When I let myself stop thinking of the pain, I can still pretend.
I hear the sounds of waves breaking onto the beach. It reminds me of what might have been, what was. The low resonance of your voice, the soft lilt of your laugh echo in my innermost heart like crystal chimes. I miss you so.
I smell the salt and humidity, the thick and pungent odor of the wide, blue ocean. It is a nostalgic smell, filled with memories that I don't want to remember. I can feel my heart break all over again.
I feel the breeze whispering through my hair, blowing the strands out of its braid and into the heavy air. It feels like your fingers are brushing through it, soft and gentle but solid in strength and confidence. I want you still.
I see the dark blue of the ocean twinkling with a myriad of lights, reflecting the sun and the sky off its moving surface. It is like your eyes, so blue and infinite, sparkling with things that I cannot fathom. My soul cannot let go of you.
I speak the words that I have spoken thousands of times before into the waiting ocean, letting the words blend and synchronize with the sounds of the waves. The ocean and I seem to be saying the same thing over and over again. I love you even now.
When was it that I started to love you so much? When did I decide to leave you rather than watch you love another? When did I become this person who sits by the beach and tortures himself with memories of things that cannot be?
We were never more than friends, just two people in need of each other during nerve wracking times that others called a war. You never held me or kissed me, nor did you profess your love or devotion. It was always a few words of greeting and pondering that passed between us, nothing more than talks of weapons, tactics and survival. We never spoke of the future or our feelings, we never had a heart to heart. We did nothing that people do before they fall in love. But somehow, I did fall for you.
I did not fall in love with you the first time I met you, of course. After all, I shot you twice as you tried to commit murder. But eventually, my heart led itself to you using little, silent steps so that I did not notice where it had gone until you had it in your hands. You never knew how I felt about you and you still don't.
Can you imagine the pain of one-sided love, Heero? Can you even see a small fraction of what it is like to be utterly hopeless about being loved by the only person you love? No, of course not. You have requited love. You have it all. You have her.
I am bitter. I don't want to be, but I am. I want to be as forgiving and gentle as the ocean before me, but all I can feel is a storm of pain and tears within my heart. What can I do to stop these ugly feelings when I think of you? How can I make myself stop hating you for not loving me?
Quatre would say that if I truly loved you, then I would want nothing but happiness for you even if it was without me. That is true love, he'd say, to be able to think of someone else's happiness before my own. He would tell me that I should let go of you, be happy for you. But it is not he who is suffering. I am.
Running away has always been my forte and so here I am, sitting on the sandy beach, staring at the waves as they keep crashing themselves against the shifting sands. I ran from what hurts me the most, what makes my heart joyous, and what gives me a sense of peace.
Yet still, you are with me. It's not fair in the end, is it, Heero? That I sit lonely on this beach, my heart crashing into my emotions, thinking only of you? That everything I see, hear and feel only serve to remind me of you? That I see an eternity of fruitless love and hatred stretched out before my eyes?
I wonder what you did to make me love you. I wonder what I did or didn't do to make you not love me. It is in this vicious circle that my thoughts turn, constantly shifting between loving you and hating you. Why is it that I can't let you go? Why must I make myself suffer over and over again?
Why can't you love me?
The ocean keeps moving in its eternal search for peace, trying to find a friendly shore that won't reject it. I understand how it feels. I keep crashing into you to find the peace I want, but you won't give it to me. Even after all this time, I can't seem to do anything but dwell on you.
The wind picks up and my hair, freed from its bonds at last, flies about me in a flurry. My eyes water as I continue to stare at the ocean, watching the light play upon the blue depths. I slump onto the yielding sand, letting the tiny grains embed themselves onto my skin. I can't stop the mocking laugh that emerges from my throat.
You are all I want. You are all I love. You are all I hate. You..
You are the only one who can save me.
Loneliness, sadness, bitterness, despair. I hold them in my heart as I hold you, tightly and desperately. Entwined within me are all those feelings and at their center, you lie still and quiet, unwilling to ease me away from my pain.
Why am I not worthy of you? Why are you so dear to me? Why do I love you?
Once, I would have laughed if someone had told me that I would sit lonely on a lonely beach pining after a love. It sounds utterly ridiculous that I, Duo Maxwell, would ever love someone like that. How could I have known then that I would end up loving you of all people? How could I have guessed that I would feel this intense need, the strongest of all desires, to feel your heart pound next to mine? How could I have even had the faintest clue that I would cry bitter tears edged in pain whenever I thought of you?
I only have questions and no answers. The ocean soothes me, but it does not answer me. This is a painful existence that I lead, always thinking of you and never letting you go.
I can still see your rare smile, the one that is not suicidal, maniacal, homicidal or sardonic. The genuine one filled with life and love. A very rare smile indeed.. that I have never seen directed at me. I saw it only twice, once as you stared off into space and the other as you looked at the ocean. Your true smile, the one that comes straight from the purity of your soul.. How I long to see it again.
The ocean does not do much to drown out your voice in my head, always calling my name, saying something trivial, something important. I can remember your voice in all its nuances, gentle to harsh, hateful to friendly, cold to something unquestionably warm. I had no idea that a human voice could hold so much until I heard yours over and over in my head. I'm fairly certain that some of those voices never existed in reality, for when would you have ever spoken to me in loving caresses? When would you have gentled your voice enough so that I could feel it washing over me in subtle breezes? Never.. but still, my head hears them and I can only wish that it was real. That it had really happened.
I am a fool.
When the sun sets over the ocean, the blue sparkles in intense reds and oranges, like it has been set on fire. Kind of like the reflection of destruction and flames in your eyes during the wars. You probably didn't ever notice, but I watched you every time you were near. I memorized you inside and out. The first time I saw you, all I saw in your eyes were icy resolve, hard silvery moon glinting off the glassy blues. The last time I saw you, your eyes were softer, the blues deeper and wiser, the dying fires of war reflected in them like forgotten stories of yore.
Ah, Heero.. Why do I have to suffer like this? Why.. can't you let me go? You have my heart in your hands. All you have to do is drop it.
Give it back to me.
The sun sets and I see the twilight set in from the horizon. The sky has gone to a violet blue and the ocean doesn't seem so like you anymore.
At night, the ocean reminds me of me.. how I wander the darkness searching for you, not able to find you as I want you. Is it so selfish of me that I want you all for myself? That I wish you don't find happiness in the arms of another? That I want to make you suffer as much as I do?
Does that make me a horrible person?
I'm sure it does.. after all, who wishes for bad things for the one they love the most? I do and it sometimes makes me sick to my stomach. Everyone thinks I left because I didn't want to get in the way of your happiness. They think me unselfish, giving and ultimately the best friend you could have ever had. In that respect, I am like the ocean at night. I seem like one thing, but you can't really see my true colors.. see the churning depth nor hear the hollow, outraged screams from beneath.
I left you for my sake, not yours. You would have wanted me close to help you in your every day things, to be your friend, to support and love you as any best friend would. You would have wanted to talk to me, joke with me, vent frustrations over a beer with me. But I left so that I could save myself. So that I didn't have to watch you live with another while I sat on the outskirts of tangible happiness. I fled. I ran. I hid.
And I never told you of my love.
Why? Was it rejection I feared? Was it that? No. More than rejection, more than having you tell me that you didn't love me, I feared that you would love me. As a friend. That you would tell me that you loved me like a brother and that I would forever be your best friend. That is my greatest fear. Rejection, I can take. That soft killing of my heart with platonic love and understanding.. I couldn't take that. No. It would have driven me insane.
So here I am, remembering you, loving you, hating you, wishing the worst and the best for you.
Be happy, Heero. Be miserably happy without me.
I keep staring out into the horizon, knowing that I won't sleep until the sun has come up again. The way the sun comes up is quite beautiful, too. It comes up from behind me so that I don't stare into a burning ball of orange. Instead, it illuminates everything slowly and gently.
I wonder if that's what love is like when it is at its most pure form. Warm, gentle, lovely.
I wouldn't know. I only know one kind of love. The one I have for Heero.. It is a dark thing, twisted around my hate and despair like rusty chains, biting into the empty spot where my heart used to live. A hard and cold thing now.. but still so alive and in control of me.
Did you know, Heero, that I used to dream about us having a life together after the wars? That we'd shack up in some small house somewhere, get mundane jobs and fall asleep every night in each others arms?
I dreamt that we would go grocery shopping and argue about the flavor of yogurt we'd buy. I dreamt that you and I would do laundry together and get all silly over dryer sheets. I dreamt that we did the dishes together and I would fling soap bubbles at you while you glared at me. I dreamt that we would learn how to cook and burn down our kitchen. I was so full of love and dreams then, like the teenager that I was.
Then I had to see you.. with her. And it all changed. Ashes to ashes.. That stupid second war, where you had to go speeding off to rescue her while leaving me in a trail of 'follow me or don't' dust.. You started killing my dreams then, by going after the girl. Did you know that I dreamt like that? Did you even consider for one minute that the girl who needed you didn't need you half as much as I did?
What did you think as you lay in her arms as the world around you changed? What were you feeling in your unconscious state as she stroked her hands down your hair, whispering softly into your sleeping ears? Were you happy? Because I was heartbroken. Completely and utterly. You decimated me in one swift blow there, allowing my eyes to see what you wanted. What you craved. What you loved the most.
Do you ever think of me, Heero? Because I think of you all the time. I wonder if you ever sit by the ocean and just think of me. I hope that you do and that you hurt like I do, go crazy over missing me, cry out in sorrow at my absence.
But above all, I don't want you to forget me.. because then, I would really have died for you. And I'll be damned if I let you kill me over and over again. You crushed my dreams without realizing, shattered my heart without noticing, destroyed my peace of mind without thinking. But you can't destroy the fact that I existed in your life. Please, as happy as you may be, as crazy in love as you could be, remember me and feel a fraction of my pain.
So that I can ask you, across the oceans, does it hurt? Does it make you cry? Does it frustrate you?
Are you lonely?
And most of all, are you sorry?
Of course, I realize that I'm asking a question as selfish as I can possibly ask.. but I can't help it. Do you want to know why? Because, long ago, I made two promises to myself.
I promised myself that I would not ever fall into unrequited love or the kind of love that was painful, passionate and everlasting. I promised that I would never do either of those things. But look at me, I have done both. I love you without you loving me and I love you like no one should have any business of loving anyone.
I have broken my promises and damned myself to eternity of hell.
God, Heero. why have I done this? Why can't I stop loving you? Why must I go on, loving you in this fashion, loving you like I can't love anyone else? How much more must I suffer before I can let you go?
Please.. I just want it stop. I want to make it stop. I want to be.. free. From love. From you. From everything that makes me feel.
I want to let go.
Find the things I can't see.
But all I can do is stare at this godforsaken beach as the sun sets and rises, begging for release. When can I stop this incessant life of turmoil? When can I stand straight by myself and insist to God and everything that I am who I am supposed to be? That I am strong enough to live without you?
Maybe never. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe.. if I close my eyes and pretend.
The sun will rise soon. I can feel the warmth creeping up behind me even as the wind becomes a fraction stronger. My hair flies with abandon, floating on the breeze of the ocean, freer than its own master. How long can I sit here and think of you? Until my hair falls out from their roots after they tire of their pining and pathetic owner? Or until the oceans dry up into vapors?
I can see the first hints of pink in the sky, lighting the ocean before me. Soon, the ocean will once again remind me of you. And I won't have the heart to leave it because it is all I have to remind me of you. I will want to leave it, of course, because it hurts.. but I am an idiot. I cannot even escape my own pain.
So I sit, I stare, I despair. Yet another day in my life is beginning, same as always, with pain. How strangely romantic, how morbidly twisted. All I can do is stare out at the brightening ocean and wonder if this is all there is to me. If all I am is just a ball of painful emotions, if everything that I am is entwined only within you.
At first, I think I imagine it, the soft sounds of footsteps. At first, I think I have finally lost it when I hear your voice calling out to me. At first, I think I may have died and gone on to heaven when I feel your hand on my shoulder.
"I found you."
So you tell me when I finally come around to believing that you are actually here with me, standing by me, touching me, speaking to me. So you say quietly, your voice a mere whisper in the breeze of the ocean, as I try to assimilate the fact that I am not dreaming.
"I looked for you for so long."
That is what you say, the real you, not the one I cursed and loved in my dreams. It is actually you, Heero Yuy in the flesh, who says the words I have longed to hear. Why now, why here? Why at all?
"Why did you leave?"
I cannot help the hitching laugh. Of course, you would not know why. I never told you that. I don't want to tell you. But you ruin even my desire to keep my heart a secret from you with deceptively simple words.
"Do you love me?"
Ah, only if you knew the depth, the terrible depth of it, Heero. Only if you knew just what kind of love I have for you, how ugly and frightening it has become under the weight of my endless self torture. Instead of answering him, I can only tell him the truth.
"You are my life, Heero."
I can feel your hand squeeze a bit tighter on my shoulder, as if my words affected you deeply. Have they, or are you just in shock at my candidness? Don't you know, my love, that I don't lie?
"And I hate my life, Heero."
So yes, the truth comes out in its own fashion. Your fingers are digging in so hard now, cutting off circulation, almost certain to leave bruises behind.
"You are my heart, Heero."
You breathe in slowly and I can feel your tension increasing. Am I confusing you? Am I hurting you? Am I making you understand?
"I'm glad, Duo."
Am I surprised at his admission? I don't know, honestly. I don't know what is what anymore.
"It is hard to cut out your heart when it's still beating, Heero."
There is silence and the pressure on my shoulder lessens somewhat. Have I said something right? Have I done something wrong? Does it matter really?
"I'm glad, Duo."
Those same words. You can't tell me that you are glad that I can't evict you from my mind, from my soul. You can't be glad that I suffer like this, all because I can't let you go.
"If I told you that I love you, Duo, would it make anything better?"
I shake my head. After all this time, I can't see a way out of my dark, despairing love. I can't find my way to the beautiful, sunny place where love is joyous and enchanting anymore. I've been here too long, staring at the ocean for too long.
"Is this all we can do?"
Yes. No. Maybe. I.. I don't know.
"If this is all we can do, then I will do it for eternity. I will stand with you by the ocean until your heart stops beating. I will never leave you."
You tell me so quietly, your voice filled with an unearthly conviction.
"I will share your pain, because I know it. I know the feelings of despairing, of wanting, of loving so much that it utterly destroys you. I know you, Duo Maxwell. I know your heart, because I am your heart. As you are mine."
So that's it then. We share love, the same kind of love. The kind that weeps bloody tears, that moans and wails.
My wishes have come true, my questions have been answered. You suffered, you hurt, you cried. Like I have. We stared at the ocean, drowning in our terrible love, unable to let go, unwilling to move on.
"I love you."
I finally admit it to you, out loud. It is an unassuming declaration, completely lacking the immensity that is within me. But.. it is the best I can do.
We stare at the ocean as the sun fully rises. It still reminds me of you, Heero, the way it dances with the light. It still make me feel the pain, the despair, the cruel barbs of unrequited love.
But I know, at least, you share it with me. I don't have to pretend anymore. I don't have to ask the ocean questions about you anymore. Because we are in love together, in despair together.