See 4 AM for warnings.
For the next week, I stay at
home, walking around in a sort of weird daze--- when I'm not napping.
It's as if everything was wrapped up in cotton fluff, but at the same
time nothing has ever been sharper, more intense. ...Well, when I'm awake.
I'm tired as hell and aching all over, though I'm getting better. But
that isn't important.
Even if I don't see him, I can feel Heero in the house, feel him with
that weird spider-sense, just as sharp as I could feel a burglar sneaking
in during the night or an Ozzie closing in on me in the war. It's a skill
I developed early in life and it has never been wrong. And it tells me
that he's here again. He's sitting on the windowsill when I water the
plants and behind me when I cook and in his office when I watch TV and
suddenly, the house is a home again.
Though he hardly speaks.
Since we came back from the cemetery, he hasn't said more than three words.
Contrary to popular belief, Heero does talk. His talk is just concise
and never without a subject, like I was prone to doing when I was younger.
When he talks, he says exactly what he means, hardly a word more or less,
but if the subject needs details, then he'll give them. He's not a mute.
And that doesn't mean that he only talks about highly serious matters
of life and death either. He's totally able to comment on the latest trend
in the clothes our neighbor's children are wearing or to tell me why he
considers my choice in sock colors hilarious. He talks about just as many
subjects as I do; he just chooses his words more carefully.
But recently, he isn't speaking. And I've only seen him twice--- both
times in the middle of the night, awakened from one of those nightmares
made of loneliness and despair---leaning over me and watching me intently,
making sure that I truly was okay. Then he gave me one of his tiny, barely-there
smiles and faded from view again. I have the feeling that it's really
difficult to him to make himself visible, and I would like to help, but
I'm not sure how. I swear, as soon as I get better, I'll run to the bookshops
I visited to find my ritual and I'll dig out everything I can.
For now, I'm tired and he's watching over me.
It's good to sleep soundly again.
I wonder how I managed not to hear the phone once during the last week.
Okay, I was sleeping most of the time, but still, I would think it's loud
enough to wake me up and I must have gotten lots of calls, if I believe
the frantic expression on Wufei's face as I open the door to him.
"Wufei? What are you doing here?" I ask, but I'm not that surprised finally.
If I'd been able to think that far, I would have been surprised NOT to
hear about him. He and the rest of the gang know well not to call me for
a few days after the anniversary of Heero's death, since this is a time
where I need my space to find a sort of balance again; and the last time
Quatre tried to mother-hen me and guilt me into letting go of my unhealthy
obsession the day after I came back from the cemetery, I kind of thew
him out the window ---chill out, we're on the ground floor--- but they
usually don't grant me more than three or four days before I get a cautious
call, usually by Trowa or Hilde since they're more level-headed about
it, making sure that I'm still alive and asking how long it will be till
they can come and visit.
"What am I doing here?" Wufei looks calm and composed, but that's only
at the surface. Underneath he's furious and still worried as hell. Now
I'm feeling guilty.
I haven't answered the phone for seven days. Of course they're worried.
I wince. "... Sorry, Wufei... I think my phone doesn't work, or I must
have turned the volume down without meaning to." I turn around to guide
Wufei to the living room; the guy deserves a coffee at least.
'I turned the sound off. You needed the
It's a good thing I'm turning my back on Wufei or he'd see my face, and
since he hasn't reacted to the soft murmur of Heero's voice, that means
he didn't hear anything special, even though Heero didn't speak THAT softly.
I get control of my expression, hiding my surprise and my delight at hearing
Heero talk to me, and turn to Wufei. "Sit down, man. Black, one sugar?"
He nods. I wonder why he's looking so puzzled. Bah! I'll ask later. I
walk to the kitchen, seeing the coffee machine already working. "Thanks,
love," I whisper softly. "But don't tire yourself out."
'Ryoukai,' Heero answers, and
his presence grows less defined. I grumble; twelve years after the last
skirmish and he still can't get rid of the military terminology. But I
can't keep the frown on too long, and when I put the coffee cups on the
plate, I'm already grinning. I missed his quirks as much as everything
else. And the crisp, sharp tone he takes when pronouncing the "ryoukai",
determined, nearly commanding... Okay, best not go there now, I don't
want Wufei to wonder why Trowa's circus is hiding in my pants.
I put Wufei's cup of coffee down in front of him and sit down, feeling
the urge to whistle cheerfully. But if I did that, I'd give the guy a
heart attack. I haven't whistled once in seven years. I don't want him
thinking that I've finally snapped.
"So... How've you been, Wu?"
Time, time, I need time. He's going to ask and I don't know how to tell
him anything without lying. ... And I don't want anyone else knowing about
Heero right now. I doubt anyone else can see him, and if it doesn't fit
the definition of hallucination, I don't know what does.
"I've been fine, Maxwell. ...I see Sally Po and Trowa often." He then
tells me a little bit about how they're doing.
"Work?" I ask. I know he doesn't like to talk about work, because he's
still with the Preventers, like we were, Heero and I, before he got shot,
and usually, I don't like to hear about it overly much either.
"Things are a lot calmer now. People are relaxing and getting used to
the new peace. ...Being partnered with Marquise is trying, but no one
else would be adequate," he adds hesitantly, unsure apparently if that's
too much information.
"Zechs has always been a stuck-up prick," I answer, letting one corner
of my mouth curl up faintly in a wry smirk. "But he's good at what he
does. As long as you can work around his blue blood and his self-esteem
problems... And as long as HE can work around your stubborn-ass self,
Ha! He didn't expect that one. He should have, frankly. He's gaping, not
knowing whether to laugh, be offended or just stare at me. It's been too
long since I teased him last.
I feel my face soften minutely. I have neglected my friends badly, secluded
in my despair and ignoring the rest of the world. Sure, Heero is my heart
and soul, but that doesn't mean that I should keep on taking what my friends
offer me and give nothing in return. They love me too, as I love them.
They deserve better.
"... I'm sorry, Wufei. Bet I've been hard to deal with lately," I murmur,
eyes on my cup of coffee.
He's looking at me, his black eyes serious, vaguely melancholy.
"I wouldn't say that it's been easy to deal with you, but it was more
painful than difficult. But this doesn't matter; we're here as long as
you need us. Don't go feeling guilty now; you'd do the same for any of
us, wouldn't you?"
I wonder if my smile reflects how shaky I feel. "Of course."
We sit face to face in silence, both pensive, both hoping for things to
change for the better.
He breaks it first. "Duo, may I ask--- that is, you look..."
"Better?" I finish the sentence for him, knowing well what he means. I'm
not going to pretend that I don't understand. He deserves more than that.
But I can't tell him the truth either. I hate that, but I want him to
be reassured, not to send me to a madhouse for my own good. I'm going
to have to do some fancy plays on words.
"I did a lot of thinking lately..." '...about how to get Heero back mostly,'
"and I ...realized something." I hope my tone is meaningful enough for
Wufei because I am so not going into the details. After a pause, I continue.
"You have to understand that I'll never let go of Heero..." and here I
smile at him, "but it doesn't hurt so bad anymore."
I hide a wince at the "but". Everything else is the truth, though certainly
not the whole truth, even if it's presented to make Wufei understand something
else than what I mean, but the "but" indicates an opposition between not
letting go of Heero and not hurting anymore, which is a flat out lie.
I'm not hurting anymore BECAUSE I won't let go of Heero, so this is technically
a lie. I feel like my head needs a good shower to get rid of the ickiness.
His face went through surprise and hope, to turn to sadness and finally,
relief and happiness. It makes the icky feeling left by the lie a little
better. If it can make Wufei feel that sort of relief, then it's a good
thing, right? A white lie, not that serious. Wufei feels better because
he thinks I'm happy again, or, not devastated anymore at least, and even
though I wasn't truthful about the reason why I feel better, it is nevertheless
true that I do.
I'll go to a church and confess to the lie, for Father Maxwell and Sister
Helen. They taught me not to lie, and I want to atone for that.
Even though I'm not sure they'd approve of what else I've done lately
---the profane rituals, and going against the natural order of the cycle
of life and death--- but even their disapproval wouldn't make me change
my mind. I can't live without Heero. I can't kill myself, and I don't
really want to if there is another choice available. There is another
choice available. I'm taking it. I'm not sorry.
"Oh, sorry. I was thinking," I answer Wufei, giving him a quick smile
to reassure him. It does more than reassure him, if I judge by the way
his eyes widen slightly, incredulous, then ---then mist over? Have I really
worried him that much?
"... You smile true again."
It's the first time of my life that I see Wufei Chang beam.
Of course, two seconds later we're both looking elsewhere, pretending
that he never said anything special and deep and meaningful or looked
at me so openly, with his soul bare in his eyes, and pretending that I'm
not about to cry. We're guys, what did you expect?
"... So... It's been a while since I went anywhere. Is the park still
there? We could take a walk," I suggest almost casually.
Wufei winces, his expression darkening. "Um. No. Sorry."
... gone? the place where Heero and the guys and I picnicked? The place
where we played Frisbee and I tackled Heero on the grass and Trowa and
me threw Quatre in the pond is gone?
'Don't be silly, anata. It's just a place.
The memories are safe.'
I take a deep breath and give Wufei a small, lopsided smile. "... Well
then we'll go somewhere else. It was just a place. Pretty, okay, but..."
I shrug, trying to convey the lack of importance of the matter.
Wufei nods slowly, not sure that he believes my casual tone. He's right,
it does sting. But Heero's right, too. I still have the memories, and
they're the important thing. It's too bad that we won't be able to go
back there, it was a really cool place, but I'll get over it.
I finish my coffee in one big slurp and jump on my feet. "Well then, let's
Wufei gets up slowly, smiling in a softened way of the mocking smirk he
used to use for me. I see myself in his eyes. Not quite as bouncy, my
grin not quite as wide or manic. I'm not the boy I was; I'll never be
again. I'm scarred.
But I don't care about the scars. I survived, and I'll keep on surviving.
I'll never give up. That's who I am.
I could swear I can feel Heero smile.
[back to Asuka Kureru's fic]