( "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost )
by: Aoe

Something There Is...

I wake slowly, pleasantly, to the warmth of sunlight on my eyelids, and the comfortable weight of a body pressed to mine.

I open my eyes carefully, not wanting the bright morning light to pierce them too sharply, and look down on sunlight-gilded brown hair. His skin is almost glowing gold in the light, his lashes feathered across his cheek so delicately that my breath catches in my throat.

That small noise disturbs, but doesn't wake him. He only makes a soft sleepy sound, and nuzzles his face against my chest before sighing back into deeper sleep.

Morning sunlight makes me poetic, I think. Or maybe it's just waking up with Heero cradled against my chest.

I love these rare mornings, when he can't growl at me for pressing too close. It's my side of the bed, after all, and not my fault if he makes a late night visitation in his sleep. He will glare at me for hours, but that will come later. For now, he molds himself greedily to my warmth, and I can allow myself the fleeting pleasure of holding another human being in my arms.

The more time we spend together, the more frequently this seems to happen.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen ground swell under it
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

It's different when one of us is wounded. He may be able to set his own broken bones without a whimper, but everyone wants reassurance after an injury, and he has on several occasions allowed me to comfort him, to soothe his wounds with my personal balm of gentle touches and soft words.

Not that I would take advantage of him in a weakened state. His trust, to let me see he does feel pain, is more than I would have asked for, more than I ever expected. And I give him trust for trust. He has wiped away my blood as often as I have his, and I have let him see behind my smile a time or two. Just as I have been blessed to see his dark eyes soften.

But that is another matter entirely from this.

The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs.

No, what we have here is something deeper and yet simpler than mutual comfort and care. On the one hand, there is the plain fact that I stay warm in the night, while he grows cold. When we share a bed, it is therefore nearly inevitable that he would gravitate to my warmth.

But to revel in it as he does is not something I would expect from him, and it always surprises me to wake up wrapped in his gentle embrace. His head is pillowed on my chest, like a child, or perhaps even a lover.

No, safer to think of him as a child.

At any rate, when he wakes, he will be cold and distant again, as he always is. But in these moments, I see another side to him.

He blinks suddenly, and wakes, and raises his head to look me in the eye. For a moment he is confused and sleep-fuzzed, frowning like a petulant infant roused from a nap. But then he wakes fully, and the familiar coldness settles in his eyes as he averts his gaze and rolls away from me, to dangle his legs off the far side of the bed.

The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I stifle my sigh of regret for another moment lost and ended, and swing my own feet to the floor.

"I'm grabbing a shower," I announce casually, carefully keeping my tone neutral and distant. He needs his space after such an awakening, and so do I, I suppose. I watch his shoulders twitch almost imperceptibly at the remark, then straighten into their usual tight, stiff posture. He is already resuming his mask. I nod once at his back and begin to leave the room.

"Don't use all the hot water," he mutters irritably.

Yes, we are on our way back to normality.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.

When I return, dripping and swathed in over-sized towels, he is already sitting cross-legged on the bed, fully dressed and typing away. I sit down on my side of the bed and work the towel slowly down the length of my hair. Soon, I am brushing as he is typing. It takes more than a hundred strokes to properly brush out my hair, so I quickly become absorbed in the task.

We work quietly, side by side, as the distance between us grows further with each stroke of the brush, each clack of the keys.

We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And still, it's never perfect.

My brush snags on a knot and I hiss through my teeth at the pain. Before I can even begin to free my brush from the tangle, strong yet gentle fingers bat my hands away, and in moments the brush is returned to my grip, and a few soft tugs mark the elimination of the offending snarl. All this without speaking, without looking at one another.

Another moment, and he is muttering softly to himself, seeking a word in English. Brilliant as he is, it is not his birth language, just as Japanese is not mine. But I have a facility for languages, having been exposed to so many on the polyglot streets of L2 in my childhood. I offer him a word, he ponders it for a few seconds, and then the typing resumes. This, without looking.

And still... it isn't perfect, the barrier we try to build.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"

Later in the day, we will likely fall into argument, as usual. That is our ultimate strategy, when nothing else works. We can always fall back on the basic polarity of our natures to separate us. I will irritate, he will frustrate. In the end, we may even come to blows yet again. We don't truly hurt each other, but it is enough to set a distance.

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One to a side. It comes to little more:

Silly, perhaps, to fight and squabble over so little a thing as our personalities. As who we are. What does it really matter, anyway? Under the skin, under the masks, we are the same, after all. So why should it irritate him for me to smile and joke and laugh? Why should it frustrate me when he is cold and remote and distant?

It shouldn't, not at all. Sometimes I almost say so to him. Why should we nourish this animosity? What point is there to it? Can't he just be himself, and let me be me? Wouldn't that alone be enough to keep us safely separated? We have nothing in common on the surface, and the surface is as far as we will allow ourselves to see, or show.

There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones beneath his pines, I tell him.

I stare at him, this thought plain in my eyes. Feeling the weight of my gaze, he glances up, and reads my arguments in a glance of deep blue.

The smallest of frowns is my only reply, before he turns back to his work.

But I have seen that frown before, often enough to read its meaning.

He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Normally, I would let it rest at that, but for some reason today I don't want to. Biting my lip in nervous trepidation, knowing I take my life, or at least my hope of remaining unbruised, in my hands, I set my brush aside and slide on my knees across the bed, coming up behind him. I set my chin on his shoulder, feeling the muscles there stiffen beneath my jaw.

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:

"Ne, Hee-chan, why so cold?" I tease gently, almost whispering into his ear. "You're much warmer when you're asleep, you know."

"I'm busy," he grumbles, jerking his shoulder from beneath my chin.

But I am nothing if not persistent. I chuckle to myself and drop to my side behind him, pressing my stomach to the small of his back as I curve my body around him. I peer up toward his face, smirking at the determined profile. He is ignoring me.

He is trying to, anyway.

"Why do you try so hard to push me away all the time, Heero? We make a good team, you know," I wheedle, watching a muscle in his sculpted jaw twitch in time to my words.

"We are soldiers. We cannot afford to have attachments," he mutters in reply, spouting out the Gundam Gospel according to Dr. J. I've heard it before, and not been impressed. But today, he adds a new line. "It would be too much of a risk."

"A risk? Really? In what way?"

He chews that one over a moment, his jaw grinding, brows lowering threateningly. He shoots me an annoyed glance. "It just would be," he insists flatly.

"But... to have... real back up. To have someone to depend on... Couldn't it be worth the risk?" I press determinedly. "How can we possibly know if we never try?"

"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down."

He frowns at his screen for a moment, his fingers stilled on the keys, then shakes his head, as though to dislodge my foolish ideas, and resumes his endless typing.

I sigh and roll onto my back, staring up at a crack in the ceiling, and considering all the other arguments I could use. The practical approach has been rejected, I could try something less... orthodox, I suppose.

But I hate to start a debate when I'm not certain of the soundness of my argument. After all, he and I are a lot alike. I could put forth an argument based on emotion, but... I am not certain what that argument would be. And besides, why should I always be the one to start the arguments?

I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself.

He has fallen deep into his keyboard trance, now, his breathing even and deep. It is almost like sleep for him, he can stay this way for hours. He has tired of my prodding, and retreated to a place where I cannot reach him with my foolish babble.

And the barriers slowly reform, hardening, thickening, walling us away from one another, back into our separate little worlds again. Every clack of the keys is another stone set in the wall between us. I can't blame him, really. He doesn't know any other way to be. Our masks are not a separate entity, after all. They are parts of ourselves. They are our protection. Without them, we are vulnerable to an uncaring world. He will protect himself, just as I will. Him with silence, me with smiles.

I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

I turn my head to stare at his stiffly erect back, and ponder running my fingers down his spine, just to see if he would shiver. Just to prove that he is human, and alive, and not capable of completely ignoring my existence. My hand even lifts from the comforter a bit, but I let it fall back quickly.

I will not touch him now. The time for that is past today. He would not welcome it from me now, might even react with violence. I know I am more of a threat to him at times than even our mutual enemies.

I know this, because at times, he is such a threat to me.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

"Mission," he announces flatly, after some indeterminate span of time.

"Both of us?" I ask, interest kindling as I roll onto my side again, facing his back.

He glances over his shoulder at me, face expressionless and distant. "Just me," he replies.

I feel...disappointment. Irritation. Regret.

He shuts down the computer and climbs off the bed, shoving his few belongings into a bag as he prepares to depart.

"Not coming back?" I ask, wondering at the odd wistful note in my voice. I hope he didn't notice.

He gives me an odd look. He did, then, perhaps. "I don't know," he answers honestly. I nod in acknowledgment, and he turns to leave.

As he opens the door, I can't keep myself from calling after him, "Good luck."

He pauses to look back at me, frowning. "I have skill," he reminds me. "I don't need luck."

Or anything else. Or anyone else... His dark blue eyes say this to me, a silent warning I would be wise to heed.

Something in me would argue. But instead I only nod.

And so he leaves.

He will not go beyond his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."


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