by: Shoori

The Beginning's End + Part 4

Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

Tock.

In this era of technological advancement, you'd think they'd make a damn clock that didn't make those annoying sounds.

Click.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrm.

And refrigerators with quiet compressors.

I jump almost out of my skin as a car horn blares loud and impatient on the street outside.

Swearing, I bound up off the couch and begin to pace around the room - the empty room. I don't know why these little noises are bothering me so much. I never mind noise. I like noise. I make noise - too much noise, or so I've been told.

But I know why they're bothering me.

I shouldn't be able to hear them.

Oh, stupidness again. It's the middle of the day. Trowa would be at work, even if he weren't…

Well, there's the problem. Where is Trowa?

He should be here. He should come home and yell at me, or refuse to speak to me or mope around and make me feel like a guilty shit. He could come home and punch me in the fucking head and I wouldn't care - as long as he came home.

Ok. Getting too upset. Trowa will be home soon, and then we'll work it out.

I didn't mean to hurt him, I really didn't.

I just…didn't think.

I stop in front of the mirror we have hanging by the door and scowl at myself. I don't think that excuse will work, Maxwell, I silently warn my reflection. ‘Oh Trowa, so sorry that I cheated on you, I just didn't think you'd mind.'

Yeah, that'd just go down like porn in a nunnery.

But I didn't cheat on him, not the way he thinks I did.

Ok: yes, I had sex with Heero. Technically, when you are in a committed relationship, sex with someone else constitutes adultery.

But…it was Heero. Heero's my buddy. He was the first of the Gundam pilots I'd met. My first friend in a long, long time. And last night…God, he was so damn miserable. I've never seen him that way. I've never known him to ever ask another human being for comfort like that.

What was I supposed to do, reject him? I can't imagine the effort it took, even drunk as he was, for Heero to make that move.

He needed to be touched. So I touched him. That's all.

My reflection looks skeptical.

I groan aloud and resume my restless pacing. I love Trowa. Mind-boggling, toe-curling, stupid-grin inducing love. I would cut off my pinkie toe (and very attached to my pinkie toe I am) before I would do anything to purposely hurt him. He has to know that.

So when he gets over the shock of the moment - and it must have been very shocking, I realize uncomfortably - he'll come home and we'll talk about it.

He'll be unhappy for awhile and I'll feel like an ass for awhile. But we'll get over it.

I'm so preoccupied with my musing and my pacing that I don't hear the door open. I glance up and Trowa's just there. His sudden appearance startles me so badly that I remain still, all my prepared speeches faltering on my tongue.

My eyes meet his for the briefest of instants before he turns away. What I see makes my worry of the past several hours (4 hours and 23 minutes, to be precise) seem like nothing. It's not that the look in his eyes is angry, or sad, or accusing. I don't see love or hate or betrayal in them. I see nothing.

This morning, when he went all zero-three on me, it really freaked me out. Trowa never does that anymore, never with me. That look was his mask, his protection from people and forces that want to hurt him, entities that he hates or fears. If he's turning that look on me, that means he thinks I'm…an enemy.

After that brief moment of eye contact he turns away, moves quietly into our bedroom and closes the door firmly but silently behind him. I'm left standing with my mouth open, ready to apologize to the damn door.

He didn't say a single thing to me. Walked right past me. Didn't even acknowledge my existence.

I start to feel angry. Ok, I fucked up. He's mad at me. He could yell at me like a normal person, or call me bad names or stamp around the house and break things. But I can't deal with this silent treatment bullshit.

I glare at the door. You know, this is crap. We're supposed to be partners. You don't just freeze out your partner when you have a disagreement.

If he won't yell at me, I'll yell at him. Someone's going to yell in this apartment before long or I'll know the reason why!

I stamp over to the door and yank it open. Part of my mind is warning me that I'm being illogical, that a good offense is not the best defense in this case and that I'd be better off giving Trowa a little space right now to deal with this his way.

My mind tells me all this. Nothing wrong with my mind.

If only I listened to it once in a while.

"All right, Trowa, come on," I snap as I stomp into the room. "Cut it out, already, and talk to me about…."

I abruptly forget the rest of my incredibly idiotic diatribe when I see what he's doing. He stiffens for a moment, then continues with his task as though I weren't even there.

"What the Hell…What are you doing, Trowa?" I demand. My voice actually cracks. This is bad. This is very, very bad.

He ignores me, continuing his movements. Back and forth. Across the room. Dresser to bed to closet to bed to dresser…

"Trowa?" I demand again. I hear the hysterical edge in my voice.

Still, he doesn't answer me.

"God damn it, Trowa, what the hell are you doing?" I shout, this time shoving myself right into his path back from the closet to the bed.

He stares at me with those dead eyes. There's not even a flicker of life or emotion in them. "What does it look like?" he asks flatly before moving to pass me.

I turn and stare at him, watch him neatly fold the shirt he just fetched from the closet and lay it in the nearly-full suitcase on the bed.

"Trowa, you can't be serious," I plead. "Trowa. Trowa!"

It is really starting to infuriate me that he won't talk to me. I wish he would say something. Anything!

"Trowa, what's happening? Where are you going?"

He moves past me again. Turns his back on me. Again.

Rage bubbles up in my throat. I reach out and grab his arm, jerking him backward, pulling him around to face me. He doesn't resist, just stands and stares passively at me as I hold his arm in a crushing grip.

"Trowa, please. Where are you going?"

Nothing.

"Is this about this morning?"

A flicker.

"Look, Tro-chan, it's not what you…"

Reaction.

"Don't call me that," he orders harshly, trying to pull his arm out of my grip. I hang on tighter.

"Trowa, listen to me. It's not…"

"What is it then, Duo?" he demands coldly. "Were you sleepwalking?"

"Trowa, Heero just needed-,"

"Yeah, I bet," he interrupts stonily, finally managing to pull away. He stalks over to the suitcase and closes the lid, zipping it up around the edges.

"Trowa, you're over-reacting," I begin. "This isn't something to…"

He turns around so quickly I barely see the movement. "Overreacting?" he repeats, his voice quiet but tinged heavily with incredulity. "I'm overreacting? I find you in bed - naked in bed with Heero Yuy - and I am overreacting?"

I scowl back at him, feeling anger begin to take the place of the panic that's been filling me for the past several minutes.

"If you would just listen to me and not make snap judgements…"

"There's nothing you can say that will change what I saw - what you did," he says unrelentingly, staring at me as though waiting for me to challenge that statement.

"What, do you own me now?" I demand, angry at this cold condemnation. "I can't…"

The angry look recedes from his face, replaced yet again by that damn blank mask. "You can do whatever you want to, Duo," he says dully, his voice betraying the barest hint of weariness. "I can't…I won't stop you."

My anger melts, leaving behind only the guilt and fear it had been sheltering me from. "Trowa, you know that I would never…"

"All I know is that I am not going to stay on as second best," he interrupts, turning back to the suitcase.

I frown at his back. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" I probe, confused by this latest turn in the conversation.

Trowa turns and looks at me. The mask is wavering - his features are still calm, impassive even, but his eyes are starting to betray the tumult raging behind them.

"If I were honest with myself, I would have always known that I'm just second best to you," he begins

"Trowa, what are you…" He lifts his hand, silencing me.

"You couldn't have him, so you took me instead. I always knew it, but I thought that maybe…After such a long time, I thought that maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was just paranoid."

"You were," I say bluntly. "You are. How could you think that I only chose you because…"

"Please, Duo," he asks, without heat. "Don't do this anymore."

"Do what?"

He answers my question with another one. "When did we first get together, Duo?"

"Three years ago, Trowa," I remind him. "We've been together for three-,"

"But where did it happen? Where did it start?"

I frown at him. "Well, it was at…"

"Heero and Relena's wedding reception," he finishes heavily.

"So what are you saying?" I ask, scowling. "That…"

"That Heero was then officially unavailable, and you had to look elsewhere, so…" He spreads his hands, evidently indicating the elsewhere I looked.

I shake my head disbelievingly. "Trowa, how can you think that…"

"How can I not? You don't try to be with me until Heero's out of the picture. Then, not even a day after you find out that he's probably going to be available again, you're in bed with him."

The mask is crumbled. He really believes this nonsense, really believes that I've only been with him because there was noone better around. What have I done - or not done - to make him so unsure of me?

"Why do you have so little faith in me?" I ask him quietly, allowing the hurt I feel to be heard in my voice. He stares at me, his hurt finally visible in his green eyes.

"It's not you. You can't help how you feel, Duo. I just…I just can't stay with you, knowing that…knowing that you want someone else more than you want me."

His voice almost breaks at the end of the sentence, and he hastily turns and lifts the suitcase. He's really going to do it. He's going to leave me.

"Trowa, please listen to me. You're wrong. You're wrong, Trowa."

He moves very close to me, his suitcase in his hand. "Can you look me in the eyes, Duo, and tell me that the sex you had with Heero meant nothing to you? Means nothing to you now?"

I stare at him, not speaking, confused. I don't know what my answer is supposed to be, don't know even what it is.

"Can you honestly tell me that you're not attracted to him? That you never have been? That you wouldn't have been with him if he'd asked you instead of Relena?"

"Trowa, what do ‘what-ifs' matter?" I ask desperately. "I don't know what would have happened. All I know is that I'm with you and I love you and…"

He shakes his head, and pushes past me. "I can't be second choice," he mutters, and he's gone.

I stand stock still, concentrating on breathing. I feel dizzy - this is so sudden, so unexpected…so wrong.

I jerk myself back into focus. I can't let him leave. I have to stop him, talk to him, tell him he's wrong. I have to…

I hear the door in the living room close softly. I turn, finally able to move, to run…I run out into the living room -

- and it's empty. He's gone.

I collapse onto the couch and stare at the door. I can hear the blood rushing in my ears.

He's gone.

He's left me.

I'm alone.

Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

Tock.

Click.

Brmmmmmm

_____________________________________

[cont]