by Dyna Dee
The man I observe sitting in the chair before me is young, handsome and has more presence than most people I've met in my whole career. Years of careful observation of my patients, studying their mannerisms as to their true feelings, have made it easier for me to judge the emotional state of most of those that come to see me. I can clearly determine that Mr. Yuy's rubbing of his palms on his jeans and the shifting of his eyes that he's nervous, as are most of my patients on their first visit to my office. I decide to get the session moving along as I'm having dinner tonight with my associate and his wife. My wife told me in no uncertain terms that she'll hang me by my balls if I'm late yet again.
"Are you comfortable, Mr. Yuy?" I ask politely. Then suddenly I recognize him. This is the Heero Yuy, the boy who had saved the earth from falling space debris and then a year later stopped the Barton/Mariemaia Coup. Now I'm feeling a bit nervous.
"I'm fine," he answers, and I'm already under the impression that he likes to answer in short sentences. I mustn't make snap judgements like that before I've had a full hour with him. He must be backed by someone important as his companion, now sitting outside in the waiting room, assured me in our brief introduction that all of his friend's visits would be paid in cash for however long it will take to make Mr. Yuy feel whole again. I begin to suspect that he might have been one of the other gundam pilots. In our brief meeting, I couldn't help but notice that the young Chinese man had an air of importance and presence about him, similar to Mr. Yuy. The only difference being that Mr. Chang had an aura of confidence about him, and this young man before me looks to be lacking it. Well, let's see what we can do about that.
"I have the brief patient questionnaire that you filled out a few moments ago Mr. Yuy, but I think I would rather have you tell me why you've come to me in the first place and what you would like to see as a result of our time together." Straight to the point. I've found that's always the best way with my patients.
"I believe that I've got an addiction and I want to get rid of it," he answers in a slightly accented voice and I assume English is not his native language. I listen closely as he continued. "I've lost just about everyone I care for because of it, as well as my reputation, my friends, their respect and the only person I've ever loved. I want my life back and I want it to be a good life, not the life I've been living." I can see by the anguished look in his eyes that he has reached a very low point and is ready to seek help and direction to bring himself back on track. He is open and is admitting his problem; a good first step.
"Addiction, Mr. Yuy..."
"Could you call me Heero?" he interrupts. "I would really prefer it if you did."
"Of course, Heero," I smile and decide I like this young man. He is willing to speak up for himself and that's a good sign for overcoming his problem.
"As I was saying, " I continue. "Addiction is any form of self-destructive behavior that an individual is unable to stop. Would you say you fall into that category?"
Heero thinks for a moment, then nods.
"What is it that you are addicted to?"
I wait a moment, watching as Heero drops his eyes to the floor in what looks like shame as he confesses his dark secret. "I'm addicted to pursuing and having sex," he says quietly.
I nod my head. He isn't the first nor will he be the last person I've seen about this particular problem. Behavioral problems are difficult to overcome, and it's successful only if the person is committed to change.
"Then let me ask you several questions to determine if you truly are addicted to that behavior."
"You don't believe me?" he asks, looking up at me in surprise.
"I'm not saying that," I reply calmly. "I think it best if we're both sure we're on the right path before we begin the journey to you being well and whole."
He nods and I begin my questions. "Do you find it hard to form and retain close relationships?"
"I've lost all of my closest friends, including my best friend."
"And how did that happen?" I ask and turn on my tape recorder.
"I lost Duo because I pushed him away. I wasn't worthy of his love and I believed anyone other than myself would be better for him, so I lied and told him I couldn't love him like he loved me. Then I hurt him by choosing a lover that looked just like him." Remorse and sorry fills this young man's face. "I lost my other friends by humiliating myself in the house we were staying at for Christmas by being caught by the maid having sex with my lover on the pool table."
"Despite your being intimate with someone, do you feel lonely?" I ask, probing further.
His eyes start to water as he nods his head.
"Do you feel like you are living two lives, one at work, being a professional and proper, and the other part of you addicted and determined in fulfilling your urges?"
"Yes," he whispers in a choked voice.
"Do you feel guilty for your actions? Are you afraid that others, friends and associates, will look down on you for having this problem?"
This time he nods.
"How do you feel about your addiction and your life right now?" I study his body language as he answers. He folds his arms around his chest and bends over slightly. His voice when he speaks is filled with despair.
"I hate myself and my life. I want my old life back before I had sex for the first time. I want my friends back, and I want to turn back the hands of time so that when Duo says he loves me, I can tell him I've always loved him and that l'll never hurt him or let him go." He stops his rush of words and sighs almost forlornly. "But that's impossible, isn't it? I can never truly get back what I lost because I've changed. I'm too soiled for Duo or my former friends."
"It's not too late, Heero." I speak to him earnestly, wanting him to have a flicker of hope, to not give up before going forward. I decide to change the subject just a little.
"Let me tell you about addiction. There are many reasons for addiction," I go on to explain to him. "Some have to do with the chemical make-up in our bodies, some are caused by emotional problems, and others can be caused by problems within our bodies. An ill-functioning pituitary gland might be responsible one person's addicting behavior and, on rare occasions, an irritation of the brain's cortex by a tumor or mass can be another. If you decided to continue on a road to recovery, we'll explore all these avenues to find the base cause of your behavior. If you don't mind telling me about yourself, we'll chart a history of your behavior that led to your addiction and I'll give you some guidelines to help you this week in resisting the urges you're going to feel."
"How far back do you want me to go?" he asks.
"Go back to the first meaningful event in your life that you can remember and we'll go from there."
Heero leans back into his chair and I give him an encouraging smile as he begins. His first sentence almost makes me slip out of my chair onto the floor, and further accounts of his life are no less shocking.
"I was raised on L-1 by a man named Odin Lowe, a professional assassin, and I was trained by him to kill, taking out my first mark at the age of eight."
It's been a month since Wufei's hasty departure. He's kept in daily contact with Quatre and Trowa and has even sent me occasional e-mails. I'm sure he's told the others much more of what is going on with Heero, but to me he briefly mentions in passing that my former friend has been making progress and has a good rapport with his therapist. He thinks by this brief account that he's protecting me, and maybe he is.
The three of us are waiting anxiously for him in the terminal as he pilots the shuttle into port. There he is. He's all smiles, as are we, as he exits the ship and after a quick hug of welcome, we lead him to a nearby private waiting room. Once within it, the door shut behind us, we each take our turn again at welcoming him back home, but this time in a much more demonstrative manner as he is soundly kissed and hugged by all of us. He looks and smiles, obviously happy to be home. After he is completely welcomed, we finally leave the secluded room, all of us eager to be home. Wufei has several bags of luggage filled with clothing he purchased on Earth as he took so little with him when he left. With four of us picking up a piece of luggage, we make short work of carrying everything to the transport.
We enter the van-like vehicle and Quatre sits in the middle seat with me while Wufei and Trowa take the back with the very proper Claudette, our chauffeur, minds her own business after a friendly greeting to the long-missing member of the household.
The car ride home begins with Wufei reporting to us on his visit and how he left Heero. "He's doing remarkably well," he begins, and Quatre and I shift positions in our seat to look back at him. "Well enough that I thought it was time to come home and see if the he can make it on his own. I really think he's ready," he tells us with no slight amount of satisfaction sparkling in his dark eyes. "He's staying away from bars and clubs and tore up the names and numbers of previous partners, not wanting to be tempted to associate with them any longer. He looks so much better. Sally cleared up his medical problem and Dr. Penrose is helping him by giving him tools to resist the urges that come with addiction." Wufei stops a moment, his gaze falling on me. "Heero has asked for permission to write each of you to apologize," he continues, his eyes not leaving mine. "This is really important to him, Duo. He feels great remorse, especially for the way he treated you. He wants to ask forgiveness from all of us, but he seems to need it from you even more."
"I don't know," I answer hesitantly, feeling torn. If I open that door again, would all the pain and confusion start all over again? My face must register my concern and worry as Quatre puts a sympathetic hand on my knee. But then again, I'm sitting next to Mr. I Feel Your Emotions who begins to talk to me in a gentle tone of voice.
"It's just a letter, Duo." Quatre shifts again and moves closer, then leans over and puts his arm around my shoulders. "He needs to ask forgiveness in order to heal himself. I know he hurt you, but is there any part of you that can really deny him that? What would your religion say about forgiving another?"
It had been so long since I was taught the principle of forgiveness by Father Maxwell that I had to struggle a moment to remember it. I find myself speaking out loud to my friends as my memories come back to me. "I remember back when I was young and very small and having been beaten up for the fourth time by a group of bullies in the school that I was forced to attend when I came to live at the orphanage. I came home one day with ripped clothing, a few bruises and a fat lip. I didn't cry though, I was too tough from the streets for that, but I hurt and was almost blind with anger and hate towards the boys who relentlessly and daily picked on me because I was small, had long hair and was an orphan.
Sister Helen cleaned me up, brushed and re-braided my hair, and soothed me in my agitated state while the good Father spoke to me about forgiving those who had hurt me.
'Why should I?' I asked him resentfully. 'Those boys hurt me and they weren't a bit sorry about it.' I couldn't figure out why I should forgive them.
With unending patience on my behalf, Father told me that the Good Book said if someone should sin against me, that I was supposed to forgive him seventy times seven times. The boys who hurt me might not know of my forgiveness, but I would be more at peace if I did, I would be the better person for it. He then said something to the effect that if someone hit me on the cheek, I should offer the other cheek to him." I laughed at the memory of my reaction to that one, confusing my friends for a moment. "I remember looking at Father Maxwell and shouting, 'Hell no, I ain't gonna let those bullies punch me on purpose. Only a dumb, shit-brained idiot would do that.' Sister Helen tugged on my hair to let me know my language wasn't acceptable, but I saw she and the Father fighting their humored grins."
I refocus on my friends, who are listening closely to my thoughts and memories. Their soft smiles tell me they approve of the good Father's words.
I sigh with a touch of melancholy as in my mind I can still almost hear the deep timbre of the Father's voice as he imparted his wisdom to me. A sadness suddenly fills me as the memory and Father Maxwell's words force me to reflect on all the mistakes I'd made since the Maxwell Orphanage. "It's too bad I couldn't understand what he meant back then about forgiveness." I tell the others. "I didn't really forgive those bullies, like he advised me. I got back at them in my usual, sneaky way about a week later by stealing dirty magazines and putting them in their desks during recess, then sent an anonymous note to the teacher about it. And then, a little over a year later I couldn't forgive the destruction of the orphanage and the loss of the lives of those I cared about. If I had, my life would have been so different."
"But then you wouldn't have met us." Trowa says softly, his hand reaching up to touch my shoulder, giving it a squeeze. "And just imagine how ordinary and mundane your life would be, not to mention boring. You probably wouldn't have your braid, you would have missed piloting Deathscythe and Deathscythe Hell, and you'd probably be working as a janitor in a school on L-2 with a wife and three kids by the age of twenty one."
I can see the smile twitching at the corners of his mouth at the thought of me being just an average Joe on the street. I have to admit, it is hard to imagine and I smile at him in return. Then Trowa sobers a bit and continues. "I think you are who you were meant to be Duo, just like the rest of us. We all played a significant role in freeing the colonies and, though we've suffered for it and our lives have been more difficult because of it, I can't say I would change it for all world."
I watch as he takes his hand from my shoulder and moves it to his left and takes up Wufei's hand. With his other hand he reaches forward towards Quatre, who has turned in his seat, reaching his right hand towards the one extended to him. "I have the best reward for a hard life right here," Trowa adds with a warm, sincere smile. "And you're included in that Duo, I just don't happen to have a third hand."
We all chuckle, the more somber mood in the van has changed. I move, turning in my seat to climb over the back of it, grab the auburn haired man's head, and give a smiling Trowa a whopper of a kiss to show my appreciation and letting him know that I, too, wouldn't change a thing in my past if it meant my friends were not going a part of my life.
Wiping my nervous hands on my thighs, I stare at the blank computer screen. I don't know how to start, but I know I have to.
Dear Duo, I type. But it seems too formal so I erase it.
No, too abrupt. Backspace.
Too mushy and desperate. Delete.
How am I ever going to get this done when I've spent ten minutes on the opening salutation?
Suddenly a memory comes to me. Duo once told me if I didn't know how to do something that I should just jump into the middle of it. He called it his sink or swim theory.
My hands are once again poised above the keyboard and I type the first words of the letter that means my happiness or my total failure.
I'm sorry beyond my capability of putting it properly into words for all that I've done to hurt you. Can you ever find it in your heart to forgive me?
There, that's getting straight to the point, plus asking the question I desperately need to have answered. Now I need to write what Dr. Penrose suggested, that I try to explain my addiction to those I've hurt or offended.
You were right, Duo. I did, no, I do have an addiction. And I know that because of it, I've hurt you deeply, and that is one of the many things I'll always regret.
Sally Poe set me up with a very competent psychiatrist. He's traced the roots of my addiction and has helped be become aware of a pattern of addiction throughout my life. Since I don't know who my parents were or their medical history, it can only be a guess as to whether or not my addictive trait is genetic or just my odd personality.
In reviewing my past, Dr. Penrose pointed out that my addiction to certain behaviors began when I was with Odin Lowe. I practiced shooting a gun, target practice if you will, for hours at a time in order to reach perfection. Odin praised me when I was right on the mark and, as a lonely child, I craved that positive, father-like attention. After Odin died, I started up with J and began to train in order to pilot Wing. With his specialized training, physical enhancements and with my innate drive to be the best, I came as close to being the perfect soldier as I could possibly get by the age of fourteen. Once I achieved the level my mentor deemed acceptable in order to complete the mission to Earth, my focus of obsession turned to the war and achieving each mission that was assigned to me. You remember how obsessive I could be about completing a mission, in some ways that hasn't changed. Do you remember what my focus became when I wasn't on a mission?
I whisper to myself the answer to Heero's question, "That damn laptop of your's."
I use the mouse and scroll down the screen, devouring every word of his e-mail to me.
My lap top, as you well know. I was on it every chance I had and I can't count the many times you or the others had to bribe me away from it. I didn't realize at the time that I was shifting one addiction to the other to fill my habitual need for keeping my sense of accomplishment going. The thrill of my life was receiving a mission and carrying it out. No matter how difficult or impossible the assignment was, I was determined it was going to be accomplished, even if it killed me. Hence, my self-detonating when G said he wouldn't turn the gundams over to our enemies who were holding a colony hostage.
Do you see the pattern Duo? I wish I had back then, but I know I was too stubborn to see my behavior as faulty when I was achieving results that meant something in the war. But then the war came to an end. For the first time in my life I was without a goal or direction and I suddenly didn't have a mission or a target to fixate on. Peace had been the ultimate goal for the war, and suddenly, there was nothing left to reach for. Your hand of friendship probably saved my life when you asked me to live with you. I know you've probably regretted it for the last couple of years, but I never will.
Relena's kidnaping gave new meaning to my life. You didn't know that, did you? The moment I learned of her kidnaping it was like pure oxygen was being flushed into my lungs, giving me renewed life. Once again I had a purpose. Unfortunately, we accomplished our task quickly and peace was restored within days. Once again I found myself lost and, yet again, you took me in. I remember thinking that, in order for me to go on in life, I would need to figure out how to live without wars or missions. I couldn't hope for a new resurgence of battles as that would destroy the main goal of my fixations, peace. I began to study you as you were always comfortable in social situations. I wanted to be like you.
That first night you took me to the night club was the night I found something new to fixate on, sex. It's sad to think I don't even know who the guy was that took me to the men's room, I only know that it felt incredible, that surge of adrenaline just before and during climax. Dr. Penrose says we can have addictive chemicals in our bodies, that it's the endorphins released into my blood stream that change my moods, and this is what I quickly became addicted to it.
I don't think I can honestly say it was just the endorphins that addicted me. I was addicted to the same feeling I felt in having a mission. But this time my mission was personal. Several things contributed to this addiction. First, I felt a thrill in the hunt each night I prowled through the clubs for a willing partner that would do what I wanted, what I needed, merely because I chose them. Once I picked a person out of a crowd, I began the seduction, a challenge in itself in winning some reluctant person into doing what I wanted them to do. Lastly came the decision of how to have sex, as well as when and where. You see, Duo, it became a mission. I made it a mission; one that I gave to myself. There was no need for a Dr. J, a laptop or reports, all I needed was my goal for the night: finding a willing target and have sex with them.
I got lost Duo, and in the process I hurt all of those I care the most about. I'll apologize to you for however long it takes for you forgive me.
I guess this is enough for now. I would like to e-mail you from time to time, if you would let me. I don't want to push myself back into your life, though it will be hard not to. I've missed you, Duo. I've acted like an idiot. Can you forgive me for that, too? Please reply if you're ready to talk to me. If I don't hear from you I'll have to assume that you'd rather not hear from me again. I hope that isn't the case, but what ever you decide, I'll respect your wishes. Take care of yourself.
I close my eyes and sigh deeply. Heero's explanation for his behavior makes sense. In my mind I can still see him, back in time during the wars. He was the most dedicated person I'd ever met, and more than once I had been in awe of his detached ability to get tasks done what seemed impossible. I never would have thought of it as an addiction.
Can I forgive him? I don't know. Do I want to forgive him? That answer also evades me. So what do I tell him?
I hit reply on the top of the e-mail page and sit, poised to answer for a good five minutes, waiting for inspiration to hit me. "To hell with it," I decide, and finally begin to type.
Thanks for explaining your addiction and behavior pattern to me. It all kind of makes a little more sense now. Sorry I couldn't have helped you earlier, but Trowa says you needed to get to a certain point in your life to where you finally acknowledged that there was a problem with your behavior and wanted to change. I couldn't have helped with that no matter how much I cared.
I accept your apology, though forgiveness is harder to come by. You hurt me Heero, more than you'll probably ever know. I'll work on it though, alright?
I'm doing fine now, and having a good job that I like and a great place to live is helping me to put the hurt you caused me on a back shelf.
Trowa and Wufei have told me several times that you've asked for me. I'm sorry Heero, but as to further contact, I don't think I'm ready for that at this point. I like my life right now. I've got a good job and am surrounded by people who genuinely care about me. I guess I'm afraid that if I let you into my life again, you'll eventually go back to your old ways and undermine all that I've worked to achieve in the last seven months in getting over the hurt you caused me.
Please understand, I mean you no ill will. I'm happy you're doing better and I'll be really disappointed in you if you don't overcome this problem. For so long the only thing I ever wanted was for you to be happy; that hasn't changed. The only difference is that now I want to be happy too, and that's my focus when I tell you not to write me for the time being. Keep this e-mail address, and when I feel the time and circumstances are right, I'll contact you,
I sit at my computer and read and then re-read my letter to Heero. Am I doing the right thing in refusing to communicate with him? He's reaching out to all of us on his road to recovery, trying to regain what he's lost. Am I being overly cruel to deny him that chance? I close my eyes to re-assess my feelings. What I feel most of all at this moment is a heavy heart. That part of me is clearly telling me that I'm not ready, just as I'd told Heero in the letter I've just written. The very idea of re-kindling our tenuous friendship scares the shit out of me. I still can't come to terms as to why he rejected me and then made Alex his lover. Dammit, that guy looked just like me. Deep inside me, the pain and hurt is still here, just under the surface, and I need to get over it before I can begin to let Heero back into my life and allow him build some level of trust between us again, even if it is just friendship he wants.
But is that what he's asking for, friendship? I can't help but wonder if that's all he wants from me, or is it just my forgiveness? He might just be haunted by guilt and will leave me alone if I just say the magic words, I forgive you. Or could it be he misses the fun we once had? I always came up with ideas and suggestions for things we could do together. Well I'm tired of being used, tired of being the one to always plan things while trying to keep our flailing friendship alive. I've always settled for the small bit of friendship Heero gave me instead of the something more that I've always wanted. Maybe friendship is enough for Heero, but there's a point of being beyond friendship. I've loved and lost him; my trust, loyalty and respect for him began to diminish after he moved out of my apartment and carried on with his new hobby and my esteem for him hit rock bottom when I left Earth to come live with the other guys. I was past being his friend at that point, and I find it hard to want to go back there.
So where does that leave Heero? Where does it leave me? I fold my arms on the desk and bend over to let my forehead rest on them.
A knock on my bedroom door sounds loudly in the stillness of my room and I turned my head to look at the door as it opened. Quatre cautiously peeks his head in and around the edge of the door. "Are you alright Duo?" he asks, his face filled with concern.
I can see the worry on his handsome face and know his Space Heart is ratting on me again. "I'm fine Quatre. Just having a little trouble with my letter to Heero," I tell him truthfully as there's no sense lying to someone who can almost read your mind.
"Mind if I come in?" he asks, and I motion with my hand for him to step inside the open door. Of course, he doesn't stop at the door, no, Quatre makes his way over to me and half sits on my desk as there is no other chair available.
"So what did you think of Heero's letter?" he asks me in a quiet voice and serious manner.
"Informative," I reply soberly.
"Will you let him write to you?" I can see Quatre is worried about my answer to Heero, and I hate to contribute to that worry.
"Are you going to let him write to you?" I ask, turning the tables.
"Yes," he nods. "I told him I forgave his behavior at Christmas." The blond head tilts down slightly, enabling him to look up at me with his clear, blue-green eyes as he asks, "Did he ask for you to forgive him?"
I sigh deeply and turn to stare at the letter I've written, still displayed on the view screen. "I told him I accepted his apology, but that forgiveness is a bit more difficult."
"You refused him, didn't you?" he asks me, a slight frown of disapproval on his face.
"I told him I just wasn't ready yet." I inform my friend, then rush to explain. "He hurt me badly Quatre. That's not an easy thing to overcome." I put my hand over my chest and continue. "It still hurts, a lot.
My friend gets a pained look on his face, but his eyes never leave mine as he moves from off the desk and bends forward to give me a gentle kiss on the lips. He then embraces me and I swear once again that Quatre Winner is the best damn hugger in the entire universe. "We'll support you in any decision you make, Duo. But please, don't ask us not to write to him. He really does need a friend or two," he said to me as his arms remain wrapped around me, giving me a sense of comfort and security.
I nod my approval, not able to voice the words I feel, and while still in Quatre's comforting embrace, I reach out to my computer, move the mouse on its pad to a certain spot, then press the button titled "send".