Going Nowhere
Sequel to Standing Still

"Come on, it'll be fun."

"Hn."  I feel that that's all that needs to be said about that.  The answer is blazingly obvious, after all.  Heero Yuy and parties at clubs do not mix.

"Everyone's going."  He blinks wide indigo eyes at me as if that will make me change my mind.  I roll my own eyes at the lameness of his reasoning.  He should know me better than to think that an excuse like that will work.  I could care less what everyone else is doing.  "Come on, it's Q-ball's birthday!   You can't miss out on that.  I thought he was your buddy."

He's missing the point.  "Loud music, dark room, lots of people.  People will be going to dance and party, not... socialize, or take a head count.  No one will even notice if I'm not there, Duo."

He wields those eyes on me again, but this time there's something a little less deliberate, a little more unarmed, in the look he gives me.  I get the feeling I'm not going to like what he says.  Please, Duo, I beg in the silence of my mind, don't say the one thing that might actually make me want to go.

"I'll notice."  He tosses the words out like they mean nothing, but they do.  By themselves, they carry no edge, but they don't need to.  This is like death by a thousand papercuts, slow and torturous.

I'm cracking.  So much for prayers and pleading, hopes and dreams, dissolved in a fraction of a second.  But then again, if such wishful things came true, then I would never even be in this situation.  There would be no question about my going to the party, because I'd want to.  I would have no problems with it.  I would love dancing, I would love going out, I wouldn't mind people.  I would love Duo, openly and unabashedly and without conflict, and I would go where he goes, follow where he leads, and maybe even do some of the leading myself.  And I would be happy and normal and at peace within myself, if only life came as easily to me as it does to him, if only dreams came true.

The moment passes, and I shift gears.  If it can't be about me, then it'll be about him.  "I'll just be a drag, Duo.  I'll sit in the corner with a drink I'll keep in front of me all night just so it can look like I'm actually doing something over there, when all I'll be doing is staring out into space and waiting for the night to end.  You don't want that."

"No, of course not.  I want you to go there and have fun, hang out, talk to the guys, flirt with some girls, maybe even hover on the edge of the dance floor.  He went and rented out a club, Heero, a club!  A small one, yes, but a club!  Now when are you ever going to get the chance to go to a club again without having to worry about weirdos dumping something in your drink?"

"That's something I've never worried about, Duo, because I've never thought about going to a club.  You, on the other hand, have.  You'll have a lot more fun without me."

"It won't be the same without you!"  Yeah, it'll be better, much better without me darkening the room.  "Come on, go for Quatre, then.  He's your friend, after all."

"He'll understand."  He knows I don't like this sort of thing.  Everyone knows.  He can't possibly expect me to actually want to attend.  "Besides, like I said.  No one will even notice I'm not there.  Everyone will be too busy enjoying themselves.  However, they would notice if I were there, and then people would feel obligated to try to get me to enjoy myself, Quatre especially, since he's the host.  Then I'd be stubborn about the whole thing, and then finally you'd all get so exasperated with me that you'd stalk away from me in a huff and I will have ruined your entire evening.  You don't want to make me guilty of that, now do you?"

Already he is getting exasperated with me.  "Even *Trowa* is going."

"Trowa is his boyfriend.  Of course he's going."   Besides, you wouldn't know it, but there's more to him than that quiet facade gives away.  There's a lot more to me, too, but that's exactly what's stopping me from going.

"Heero," he whines, deliberately drawing out the vowels.   "Stop being so uncooperative."  No, why don't you stop, Duo?   Why don't you leave me be?  Why don't you walk away from me and never look back?  Why don't you understand that I can't be what you want me to be?  I can't even be what *I* want to be.  Stop this before I hurt the both of us.

I'm already feeling bad enough that I don't want to go when he wants me to, but this isn't about being uncooperative.  I truly have no desire to go.  I honestly think I won't have fun.  I know that he'll have a great time if he doesn't have to spy me out of the corner of his eye, brooding along the wall somewhere.  I'm pretty sure that most of the night would be spent by me just pretending that I'm at least having a decent time, just so he won't feel bad about urging me to go, and that will only end up emphasizing to me just how poorly I fit in.

I'm already thinking that I'll go if he keeps this up, just because I don't want to disappoint him.  Please, Duo, don't keep this up.  Keep going and I'll cave, and everything will end in disaster.

"I'm not being uncooperative."  That's all I can say to him in my defense.  So many things run through my head, and none of them will ever be voiced aloud.  If a thought forms in my mind, and no one ever hears it, does it make a sound?  "I won't have fun if I go.  You won't have fun if I go.  Why are we even having this discussion?"

He puts away his carefully crafted pout and looks at me with a particular earnestness he doesn't often show.  "I take full responsibility for not having fun if you go, Heero," he pledges solemnly.  "I will blame no one but myself.  There will be all these people we haven't seen for a while, Heero, I'm sure you'll find someone to talk to.  You don't have to have fun, necessarily.  Just... get out.  So were there any other reasons you didn't want to go?"

Yes.  I don't want to look at the crowd all night and wonder what it would be like to be one of them, among them.  I don't want to observe the movements of the dancers and wonder how they can expose themselves by expressing themselves so freely, and how it would feel to be able to express myself so freely.  I don't want to watch people touch each other so casually and shudder when I think of those same touches upon my skin.  I don't want to measure the chasm that lies between myself and these people.  I don't want everyone to notice me, isolated and different.  I don't want to pretend that this loneliness makes me happy.  I don't want to brood in my corner, my eyes always searching for that telltale braid, but desperately pretending otherwise, and I really don't want to see, study, and memorize every single person that he ends up dancing with, even just talking with or smiling at, because I know I'll feel jealous and envious and depressed and unworthy.  I don't want to keep telling him to go off and enjoy himself when really I just want him to stay by my side.

Of course, I can offer none of these things as a reason for not going.  I answer his question with a resigned shake of my head.  "Congratulations, Duo," I say with a certain lack of enthusiasm.  I consciously turn my eyes away from his to make my reluctance more pronounced.  Maybe that will disguise that strange edge of relief I feel that he succeeded in 'convincing' me to attend.   "You're a winner."

He grins, hiding his joy at his triumph rather gracefully.  He grins, and I feel uneasy that it makes me feel good.  "No, Quatre's a Winner.  I'm a Maxwell."

I know one thing for certain.  I sure as hell am not drinking any alcohol in case something slips out that should never have seen the light of day.  Or the strobe lights of a hazy club.

As promised, I'm being a drag.  I arrived with Duo, said my token hellos, and installed myself against the wall.  He humored me, and stayed with me as the party got under way, always snagging another passing friend over to talk for a bit, and forcing me into the conversation, such as it is, with blaring music drowning out any subtleties.  I appreciate his efforts, really, I do, but they won't be enough.  He won't be able to pry me out of my shell, especially not in this environment.  I feel like a fish out of water here, an ugly duckling pretending to be swan, a storm cloud on a sunny day.

After seeing him sweep the dance floor with his eyes for the third time, I decide I've imposed upon him enough.  "Go on, Duo," I insist, jerking my head in the direction of the small crowd.  He looks at me, torn, and it tears me knowing that I am the source of his indecision.  Before he can deny his desire to be out there, I cut him off.  He hates lying, and I refuse to force him into lying to me.  "You know, I see Wufei over there.  Maybe I'll drop by and say hi to him."  I, on the other hand, seem to have no problem with casual lying.  I've spent so many years making up plausible excuses for my sorry behavior that it's become more than second nature to me.  The balance of truth and untruth rolls so swiftly off my tongue I hardly have time to even recognize that Wufei actually is over there.  I hadn't even noticed, really.

"You sure?"

Sweet guy.  I don't deserve him.  Really, really don't.  I have done nothing to earn this from him; I have, in fact, worked against it.  I don't deserve him, and he doesn't deserve me.  He deserves infinitely more.  Hn.  Not hard to get more than zero.

"Of course."  I flash him a quick smile and slide past him and towards our old friend, knowing that he won't move until I prove that I actually intend to do something.  I feel his eyes follow me all the way there, up until I put an open expression on my face and greet Wufei and his girlfriend in what passes for a bright manner for me.

As we make small talk, I manage to turn myself towards the floor, just so I can keep an eye on things.  Sure enough, Duo is already looking lively, and I am satisfied.  Nevertheless, the conversation cannot last long.  It isn't long before I decide that I'm stopping them from getting out there and joining the rest of the party, so I smoothly excuse myself and let them move on.  I know that Duo will be monitoring me for a little while yet, so I find my next target and meander my way slowly over there.  I plot a course from here to the bar, out of the way enough that I will be out of Duo's range of casual surveillance, and from there I can slink along the wall, avoid that open spot by circling back behind that pillar, be wary of getting caught in that overhead light, and then I can park myself at one of the tables in that corner.  Until then, I drift lazily through the little groups of people, a nod here, a wave there, and a few words in between.  Ever as always, hovering on the fringes; together, yet apart.  I allow myself a small sigh of relief when I notice that Duo hasn't looked in my direction for a few minutes now.  One less thing to worry about, one less weight on my conscience, one more pang of something through my heart.

Since I'm there, I get myself a soda from the bar and play the same game over my designated course, mingling briefly with many, but lingering with none.  I doubt any of them will even remember my passing.  When I reach my goal, I am pleased with my final destination.  Not only is it not directly in front of a set of speakers, it is far from where Duo last spotted me.  Hopefully, he won't be able to find me again and it will be a case of 'out of sight, out of mind'.

I seat myself at a table, carefully selected for its location.  I am not the only one in the area, although the only one alone.  There is no one near that I feel obliged to speak to.  The lights are neither glaring, nor dim, and there is a pillar partially shielding me from the floor.

I put way too much thought into this.  Get a grip, Yuy.  If this were any other venue, I could have just slipped outside 'for some air'.  I could have lived my life without the added challenge of an enclosed area.  Life is challenge enough, and in fact, is just another stifling cell.  I shake my head at the irony.  Tonight, I've traded in my lofty stone fortifications for walls of one-way mirror glass.

I open my soda with a sigh.  I can tell it's going to be a long night, but then again, I knew that before I even got here.   Why did I ever agree to come to this party anyway?  Oh yeah.   Duo asked me to.

What a poor fool I am.  It's unfortunate that I'm not a complete pushover, because Duo also asked me to enjoy myself here, and I'm not so easily complying with that wish.  That has always been my way -- to be able to go through the simple, mechanical motions, but never manage to make the emotional commitment.  I try to convince myself not to think about this, but the whole night pushes me towards it.  Every time I wander down this road, I always end up right where I started again, thinking in circles.  It's like the age old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Personally, I'd say the egg, but that's besides the point.  Do my thoughts come from the way I feel, or does the way I feel influence my thoughts?  Do I find life boring because I think that life is boring, and thus act accordingly, as if life is boring, and in the end, make my life boring, even though I might not actually find it so?  It's an unnecessarily complicated question I cannot answer.

I raise my soda can to my lips, only remembering halfway through the gesture that I have a tall glass and a straw as well.  I welcome the pathetic distraction of pouring my soda down the inside of my glass to minimize the fizzing.  That doesn't last very long, and soon enough I am left with only my thoughts once more.  I catch myself staring at the bubbles gathering on my ice cubes as if the carbonation held the answers to the universe, and I quickly tear my eyes away from it, snatching up my straw to take a sip.  That leaves my eyes to roam the floor again.

There is, of course, a noticable contrast between them and me, leading me inevitably back to my contemplation of self.  But so what?  Everyone is different, right?  There's no law that says that all 'normal' people must enjoy dancing, loud music, pulsing lights.  It's perfectly alright for me to prefer the relatively muted atmosphere of what has become my sanctuary.  Life varies across a distribution, and some data points must necessarily lie on the outside edges of the set.  And as with most outlying data, one usually just overlooks it, ignores it in the final calculations.  Assume them to be deviant and leave them be.  I should appreciate that.

On the surface, that's that, and all seems right with the world, only I know that there's much more buried beneath it, and I have yet to decide whether that knowledge makes me better or worse than the others that still have the good fortune of enjoying their ignorance.  Who can really say what is the root of all of our likes and dislikes, our preferences and our peeves?  Sometimes it may be whimsy, and others, it may be something deeply set in the heart of the unconscious.  Perhaps I simply enjoy the ability to converse without shouting.  Perhaps there is something in that mass of partygoers that I fear, something that threatens to invade my private little world.

Every day I make decisions based on my emotions.  Almost every day, I choose not to live life on the wild side.  Hell, even the moderate side.  I do what my emotions tell me to do, but they scream at me with two conflicting voices, and I cannot know which is right and which is wrong, which is truly the representative of my heart, and which is a conjuring of my mind.  All I know is that the voice that tells me not to try to escape my personal prison shouts louder than the others.  I know that even if this doesn't make me happy, or content, or satisfied, that it is safe and secure and stable, and that is, sadly, enough.  I'm okay with who I am.  A little disappointed, maybe, but okay.

As I idly twirl my ice cubes around with my straw, my eyes somehow manage to find Duo again.  It's horrible, how I keep coming back to him.  There is some weakness within me that prevents me from letting go of him entirely, but I cannot be rid of it.  I am only human, after all, and humans crave affection, no matter how much they wish to deny it.

I could have it.  I'm watching its embodiment fooling around on the dance floor right now.  He could give me everything my unheeded voices ever wanted.  But somehow, it isn't enough, not enough to tempt me out of myself.  I have everything that I, and my dominant voices, want from him right now.  Why can't I just sit back and adore him in silence?  It's been working so far.

But it's being unfair to him.  Maybe.  Assuming that I've been stringing him along.  Maybe it's best to assume the worst.  By arming myself against the greatest disasters, I should be well equipped to deal with any of the more likely scenarios that might come my way.  Still, there's no way I can reasonably believe that he's still waiting on me.  I mean, look at him out there.  He really looks like he's enjoying himself.  I watch him work his magic on the crowd.  I spy those two girls drooling over him.  I see that guy joking around with him, to the exclusion of his swiftly angering girlfriend.  He's got a smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eyes, and it's nothing to do with me that's causing that.  I'm not sad that it's not me, but I am sort of sad that all I can do is bask in his bright presence from afar.  And yet... this is the way it should be.  The sun and the moon, if I may wax poetic for a moment.  He belongs out there, with them, not stuck to an old sourpuss like me.  He's free to leave me at any time, if he's still hanging around.  I'm encouraging him to do so.  Sooner or later, if he hasn't already, he'll have to recognize that I'm just not worth his attention, and he'll move on to bigger and better things.

And regardless of that, my... my love will remain.  First word that came to mind.  No vouching for its accuracy, though.

Anyway, maybe it would even be stronger then, because then I could be free of this lingering guilt for being the way that I am.  There are the silly little guilts, like the one I have for having this opportunity and not taking advantage of it.  It's like throwing away a feast when you know there are people starving on the streets.  How many others would love to have the attention of Duo Maxwell, or someone like him?

Then there are the major cases of guilt.  I want to see him happy and satisfied, as he will never be with me, because then it would be as if I were actually doing something right for a change.  I don't want to hurt him anymore, and I can never be sure if I still am.  I carefully analyze everything that passes between him and me, and it seems neutral enough to me, but I obviously am a very, very bad judge of these matters, and he is very, very good at hiding things of such great import.

My fingers cease their action as a realization occurs to me, and I am astounded by my arrogance.  It is quite possible that I am waiting for someone (him) to forcibly evict me.  It's like I want him to do all the work for me.  Look at how I ended up here in the first place.  Yes, Duo asked me, but I made him ask me.  I made him force me to come tonight, even though I wasn't all that unwilling to begin with.  I set up a situation where he could end up getting me to go.  I said all the lines that, if he responded properly, would end up making me feel bad about not going and cut off all lines of valid objection from me, which would result in my attendance.  I manipulated him into manipulating me.

God, I'm pathetic.

Or maybe I'm completely off-base.  Maybe this was all some twisted mindgame I've been playing with him.  Maybe by making him insist on my presence, it was all just some sort of screwed-up test of his affection and loyalty.  If he really wanted me to be with him, then he would try to get me to go, regardless of my resistance.   No, I wouldn't appreciate that, though.  If he really wanted me, if we really understood each other, he'd know when to back off, when to leave me alone.  Or so I say.  Perhaps, in the depths of my heart, I really do need him to prove himself to me.  Or maybe he really does know when to back off, and this wasn't the time.  I did end up coming, after all, and it wasn't too much of a struggle.

See, this is why I hate thinking sometimes.  Give me math, science, something with concrete answers any day.  This is getting me nowhere.  I'm only managing to depress myself with all this thinking.  Then again, this is what gives me my aptitude for science.  I see all the possibilities, even when I really shouldn't, and I can't help but to consider them all, no matter how bizarre and unlikely they may seem.

I blink, and realize that someone has been standing beside my table for some few moments now.  Before I even look up, I know it is him.  Ignoring him won't make him go away, so I look up anyway, and he smiles in return.  "So this is where you've been hiding."

"Not hiding," I answer mildly, quickly stowing my thoughts away in some dark corner of my mind.  "Just taking a break.  I kind of like hearing myself think once in a while, you know?"  That is true, but not true.  This is not one of those times.  Perhaps it would have been better if I had set myself up right in front of one of those speakers after all.  Then perhaps the sheer immensity of the noise could have numbed my mind to its labor.

He slides into the seat across from me, setting a bottle of water on the table top with one hand, the cap with the other.  He has already taken several swallows.  "Been here long?"

I shrug carelessly.  "Not that long."  A nonchalant, vague answer that I speak without first considering.  I notice with a start that my soda is mostly gone and my ice cubes have all nearly melted.  The evidence of the passage of time throws me off, and for a moment I almost frantically cast about, seeking something that might make my reply true.  I don't like outright lying, even though I often stretch and distort the truth.  The best excuse I come up with is that I did legitimately mingle with people before ending up here, so compared to the amount of time I could have spent here had I not mingled, it has not been that long.

"I was looking for you."

I was trying to avoid that.  It seems I messed up again.  "I'm a big boy, Duo.  I can take care of myself."  This response is flippant and light.  Mustn't worry him further.

"I don't doubt it," he says easily.  "I was just wondering what happened to you, that's all.  Then I just needed a little break myself, and thought I'd go and find you."  He takes a swig from his bottle.

"Well, you found me."  Dammit, why me?  My eyes scan the club again, and I pick out all the people I know Duo could be sitting with right now.  What do I have that they don't?  Or is there simply some masochistic streak in him that draws him to me?  If he thinks I'm playing some ridiculous game of hard to get, I'll kick his ass.  He belongs out there.  If I were a stronger person, maybe I'd be able to cut these strings that bind us together and set him free, but I have not that strength.  I have neither the strength to embrace him, nor the strength to turn away from him.   At this rate, I'll end up dragging him down to the bottom with me.  Might he have the strength to save me from myself, to lift me up and out of my mire of emotional ineptitude?  The answer is irrelevant.  I'm not worth the surely herculean effort that would take.

As he sips his water calmly, I poke and stir at my little ice chips disconsolately.  Something tells me that I shouldn't do that, that I look too bored, that I should put on a happier face for him, but I just can't summon the will to do it.

Am I manipulating him again?  Am I just waiting for him to notice that something's wrong, in the hopes that he'll force me to talk about it?  The idea disgusts me.  Perk up! I command of myself.  Make some idle chatter.  Pretend that everything's okay.

I can't do it.  Oh, what the hell.  He knows I don't want to be here anyway.  The questions and non-answers keep running around my head, and eventually, something gets to me, and I slip, ask a question that should never have been asked.  "Why do you keep coming back to me when you'd be so much better without me?"  I murmur it only half-consciously into the background music, and for a while, I think it slid by unnoticed, but he answers eventually.

"Guess I just got it bad for you."

My fingers come crashing to a halt.  My eyes widen in horror.  I'm not even looking at him, and still I have to look away, show some visible sign to let him know how deeply, how poorly those words affect me.  For a while, all I can think is, 'aw, crap.'  Snatching a brief glance out of the corner of my eye, I reaffirm to myself that he is drinking nothing alcoholic that could be impairing his judgment or muddling his thoughts.  Damn.  I absently will my fingers back into motion while I try to gather together the pieces of my shattered peace of mind.

I messed up.  I didn't try hard enough to disabuse him of his attraction.  I couldn't bring myself to.  And now look what I've gotten the both of us into.  My indecision, my refusal to commit to one solid path, my inability to act, has brought us to this.  There are times I disgust myself.  Now what am I going to do?  Or is it already too late to do anything?  Perhaps it was too late from the very beginning.

He finally breaks the awkward pseudo-silence.  "Sorry," he says.  He leans forward as he says it, and I automatically retreat from him, maintaining the distance between us.  I curse myself for doing so, but what was done cannot be undone.  He gets the message and backs off.  "Sorry," he says again.  "I probably shouldn't have said that."

Amazing how suddenly intimate this little corner seems, despite all the people surrounding us, and all the sound waves that sweep away any attempts at soft speech.  There is this stain on the floor that looks remarkably like a pineapple.  I stare at it like a madman to keep my eyes away from him.  I am afraid they might show signs of turmoil, that the closing up of my throat may be hinting at something deep and hidden.  With a sharp, ugly motion that is more like a spasm than anything else, I shake my head curtly as a response.  I have to swallow before I can verbalize anything more.

"No."  The word is faint, and I force myself to say it again.  "No.  I--  It's my fault."  That is all that I can manage.  Anything else would be too incriminating, too revealing, and this is a secret that I guard with an obsessive passion, but I cannot allow him to take responsibility for this situation.   The fault lies entirely upon my shoulders.  I only wish he could let me bear the consequences alone.

I am considering leaving when he sets his bottle down upon the table top with a soft thud.  "That's it, Heero.  I officially don't get you."

That is enough to make me take a chance and look at him.   His posture appears relaxed, but there is a slight stiffness in the way he is holding his shoulders.  At least he doesn't look angry or hurt, but once again, he hides that well, so I can't be sure.  I don't know what I would do if he did show it.  Would I cave in and just give him what he wants, just to erase that look?  Would I stand up and leave him here, walk away and not look back?  Would I shamelessly beg his forgiveness?

He continues to speak.  "Why do you just accept it like this?"

"Accept what?"  I fear the answer.  How clearly does he see inside of me?  How thoroughly is he aware of my weakness?

"This... way you are.  This isn't like you."

"To accept who I am?"  I know that's not his point.   He knows it, too.

"You label this... this *this* as a flaw, a deficiency."   He emphasizes his words with a few wild waves of his hand at the space between us.  "If it were anything else, you'd be working hard at trying to rid yourself of it, trying to fix it, trying to improve yourself.  So why do you just... accept this?"

He's right.  That is a question I have always asked myself: how can I be so disappointed in myself, and yet never scrape together enough will to change myself?  I know that I could find life more fulfilling with a few simple words, a few tiny gestures, and yet I have never taken the steps.  I cannot take the steps.  I do not know why, but I cannot.

I desperately seek some way I can dodge this question without being obvious, but nothing comes to mind, and I am forced to tell the truth.  "...I don't know."  And I cannot look him in the eye as I say it.

"Maybe you should think about it," he advises gently.  He looks like he wants to say more, but he shuts his mouth and stands, and leaves me at the table as he returns to the rest of humanity.

I am relieved that his attention has fallen away from me.   Attempting to take a distracting sip from my drink, I am annoyed to find that it has all been reduced to water.  I glance at the bar, then back at my glass, and decide that it isn't worth the trip to fetch another.

He says I should think about it as if I've never tried to before.  I don't know what my hangup is, and I don't know how to get around it, except, perhaps, this terrible, terrible quasi-solution that came to my attention this evening, of manipulating him into manipulating me into moving beyond it.

Shouldn't that tell me something?  If that's really what I'm doing, then obviously I'm seeking an answer; I am, in my own pathetic way, trying to dispel this inexplicable barrier that has installed itself in my soul.  That must mean that, despite all my actions, or inactions, that I really want it gone.  So I don't really know why I support and reinforce it with every move I make.

It feels somehow lazy, to want him to do the work for me, but it's not.  Is it so very different from just needing help?   (And boy, do I need help.)  The only difference is that I will not, can not, ask for it.  And the reason is beyond me.  Sometimes, I feel like something has cast a spell on me, stopping me from the proper words and actions with an evil hex.  That's when I feel like blaming something outside of myself.  The rest of the time, I blame only myself.

I'm fairly certain that once I started down that path, I wouldn't balk.  If I somehow managed to end up, say, in a hug that I didn't instigate, I don't think I'd try to free myself from it.   If for no other reason than that escaping would be an action, and in this matter I declare myself the king of inaction.  I am confident in my weaknesses; I know that I would not be able to push away.  I think that, if something could somehow happen without my thinking about it, it could work.  Now if only I could manipulate someone into forcing me into that situation....

It's cruel of me.  I know.  I've never claimed to be a charitable, compassionate soul.  But maybe that's why I've never actually done it, either.  Could I actually do that to someone I cared about?  I haven't yet.  I doubt I will, but not because it's cruel.  I think I'm just too afraid to do it.  I don't know what precisely I fear, however, and if that's the case, then there's nothing I can do about it.  I just know that this must be fear: what else could be so paralyzing?

Is it fear of change?  Fear of love?  Fear of intimacy?  Fear of vulnerability?  Fear of commitment?   So many possibilities that, for the moment, I declare their ponderance a useless exercise.  I have the rest of my life to contemplate my piteous state.  Instead, my mind elects to simply brood formlessly.  With a deliberate effort, I concentrate on the music and use it to wash away all conscious thought.

The voice of the DJ eventually cuts through the haze I've cultivated in my mind.  He's wishing Quatre a happy birthday.  It seems the party is winding down.  I manage to stir myself back into awareness and when I think about leaving, I remember that Duo's my ride.  Great.

A moment after the realization hits me, Duo materializes by my side.  "Ready to go?"  He wears a cheerful smile on his face.  He's either hiding his pain, or telling me that all is well.  I indulge the fiction.

"Yeah.  Sure."  I go to great pains to act as if everything is perfectly normal as I get up and follow him out the door and to the car.  The ride home is fairly complacent.  He tells me of some of the high points of the evening that I missed during my vigil in the corner, and he manages to do it without a trace of reproof.  Of course, I can handle the reproof and recrimination side of things perfectly fine by myself.  I only hope I didn't cast too much of a shadow over his evening, but really, I gave him fair warning.

He pulls up in front of my house.  I open the door and climb out, but before I can shut the door behind me and flee his presence, I am halted by his voice.  "Heero...."  Reluctantly, I turn and stick my head back inside.  I have no intention of being rude to him.  "I know you don't get it," he starts.  He tries to make it sound conversational and casual, perhaps he even succeeds, but I know it's not, and the words make me skittish anyway.  "Hell, I don't even get it, sometimes.  Let's just say that maybe, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I'm the one beholdering here.  I look at you, and I find lots of things that are beautiful, even if you don't, and nothing you can do is going to change that.  I think you're a wonderful person, Heero, and that makes me want to be with you.  I'm sorry."

I hear an eternity of regret behind those words.  They whisper of a lost cause, a losing battle, impossible escape, inevitable pain.  I will hurt him with every breath I draw.  I have doomed him to unrequittal.  I have spoiled his prospects for happiness.  I have trapped us both in the tar pit of my flaws.  With my touch, I have brought ruin to it all.

"Yeah," I squeeze out through a throat once more constricting.  "So am I."

I withdraw and shut the door behind me before he can reply.

on to treading water

back to standing still

return to index

This piece of fiction is the intellectual property of the little turnip that could. The basis for this fic, i.e. Gundam Wing, Kyuuketsuki Miyu, et al., is the property of someone else. The author can be con tacted at jchew@myrealbox.com. This has been an entirely automated message. http://www.cs.hmc.edu/~jchew/misc/gw.html

last modified : 11/9/2003 00:25:12 PST