Warnings: Angst, Heero's POV, possible partial bastardization though I doubt it, language
Notes: I think I stole someone's line somewhere in here--"Mr. Self- Destructing-Is-Fun-Yuy". Probably Flamika's. Gomen! It just fitted in so perfectly!
by Anria

/ / = flashback speech
[ ] = song lyrics

Can't Turn Back the Years

`No matter how much you think you want or need it, the past has to remain just that, the past. . . .'

[Could've given you everything that you need
But I cannot turn back the years
The perfect love was all you wanted from me
But I cannot turn back the years]

I pretend to ignore the presence across the room from me. Head down, facing the papers on my desk, scribbling away. To all intents and purposes solely fixated on my work, I know.

In reality my every thought is focused on the one lithe, slim form not more than three meters away, talking and chattering with Quatre and Wufei, his braid having grown longer since the last time I had seen him. The very tip now reached halfway down his thighs.

How long had it been since we'd last been this close? Too long. Six years, at least. . . . No, it was much shorter than that. It just seemed like forever.

I stare down at the papers on my desk, realizing that instead of signing my name I have written Too long, Duo. Shaking my head, I reach for the bottle of whiteout.

Someone hands it to me.

Looking up, I see Trowa's one green eye gleaming down at me, then past me, reading what I have written. Cheeks burning, I try to erase it was quickly as possible. Not in front of him. Never in front of him. Showing weakness to the enemy. . . .

What? Where did that come from? Trowa isn't an enemy -- he never has been. It was just that Duo had chosen Trowa over me. Iie, that was wrong -- I pushed Duo away, and Duo had gone to Trowa.

Trowa's one visible eye glinted. It's expression would have been unreadable to most, but not to me. He was saying several things at once, all of them true. You had your chance, and I'm sorry you blew it, but Duo's mine now. Back off, because he's not going to come back to you. No matter how much you want it, you can't change the past.

Or maybe that was just Trowa's eye reflecting the truth I know inside but find so difficult to accept.

"I'm sorry," I say in a near whisper.

"Who are you apologizing to?" Trowa replies. "Me or Duo?"

[So we have to be strong, and I'm finding that hard
We have to move on, but no matter how hard I try
If your heart's in pieces, you look for the truth
And when I look deep down inside I know, it's too bad I love you]

I shut the apartment door with a nearly inaudible click, resting my hand on the fake oak back. I stare at it for a while, taking in the strong bronze skin with tendons and muscles coiling under it, before leaning forward and putting my forehead on the back of my hand, shutting my eyes.

Why was it that now, in 204 AC, I still cannot put it behind me? Cannot not let Duo go, even in my own mind? I was the one who pushed Duo away. I was the one who had said the relationship had to end. I was the one who. . . . Oh, dammit, the list went on and on. Looking back, every argument they had had was my fault. I am almost certain. The baka provoked me, I know, but in the end it was my fault. My own damn fault that I'm left leaning here against the door of this cold, empty apartment with my heart aching.

I should never have let Duo go.

[Sometimes, hits me in the morning, hits me at night
That I cannot turn back the years
So I look out my window, turn off my light
But I cannot turn back the years]

I wake up, gasping for breath through my sobs. Damn it all to hell! I'm supposed to be the Perfect Soldier! I don't cry! I clench my fists and grit my teeth willing control back into its proper place, tears still streaking my face. I am the Perfect Soldier! I do not cry!

I don't fall in love, either.

And suddenly I'm sobbing again, my control having flown out the window. Fuck it! Just fuck it! I'm not damn perfect! If I was perfect I wouldn't have pushed Duo away like that! I wouldn't have hurt him or myself like that!

I slump back onto the bed, cool against my hot skin. I told him to leave. I didn't feel worthy of him. I didn't feel like I was good enough for him, that he deserved better than me.

He wouldn't go. He knew what I was thinking. He knew what I'm like. And he wouldn't leave.

/ "Dammit Heero! You are not going to make me leave!"/

/ "Duo, I don't want to see you any more."/

/ "Uso! Liar! You bastard!"/ Duo was raging, his eyes snapping with anger, tendrils of his hair escaping his braid, a flush highlighting his cheeks. God he was beautiful!

/ "Now you listen to me, Mr. Self-Destructing-Is-Fun-Yuy! I am not going anywhere because you have an urge to terminate! Dammit, Heero, I knew you had self esteem problems but this is just a bunch of shit! You are worth being loved, baka!"/

/ "What will it take to get you to leave? What will it take to get you to see that I'm serious?!"/ I guess I lost it a bit then. I had come to a decision. I told myself I could do this, I told myself, I didn't need him any more. Only a weakling relies on the support of others. He was a weakness. He had to go.

/ "You want me to leave? Fine. Hit me, Heero. Go ahead and whack me one."/

That was a dire threat coming from Duo. He had once told me that he had been abused when he was younger, and one day he had snapped. And that if anyone hit him since then. . . . Well, it made him snap just like he did all those years ago. He would beat the shit out of that person, then avoid them for the rest of his life. That was when he was warning me, especially since it had taken him months to get over me hitting him during the Mariemeia thing. If I hit him again. . . .

Well, that was it.

But I was convinced I was doing the right thing, for both him and me. So I said, /"Fine."/ It came out gritted from between my teeth. Duo's eyes barely had time to widen before my fist connected with his jaw.

I used more force in that punch than I would ever normally have used on anyone, even another Gundam pilot with similar strength and endurance. It would have been enough to break anyone else's jaw. Duo was lucky; he just went sprawling across the room.

He lay there, slumped on the floor, shocked blue-violet eyes wide and one hand to his face. Those eyes turned to me and I saw something in them shatter.

And then he was stumbling to his feet and packing his things.

[Can't make it seem easy, when you're all that I see
Can't live in a dream and I won't serenade the truth
People are hurting and they're looking to me
And I look at you there's nothing more to say, it's too bad I love you]

I jerk back to the present, tears still streaming down my face. God, I was a fool. God? Whose God? Kami-sama or that American one Duo told me about? Both seem to hate me.

It's just not easy. Not at all. Duo was everything.

But why did it take him leaving -- me pushing him away -- for me to realize that? Why couldn't I have grown some sense for once in my life and cherished the gift I had been given? Because that's what Duo was. A gift. A gift from whatever God there is.

Hah! I've figured it out! Why God hates me. He (or She) gave me a gift worthy of a thousand lifetimes and I was stupid enough not just to push it away, but to hurt it. To wound it the deepest way I knew how.

[But I'm never gonna give it up]

I clench the sheets in my fists. So what? Nothing I can do will turn back the years. Nothing I can do will ever make it not have happened. So I'm not gonna give up. Dammit, I'm supposed to be the Perfect Soldier and even if I know I've failed, nobody else does. Except Duo.

And Duo is too pure a soul to tell. Purer than Quatre, in his own way -- Quatre never had to stand the shit he did. He has a stronger sense of honor than anyone I know, even Chang.

Although Duo might have told Trowa. Trowa I could understand. Hell, I know him better than most people. Trowa and Duo. . . . Those were the two I thought most highly of in the world. Not even Relena, as much as I respect her, comes close.

What am I thinking? The two I thought most highly of? The two I think most highly of would be more accurate.

And I hurt one of them so badly, and in doing that hurt the other. God, I'm sorry. If only I could turn back the years. . . .

[All that I lived for, all that I dreamed
But I cannot turn back the years
You're the water I drink, you're the air that I breathe
But I cannot turn back the years]

My mind wanders back to earlier today. Duo came bouncing in, and it was all I could do not to stare at him, shell-shocked. I hadn't seen him since our argument. He'd avoided me totally. But now he came bouncing in, looking just as strong and healthy and beautiful as the last time I saw him.

And Trowa came in after him, and kissed him.

That hurt. I told myself it shouldn't -- I'd overhead Quatre talking to Wufei about their relationship. I'd known about it.

But that didn't stop it from hurting.

I love him. I know that now. I love him more than I've ever loved anything else in my sorry excuse of a life. And cliché though it is, I love him enough to let him go. Iie. I love him enough to push him away to someone better.

I planned this. I manipulated the two of them so that they would end up together. I knew Trowa would be better for Duo than I ever could be. I knew Duo would be better for Trowa than anyone else could be, whether it was me or Quatre or Catherine. I fucking PLANNED this! I shoved the two together and neither of them ever realized it. I gave up the love of my life so he could be with someone who would be better for him that I ever could be.

Damn J. Damn him for drilling perspective and empathy into me.

[So we have to be strong, and I'm finding that hard
We have to move on, but no matter how hard I try
If your heart's in pieces you look for the truth
And when I look deep down inside I know, it's too bad I love you]

Duo. . . .

I don't think he ever understood what a sight he makes, just coming into a room. His smile and his bounciness and his inherent charm and his damned good looks just make me want to go over to him and fall on my knees and beg him to forgive me.

I'm at work again. He's talking to Quatre and Wufei again. I won't look over there. I won't look over there. I won't. . . . Oh, Yuy, you schmuck.

Damn he looks good. The Preventers uniform suits him, all dark. He looks . . . damn there are no words to describe it, but then I've never been good at descriptions anyway. He throws his head back and laughs at something Quatre's said, his braid bouncing and shining in the artificial light, his laughter loud and generous, a joy simply to behold. The blond is giggling, even Wufei is smiling.

All I can see is Duo. Perfect Duo.

I duck my head down before anyone sees me staring at him like a twelve-year-old with a crush. I try to concentrate on my work, but it's difficult with him standing over there, so close.

I work on my reports non-stop. I don't plan on taking a lunch break. When Trowa leaves for lunch, so will Duo. And I will finally have peace. I'm not going to tempt fate by following them.

Everyone else has gone out, the office is silent. It will be until 2 pm rolls around the corner. Finally I can relax. I lean back in the chair, lift my head--

And freeze.

Trowa's sitting opposite me, just watching me. His face is expressionless, as always. He sits perfectly still on the edge of the desk.

"What do you want?" I hear myself snap, and wince inside. Damn, you don't have to be so cold.

"What do I want?" Trowa repeats, and he smiles ever so slightly. "I want to know why."

"Why what?" This is not good.

"Why did you chase Duo to me?"

I gawk at him. I would never have thought anyone would have figured it out. Especially not the people involved. "W . . . what?"

"Why did you chase Duo to me? Why did you give him up? I know you, Heero -- you love him with ever last sorry hormone in your body. And I know you to be the kind of grasping bastard who would never let go of a good thing. Even more so than Duo. So why? Why did you chase him away when you care about him this much?"

"You're mistaken." Oh, that was lame, Yuy. . . .

"Don't play me for a fool, Heero. You know I'm not one."

I sigh, and press the tips of my fingers into my eyes. "Because he deserved better than me," I say, not looking at him.

"And I'm better than you?"

Now I look at him. "Yes."


"Because I know both of you. And while I might seem like an unfeeling bastard, J drilled into me that one of the most important things in life is empathy. Being able to put yourself in another's shoes. Gives you a whole new perspective on life, I'll tell you that, but it also tells you when you're not suited to deal with a person. And I'm not suited to deal with Duo."

"He still loves you, you know."

I blink. "Nani?"

"Weren't expecting that, were you?"

"N -- no."

"Heero, you are a world-class idiot. Duo loves you more than anything, and he knows that he will never stop loving you. No matter what people say, he and I do not have a relationship beyond that of close friends." One corner of Trowa's mouth curved up. "And co-conspirators."

A side door to the office opened. In it stood Duo, trying not to look nervous though I knew the signs. He walked in and stood beside Trowa, expression determined.

[But I'm never gonna give it up]

Now I'm in for it.


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