He likes to watch the big birds soar. Eagles…
hawks… crows… buzzards… it doesn’t much seem to
matter. If it has broad, strong wings, it seems to bring him some sort of
peace to just sit and watch them ride the thermals all lazy and slow.
He seems peaceful enough now, and I sure wish I could
say I shared it, but… well… these earthside heights have never
done much for me. I suppose there’s something to be said for the view…
if you have the nerve to look down at it. I might give it a try if I can
manage to figure out just how in the hell he got where he is, so I can finish
climbing up to join him.
I stop for a minute and just watch him watch the birds;
they won’t be out much longer… the day is wearing out. Truth
be told… so am I. I flex my hands while I rest; that climb up the
cables to get to the bridge structure had been taxing. I don’t need
to be dealing with a cramp during this next part.
He doesn’t seem to have noticed me yet, which
is… perplexing and a relief and something else I can’t name.
Whatever the hell we’re doing up here, I sure
hope we can get it done without getting caught… I’ve heard they
don’t just fine you for this sort of trespassing. And I’m pretty
sure Commander Une would not be happy to have to bail two of her best and
brightest out of the local jail for… I wasn’t sure what just
I decide to risk the cramp in order to have the light
for the next stage; I’ve pretty much been reduced to looking for signs
of Heero’s route in order to figure out how one went about getting…
In the end, I understand how he managed it and sort
of want to throw up, and decide I’m not going to make it without help.
My brain can look at the jump he had to have made and go ‘piece of
cake’, but my gut just looks and goes ‘check, please’.
It might have something to do with the nine hundred
some-odd foot drop. I think it said on a plaque somewhere down there, but
I hadn’t been interested in knowing on the way up. I was kind of not
really interested in knowing now either, to be honest.
I don’t really want to startle him, though his
seat looks solid enough, so I just sort of clear my throat. It takes a couple
of tries before he hears it over the wind and he jerks just like I’d
been afraid he would. I find I’m holding my breath, but there isn’t
one of those awful, slow-motion, bad-movie moments and I let it out again
in a gust.
‘Hey,’ I say, all suave and cool and shit.
He does do the slow blink thing, kind of like he can’t
quite believe I’d be stupid enough to climb up some damn bridge in
the near dark. ‘Duo? What the hell are you doing up here?’
I just manage to keep the laugh inside, toning it
down to a quirk of a grin. ‘I think that’s my line, man.’
He stares at me for a long minute and I try really
hard to read what I can. There’s the obvious disbelief that’s
all tinted with exasperation. Those are the easy ones, but there’s
something that wants to be relief and something else that wants to be irritation
and something else that hasn’t finished gestating yet.
I hold out a hand. The one that isn’t wrapped
white-knuckled around a cable. ‘Give me a hand over, will you?’
I ask and have to hold my breath again while he has to stand up to do it.
It’s not really even a jump, when you get down
to it, more of a step across a gap. Having his hand wrapped around my forearm
and mine around his, makes all the difference in the world. Still takes
just about the last of my ‘uhmph’ though, and I’m more
than happy to sit down with him once we’re together. Standing up in
the wind is just not the most awesome sensation known to man.
We just sit there for a little while and watch the
last of those big birds spiral down to whatever roosts they’re headed
for, for the night. I try really, really hard to find some of the peace
that this seems to give him, but there’s a tiny little voice in the
back of my head that wants to discuss the climb back down, and it’s
just kind of getting hard to ignore it as the sun is bleeding from the sky
and it’s getting damn freaking dark.
‘Duo,’ he finally says. ‘Why on
earth are you up here?’
‘I have no idea,’ I tell him amiably.
‘Just why are we up here?’
He kind of hates it when I answer a question with
a question, and I kind of know that, and I kind of don’t really care
in the moment. There are a couple of things going on here that I really
hate too, so I figure it balances out. It takes him a long minute of staring
at me before he decides what to say next.
‘I broke up with you,’ he says, kind of
slow and deliberate. Like maybe I hadn’t gotten it the first time
he said it eight/nine hours ago.
‘About that,’ I say, looking out and not
at him. And not down either. ‘When we started this relationship, you
asked me to move in with you, right?’
He takes it for a rhetorical question for a second
before the long pause makes it obvious I’m waiting for an answer.
So he gives me that huff of an affirmative of his, and I glance over at
him, not sure if he gets the point I’m making.
‘And I accepted,’ I continue anyway. ‘So
see, the way I look at this… we agreed to start, so we have to agree
to stop. And I don’t. Agree, that is.’
The sun is completely gone by the time he works his
way through that and bursts out with, ‘Are you kidding me? You came
all the hell the way up here to… argue with me?’
‘Well, I’d have been more than happy to
have this talk down on the ground,’ I grumble. ‘But you sort
of didn’t hang around to have it.’
He’s quiet for a pretty long time and I watch
him stare out at not much. There’s nothing like street or security
lights at the level we’re at, but – thank god – there’s
some decorative lighting or I wouldn’t be able to see my hand in front
of my face. Not that my hand is in front of my face, mind you, it’s
happily clutching the edge of the plate we’re sitting on.
‘I didn’t think there was anything more
to talk about,’ he finally says, though the wind almost takes the
words before I can catch them.
‘How about the why part?’ I ask him simply,
and it makes his eyes narrow and his shoulders hunch.
I slide my free hand over to touch his, but he slides
his away and I leave it go.
‘It’s just for the best,’ he finally
says, but he still won’t look at me and if we were down on the ground,
in our nice motel room, I’d be stomping around him and waving my arms
and demanding better than that. But our current locale calls for a different
tact for… a whole lot of reasons.
‘Not good enough, Yuy,’ I chide. ‘We
made a lot of commitments to each other… together. You don’t
get to make this decision all by yourself.’
There is an explosive sigh that comes across over
the wind just fine, speaking to me of that exasperation I’d sensed
earlier. I’m not quite sure what I think about the fact that he’d
thought I’d just accept this whole deal with nothing but a smile and
When he doesn’t say anything, I can’t
help but poke at it again. ‘I just… I just need to know why.’
I see him open his mouth, but then I see him close
it again. I sigh, but I don’t think he can hear it. I couldn’t.
I turn my gaze out to follow his, but there’s
really nothing much out there. Some lights in the distance and the lights
of the stars coming out, but I don’t really think he’s looking
at either one.
Never one to leave a silence untested, I try one more
time. ‘Heero… please; what have I done wrong?’
It makes him turn to look at me and there’s
a tension n his expression like the one he gets when he’s leaping
to my defense. But then it turns to frustration when reality catches up
to his instinct; there’s nobody here to take umbrage with except himself.
‘You haven’t…’ he begins and
I can’t help it, I choke on the snort of a thing that wants to be
‘Dear God,’ I blurt, ‘you’re
not going to give me the it’s-not-you-it’s-me, speech! Seriously?’
He frowns darkly and just snaps his mouth shut, pretty
much telling me that’s exactly the line he was about to use. Since
I thwarted him on the delivery, he opts to not say anything at all, leaving
me little choice but to carry on the conversation as though he said it.
Or let it die, which ain’t gonna happen.
‘So you found somebody else?’ I ask, trying
for gentle, but not quite able to keep the bitterness out of it.
‘No!’ he says, and there is so much vehemence
in it that it makes me really wonder what in the hell we’re doing.
Nothing has made a bit of sense since The Talk.
‘Then what?’ I press, hoping to use that
spark of real emotion to get past the crap. ‘You just get tired of
There is a sound that is part growl, part sigh, and
part inarticulate… something. He drops his head back against the girder
and, I swear, thumps it a couple of times.
‘Damn it, Duo,’ he finally says, ‘I’m
trying to do the right thing here!’
Well that just tries really hard to make all kinds
of things coalesce in my head that I don’t really want coal or esced
and I snap back, as much to scatter thoughts as to answer him.
‘Right in whose God damn opinion?’
‘Mine!’ he says to the sky. ‘Yours!
I just… I don’t even know. I try for words,
but his just aren’t making sense and I don’t have a clue. Just
none. But he seems to be done and I figure we’ll spend the rest of
the night sitting up here in the dark staring off at something beside each
other if I can’t come up with something, so I finally just say it,
because it’s the freaking truth.
‘You have completely and totally lost me.’
He kind of wants to laugh, because I see the corner
of his mouth quirk up, but there’s somehow an hysterical quality to
it, so he doesn’t, but it gives me some hope that maybe I’m
getting somewhere. I make the conscious decision to wait him out this time,
and I almost lose my resolve before he finally speaks again.
‘I would give you the world if I could,’
he tells me, and I can see he’s embarrassed as soon as he says it.
Can see he hadn’t really meant to say it. So I know it for the truth
it is, but it doesn’t exactly put any of the rest of it into any sort
‘I don’t want the world,’ I reply.
‘I just want you.’
He rolls his head to the side and looks at me long
and hard and it’s weirdly full of longing and regret; a jumble of
emotions that I can’t make sense of. Maybe if we weren’t where
we are, with the wind plucking at my clothes and my braid. Maybe I’d
not be handling this whole thing so badly.
Or maybe I’d still be just as confused.
‘You deserve so much more,’ he says so
softly that if the wind didn’t choose that moment to let up, I’d
have never heard him.
‘What the hell is that suppose to mean?’
I demand, and he flinches, cementing my thought that he hadn’t really
meant for me to hear it. But then he kind of frowns, some part of his temper
flaring up, and I think maybe I’m finally going to start getting some
‘I’m… damaged goods, damn it!’
he barks out and we just sit and stare at each other for a long, cold minute.
I don’t speak, because in my humble opinion, that comment needs a
little bit more detail.
He sighs and looks away first. If I want details,
apparently, I’m going to have to dig for them.
‘No,’ I tell him, ‘you don’t
get to deliver a line like that without explaining yourself. What in the
hell is that supposed to mean?’ Damaged goods? Where the hell did
that come from? I didn’t even know he knew the term.
I shift ever so slightly so I’m more facing
him, so I don’t have to keep looking sideways at him, and I will not
talk about how hard it is to let go of the edge of the platform to do it.
He won’t meet my eyes, just goes back to leaning
his head against the girder and staring up at the sky. We just listen to
the wind blow for a while, but I wait, because that technique has gotten
me more so far than the pushing.
‘I… I’m an emotional cripple,’
he suddenly says, and while I suppose it falls into the realm of detail,
it’s a little light on sense, and really… where the fuck is
he getting this crap?
I’ve pretty much gotten to see him run the gambit
of emotions in the time I’ve known him… from the personal stuff
in the bedroom, to that temper he has in the field. He’s not the type
to wear it all out on his sleeve, I think for instance, that I’d been
the only one in the room to realize just how close that trainee had come
to getting his clock cleaned last month.
‘Heero, you are in no way emotionally crippled,’
I assure him, and his face does something all weird. I think there’s
some part of him that is irritated with me for making us have this conversation,
for making him say these things, but at the same time he kind of wants me
to sort it all out.
I’ve always been Heero’s go-to guy for
sorting out the sloppy parts of life that aren’t always black and
white. I just wish I understood exactly what it is I’m sorting.
He’s not going to let this notion go that easy
though, and he sighs another one of those sighs I can see but can’t
hear. ‘I just… I can’t express my emotions the way you
do,’ he says and I’m glad I turned to face him, because I’m
not sure I’d have caught that if I hadn’t been watching him
speak. ‘It’s like… like there’s a glass wall around
what’s inside me… I don’t know how to get through it.
I just… I can’t… I’m not…’
Whole lot of negatives there with no real idea attached
to them. He never can quite figure out just what it is that he can’t,
won’t, didn’t not whatever, and just peters out. He’s
staring at the stars and I’m staring at him, mostly because I’m
afraid of missing a key word or something that might make this whole thing
I tie this snippet of information together with the
part where I deserve better, and then bundle it up with the ‘do the
right thing’ part and it’s starting to look a whole hell of
a lot like something I don’t much want to think about. So I drop the
whole messy bigger picture and go back to the last comment.
‘You know, I’m not really a subtle kind
of guy,’ I say, trying for a kind of casual tone, ‘but even
I know when a man steps between me and two hundred pounds of slavering,
rabid Rottweiler… he’s saying he loves me.’
It actually wins me a ghost of his tender smile for
just a second, but whatever the hell is eating at him is going to take more
than a couple of quips to ease away.
‘But it’s not fair to you that you have
to wait for something like that to happen…’ he begins, and I
‘That chocolate donut on my desk every Friday
morning says it pretty loud too,’ I say, and can’t help smiling
thinking about it. I still don’t know how he does it… we freaking
live together, but there it is on my desk waiting for me every Friday when
I get to work. You can only get them at one bakery and it’s on the
other side of town. And he doesn’t even like donuts.
It pleases him, and I can see it for just a second
before that feeling is swamped by the other one that we’ve been fighting
all day. ‘It just…’ he begins, finally bringing his head
down to look at me. ‘You just deserve somebody who can be as open
as you are. Somebody who isn’t emotionally constipated.’
Emotionally… what? I just sit and stare at him
for a long minute as something unpleasant starts to boil around in my head.
‘What the fuck was that?’ I ask, starting
to get pissed, but needing to keep a lid on it because anger is not a thing
that needs to come to this table. ‘That is about the third thing you’ve
said today that… that didn’t even sound like you! Where is all
this crap coming from?’
He kind of… flinches, in a purely internal way,
and his eyes drop from mine and I’d swear to all the little impotent
Gods out there, that he’s blushing. Something is mumbled that I just
can’t freaking make sense of.
We sit for a couple of long minutes, both of us thinking
our thoughts and I notice for the first time that the stars above us are
thick and bright and pretty damn beautiful. It would be a gorgeous, utterly
perfect night if we were sitting out there in the desert somewhere on the
damn ground, wrapped up together and just star gazing. Instead of…
whatever the hell it is we’re doing.
‘Ok, no,’ I say when I think I can be
calm about the whole thing. ‘This is huge. You’re talking about
ending our relationship and turning both our lives upside down and I need
to know the whole story here.’
‘Duo,’ he says and when he says my name
there is just so much sadness and so much longing and such utter regret
in his voice that my boiling thoughts are pretty sure they’re on the
right track. ‘I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking. I guess
I’ve always known that I’m not quite like other people. What
I went through when I was a child shaped me for life. I’m never going
to be able to express myself… to be able to be as open and…
His floundering around for words doesn’t seem
to be finding any, so I jump in with a few of my own. ‘No… you
are not quite like other people. I’m not either. We’re like
a couple of big, fat snowflakes of utterly different. And you not being
all run-of-the-mill is part of what I love. You express yourself just damn
fine in all the ways that matter. Are you telling me you don’t love
There is a hesitation that I can see is not because
he doubts that part, but because he can kind of see how I’m about
to skewer the basis of his argument. But he won’t lie about it and
I finally get a little ‘No,’ that is just so full of so very
much I can’t even catalog it.
‘No you are not, and you know what?’ I
ask, though this one really is a rhetorical question so I don’t leave
the pause to make him ask me what. ‘And I knew that. Even when you
were standing in that stupid, tacky, indian themed motel room and telling
me that we were over… I never doubted that love. You told me once
that I’m your lode-stone when it comes to dealing with personal interaction,
so I’m going to ask you now… who the hell has been filling your
head with all this shit?’
He stares at me wide-eyed, and I finally see something
fall away and he blurts, ‘Zechs,’ in a tone that is just begging
me to take this and fix this and kiss it all better. But then he falters
and his eyes drop. ‘And some of the others…’
And I’d bet all my stock in Winner Enterprises
that I could name every last one of them.
It takes me two or three deep breaths before I can
get past the litany of curse words that want to come out of my mouth and
I manage, ‘All right, listen here… we have already established
that you love me. The only other opinion that matters then, is mine. So
let’s just forget this end of relationship business. Zechs Merquis
is full of more shit than Trowa’s entire crew of elephants.’
He can’t quite let it go, dipping his head and
looking down at his… lap? Hands? I’d look to see, but I’m
kind of afraid of getting a glimpse of something else while I’m at
it. ‘But you deserve so much more than I…’
I’m starting to get a little bit tired of that
word to be honest, especially now that I can imagine the King of Splitends
practically whispering it in Heero’s ear. ‘What I deserve is
to have what I want. And what I want more than anything else in this world
‘But…’ he says, and it’s making
me feel like I’m rooting around digging out a cancer. I wonder just
how long Zechs has been working on him. How long this has been festering.
‘How do I know there isn’t somebody out there who can’t
make you truly happy?’
If he were out of the way. And just who would this
hypothetical person be? And who the fuck is implying that I’m not
I reach out and grab hold of his hand, not any tentative
offer of comfort this time. Not a cautious touch that he can avoid. I grab
hold of his hand and I squeeze it tight and I let him feel the cuts and
the scrapes and the dried blood and I let him feel the damn shakes and I
let him feel the tension and then I tell him.
‘I followed you up here because I love you.
And I will follow you down because I will not be without you.’
And that’s as close as we’re going to
come to talking about just what in the hell we’re doing damn near
a thousand freaking feet in the freaking air on Christmas freaking eve to
freaking start with.
He’s staring at me, eyes wide enough to finally
let understanding leak into that stubborn brain of his and finally…
finally my ridiculously self-sacrificing lover seems to actually be in there.
‘Duo?’ he asks, and there is a hint of
horror in his tone, ‘how… how in the hell did you get up here?’
It is my turn to blink, so I do… several times.
‘How the hell do you think? The same damn way you did…’
‘No,’ he breathes, and I’d only
thought his eyes were wide before. ‘No… there’s…
there’s a ladder. In the main support. You only have to climb across
‘A ladder?’ I repeat, trying to get my
head around that. No… he couldn’t be saying what I thought he
was saying. ‘There’s a… ladder.’
He slips his arm around me then and the anchor is
really nice when I start to laugh, because it gets hysterical pretty damn
Though crap-damn if I know why having his arm around
me helps me feel anchored, since there wasn’t a thing anchoring him
any better than me. Guess that’s what you call faith, and I sure as
hell wish I could just let him see what’s in my head, because all
this talking is starting to wear me out.
Or maybe that was the climb.
When I can breathe again, I tell him, ‘I’m
going to need you to tell me everything.’
‘Why would you want to hear all this shit?’
he mutters, but I have no real trouble hearing him with my head pressed
‘First,’ I reply, ‘I’m going
to need to be able to explain to Commander Une just why I have royally trounced
her resident PR Poster Boy.’
He has to think about that for a bit, and that arm
around my shoulders squeezes tight for a minute. I’m waiting for the
argument, but he circumvents it for the moment. ‘And second?’
‘I know how guys like Zechs work, Heero,’
I tell him, though I kind of don’t want to. ‘They start with
a tiny grain of truth and they build on it, and they twist it and they don’t
stop until that grain turns into a boulder.’
He’s very quiet then, and I give him a little
while to think about it, before I raise my head so I can see him again.
He’s troubled and he’s embarrassed and he’s confused and
he’s second guessing his every thought. I can see a whole lot of old
conversations playing out behind his eyes.
‘Think about who we’re talking about,’
I say, and dare to brush my fingers over his cheek. ‘Zechs Merquise
has been competing with you since the damn war. You have somehow become
the yard stick he measures himself against.’
Measures against and has been coming up short against
since the war too. Maybe the guy had just reached a point where it was easier
to try to knock a few inches off the yard stick. If you can’t improve
to meet the standard… nuke the standard. The fact that the yard stick,
the competition, and the whole damn thing, was all in that lunatic’s
head, was kind of beside the point.
Heero’s looking at me hard and I can already
see where his mind is going, and it tells me this fight isn’t entirely
over. I’ve got my work cut out undoing the damage that’s been
done here. But first I have to understand it inside and out.
‘Truth wasn’t the right word,’ I
assure him. ‘But he took something that was inside you… some
doubt, some fear, and he fed it like you feed a fire bits and pieces of
kindling until it catches.’
And that’s what I have to know. I have to find
the seed that Zechs nurtured until it grew enough to lead us to where we
are now. Zechs… and all his damn cronies, will get their comeuppance,
but Heero’s peace of mind and well being come first.
After that? There will be a challenge in the gym and
I will knock the Lightening Count on his ass. And then I will wait for him
to get up and I will knock him on his ass again. Then I will wait for him
to get up and I will knock him on his ass again. Until he stops getting
up. Until I’ve liberally rubbed his nose in the fact that he can’t
even stand up to the Preventer’s second best agent.
And then I will get in his face and make it plain
that to earn the right to go head-to –head with the best… he
has to go through the second best first.
By the time I am done with him, I will have that psychopathic
obsession focused on me instead of Heero and just let that asshole try his
fucked up mind games on Shinigami.
And by that time… I figure I’ll just about
be warmed up.
‘Duo?’ Heero asks, and his voice is so
hesitant that it just about breaks my heart, ‘I… I’m so
sorry. It all seems so… so… ‘
Stupid? Overblown? Fucked up? Tragic? Horrifying?
He never does decide, and I don’t know that now is the time anyway.
With visions of cold-cocked morons dancing in my head, my hands are damn
‘Shhh,’ I tell him, and give him a peck
of a kiss at the corner of the frown he’s wearing. ‘We’re
going to talk this all out, but… I gotta tell you; here is not really
the place, ok?’
He snorts and there is the spark of something in his
eyes that tries to rise to the teasing, but doesn’t quite make it.
He gives me a brush of a kiss in return and just nods his acceptance.
‘Hey,’ I tell him on a sudden thought,
‘Merry freaking Christmas.’
The laugh I get is… a little strained, so we
just end up sitting there for a little while longer. Watching the stars,
because even as dark as it is, I’ve not quite worked up the nerve
to look down.
When he feels like he might have calmed enough for
it, and while I still feel like I’m pissed enough for it, I say, ‘let’s
get the hell out of here, Yuy.’
He gives me that huff of an affirmative and even he’s
starting to sound weary. I let him show me the way, almost weak-kneed relieved
that we won’t be going down the same way I came up. I still can’t
quite believe it, until he shows me the access hatch.
Wish I’d known the damn ladder was actually
inside the main support though. Inside as in… nine hundred and forty
five freaking ladder rungs (I count every last one) inside a pitch black
shaft about as big around as a coffin.
Sure as hell hope this doesn’t become a Christmas
Fiction : GW :