fic by Aoe
song ("Stay") by Lisa Loeb
Always wanted to write a songfic to this song...this was the perfect opportunity! Yay for indecisiveness!

italics = lyrics

Stay

I'm making eggs.

Why am I making eggs?

I frown into the pan, watching gooey albumen turn white as the butter crackles, and realize with annoyance that I'm making eggs because Heero likes them.

It's been a week now since I've had to give a shit what Heero likes, and the minute I stop consciously thinking about what I'm making for breakfast, I'm cooking goddamn eggs.

I hate eggs.

But... they're cooked, now, and it would be a shame to waste them... Growing up on the street tends to make you very frivolous with food. So I dump the unappetizing pre-chicken goop onto a plate and sit down at the table in blissful solitude.

Idly, I wonder what Heero had for breakfast. Maybe he'll bitch about it when he comes over later.

I wonder how long he'll keep doing that, showing up at my doorstep every day to complain about what a jerk I'm being, how I'm just being melodramatic, how we were happy together...

Yeah, I'm the jerk. Right.

It doesn't do much good to argue with him when he's got a point to make, though. So I don't really try. I've been taking every chance I get to work my way through two years' worth of complaints. That really pisses him off, when I start yelling about things he doesn't even remember. Then he complains that I'm twisting things around, making him look like the bad guy, making myself into a victim just so I can be right...

Because I'm the jerk.

You say I only hear what I want to


These eggs aren't half-bad, actually.

Let's see, how do I think today's fight will go? The same as yesterday's, probably. I think today I'll remind him about how much our first Christmas together sucked. How he told his stupid boss he'd work on the holiday because he didn't celebrate it, but never got around to informing me. Fucker didn't even buy me a present.

Damn. Out of eggs.

Maybe I'll just make one more. I don't even know why I bought them, so I might as well eat them.

What was he yelling at me about yesterday? Oh, yeah, that I never shut up now. That I never let him get a word in.

Funny, how that never used to bother him back in the day.

Then again, I guess it did. He did tell me to be quiet a lot. But... he used to be quiet, too. And I didn't really mind that, just sitting with him in companionable silence...

Burning my egg. Damn it.

Jerk. I spent the last two years being quiet for him, and now he's yelling at me for opening up my mouth? I left, and he's been over here every damn day lecturing me and yelling at me to come back and lick his feet, and I'm the one who won't shut up?

And you say I talk so all the time... so...

Even a little burned the egg's pretty good. Wonder why I never tried them before.

I break the yolk and watch it ooze around the plate, which used to gross me out, but is now striking me as kind of fun.

I catch myself smiling and it annoys me. Because I'm remembering watching Heero do this with his eggs, and thinking it was cute, the serious and solemn Heero Yuy playing with his food...

I'm not supposed to think things like that about him anymore. I don't love him anymore. I don't want to sit at the breakfast table with him and study how he eats his eggs.

I just don't want to be with him anymore.

I can't live that life anymore.

And I thought what I felt was simple
And I thought that I don't belong


I don't love him anymore. I was so sure of that a week ago...

That thought makes me frown. I'm still sure of it. What is there to love? The obsessive, annoying, damn near psychotic guy who shows up at my door every night and yells at me for being stupid enough to leave him? The controlling, bitter, slave driver who wanted me to be his personal servant? No way! Not happening! He treated me more like a dog than a person...

And of course that's not what makes me doubt my own resolution. What makes me lie awake at night and wonder if maybe I made a mistake.

It's staring me right in the face.

Literally.

Frowning irritably at myself, I glare at the picture propped up across the table from me in the cheap little indestructible plastic frame I picked up somewhere long ago. It's one of the few things I couldn't bring myself to leave behind.

In the picture, we're wearing school uniforms. I'm laughing and grinning like an idiot, taking my life in my hands by wrapping one arm around his neck. He's turning to glare at me, but by some miracle of photography or lighting or whatever, he seems to be just barely grinning.

The picture was taken long before we were ever a couple. I don't think we were even really friends, then. But for some reason I've always loved it. I had a copy made of it to put on my nightstand, because the original over there is kind of ratty from all the time it spent in my pocket and duffel bag during the war.

I got it out the first morning here, when I realized I just couldn't eat sitting here alone. So every morning I look at it, and I remember when, and the doubt gnaws at me a little more.

And now that I am leaving
Now I know that I did something wrong


Because as much as I hate to admit, as stupid as it is considering the way he treated me when we were together...

I miss him.

'Cause I missed you


Damn picture.

I get up to clean my plate and turn the frame face down on the table, but I can still see it in my mind as I start washing dishes.

I wonder what we'll fight about today.

I wonder if today will be the day he finally stops coming. When he finally gives up. When I win.

God, I hope he comes today.

Yeah, I missed you

As I turn off the water in the sink, there's a knock at the door.

That's weird. Who the hell is visiting at this hour of the day? It's only like 8:30 in the morning. Too early for insurance salesmen, isn't it?

Maybe it's Hare Krishnas. That might be good for a laugh. Break up the day a little while I'm watching the clock, waiting for Heero to show up.

I wipe my hands dry on the dishtowel and walk to the door, opening it without bothering to look.

Heero stares in at me, blue eyes looking enormous in his pale face with all that bushy, wild hair of his plastered to his skull by rain. He's soaking wet and looks like a drowned kitten.

Scratch that, like a drowned rat.

Remember, Duo, you're angry at him.

"What the hell are you doing here?" I snap, falling easily into frustrated anger. I am frustrated with him. Because I can't figure out how I really feel about him, and I hate that. Because I think I don't love him anymore, but every day I'm less sure of that, because I miss him, even though he's such a jerk...

"I... I came to... " He looks confused, which is a new one. He's just staring at me, standing there dripping on my stoop. I wonder how long he stood there in the rain to get so wet, and glance to the curb looking for his car. It's not there.

"Where's your car?" I ask curiously. Maybe he left it at the office and took a taxi over? But why? And why not at least wait until lunch? He usually comes over after work, so we can have a nice, long, leisurely fight.

The highlight of my evenings.

He blinks, as though baffled by my question. What the hell is wrong with him today?

"It wouldn't start," he answers slowly. "So I walked."

"You took the day off? Are you sick?" I ask with unintentional concern, reaching out to put my palm on his forehead and check for fever. Maybe that's what's wrong with him, he's delirious from illness. That would explain why he'd walk across town in the rain just to fight with me. God, it's like 3.4 miles from here to there...

But his skin isn't warm under my hand, just wet.

"I didn't take the day off. I just didn't go," he explains from beneath my hand, which I belatedly pull back. "I had something... more important to do today," he informs me solemnly.

And my stupid heart skips a beat at the way I imagine he's looking at me, at all the possible meanings I can pretend that simple phrase implies.

You say I only hear what I want to

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

But I'm sure as hell not going to let him know I'm that dumb. Still...

"Well, then, I'll drive you back and give you a jump," I offer, grabbing my coat from the rack beside the door and stepping out onto the stoop before he can argue. I pull my keys out of the jacket pocket and lock the door, then lead him down to my car, which always runs perfectly because Stay-At-Home-Duo has nothing better to do with his time...

Yeah, that's good, a little more anger resurfacing.

We climb into the car and I start it up and ask sharply, "So, playing the nine-to-five martyr isn't so much fun without an audience?"

That gets me a very familiar glare, although some trick of the dull gray light almost makes him look like he's pouting.

"You know, I was just trying to be... a provider," he mutters. "I wanted to be... normal. It wasn't easy for me, you know, trying to adjust to this kind of life... "

I've heard this one before. Poor, poor Heero, an out-of-work soldier trying to learn to live the civilian life.

"You know what, Heero? Somehow I don't think turning into a company drone was as much of a stretch for you as turning into June Cleaver was for me," I point out acerbically.

"I know you don't," he mutters grumpily, slumping down in his seat a little. "Because you've never tried it."

I don't listen hard, I don't pay attention
To the distance that you're running
To anyone, anywhere


Oh, not this again.

I take a corner too sharply, grinding my teeth to keep from screaming at him.

"Okay, Heero, everybody knows that you worked your little fingers to the bone just so I could lie around the house eating bon-bons all day long. You're the long-suffering laborer and I'm the lazy mooching bum. So you're probably lucky to be rid of me, huh? So why don't you just fuck off and leave me alone?"

Okay, so much for not screaming.

He's leaning against his door now, almost huddling in on himself, with his blank, defensive face on.

"I never said that," he protests flatly.

I stop at a traffic light and give him an incredulous look. He at least has the grace to squirm a little.

"Well... I never phrased it like that," he mutters.

I snort. "Well, of course not. I'm the melodramatic one."

He sighs. He actually sighs.

"Maybe... I just wanted to be... appreciated. I mean... I did it for you, you know," he says slowly.

I don't understand if you really care

I can't help laughing bitterly at that line.

"Oh, so you felt unappreciated? Poor baby," I console him sarcastically.

He glowers at me, crossing his arms over his chest. "Damn it, Duo, did I ever do anything right? Was it really so terrible, being with me? Was there never one good minute in the whole time we were together?" he demands angrily. And maybe... a little desperately.

I can only blink, as baffled by the tone as by the question.

Was it really so terrible? Was I really miserable the whole time?

Do I really not love him anymore?

Were there good times I've forgotten or pushed away, just because I'm hurt and angry?

I'm only hearing negatives - no, no, no...

Shit. I don't want to think like this. I made my choice, I made my decision, and I have to stick to it. I have to. I can't spend my life as a decorative accessory to Heero Yuy.

Both to end the conversation and to distract myself, I turn on the radio.

It's an older song, one I used to be quite fond of after the war. Actually, one I used to moon over a lot, thinking about Heero and missing him and fantasizing about him coming back and sweeping me off my feet, declaring that he'd finally realized we were meant to be together...

That's not going to help my state of mind much. I reach over to change the station, but Heero's hand closes over mine.

I look over at him, and he's watching me with those intense blue eyes, and he says quietly, firmly, "Leave it on."

So I, I turned the radio on
I turned the radio up
And this woman was singing my song
Lover's in love and the other's run away
Lover is crying 'cause the other won't stay
Some of us hover when we weep for the other
Who was dying since the day they were born


After too long, I pull my hand out of his grasp and turn my attention back to driving, managing to parallel park in front of the house without too much difficulty as the song finishes.

But it continues to echo in my head, bringing back memories, and dreams I thought I'd left behind and forgotten. Dreams that I used to think had actually come true, until I woke up last week in a nightmare.

He came back to me. He even told me we were meant to be together. But then...

Then the dream ended.

Well, this is not that

And so I walked away. Picked up and left, with barely a goodbye. Not that that turned out to matter much when he comes to see me every day anyway, but the gesture was important at the time.

So why did I stay in town, I find myself wondering as I follow him up to the house. If I really wanted to make a clean break, to get on with my life, why stay so close? Why put up with his daily visits?

Why sit around waiting for him? I could easily have just made sure I wasn't home when he got out of work. Maybe he would have waited for me, but maybe he wouldn't.

Maybe I was worried that he wouldn't.

Jesus... I'm so confused today. It all seemed so clear the other night, but now...

Epiphany, old girl, where are you when I need you?

Think that I'm throwing, but I'm thrown

He goes upstairs to change, and I wander around the house I lived in until a week ago. It's just as I remember it, just as I carefully planned and arranged it, shaping it to fit the life Heero wanted us to lead in it.

I never thought about the future here, I realize now. I lived day to day, keeping everything the same, never changing. This house was frozen in time. Maybe because that was what I wanted. I wanted to hold on to the past, the moments when I was happy with him. I didn't want time to have moved on, I didn't want him to have changed, us to have changed...

But time always passes. Everything changes. And eventually, everything ends.

You have to enjoy it while it lasts.

And I thought I'd live forever, but now I'm not so sure

He comes back downstairs, toweling his wet hair, and watches me looking around. He looks around, too, and comments, "You really did a nice job decorating the house."

The tone is neutral. I can't tell if he means it or if it's just an empty compliment designed to placate me.

Either way, it doesn't make me happy to hear. I hate the way this house is decorated, and I don't like being placated. And frankly... If he's honestly complimenting my work on the house, that means I was right when I said he never knew me very well, because it is painfully obvious that this house doesn't reflect my taste or style at all.

And if he's just being nice... Then he still doesn't respect me, even after I left him.

And that idea is unexpectedly upsetting to me.

You try to tell me that I'm clever
That won't take me anyhow, or anywhere with you


Why do I give a shit what he thinks of me? Why am I still hanging around this town when there's nothing here for me?

There's nothing here for me, right? Nothing I want?

Maybe I want to prove myself. Not just to him, but to me as well. He's been telling me for so long that I don't have what it takes to make it on my own, maybe I need to show us both that he's wrong about that.

You said that I was naïve and

I thought that I was strong

Maybe I thought just leaving him would prove something.

Maybe it did. Maybe it proved that I still...

It's this house. Two years is a long time, even two lousy years. Hell, two lousy years might even be longer. There's a weight of history here, and it's weighing down on me. A compulsion to slip back into the easy routine, just to be with him again. To have him hold me.

The thought should make me angry, or at least disgusted. Yesterday it would have. Right now...

I thought, hey I can leave, I can leave
But now I know that I was wrong


I clear my throat nervously. I have to get out of here. It would be way too easy to stay.

"Jumper cables?" I prompt, when I notice him standing there watching me, towel trailing from his hands.

"Huh?" he asks distractedly, then shakes his head a little and drops his towel on the floor. I resist the urge to yell at him for endangering the polished hard wood.

He looks up at me again, and it's this direct, no-nonsense stare that I remember so well it makes me shiver a little. "Fuck the jumper cables," he says flatly. "We have to talk. Really talk."

And suddenly, he's the same old Heero again, the one I remember. Not the carping, bitching jerk I've put up with for years, but the solemn, determined, driven young man who would not surrender to anyone.

'Cause I missed you

"All right, so talk," I murmur, unable to look away from his stare.

Because suddenly, I desperately want to hear whatever he has to say.

Yeah, I missed you


And he starts talking. He tells me all this shit I already knew, and all this shit I didn't, about how he wanted me, he always wanted me, so when he finally got me he never wanted to let me go. He never wanted me to get away, or to leave him, so he tried to make this little life that he thought was what everyone wanted, the traditional, normal arrangement...

He didn't mean to stifle me, to hurt me, to take out his own frustration on me... Because he was no more suited to this life than I was, and that scared him, because he thought I would leave if he stopped playing the role... But part of him hated it all so much he almost wanted me to leave, just so he could stop... Stop trying to be this person he just wasn't...

So he was trying to push me away and trying to hold onto me tight at the same time...

You said you caught me 'cause you want me
And one day you'll let me go


All I can do is stand here and listen. I don't think I've ever heard him talk this much in all the time I've known him.

A lot of this is making sense. Not as far as being a description of rational behavior... that it clearly is not. But... from a Heero point of view, I'm starting to see where he made some mistakes. Where I made some mistakes. Where we went wrong.

Which just makes me wonder, since it took us so damn long to figure any of this out, if there's really any chance we could have a healthy, stable relationship.

I miss him desperately. I can admit that now, when he's standing there pouring out his heart to me. But... it's all so messed up. Could we ever not do this to each other? Not tie each other up in knots and hurt each other and warp everything between us?

I really don't know.

You try to give away a keeper, or keep me
'Cause you know you're just so scared to lose


"So... anyway... " he says slowly, winding down. He's not staring at me anymore, but at the towel on the floor.

I lick my lips, start to speak, to ask him where we go from here, or to tell him I forgive him for being stupid, or to say let's be friends, or... something...

But before I can speak, he continues, "So I know I've been a total jerk. And I'm sorry, and I know that probably doesn't mean much. So... if you want to leave now... you can."

Of course I can.

He looks up at me, nervous and shy like he never was.

"But... I just want you to know that... I love you. I really love you. And I don't want you to go," he concludes quietly.

And you say...
Stay.


Oh... God.

I don't want this... to be my decision...

Which way do I go now?

You say... I only hear what I want to...

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