By TJ Dragonblade
Pairing: 2x5
Rating: PG-13/Yaoi
Warnings: Yaoi innuendo, angst, sap, sappy angst...meant to be sad. Mebbe want tissues?
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is created by Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino, copyrighted by Sunrise/SOTSU Agency, and distributed by Bandai entertainment. In other words, I am merely playing with the boys for the entertainment of myself and hopefully others; in so doing I mean no disrespect or copyright infringement.
Song Credits: Jewel, "You Were Meant For Me," _Pieces of You_...1995, I think.
Feedback: I live on the stuff.
Notes: My first songfic. Thanks to everyone who sent me the lyrics so I could write it. This was just a simple thing but it's grown and mutated and now it's more like the prelude to a bigger fic that's taking shape in my head and hopefully will actually get written and finished...which will probably only happen if I put everything else aside...but I've got this nice little PWP in the works that also has a potential sequel and two others on the back burners besides and several dozen more that are just notes...argh. Decisions, decisions.
Duo: I'll make it easy for ya--do 'em *all*!
TJ: I plan to, but...well, I'm only human. (sigh) You're gonna hate me when this is done...
Duo: (suspicious) Oh? (eyes narrow) Whyyyyy-y?
TJ: Eh heh...no reason...so! Did you know Boys Don't Cry was the name of a group in the '80's?
Duo: Really...
TJ: *And* it's the title of an early Cure song as well...
Duo: And what does that have to do with anything?
TJ: Very little, really...I was changing the subject...
Wufei: (shakes his head and mutters) You two will take all day. (aloud) Without further ado, I give you her fic...

// lyrics //
~ thoughts &/or memories ~
<< conversations over electronics >>

Even After You're Gone

//I hear the clock, it's 6a.m.
I feel so far away from where I've been//

The shrill, grating sound of the alarm clock jerked Duo Maxwell-Chang out of a deep but restless sleep. He reached over reflexively, slapping at the irritating device until the obnoxious noise at last cut off. Rolling onto his back, he threw one arm over his eyes and sighed as he gradually came awake.

Another day. Twenty-four more tedious hours. Time once again to slip on the smiling mask and pretend that everything was okay.

Slowly, very slowly, Duo lowered his arm and turned his head until he was staring at the empty pillow beside him.

Today, in particular, everything was not okay. In fact, things were so far from okay that Duo was beginning to feel it was a wonder the sun still came up at all.

Blinking away the last cobwebs of sleep, the young American gently stretched one hand out and touched the other side of the bed, barely brushing against the cool, unused sheets. "'Fei," he whispered, softly; and had anyone heard him in that moment, they would have known without a doubt that his heart was irreparably broken.

But there was no one to hear, and nothing that Duo would have wanted to share. His pain was his own, private; as far as anyone else was concerned, he was coping just fine.

He was. He was coping. He was fine.

Time once again to pretend.

"C'mon, Maxwell, up 'n at 'em," he mumbled, pushing back the covers somewhat reluctantly and dragging himself out of bed. "Gotta shower, gotta eat, gotta go to work." He closed his eyes briefly and opened them again. "Maybe he'll be back today."

His daily charade had begun.

If he could convince himself that Wufei was planning to return, his life was almost bearable again.

//I got my eggs, got my pancakes too
Even got my maple syrup--everything but you
I break the yolks and make a smiley face//

He busied himself over a full breakfast, determined as usual that he was not going to change his habits just because his husband had left. Besides, 'Fei was coming home soon. There was no reason he should act so depressed, should mope around and be gloomy.

Life was still grand.

He stabbed his fork into the center of an egg yolk, watching in detached fascination as the thick yellow liquid spilled out. Absently he began drawing random patterns on the pristine china plate, hearing Wufei's voice in his head as he did so.

~"Oh, Duo--when will you learn to cook your eggs completely? They are unhealthy like that, and thoroughly disgusting besides. And for the love of--will you please stop playing with your food?"~

Duo smiled at the memory. Wufei had turned into such a mother hen after they married--always fussing over this or that, worrying about all the little things and gently scolding--Duo had found it quite endearing.

He missed it. Missed Wufei.

//I kinda like it in my brand-new place//

He sighed, picking at his food, somehow not very hungry this morning after all. Finishing only half, he dumped the rest in the sink, deciding he'd clean up the little kitchen later.

This place was much smaller than the house he and 'Fei had found. But after Wufei left...well, Duo hadn't been able to keep up the rent on his own and had moved to this apartment. Admittedly it was rather nice, and kind of cozy.

It was also terribly lonely.

//I wipe the spots off the mirror, don't leave the keys in the door
I never put wet towels on the floor anymore//

After his shower, Duo spent several long moments in front of the mirror trying to make his smile look genuine, unforced.

It wasn't easy.

He sighed, glancing around the bathroom, and Wufei's words came back to him again.

~"How many times must I ask? Please, Duo, keep the toilet lid closed. Make sure the water is turned all the way off, wipe the mirror clean, and please don't leave towels on the floor! It's unhygienic, and it looks simply atrocious when guests come over."~

And Duo would respond with his usual "Yes, Papa," to which Wufei would roll his eyes, or snort, or 'hmph', or smack him lightly, or sometimes just smile and kiss him softly...

Duo glanced back at his reflection and went still as he saw the expression that had taken up residence on his face. There. That was the smile he was trying to achieve. Now if he could just manage to hold it all day...

He locked his door behind him as he left for work, making sure to bring the keys with him. He'd forgotten them once, and Wufei had never let him live it down...

He felt himself grinning as he remembered.

He'd been so happy before Wufei left...

But Wufei was coming back. He had to be coming back. After all, what was the point of living if he wasn't?

//Dreams last for so long, even after you're gone
I know, that you love me and soon you will see
You were meant for me, and I was meant for you//

It was hard to go into work when everyone kept asking how he was doing and giving him sympathetic looks. Certainly they meant well, but he often wished they'd just leave him alone. He wasn't the only person in the world whose spouse or whose lover had ever left without even a good-bye. Life went on. It'd go on a lot faster if they'd let him be. It had happened three months ago already. You'd think they would've found something new to talk about by now.

But Wufei's desk at Preventer HQ was still conspicuously empty, and his former co-workers continued to speak of his absence in hushed whispers when they thought Duo wouldn't know.

But he always noticed. And their sympathy only made things worse.

The one person he didn't mind was Sally. Maybe it was because she was the only one left who had fought alongside him--Heero was the head of the Preventer's Colonial branches, Zechs & Noin had gone off a couple years ago to terra-form Mars, Trowa had quietly quit the force some months before and Quatre and his Manguanacs had never joined up at all.

So Sally was the only one left.

And somehow, her presence was comforting.

She approached Duo unobtrusively a little before noon. "How are you doing?" she asked quietly, perching on one edge of his desk and casually blocking him from view of everyone else in the room.

Duo looked up into her friendly and genuinely concerned eyes; and in the privacy she had created, he felt compelled to answer honestly.

"Not so great," he murmured instead of the 'Fine, thanks,' that everyone else got. "It's been three months today...I miss him, Sal."

She shook her head. "So do I, Duo, though I know it's nothing compared to what you're going through. My heart's not involved." She gave him a long, measuring look; and his eyes fell away. She knew he was miserable.

"Go home, Duo," she said softly. "I'll give Une some official medical excuse. You don't need to be here today." She glanced involuntarily at the desk they both still thought of as Wufei's. "Call one of the guys, get out, talk, don't talk--do something to put your mind off him. I think it'll do you some good."

"Thanks," he murmured. He was glad of her suggestion. He really didn't want to be here.

He walked out without a backward glance, feeling everyone's eyes following as he left.

//I called my Momma, she was out for a walk
Consoled a cup of coffee but it didn't wanna talk//

Once back at home, he decided to make coffee. It was always comforting; and besides, it was only twelve-thirty. Still plenty early, though these days he could OD on sleeping pills and still be restless all night.

Wufei always used to chide him about his coffee habit--Duo sighed as the memories replayed.

~"It's no wonder you're so perky all the time--you know, I would swear you have the stuff in an IV drip straight into your bloodstream. And all that sugar you put in it..."

~Duo grinned. "How else am I supposed to stay so sweet?"

~Wufei frowned, though his eyes betrayed amusement, and answered, "'Sweet' does
not make the list of the Ten Most Popular Adjectives Used to Describe Duo Maxwell."

~"Hmph. It's Maxwell-
Chang now, don't forget."

~Wufei smiled, soft and brilliant. "I would not have it any other way."~

Duo swallowed past the tightness in his throat, willing the burn of tears at the back of his eyes to go away. He would not cry. Memories got harder as the day wore on and he missed his husband terribly, but he was not going to cry. Boys don't cry.

Besides, Wufei would realize his mistake soon and come back home.

But damn him, why did he have to go and leave in the first place?

Duo shook his head. This wasn't helping anything. Picking up his coffee, he went into the living room and dialed Quatre's number. Maybe the little blond would be able to cheer him up.

But it was Trowa who answered.

<<Hello, Duo,>> he said softly, a warm smile gracing his features. Duo did his best to return the smile though he could tell it fell flat.

"Hey, Trowa," he returned, trying to inject some semblance of his trademark cheeriness into his voice. "Is Q around?"

Trowa shook his head slightly, the auburn sweep of his hair glinting in the sunlight from the window behind him. <<Sorry, he's out. He had a lunch date with Abdul. Do you want him to call you when he gets in?>>

Duo's eyes fell away. "Nah, thanks anyway. I'll catch him some other time."

And that was that.

But for one reason or another, he didn't hang up.

Trowa made no move to do so, either. Instead, he leaned forward slightly. <<Is there something I can do for you, Duo?>> he asked; and it wasn't a 'Why-am-I-still-on-the-phone-with-you?' question.

Duo knew it was genuine concern, and he sighed. Sally had suggested talking; Trowa had always been an exceptional listener, and the Latin boy's love life had certainly been dragged through the depths of...of something deep dark and unpleasant. Maybe, just maybe, that understanding could lend Duo some comfort.

"When does it end, Trowa?" he asked, sounding more desperately forlorn than he meant to. He raised his eyes again. "How do I make the heartache go away, how do I survive until it does?" That tight, heavy feeling was back in his throat, his chest; he steeled himself against it. Boys don't cry, he reminded himself again. Especially not in front of other boys.

Trowa's eyes darkened, flooding with sorrowful compassion that shone through clearly over the phone image.

<<Time,>> he said softly; and his voice was tempered by an old hurt, healed over but still tender. <<I know it's cliché and terribly unsatisfying to hear; but it’s all I can tell you. Time will ease the pain.>>

Duo shook his head, not in denial, but more in futile weary resignation. "How long?" he asked, trying to feel anything other than hopeless. "I mean, for you, after Quatre broke up with you..." He trailed off, not really sure it was a subject he should be bringing up.

Trowa shrugged. <<A long time,>> he answered softly; and his eyes were far away.

He shook his head slightly and refocused on the American.

Duo's eyes were downcast. Trowa watched him in heavy silence for a moment before speaking. <<Duo, I...>> he began, and trailed off as his gaze fell to where Duo was slowly twisting the thin silver band around the third finger of his left hand.

"Yeah?" Duo looked up.

<<Nothing,>> Trowa answered softly; but Duo had the sense that he wanted to say more. <<Just...please call us if you need anything. Anything, no matter what.>>

//So I picked up a paper, it was more bad news
More hearts being broken, more people being used//

After hanging up with Trowa, Duo was determined to put his mind off his absent husband. He glanced through the day's paper, skimming articles as he finished his coffee. Nothing cheery there--it seemed everything about the world was depressing today. He tried the TV; but at this time of day his only options were soaps or talk shows, both full of betrayal and backstabbing and melodramatic heartbreak--that really wasn't what he needed, either. He turned it off and picked up a book, turning it over in his hands without opening it.

This was one of 'Fei's favorites, he recalled fondly, fingers tracing over the title. Many a time he'd searched the old house for the Chinese youth, only to find him at last curled into a chair in the corner of the living room, eyes scanning rapidly down the page, so engrossed in his reading that he hadn't heard his husband calling. When Duo finally got his attention, he'd smile apologetically and put the book aside and remove the little glasses that Duo secretly suspected were a mere affectation to make him appear more scholarly and give Duo his full and undivided attention for however long Duo wanted it...

Duo found himself smiling at memories again. Wufei had always been so good to him.

What had he done to screw it up?

He sighed. "Nothing, Duo, you did nothing," he told himself firmly aloud. "It's not your fault--he just...had something to take care of...he'll come back, soon..." He trailed into silence; and only the ticking of the clock on the far wall broke the stillness, daring to contradict him with a subtle, relentless reminder of just how long it had already been.

"S'posed to be puttin' your mind off him, Duo," he mumbled, and put the book down. He stood, glancing out the window. The grey skies, so starkly in contrast to what he'd seen out Trowa's window, had finally opened up and let the rain pour down.

Walking in the rain--that was something he and 'Fei had never gotten around to doing. Maybe he'd give it a try.

//Put on my coat in the pouring rain
I saw a movie, it just wasn't the same
'Cause it was happy and I was sad and
It made me miss you oh so bad//

Duo stumbled out of the theatre downtown, foregoing use of his umbrella for a moment, becoming thoroughly drenched as he took off running. He slowed finally as he neared a park and opened the by-now-useless device. Breath heaving in his lungs, he blinked the rain--it was all rain, no matter how warm it felt, he told himself furiously--out of his eyes.

That movie had been a bad idea. He hadn't realized it was a romance.

It was the bedroom scene that had finally sent him running. The couple on the screen had brought back too many memories--Wufei panting beneath him, crooning his name, clutching at his arms, clawing his back, begging for more; both their bodies bathed in sweat, moving together, melding, fusing, exploding--it was too much. He burned, body and soul, as he fled the theatre; and it was only as he reached the park that he registered the wet chill of the rain and thought to open his umbrella.

Dismal as the weather was, no one was in the park; Duo decided to cut through it and head for home.

He only realized his mistake as he drew near the center of the park and caught sight of a wrought-iron bench beneath a large Sakura cherry tree in full if somewhat soggy bloom. His hand flew to his mouth, stifling a sound that could have passed for a laugh but was closer to a hysterical sob. It seemed the fates were conspiring to surround him with reminders of his absent husband today. His fingertips reached out of their own accord to touch the rain-soaked wooden slats.

This was where he and 'Fei had shared their first kiss, shortly after Duo had joined the Preventers, a little over two years ago now...

He whirled and ran, sprinting for home, not caring that he'd left the umbrella behind, not caring that the rain pelted into his face and stung his eyes, not caring that the streets and sidewalks were slick or that he came dangerously close to being hit several times, not caring if he died. It wouldn't matter if he died, not unless 'Fei came back.

God, why didn't he just come back?

//Dreams last for so long, even after you're gone
I know, that you love me, and soon you will see
You were meant for me, and I was meant for you//

Duo finally got himself under control as he neared his apartment, slowing to a walk and telling himself softly over and over, "He'll be back. He'll come back. We're meant to be together; he's going to come back." Whether or not he believed it, repeating it as he climbed the stairs was immensely helpful in calming himself down.

//I go 'bout my business, I'm doing fine
Besides, what would I say if I had you on the line?
Same old story, not much to say
Hearts are broken every day//

He changed out of his sodden clothes, dried his braid, and set to work. This place was something of a mess; maybe concentrating on mundane tasks would get him through what nothing else had today.

Three months alone.

If he could just talk to Wufei again...

He shook his head as he flicked on the bathroom light. Yeah. Right. He had no way to get a hold of the boy anymore. Besides, this sort of heartbreak happened all the time. He wasn't the only one; and if other people, just ordinary civilians, could deal with it and survive, then he, tough enough to have been a Gundam pilot, could certainly do the same.

Look at Trowa, after all--he'd come to terms with his breakup and now lived in the same house with his ex-lover, enjoying an entirely different sort of relationship with him.

~But it's not the same thing,~ a voice whispered in his head.

~Shut up,~ he told it silently, furiously scrubbing at the toilet. ~It's close enough.~ He finished cleaning the bathroom, then cleaned the kitchen, the bedroom, the living room, did laundry, drove to the store for groceries--he had to keep busy.

He had to, or he was going to go absolutely crazy.

//I brush my teeth and put the cap back on
I know you hate it when I leave the light on//

And when the day finally wound down into night, he found himself in front of the mirror again, practicing his smile as he had that morning. Only now, his face looked more pinched, more tired, more drained and white about the mouth...

He was nearing the end of his resolve. It was so hard to try to act normal when Wufei wasn't here to yell at him for leaving the cap off the toothpaste or scold him for wasting electricity when he didn't turn out the bathroom light or waylay him as he entered the bedroom and pull him down onto the bed with enthusiastic hands and eager kisses, or lay beside him afterward and grace him with that irresistibly smug smile...

He sighed deeply as he came out of the bathroom, staring at the big empty bed as a dull knot of dread settled cold in his stomach.

Just another long, lonely, restless night.

At least the pain receded when he finally went to sleep...

But only until the dreams would come.

//I pick up a book and turn the sheets down and
Take a deep breath and a good look around
Put on my PJs and hop into bed
I'm half-alive but I feel mostly dead//

Swallowing past the heaviness in his chest, he turned back the covers and slid into bed. He still kept to one side, even after three months. Sleeping in the middle just didn't feel right. Wufei's pillow was still there, still unused...Duo sighed.

This was truly the worst part of the day. Going to bed by himself in a bed too large for one person was a harsh reminder of just how alone he truly was. He could tell himself 'Fei would come back as often as he liked; but reality set in after dark.

//I try and tell myself it'll be alright I
Shouldn't think anymore tonight//

He picked up a book, trying to ignore the way his fingers trembled and his eyes blurred. But he was beginning to shake so badly that he couldn't even open the thing, much less read it. In a flash of angry frustration, he hurled it across the room, where it hit the wall with a thunk and fell to the floor, pages fluttering.

"Why?" he cried out; and everything shattered.

Hot tears flooded his eyes and spilled over as his face fell into his hands. ~Boys don't cry,~ he thought bitterly as his shaking turned into inconsolable weeping. ~Bullshit.~ He pulled Wufei's pillow to him, crushing it to his chest as sobs wracked his slender, weary frame.

Even after three months, the scent of the other boy still clung faintly to the linens.

"'Fei," Duo sobbed, head bowed over the pillow, soaking it with his tears as he rocked back and forth, shoulders heaving, sorrow constricting his throat. "God, 'Fei, please...come back to me, please--"

But he knew, even as he poured out his broken heart, that it was useless.

After all, not even Chang Wufei could come back from the dead.

//Dreams last for so long, even after you're gone
I know, you love me and soon I know you will see
You were meant for me, and I was meant for you, yeah
You were meant for me, and I was meant for you//

end

+

Beg: 4/17/02
End: 4/25/02

Duo: (sputtering) You...you...you...you *BITCH*! You killed 'Fei-Fei!
TJ: AAAAAAAAAHHH! (runs screaming from an enraged Duo and dodges behind Wufei who, though much shorter, is able to accomplish what she cannot and stop his lover in the midst of a full-blown transformation to Shinigami)
Duo: Lemme *go*, 'Fei! I'll kill her! She *swore* when she dragged us into this that she'd never do a deathfic!
Wufei: (holding the struggling Duo at arm's length) Calm down, xin ai. It's only a story.
Duo: (stops struggling and pouts) But she *killed* you, 'Fei!
TJ: (still ducking behind Wufei, peeking over his shoulder) Blame the damned muses! I heard the stupid song in a restaurant and they jumped all over it! I don't even *like* Jewel, not really!
Duo: Reeeaaally... (turns toward the muses, Shinigami powering up again) You killed my 'Fei! You BASTARDS!
Wufei: (glances over his shoulder) Shall I?
TJ: You'd better--he's quoting South Park.
Muses: (all 5 of 'em) Oh, *shit*...
(Wufei turns Duo loose; the American promptly barrels into the huddled muses. They all disappear into a cartoon cloud of flying dust and flailing limbs)
Wufei: (viewing the chaos from a safe distance) Perhaps I ought to stop him...
TJ: Nah, don't bother. They've got me doing a sequel that he's probably gonna hate too...Why aren't *you* pissed? You're the one who's dead.
Wufei: (shrugs) I have never been dead before. I believe it could be interesting. Besides, I have seen the plans for this sequel you speak of.
TJ: And? Whaddya think?
Wufei: I think it has merit.
TJ: It won't be easy...
Wufei: (cocks his head with a knowing smile) But it is, after all, only a story...
(In the distance, Duo can be heard shouting something that sounds suspiciously like 'Respect my authori-tah!')
Wufei: (shakes head) Come on, I suppose we had best separate them.
TJ: Yeah, guess you're right. I *do* need them all...

[back to TJ Dragonblade's fic]