Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, wish I did, just enjoy writing about ‘em for free etc
Category: Songfic, Heero POV, romance, angst
Warnings: Yaoi, slight lime
Notes: Everyone stands alone in the end – but they can choose whom they spend the journey with.
Feedback: If you liked it, PLEASE let me know!
Written for chiya’s ficlet contest August 2004.
Inspiration from the Pretenders (of course); and from Steph.
“Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes…”
The dampness in my eyes is from the cold night air; from the chill around me. Nothing else. I’m huddled on the roof, just that little bit too far from the skylight, and even closer to the guttering, and the sheer drop to the stone paving beneath. My feet are bare – they slip a little on the chilled slates, as I draw my knees up under my chin. My vest is ridiculously insubstantial – I haven’t even pulled pants on over the spandex.
Like I’m bothered about what I’m wearing!
Like I’m bothered about anything. Except my mission for tonight.
It’s the cold night air, I told you – not tears! I haven’t cried for years. I could protest that it’s due to my training – a rigid, inhumane regime, that refused me the ordinary outlets of other mortals. To cry was a sign of weakness; a sign of failure – above all, an indefensible waste of time, that should be spent on more military concerns.
But it’s not just the training. I have cried, at certain times in my short life – softly, gently. Often in the dead of night; standing over a man, sleeping soundly in his bed, and completely oblivious to me and my nightmares. And in the daytime, standing on the battle field. Crouching amongst rubble and devastation, and seeing the torn remains of a much-loved teddy bear…
But that’s why I’m here tonight, isn’t it?
For all the things I’ve done. For all the things I can’t forget – that I can’t live with any more.
I’m so dog-tired, that I’m not even going to try any more.
“Come on, and come to me now
Don’t be ashamed to cry…”
Shit, I think. I know the voice, of course I do! I thought he had better things to do than crawl about on a cold, slippery roof in the small hours of the morning. I’m too tired to swear at him – to swear about him. My heart is numb enough, but it drops a further few inches in my chest, suffocated with another layer of crushing misery.
I thought he was away.
Because that’s the way I planned it!
They were all to be away – they were all to be too far away to have any misguided feelings as to ‘saving’ me. We all have our own lives to lead now – there’s no real reason even for us to share a house – to share anything, really, except pain, and shame, and the embarrassment of once-intimate relationships, forged only through circumstance and desperation.
No other reason.
And the others had gone, easily enough. They were happy enough to spend time away from the house that’s become a kind of prison to us, left as we are, in our limbo world. No path forward for any of us yet – no definite plans. But no longer needed as soldiers, now that peace is threatened.
Funny that I should use that word about it, eh? As if it were as loathsome as the war itself had been.
Their lives are much easier to anticipate; they have families; they have a past; they have a skill – and an appetite for the years ahead.
And that’s where the difference lies; so obvious, that I’m ashamed it’s taken me this long to work it out.
Some would say that such a pragmatic approach to my own end is unnatural – that I am unbalanced. I sit on this roof, and only the warm breath of another person’s intrusion holds me back from sliding gently down off the side. I will not make any attempt to stop myself – and yet I have chosen this method, because I’m afraid that I will try; that my humanity will betray me, and attempt to cling to a life that’s become worthless and indifferent.
I try not to get angry. Of all people, I thought Duo Maxwell would have understood! Should have understood.
I don’t want to feel any of the emotions that have so destroyed my peace and certitude.
“Room for one only up here, Maxwell. Leave me be.”
He’s going – I hear the joint of his knee crack as he twists his legs somehow.
Then he sits down beside me, rather awkwardly.
No - he’s not going.
“Let me see you through
‘Cause I’ve seen the dark side too
When the night falls on you
You don’t know what to do…”
If he says anything about crying –
“Life sucks, doesn’t it, Heero?” His voice is very low, and gentle, and there’s a strange hitch to it.
I don’t want to listen, though.
“You think I don’t understand. That I don’t know what you’re going through. Dammit, you probably think no-one does!”
Christ… I think. “I’m not looking for pity, Maxwell. For understanding. I just want to be left alone.”
A small moment of silence. He’s not moving. Damned stubborn young man, he is.
“So what’ll you do with that alone-ness, Heero? You think I haven’t tried it? It ain’t all it’s cracked up to be!”
“I don’t want to talk to you,” I sigh. It’s so very, damned important that he goes away -
“Life sucks,” he repeats. “And people die – and when we’re not creating the shit, we’re expected to be cleaning it up. Right? But what else is there for us to do? We’re nowhere at the moment – we’re nobodies. They wanna forget us, and all we stood for. We’re an embarrassment – we’re a reminder of the mistakes.”
“I don’t want to be that any more, Duo.”
I don’t mean to speak – it’s just as important that I don’t let myself be distracted. It’s the best for everyone. But he flinches – I assume it’s because I called him Duo. There hasn’t been much of that, for a while; no smiles, no touches, none of the endearments. Just barked words – anguished abuse, tossed at his surname only.
There’s been nothing at all between us – for a long while.
When he speaks again, his voice is careful – but it’s bitter, as well. “You think it’s only you, Heero? You’re the only one who struggles? What sorta life have any of us had?” He laughs, but the echoing call snaps like a fragile icicle against the cold harshness of the air.
“And whatever we did have – now it’s been ripped away.”
I really don’t mean to speak…
“I killed so many, Duo. Hidden victims, hidden martyrs in their suits, and aircraft, and trains, and cities – hidden, just like I was in Wing. But they still died. She died, Duo.”
His breath catches a little. It’s not like we haven’t talked about this before. It’s not like he ever found a way to break my certainty on this. “Sure. Can’t deny it, Heero.”
I can’t help myself – I twist, and I stare at him, wildly. He’s stopped trying, it seems! “And what life did she have, Duo? A little girl – a true martyr of war! And I killed ‘em, Duo – all of ‘em!”
Go away, Duo…! I scream inside.
“What sort of history will that be, Duo, for me to look back on?”
“Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less…”
“You know it doesn’t affect how I feel about you, Heero. It never has, because I thought I knew – well…
I love you, Heero.”
The words come out on a breath of steam – the hours are getting more chill, and soon my bare feet will be too numb to keep hold of their footing anyway.
I bite my lip.
“It’s just words, Duo. Just something we said – and did – during the war. Something to make it all bearable – something to give us some relief, and some pleasure. Albeit just in passing.”
“Just in passing,” he murmurs. He still sounds careful – he doesn’t sound angry with me, though I’m sure I must be hurting him.
But then I’m used to that, nowadays. I have nothing else to offer him.
“We’re too young, Duo. I’m too young. Too young to bear it all, any more. When I look forward, there’s nothing there. I will not grow in that atmosphere of pity and uselessness!”
He snorts, then. That sounds like the old Duo. “Don’t be so melodramatic, man! Like you’re gonna be throwin’ yourself off this roof, in some fit of teenage angst –“
The silence is quite shocking. His whole body tenses beside me.
“Shit,” he breathes.
“Yes,” I say, tightly.
Go away, Duo…
“I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you…”
I‘m not happy about it, but I can feel him turn his body carefully, trying to see my expression in the half-light.
I don’t want to be here at dawn. That was never in my plan. I want him to go away, and let me complete my mission.
“Heero – you’ll do the decent thing of listening to me for a while, will ya? I think I deserve that, at least. For those times I saved your sorry butt – for those times I made you laugh when you damn well didn’t want to. For those times I reached out, and –“ His voice falters now. “Touched ya.”
Despite the cold, I feel the hot flush inside. The one thing I could never control – or ignore.
“We’re just kids, y’see – I know that! We should be havin’ a ball, skipping school, playing sports, reading dirty magazines. We should be in a rock band, Goddamit, or something just as ridiculous! Trying new haircuts – losing homework on the bus. Outrageous fashion – body piercing. Arguin’ with parents…”
He sighs. “But we never will be, I know that too.”
Your point is -? I want to say. But I mustn’t be drawn into debate – he does it to me too easily.
“But what we’ve got instead,” he says, softly. “Is the ‘trade off’…that’s the friendship, and the sympathy, and the team spirit and camaraderie. Guys like us – been through the same things; seen the same things; felt the same disgust, and fear, and shock. It’s a bond in itself – something that others don’t have – that’s unique to us. We’ve got each other, and –“
He pauses, but I know he’s not finished.
I want to despise the sap, because that’s all it is, isn’t it? Love is for the normal people – love is for the stable people. Love is for peace – love is for grown-ups; for worthy people. Love is a convenient word for ‘fuck me’ – love is another, misused word for ‘victim’.
“I’m with you, Heero. Always.”
He doesn’t say it, but he doesn’t need to. His whole presence yells it at me. Whether you want me to be, or not!
He’s always been like that.
Always been there.
“So if you’re mad, get mad
Don’t hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now
Hey, what you got to hide?”
“I won’t talk about it, Duo,” I say. My lips are swelling slightly with the cold, now. My thighs are sliding a little on the slate. “My mind’s made up.”
“So let it out!” he snaps, suddenly. “That’s what you’ve been doing to me for weeks now, isn’t it? Yellin’ at me? Like it’s all my fault? So, go on and do it properly!”
“I don’t want to be angry,” I say, softly. I’m beyond angry. Can’t he see that?
I think he wants to hit me – I can recognise the coiled fury inside him; the frustration. He’s not learnt to repress it yet. It’s rarely been turned on me, but enough times for me to know that he’s at his most angry, now.
He’s like that when I won’t talk to him.
When I can’t talk to him.
He won’t understand. He won’t leave me alone.
Dammit, it’s all rather academic now, isn’t it?
“I get angry too
Well, I’m a lot like you
When you’re standing at the crossroads
And don’t know which path to choose…”
“You selfish bastard!” I’m surprised at the force of his words. “You think I haven’t suffered, as well. From the memories, from the pain of what I’ve done?”
I drag some words out. My eyes are drawn irresistibly to the edge of the roof. I’m very, very tired. “You were a soldier, Duo – nothing more, nothing less. There was reason for your orders –“
The reply is spat out, with a venom that I didn’t know he could sustain so well. “I wasn’t there with ‘em, Heero – I wasn’t there for them! That day the church got burned down – where the fuck was I? I shoulda been there!”
“…stupid…” I mumble. “You couldn’t have done anything. You’d have been killed too. And then you’d never have known –“ Too late, I clamp my mouth shut.
“Yeah, right,” he says. “I’d never have known anything since, would I? All the stuff I’ve done – all the stuff I’ve seen. Stuff that’s turned my gut inside out – and stuff I’ve been proud of. People I’ve met, places I’ve been. My life, Heero – it’s all been my life. For what it’s worth – and for what it’s gonna be worth.”
His voice creeps over me, seeking a way in, through any last place that’s still warm enough to feel it. “I’d never have spent this time with you, Heero. Never lain in bed with you. Never stroked you – never touched you with my lips. Never whispered, never laughed softly –“
“No –“ I gasp.
“Never heard you cry out in the dark, and press the marks of your fingertips into my skin,” he hisses, relentlessly.
The silence is painful, now. I’m afraid – I’m afraid, because the feeling has come back to me.
Why didn’t he stay away?
“I have the same conflict inside me, Heero,” he growls. He’s angry – and he sounds distressed, too. “The same confusion. The same pain.”
“Let me come along
‘Cause even if you’re wrong
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you…”
“Let me touch you, Heero.”
No, I think. I don’t want that. Don’t need that. Christ, if he only knew what his touch felt like to me –
But he does, of course.
Why should I want to forget that? It’s been as much a revelation to me, as it has been to him.
But I can’t be sure that my mind will stay as focussed.
“Let me help, Heero. Christ, I got no answers – but I got you. And I don’t want to lose you. You’re my answer, Yuy. That’s why I keep going, y’know.”
“No!” I’m angry now – dammit, the emotions are returning a hundredfold. “Don’t put that on me -!”
“I’ll put nothing on you, Heero – nothing that you can’t cope with! You think I don’t know your capacity by now – your strength? Your breaking point?”
I’m speechless. I’m cold, and I’m amazed at Duo’s anger, and astonished at the words he’s using.
I feel as if I’m already in another world; the cold is obviously disorientating me.
I had hoped it would be an anaesthetic to me – to enable me to carry out my plan.
But for the first time, I’m scared.
Of a different kind of failure.
“Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you…”
His hand is light on my face, but as it traces the lines of my cheek I shudder. I barely notice it settle down on to my shoulder.
“Leave me be, Duo.”
“Never,” he whispers. “There’ll be something for you, Heero. I promise. I’ll find it. We’ll find it. Christ –“ he groans, softly, and I wonder why his humour has deserted him so soundly tonight. “Like I’m any kinda careers officer –“
“I’m no use to you.” My voice is brittle in the still air. “Find another.”
I think I’m crying now. I don’t have the spirit to be humiliated; I have no control over my body anyway.
“It’s not as easy as for you, Duo – you care for people – you see a future –“
“You talk shit, Yuy!” he snaps. “And I act well. OK? Let’s leave it at that!”
I think he’s crying now.
I don’t want his lips on my cheek. I can’t feel them any more.
Yes, I can.
But I don’t want to.
It all hurts too much. To make his life as painful as my own – to cause him more confusion. To hold him back from an optimism that I know he can find.
“I’m a burden. I’m not asking for pity – just release.”
Is that all he can say to me?
“You mustn’t give up, Heero.”
There’s another arm, around me now.
“Come with me, Heero.”
When the night falls on you, baby
You’re feeling all alone
You won’t be on your own…”
I was so sure that I didn’t want to be here at the dawn. But it’s growing lighter already.
“You’re not going to leave me be, are you, Duo? You’re not going to go away.”
“Never…” he repeats. “I’m with you. Always.”
I wonder if I’ve become part of this roof now, some strange new sculpted buttress. I can’t move. I have no control, at all.
I don’t know how I feel about it, though. Glad that I can still feel it?
I’m still saturated by the weariness; the cold that’s inside me.
“Come inside, Heero.”
There’s a hand under my arm.
I just don’t have the energy anymore, to shake it off.
But it’s Duo, isn’t it? Why would I shake him off?
He’s strong enough for us both, this time, isn’t he?
He’s always there, of course.
“I’ll stand by you.”