by: zillie
look! it's almost over!
(there are no song lyrics in this part)

to make things a little clearer, I've done things as follows in this part:
things happen
<dreams> happen
//memories/flashbacks// happen

Sleep + Part 7

+

She took him out for dinner that night, to a small discreet restaurant where paparazzi would not be notified of their presence until just as they were leaving.

"You don't need to go," she said.

"Yes," he told her, "I do."

"Even if. . . even if you don't want to be with me anymore, I still wish you'd stay. For as long as you want my home is yours."

But he has grown sick of it and longs for something different. "I appreciate the offer," he said, quietly.

"But." Her voice was soft and breathy; he wondered if she was suppressing tears. Saving them for after the photographers had shot their fill of her.

"But," he agreed.

When they walked out of the restaurant the sky lit around them; thousands of furious flashes burned their way into his brain. He kept his arm through hers and kept moving, wondering if she had actually cried, there in public, if he would have agreed to stay.

+

He takes pills, wracking his brain for all he knows of medication. Relena, thankfully, has several bottles containing sleep aids; the sleep techniques he learned as a child have failed him, but his resistance to drugs has not. He shakes a few out of every bottle and finishes with half a bottle's worth of valerian root. And lies resolutely on the bed.

If sleep will not come to him he will hunt it with every means necessary.The familiar current of a dream. . . .

+

<He is standing in the bathroom he shares with Relena; in the mirror he can see himself. Haggard. Thin. When did he lose so much weight? He touches his reflection; his fingers sink into it and he can feel his skin.

He pulls his hand back; in it there is a small white plastic container. He opens it, pulls, drags the contents across the sharp hook.

And opens his mouth and flosses his teeth.>

+

When he woke up only half an hour had gone by. He cursed, swore, would have screamed if Relena hadn't been in the room next door. What the hell kind of person has dreams about flossing his teeth? He stalked to the bathroom, grimly stuck a finger down his throat, and purged himself of whatever drugs he had not yet metabolized. He had a feeling it made little difference either way. He had never been much for sleep.

 


+

//Don't you ever sleep?

Baka. Of course I sleep. When I need to.

Duo had batted him on the head. I'm no baka.

That's right, he had agreed with only a small smile. Duo no baka.

But don't you ever just sleep for the fun of it?

Shrug.

At least don't you ever just get into bed for the fun of it? Not like that, you hentai! I mean-just to enjoy the way that it feels. To sort of rub yourself into it. Duo's eyes had been surprisingly open. Sometimes I crawl into bed and wiggle around. . . just to feel it. That devastatingly guileless half-grin of Duo's. I'll show you.

Heero had watched curiously as his lover had jumped gleefully to stand on the bed they had bought together, even before they had settled on an apartment. It was endless, an expanse of black satin and Duo's inviting look.

Duo stepped out of the shorts that were all he wore and dropped bonelessly. Don't you ever just love the feeling of it? He rubbed his head against Heero's pillow, letting his eyes drift closed and his lips part.

Heero had taken a step closer.

Duo had rubbed his face, catlike, into the pillow, and had opened his eyes to stare at Heero. Come on, he said, pulling his lover onto the bed, onto his body. Feel.

Under his hand Duo's skin had felt like nothing he had ever known before. He had run his hand up from Duo's thigh, over a cluster of scars, over the spot on his hip that always made the other boy sputter with laughter, over his flat stomach, over the place where some soldier had thought it would be funny to carve his name into the gundam pilot's skin. Heero had a feeling that Ja-, wherever he was, had not thought it was funny for very long. He had let his hand rest on Duo's chest, had brought his face down to lie beside it. Duo's hand, on his hair, surprisingly gentle. Heero? You all right? Heero had nodded, the motion causing his nose to rub against Duo's skin. I just wanted to feel you, he had said.//

+

In Relena's guest bathroom Heero washed his mouth out and looked in the mirror.

+

//What are you doing?

What does it look like I'm doing?

It looks like you're in my bed. About to go to sleep.

Duo had said nothing.

Why are you in my bed?

Because I can't sleep in mine. I haven't slept in days. Just. . . for tonight.

Heero had shrugged, crawled into bed beside the braided boy. He had borne it stoically when Duo had crept closer to him, when Duo had pressed his head to Heero's chest.

Sometimes, Duo had whispered, his hushed voice echoing in the midnight-silent room, I can't remember what life sounds like. What does life sound like?

Duo's hand, pressed flat against Heero's heart. Like this, he said. Like you.//

+

His face was set with lines; he realized with a start that he had slammed his fist into the mirror. He barely saw the blood; pressed his hand flat against the shattered mirror. Touched his fractured skin, pulling his hand down over the mirror until it rested against the reflection of his chest.

Felt nothing.

+

//Tell me, he had demanded. His eyes were hot; he kept them closed as he knotted his hand in Duo's hair. Tell me.

The other boy had been alone on the balcony until Heero had hunted him down; the expression on his face as he had turned from the celebratory fireworks to meet his lover had done nothing to calm the awful feeling of purposelessness that had been plaguing Heero all through the celebration. The war was over; he needed to make sure that he wasn't.

The war is over, Duo said, his voice surprisingly gentle. It's all over now, and you can rest.

Not that. Tell me.

You're here. You're alive despite your best efforts. You saved the world.

His hand had tightened. I don't care. Tell me.

Are you sure?

There had been a vulnerability in Duo's voice; in hindsight it grated against his skin. At the time it had only seemed proof that he was not the only one bewildered by this sudden wild peace. Yeah. I'm sure. So tell me.

And then there had been Duo's hand, making passes down his hair, and Duo's body, trembling against him. And Duo, and the world made sense. I love you, Duo had crooned. I'm with you. You can sleep now.//

+

His body crashed to the floor amid the glass.

+

<The war is over and his family has found him. His family wants him. He leaves his solitary life eagerly, and heads to their ranch. His father and stepmother and a dozen of their offspring greet him.

We've been waiting for you, they say. Welcome. Welcome home.

His stepbrother-his stepmother's second oldest son-has a smile that makes the world stop spinning. He has a laugh that starts it again. He has eyes that even the war couldn't kill. His name is Duo and Heero loves him intensely.

It takes some work, but in the end Duo stands before him and holds out his hand. I'm not going to say no anymore, he says. I'm done with being selfless. Will you come with me?

Heero steps forward.

I'll make you happy, Duo swears. I won't stop loving you-I couldn't. I'll keep you happy. I'll touch you all the time-you'll forget what it's like to not be touched by me. I'll feed you peeled grapes and run baths for you. I promise you. I'll make you happy.

Baths.

Heero stops.>

+

//Quatre, after Duo left, patiently bathing the almost- catatonic boy. Scooping water up from the large bathtub and spilling it gently down his back. Soothing stories of mundanity.//

//Wufei. First visit after he'd moved in with Relena. The beautifully wrapped package that had turned out to contain a rubber ducky with devil horns. Because you have a bathtub now, the other boy had said.//

//Relena. In bubbles she was washed clean of all her public masks. She had leaned against him in the scented water and simply been his.//

//Trowa. Gently helping Heero through a bath in those first, shell-shocked days at Quatre's. Following your emotions is all well and good, the boy had said softly, but don't forget that there's more to life than feeling, and that just because you saved the world doesn't mean you don't owe it anything.//

//And Duo. Heart-breakingly alive, apologizing for the dinkiness of the bathtub in their apartment. Next time, he had promised. Duo. Who loved to annoy Heero by farting in the bathtub. Who sculpted soap bubbles into lewd shapes on his lover's skin. Who complained when his hair got wet or his skin went pruney. Who had laughed in delight when he had found a stray grey hair on Heero's leg one day. You're getting old, man! he had crowed. And the two of them had laughed until it hurt, because they were getting old, they would get old, and they would die. And before that they would live.//

+

//Promise me, Duo demanded.//

I promise. . . .

<Heero pulled his hand back. I can't.

Duo.

I can't go with you, he says. I'm sorry.

And he is. Galaxies cannot contain his sorrow; the force of his anger at life could blow up the world. But. . . I promised, he explains. His voice is weak but he is resolute.

Promised?

I promised you, Heero says, and now he steps closer. And if you came softly. . . if you came with stealth. . . if you came as my lover and tempted me with kisses. . . I could not go with you.

Duo's eyes are too bright.

Heero kisses him, softly, sadly. Because I love you, and because I promised.

Duo's eyes close; Heero takes his lover chin gently in his hands. Look at me, he says.

Duo shakes his head, but looks.

Heero leans forward, kisses him again. I won't forget you. Some flowers don't fade. He pulls back.

I won't come again. I can't.

Heero memorizes his face-the arch of his eyebrows, the curve of his lips, the gentle tear that is slipping down a rounded cheek that will never lose all of its childhood. I know.

He turns and walks away.

The ranch house where he so briefly had a family melts around him, fades to black.> And he is on his hands and knees, surrounded by glass in the too-bright bathroom of Relena's best guest bathroom.

He does not move, just stares down at the glass and his blood. His face has broken into a thousand pieces and fallen off of the wall. He stares at the floor and wants a thousand things. He has no tears to cry.

tsu*zu*ku

i have a question for you all; it has to do with the ending. on one hand, i feel that the fic should not end with heero and duo getting together somehow because that would take cheating. on the other, i'm a hopeless romantic. i find myself torn between giving them a together ending and between being a little more faithful to the idea of the fic (which has shifted around so much i'm not sure what it is anymore, but still). So if you have any kind of feeling, one way or another, please let me know; maybe i'll write alternate endings. . .    

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