The Beginning's End + Part 21 (cont)

"So, you read my letter, so you know how I feel." Good, Duo. Now you're dancing around the topic too. Maybe the whole issue can be decided without either of you ever saying the words directly.

"Yes."

Ah, that tone. The ‘utter-lack-of-intonation' tone. The ‘noone-can-figure-me-out-from-my-tone-of-voice-because-I'm-a-man-of-mystery' tone. My favorite.

"So, what do you think about it, Tro?"

Ha! Two can play at this game!

He, surprise, surprise, says nothing. After a few more minutes I glance down. He's sitting completely still, his entire body radiating tension. I can see that he's struggling to keep his expression neutral, but his confusion and fear are heartbreakingly evident.

Shit.

I'm the bastard. Again.

"Tro-chan…" This is so unfair of us, of me. He needs rest, and peace, and sleep. He's been hurt so badly, and is still trying to heal, and here I am throwing all of these momentous life decisions his way.

But I know him. If he has time to think about it too much, to ponder and analyze and dissect it, he'll rip it all apart and put it back together the wrong way, retreat into his damned shell and we'll never get him out.

But we need to stop skirting the issue.

I run my fingers through his hair, sliding my hand down to cup his cheek. I feel him stiffen even more, feel his flinch, see him try to move away. I don't react, though, pretend to not even notice. I know he needs time, and I'm not going to push him. But I'll be damned if I keep my distance, let him decide I'm too disgusted with him to touch him, and watch him become more and more and more aloof. Everything needs to begin somewhere.

"Trowa, you know that I love you." I stare into his eyes as I repeat this vow to him, letting him see the sincerity in mine. "I've told you it before, I told you just now. I swear. I will always love you, I need you, and I'll never let you go."

I take a deep breath. "But you read the letter. I…I love Heero too. And what I'm asking you is if you can feel what you feel for me toward him, too."

His eyes clench shut, and I see one of his hands ball into a fist. I plow on.

"I…I think you do, Tro. Maybe I'm just seeing what I want to see…But I've been thinking pretty hard about it. Lots of things that I didn't really notice when they were happening…thinking about them now, it seems…Am I wrong?"

Well, that has to win an award for the year's Least Smooth Moment of Truth. If he can figure that statement out he wins the kewpie doll.

I stare down at him. His eyes are still tightly closed, and he's trembling again. I think I hate that as much as seeing him cry. In the years we've been together, the only times I've ever seen him do that have been immediately after he's woken up from a nightmare. I know that those subtle tremors betoken loss of control, and I know that he hates that. I ache for him whenever I see it.

Suddenly, his eyes open and now I feel like trembling. God, this is harder than I thought. I wanted to break down his shields, lower his defenses, gain access to the hurt and pain and feeling inside him.

Well, I got my wish. The anguish and torment roiling inside those green eyes triggers an actual physical pain in my chest. I want to hug him, hold him, promise him everything is going to be all right.

But I can't. I have to help him work through his pain, make him work through it, before either of us can find what's waiting for us at the other end.

"Duo…I'm sorry," he whispers, his voice so low I can barely hear him.

"For what, Trowa?" I ask gently. "You don't have to be sorry for anything, not with me. What's wrong?"

He closes his eyes again, shaking his head. "I…" He grimaces, obviously trying to retain the tenuous grasp he has on his control. "I never meant to make you think that I didn't want to be with you."

In one of the many lit classes I took at the various schools we were stuck at through the years, I once read a story about a guy who had three wishes. I don't remember the title or author, but the premise was that people shouldn't muck around with fate, so their wishes - attempts to alter their fate - were granted, but in a way that brought them disaster rather than happiness. For example, the guy wished for some money, then his son got killed and he got the insurance. That kind of thing.

Sometimes, when I'm trying to talk to Trowa, I feel like that guy. Whatever I say, he interprets as me saying that he's been bad, or inadequate, or hurt me in some way.

It's very tiring.

"Trowa…I never thought that," I tell him patiently. "I told you, at the time I didn't even think anything of it. Then recently…Recently I thought that maybe, hopefully, you felt the same way I did. That you love me, and Heero too."

He shakes his head stubbornly. "It…can't be that way," he insists faintly. "That's not how…"

"Says who?" I demand. "The same people who say guys shouldn't be together? The ones who say Heero and Relena are meant for each other?"

He smiles faintly.

I take his hand, tracing my thumb over his palm, ignoring the nervous shiver that runs through him. "Tro-chan, as far as I see it, we've always made our own way, our own rules," I say. Suddenly, I feel utterly exhausted. "We've never been like other people. Their ways don't fit us. We spent most of our lives doing what they say is wrong to make things right for them." I shrug. "Maybe now we should be doing what they say is wrong to make things right for us."

He looks down. He's not arguing. That's a positive sign. He's processing. Sometimes he's so logical it makes me sick, but sometimes it's a bonus. He has to consider the idea before he rejects it out of hand. Gives me some time to press my advantage.

"If you don't want to pursue this because you're not interested in Heero, that's one thing," I concede. "But if you're afraid it means that…that you're not enough for me, or that you would be being disloyal to me by loving Heero…that's not true. It's just not true, Tro, so it shouldn't be a consideration."

His head snaps up and he stares at me, and again, amazingly, his emotions are there are raw and plain to see. Seems like in voicing my own worries, I found his.

Lemmings. I said it before, I'll say it again. But at least they all get to fly off that cliff to their furry destruction together. What more do you need, really?

"Duo….God." He makes a sound of frustration and confusion, and breaks my grip to bring both of his hands to his head, cradling it as though it hurts.

"I don't know…what the hell is going on," he manages, his voice muffled by his hands.

I can't help but chuckle. "Now you sound like Heero," I tell him ruefully.

At that auspicious moment, when everything is out on the table and nothing is resolved, five sharp, staccato raps sound at the door.

This is either perfect timing or completely, utterly awful timing.

I'll let you know in an hour.

"Speak of the devil," I murmur. "That's Heero," I tell him gently. "Can he come in?"

He stares at me blankly, his mouth opening and closing but no sound coming out. I'll take that as a yes.

"Come in!" I yell.

The door opens slowly, and we both turn our heads to stare at our newest arrival. Heero Yuy, proud, brave, confident hero of the Gundam wars, is dithering nervously in the doorway. It looks like he's ready to bolt. Any second now he's going to start wringing his hands.

That's unsettling.

"Come in," I repeat, motioning with my hand.

He closes the door slowly, and moves toward the bed. He stops a few feet away.

"Come here," I urge, moving over on the bed, ignoring Trowa's scramble to move his legs before I can touch them. He bends them up towards his chest, and that must hurt, but whatever. I'm not fussing over that. You need to choose your battles.

Heero hesitates, staring at the spot I just vacated and am now indicating he sit in. He looks at me, and I nod encouragingly. He looks at Trowa, who is staring with apparent fascination at the hem of his sheet.

I sigh, and pat the spot on the bed more firmly.

Apprehensively, leaving one leg dangling over the edge to ensure a rapid escape route, Heero lowers himself into the spot.

Geez, I don't know why I'm doing this to myself. I wonder if I'll have to coax them into sitting near each other for the foreseeable future. It'll make sitting down to dinner a very time-consuming process. I'll probably have to lure them into their chairs with dinner rolls, bait them with hors d'oeuvres…

The thought of Heero crouching nervously on the floor, peering suspiciously through the spindles of a chair as I wave a cocktail frank on a toothpick at him almost makes me burst out into wild, entirely inappropriate laughter. But it also relaxes me. Suddenly, I can see the situation for what it is - an attempt by three people who love each other - which I know we all do - to figure out how to express that to each other.

We're all so silly sometimes.

But before I can share my wisdom and start on my speech about everyone loving one another, Heero speaks.

"I'm sorry if I've upset you," he says. His voice is harsh, abrupt. "I never meant to cause problems." Trowa looks up at him but Heero isn't looking back. His head is bowed and he seems to be speaking to one of the buttons on his shirt. "I told you before, I've always been…jealous…of you and Duo, because you each had…each other." His voice isn't so hard anymore, now it's softened and almost forlorn. "I wanted to be part of that. I wanted to be with you…with both of you. But I don't want you to throw it away, Trowa, just because…" He swallows hard, and looks up, "Just because you don't want me."

His tone is lost, harrowingly sad and resigned to rejection, but it isn't that that freezes me, makes me stare at him unable to move or speak. All this time I was worried about lowering the barriers surrounding Trowa, thinking Heero's were down. They weren't, they weren't at all, but they are now. For the first time in my life, I am looking at the real Heero Yuy, no masks, no shields, just…him. His eyes are the deepest blue in the world; his features have given up trying to school themselves in an acceptable expression and are broadcasting his uncertainty to anyone who looks at him. Vulnerability is written all over his face, and he is so achingly beautiful he literally stops my breath.

I'm not the only one affected. Through my paralysis I see Trowa move, seemingly without volition, reaching a hand out to hover uncertainly in front of Heero.

Everything slows; time seems to stop. We reach turning points all the time, make decisions that change the course of our destinies. But it has never before been so apparent that I - that we - are at a crossroads. The next moment, the next second, determines the path we will travel - together, or separately.

Through the crystalline moment, I hear Trowa's voice.

"Heero, no…" he whispers. "I…I do…want…you."

Time snaps back into motion with an almost palpable jerk, and Heero and I are staring at Trowa with identical expression of open-mouthed astonishment. He looks pretty surprised too.

For once in my life, I'm speechless. I know I should say something - someone needs to say something to cement this, nail it down, before it slips away and is gone and we're left with nothing again. But for the life of me, I can't seem to say anything.

Trowa's eyes move from my face to Heero's and back again. And suddenly, in a gesture as amazing as anything else that has happened here, his lips curve upward. He's smiling. At us.

And it's a smile so sweet, so…innocent, so full of promise and hope that it makes my eyes tear up just looking at it. I grasp Heero's hand and, unheeding of possible consequences, lean forward until I'm resting my head on Trowa's chest, snuggling against him. I pull Heero down with me until he too is resting against Trowa. Trowa stiffens briefly, but slowly relaxes, and I shiver with relief when I feel the light, hesitant touch of his arm around me, and look over to see his other arm resting equally gingerly on Heero.

I close my eyes, savoring the closeness. There's a lot that has to be worked out, suffered through, dealt with. Most of it is ugly, and will be hurtful to face. But for now…we're together.

I close my eyes, feeling completely relaxed and free for the first time in months…or years…or ever. Yeah, there's still stuff to be worked out…but it'll happen. It'll be all right.

We've made it through, made it past the part of the story that begins with "Once upon a time...," made ith through the conflict and climax... That part is over. It's ended.

And now we're to the good part. The part that comes after the "...happily ever after."

The beginning.

[part 20] [back] [epilogue] [back to Shoori's fic]