Author's Note:  I wrote this for a school assignment, so I had to change it a bit, but I got it changed back to its original format. Hope it's not too confusing,
but I don't want to give anything away.
Category:  Anime, Gundam Wing, Yaoi, AU
Warnings:  minor angst, shonen ai
Pairings:  1+2/2+1
Author:  Arigatomina

A Life Worth Living

Heero never questioned his life. The meaning of life had been learned three years ago when he woke up and saw reality. He knew what the meaning of life
was, and although he had no intention of sharing it with anyone else, he longed to find another person who understood as well. After three years of
traveling and searching he had finally found that person. His was not simply an obsession; it was as necessary as breathing.

When he first saw him, Duo Maxwell had entered the school near his apartment. At that time the strange boy was a sophomore in high school and practiced
daily on the basketball court over which Heero's apartment looked. The boy's skill attracted his attention at first, as did his unusually long hair. Hearing
cries and shouts through his open window, Heero'd left his computer with a frustrated sigh and moved to see what was going on.

* * *

The basketball court was small, no more than ninety by thirty-five feet with a ten-foot high fence surrounding it. On the court twenty boys played under the
watchful eyes of two men in uniforms who were obviously coaches. Outside the fence stood the source of the noise as at least forty kids screamed and
cheered at the boys. Heero's first thought was to close the window and go back to the site he had been investigating on the Internet. As he turned,
however, one of the boys caught his eye as he ran up the court and did a lay-up. Actually, it was the golden brown hair that got his attention. It was pulled
back into a tight braid, but it was so long it almost reached the back of his knees.

For a long moment Heero simply stared down at him. Jerking himself out of his reverie, Heero went to the door, threw on his coat and hat and left the room.
Barely pausing to lock the door, he made his way down the stairs and outside where he sat on the steps in front of his apartment building. From that
position, he had a small window to the court and was at a better vantage point to watch the boy. The sun was hot, but he pulled his hat low over his eyes to
prevent the spectators from knowing which boy he was looking at.

As he watched, the students, ranging from fourteen to seventeen years in age, cheered and jeered alternatively. On the court one of the coaches,
probably the assistant, yelled through the fence in a futile attempt to disperse the crowd. Judging by the range of skills displayed by the players as they
now circled the court dribbling balls and passing them to each other before jumping up for a shot at the goal, it was either the first day of tryouts, or a
practice session. Listening carefully as his eyes followed the longhaired boy, Heero learned exactly who he was looking at.

The spectators, children, people, were not screaming at all of the players. They were screaming at one particular player with the name of Duo Maxwell. It
was obvious which player bore that name as the longhaired boy made every shot. When the players finished their dribbling and began to have what could
only be called a mock game, the hero of the crowd began to show his colors. The blacktop thundered with the running steps of the boys, but it whispered
as Duo barely touched it. It was as if he were never still as he stole balls and, running outside the three-point line, made baskets. This, however, must have
become boring because he quickly became more outgoing.

The first time he did a three-sixty left-handed dunk, it became obvious why the crowd was there as their screams became even more deafening. The
coaches were not exactly ecstatic, however, as one frowned and the other looked confused. It was not the amazing skill he showed while playing that
attracted Heero, but the way he was playing to the crowd. He did not laugh at the other players or look as if he felt superior to them. Rather, he smiled at
them as if they shared a secret as he threw the ball from the half court line and sank three shots in a row.

The practice, or tryout, he never found out what it was, lasted another half of an hour and then ended. As the kids dispersed and went home, the steps
were empty and Heero stood watching from the darkness inside the window of his apartment. He had found a person who might know the truth. All that
remained was to find out more about him. With a small smile, he let the curtain fall over the window and returned to his computer.

* * *

Having led a solitary life in which he played the part of spectator to the actions of others, Heero was not a friendly person. He enjoyed watching other
people and occasionally took part in conversations with people he met on the street, but he was far too cynical to make a habit of such things. He knew the
meaning of life and it was not something that allowed him to enjoy life the way others did. By speaking to others, he not only allowed the repressed hope he
harbored to surface, but also risked giving away the truth and ruining the lives of others the way his had been ruined. It was pointless to make a life that
was not real. This was how he thought until he saw Duo Maxwell, the person who allowed him to free that hope and to live a life, pointless or not.

* * *

For two weeks, Heero followed Duo and watched his life from afar. He had absolutely no intention of ever introducing himself to the boy, or of interfering in
his life. He could not cause such a disruption, and although he yearned to speak to him he didn't. Instead he researched Duo's life, all three days of it. His
history before arriving at the school was a dead end; it was as if he sprang into existence three days before Heero saw him for the first time on the
basketball court. He did have a transcript in the office of his high
school, Heero had ways of getting to information, but when he checked the addresses and names given he found nothing. The schools listed existed.
Record of one Duo Maxwell did not.

He quickly learned that Duo practiced privately on the court on weekends. Friday and Saturday night, from ten until two in the morning, he was playing
basketball. This is what he was doing when he first noticed that he was being watched. Having scaled the fence, security locked the gates at six, Duo was
shooting baskets from the half-court line when one of his shots missed. From the window where he stood, Heero let out a small gasp, as it was the first shot
he had ever seen the boy miss. Duo stood in the middle of the court and stared at the ball as it bounced off the backboard and rolled across the court to
hit the fence. Then he turned and looked directly at Heero's window.

Frozen in shock, for a moment Heero could not move. His cobalt eyes widened as he looked directly into Duo's widened violet eyes. Duo looked like a deer
caught in the headlights of a car before he suddenly straightened. Tilting his head down a bit, his mouth slowly formed a sly smile. Then he sprinted to the
fence, sprang over it, and disappeared down the street in a matter of seconds. Breathing rapidly, Heero stared after him for ten minutes before he was able
to move again.

* * *

It took Heero almost a month to find him again. Although he did not want Duo to know he was being followed, especially since he had seen Heero watching
him, he could not help himself. He was pulled by invisible cords of need and had to find the boy if he was to continue living. As if Duo were his life force, he
could not stay away. He found him in another school on the other side of the continent. In a small town in California he had enrolled as a senior under the
same name. This made Heero smile a bit since he knew how hard it was to change one's name, but also because he could not help thinking that Duo
wanted to be found.

Renting an apartment near the school, Heero began watching for him. Basketball season was over, but he finally spotted Duo walking to school. Knowing
his route, Heero began to watch him daily until he decided to follow him home. Three times he tried to follow Duo home, but he had an ability to vanish into
thin air. This is how it appeared, but Heero was fairly certain he was really ducking into an alley and sprinting with his inhuman speed to where ever it was
he lived. Unable to be so close and yet so far away from him, Heero waited at the spot where he usually lost the boy. Finally, he saw him as he was walking
home from school.

As Duo came down the street, Heero got a cold chill from the way he looked over his shoulder occasionally. He knew he had been found. When he saw the
boy's face, however, he almost stepped out of his hiding place behind a tree. Duo looked disappointed and even a bit sad. Heero was determined to find
out where he lived and he still had no intention of actually interfering with his life, however, so he remained concealed. It was obvious that Duo knew he had
been following him. Now that he thought he was not around he did not disappear as usual but continued at a normal pace down the alley.

Not moving for fear he would be sensed, Heero watched as Duo jumped up and grabbed a fire escape ladder and, pulling it down, climbed it. At the third
floor Duo entered a fire exit and left his line of sight. Heero stood slowly and looked up at the building. If he saw him, would he run again? Was he hiding
something else, or did he know the meaning of life as well? Thoughts and questions ran rampant through his mind and an almost incontrollable urge to
corner the boy and ask surged through his veins. Clenching his fists, Heero forced his body to turn and slowly, stiffly, he walked home.

For two days he remained in his room staring at the blank wall and clutching the headboard to physically restrain himself. His body wanted to go no matter
what his mind said. The need to see the longhaired boy was a fire coursing through him, and he had broken into tears numerous times. Still, he refused to
take the chance that Duo might not be the one he thought him to be. Also, with no experience around people, Heero was even more afraid that Duo might
be that one, but that he might also repulse him. It was not his appearance that worried him, Heero was confident in his appearance, rather, it was his
depressing demeanor. He even depressed himself.

From watching him, Heero knew that Duo was not only extremely intelligent and athletic, but that he took great joy in life. Everything he did was enjoyable,
not just for him but for those who watched him also. He radiated joy and life. He was vivacious, and had a sense of humor that caused him to laugh often
and wholeheartedly. He was also serious at times, even sober. Heero knew this from watching him with his friends when they sat together during lunch,
after, and before school. He would sit quietly while they talked, and when they finished he would smile that sly smile and speak. Although Heero could not
hear what he said, his friends would laugh and the joy Duo gave them was almost visible.

Having led such a solitary and cynical life, Heero lacked the courage to seek him out, and finally decided to leave him alone and continue his own
meaningless life. It was as he was packing that Duo decided to visit him.

Heero had knelt on the floor to pull out his suitcase when the door to his apartment opened and Duo walked in. Heero turned and looked at him, once
again unable to move yet, at the same time, fighting the urge to run to him. He stood just inside the door smiling that smile. Slowly, quietly, Duo pushed the
door shut and, as he walked toward him, Heero saw the lock turn into place. With wide eyes, Heero watched him as Duo came and sat on the floor in front
of him.

"I know the meaning of life." His words were spoken in a soft and sober voice, but the sparkle in his eyes and the sly smile on his lips belied the serious
attitude. "I waited for you to approach me, but I guess I'm not patient enough. I knew that if you knew the secret then you would be able to find me. And you

"Three years ago. . ."

"That's right. I woke up. I couldn't move or make any sign, but I saw. I heard everything." He sighed. "I left home then and began to live a life without
boundaries. I realized that life is what we make of it." He laughed. "I realized that I could do anything I wanted if I put my mind to it. Reality is what we make
of it. I can't even remember what grade I was in or how old I was three years ago. It doesn't matter, though, because when I feel like being old I will simply
age my appearance. This is our reality even if it isn't real."

"That's what bothered me so much about finding out the truth," Heero put in quickly, "I was always watching what I said to other people for fear I would let
something slip and make them as miserable as I was. I'm about seventeen years old, although I make myself look about twenty-six so no one questions my
living alone and not being in school. Our world isn't real. Since I found that out I've had trouble treating it as if it were. I haven't enjoyed life since I found
out. At least," he smirked, "not until I saw you. You enjoy everything so much."

"There is a lot to enjoy," Duo said. "Just think, although we don't live in the 'real' world, our world is better than that world since we can reshape our world
with the smallest bit of focused thought. And," Duo touched his cheek suddenly, shyly, "It can be even better if we reshape it together. Our lives, the world,
you and me."

Rushing forward, they kissed slowly, and when they separated to arm's length Heero laid his head against Duo's chest, listening to his heartbeat. With his
forehead resting on his shoulder, Duo asked him one final question.

"Are there others?"

"If so, we can find them together."

* * * * * * * * * * *

"I feel so sorry for them."

The nurse tucked in the edge of the sheet and looked at the boy lying so still on the bed. Sally Po had stopped looking at the monitors in this wing two
years ago. Glancing at the new nurse, she smiled sadly.

"These two have been here for four years now. Ever since they were shot down. To think, the people who saved the world not once but twice fell to such a
fate because someone made a stupid mistake. Their shuttle crashed. It's pure luck they are alive at all."

"Really?" The nurse looked up from the longhaired boy as she adjusted the needle, which fed him intravenously. "Were they part of that test three years
ago, then? The one where they were using that new drug?"

"Yes, so were the three in room six-forty-one. Unfortunately we didn't get a response from any of them. Not even a change in heart beat. They may as well
have been injected with a placebo for all the good that drug did." She looked down at the boy's open but blind cobalt blue eyes. "I was so sure they could
hear me, but they didn't even blink. Sometimes I think we would be doing them a favor by simply pulling the plug. Brain damage is the worst fate in the
world, especially when you're so young."

"But isn't the chance of life someday in the future better than giving up on them now?"

"That's not very realistic. These kids will never live lives worth living. I feel sorry for them."  Looking at the new nurse, Sally smiled sadly and beckoned her
toward the door. Together they left the room. In the beds, neither Heero nor Duo moved.

Okay, are you confused? My teacher said I didn't explain this very well. They were not hurt after the fic, they were like that throughout the entire story. I am
showing a possibility of what a "brain-damaged" person sees, trying to say that although they are dead to *this* world, their minds continue to live, making a
different world. Also, that everyone who is in such a state lives in the same world. It's almost an alternate universe where people go when they are cut off
from ours but not dead. I guess it is confusing, but I couldn't explain in the fic or I'd ruin the end. Sorry, my sad attempt at a shocking, suspenseful ending.
Whatever, I like this. ^__^
PS: I was hinting at the other three pilots being in the same place, leaving an opening for a continuation as always. ^___^