The L2 Box
He had stopped smiling the first month after he moved in with me and that made me uneasy at times. I wasn't used to seeing him like this. But his recuperation was looking good now. Smiling more often and making jokes. Still, sometimes, even when I thought he was getting better, I'd see him space out with the most depressed look on his face. It was only when he thought he was alone, sitting outside on the porch swing, staring at the Earth. He gave long, heavy, sighs as he stared off thinking dark thoughts, but I made an effort to help like I had promised. When I see him sitting outside with the dark look, I came out holding two mugs of rich, hot chocolate. Relena had once told me that it warms the soul. I think it does; when you feel the warmth that spreads after you take a sip, it's your soul. I always found that it comforted me, so why not Duo? We'd sit outside sipping on the warm drink, neither of us saying anything, just enjoying the companionable silence.
People say time heals and I thankfully saw less of that sad face. I think it helped that we lived together. We were never alone. While helping Duo, I found that I was getting over Trowa more quickly than I thought I could have. I was happy for him, but there was someone else for me- Duo to be more exact. I'm still trying to un-jumble out my feelings. I wasn't sure if I loved him or if this was just the feeling of knowing someone who had a lot in common with me. But I was satisfied just to see his face everyday, knowing that the rest of my short life, wasn't going to be lonely.
After our agreement, I helped Duo move some of his belongings into the guest room. It was less quiet than before and I was beginning to enjoy Duo's presence. It was like every room he stepped into lit up. Not literally. He didn't turn on the light in every room; it was lit with life. Just knowing that I wasn't alone in the house, kind of gave comfort to me. That, when I sat down for dinner, he was right sat next to me, warmed me inside with his chatter, when I was used to sitting alone in a quiet, dining room.
He didn't want to take freebies either and insisted on doing most the work in the house as compensation. He
cleaned the house, made lunch and dinner- not breakfasts though, because he doesn't like to wake up early- and ran a few errands for me. He even became my personal secretary. Half of the time, he was sitting next to me, reading what I wrote on the computer about him. Sometimes, he'd leave to go check on "his" kids and do his own business. But he'd always come back HOME. (this was his home now, with me) and I was always glad when he returned.
I popped two more pills into my mouth and swallowed them with some water. Lately, the medicine felt like it was weakening. It barely made the pain subside. In a morose thought, I judged that my time must be coming soon. I had to stop typing and lean back into the chair to wait for the medicine to kick in. Closing my eyes, I tried to relax and listen to the heavy falling rain outside. *Plink* hmm, must be raining hard. I'm glad I'm not stuck out there. A few more irregular plinking sounds came and I frowned, opening my eyes to look outside to see what the hell was going on.
There was Duo, standing in the middle of the pouring rain. It had been almost a month since he moved in with me and was looking better and better each passing day. He grinned (the scar made him look like a mad, mischievous jester) and waved when he saw that he had my attention.
"Duo! Get in here! You're soaking wet!" He only shook his head and hooked his finger into a "come hither" motion. No way was I going out into that weather. "Duo, you're going to get sick." I warned. He was being stubborn and kept shaking his head and waving me to come out.
"Please?" I saw him mouth, giving me puppy dog eyes. He's evil and manipulative. I'm spoiling him, but can't help it as my feet move on its own to join him.
God! The rain was so cold! The icy drips ran down my neck, under my shirt and crept down my back, rising goose bumps immediately.
"Duo, come in." I repeated again. My braided friend grabbed my hand and pulled me out further into the yard. The rain was coming down so hard, making a loud thrumming sound as the water hit the ground by the thousands. If I wanted to be heard, I was going to have to shout. I was about to scold him and drag him into the house if it came to that, but he stopped me by placing a finger on my lips. How long had he stayed out here? His fingers were like blocks of ice. He was drenched in the freezing water, lips tinted purple and skin almost blue. The water ran down his bangs, face, and dripped off the tip of his pert nose. He placed one hand behind my neck and the other on my chin. What was he doing? My heart was pounding wildly and blood rushed throughout. But he simply lifted my chin so that I faced the sky. The long, cold fingers brushed against my eyes, making me close them reflexively. I could feel the hand that was on my neck gently brush my wet hair back.
"Relax, Heero." He finally spoke up, speaking softly into my ear so I could hear him against the rain. His hands left me, but I remained in my position, keeping my eyes shut and face tilted towards the dark, fake sky.
I couldn't feel the biting cold anymore because my skin had grown slightly numb, but I could still sense when the drops hit my face and the water trickled down. It felt. good. Very good and refreshing. As if each drop of rain slowly washed away all my sins, bad luck, and pain. My headache was fading away. Had the medicine finally decide to work? Or was nature freeing me of my pain in a moment of pity? When I finally opened my eyes, I saw Duo staring back at me.
"Feels good, doesn't it?" I nodded. I haven't felt this decent and clean in a long time. He gave a little twirl, trying to catch drops with his tongue. I watched as he cupped his hands together to gather the rain and bring it up to splash against his face. Ever since his departure from Solo, it had been a while since Duo was this genuinely happy and at peace.
"Duo." I felt like saying his name as if it would give me the same strength and happiness he was able to find. "Duo." I liked the way it came out of my mouth, an exhale, in a puff of condensed air, almost in a whisper and a prayer. Hearing his name, he turned toward me, smiling and watching me with luminous, indigo colored eyes. Just this moment was absolutely perfect. Almost like the time I had spent with Trowa that New Years eve year ago.
But this time, I didn't have a worry on my mind. The rain had taken away all the ill thoughts from me. It was just this moment, when your heart unexpectedly crawls up into your throat, making it heard to swallow and your chest is constricting so that I had to take deep breaths to get enough oxygen. This person right in front of me, smiling for only me, he shared with me his entire life and gave me this wonderful experience. This was one of those moments precious like a treasured, glass figurine and a Kodak moment. I was caught in the mesmerizing moment and found myself unconsciously leaning down closer to Duo. Caught in the same moment and feeling, my heart soared when he closed his eyes slowly, inviting me to meet his lips with mine.
And I almost did! So close, barely a hair breath away, but the magical scene was spoiled when a barrage of small icy pebbles hit me, making me pull back quickly by reflex and surprise. Damn. We stood there for a second, wondering what had come over us and the hail grew even more insistent, pegging us with bigger chunks of ice. Damn the colony for letting a bunch of incompetents control the weather system.
"Let's go back in, Duo." And this time, he finally nodded and allowed me to lead him back into the house.
"Eh'cho!" was the first thing that met my ears when I stepped back into the house. A small, yet loud sneeze
followed by a suffered sniffle.
"Baka, I warned you." I scolded, shutting the front door with my foot, arms too full with groceries paper bag. Coming into the house last night after our wet rendezvous, Duo had developed a nasty cold, coughing, sneezing, using up my entire stock of Kleenex's. I usually, don't get sick... usually. So I had no medicine except for painkillers. By the time my meeting ended, it was well into the evening and I had to rush to the local pharmacy and grocery store.
"Aw, dun' rup id in." He shot back, voice a little horse from the sore throat and stuffy nose. I came into the living room to see my roommate cocooned in at least 5 blankets, snuggling on the couch in front of the TV. Seeing me, he managed to stick his tongue out playfully as he gratefully accepted a glass of water and some cold medicine I offered him.
"Wait, a minute, let me heat up some chicken soup." I told him after watching his nose wrinkle as he swallowed the bitter medicine.
I snorted. "No, Campbell's." His amethyst eyes shone even more.
"You dun hab to do all dis, y'know." I waved his last statement away. The medicine worked wonders. By the time I headed into the kitchen, his sniffling and coughing had almost stopped completely. A cure for the common cold, god bless technology and science.
While waiting for the soup to heat up, I smiled when I heard Duo's happy announcement, "Oh! Heero! Guess what's on TV? Fantasia! Hurry up and get over here or else you're gonna miss the dancing mushrooms!" So he'd seen Fantasia before? I briefly wondered where he's seen it, being poor and all, but, well then again, who HASN'T seen it? It's still a classic from centuries ago.
When I came back with a tray of food, Duo's thankful grin made my heart warm over and made my nursing efforts worthwhile.
"You missed the mushrooms." He told me, taking a spoonful of soup into his mouth. "Ow!" He nearly dropped the bowl and spit the soup out.
"What? What's wrong?!" I freaked, thinking that there was poison in the soup or something life threatening. Duo opened his mouth, panting a bit, waving his hand to make wind.
"The soup's too hot!" He mourned. I stared at him unbelievingly. He had gotten me all worked up over nothing!
"Is that all?! Baka!" I took the bowl from him and took a spoon of soup to my lips, blowing on it to cool it down faster. "You're such a baby." I scolded, bringing the spoon to Duo's lips. He accepted the soup, surprisingly, not saying anything, but he was staring at me the entire time with an indecipherable expression.
By the time I put down the empty bowl of soup, 20 minutes had already passed. And the clip with the centaurs was showing on Fantasia.
"Why are you so nice to me?" I finally heard Duo spoke up as I placed the bowl back on the table nearby.
"What do you mean?" Duo frowned... ok, I'm not good at playing stupid.
"I mean all of this. You brought back my old lover whom I hadn't seen in years. Just because I wanted to see him? Then you let me come live with you after I was having a breakdown? You try to keep me company when I'm feeling down. And you were just spoon-feeding me a while ago! You've done that twice for me already! Even my MOTHER has never done that before! So what's the deal with you?"
"Is there something wrong with being nice?" I was beginning to feel trapped. He was asking me a question that I wasn't sure of the answer myself.
"Look at me, Heero! I'm a bloody monster!" He pointed to his scarred face. His violet eyes had converted into dark blue like the sky when a storm was approaching. "People usually try to stay AWAY from me! They spit on me in disgust! I know, that every time someone sees me, all I'll ever be to them is a freak. So what the hell are you doing? Why are you so nice to me? What the hell's wrong with you?!".. that was the million dollar question, wasn't it? There were many things wrong with me. My sickness was one of them. My broken heart was another.
"I think. I think it's because I understand you." I answered, hesitantly. That was a true and safe answer.
"What?" Duo snapped out of his ranting mode, eyes beginning to clear again. Now he was curious.
"I understand you, Duo." I began to explain. "When you were there with Solo. I understood exactly how you felt when he turned you down." I glanced at Duo, wondering what else to say. He just nodded for me to go on.
Words just fell from my lips. I started from my past. Telling him that my parents died when I was young and I became an orphan, passed around from family to family. No one wanted me. There was always something wrong with me and they gave me back like I was a thing. No one ever loved me. That's when I became cold hearted and anti-social towards most people. It wasn't until I found my break when a man named Odin saw some potential in me and started me on my career. He didn't love me either, but by then, I had learned to survive without it. It wasn't until now, that I realized how much I really needed it like a fish and water. Sure, it wasn't as bad a past as Duo's and I hadn't been traumatized or anything. But I understood the pain well enough.
Somehow, he knew that I was telling him something incredibly personal. Hell, even my best friends didn't know this much, but for some reason, I wanted to tell Duo. He reached over and gathered me into his arms, resting his chin on my head and wrapped the blankets around the both of us. The position was relaxing and encouraged me to go on. I told him about Trowa. I told him how much it had hurt and how much I felt betrayed. And all the while, Duo sat there, listening patiently, rubbing my back comfortingly sometimes when I felt emotionally weak. Even when my voice wavered at times, I didn't cry though. Being in Duo's gentle embrace gave me the strength. I could feel him nodding in understanding sympathy as I told him how I felt when Trowa announced his engagement to someone else. How long had it been since I had been held like this? .Years ago when I was on the balcony with Trowa? But it wasn't the same. That embrace was full of desire. This was just a comforting, compassionate one; one that a mother could give to a child when he wakes up from a nightmare.
"So, I guess misery loves company." Duo murmured into my hair. I nodded. I told him everything.. Almost everything. My sickness. should I tell him I had been diagnosed with a fatal disease? I couldn't bring myself to tell anyone about it, even Duo. He had his share of problems, should I bother him with mine? I part of told me that I was being stupid for keeping it bottled up. But. I gave a small yawn. I'd worry about that later.
"You'll get sick if you fall asleep with me. I've got a cold, y'know." He warned, but I felt his arms tightening round me.
"'Dun care. I don't get sick that easily." I murmured. Lies.Snuggling into Duo, I fell asleep with a steady heartbeat in one ear, and the soft music of Tchaikovsky flowing in the other.