Categories > Anime/Manga > Gundam Wing > Shades of Gray

Chapter Eight

by sumthinlikhuman 0 reviews

It took me a great, long stretch of time before my sluggish brain registered: me. He's talking about him and Trowa and me. (Winner of KumoriCon '06, Best Novella Adult!)

Category: Gundam Wing - Rating: R - Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Duo, Trowa, Wufei - Warnings: [!] [X] - Published: 2007-03-13 - Updated: 2007-03-14 - 2255 words

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire,
I hold to those who favor fire,
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
-Robert Frost's "Fire and Ice"

Chapter Eight

Brin was golden skinned and blood-red haired, with brilliantly blue eyes that sparkled in the early morning lights streaming through the airport windows. He smiled at me, embraced me in a friendly manner, and took hold of the bags I'd already grabbed before meeting up with him.

"Trowa didn't come back with you?" I stiffened a little, and shook my head. Brin shrugged a little, and darted a lock of hair out of his eyes dashingly. "Too bad. Did you have fun in America?"

"It was alright."

We rode the tram back to school, and Brin told me about his break-he'd gone back into space to visit his parents on one of the L3 colonies; his sister had given birth to twins; and his brother had brought home his 'scumbag, lowlife' boyfriend.

We laughed gently as we wound our way back to the dorm. I sighed, and flopped onto my bed, somehow overly glad for the narrow, lumpy mattress, if only because of its total benefits of solitude.

"Glad to be back?"

"You have no idea." Brin laughed, and curled up onto the end of my bed. He pulled off my socks, and rubbed my feet absently, and I sighed a little, tucking my wrists under my neck and staring at our water-stained ceiling. "I met up with some people, though."


"Ah . . . kind of." Brin let it drop, and hummed softly under his breath.

I asked about his new nephews, and his brother's new boyfriend, and Brin took the opportunity to willingly and avidly speak about himself and his family. For the most part, I just tuned him out and stared at the ceiling, trying to link the tiny dots.

I shouldn't have felt so horrid about having left America again. But the confused hurt was there, roiling beneath the surface, threatening to break through in some form or another.

" . . . and then we all stripped down and screwed like rabbits."

"That's ni-/what/?" Brin laughed and smiled, pinching the bridge of my foot harder than was probably necessary.

"If you're gonna ask me stuff, you should probably pay attention." He sat up, and sprawled over my legs, digging his elbows into my hips and cradling his chin in his palms. "What's on your mind? Trouble in . . . well, not paradise, but whatever it is in that crazy little head of yours?"

"I'm just a little confused is all." I shook my head. "You were talking about . . . Troy, is his name?"

"Tron." Brin made a gagging noise, but didn't continue his soliloquy on the matter of his brother's personal life. He was staring at me intently, his brows furrowed. Suddenly, he poked me in the upper thigh, hard enough to make me grunt and try to sneak away from the abuse. "C'mon, An. I know you wanna tell me what happened in-where were you again? San Francisco?"


"Right, right." He snapped his fingers absently, and jabbed me again, a bit closer to my crotch. "C'mon. Naughty little details time."

"There aren't any 'naughty little details'," I assured him, my voice laced with annoyance and unrelenting anger at the nosy redhead. Brin smiled slightly, and leaned his head against my hip. His breath ghosted over the low reaches of my stomach, and I shifted uncomfortably under him, blushing and looking away.

He laid like that for a very long time, and the day seemed to somehow slip away from us-perhaps that was my own jet lag, or perhaps we really had laid there on my dorm room bed for nearly thirteen hours, talking of nothing and everything and never really saying whatever it was that would clear the air between us, though I couldn't quite place when that air had become so clouded.

I wondered, idly, after Brin had fallen asleep like that on my leg, if Brin loved me. I wondered if that was why he put up with me, and dragged me out with him, and laughed and smiled and never bothered to have shame in front of me, always showing off, always there and comforting and knowing just what needed to be said, even if he never said it.

I wondered if Brin was my Duo now.

I wondered if Duo loved me as well.

It is an odd thing, when Yuy appears in the doorway of his room one day, and simply watches him for a very long time. They do not speak. Yuy is bleeding, just a little bit from right above his left eyebrow, and before he can comment on it, Winner is there, all dressed out as though for some business, with a rag and a stern look, and an order to sit on something.

He moves reflexively away when Yuy chooses the easy and simple route, and sits on the end of his bed. He can't really stop staring at him, and he's not sure if it's out of perverse frustration with having him sitting on the end of his bed, or perverse infatuation with the trickle of blood that has begun to stain his lightly golden brow.

Yuy speaks when Winner leaves, very slow and quiet, in that deliberate way he has.

"They didn't tell me that you'd be here."

"I was not planning on staying long." Yuy looks at him at that, and he thinks of rephrasing, but can't. Yuy is beating him to the punch, as he can remember him doing during the wars, though vaguely.

"Are you now?"

He shrugs, and looks pointedly away. When Winner returns with bandages, Yuy pulls him out of the room, and shuts the door respectfully.

The lights of Beijing were brutal and oddly pleasant against the backdrop of dark flowers. I sat in one of the gazebos, flipping through one of the books I'd taken from Trowa's condominium, remembering dimly the passages as they sprang to sight, and the situations tied to them. Desperately, I tried to understand why I was breaking my firm resolve to move on from all that I had once been and never would be again; I tried to understand why that little voice that always resided in the back of my mind had suddenly and finally fallen silent.

But I didn't try to understand too badly. I didn't try to understand why it felt as though I was missing something. I watched the lights for a very long time, and then returned to my reading without a thought. The memories blossoming threatened to tear apart my stomach as I flipped each thin page slowly over to the next, awkward in the Western fashion but not unwelcome.

Brin found me, and sighed as he sat down, complaining idly of long classes. His skin was as dark as the sky around us, speckled as though with the same distant, half-seen stars that managed to penetrate the odd mid-darkness of the early evening; and he was dressed to a tee, as though prepared to go on one of his ventures into town with Lingyei or one of the other girls. I couldn't help but wonder the idle things that had sprung to heart from coming back from America-perhaps, obscure though the thought was, Brin was dressed for me.

I leaned over when Brin began to scan the page I was on, and read from it quietly, retelling a story Brin shyly admitted he had never heard before, until the night was slipping away around us, and I proclaimed I had a report I needed to finish before the term started back up again. We wandered back to the dorm, talking quietly, laughing gently, and I was smiling, just a bit.

I worked in silence, and watched from the corner of my eye as Brin bee bopped on his bed to the music playing softly from the stereo that sat on our wall, prepared to sleep, and finally switched off his light, bidding me good night. For a very long time, I sat, and watched the glaring light of Beijing's nightlife glimmer through low-slung foggy clouds after I had finished my work.

The night was cold. As I sat on the window seat, my breath fogged the glass fitfully, obscuring reflections I did not truly wish to see. Brin only half woke as I crept silently under his covers, and turned obligingly, wrapping his arms comfortingly around my waist.

I wondered what I would do, if I were given a second chance.

At night, he dreams, and can't seem to understand why he does that. The sounds around him are raucous and horrible when he dreams-people screaming, and dying, and a hundred voices he knows and doesn't know and doesn't want to know are pleading with him, a thousand hands pulling at him, and-

He wakes with a start against the soft bed, and just looks around for a very long time. There are three plates of food waiting for him-he's been out for a day and a half-and his very soul aches, even if he is no longer as bone-tired as he thinks he should be.

He eats, but not well, and when it's all gone, he vomits it back up, sobbing because he hurts to be this weak, and sobbing more because it just hurts now, after everything is done.

But he can't stop. He can't turn off the nightmares and the long-sleeps and the thousand other things that consume his bored and harried life. If this were real life, he'd be dead. They keep him alive to make him pay, to make him an example, to make sure he can't come out and say what he needs to say-he was right, they were right, what they were doing was right, but that doesn't matter now, when everything is spent.

He has been a prisoner of war.

This is far, far worse.

The letter had been sitting on my desk for three weeks.

I couldn't bring myself, for the longest time, to open it, and when I did, I could not sit and simply read. Or rather, I could not compel myself to face such a thing. Trowa's handwriting was swift and flowing, easy to read with his regrets that I had returned to Beijing, and a quietly written promise to come visit after he got back to America. Duo's chalkier letters wrote a note of quiet nothingness.

It took several days of avoidance before I could actually sit down and read my whole way through. I fidgeted as I did, occasionally stopping and looking about for something to distract my attention with. There was nothing. It began to rain, fitful drops splattering against the window in a growing cacophony.

I blinked sluggishly at a tinny knock at the door. Everything seemed still, even with that constant patter on the windows, and the only thing that had changed was my position, sprawled across the bed, and the hands of my watch.

Yawning, I slid from the bed, and rested against the door for a moment, pulling it slowly open. My mouth was half agape, readied for a verbose explanation from Brin as to where he'd lost his room key this time.

My gaze traveled down when no such verbiage sprung forth, and I found myself staring into large golden eyes and a tan-furred face. Duo's cat mewled at me softly, and the young man himself rotated just a little, looking up at me and smiling very softly.

He stood, dusting himself off absently. His eyes were red rimmed and raw, and he absently quaked, "I didn't . . . . When you left, you said I could write. I . . . did. I just . . . fuck."

"What's going on, Duo?" I demanded as gently as I could. He looked away from me, and perhaps that was rain running down his face, but I couldn't possibly believe. I grabbed his arm, and tugged him into the room, digging out a towel as he removed his rain-soaked clothing.

"Fuck, I just didn't . . . didn't know where else to go. Quatre'd be all sympathetic, you know, and Yuy'd just kick me out on my ass, say I deserved it or some shit." He swore for a moment, curling in on himself under my towel. I sat beside him, an arm cast over his shoulder and the wet smell of his hair in my nose.

Quietly, I asked, squeezing his shoulders. "What's going on? What happened?" And for a while, he just stared at me, quiet and sullen. That was not rain dripping from his eyes when he bent his head, though, and I knew. My arms found their way around him gently, and he was sobbing uncontrollably into my shoulder, clutching at my shirt and wetting my chest with his damp body.

I had not seen him cry like that before, and I shook in my rapture of the moment, stroking my hands slowly down his back. He was inconsolable for some time, until his incomprehensible words slowly morphed back to sounds that one could naturally understand.

"It's Trowa," he gasped through his continued sobs. I stared at him stupidly for a moment, and he finally hissed, more anger directed obviously towards himself than anywhere else; "Trowa . . . he's fucking /dead/. And I . . . I didn't have anywhere else to go . . ."
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