Chapter Four – Depression
"But you and me
All we want to be
My eyes shot wide open at the flamboyant song blaring from the clock radio's mediocre speakers. Trust Luna to set the alarm on such an ungodly hour in the –
The blinking neon green digits glared at me and said, "It's ten o'clock in the morning, you moron."
"You and me…
I hate waking up late. It gives Luna an excuse to 'cook' – I use the term lightly – breakfast. Hmm… Oh yeah… 'Bout time I realized that I was the one who set the alarm. Well, all the good that will do me now. I quickly slammed my fist on the off button. That was enough of the nasally voice that I could take. Then, I buried my head deeper into my blanket.
There were days when I thought that things were definitely looking up and I believed that everything would indeed be okay. There were days when I could actually laugh genuinely – not any of those sardonic laughs that Luna detested. There were days when I thought I could actually start my life anew – without the nightmares of my past holding me back.
This wasn't one of those.
Great. Just fucking great. Now I've got last song syndrome.
The moment I opened my eyes, I knew this day was going to be hell. I stayed in bed for what seemed like ages, just staring balefully at the mocking sun. I pulled my blanket higher, leaving only the upper half of my face uncovered.
How long was I going to mope around like this?
The whole world had already practically forgotten about the war, while I was still under some very deep shit. Not that I wasn't getting the help I needed. Soldiers were required to at least pass some sort of a psychological exam before being allowed to set foot in the outside world as a free man. I had mine and the psychiatrist told me that according to my test results, I was as mentally-healthy as any random man.
Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that I was smart enough to put in answers that would make me seem sane. (I'm sure anyone with enough brain cells knows how to do that.) Nope, nothing to do with it at all.
Okay, so it had everything to do with it.
But both of us knew that there was something wrong about me. Even so, he agreed to sign my discharge papers on the condition that I see him at least once a month.
Fuck if I was doing that.
I was done and so freaking tired of everyone telling me what to do.
Needless to say, I hadn't gone to see him, not even once. So guess what I received in the mail yesterday? A lovely formal-looking letter, that when removed of all polite terms, quite frankly told me that if I didn't get my ass on that shrink's office ASAP, they were going to move it for me.
This must be the reason why I was feeling so gloomy this morning.
Deciding that I couldn't stay in my bed any moment longer (I've got permanent bed hair, thankyouverymuch), I got out of it and went out of my bedroom. I let the door slam behind me, not caring in the least if it got removed off its hinges.
"Good morning, Shinn!" Luna greeted me cheerfully from the kitchen. She peeked out from the doorway and pouted. "And don't give me that look!" she chided upon seeing the reluctant expression on my face. "I'm making pancakes. I think even I can make something as simple as that." With that, she went back to whatever it was that she was doing, whistling cheerfully as she did so.
I shrugged to no one and nothing in particular. Hey, I had the fire extinguisher ready.
I decided to go outside to – what else? – watch the grass grow.
There was something strangely satisfying to this little habit of mine. Call it a quirk or whatever but there was something about the green that served to calm my nerves for a while and force my mind to think of life in general.
Grass practically grew everywhere. Back on Earth (and I guess here on the PLANTs), just give them a patch of land and they'd grow like there's no tomorrow. Something so fragile, something so tiny, still striving to live even if there was only a slight chance of survival. I feel like I belonged whenever I was surrounded by them.
I think grass is even more beautiful than wildflowers on spring. Plain, old grass. Totally subjective, some people would say. Weeds. What can I say? I'm opinionated.
"Shinn!" Luna called out to me, interrupting my musings. "Breakfast is ready!"
So…Luna was back to being the old, cheerful Luna. But unlike the past weeks, this seemed to be the real thing. She was picking up pieces of her life – or what's left of it – and starting anew. For real. And I seemed to be getting dragged along the ride. She was ready to forget (if she hadn't done so already) the past and concentrate on her future.
"Shinn!" she called again.
I didn't answer. Something was building up inside of me. It felt like my chest was about to burst from something…unidentifiable. Or suffocating. I wanted to scream. Scream until my throat went dry. Scream until my voice went hoarse. Scream until I couldn't scream anymore.
This…life… I didn't fit in here.
I couldn't simply forget.
I couldn't simply start anew.
Not with memories of my mom, my dad, Mayu, Stellar and Rey holding me back. No matter what their, god-forbid, spirits may say about me moving on, the fact that they were making the trouble of 'talking' to me was enough to remind me of how much of a failure I was…or, rather, am.
"Shinn?" Luna's voice this time was tinged with anxiety. I could hear her footsteps getting nearer.
I didn't need her to see me like this. She seemed so convinced that I was doing okay. I took a deep breath and slowly let it out. "I'm coming," I answered softly, careful not to let my voice break.
Well, what do you know? Luna can cook pancakes. She looked at me expectantly as I chewed the food slowly.
"Well?" she prompted.
I played ignorant, refusing to acknowledge what little cooking skills she had. "'Well', what?"
"How is it? Delicious?" she asked smugly.
I sighed exasperatedly. "Luna… they're pancakes. Not some sort of gourmet dish." I stabbed another piece of pancake and smothered it with maple syrup. "Like you said, anyone can make them."
She pouted. "Humor me, Shinn," she muttered dryly as she followed suit and started eating her breakfast. "They're mouth-wateringly delicious, if I do say so myself."
I rolled my eyes but otherwise, tactfully did not say anything else.
We ate in silence for awhile, before she opened her big mouth again. "So, what was yesterday's mail all about?" she prodded.
I stabbed another piece of pancake, and answered in a flat voice. "From the Psychiatric Department. They want me there at 1400."
Her eyes widened. "Today?"
I winced at the sound of her chair suddenly being scraped across the floor. Luna stood up and slammed her hand on the table. "Shinn! Do you have any idea what that means?" she exclaimed.
Well, what was I? Some kind of idiot? Of course I knew what that meant. Tired of Luna's antics, I pushed my plate away and stood up without a word. I could hear Luna calling for me, her voice a mix between worried and annoyed, but I ignored her. I proceeded to my room and locked the door.
"I'm going back to sleep," I muttered, not caring in the slightest if she heard me or not. Frankly, I'd prefer the latter. I wasn't in the mood to be on the receiving end of some good old-fashioned Luna-scolding and the only way to counter it was some equally good old-fashioned Silent Treatment.
I collapsed on my bed and closed my eyes, burying my face in the pillows and inhaling the scent of the detergent that Luna picked out from the grocery a couple of days ago. I've got to hand it to Luna. She's a nagger, but she sure does know how to pick the best sweet-smelling detergent around.
After a few moments, I realized that my pillows were wet. I reluctantly lifted my head to stare at the wet spots and to decipher where the hell they came from. Maybe they weren't as dry as Luna thought they were?
I was crying.
I didn't get up to change the pillow cases, though.
I wasn't just lazy.
I was tired.
And so, instead of going to his appointment with ZAFT's resident shrink, Shinn Asuka decided to meet up with his Thursday-buddy instead. Is he turning gay?
Not enough spunk in it. Not enough catch. Not enough bite. I used 'instead' twice. And it sounds like a sick commentary. Not quite up to my usual biting remarks. I must be losing my touch…
…with the world.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. It was a fine Thursday afternoon, much like the others before it, except for the fact that I was spending it alone.
I glanced at my wristwatch and sighed. Forty-seven minutes.
Thursday-buddy was nowhere in sight. But then again, I guess meeting him on such irregular times was really pushing my luck. There was no way in hell that he'd catch me four times in a row. And I knew better than to 'owe it all to fate'.
Perhaps this is proof that I should be going to the psychiatrist. I knew what I had to do. Between the two choices – Thursday-buddy and the shrink – the obvious choice would be the psychiatrist because my freedom, my future, depended on my meeting with him.
But talking to that young man with the solemn eyes was so much more appealing. Not in a romantic way or anything gay; it was something indescribable. (Heck, all I knew was that it was platonic.) Whenever I talked to him, it felt like talking to someone who truly understood whatever I was saying. It felt like I was talking to someone who knew what I was going through. It was different from talking to Luna. Sure, I appreciated those heartfelt conversations with her, but somehow, I don't think she truly understood what it was that I was going through. It was like, like, like…
…Like talking to Rey.
And those meetings ended with me feeling somewhat calmer and more contented.
I wasn't just mourning the death of my family and friends; I was also mourning the death of everything that I ever believed in. If I were to get all poetic and shit, I'd say that I was grieving my death. Some part of me died when my family died. And now, the part that was left also died after all that mess.
I never entertained thoughts of suicide when my family died because I wanted to avenge their deaths first before anything else. But now…the thought of dying was becoming more and more appealing.
I cupped my hands and saw the shadows cast by the trees and the lights dancing in my palms.
Mayu and I…used to do that when we were kids.
The lights disappeared and I frowned. Someone was standing in front of me; I could tell that much from the fact that that person was blocking my precious sunlight. I lifted my head to glare at the person.
"If I didn't know better, I'd say that you're deliberately coming here at irregular times." He smiled, his eyes crinkling at the corners.
"You're blocking my light," I told him flatly. Well, what do you know? Someone must really want the both of us to keep talking to each other.
He chuckled softly. "Oh, sorry." Then, he sat at the farthest end of the bench. There was a space between us, big enough for a child, just like as it has always been. Hey, not a lot of people are given the honor of invading my personal space. Of course, Mayu used to invade it all the time, but obviously she's not able to do that anymore. And if she is… well, that's just creepy.
We sat like that for a moment – as if we didn't know who the hell each other were. Oh, scratch that. We didn't. Then, he started humming. The very idea of him humming was…just not right. He was freaking humming! It was a familiar one, and I figured it must've been the one his girlfriend was singing when I first 'met' them.
But gods… did I have to endure that as well along with my angst?
"Why the hell are you so fucking happy?" I muttered, making sure that there was enough annoyance in my tone to deliver my message across.
"And why are you so angry?" he asked rhetorically. He smiled again. "Something good happened. Did you know that the PLANTs and ORB both agreed on an armistice? Finally, the peace talks are taking fruit."
I rolled my eyes at that. Trust Athha to do something so…idealistic. "That's great," I mumbled sarcastically.
He raised a not-so-amused eyebrow. "Is that all? Aren't you relieved at the very least? This is what you have been fighting for."
I shrugged. I wasn't in the mood for arguments. Let him think whatever he wanted to think. "Whatever."
It's…weird. I was looking for company a while ago and now that I had it, all I want now is for said company to shut the hell up. He wasn't normally this talkative. That news must have pumped some endorphins in his otherwise angst-ridden body.
It's not that I didn't want peace. Yes, it's what I've been fighting for in the first place, but now that almost everyone that I cared for is conveniently dead, it all seemed pretty pointless.
…can take care of herself.
Now, I realize, I'm not needed at all.
I was never much of a planner. But I figured that after my so-called revenge, I'd die in the line of fire sooner or later. I didn't actually think that I'd be experiencing the pain of losing the people I cared for one more time. I never thought that I'd live this far, to be honest.
Everything would still be in its proper place even if I die now.
…there's no point in living.
…exacting my revenge.
…preserving Rey's future.
…winning the war for ZAFT.
…making a proper housemate for Luna.
All along I've been wondering what the hell I was supposed to do when it was staring at me right in my face.
I stood up abruptly, probably startling the person beside me in the process, and started walking away. I didn't even bother saying goodbye.
"Where are you going?" he asked, voice still calm, blissfully unaware of the suicidal thoughts running amok in my brain.
'Hell', my mind screamed. But aloud, I answered. "Home."
I was on my twelfth step when he spoke again. "Aren't you the least bit curious in finding out who I am?" he called out.
I stopped despite myself. Of course I was curious. Who wouldn't be? But if this was some ploy to make me forget about my current plans for the day… Well, what good would his identity do when I was rotting six feet under? I shrugged – the universal gesture for 'whatever'.
"I'm sorry," he said in a voice so quiet that I wasn't sure if I heard right.
Sorry? What in blazes was that supposed to mean? Oh, shit. Shit.
I whirled around suddenly. Oh, great mother of –
"Would you stop spouting nonsense and let me get to wherever I'm going to in peace?" I glared at him angrily. But by that time, I knew. He knew me. He knew who I was. And I was angry. He was freaking making fun of me! From the beginning, he knew who I was.
"So, are you someone sent by that fucking humanitarian Athha? Or someone sent by Zala, perhaps?" I couldn't contain myself anymore. With fists shaking and temper rising, I rushed up to him and gave him a right hook.
The force of the blow sent him landing ungracefully on his behind. My fist was frozen from where it came into contact with his cheek. He didn't even make an attempt to dodge it! I couldn't see the pain (or whatever expression) on his face because his fringe was covering it.
I was breathing heavily, adrenaline still coursing through my veins, practically screaming for a fight.
"I think I deserved that," he said softly, head still bowed low.
"Fucking right you do!" I shouted. There weren't many people on that part of the park, and the little that were there were clearly making a point to avoid us.
He stood up and brushed the dirt from his pants. I finally saw his face and felt satisfied that a bruise was beginning to form from where my fist kissed his cheek. His violet eyes were somber, and whatever happiness there was a moment ago was completely gone.
"…But not for the reasons that you think." He sighed as he rubbed his smarting cheek. "And Cagalli and Athrun are far too busy with the peace talks to even think of setting you up."
"Oh, so you're on a first-name basis with them, huh?"
"Yes, I am," he answered tiredly. "I caused you great pain, it would seem. Indirectly, yes, but my intentions were good. I never thought about making fun of you. I wanted to talk to you, because I saw myself in you. And I didn't want you to end up like me."
"Who fucking would?" I said through gritted teeth. "Is this what you do on your spare time? Look for people stupid enough to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets to a complete stranger? Gods, you're right. We wouldn't want me ending up like you. Thanks for the tip." I smiled nastily. "Not."
"You have to move on, Shinn," he advised all-knowingly. A little too all-knowingly. "There's no use wallowing in the past."
I felt my fists itching to punch him again. "Would you freaking stop lecturing me? What would you know? What the hell would you know, about betrayal and loss? Of having the people you love dying in front of you?"
"Like I said, Shinn, I see myself in you." And for a moment, I wanted to believe in that. He sounded sincere. He really did. But he didn't have to fool me into thinking that I had the anonymity that I found so appealing.
"Stop calling me by my first name!" I yelled at him. It was a childish thing to say, but for us Japanese, it was very rude and informal, considering we didn't even know each other. Whatever. It wasn't time to talk about culture, anyway. But the fact that he knew my name when I didn't even introduce myself added to my fury. I closed my eyes and let out a frustrated huff. "You're wasting my time. Good riddance."
Well? How was I supposed to kill myself when I was feeling so homicidal instead?
When Rey told me that he was a clone, I didn't realize then just how hard it was for him just to be alive. All I knew was that he was dying, nothing else. I looked at it in the physical aspect, the physiological, but the psychological? Nope.
I didn't even think about how he felt.
How it must have felt knowing that your whole life was a lie. Heck, I was too busy thinking about how my life was a lie. Come to think of it, he must have seen himself in Stellar that day when he helped me save her. He didn't do it out of pity.
If I didn't know about him being a clone, I suppose I wouldn't be so affected by Rey's death. Soldiers die. It's death. It happens.
Sure, I'd be feeling pretty devastated, but not to the point where I'm obsessing over it – much like what I'm doing now.
"Ignorance is bliss," my sixth grade English teacher once told me. I heard Rey repeat that line once, when I had the misfortune of learning about Luna's monthly period (yeah, that period).
Sometimes, I think it would be great to have amnesia or something.
"Shinn! Shinn! Open the door!"
The sound of the doorknob being twisted forcefully. Even more knocks. This time more desperate.
"SHI - "
"WHAT?!" I yelled as I violently pulled the door open, catching Luna in mid-knock. "Can't a guy kill himself without you knocking all over the place?"
This time, it was her turn to yell, "WHAT?!"
I slammed the door on her face. "I was just kidding. Just leave me alone. I'm cleaning my room," I muttered through gritted teeth. Oops, there goes my resolve.
"Shinn…" Luna whispered so softly it was a miracle it carried through the inch-thick door. Oh, there goes the waterworks again. Damn. Why do women cry over the stupidest of things? "Please…don't do anything stupid."
I leaned my back on the closed door and slid down until I was crouching on the cold floor. I looked at the bottle of sleeping pills sitting oh-so-innocently on top of my bedside table.
I let out a resigned sigh as I stood up. "What the hell are you saying? I'm just cleaning my room."
Author's Notes: Here's Chapter Four! And oh, wow! Would you look at that? Only a gazillion months late! Expect the next chapter within the next bajillion years. And no; no witty (you call that witty?) next-chapter-commentaries this time. This has been sitting on my hard drive for ages. Why didn't I post it? Blame it on (Japanese rock band) L'Arc-en-Ciel. Oh why, oh why does hyde have to be that cute even if he's at least twice my age? But my whole obsession isn't all due to hyde's cuteness – or sexiness. I actually LOVE their music. Hmp. Now, if only I could understand what the heck they're saying…
For the eternally curious, the song above is from – you guessed it – 'Lazy' by (the London) Suede. Consider it disclaimed. As you can see, I started writing this chapter while I was in my Suede-phase. And now I'm in my L'Arc-en-Ciel phase!
Lia lostsmile, circumstances have kept us from contacting each other, but here's to another year!
To those who reviewed and offered constructive criticisms – I hope you're all still here: Athyra, koyuki-san, dark.retreat, Darkmoon Fleur, Gambit01V2, Skyforger, Crafty, stellar, Princess Ashes, shinnasuka1652391, Maryam Khanoom, Garowyn, Rising Dragon, Paronomastic Paragon, a.n.g.e.l., aozora7919, Wolven Spirits, yambembi, SpeedStriker, existence92, WillTheWatcher, NaraOccult, Sunflower Seeds, cobaltstar, dark galaxy, and China Dolly.