Remind Me
This fic was written for Fallen Angel and Lady Violet's songfic contest, which had numerous requirements. The ones I ended up using:
The Nickleback song, "How You Remind Me," a window seat, jealousy, a scene where Heero and Duo make up. The latter two are sort of vague, and so you'll have to excuse me, but I did my best. Things like a bungee cord (one of the other things one their list of things they wanted to see in the sumbissions) didn't quite fit into the angst fic this turned into.
If I offend anyone b talking about alcoholism, Alcoholics Anonymous, of if you think that I've made a mistake in my representation of AA, please tell me. I haven't been to an AA meeting since I was a kid so, needless to say 'm probably a little fuzzy on the code of conduct during sharing... Sometimes I think I'd like to go back and sit in on a meeting or two.
The song "How You Remind Me" belongs to Nickleback and their affiliates and licensers.
"Grant me the serenity,"
SnM



Never made it as a wise man
I couldn't cut it as a poor man stealin'

...
I think the end began with an apology.
The world has never been perfect. I, of all people, know that. But, somehow, something between Heero and I was good, at one point.
I'm not stupid, and I know how to read people. Heero was always a mystery to me. But at that moment, when he apologized, he became incredibly clear, like I'd always been seeing him underwater before.
I always felt like, with Heero, everything was illicit. Don't believe what you hear; the behind-closed-doors nature of much of our relationship wasn't sensual at all. The novelty fell away after the first time we had sex, when he got out of bed and left, trying hard to be stone-faced. He didn't say anything to me - couldn't say anything - so he left me there, in my bed, alone, and went to his own dorm room down the hall. I didn't have the courage to go to him.
Neither of us work right, but Heero is especially closeted and dysfunctional. He can't let himself be, and it's an illness, an addiction for him. He wants to be perfect, and I think that he hated me for reminding him of how imperfect we all really are. It frightened him, and it's human nature, but Heero didn't want to be alive.

Tired of livin' like a blind man
I'm sick of sight without a sense of feelin'
And this is how you remind me

He stared down at me, a horrified look on his face. His hands were hanging limp at his sides.
I lay on the floor, naked, clutching the side of my face. I felt like I was bleeding, something hot sliding down my face, but it was probably just that I was crying. I always told myself that I didn't cry.
The expression on his face shifted from horror to disgust and fear. Heero, my little lost boy, was afraid not of me, but of himself... It was like I was watching a child realize that he had killed someone... He stared at me, blinking, working his mouth, trying to form the right words. He looked like he was going to cry.
"Oh... God..." His voice was hardly audible, harsh, trembling. I thought distractedly that if he spoke any louder, he would just stop speaking and start sobbing. But we told ourselves that we were soldiers, we didn't cry. His right hand, the one he had hit me with, came up to his chest, shaking, and he clutched it there with his other hand. "Duo..."
I saw the tears start to break past the brim of his eyelids. I felt them well up in my own eyes, too. I was oddly conscious that I was making an unattractive face, one that tells of a choked-back sob. My skin was pulling around my bruised cheek with my almost tearful grimace.
"I'm... Oh, God..." Heero still couldn't say it.
I don't think that Heero Yuy had ever apologized for anything in his entire life. I was surprised when he finally did.
"... I'm sorry..."
It was then, with a gasp, that I realized what was going on.
It was a cycle, another part of his little sickness. He'd never stop hitting me - he couldn't. He didn't know how to stop. And I didn't know how to help him, either.

This is how you remind me
Of what I really am
This is how you remind me
Of what I really am

Both of us are victims, in a very real, frightening way. I'm a victim of Heero's violence, and of his love. Heero... Who knows who did hit him first? I just know that they couldn't have loved him as much as he loves me.
It sounds sick, doesn't it? That I love the man who hurt me so much? But, the truth is, I understand it. I never hurt Heero because I've had other people do it to me, too, and I don't ever want to pass it on.
That's the difference between him and me. I was slowly coming to grips with who I was, what had happened to me. But Heero didn't know how. No one ever taught him how to feel.
"I want to get to a place where I can say, 'I'm no one's victim but my own.' Where I can understand myself and move on. Where I am secure in myself, sober, and safe." I met a guy at one of the Sunday meetings who said that. He'd been drinking since he was thirteen, and he said it was like he'd lain down and never gotten up.
I envy him, even though it's a sick sort of jealousy. He's getting better. There's no way you can really escape your past, or your problems, but you can learn to deal with it. He's a writer now, and very happy, last I heard. He hasn't touched a drink in three years. I wish - hope - that I'm as strong as he is.
Heero and I both knew, I think, what was going on. We both knew that while we were together, there was no way we were going to fix it. There were times I wasn't sure it could be fixed. I would lie in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, after we'd had sex. He would be asleep, snoring really softly next to me... And I'd just be lying there, thinking, 'We're both doomed.'
I'm still uncertain - about so many things...

It's not like you to say sorry
I was waiting on a different story

I never expected him to apologize. At least not verbally. Other times, he'd always simply held me, or even just left, shaking with held-back tears.
From anyone else, I wouldn't have taken that. I'm not stupid, and I'm not one to take abuse from people. But Heero was always an exception.
He never understood how to make things right, never understood that every time he walked away, he was breaking me a little more.
I can't blame him, though. I didn't really understand, either, never having been in a healthy relationship before, myself. When you're waging a war, you don't have time for romance.
But then I found Heero, and I thought that maybe I had been wrong about love. Beyond the violence, it was always obvious that we both loved each other. It was dysfunctional, and uncomfortable sometimes, but... Well, it lasted through the war, if that's any testament. I spent six years of my life with Heero.

This time I'm mistaken
For handing you a heart worth breakin'

Life is sick. I always knew it was true. I grew up stealing, cheating, killing, and I didn't stop until the war was over.
People look at me funny when I say that. They're always surprised that I admit to having been a thief and a killer. I've admitted to a lot worse - done a lot worse. It doesn't phase me anymore. I guess it's all part of coming to terms.
My world was heartless until Operation Meteor landed me on Earth. Then I found Heero, and I realized how raw I really was.
We were perfect for each other, really. We both met without a clue as to what we wanted, and we didn't know how to get it when we finally found out.

I've been wrong, I've been down
Been to the bottom of every bottle

In the years after the war ended, I think things turned downhill. It was the year after the Mariemaia incident when Heero apologized to me, and also when I started drinking.
Some people go out and drink to escape their partners and escape their day-to-day lives. I didn't want to escape Heero, or the reality of my existence. I just wanted to fix it, and I didn't know how. The only thing I wanted to escape was how much I hated myself.
I never went out drinking. I would buy liquor on the way home, and drink it in the living room, alone because Heero would always work late. I would read a book and drink until I couldn't see straight anymore... Then I would turn on the TV for company, and just stare at the ceiling, drinking more, until I fell asleep.
I always woke up in our bed, Heero's side of the bed made and him gone to work already, the next morning. The living room was always clean, any liquor I hadn't drunk emptied into the sink, the bottles in the trash.

These five words in my head
Scream "Are we having fun yet?"
Yet?, Yet?, Yet?, no no

Heero and I, we're both ill.
It definitely wasn't a healthy way to deal with our problems. In the last year or so of our relationship, we came to realize that more and more.
I hated myself, and Heero hated us both, and I couldn't bring myself to be angry at Heero. In all honesty, I don't think he really hated me. He hated what I meant to him, what I would always symbolize. I embodied his failure, his Achilles' heel, his weakness, his emotion.
I'd like to say that he was my strength, but I think he was just the same kind of demon for me that I was for him. Every time I thought too hard about it, he reminded me of the other people who had hurt me, sexually, physically, emotionally. Every heartbreak, every letdown... I couldn't blame him, but it ached. And I didn't want it to. And neither did he.

It's not like you didn't know that
I said I love you and I swear I still do
It must have been so bad
Cause livin' with me must have damn near killed you

We were perfect for each other, and we were always the worst possible thing. We were both the beginning and the end, the answer and the problem.
Heero and I would probably be living happily ever after right now, if one or the other of us had been properly instructed in emotional stability at some point in our short lives. But that's not what happened, and you have to learn to deal with what actually is, not what could have been.
One day at a time.
I still love Heero, and I'm fairly sure that he hasn't lost the love he had for me, either. It's hard to tell. I haven't seen him in a while. We don't talk.

This is how you remind me
Of what I really am
This is how you remind me
Of what I really am

I think it's hard to tell... Everything in life is a mystery. They say you spend your whole life trying to figure existence out. And what's your reward? Death.
Death. Now there's something I recognize. As a terrorist, death and dying are things that I am strangely familiar with. I used to think death was like a friend to me, that it followed me no matter where I went. There was a point in my life, a low, I guess you'd call it, where I was convinced that I was Death.
I'm not.
Death and life aren't so far away from each other. Each is filled with its own sort of mystery, shrouded. We will never be able to understand neither life, nor death. Nor will we ever understand love. Humans are inscrutable beings. We weren't made to to figured out.
So, without my identity as Death, I didn't really know who I was. And I still don't know. But that's more or less okay.
I've come to realize that I'm never going to be just one person. I am a collection of moments, people, experiences, beliefs, and emotions. Your identity is ever-changing. That's who I am.

It's not like you to say sorry
I was waiting on a different story

They say there are two types of people: Doers, and Followers. If you're a Doer, you'll forge your way through life, never thinking. If you'd rather be a Follower, you'll happily wait for your instructions until you do anything. It's a comparison of arrogance and subservience.
I am definitely a Doer. I'd like to think that I don't bow to anyone. While I was with Heero, though, I definitely did follow his lead.
He never actually set it in stone. He never said, "Duo, you can never leave." But I loved him so much, and we both needed each other so much, that I couldn't bring myself to go. I couldn't imagine returning to a life alone. It's like, once you know how to walk, you can't go back to crawling.

This time I'm mistaken
For handing you a heart worth breakin'
I've been wrong, I've been down
Been to the bottom of every bottle
These five words in my head
Scream "Are we having fun yet?"
Yet?, Yet?, Yet?, no no

But I finally did it.
Exactly a year ago two weeks from tomorrow, I left Heero. I didn't want to do it. I didn't know what I'd do without him. I certainly didn't know how he'd take it.
I'd come to realize, however, that I wasn't in a healthy relationship. I think I'd always known it, really, but I finally got to a point where I knew it would kill us both if one of us didn't leave.
I didn't really do it to be chivalrous. I left partly out of fear, both of Heero and of myself. I left because I didn't like who I'd become. I didn't like the turns our relationship had taken. I didn't like that I'd been drinking, that he'd been hitting me, that I was even doing damage to him by not stopping him.
So I left.

Never made it as a wise man
I couldn't cut it as a poor man stealing
And this is how you remind me
This is how you remind me

He came home from running errands on a Saturday afternoon. I'd already made my decision. My bag was packed and sitting at my feet.
I was sitting in the window seat of our small, seventh-story apartment. The afternoon sun was warm, but the glass inches in front of me was cold. It was late December, just after Christmas, almost January.
I heard him come in and put down the groceries. He always liked to do menial stuff like that. He said it was soothing. He'd never experienced that sort of day-to-day normality.
I didn't get up to help him. I sat there on the window seat, watching the cars go by on the street below. I looked up at the bright, clear, blue sky above. I love sunny, winter days on Earth. There's nothing like it anywhere, and I'll never forget them.
I'll never forget that day, either. I've been thinking of it all the time, recently.
I didn't get up because I was tired... Tired of lying, tired of being unhappy, tired of being hated. When you're a terrorist, everyone automatically hates you, but with Heero, it was much more personal. I'd had enough of hiding from myself, and, oddly enough, I knew that the only way I could solve my problems was by running away a little bit.

This is how you remind me
Of what I really am
This is how you remind me
Of what I really am

"Duo?"
"In here, Heero," I said softly. I was worried he hadn't heard me, but he stopped putting away cans in the kitchen cabinet and came into the living room.
"What's the matter?" He sat down next to me.
"I..." I was distracted. I was watching his eyes train on the bags by my feet. Below on the street, someone was honking their horn.

It's not like you to say sorry
I was waiting on a different story

"I'm leaving."
He didn't say anything, just looked me straight in the eye, a little, hurt frown on his lips. I took it as a sign that I should keep going.
"I'm not happy, and I know you're not, either..." I sighed.

This time I'm mistaken
For handing you a heart worth breakin'

"It's not that I don't love you," I continued. "I did. I do. And I know you do, too."
Heero nodded slowly, his shining, dark blue eyes never leaving my face.
"But I don't think this is good for us."
The person wouldn't stop honking.

I've been wrong, I've been down
Been to the bottom of every bottle

"I don't want to be drinking like I am now. I don't want to be fighting with you." I looked out the window again at the sky. It was so bright, so clear, kind of like his eyes, only paler. Everything paled in comparison to Heero. I love him so much.
"Do you see that we're hurting each other?" I asked softly.
He nodded again.
"Yeah," I said, and it was more of a sigh than a word. "Me, too."
I looked out the window again. It was a cab on the curb that was honking. My ride was waiting for me.

These five words in my head
Scream "Are we having fun yet?"
Yet?, Yet?, Yet?, no no

"This isn't good for either of us," I repeated slowly, shaking my head.
He looked like he wanted to say something. I waited, but he didn't speak. I don't think he could find the words. I was amazed that I could.
I took a deep breath. "I don't want you to think that this is the final word." I smiled at him, weakly, although I wanted to be strong.
"Look," I said after a very long pause. "I'm going to give us a year. A year to see if we can find a little bit of peace. Neither of us have stopped to think much in the years since the war ended. Maybe we just need time to work things out, you know?"
Heero smiled back at me slightly, a look of deep sympathy in his eyes. "Yes," he replied.
I nodded, swallowing the lump in my throat. "Okay," I said, a little hoarse.
I stood up. "I'm going to go. I'll be back in a year." I laughed a little, a sound that was full of tears. "Don't go anywhere, okay? I don't want to have you hunt you down!" My voice was so weak-sounding, but I meant it all, and I think Heero understood that.
I picked up my bags, and walked half way to the door. Then I turned back, and went back to him. I took his face in both my hands, even though my arms were heavy with luggage. I kissed him, once on the forehead, once on each eyelid, and then once, slowly, carefully, on the mouth.
"I love you," he said quietly when we pulled apart.
"I know," I said, brushing a little bit of hair out of his face. His hair was always so wild. "That's why I'm coming back."
And then I left.

It's my one-year anniversary. I have a year of sobriety and a little gold coin to show for it. And I also have the promise that in two weeks and one day - fifteen days - I'll see Heero again.
It's been a long year. I've been through a lot, and learned a lot.
All those things are important, of course. But what I value the most is that I haven't forgotten Heero, and I haven't forgotten how to love. In fact, I remember perfectly.