Title: Rose and Release (1/1)
Author: Persephone_Elysian
Email: persephone_elysian@yahoo.com
Archive: http://www.angelfire.com/id2/avalon

Ratings and Warnings: PG/PG-13-ish. 1+2 pairing. Some swearing, lots of imagery, and first person (Duo) point of view. Oh, and roses. Lots of roses. Lots and lots of roses. ^_-

Disclaimer: "Gundam Wing" is the property of Bandai, Sunrise, Sotsu Agency.

Thanks: To Amet, who read this and assured me that it wasn't as bad as I first thought.

Author's Notes:

Yet another random fic that I didn't plan. This one I blame on Amet (for showing me a preview of her newest fic and thus, inspiring me) and Utena (particularly the song 'Rinbu Revolution'). I don't really have much of an explanation for it except to say that I wrote it when I should have been studying for a test and just couldn't. With Amet's wonderful imagery still stuck in my head and Rinbu on repeat, I managed to come up with this. It does bear a passing superficial resemblance in theme to Utena but with a few twists.

As a music junkie, I do urge you to grab a copy of 'Rinbu Revolution' and listen while you read. Most of all, just enjoy! ^_^

Feedback: Always welcome, always responded to, and properly adored.


Rose and Release
A 'Gundam Wing' vignette


There are always roses. Not the perfect, silken lush that you receive from a florist's shop, fat and blushing with dew. No, these are more real, what roses would be without the careful cultivation and care of human hands. A riot of reds, whites, and pinks, shades within shades of petals that aren't roundly flawless but sometimes ragged or pointed. They're everywhere--a humid bower curtaining tree and rock, as snug as if the three were indeed one. There is no green or brown visible, no sign of decay, on an endless blanket of fallen petals. The air is thick, heavy with scents -- water and earth and the ripe perfume of flowers in bloom. To breathe here is to taste the flavor of a million aromas, enough to send you into a tailspin of joy from that mechanical act.

These roses are somehow more real than their reality and their twining stalks and wickedly curving thorns beg to be touched. And you want to comply, want to hold that all to tangible actuality in your hand knowing that it will only serve to cut and make you bleed should you try.

Everything here is like that. More than real, more than substantial. So much so that I feel as though I'm the ghost, I'm the dream given pale, insubstantial form. Why do our dreams seem so much more than our realities, than the grayness of a waking world with no hope or future? I am sixteen but in here I might just as well be a hundred or a thousand. The numbers are meaningless. Facts are meaningless. The importance here revolves around being, around the truth therein being.

I used to wonder about it, about how things could be so much more here and how in the mirror I found a truth escaping me in waking life. I wondered as I wandered here, my mind bending the land until it changed and it became the seashore and the siren moon from my first visit Earthside. I had never thought one way or another about astral bodies before that but the moon and I have developed a special relationship since then. There's something about the curve and glow, the way it shifts from morbid sepulchre pallor to the warmth of spilled sun-drops and (on those rarer occasions) the deep reds and oranges of harvest. It changed with me during my sojourn, changed shape as I did inwardly. The difference was that it always returned to what it had been and after you, I was never able to do that.

I won't lie and say it was love at first sight. I won't even lie and say I liked you very much. There was admiration and frustration to be sure. You were the craziest son of a bitch I'd ever met at that point and from me, that's saying a great deal. You were reserved where I was bursting and about as accessible as the ice of the stars overhead. No, I didn't like you but I was intrigued, certainly. To say I'd never met anyone like you would also be a lie. I've met many men such as you, so focused on their goals, on their self-appointed holier than thou missions. Men who are spoken of as saints or genius or (in less exalted whispers) madmen. Do I think you mad? Certainly but then I think we were all a little mad. That's how we were able to survive. The universe had caught flare and exploded, blazing with the insanity of unrest and indecision. People were afraid, they needed... What? What did they need? A good fight to recharge their faith? Our blood to wash away their sins? Or maybe it was just the sacrifice of lambs that had no choice but to answer the call that given -- both sides herding theirs to the slaughter.

It was revolution. But more importantly, it was my revolution -- my adolescence. It was only fit that the God of Death should be baptized into adulthood through trials of fire and blood. My midwife was Violence, my father Fear and I had no brother but Loneliness. I needed no brother but the Self-Reliance with which I learned in the streets. The plague was my first growing pang and Maxwell Church the beginning of a cycle of rebellion, the sign of a teenager growing into himself. I revolted against those who had taken my makeshift family of missionaries and beggars, I purchased their lives with gun and scythe, another brick added to their memorial with each battle.

I resented you, with neither care nor goal beyond doing what you were told. You seemed the antithesis of everything I was, everything I suffered and endured. I thought perhaps you had passed through your trials and had reached the other side, the place where I could only look longingly at and hope to one day find. Or perhaps, you were simply another lost soul, waiting for Shinigami to reap and release, a walking dead man with no hopes or worries beyond the strength of your masters.

I was wrong, of course. You were just a boy, a frightened child unable to step forward into your own revolution, afraid to grow up and make those decisions for yourself. It was easier being a child wasn't it? Being innocent made it so you were blameless, that the blood tainted the hands of your trainers and not yours. An innocent soldier can't be afraid to spill blood because he never lets himself think of the price, of the consequences. I hated you even more for that.

I went on hating you until that day you rescued me, until I glimpsed the first seeds of a rebellion, of a war within that might exceed my own. When you spoke of killing those who had made you their pawn... I glimpsed something then, something old and stark and wounded. You weren't bloodless, you were mortally wounded, a slow trickling away tied by a grim sense of purpose that I pitied. I don't know how you made it, stood it for so long... Had it been me, I might well have killed myself. I've wanted to so many times but always there's been something, some inkling of hope or memory to hold me back. My ghosts have a stronger pull than any gravitational hold, they stay with me, invisible hands clinging with clammy ease just below the surface. What held you back? I always wanted to ask and never did.

There was so much I never asked. I regretted that when the war ended and our ways diverged. I lost you without the realization of that loss. I tried to go back to a world that had never wanted me and fit in. What a bust that was! The responsibilities wore at me and I woke up to discover that I was no longer a person, no longer the person I had been. I wasn't even the person I wanted to be. I just was. I was the man who waltzed into work, jaunty wave and wink at his female co-workers, the joker who hid Death below the surface, a raging elemental force that seethed at his trivialization. I was the fixer of problems and signer of papers. I was all those things we ascribe to adults and yet I wasn't one. Inside, I was afraid, as much a child as I'd ever been, only it was worse now because I'd encased that growing spirit within a wall of daily life, stifled his growth and tried to be normal.

That was when I started dreaming about the roses, so thick as they climbed and climbed, covering everything with a line of thorns and hail of petals. They hid things, the weak earth below the surface, giving all to support their illusion of permanence, of beauty within the desert. They covered the rocks that might weather into something new, pressed on by wind and water. There are no smells here but that of sickly sweetness, cloying and overpowering as it seeps into everything. There's no escaping, each path leads back here, ribs hurting with the enforced pleasure of it all. I tried to push my way out of the thicket once, but the roses grew higher, thorns unbearable as they cut into my skin, scarlet on cream, the colors of reality in this pallet of Hell. When I bent my mind towards something else, the land would indeed change as I mentioned earlier but the roses were always there, always taking seed and growing up around me until even the moon was obscured. Eventually I stopped, Sleeping Beauty finding her prison and laying there, unable to move or think. Dreams mirroring life, perhaps as I stopped being Duo Maxwell and I became someone else. There was nothing but this path for which I'd set myself, this goal that I'd deemed right because it was the path everyone else seemed happy with. And follow it I did, each step dogged as I struggled with myself, my rising unhappiness hidden by a twinkle of an eye and a well-placed smirk. It was winter and I slept, inwardly dead as the roses of my life grew ever thicker, choking away the unacceptable parts of my soul into a decaying thicket.

And then you returned, outwardly as frigid as ever, needing my aid and the dreams changed again. When I gazed into your eyes, I felt something die, the prick of a thorny base withering away. You were much the same, only now and again, there was that ... something. An expression that made my blood quicken and Shinigami bubble underneath the surface, a crazy witches' brew of emotion. With you, the loneliness of my life dwindled because you were like me, only you hadn't let the world change you. No, you were hell-bent on changing the world. I was wrong. You had found your revolution and I had lost mine. I let others take it from me when I let the world dictate who I was and who I should be.

I could say that was when I loved you but it wasn't. I was envious then. There was no hatred or enmity in it but I was jealous. Jealous that you knew your way, that even lost, you could find yourself and I who had done everything seemingly right was so muddled that up was no longer up and there was only down. The armor I wore was so thick, the seed nearly dead from all my carefulness.

Trust you to knock all that down.

There wasn't much to it. Just wildfire in your blue eyes and a kiss, brutal because it knocked down every bit of normalcy I'd erected with touch of your mouth against mine. It pierced me and from a coffin of crumbling flowers, I reached out to you.

And you saved me but not because you're a prince on a white horse. Because I wanted to be saved, because I needed only to be shown the way, to be shown that I could be accepted for who I was, that I need not hide Shinigami, as much a part of me as Duo but that I could embrace him, too. You gave me a wedge in the grove and I took the axe.

The dreams are different now, the roses flying away with each whack! each strike of metal against wood. I can hear the echo, the vision of petals fluttering away as I take your hand, moving step by step into a freedom I have never known.