Part 1: Re-l

desolation – grief or sadness, loneliness; devastation or ruin; barren wasteland

One thing about being almost alone on a journey through desolate wastes… you have far too much time to think.

In the light of day I can sometimes ignore it, preoccupy myself with watching Vincent as he silently steers at the helm, or the infected AutReiv child as she flits around him. I watch only, because I have little desire to speak to them, though I sometimes wonder: if I did would things be easier?

In the light of day it is almost easy to drown out my own conflicted thoughts and the increasingly insistent stirrings deeper within myself, in what I suppose one would call my soul – if there truly is such a thing.

It is when the daylight fades that my mind wanders and my thoughts will not be ignored.

In the light of day the small annoyances of his half smile and 'its' chatter drown out my darker thoughts. But in the dark of night, when he is sleeping and the machine is recharging, sometimes they crowd in and threaten to overwhelm me.

Tonight is such a night.

Though it is late, and I should be sleeping, I find myself instead sitting and staring into the darkness, mind adrift in a formless sea of half completed thoughts.

I run my fingers through my hair absently and for a moment I wonder why I never learned to fix it myself. I suppose it had never seemed to matter before. In Romdo there had always been Iggy and back then I never imagined that there might be a time when he would not be with me. I stare down at the inky strands caught between my fingers and frown at them as though they are to blame for the dark hollow ache in my heart.

Briefly I toy with the idea of waking Vincent and demanding that he do something with the unruly locks. I quickly discard the idea. What excuse could I give for waking him in the middle of the night to fix my hair? There is none except that I feel truly alone.

My gaze falls to the man sleeping near me and I know that I am not alone.

This man, this thing, demon or god, whatever he may be, he is with me.

Sometimes I am more comforted by that fact than I feel I should be. Then my natural skepticism seeps back in and I wonder how I can feel comfort at all.

He said that he loves me. And I am never quite sure that I believe him.

Oh, I know, without doubt, that he believes it. There is no insincerity in him, contradictory and enigmatic as he may be. But I do not know if it is possible, if it is real.

I do not doubt him because he is not human. I do not doubt that he can feel. Rather I doubt that such feeling exists.

For what place does love have in this world really?

It has none.

This world is desolate and dead, there is no place for life here.

Within the domes the world is sterile, lifeless, as empty as the wastes which surround them. They are a singular kind of cold and there is no place for warmth in them.

In this world where humans are created in tubes rather than formed in wombs, and each moment of their life, their purpose, is planned before they draw first breath. What place has any emotion in this mechanism that we dare to call life?

What a mockery.

Why has that never bothered me before? Are we born cold and empty, a cog in a machine with no meaning but that which has been given to us – our place in a society that does not matter and does not care?

Perhaps a more accurate question would be why does that bother me now when it never has before? What has changed? How can I recognize the absence of that which I have never known? How can I feel the pangs of loss for something I never once possessed? How?

The answer is the same as all answers seem to be right now. The answer is him.

Vincent Law.

The Ergo Proxy.

Nothing has been the same since the moment he entered my life. He is shaking me to my foundations and I do not know why. What power does he hold over me? What draw is there? Why do I follow him? Why does he make me seek answers to questions I never should have formed?

He stirs with a subdued groan, slowly pushing up on his elbow and looking at me with sleep blurred green orbs. Not human, they seemed to whisper, their glowing green a foreign shade. But there is a certain beauty to them, and sometimes I speculate that this is what draws me and holds me to him.

"Re-l?" my name is a soft, almost hesitant, question on his lips; rough with sleep his tone is colored with both confusion and concern.

"Go back to sleep, Vincent." I order tonelessly, and he blinks at me once… twice, and then complies. A moment later his even breathing tells me that he is lost to the waking world once more.

What a puzzle is this man? I am no closer to understanding him now than I was the moment we first crossed paths.

How can this man, who stammers uncertainly when questioned and blushes profusely at my nearness, also be the creature who acts without hesitation and kills without mercy?

Love me? He loves me?

I can remember every detail of every moment spent in his company, whether shared by chance or by choice, they are etched in my memory as carvings in stone and I cannot erase them, but neither can I make sense of them.

The terror of the proxy, distorted finger roughly following the curve of my lip, as I stared paralyzed in fright that night he broke into my home. The frightened confusion of Vincent when they hauled him in for questioning after. The torn look on his face as he ran through the outer ring of the city, wanting to trust me, but afraid to remain. The relieved acceptance in his revealed eyes as he fell backwards from the height of the city down toward the scarred earth too far below, and the aching sting in my soul at the knowledge that I could not save him and would never see him again.

The burning need, and cold resolve, when I found that he might still be alive. His open joy at seeing me again. And my own confusion. His concern when I fell ill, and his care. The emptiness that seeped through me when I woke once more to find him gone and beyond my reach.

The anticipation when Deadalus allowed me to search for him again, and fierce anger and disbelief when he dared to claim that he was the proxy. The doubts and uncertainties that crowded into my thoughts thereafter. The need to be near him, to stay with him, if only to find out why I could not escape him. The startling warmth of his body hovering over mine and his tortured confession near my ear. The panic that nearly overwhelmed me then and the cold rationalism that allowed me to press my lips to his as a distraction when I reached for my gun. The fear that he'd gone mad.

The flood of indecision when I realized that he had told the truth. The resolve to let him live and remain with him until I have the answers that I seek. The uneasiness of being left alone with him and that thing, still uncertain what he was and what he was capable of. The almost pleasure of his touch on my hair as he inexpertly fixed it and his hopeful expression when I complimented the effort. The comfort and security of being pressed against him as he shielded me from the explosion of the infected autoreive. The distrust when I found he had my gun, and the utter shock I felt when he gave it back. The strange feeling of home that grows on me the longer we are together. The stranger feeling of fear and despair that fills me every time I think he's gone.

Contradictions of feelings, just as he is a contradiction in and of himself.

Too many emotions, too many feelings that are still foreign to me. How can he bring these to the surface? Does he create them in me, or merely bring to the surface that which was once so well hidden even I could not find it?

Has he alone, in all the world, managed to escape the emptiness to which we are born? The void that rests deep within us, where once human hearts laid? What does he feel, what does he know that has escaped me?

And how can he be so sure of his feelings when he is certain of nothing else?

He does not know his past; he does not know his future. He is at odds with himself and the creature within him. He does not wish to live with himself. And yet… and yet…

He told me that he was not worthy of loving me, but that he could not stop.

He loves me?

What runs through his mind as he sleeps beside me, so near and yet so far? Are his dreams filled with tortured nightmares of the things the proxy has done? Are they filled with yearnings for things I cannot, will not, give him? His brow is smooth and his breathing is even. Is he dreaming of a time when the world is at rest and he can simply be beside me?

If so he dreams a foolish hope that will never come.

There is no room for softness in this world. No room for tenderness. No room for love. No room for gentle touches and whispered words, for chaste kisses or fiery passion. No room at all. We are cogs on a wheel, parts in the mechanism, our destinies mapped out before us with no hope for escape. Nothing we do will change this, no matter how far we run in search of answers.

This is true. This is fact. This is life.

I have never desired to escape from this, and I refuse to begin now. That is why I will not believe that he loves me.

It is impossible.

A fire dead for a thousand years cannot be stirred to life again by any measure of prodding.

This world is empty, dead, and the human heart has died with it. Feelings need warmth, and this place is cold. Feeling died with the earth long, long ago, and one confused man is not going to change that.

If he believes it can be otherwise than he lives in his delusions.

This I know.

But still I wonder, and still I follow him.

Do I want to see how long it is before his strangeness is shattered by the force of the status quo? Do I need to know how long a fire can burn in the frozen vacuum? Is it morbid curiosity?

Or is it desperate hope?

If he can withstand it, if his heart, his feelings, can remain, is there hope for the rest of us as well – is there hope for me?

Do I want hope?

He said that he loves me…

Without thought my hand stretches out, barely tracing along the strands of hair scattered messily about his head. An instant later I yank it back, narrowing my eyes and shaking my head.

You don't love me Vincent Law, and I will never love you.

It is the truth, undeniable, unbreakable, and I am a realist so this does not bother me. Desolate, this world is empty. There is no room for love in this world. I know this is true.

But sometimes I almost allow him to convince me…

A/N: I'm really into this "introspective" thing right now… and the other side of a one-sided relationship seems to be my current favorite. The ideas just keep flowing… wish I could corral them and finish one of my chapter works. Gaara is crying in a corner because he thinks I've forgotten him… Yue and Kurama are there too, but they've been there longer, so the pain isn't as new. sigh just a warning that all three of those are OC pairings… don't hate me!

Issues I know, without doubt, that I will hear about in reviews.

"It's repetitive." Why yes, yes it is… that's kind of the point! Their world is monotonous, repetitive, without purpose, cold, boring, droning… shall I go on? So I don't want to hear that it was repetitive…

Please review