WARNINGS: Excessive usage of one word. >__<;;;
What is it?
When I was younger, it was Sister Helen's soothing voice on those nights she would sing me lullabies and hymns. It was Father Maxwell's hand on those times he would pat my back and tell me that I'm God's gift to them, even though they knew I didn't believe in any god but Shinigami.
Love was Father Maxwell's warm belly laugh whenever I would recount my day to him.
Love bled away with Sister Helen's tears when her hoarse voice gave me her final blessing before she died.
To a kid like me, who's only ever known of the darkness and fear and filth of the streets, love surely was the warmth and comfort and security that my surrogate parents provided for me unconditionally.
Love equals home. And I'd lost both when they died.
Then, one day, there was Heero.
Of course, I didn't love him at first. Love equals home. I still believed that, even though I was missing both. How could I love Heero when he would just throw his life away so easily? How can he provide me with the warmth and comfort and security of a home when he himself was so lost?
No, love with Heero just wasn't possible. I can't be with someone who thought himself so expendable.
But oh, yes, there was attraction.
Attraction was in the way his eyes would smolder with determination. It was in the proud set of his jaw, and the steely purpose in his voice. It was in lips pulled taut with tension.
Attraction was in his agility and stamina. It was in those oh-so-tight shorts he would wear. It was in the deceptive strength of his lightly muscled thighs and arms.
So I was a teenager. Does love equal attraction instead of home after all? Because people my age seemed to think so.
By that time, I was horribly, horribly confused.
Maybe love equals home, which then equals attraction? Was that it?
It wasn't until after the war that I was certain I knew what love was.
So now I'm twenty-one, with a high-ranking, and high-salary job from the Preventers. I have a house by the beach, a car, a motorcycle, and a pet cat named Mort. That's home.
I have Heero too, now that he finally appreciates his self-worth. He's the object of my attraction.
Now I feel safe and cared-for. I'm financially secure. I have Heero's warmth beside me most days and every night. Should I lose him, or my 'attraction', I'll still always have a 'home'. So that just about ruins the 'love equals home equals attraction' equation.
Where does love fit in all these?
Hmm. That's a damn good question.
But thankfully something I now know the exact answer to.
"What's on your mind, Duo?"
I knew he'd eventually ask that. I've stayed in contemplative silence far too long for his comfort.
I smile as I watch a lone seagull soar over the horizon. "I was just wondering," I answer. I don't turn around to look at him, but I feel him kneel behind me, somewhere to my right. The weight of his arms gently surrounds my shoulders.
"About love," I tell him honestly, "and whether or not I love you."
"Do you?" His tone is neutral. We've never really talked about love before, and we certainly haven't uttered the Three Clichéd Words.
I close my eyes and slowly rest my head on his shoulder. "What do you think?"
I can hear the smile in his voice. "You do."
"No fair, Heero. Won't you reciprocate?"
"Reciprocate what?" But the way his arms had tightened around me tells me what I already know.
Love, like sand, gets in between my bare toes. It's the knowledge that when we finally get home, Heero will herd me onto the bench in the foyer and he'd tenderly brush the sand off, all the while bearing that exasperated look on his handsome features. Love seeps into his annoyed voice when he tells me to wear shoes the next time I decide to take a stroll along the shore.
Love is in the heated words we snap at each other in regards to who clogged the drain, and who left the dirty dishes on the dining table.
Love means hearing his rare laughter, and it means accepting all his flaws.
Love is the knowledge that Heero will stoically bear washing the dishes again tonight, even though we both know it's his most hated chore. It's in the knowledge that he'd make me take out the garbage tomorrow in turn, because he knows I hate /that/ the most.
Love turns the mundane into adventures. Chores become privileges, and intimacy becomes an addiction.
Love is understanding all those unsaid words in our everyday expressions, like my smirk and his little affectionate gestures.
Love was that Gingerbread Man cookie-thing Heero left in front of my computer last week, along with a note that said "Stop smiling and bite me, asshole!"
Love is the way we only ever criticize each other in private, whenever one of us does something wrong in front of other people.
After every argument, love is found in the way we freely apologize to each other. It's the way we're always eager to set aside our prides and beg for forgiveness, just so we can move on with the more physical processes of making up and mending the damage wrought by our hurtful words.
Love is the way he only ever kisses one spot on my left cheek when he greets me good morning. It's the way he only ever kisses the tip of my nose whenever he bids me goodbye.
At this point in my life, I've come to realize that love means a great many things.
But most of all, I'd say love is defined by how /complete/ we feel when we're together.
Because, if you haven't noticed by now, all that defines love for me has something or other to do with Heero.