over, buddy, and it ain't over 'til you want me out of here, or heck, even if you die, maybe we'll be ghosts together and it still won't be over.  So there!  Take that!  I'm not going anywhere if I have anything to say about it!"  He stuck out his tongue for good measure, as if that could make his words binding.

Heero mulled that over, compared what he thought was true with what he wanted to believe was true.  "You're sure you're not a figment of my imagination?"  He held out his hand, palm forward.

Duo looked at the hand, then looked back up into Heero's eyes.  "Would it be so bad?"  He molded his hand to Heero's, oh so carefully regulating his actions so they aligned without penetrating.  "Even if we can't touch... where else could you find such sparkling conversation?"

Heero's chuckle was so weak it barely made a sound.  "I guess... maybe it wouldn't be so bad."

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35 comments or Leave a comment
luel_exana From: luel_exana Date: November 3rd, 2008 08:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I'd definitely call it bittersweet. It was both hilarious and depressing, and awesome... It was awesome too. "You lived well, you... died... okay." pfft
And yet they were still in-character. How do you do it? ♥

I just finished working on one part of a large project and this is an awesome reward to end the night with. Thank you. ♥
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 3rd, 2008 08:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I've always pictured the guys as being very practical about death.  Accepting it as the inevitable consequence of their actions and all that.  Then again, I also always picture the guys as being very practical when confronted with the supernatural.  This is the combination of both those things.  ^_^

Happy to oblige.  *tip of the hat*
hymiethehentai From: hymiethehentai Date: November 3rd, 2008 09:15 am (UTC) (Link)
ya know, this is very simular to the fic Shades of Heero that vega_lume_chan posted a few days ago. I liked this on too.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 4th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, really?  I'll have to go check that out...
sunhawk16 From: sunhawk16 Date: November 3rd, 2008 10:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I am totally and completely confused about how I can be giggling and... leaking at the same time. O.o
windiain From: windiain Date: November 3rd, 2008 12:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm having a similar problem. What is this wet stuff on my cheeks? o_O
ravelqueen From: ravelqueen Date: November 3rd, 2008 12:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh that was really more sweet, than bitter, I cried a little at the end..very poignant..
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 4th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC) (Link)
*patpat* It's not the end.  It's just the beginning of a beautiful afterlife. ^_^
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: November 3rd, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
*sniff* And yet, very much them. ^___^

*goes looking for tissues*
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 4th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Here's a pick-me-up: Imagine how much fun Duo will have after he figures out how this whole ghost thing works.  ^_^
jujubakiller From: jujubakiller Date: November 3rd, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Best Halloween fic I read this year!
I almost cried at the end! Snif!
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 4th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Ha, I don't think I read any other Halloween fics this year, so I hope you're not the same as me! ^__^
merelymir From: merelymir Date: November 3rd, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really do love your work. They seem so in character or if not exactly in character like it would have been a natural progression of their character as they matured.

Perhaps for Nanowrimo you should write your next Christmas/Winter Holiday arc and then you should have it ready in time for the holidays. ^_^

Also, I noticed a typo.
He pulled on the end of his braid in distress and cast his eyes toward the heavesn.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 4th, 2008 03:27 am (UTC) (Link)
'In character' + 'natural progression' + 'matured' is what I like to hear.  You make me a happy turnip. ^_^

Nanowrimo?  x_x  Given the time constraints I worked with on the previous novellae, I think I'll avoid the pressure, thanks. =P

Typo: noted, and thanks!
spazduchess From: spazduchess Date: November 3rd, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I laughed, I sniffled, I wanted to give Heero a plushie to huggle and cuddle. I loved it and there could not have been a better way to start my day. Thank you ^_~
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 4th, 2008 06:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad to be of service. =)

*petsheero* Duo will be around from now on to tell Heero bedtime stories and all that, so it's not too terrible.  Pretend it's like a long distance relationship where they can only communicate over vidphone. ^_^
bloody_winged From: bloody_winged Date: November 3rd, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aww... ;_; This really was bittersweet... And I don't know if I should be happy for them to have at least *that*... or be sad because I just *know* it's going to hurt them even more... ;_; After all... seeing and talking day in and day out with the person you love... and you can't even touch them... it's hard ;_;
This really was a lovely little fic ^_^ Thanks for it *hugs* Even though I had to hold back my tears >.< *hugs Heero and Duo*
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 4th, 2008 06:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think it's going to be all that terrible, once they get used to it.  It's like having a long distance relationship over the vidphone. ^_^  Not quite the same thing as being there in person with each other, but still in a position to know that the other is still alive and well.  Or unalive and well.  And more importantly, fairly content and at peace with his life.  Or death.

*snugstheboys* As people who never thought they'd have anything like this, I think they'll be able to get over not having everything pretty well.
jukeboxhound From: jukeboxhound Date: November 9th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I laughed while my heart continued twinging painfully. Beautiful and funny and, yeah, bittersweet.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 9th, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, life gets bittersweet sometimes, but the guys stick together and get through it in the end, yeah?  ...And sometimes, even after the end.  ^o^  Glad you liked!
35 comments or Leave a comment