6-12-2000

#712 (A Prose Poem)
By LoneWolf
(kodoku na okami)
WARNINGS: sweet shonen ai (IMO), a bit weird, a bit heavy, AU, OOC? (maybe -- they're mid-20's here, so adjust your thinking accordingly), and worst of all... first person, present tense, stream of consciousness, meant to be read aloud with pauses and inflection.

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Sometimes truth is a blinding light that sears my soul leaving me lost, broken and uncomprehending. Sometimes truth is a demon that prowls through my soul tearing and rending, leaving in its wake the gaping wounds that gush forgotten memories best left forgotten. Sometimes truth is a gentle wind that comes slowly, opening my eyes to what I've seen all along and never really known.

Sometimes truth is all three at once. That is the worst, to be burnt, torn and aware all at once.

You would laugh and say I have the soul of a poet.

Maybe.

Or maybe you wouldn't laugh. Maybe you would hold me to protect me from the dark thought.

No, you wouldn't laugh if you knew that I've found the secret you kept from me. I don't know what scares me more, the secret or the fact that you kept it.

Yes, I'm afraid.

Odd, isn't it. After all the risks I've taken, the danger I've faced, the battles I've fought, as close as I've been to death, as many times. You would think...

Maybe I'm exaggerating. Maybe I'm misunderstanding. Hell, even after all these years I fumble with my feelings the way we fumbled around in bed that first night we made love. Ah, sweet koi. Making love was sweet. Loving you was sweet. Is. Is. Both are "is". Still "is". Even now that I know.

Yes. I know. Pretending won't unmake the truth. The drawing alone would be speculation. The other things... they leave no room for doubt.

And they explain so many things. Like why the office doesn't always know where you are. Why you sometimes leave suddenly for vague reasons. Why you still have nightmares after all these years -- even though mine have faded into faint shadows.

Am I afraid?

Yes.

Should I face you?

...

...

...

Yes. We've learned that in our time together. Secrets only divide us.

Secrets like this.

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I watch you come in. I greet you, kiss you, hold you. More than normal, because I want it to last in case everything ends. Not too much, because I don't want you to see yet. I want to let you have this last moment of the old. I don't know if there will be a new, so I give you this gift.

You go to change.

Will we change?

I left the catalyst waiting on the bed.

Now, I wait.

...

I walk to the door. I cannot wait. I need to know. You're always the impatient one, but now, I am. I find you standing, half-undressed, staring at it, knowing that I know. You turn and see me, that dark glitter running in your eyes. Yes. That is what I feared. I stand waiting again. Watching. If this is how it must be, I will see your face to the end. Running would only make it harder on both of us.

Fear?

Yes, fear in your eyes. Why?

"Do you... Do you want me to explain?"

I hear the words you didn't say and answer them instead as I walk toward you, "I never want you to leave."

Hope. Glorious hope. Sister to precious joy. Hope, if you will only bring joy in your wake, I can face whatever happens and be content.

I embrace you tenderly, chastely, just letting you know I'm here. You always want to know I'm here when you're afraid or hurting. I've learned to want the same from you. We both need to know the other is here.

...

Soft, you pull away, not seeking separation, just creating distance so we can speak. You hold out the paper, a drawing of you standing next to an ancient horse-drawn carriage on a rutted dirt road. An odd image, but for the words. I had to look them up. An old poem by a lonely, broken lady. When I understood, I felt like she must have felt when she wrote it.

"I'm one of his... agents."

I nod. You know that if I found this I found the other things. I wait, patient again, holding the questions at bay. The poet's soul you say I have sensing that there is another line in the rhyme. Or, maybe, after all these years I've learned you better than I know.

"I do odd jobs that he's too busy to handle." The question screams into my mind. I know it doesn't matter. I know even I can't avoid the inevitable Fate you serve. You see it and tears threaten your lovely eyes. "Not you," you whisper, pain ripping your voice at the thought. "Never you. But..." You falter.

You know when. "Don't tell me. I want to enjoy whatever time we have." I feel selfish. "Tell me. I don't want you to carry it alone."

Your laughter is so beautiful. Like you. "You still love me?" Of course I do, precious fool. "I won't tell you now. We have time." But you'll warn me before he comes. I wait again, hearing something left unsaid that needs to be said. When it comes, I'm surprised. "I made sure neither of us would be alone."

Sweet koi. I know by the way you said it that you're the one who's losing time to me. It tears my heart and thrills my soul both at once. Sometimes love is bittersweet. "Sweet koi." No secrets. I know.

You shake your head. "Selfish koi who doesn't want to be alone."

"Sweet koi who doesn't want me to be alone." You don't understand. "If there is a Death, then there is something after."

There is hope and, yes, precious sister joy. I have been waiting for her for so long. She tells me there can be a new that is much like the old, but better, because this secret is no longer between us. I pull you close again because that will confirm it for you and because I enjoy holding you.

"So you want me to stay? Even knowing..."

I push you away so you can see my face and know the truth for yourself. "I am glad you stopped for me."

You laugh as I appropriate your line for myself. I lean forward and kiss you, feeling you respond, then you break away. "Dinner?" So you.

"Yes." I smile. Everything is old again except the secret. Maybe we'll make love later. Maybe not. We have time.

You told me so yourself.

I know you never lie.

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COMMENTS: Don't mind the namida on the post. Yeah, it gets to me. Especially for about three paragraphs on either side of "you're the one who's losing time".

I've been idea-ing about Duo as an incarnation or semi-incarnation of Death lately. I'm kind of chary of the subject because I read "Maxwell's Demon" several weeks ago (loved it) and don't want to "lift" anything from it. Maybe when I work out the details of my mythos I'll be more comfortable dancing closer to "Demon". (I also stopped reading "Acherontia Atropos" at chapter 3 for similar reasons.) <sigh> The problem with writing fics is sometimes you have to avoid other really good fics for a while.

Finally, I'm sure you are wondering why this story is called "#712". It's a poem. All the clues you need are in the story, but because you've been kind enough to read this far... The words on Duo's drawing are, "Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me." Emily Dickinson. Love her work.