I don't own Gundam Wing. Poop.

It Takes Determination

The pain is getting to be too much to bear. I mean, it's in the past now, isn't it? Shouldn't I be able to put it behind me like all the others have? But no, I can't, so here I sit at another horrible party, seeing the faces of my comrades. Sometimes it's as if the place is haunted; they seem like ghosts. They are like memories that I surround myself with so that I can remember a time that I was wanted. Maybe it was just for the war. I know I was just a weapon – a means to an end, but hey, I belonged.

And now the war is over. Long over. I'm not sad to see it go, trust me. I just miss having everyone around. Not that everything was great, but I suppose if I squinted my eyes until the world blurred, you could have called us all friends. That's why I keep summoning them back, I suppose. I'm looking to recapture at least some of that feeling.

Yeah, you heard me, this is my stupid party. I don't know why I put myself through this. Well, yeah I do know why I do it, but I'd rather not admit it. You see, during the war, I fell in love. I fell in love with one of my comrades. At first I ignored it, believing it to be a symptom of the emotional duress we all found ourselves experiencing, well, maybe not all of us. He didn't, Heero never felt any pain over it. I guess if he did, he never showed it. He was too busy being the Perfect Solider. I think that's why I loved him. He was so very much stronger than I was. He was always in control, always on top of things, always coming through in the end.

So when the war ended, er - I guess I should say, when war ended entirely, we went our separate ways. I found myself thinking of him less and less, or at least trying to. I buried myself I my new life, trying hard to not let the past in, but it wouldn't leave me. I started dreaming about him, can you imagine that? Heero Yuy, the boy of my dreams. Ugh, I have it bad. Anyway, when the dreams got to bad, I had to see him again, but I knew I couldn't just ask him to come. It was too strange, so I invited the others, thus my parties.

Now I see them as a monster that has spiraled out of control, my own little brand of masochism. Yes, it hurts to see them all, it hurts to see them in their varying levels of healing. It hurts to see how they have moved on. Some married, some with careers and lives of their own, yet I cling like a leech to the past, unable to go beyond it. I can't turn away, though, as much as it hurts to see them, I have to. I have to see him.

I can't repress the grim smile that comes to my lips. It goes unnoticed, I'm not worthy of attention. A much as the thought hurts me, it also makes me want to laugh. I guess I've gone crazy, but who wouldn't? After all we've been through?

Hush, I know the answer is obvious. I mean, the others didn't. I'm the one to go nuts. I'm the one who lost it... bet no one ever saw that coming.

Arg, my skin is starting to itch again. I've been thinking too long. It's been too much. In a fog, I stand and depart, not bothering to excuse myself. What does it matter? They've all moved on, and I'm alone. The party keeps going, my departure not even causing a ripple. In a way, it bothers me, but I find it oddly comforting. The comfort spreads, the itching continues, and I know what's coming.

The dance is always the same, and I enjoy it. I close the bathroom door behind me, listening with great satisfaction to the gentle click. Lowering the toilette seat gently, I perch, gazing over my pale hands. These were hands that had killed, hands that had taken lives and smashed families apart. They were capable of a great many things, though they didn't look it. No, they looked pure and clean, perfect little hands, right down to the nails.

Carefully rolling up my sleeves, I examine my arms. Like all the other pilots, I had my fair share of scars. War did that to people. However, unlike the other pilots, these were not marks left on me by OZ, The Romafeller Foundation, Whit Fang, or even Mariemaia's Army. These I did myself.

They look natural to me, as if they've been there all my life, yet I wear shirts to cover them. I know they stand out, too many people have asked me about them, and I'd rather not let any one know. This is my secret.

Cautiously, my finger caresses a rare patch of clear skin, yet unscathed. All of this part of the dance. Gradually I let my finger push in deeper, feeling the bite of my nail into the skin. Yeah, it hurts... it hurts a lot, but there was something cleansing about the pain. It's like punishment and redemption. I know I'm weak, I'm probably crazy too, and for that I must be punished, the pain, though, washes over me, much like its starting to do now, and I feel forgiven. I feel clean.

I see the thin stripes on my wrists. When all this started happening, when I first started the dance, I used a razor, but it didn't make me feel any better. It made me feel as though I was cheating, once again taking the weakling's way out, and that was the first time my skin started to itch. I scratched it and I scratched hard. It hurt, it hurt a lot, but then the feeling of cleanliness settled on me, and I knew that I was doing the right thing. Razors did more damage, certainly. They cut deeper and made you bleed, one well placed swipe and it was over. When you scratch, however, it takes longer. You have to work to do damage, and you have to work through the pain. It takes determination.

I've finally left a mark, a large one. I don't scratch until I bleed; I think my fingernails are too short for that. I just scratch all the skin off, relishing the way that the air stings me. It will scab over eventually, turning a brown-green, fleshy color. This one will hurt for weeks, I know it. It was a deep one. It leaves me with a small measure of satisfaction. Am I allowed to be happy at a job well done? This is quickly becoming the only time I am happy.

Panicked thoughts race through my head as I remember where I am, or more specifically, where everyone else is. Like, just down the hall. I can only imagine what it would be like if they knew. But then, could I? Would they be concerned? More likely they would be disgusted. More weakness. I'm full of it, I know. The thought sends me to scratching harder, attacking a new piece of unsuspecting flesh.

I feel tears in my eyes, and I wonder what could have caused them. Certainly it wasn't the pain in my arm. It had never made me cry before, so why now? I ignore the tears. Maybe if I don't acknowledge them, they'll go away. Ha, ha fat chance, I know.

Suddenly, my situation hits me full force. Here I sit on the toilette in my bathroom, scratching the hell out of my arm, while everyone I care about sits in the other room. They have no idea what I'm doing; they haven't even noticed I'm gone yet. It makes me laugh, it bubbles out of me before I can cork it. Bouncing off the tile walls like a rubber ball, my laughter comes back to me. I can't help but laugh more. I'm afraid that if I don't, I'll cry for real, not just tears slipping down my cheeks, but full out sobs, and I can't do that... they'll hear me.

A knock on the door, shit, they heard me anyway. "Hey, are you alright in there?" Damn it, it's Duo. I can't answer him, I'm too busy laughing. I've flipped my arm now, and I'm leaving long scratches down the soft under belly of my arm. I'm hoping it will do something for the laughter, I mean, what kind of fool laughs while scratching themselves?

Don't answer that, I don't want to hear that I'm crazy.

I think I managed to say something – I can't get caught like this! "I'm... fine, Duo."

"Alright, man, it just sounds like you're going nuts in there." Thanks Duo... just what I needed to hear.

I was calmed enough to hear murmurs coming from the other room... footsteps. I prayed that they were just going to get something. I wanted to be alone. No luck for me though. "It's been twenty minutes..."

Oh God, not Heero. I could take anything, I swear, but not Heero. If he were to catch me, if I had to bear those cold Prussian eyes on my arms, I don't think I could take it. How do I explain? What could I say to make him not see me as pathetic? Do you know how much shame it would be for me to see the man that I love survey the damage I've done to myself? I don't want him to think I'm nuts. Unconsciously, my arm picked up speed, responding to the anxiety that was ripping through me. I wanted to stop, that was all I wanted. If I could stop right then, I could wash my hands and flush the toilette, pass it off as a long bathroom break. It was too late though, I was too far gone.

This time there was blood, and in a detached way, I watched it. I was surprised. Never had it gone this far. My arm felt like it was on fire, but I couldn't stop.

Something's changed, but I can't figure out what it was. Something's different, colder... the room's colder. I look up in surprise and see that Heero has entered the bathroom. "What are you doing?" His voice suddenly doesn't sound so emotionless. He sounds... scared? Could that be it? I suppose I'd be scared too if I walked into a bathroom with a raving lunatic. Vaguely, I hear the bathroom door shut and lock. I should have thought of that.

I give up, I'm lost, "I can't make it stop, Heero. I can't make it stop." I sound desperate, but it doesn't matter. He's seen the truth, he knows I'm weak. It's over.

A strong hand grabs my left, my scratching hand, and pulls it away, another hand keeping my right arm down. He holds them firmly, but surprisingly gentle. His fingers avoid my newly made scratches. It doesn't matter though, for all his kindness, I can't look him in the eyes.


The tears start to fall, oh hell, if you're going to go all out, may as well. They drip from my eyes and splash into my new wounds; and it stings... it stings worse than just the air. "I need to."


Arg. If I didn't know that he would kick my ass for trying, I'd throttle him right now. I don't want to answer these questions. I shake me head slowly, hoping to God that he'll let me get away with that.

There was a long pause, as if he was waiting for me to say more, but there was no way that I could. "If I let go of your wrists, are you going to start again?" I shook my head again. I could barely move right now, and scratching was the last thing I wanted to do.

He stood from me, abandoning me in the bathroom and spoke to the others. I couldn't hear him, but I knew he was telling the others. I resigned myself to the fate of Ex-Gundam Pilot Nutcase. I could just see it now. I sighed, resisting the urge to scratch again.

It wasn't long before he returned to the bathroom, once again closing the door behind him. Without a word, he opened the bathroom cabinet and pulled out gauze, a washcloth, and iodine.

I was watching numbly as he wet the cloth, lathering soap into it. With a gentle hand he patted it on my arm, slowly sponging away the blood and cleaning my wounds. I wanted nothing more than to ask him why he bothered. Why he wasted his time making sure I was alright. I mean, the war was over, right? There was no reason to worry about me being alright. I wanted to know because, well, damn it, I already told you that I loved him, and that little flicker of eternal hope that somehow keeps burning in me was leaping at the possibility that he might feel the same. On the other hand, my dark and masochistic side wanted to feel the pain of rejection. Wanted to know that I was just as unnecessary as I felt I was.

As he fastened the gauze to my arm, he took my chin firmly between his thumb and forefinger, forcing my head up to look at his. His cobalt eyes were far from cold and detached as I had expected them to be, but fiery. He looked pissed, and I was scared.


I took a deep breath and tried my best to stop trembling. "Because... because I'm stuck. I can't get past the – the war, and the rest of you have, because I'm too weak to move on, because I am alone." Damn it! I hadn't wanted to mention the last bit.

A dark eyebrow arched carefully, but he didn't say anything. When he stood to rinse out the wash cloth, my head fell against my chest once more. "You have more strength than you know."

"What?" His words shocked me so deeply that I turned my eyes back to his.

"You're stronger than you know."

"Right," I said bitterly, "A cry-baby masochist is right up there on the strong man list."

"I felt the same way you do right after the war. My whole life was fighting. When it ended, I couldn't find a place for myself."

"What did you do?"

"I did nothing. I didn't know what to do."

Now I was confused. "But didn't you get over it?"

"Eventually, but it wasn't really getting over it. I just realized that I'd overlooked something. It was you who showed me."

Thank you, Mr. Heero Yuy, for dispensing your advice in riddle form. "I didn't show you anything!"

A smirk flashed across his mouth, disappearing nearly as quickly as it appeared, "You showed me that I wasn't alone. That I had a place and that I had people who cared about me. People care about you too."

With that comment, I remembered the others. They were still in the other room, more than likely getting ready to whisk me off to the asylum. "... Did you tell the others?"

This time, he seemed genuinely surprised, "Why would I? I sent them home. You couldn't face them as you were."

"Thank you."

He paused, then, "They are worried about you, you know?"

He must have read my blank look, "We've all been very worried about you for the past few months. You've been... vacant."

Somehow, I managed a weak smile at that. It made me feel something warm in my core, something that I used to call love. Something that made me feel loved. "I've just been so lonely."

"It's hard, isn't it... being apart after we've all been together through so much?"

"It feels like everything evaporated after the war. Like what happened didn't matter. Like I didn't matter." I said the last part quietly, not really wanting to give up that piece of information, but I felt like I owed it to him.

He seemed to shift uncomfortably and I winced. I'd said too much, and I had made him uncomfortable. "I'm sorry, Heero."

"Are you tired? After I had an episode like that one, I was pretty worn out."

"What? You did this too?" I asked, gesturing to my bound arm.

"I told you, I felt the same things you are. Come on, you need to sleep."

I nodded gently in return, still in shock over all that Heero had told me. "Heero - you don't think any less of me for this, do you?"


Ah, we're back to silent Heero. I see.

As we entered my room, he pulled the drapes shut and guided me to my bed, pulling up a chair next to the bed. I wanted to ask him why, but instead I yawned. I grinned sheepishly and figured I could ask him when I woke up. Until then, sleep was quickly claiming me.

Heero watched as the boy's breath evened out. The things he'd seen today were shocking. Yeah, he'd guessed what had been eating at his friend, but that didn't mean that he wanted to be right. No, in fact, he'd prayed to whatever god that would listen that he was wrong.

It seemed that sleep had finally taken his friend, so Heero moved towards the bed, sitting next to the prone body. Running his hands through soft hair, he studied the sleeping boy carefully, letting his eyes trace over the features that he loved. Yes, he loved this boy and he wanted to protect him, no matter what the cost. He'd be there when those eyes opened.

'Till then, Heero was content to watch the sleeping form. Bending over carefully, he placed a gentle kiss on the boy's forehead, his hand smoothing the hair. "I love you, Quatre, and like you unknowingly helped me, I'll be there for you."

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