They were cheap, plastic things. All the kids had them, even him. But theirs were bright, fluorescent; his, though, were black, of course. They were just a fashion, a fad. Not important. Something worn, in clusters, round schoolgirls' fingers until one day, they just wouldn't be anymore.
I never even noticed, really, with my mind, until I saw his. We were after the same thing, he said; rivals, I thought… He gave me three of those cheap, tacky plastic rings. I don't know why. And I… I, for some reason, I wore them.
He was the only person I knew, willingly or not; we were, we both knew it had to be, the only ones who knew about each other. That held us together. Nothing more. That night, that last night, he said… said he knew something bad was going to happen…
And I didn't see him again for months. But… I still wore them… I didn't even notice them. But I realised one day that they had shrunk so now they fit close to my finger, where before they were loose.
He didn't see them, when we met again, just like I didn't see them everyday. I didn't know whether it was because he was expecting it, or because he wasn't. I only thought about it afterwards. There was too much going on to think about it at the time.
Then we were apart again, through circumstance; we drifted, touched a lot of times, and he never noticed. I don't know whether I wanted him to. There's lots of things I don't know about it, now, looking back. But it doesn't matter. Because one day he was on my doorstep, smiling and asking me questions… He told me… he'd missed me. I didn't say it back, because he didn't expect me to; but that didn't mean I hadn't. He had intended to stay for good, and I had no complaints.
It was only as we sat together, and his hand edged closer to mine… only as I hid my smile when he plucked up the courage to touch me, pick up my hand and hold it in his… It was only then that he noticed.
"Heero! I can't believe you! You are so unpredictable. You kept those cheap rings, even after these couple of years." His gaze met mine and we both leaned in to touch our mouths together, all our coyness gone now we knew we were both after the same thing… those same words… like he had said.
It was much later, as we were playing around on the verge of making love one day, and he was kneeling between my thighs: he took my hand, quite by chance, kissing it… and looked. "Heero, this isn't good for you. They dig into your skin too much, don't they hurt? You should take them off."
I told him No, they didn't. And besides, they wouldn't come off. They wouldn't fit over my knuckle.
He kissed my finger where it joined my hand. "Please… You'd better get them cut off. I'll do it for you… later…" Kissing up my arm and neck and to my lips.
I thought he might forget. I suddenly realised I didn't want to lose those rings, I'd had them too long. I wondered when I'd become so sentimental towards them.
I let him cut them off, but I didn't want to throw them away. I kept them in a corner of my drawer. Stupid sentimental things - I've never done that before. But when I told Duo, he laughed, and told me he'd been doing the same for years. Showed me the box in his drawer that held several screwed up pieces of paper, a couple of photographs, a few discs, empty plastic wrappers and even a dried flower. I didn't remember that one until he told me. I was touched he had kept those reminders of me and I supposed it wasn't really so stupid that I keep the rings, if it made him feel the same.
I hoped nothing would change, now that I didn't wear them anymore… No, that was just ridiculous. I did not live my life by charms and talismans. I shut the thought away.
Duo was right, though. They had to come off. I had to lose them, or they would have hurt. Still now when I rub at the base of my finger, I feel a groove where they rested, dug into my skin without me even realising. They were a part of me… when he wasn't there. But then, I turn around, and he is there, reminding me I don't need reminders anymore. I look to my other hand, the opposite finger, and see instead the silver he put there, a replacement he said. You had to lose the old ones, Heero. I'll make it up to you. But this is no good luck charm. I don't need those. I was right. It just reminds me, like those old cheap perished plastic rings did, that he is mine even when he isn't by my side - that I'll soon be back to the beginning and with him again.