This story is the result of the flu (Persephone sniffles), medicine, boredom, and my friend Chele's urging that I write something new.

Warnings and Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing, and anyone who reads this should be aware of that fact at all times. This fic contains: One AU Romance, yaoi, angst, implied sex, and did I mention, angst? Written in first person (I think you'll be able to figure out who's talking rather quickly).

I adore feedback, (especially when I'm all yucky and sick like I am now), so feel free to write and tell me what you think. ^_^


High Life (1/1)

Why is it always the ones you can't have? It's stupid really; sitting here and watching you stare out the window, the smoky haze of space separating us making you fuzzy and slippery like a dream. Heh. A wet dream, I think, letting my eyes travel up your body, over those tight blue jeans and loose shirt. My wet dream. Everything about you, from those tight, snug jeans to your indifferent bored stare, calls to me. I don't understand it. I don't understand. I don't understand how I can sit here, fascinated by your every gesture, by the way your slender fingers twirl and pluck at the remains of a straw wrapper or the way the half-gray light from the window next to you makes your warm skin golden. Not just tan, but really tawny like some damn big cat. It makes your eyes the blue of midnight, just as deep and twice as cold. They're hiding--they always are, whether it's under that tousled hair of yours or some emotion you disdain as beneath you.

I wonder what you were like before. Before this, before I met you. Surely you weren't always so cold, so untouchable, and cruel? No, I can't let myself believe that. Every once in a while, I catch some glimpse in your face, in your posture, in those dark voids you call eyes that tells me you felt once. That perhaps you could feel again, if you'd only let yourself. Like everything else about you that helpless sense of humanity lost is enticing. I believe it's called 'hurt little boy' or 'brooding, tortured soul.' Whatever it is, it draws people to you, including myself who knows better. I'm the fool here. I know that you're going to burn me and yet I can't stop myself from drawing closer. Hnh, I'm the artist here. I'm the one who's supposed to be mysterious and alluring. Do you understand how much you affect me? Affect other people? Just by existing? Just by getting up or turning that glacial stare on me whenever I draw near?

I think you do. No, I know you do. Everything about that faintly tipped smirk tells me so. You know the affect you have on people. You enjoy it. Until it bores you and then it becomes a burden. Poor little rich boy, all dressed up and only adored for his looks. Same old story, same old ending. You really are a manipulative bastard, you know that? I think you get some perverse kick out of jerking people around with that cold-hot-cold act of yours. The only time you're ever interested is when you're bored and I'm not into being a momentary diversion. Not anymore. Been there, done that and I'd like to cling to the shreds of my self-respect, thank you very much. What little hasn't been trampled under your shoes and my inflated ego.

I was wrong. I was wrong on so many counts. I hurt people because I chased after some unattainable ideal at the cost of friends, family. Because I put you on a pedestal and chased you and let you grind like one of those cigarettes you're so fond of. I glance down at the smoldering ashes of my own stump with some disgust. Before you, I hated the very scent of cigarettes and nicotine. Like you and because of you, I made them my addiction. Parts of Duo that don't mesh with your lifestyle? Toss them out. I whored my soul out because of you. I did it just for that glimmer of a smile that always seemed to hover in your eyes. I'd like to say that I wouldn't do it again, now that I konwn better but I don't trust myself that much. Not yet. I haven't put near enough distance between us, the distance you always maintained between us. Even that night where I lowered my barriers, broke them down, and offered myself up to you on a silver platter, I was nothing more than a simple amusement. A new playtoy for you to break before running back to your perfect life. Before running back to her, the perfect candy bride for your perfect cake. I'm sure the wedding will be very lacey and fairy-tale and perfect with millions of reporters for you to nod at as if acknowledging your subjects. That's what we are--subjects. Here for your momentary amusement and the damnedest thing is that for all the bitterness I feel, I also feel like grateful that you gave me a chance to be tread upon. God, how sick is that?

At least Quatre meant well. He really did. He thought that by offering me an invitation to hang with his crowd, he would advance me and my work. That's what friends do right? I should have turned him down. No, I don't mean that. If I had turned him down, then I would never have met you. And for every knife you've driven into my soul, I can't bring myself to wish that. It would be like wishing for your death and I don't hate anyone that much, least of all you.

No, I love you and that's why I died. That's why I'm dying now. Love doesn't kill, indifference does. Not the body--that would be just too perfectly romantic, wouldn't it? No, indifference kills the soul and mine is well on its way to the morgue.

That's why I have to leave and get as far away from you as I can. Because every thing that was once Duo Maxwell in me rebels at what's being done to me. It wants me to lash out, to smash that pretty face of yours, hurt you until you feel a fraction of the pain I feel, until you are forced to acknowledge what you've done, until you are forced to ... acknowledge me. That I've meant anything to you at all.

When did you become my obsession? When did my world begin to revolve around your every whim? I've lost people both physically and emotionally but not one of them ever hurt as much as losing who I am. Duo Maxwell, the kid who survived every beating, every disappointment the welfare system could throw at him until some old peacenik in a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses showed up one day and took him in. Or Duo Maxwell, who discovered that he could put pen to paper and things happened--in his head, his heart. Things that translated from mere lines and squiggles into what people called art. Or the Duo Maxwell, who worked his way through college, taking any job he could find from the graveyard shift at the Quickie Mart to assistant dog catcher because he was too poor to afford college and he couldn't get enough scholarships to help. I've been hungry since the day I was born. Maybe that's why Quatre's offer appealed to me so much. Quatre was everything I wanted to be--elegant, refined, and wealthy. People will tell you money doesn't matter, and it shouldn't but when you've been on the streets and starving, you find that it does matter. I remember thinking that this could well be my ticket to a new sort of life what with Quatre being the heir to Winner Corp. He had connections out the yin-yang and when he told me he wanted to help me put together a show, how could I refuse? Art had become so important to me. I lost two jobs before I met you because I could not 'get my head out of the clouds and stop my damn scribbles.' I thought nothing else could ever take it's place in my heart, in my soul. And of course, like some poor fool crying that the Titanic was unsinkable, I called down the wrath of the gods and they paid me back in full. They sent me an impossible dream and sat back to watch the carnage with glee. They sent me you and damn me, if I don't still feel proprietorial about it all.

I remember the first time I ever saw you. It was across a room, just as I stare at you now from such a distance. One of Quatre's parties where he was introducing me to the 'right people'. I glanced up and there you were, removing your jacket and handing it to the porter at the door. Our eyes met and I felt something. I don't know what. I still don't know what but it was a key turning in a lock for me. Then your gaze moved on and I realized for the first time, how truly small and insignificant I was.

I think I decided that very night to change myself. I wanted to make myself worthy of you, of your notice. My 'self-improvement.' What a crock. Never once did it occur to me that you might not be worthy of me. Even now, I still have trouble with the idea even though I see the twistings of your soul.

I amused you at first, I think. Everyone loves a puppy and I could classify as such the way I followed you around. Sweet little Duo puppy trailing at your heels, hoping for scraps. And you gave me scraps all right. Just enough to keep me at your heels, enough to keep my hopes alive, enough to fuel every fantasy I had for weeks. Your image, my image of you, dominated my life, waking and dreaming. I set aside my works, following you from party to party, working when I could find the time. Some of those parties were worse than any French salon and I let you talk me into things that make me blush now. And all the while you would smirk gently, watching me whether it was making love to some prostitute under your voyeristic care or drunk off my ass and stumbling from place to place because I'd had the bad sense to let you talk me into trying some exotic drug. Just for kicks, you'd say. It was always just for kicks between us, wasn't it? I was just too dumb to realize it.

At least until that night, the one after Relena's party. Your engagement party. We were walking down the Strip and talking, actually honest to God talking. You don't know what hope that gave me, to see you so animate, so alive. I thought that I had gotten through that hard shell and found you. Maybe I had. I'm still not convinced that you were so untouched that night. I had never seen you look so free, your hair lifting with the evening air and face flushed. You were beautiful. You were there. You were in reach. And I, fool that I was, did what I should not have.

I touched you. I reached out and touched. And I damned myself. You held the knife and I shoved it in.

Your skin is still the softest thing I've ever experienced. Like blank canvas, I ran my hands over it, through your dark hair, and I kissed you. It was a chaste kiss, half-afraid, half-hoping and completely needy. It was my first mistake. The second came after you kissed me back. I should have stepped away, I should have done anything but take you into my arms, pushing the both of us against that alley wall. I mistook that gleam in your eyes for something I'd always hoped I'd see in you. Something beyond interest and mixed with lust. Perhaps, I was just too caught up in the sensation of you. Of being with you, and touching the untouchable.

I'm not sure if I pulled you in that half-run towards my apartment or if you did. Doesn't matter, the end result was the same. Mouths meeting mouths, hands groping, silky skin stretched over hard muscle for my tongue to paint all over as if it were a canvas. You were my favorite canvas, do you know that? I've never worshipped any muse as I did you that night. I took you, took your soft whimpers and moans, and thought that made you mine. I let you take me, your rough mastery over me breaking down whatever lean-to my courage and strength had made. I let you in as I had never, ever let anyone else in. And I painted you, painted what I thought I saw in your soul, painted it on my canvas, into my heart.

And in the morning you left and went back to your willing fiancee's bed.

There were no angry words between us, no shouting, just a soft kiss shared and then you sliding into your close with a, "I'm late. Relena was expecting me at the bridal fitting fifteen minutes ago."

I have never felt so stunned, so abandoned, and dead as I did when you said those words. It cheapened and belittled everything we had shared the night before. Worse, it cheapened me. I hadn't only whored out my soul, but my body as well. You weren't even sorry. You were too matter-of-fact about that to even give me that illusion. The message was clear; I'd just been too blind to see it. I'd had every warning sign and I'd ignored them. I watched you walk out without a glance backward, just a 'See you soon.' Sure, add salt to the wound. What's a little more going to hurt?

So I sat in my little apartment, surrounded by all the things Quatre's money and the money I had made because of his help, and stared at the strewn canvases, the air thick with the scent of sex. With your scent. Even when you left, you were still there, still taunting me. Surrounded by all those sketches, sketches of you in repose, of your hands, your body, that secret serenity you have when you sleep. It was enough to make me want to kill myself. If I had been weaker, I just might have but there was still something of the old Duo Maxwell still there and he wouldn't let me die. Hell, he wouldn't even let me cry.

I wanted to blame you. I couldn't. It wasn't your fault that you weren't what I wanted you to be. Shit. You used me, manipulated me, and still I can't blame you. It's what you are, what you were made into by all the careless parties and careless people. Why should I expect someone for whom pleasure and love are disposable things to feel the emotion of love. We both enjoyed ourselves, what more was needed?

What more, indeed. I don't think you would understand even if I explained it to you.

That's why I have to go away. I can't face you or rather the shadow of you I made for myself. I have to let that dream go. And I know if I stick around, I'll just give up and I'll be just like them. One of your little hanger-ons, fawning for your attention, a vessel waiting to be filled only by you. I can't live my life like that. I can't be a blank slate for your twisted games or heartlessness. I'm still alive, barely and I'd like to stay that way. Even if the world's become an older, grayer place than it was before.

That's why I've cut ties with Quatre. Oh, I thanked him kindly for all his help but I know that he would meddle if I let him. And now that I've got my courage up, I can't allow that. I will be an artist but on my own terms without anyone's help save mine. Fortunately, I seem to have accrued a following of sorts; I have an agent now and she assures me that even with out the Winner connection, my artwork will still sell. It's a bit of a relief to have that aspect of my life tied up so neatly.

I guess I should thank you. I've begun painting and drawing as never before, which isn't surprising since art is what's keeping me going now. What's more, my works have a depth, a vulnerability (or so my agent tells me) that they never had before. I know that was your gift to me for better or worse.

And so I close this letter, realizing that I will never send it, never give it to the waiter and have him drop it at your table. I'll destroy it as soon as these last lines are written. I wrote this for myself, not for you. I understand that now. There's so much more I understand now. I wish I could share it with you but at this moment, it would mean nothing to you. It's knowledge bought in pain and you've never felt pain or suffering before. These words would seem trite and maybe they are, but they are my words, feelings, my soul.

I could say I hate you but I don't. I love you. I think I always will. That love will always be the hollow in my chest, the knife in my soul, and the muse for works to come. You will always be my ideal of perfection, but now I understand at what price that perfection comes. I'm older, wiser, and I pity you when you realize, if you realize, that life is and has passed you by. You play with people, and you never let them touch you. That's why you'll always be safe. Or so you think. The truth is, you're dead. You go through the motions of life and you look for the next shiny bauble to keep yourself from realizing that. If you ever sat, really sat, and just listened, to yourself, to life around you, you'd realize that. The truth is, Heero Yuy, you're a coward. You're no trendsetter. You're just a little boy afraid of turning on the light because of the monster you might see in your own reflection. I can't help you. I'd like to but I can't. No one can. Not your eye candy fiancee, not your money, not your friends. In the end, it's just you. I wonder how you will handle that. Maybe you'll think of me. I'd like that. To be thought of, with some regret, with longing. With all the emotions you denied and tore out of me. Once you feel all those things... Once you've suffered as I've suffered, come and find me. We'll talk. I won't say I'll wait for you. Life isn't like that--life is to be lived. When you find that out, we will talk, maybe over old times, maybe over new ones. I might even take you back if you asked, even though my head says no way in hell. My heart is still shaky, uncertain, you see?

Part of me still wants you to pull my strings. It wants me to get up and cross the cafe and lie at your feet. It's an emotion I'm learning to live with. I'm an addict and as much as I want the fix, I can't let myself have it.

So, I'm taking myself out of the equation before something happens that I truly regret. I don't know where I'll go after this. There are so many places I want to see, people I want to meet. I want to lose myself in this world, in what I can find, and what I can do for myself. I want to re-find the boy who first longed to be an artist, I want to re-find the boy who took such simple pleasures in things such as watching the stars. I can never be him again. Nor can I remain as I am now. I have to change and I can't do that in the face of your unending, unfeeling perfection.

And so, I lay down my pen, and hope that one day these words left unspoken, unread, will somehow touch you. It's too much to hope my absence would do such a thing, but I hope you find out who you really are, Heero Yuy. I hope you find all the things that make life more than just your endless stream of parties and people and money. I hope you find the silences that say more than words ever could. The swirl of the leaves on a clear autumn day that make your chest tighten and swell with marvel at the beauty of simplicity. Or the way your lover's heartbeat fills your ears until it seeps into your blood irrevocably.


I can still hear yours.


He looked at the sheets of paper before him, his handwriting clear and strong in some places, wavery in others. He felt empty as he stared at it, the release of paper leaving him numb. Duo folded up the sheets very carefully, chancing a glance up at the object of his devotion before sighing and reaching into his pocket. The papers browned at the edges then puffed up in smoke and flame as his lighter hit them. He threw them down on his plate, watching the paper blacken and cinders lift before he rose to his feet, throwing a fiver on the table next to the flickering pile and pushing his chair back.

He never looked back.


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