"Are you lost?"
"I've been lost since the day I was born."
Fiery explosions the color of blood brushed distantly against his skin like waves of flame and heat and hurt, all coming towards him at a rapid, inescapable pace. There was a shock of horrified realization as the destruction went just a little bit too far and engulfed the surrounding buildings. One phrase filled his head: 'Perfect Soldiers don't make mistakes. They can't afford to make mistakes.' And he knew, with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, that he had just made the worst mistake of all.
Smooth fur was charred to blackened ash and scraps of silken white linen was burnt to gray smolders. And through it all, a single golden flower was clenched in his bloodstained fist; a hot, fiery wave of self-loathing filled him, even more scathing than the explosion itself. He looked again at the golden flower, which he could not name, and the blackened heaps of rubble, and a single question touched his thoughts:
Are you lost?
Heero woke from his dreams with a start, his hand searching for a flower that was long wilted and gone and the tiny corpse of a dog long disposed of. Even after he realized that these things weren't there, that they weren't anywhere but in his head, it took him a moment to realize he had been dreaming again. It took another after that to jump into a clear state of total alert and awareness and to get his bearings. Nothing, he assured himself, was wrong. He was in the apartment he and Duo had recently acquired and sharing his bed with his braided lover. Nothing was wrong.
These dreams, the ones that reflected on his bloody past, had been forcing themselves upon him more and more often as days flew by. And Heero didn't like that at all. It seemed to him that he noticed something more lurid and horrible every time the dream came upon him, an extra detail that otherwise would have gone unmissed and which only intensified the brusque, painful knowledge that he no longer possessed any semblance of humanity and emotion. Those had been taken from him immediately following the events the dreams questioned, night after night. Perfect Soldiers don't make mistakes.
He peered over Duo's sleeping body to check the glowing red numbers on the digital clock. Four o'clock. Too early for even the Perfect Soldier to be awake, but he wasn't willing to succumb to another troubled slumber filled with the Dream™, so he shifted on the bed and sat up, easing onto the floor, softly, so as not to awaken Duo. The braided boy was a surprisingly light sleeper and made a better burglar alarm than most machines. Quietly, Heero moved to the table in the room adjacent to the bedroom, separated by a thin wall and connected by an open door. There, on the table, lay his old, battered laptop, his constant companion, sleeping, lid open, in the light coming in through the closed windows. The light came from the street lamps that littered the streets outside, all of which were brightly lit from sundown to sunup. With a sigh, Heero shut the lid and turned away from the console. Not tonight.
Glancing back at the bedroom, Heero sat on the old couch, purchased years ago, after the war. Back when he was useful, when he actually made a paycheck every now and then. Before his skills turned out to be useless in this new world of peace and prosperity. Before The Dream™
Are you lost?
Resting his head in his hands, Heero sighed. Five years. In only five years, he had turned into something he didn't want to be. Was he lost? Well, of course he was! How could he be anything else? He had never been given a route to find his way, nor did he know what that way was supposed to lead to.
Perfect Soldiers don't make mistakes. That idea had been engraved into his brain for as long as he could remember, and he had believed it for a long while. He still did, to a point. But he knew better than anyone that he had made mistakes. Relena, for instance. And Noventa's shuttle. And countless others- Zechs Merquise, Doctor J. The little girl and her dog, Mary. The golden flower. Did those mistakes mean that he wasn't the Perfect Soldier he had been told to be? The Soldier everyone thought he was? Perfect Soldiers, after all, don't make mistakes.
Slowly, he felt yet another identity stripped of him. Not the Perfect Soldier. Just a boy foolishly code-named Heero Yuy. Was that all he was?
Frustrated, Heero reached for his laptop and tossed it out the still-closed window, feeling slightly better but increasingly annoyed as it feel nine stories and crashed to the ground below in a sprinkling of shattered glass. Folding his arms over his chest, he leaned against the cushions of the couch, frowning at the breeze that suddenly drifted into the room. There was a loud thump as Duo promptly fell out of bed, startled by the sudden noise.
"What the fuck happened?" he cried, pulling a robe on over his sleeping attire- a pair of black sweat-pants- and rushing out of the room. "Are we under attack?" Heero watched him as the braided boy paused and surveyed the missing laptop and the broken window, then looked at Heero. "What did you…?"
"I need a new laptop."
Duo stared. "You're fucking messed up." Heero watched the braided boy cross to the window and look down at the smashed computer below. "What'd you do that for?"
Heero paused. If he told Duo why he had done it, than he would have to explain the Dream to him as well. No, it would be much better if he stayed silent. So much more prudent to keep his mouth shut. After a minute, Duo looked back at him.
Duo frowned at the Japanese boy and Heero met Duo's gaze. Surprised to see Duo scowl, he frowned, and Duo began to speak again. "You haven't tried to keep up your side of a conversation by grunting for years," he noted. "Either you're regressing or you're resorting back to monotony."
Heero was silent, watching the braided boy think all of this through. With a loud sigh, Duo fell onto the couch next to Heero, throwing his arm over Heero's shoulders. Suddenly uncomfortable with this familiar touch, Heero shrugged it off, letting Duo's arm fall. Duo blinked and took back his arm, crossing it with his other much as Heero was doing, except he cupped his elbows with his hands, frowning.
"So what's wrong?"
"Nothing," Heero lied, eyeing Duo carefully.
"Bull shit." Duo leaned back and crossed his legs. "Throwing your laptop out the window at four in the morning is obviously a little bit more than 'nothing.' What's up?"
"Nothing," he repeated. Duo rolled his eyes.
"Fine. Nothing. Whatever." Duo sighed. "I guess it's too important for the Perfect Soldier to-"
"Don't call me that," Heero interrupted in a long hiss. "It isn't true."
"What?" Duo looked baffled.
"I'm not the Perfect Soldier. Don't say that I am."
"Perfect Soldiers don't make mistakes," he told Duo coldly, "so I can't really be the Perfect Soldier."
Duo shrugged. "I guess that's fair enough for the time being. I'll buy that." Heero frowned at the braided boy as he continued. "So you're having an identity crisis, huh?"
"No," Heero lied again, annoyed that Duo could guess his problem so easily. "That's not it at all."
Heero was silent, and Duo paused. Listening to the silence of their voices, Heero tried to work out the turmoil in his head. There was the sound of a police siren outside, a couple blocks away, which swooned into life and quickly died away to nothing as quickly as it had come. Duo sighed.
"Are you lost?" Duo asked, defeated.
Heero jerked away from the familiar words. "What?"
"Are you lost?"
Heero choked on a breath of air, but recovered with a cough. "I… I've been lost since the day I was born," he answered, lips forming words so familiar to him yet strange at the same time.
"Then I guess it's about time you got found. Goody." Duo groaned, standing up and heading for the kitchen. "I'd ask if you wanted a soda or something, but you might throw it out the window along with your computer."
From the kitchen, Duo's voice continued. "So why do you feel so lost? Really, I mean. Don't give me any bull shit this time."
"Get me a soda."
"Heero," Duo warned, voice growing firm as the braided boy peered in at Heero from the kitchen and quickly vanished again. "I mean it."
"I don't know."
"You don't know," Duo repeated, appearing again with two sodas in his hands. Tossing Heero one can, he popped the remaining soda and took a long swig. He grimaced and made a face. "Note to me: soda tastes pretty nasty at four-thirty in the morning."
Heero ignored him, but he didn't drink from his own soda. "I've always felt lost, but it's gotten worse since the end of the war. I'm not satisfied."
Duo pouted playfully, the soda having lifted his spirits, despite the early morning taste. "I'm not good enough for you anymore?"
"That's not what I said." Heero's frown deepened. "I'm not satisfied with myself."
"I think you're pretty fucking sat-"
"Sorry. Go on."
Heero paused. "Do you remember how many jobs I've held since the end of the war?"
There was a brief pause as Duo thought about this for a moment. "No. But you and I didn't hook up until just before MarieMaia, really. A whole year later."
"Twenty-seven in five years. I've had twenty-seven jobs in the past five years, and I quit every single one of them. I was a soldier, an assassin, a burglar, a sniper, and a fencing instructor, not to mention a computer analysist, a chef, a machinist, and all those others."
"It was an interesting variety," Duo admitted. "I remember all that great food you used to bring back when you were the chef, too. Kept us fed for a long while." He thought a moment. "I think we might still have a piece of that extra wedding cake frozen in the fridge, too." He laughed. "And do you remember when you took that job as the psychiatrist and told everyone there to jump out a window if they ever felt like they were being watched? I think you quit after only three hours; an all time record."
"Quiet," Heero snapped. "All of those were mistakes. Every job I ever took was a mistake. I wasn't right for the position and I made several mistakes."
"And Perfect Soldiers don't make mistakes, am I right?" Duo smirked. "Although it was pretty funny when all your psych patients made a beeline for the door instead of the nearest window. I don't think loading your gun as you spoke was a good idea."
"You would be better off not talking, you know." Heero settled back on the couch. "I make mistakes, so I'm not the Perfect Soldier. It's as simple as that; I no longer have any identity."
"You're Heero Yuy. What else is there to know?"
"I'm not really Heero Yuy. You know that as well as I; for all we know, my real name could be something like Norman Bates."
Duo cringed. "Isn't that the guy from uPsycho/u?"
"I think I prefer Heero, really."
"That's not the point," Heero said with a scowl. "Who am I, Duo? I'm not Heero Yuy, and I'm not the Perfect Soldier. I think I realized that back when I killed that little girl and that dog. I'm lost. She told me so before she ran off with Mary. Just ask the flower."
"What?" Duo shot Heero a look. "I think I liked it better when you were catatonic. Soul searching makes you weird. But I guess that's what we call logic at four in the morning." Heero watched as Duo thought something over, taking another gulp of his soda and making another face. Heero stared at the unopened soda in his own hands, expressionless. "Do you really want to know who you are?"
The question surprised Heero, but he answered deftly and truthfully. "Why wouldn't I?"
"Good point." Duo sighed. "Than get out of here."
"Get out of here. Pack you bags and go off to find yourself. I don't want to see you back here until you've figured yourself out, understand? I'll miss you like hell, but keeping you here would be selfish. You want answers that I don't have, and the best way to get them is to go looking for them. You're the only who can find them, I guess. Start with that flower you were talking about. It sounds vague enough."
"I don't understand."
"You're lost, right? Go find out whatever it is that flower is telling you. Maybe you'll find a road map of some sort from there."
"And you think that I'm confusing."
Duo laughed, and to Heero's ears it sounded like bells pealing in the darkness. "Look, I want you to be happy. And you're not going to be happy if you don't think you're needed or that you don't belong. So I want you to find out who you are and get home as quick as you can. With a bouquet of those flowers you were talking about. Will you do that for me?"
Heero nodded. "Hai."
"Good." Duo reached over and ruffled Heero's hair. "I'm going back to bed. Disappear before I wake up, because I hate saying goodbyes. Be careful." He brushed his lips against Heero's cheeks. "Love you."
Without exchanging another word, Duo went to the bed they had shared for almost four years and slept, leaving Heero alone in the room with two cans of soda, one already emptied, and his memories.
When Duo woke up again, Heero was gone. Staring through the broken window at the new morning, Duo sighed, wishing his love all the luck God could give. If Heero really wanted to find out who he was, he was going to need every bit of it. With a sad smile, Duo turned away from the window, back to the sunrise, and placed a black vase painted with golden designs on the table where Heero's laptop had once sat.
When Heero came back, he'd have a place to put those flowers. And until then, Duo would be waiting.