Title: Ienai
Author:
joudama
Fandom:
Metal Gear Solid
Rating:
PG
Word count:
900-ish
Summary: For you, some things cannot be spoken; cannot be healed.
Song Prompt: Birdcage - Gackt
A/N: Written for fictunes on insanejournal, with "Birdcage" by Gackt as the song prompt. (And no, it's not song fic; the "prompts" are just there for fic inspiration, not a base.)

The title, "Ienai," is Japanese, and I picked it for three reasons:

1. Otacon (Hal Emmerich) is a giant anime otaku; you know that man knows Japanese.
2. The line in "Birdcage" I genked the title from is 「悲しみは癒えない」 [kanashimi wa ienai]--"my loneliness can't be healed."
3. In Japanese, the words for "can't be healed," 「癒えない」, and "can't be spoken," 「言えない」, are homonyms--the kanji are different, but they're pronounced the same, "ienai."

This takes place after MGS2 and assumes you know Otacon's terrible, awful backstory. ;_;

--

"How old were you?"

Snake blurts the question out suddenly, almost as if he didn't mean for it to come out, as if he had tried not to, but it had finally broken free.

You don't have to ask what Snake is talking about. You know. And you look away, avoid eye contact. It's easier that way. This isn't a conversation you wanted to have, ever, with anyone...let alone Snake.

"Around thirteen or fourteen," you say, and the words are strange, somehow, twisting in your mouth. You don't want to elaborate. How old were you when everything started? How old when your father found out and killed himself? Or when--

Something is broken inside, you realize. You knew you were broken, but...you hadn't expected the broken edges to be so jagged, to cut and hurt you even more inside. You had thought time had blunted everything, but it hasn't. Maybe time had made you numb, gave you callouses inside over the worst parts, but now it feels like something cutting into freshly-healed wounds, tearing everything back open again.

"Oh," is all Snake says, and, for all it feels like a betrayal, you are grateful for that.

--

"It, uh...it...wasn't your fault," Snake says out of nowhere. He sounds uncomfortable, but like he feels like he has to say something.

You don't turn around, but your fingers freeze over your keyboard and you go still. "What's not my fault, Snake?" you say, your voice somehow calm for all you know it's a facade, and you don't turn around.

You can see Snake's reflection in your monitor. It's not good enough to show you details, but you can see how stiff Snake is, the discomfort in his posture. Snake is not a man who hesitates, but you see him hesitating now, and all you can think to that is "Good."

That, and a strange feeling you can't put words to, some feeling that has set your stomach to clinching. Normally, it would make you want to double over, but it is oddly separate from you, and makes something in you stiffen, that makes you wary and wanting to lash out to protect yourself.

You can see Snake, and you know Snake can see you, reflected imperfectly through the screen. But the light from the monitor reflects off of your glasses, making a mirror; your eyes are invisible. Snake's eyes are better, but they cannot see yours, and your computer is a shield.

"None of it," Snake says after a while, and though it's indistinct, reflected through the monitor, you can see him frown, search for words.

You don't say anything, and after a long moment, you choose to begin to type again rather than speak, and it is a painful relief when Snake's shoulders slump and he walks away--a relief because you don't want to talk or think about this and he has left you alone; painful because, with all of these things trapped inside you and the unspoken shards tearing you apart, he has left you alone.

Your computer is your shield, and your sanctuary, and your comfort.

And to escape, you slide further into it; into code, into cracks, into the breaches, into the unseen places in the background where you seek to live your life.

Your computer is your shield, and your sanctuary.

It is your comfort.

And your cage.

--

Snake puts his hand on your shoulder. You are tired; your eyes hurt, your wrists and fingers feel cramped, and the coffee ran out long ago. You look up at him; he is out of focus because you pushed your glasses up a moment ago to rub your eyes. He is only a blur, and you wonder what he wants.

"Hmm?" you say, and smile faintly as your glasses slip back into place, still half-thinking about reasons why your code isn't compiling and grateful for the break.

"I'm sorry," he says. "About E.E. And...and all the rest of it. I'm...sorry."

You are still looking at him. You didn't expect this; it is out of the blue and seeing Snake full on, the way his lips are tight and how he is trying, that he has been trying and he is still trying, that is when something protective inside you shatters; when you realize that for once, there is someone who in some way cares for you; that you are not truly alone.

The weight of it and the weight of the past is too much; the weight of memories of things that should never have been and memories of two lonely children playing together and playing at making a home because they had no one else, and the realization that the past has repeated itself; that once again you are and have been playing at something, playing at a hero, playing at the imitation of the real, playing at the imitation of a 'home,' once again reaching out to someone as lonely as yourself..and that he, fumbling and uncertain, is and has been reaching back, reaching out to you, trying, for all it seems to be against his nature and a struggle, trying--

The weight of it is more than you can bear.

And that is why, without a word, you bury your face in your hand to grant you some small form of protection, some small form of distance from everything that has burst through to the surface but has no other outlet, and begin to cry.

His hand stays on your shoulder, and the weight of it is a comfort.

And a cage.

--