Can Duo help Trowa and Heero in the aftermath of a mission gone wrong? Post EW.
The face before me flies
Laughs at me inside
Masks are made to hide the glow
Distance 'tween us grows
"What the Hell Have I"- Alice in Chains
"No, Heero, if anyone should leave here...it should be me."
I'm quite literally shocked into silence as I lay there staring up at Trowa, which is saying a lot for someone like me. Heero, thankfully, is not quite as dumbstruck as I am and is on his feet within seconds of Trowa's announcement.
"No, Trowa, why would you say that? That's not true," Heero quickly admonishes. "I'll go. I'll find somewhere else to stay until you're better."
"It's not necessary. You shouldn't be forced into leaving your home for my sake. You stay here, and I'll go," Trowa argues.
"But you need to be in a comfortable setting where you feel safe in order to heal properly."
"Comfortable setting?" Trowa's eyes narrow.
Oh shit. From the distain evident in Trowa's voice, I know that piece of advice just hit an already raw nerve, one that I'm guilty of irritating myself. Sounds like Heero's been reading one too many self-help books lately. He means well, but should know that Trowa's mindset isn't ready to accept any opinions on the matter. In fact, he's so defensive about it that any suggestions about anything are setting him off. If I hadn't backed down when I suggested getting his sheets before, he probably would have let me have it...over something as stupid as bed sheets. Heero needs to learn a little more tact if he doesn't want every conversation he has with Trowa to end up as a screaming match.
"Look, Yuy," Trowa begins with a sneer. It's never a good thing when Trowa resorts to surnames. "Don't presume to tell me what I need and don't need. I'm fully capable of deciding that on my own, so don't you-"
"That's enough, both of you," I interrupt as I stand up between the two of them. I've heard all this before and frankly, it's getting a little old. Trowa was seconds away from jabbing his finger in Heero's chest to punctuate whatever his next remark was going to be. I could only imagine that confrontation as ending badly. If there is one thing that irks the shit out of Heero, it is that type of taunting gesture.
I glare at each Trowa and Heero in turn, daring them to challenge me. It's been a long day, so far, and I've had it with this crap. "There are three names on the deed to this house. No one is going anywhere. Got it?"
Trowa grits his teeth. "You don't tell me what to do." He tries to sound threatening, but all I can hear is the uncertainty. He even tries to make a hasty retreat back into his room. Too bad I'm blocking the doorway so that he can't slam the door in my face.
Heero lunges into the room after him. "Trowa, we're not trying to tell you what to do, we're-" My hand on his chest cuts him off and prevents him from advancing any further. I give him a stern look that basically tells him to shut up.
I turn to look over at Trowa. He is standing in front of his dresser with his back to us. "Do you really want to leave?" I ask him.
"Yes," he answers, petulant, like a child.
"Where you would you go? Back to the circus?"
Trowa's shoulders tense suddenly, throwing him off balance, and he falls forward onto the dresser to catch himself. I knew it. I knew there was a reason why he left the circus, a reason that is preventing him from going back, even now. That flinch just confirmed it. Heero and I exchange a curious look.
"Okay, not back to the circus, why?" I continue. Trowa's head snaps around to glower at me.
"That's none of your business," he warns.
"Yeah, apparently a lot of things aren't my business, but I'm making it my business now. And you're not leaving here. Even if I have to lock you in this room, Tro, I'm letting you run away from this...from us." I look over at Heero and he gives me a slow nod to indicate his reluctant approval.
Trowa spins around, furious. If looks could kill, I would have been incinerated where I stood.
"God, you never fucking shut up, do you, Duo? You know everything about everything. Always have to put your fucking two cents in on every goddamned thing," he grinds out. "And you," Trowa directs his gaze to Heero, "Are buying into his bullshit, following him around like he has all the answers. You two don't have a fucking clue." Trowa is panting with rage and shrieking, actually shrieking at both of us. I think this has to go on record as the most I've ever heard him use the F word.
"Trowa, please calm down," Heero tries. Boy, was that the wrong thing to say.
"Calm down?" he screams. "I think I've been pretty fucking calm up until now." He has to pause to catch his breath and I can only imagine that his ribs must be killing him right now. Trowa starts again, calmer. "I just want you to let me handle this by myself and stop meddling."
"We're not trying to meddle, Tro. We want to help you any way we can," I interject. Well, we are meddling, but it's really with his best intentions in mind.
"What could you possibly do to help me?" Trowa asks with a short, sarcastic laugh. "Like either of you know what I've been through."
I bite my tongue against the reactionary words that immediately pop into my head. He's angry, I realize this. He's also hurt, confused, and I know he has to be scared, no matter what he says. He's just trying to shift the attention from himself.
"Tro...Trowa," I correct myself from using any nicknames. I want him to realize that I am being serious. "You don't have to do this alone," I say softy and slowly take a step in his direction. Heero swiftly moves in to flank me. I would rather he stay back, but I know he just wants to be helpful. "Please, let us help."
Trowa has his chin down so that his bangs fall over his face. His mouth is set in a grim line. "You can't help me, so just leave it alone." His voice comes out like a tiger's growl. "Why can't you just let me deal with this my own way? Oh, that's right; I'm not doing it according to the 'Duo Maxwell Rules on Everything'." He lifts his head just enough so that a few strands of hair fall away and I can see the rage burning in his eyes.
That's it, the hackles are up. Trowa is finding all the right buttons to push and Shinigami is itching to make an appearance. Yeah, I'm a loud mouth and I don't hold my opinions back, but I never tell people how to live their lives because I can't stand it when someone tries to impose their beliefs on me. I can't tell if he's saying these things just to get a rise out of me, or if he actually believes it. But it doesn't matter because it's working.
"You think you're the only one to ever shed a tear?" I yell at Trowa, and his face drains of all its color. He flinches back as though he's expecting me to hit him and boy, do I want to. Right now, that rather tenuous hold I've been maintaining over all the emotions that have been building over the past three days, snaps like a dry branch. I'm only human. I have my limits to how much I can take. I start to move at him, but Heero grabs me by the elbow to prevent me. Now, I don't want to do anything physically to Trowa. I just want to make sure he understands that I am not one who'll back down from his feeble attempt at pushing us away. Plus, I'm pissed, and he needs to know all about that. I try to shake Heero off, but he's got a firm hold on me. He may have stopped me from getting into Trowa's face, but he can't stop my mouth. "You think you're the only one who was ever picked on by those who were bigger and stronger? Forced into things you would have rather died then do? Huh, Trowa? Well, I got news for you. My life wasn't a fucking rose garden either. If you bothered to think beyond yourself, perhaps you would realize that. Why paint yourself as a victim, Trowa? You're so complex that no one can understand you? That's bullshit and you know it. What are you scared of, that we'll walk away from you over this?"
I pause in my speech when Trowa's eyebrows rise sharply, and his eyes seek out mine for the briefest of moments. In that split second when our eyes lock, the mask slips. I see that my words hit home. Oh, he's quick to recover, no doubt about that. He stands up a little straighter and takes a deep breath. The room feels like it just dropped in temperature, like Trowa managed to suck out all of the warmth in one inhaled gasp. I'm not really feeling too good about the shift in Trowa's body language. Trowa flicks his head to the right so that his bangs no longer cover his eyes. He makes a point to look me dead in the eye and I'm paralyzed. I wouldn't have been able to look away even if a parade of naked women with flamethrowers marched into the room. Heero is still standing next to me, holding on to my elbow. The grip has loosened considerably, but I don't look over to see why.
"What makes you the authority on my life, Duo?" Trowa begins calmly, his voice too eerily steady, as though he hadn't just been screaming at us. But the distain indicated he was winding up for something big; I could sense it. Trowa usually reserves this condescending tone for those stupid enough to try and take him at face value. Something I never did, by the way. "Just because I let you fuck me, doesn't mean that you own me."
And there it is, ladies and gentlemen. Now, I have never offered myself any delusions as to what was between Trowa and me. We weren't lovers, but I wouldn't use the term "fuck buddies" to describe us, either. If there was a level between those two, Trowa and I would be on it. Friends with benefits? Maybe. At least, that was always my opinion on the matter. It would appear that my auburn-haired friend disagrees.
"What did you just say?" I ask. Purely rhetorical question, but it leaves my lips before I can stop it.
"You heard me," Trowa replies nastily.
Yeah, I heard him alright. He's really pulling out the heavy artillery now. He must be desperate. That means we must be hitting pretty close to the mark. Be calm, I tell myself. Don't fuck it up like you did in the basement, because two can play at this game. But I don't want it to blow up in my face again.
"You let me fuck you?" I ask as conversationally as I can. "Like you were doing me a favor?" I add when his eyes narrow. "Is that what it was, Trowa? Were you doing me a favor all those nights?" Trowa's unbroken hand clenches into a tight fist at his side.
"Duo, what are you-" Heero starts to ask, but a sharp glare from me and he backs off. He licks his injured lip nervously, eyes darting back and forth between Tro and me.
"What about all those nights that you'd wake up shaking and ask- no, beg me to fuck you? Were you doing me a favor then, too? And how does any of that equate to me trying to- how did you put it? -own you?" I'm doing my best to keep my voice even and non-confrontational. He's already on the defensive; I just need to get him to think before he reacts, get him to listen to what I'm saying. "Trowa, you turned to me for comfort before, and I never turned you away. Why not now? Why push me away now?"
"Because I can't!" Trowa yells, slamming his fist onto the top of his dresser. His eyes are glassy with unshed tears and he's panting heavily. I'm close to something. I try to take a step forward, but Heero renews his grip on my arm.
"Can't what? Come to me for comfort?" I ask.
"I just can't, Duo. Please...I can't...just please leave me alone," he wheezes out between pants. "I need to do this myself...please." He looks over to Heero and then back to me, green eyes pleading in a way I've never seen before. He looks so exhausted and his posture is rigid, indicating that he's hurting big time, but "Mr. I Suffer in Silence" isn't going to complain. Trowa wraps his broken wrist around his waist, holding his broken ribs as he fights to catch his breath. His gaze goes down to the floor as he begins to speak again. "I understand where both of you are coming from, I really do, but please, you need to understand that I need to deal with this on my own terms."
Shit, what can I possibly say to that? Of course he needs to deal with everything on his own terms. I'm not telling him that he can't. I just don't want him to close himself off from us.
"Okay, I understand. We'll leave you alone now. Come on, Duo," Heero says sternly as he pulls on my arm to lead me out of the room. I can hardly believe my ears. I dig my heels in and stare at him, shocked. "Duo," he warns when he realizes that I'm not cooperating. "Trowa needs some time to be alone. He is well aware of the fact that we care about him and he can come to us with anything. There is no sense in browbeating him over the head with it."
I'm thunderstruck. I was so close to getting Trowa to finally open up. Why would Heero want to back off now? I look back to Trowa. He has himself wedged into the corner of the room between his dresser and nightstand like a punished child. He is making an effort to not look at us. No, this might be the only opportunity...when he's already this vulnerable.
"Now, Duo," Heero orders as he yanks hard enough for me to stumble forward and then moves behind me and places both hands on my back and literally pushes me into the hall. The asshole even shoves me hard enough that I have to throw my hands out to keep my face from smashing into the wall.
"Please get some rest, Trowa. We'll be downstairs if you need anything," Heero says gently before closing the door behind him. He swoops down to pick up my cigarettes and ashtray.
"What's the damage, Heero? I was about to-"
Heero cuts me off by pressing the items into my chest and ordering, "Downstairs, now."
Oh, I see, he wants to talk. Well, okay then, let's talk. There is anger in those grey-blue eyes of his, and I can't help but give him a defiant look in return. I turn and head down the stairs and into the kitchen. Upon entering, I walk around the other side of the small, rectangular table so that I'm facing him when he enters. The two of us stare boldly at each other. He's expecting me to start things off, so I wait just to see what he does.
"You're pushing him too hard. You're going to end up pushing him right out the door if you keep at him like that," he says flatly. Not what I was expecting for an opening remark, but not bad. I cross my arms over my chest and lean back against the counter.
"So, you're the expert now?" I watch as his lips twitch briefly.
"Duo," he sighs wearily. "Not everything has to be a fight, so stop trying to make it one. I think you're wrong to push him this hard, this soon after...after what happened. Give him some time to absorb everything first."
"Aw, wasn't that a nice little speech on Trowa's behalf? If we leave him alone, he's not going to deal with it. We both know that."
"How do we know, Duo? Just because he isn't the type to talk about personal things doesn't mean that he'll pretend that it never happened. You need to give him a little more credit than that."
I shrug my shoulders noncommittally. Heero is right, but my gut is telling me that I need to keep a careful eye on Trowa. Now, on the surface my two partners may seem cold and unemotional, and there are times when they can be, but since I've been living with them, I've learned all of their indicators. Trowa can be more outwardly expressive than Heero at times, but I've learned that Heero is the one who will open up quicker if pressed. For all his focused determination, Heero can be quite gentle and compassionate. I did get to see some of that in his room yesterday when we...er, made out. Trowa, on the other hand, well, I've seen just about every side there is to that boy, and he is very passionate, about lots of stuff. Its just that he's had to keep it all inside and to himself so he has trouble showing, or should I say sharing, it with anyone. Fear of rejection? Possibly, but I've watched him struggle with himself when we were alone, and I think he is honestly scared of revealing too much of himself. I've seen this behavior before. Hell, I was the poster child for it years ago. You don't grow up on the streets and not learn right away that knowledge is power, and whatever knowledge someone has on you can and most definitely will be used against you. Trowa learned that lesson too, and it looks like he learned it the hard way.
Heero pulls out one of the kitchen chairs. The long, soft scrape of the legs on the tiled floor punctuate the silence between us. He plops down into the seat with an exaggerated sigh. I reach over for my pack of cigarettes on the counter beside me. I shake one out of the pack and note that there are only four left. This is my last pack too.
"I'm not asking you to back off completely," he begins carefully. I pause in the motion of lighting the cigarette caught between my lips and glance up at him. "It's just that we need to wait and see if there is going to be a problem before we start trying to fix it. He might surprise us, you know?"
I finish lighting the cigarette and take a long drag. "If we wait until he starts acting like there is a problem, then it's already too late, but I think I see your point. We'll see what the doctor says tomorrow at the check-up." Heero nods in agreement. "I also want to talk to the base shrink too and get her opinion. If they both are in agreement, then I'll back off, but I'll tell you right now, Heero, if they don't, I'm going in with everything I've got. I'm not loosing another one to-" I cut off abruptly when I realize what I almost let slip. Shit, that was stupid of me.
Heero's eyebrows are raised as he stares at me curiously. "Duo, what did you mean? Loose another to- what?"
Shit, shit, shit. I take another long drag and begin to pace. "Never mind, Heero, its just some old crap," I say in as casually as I can, waving my hand with the burning cigarette in his direction. See, Heero? No problems- please let it go. I feel his eyes following me as I walk back and forth in a cramped circle.
When he speaks again, Heero's voice is uncharacteristically hesitant. "What you said before...about being forced into things, does that mean that you were-"
"No," I interrupt sharply and give him a caustic, sidelong look. He sits up straighter, seemingly surprised by my reaction. Fuck. I take a long pull of the cig before I continue. "No, Heero, I wasn't raped, if that's what you were going to ask."
"But you've seen it happen to other people." It wasn't so much a question as it was a statement of fact. A too-fucking-astute observation, if you ask me. Heero scares me sometimes with how perceptive he can be. Maybe it's just a logical assumption, I don't know, but he's a better judge of character than people give him credit for.
"Yeah, I have. You don't grow up where I did and not see shit like that happen," I respond with a sarcastic snort. Heero looks at me, wide-eyed, not seeing any humor in that statement. Well, it's not that I find humor in it, but we all have our coping mechanisms, you know? If I didn't find a way to laugh about it, I'd probably scream myself mute. Heero still looks grim.
"Stuff like this happens a lot, doesn't it?" he asks, head down, but then he lifts his gaze and his eyes are imploring me for an answer. I rub the heel of my palm roughly against my forehead before I pull out the chair across from him and plop down into it.
"It happens more than people think. There is depravity everywhere; it's just that some places or people hide it better than others." I take another long drag and blow the smoke sideways out of my mouth. Heero's brow is furrowed. He's still struggling with something. "I stabbed a man who was raping a little girl once...first person I ever killed," I say suddenly, and quickly bring the cigarette up to my lips to cover the admission.
Heero's head snaps up, shocked, but curious. I don't like to talk about my past much, and this is something I've never even told Trowa. Not sure why I'm telling it now, but it feels right somehow.
"She couldn't have been more than six," I begin with a reverent tone. "Her mother was a junkie...left her at a homeless shelter one day and then disappeared for good. I guess she thought she could find her mother on her own...must have been on the streets for a few days before Solo found her. We took her in like we did any kid we came across, but she kept insisting that her mother was out there, waiting for her. She didn't want to give up hope, so during the day I would take her around the city to look. I figured she would give up eventually, but she never did. She took off by herself one day..."
I take another drag to steady myself. "I found her in an alley behind one of the local bars. These two fucks had dragged her right off the street in broad daylight and no one did a thing. I jabbed my switchblade into the neck of the one that was on her...the other one took off running...never thought that much blood could come out of one person." I take another hit and remember exactly why it is that I don't talk about my childhood that often. Fuck.
"I took her back to Solo. We did everything we could, but she started running a fever, and we couldn't get it to go down, no matter what medicine I stole for her. After a couple of days, we took her to the neighborhood clinic. We had to practically beg them to treat her, but it was too late by that point." I pause to swallow the grapefruit-sized lump in my throat.
"She died?" Heero asks, and I nod my head solemnly.
"Those two dregs of humanity tore up her insides something fierce and she developed a bad infection from it. She didn't last the night." I swipe a hand across my face. My eyes are burning with unshed tears. "Her name was Mary and she was a beautiful little girl," I say, almost as an afterthought. Heero gives me a sympathetic look, and thoughtfully remains quiet. There were many other Marys after that. I suppose that one stuck with me because it was my first kill. The first time a life ended at my hands, gushing blood like a geyser. Stuff like that stays with you, I guess.
"But why? Why would someone want to hurt Trowa or anyone else like...that? I don't understand," he says, shaking his head in what looks like denial. "I don't understand..." His voice trails off.
"I guess it's good that we don't. It means we don't think along those lines. We don't get off on other people's suffering." I reach behind me to grab the ashtray off the counter and tap my cigarette into it. The two of us sit silently for a few minutes. Heero stares down at his hands interlocked on the table in front of him and I puff away on my cigarette. I realize that I've been smoking like a chimney around him for the past day and he hasn't complained about it or even reacted to the second-hand smoke once. I usually try to be more considerate, but the past forty-eight hours have been one, long nicotine binge. I continue to smoke to occupy myself through another quiet spell. I guess I can understand how he feels. Heero is no stranger to violence, but up until now it was always a means to an end. He never enjoyed hurting anyone...though I think he enjoyed that sucker punch to my gut a little more than he should have. Still haven't gotten my payback on that one yet. I smirk to myself at that little memory.
"I think about it a lot," he tells me quietly. "I think about what I would have done if it were me on that table instead of him."
Yikes, how do I react to that little nugget of information? I stamp out the cigarette and push the ashtray to the side so I can lean forward onto the tabletop. "Why?" I ask simply. He looks up at me and sits back in the chair, arms wrapped around his midsection, not crossed, but hugging himself. Defensive posture. He pulled away when I advanced. Interesting.
"I can't imagine experiencing that once, let alone multiple times like Trowa has. But while it was happening, he was so calm...so quiet." Heero lapses back into silence again.
I let my brain chew on that for a moment. Heero would have gone down kicking and screaming right to the bitter end if the situation had been reversed. As morbid it is to think about it, Heero, having no experience with that type of intimate violence, would have been completely destroyed. And it sickens me to admit it, but given the situation, it was better that it was Trowa. God forgive me for thinking it, but Trowa at least had some way of disassociating himself from it, not that that is anything to be proud of. Maybe that's what Heero is having so much trouble reconciling. He told me that Trowa stayed silent through...everything. Well, until Heero blurted out that he loved him.
Fuck, what a mess. I'm just so goddamned tired of all this, and I know Heero is reaching out for some kind of reassurance, which is a complete mind-fuck in and of itself, but I don't know what to do. I wish I could say that I know what to do, but I haven't got a clue. Yes, I have borne witness to the atrocities of rape and its aftermath, but not one of those instances had a happy ending that I could take some comfort in right now. In fact, it's scaring the ever-loving shit out of me. I'm doing my best to not project those past experiences on the present, but it's hard, really hard.
I feel the weight of trying to carry my two friends bearing down on me, and my chest tightens in panic. I need to get away from this house for a little while to try and sort some of this out, and perhaps preserve what's left of my sanity at this point.
"I'm out of cigarettes," I announce as I stand up from the chair. "I'm going to go out to the store. Need anything?" He looks up at me, surprised momentarily, but then shakes his head in the negative. "I'll be back..." I drift off when I realize that I don't want to give a definitive timeframe on my return, I just want to go. "I'll be back later," I amend.
There is something in the way Heero stares at me that makes me think he wants to stop me from going. There is the slightest squinting of his eyes and tightening of his jaw. Like I said, I'm beginning to pick up on both his and Trowa's non-verbal cues. If he wants me to stay, he doesn't say it out loud. Instead, he gives me another nod.
"Right, then, I'll see you later," and I make my way out of the kitchen and into the foyer. I grab my keys off the small table and am out the door before anything can stop me. I slide behind the wheel of my truck and pull out of the driveway without so much as a glance at our house. It was the first place I ever truly felt was my home, and now I want nothing but to drive away from it as fast as possible. Once it's safely in my review mirror, do I give thought to my destination, and realize I have no idea where I'm heading.