Pilot 02 - Lullabies
"Things go right
Things go wrong
Hearts can break
But not for long
You will grow up big and strong
Sleepy little babyÖ"
The song is part of my past, part of a segment of my memories that is so buried I sometimes canít distinguish it from my dreams. Itís too good to be true, really, thatís why I find myself not believing it--that happy, loved little kid in the church, surrounded by peace and warmth canít be me. Not Duo, the thief, the soldier, the smiling Shinigami. He couldnít possibly have come from that.
Well, the dream becomes a nightmare before too long, so thereís your justification. I doubt youíve ever watched the only people who ever loved you die right before your eyes. I have, and I donít recommend it.
Back to the song, before I really start complaining. Itís a lullaby Sister Helen used to sing to us kids--well, mostly me, since I never did figure out how to fall asleep easily. Now, I still take hours. Sister had such an astonishing repertoire of lullabies, most of which I still remember, amazingly enough. Her voice always sounded like what I thought an angelís would. Though no angel will ever sing for me.
Baby wonít you close your eyes
Youíll be sleeping by and by
Sleepy little baby--"
Not all memories are happy.
Oh, hell, my voice caught again. And now Heero will wake up and Iíll have a gun at my head before I can take another breath. OK, keep singing, Maxwell. Donít move, and heíll keep sleeping. Donít worry that your voice is rough with emotion suddenly, and a little off key. Just keep singing.
And donít remember.
Hey, he didnít wake up. Just shifted a little. Maybe if I slow down and sing real quiet, he wonít notice if I stop completely. Then I can get back to my book, or try to actually get some sleep. Oh, who am I trying to kid? Iíll never be able to concentrate on the book in a mood like this, let alone sleep.
Damn Heero. Damn him for being able to just fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Maybe he wakes up at the drop of a hat, too, and is totally alert instantly, but he doesnít have to lie awake staring at the ceiling for hours on end. Itís impossible not to have memories when I get that bored. Hell, thatís why Iím always talking--quiet equals boredom, and boredom equals memories.
Why are the good memories so hard to hold onto? Why canít I burn them into my head as easily as I do the explosions and screaming?
Itís a damn unfair world.
Just keep singing, Duo.
The songís done. I need another one. And, of course, one pops right up, I must have fifty back there in my head. Coolies and sloughs, lullaby lullaby, coolies and sloughs. Hey, thatís not one of Sister Helenís! Where is it from? I always ask myself this, and I havenít gotten any closer to an answer. Itís a mystery.
Prairie lullaby. I donít know why I know its name, either. But prairies are in the States, on Earth, so I guess we share a birthplace, this old song and I. After all, I donít know where I came from either.
I feel like that sometimes. Like a plant without roots. Blowing--I havenít had a real home in years and years. Or people to call a family. No roots. Hehe, a tumbling tumbleweed across the prairieÖ "Lullaby lullaby, coolies and sloughs."
Why am I singing, anyway? Why did I start singing to this goon whoís asleep beside me? Just impulse, I guess. One night he couldnít sleep, and I just started singing, songs from a part of me Iíd nearly forgotten. I thought he was asleep, so I quit and started to get ready for bed myself, but then he opened his eyes and said, "Donít stop. I liked it."
He has such a "raise me" aura sometimes. I mean, his childhood was worse than mine in some ways. Now mine sucked, like, off the Richter scale of suckage. But I swear, Heero didnít even have a childhood. To be a soldier from day one--that musta been awful. Suckage in colour. Suckage in stereo surround sound. Perfect Soldier or no Perfect Soldier, he reminds me so much of a little kid sometimes it scares me. The way he pouts when he doesnít get what he wants right away--he calls it a brood, but I know itís a pout. And the way he never seems to run out of energy. The way heís so stubborn and wonít tell you whatís wrong until you beat it out of him. Heís so cute sometimes!
Eh, heís moving again. Probably because Iím thinking too hard and I stopped singing. Tough, I enjoy thinking about Heero, and itís hella easier than thinking about my life. Heís the closest thing Iíve had to a family since the church blew up. Some family, I guess, but itís good enough for me. Sad, sometimes, enough to nearly make me cry, the stuff that takes us sometimes, but I wouldnít give it up for all the money in the world. Life may suck now, but my history is a bitch. Everyoneís history is a bitch. History in general is a bitch. Whatís that old saying? Those who donít learn from history are bound to repeat it? Yeah, in summer school.
But weíre all just human, you know? And honestly this whole stupid thing called war is just the same fight, the same argument, the same problem over and over and over. The same kinds of people disagreeing on the same sort of problem. And then BANG, things are exploding and people are dying. Weíre human, and our nature is not to ever learn from our mistakes. Our brains are no longer evolving. We remain as we were several thousand years ago.
Boy, it must be after dark, listen to me. I sound like a freaking philosophe. Hey, wasnít the French Revolution their fault? Smart people come up with good ideas, then stupid people get a hold of them and screw them up and take over stuff. The apostles did it with the teachings of Jesus--who do you think wrote the Bible? Not Jesus. Nope, all his sidekicks, then all the other crusaders and bishops and popes and TV evangelists got a hold of that and chopped up more people. Over and over and over. We canít win.
I bet I havenít even learned my lesson. Iíll keep on fighting until the day I die, if only because itís just part of who I am. Beyond the whole standing up for what you believe in shit--you can stand up for what you believe in without blowing things up! Well, sometimes then you just get blown up yourself. But Iíve been like this, fighting, like this, for a long time. Long enough that if I let it go, it will be just one less root to hold me in place. I think Heero feels that way as well, if feel is really the word to use--this is Heero after all. Ok, thatís not fair--but Iíll think about that later. Just heís been a soldier forever, like I said. Heíd go crazyÖ crazier? Heíd lose it if he didnít even have a good fight to keep him going. That guyís real empty. Or real full, too, at the same time. Really full of a lot of shitty experiences and memories that he just locks away, puts aside, forgets about. So theyíre separate from him, or at least the him that he is conscious of. Empty, not really, because what heís left with after filling up his head with forgotten trash is small, and easy to fill.
That took me a long time to figure out. And it took me a long time to figure out that I really couldnít help him. That I needed a good shrink almost as bad as he did--which of course, will have to wait, as weíre in the middle of a freaking war. I worked really hard for months trying to get him out of his shell, exhausted myself even. It worked a little. I got him to listen. He heard me. But thereís so much I canít do.
So much of him is beyond what I can reach. So much I canít do for him.
I feel like Iím cheating him sometimes. I know--I know, without a shadow of doubt, that he loves me. Because I care about him, and I look after him, and I hold his hair back when heís sick and donít talk about it after, and I represent everything that heís not, and everything that he wants to be--short of the killer, I guessÖ Thereís just--so much more to me, more of me that there is of him. More to love and more to hate, really. And Heero loves directly. One person at a time, like sunlight concentrated to a pinprick through a magnifying glass. He doesnít love very many people, so who he does love gets a lot of it. And being it his love, itís intense. It burns. Sometimes it hurts more than anythingÖ
Iíll love anything thatíll give me reason to. And Heero did, a lot. I do love him, more that anyone. But--Iíll never be able to give him as much as he gives me. I have to give some to the others, the other pilots, my brothers. Some to Father Maxwell and Sister Helen, who can never return it again--thatís a black hole if there ever was one. Some to everyone. I canít give it all to him like he can to me. It feels so unbalanced.
Nothing is as it should be, in this world. A world where adults do foolish, silly things, and the children do the fighting and the invading and the ruling. We live in dark, screwed up times. Especially us, right in the middle of it. Youíd think in the eye of the hurricane it would be calm. Well, it ainít.
We escape from it any way we can. The options are slim. Die. Lose yourself--and the memories--in drugs. Or find someone to comfort you. Who knows what pain you feel and sympathizes. Empathizes.
And thatís what I did. I found someone, namely Heero, who felt, to a certain extent, what I was feeling, who I could confide in and find comfort in, and offer comfort in return. He did most of the comforting at first, in his own way. Mostly just because it took him a while to admit that he even needed comforting, and longer still to accept it, even from me. There is more of a balance, now. We hold each other up, give each other strength, in different ways. But the energy expended is pretty equal to that taken.
Balance is the way everything should be. And for that, I guess us humans need a bit of violence to make us recognize and appreciate the peace. But as far as that goes, I have no balance. My life is like this: about three percent war, ninety five percent sitting around, tightly waiting for waróand two percent just Heero.
Like I said, times are weird. Children are killing, ruling, and doing things that only adults should have to be responsible for. And weíre only fifteen and sixteen, us pilots. Weíre young. But weíre men, not boys. Weíve all done too much, seen too much, to be boys anymore. Children donít fight wars. Children donít kill.
And children donít love. Not like I love Heero. Not like he loves me.
Weíre too young, far too young, to do what we do. To be so close. To know so much about each other, every nook and cranny of the otherís mind, every ridge and curve of the otherís body. Adults connect like that, not children. But we have, and we do, over and over.
Itís all we have. All I have, anyway. In Heeroís arms, itís the only time I can really, really forget about this damn war and my part in it. Itís really weird, too. It makes me so sad. I love him, and I love his body, and he can make me burn with passion and even ecstasy--but afterwards. Afterwards, itís different. When I lie in his arms and he in mine, and I think about what awaits me when the sun comes up. Or the life I could have had, that Heero could have had. And I want to never move from where I am. I want to stay in the bed and forget about the war and the fact that Iím much to young to be so intimate with anyone. Just lie beside him and be in love with him forever. John Lennon once said that if everyone in the world just went to bed for three days, we would have world peace. Why canít we do that?
There are moments, with Heero, where nothing matters but him. His mouth, his eyes, his body and soul fused with mine. Moments where the world burns away in white fire, and there is no pain, no agony. Only ecstatic, crazy happiness, heat and love. In those moments, there is no room in my heart for sadness or pain. Only room for Heero.
But they are fleeting. Occasional. And they become addictive, until I crave them like a drug, that escape. When they come, I want them to last forever. But they donít. They just fade, slowly, slowly, and leave behind them a terrible empty sadness, in the knowledge that they are something that I can never have.
It hurts. It makes me cry, sometimes, and sometimes I can hold the tears back long enough for Heero to fall asleep, sometimes I canít. When I canít, then he holds me, but that almost makes it hurt worse. So I let him fall asleep, and I try not to wake him. And I lie there beside him, and think about other things, waiting for sleep to come, waiting for the velvet darkness to envelope me as well. It takes hours. So to keep Heero sleeping, and to keep me from thinking too much, I sing Sister Helenís lullabies.
Thatís how I got here. Sitting up naked under the thin sheets, watching Heero sleep, singing softly to him. I feel empty again. But no, donít think about that. Just keep singing.
"Sleep my child, and peace attend thee
All through the night
Guardian angels God will lend thee
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber keeping
All through the night."
Sometimes I donít know if Iím singing to Heero or myself.
Iím going to cry. I know it. Iíve thought too hard, too much. I held it off until he fell asleep, but I canít anymore. Yep, there I go. Damn it all, I canít even do it silently. Heíll wake up now. Wake up and panic. Donít cry, donít cry. Just keep singing.
I canít. And my voice trying to sing and cry at the same time wakes him up. SNAP, his eyes are open, panicked, he doesnít know where he is. Itíll take him a second to realize that he isnít being attacked, but before that happens Iílló
Have a gun to my head.
NoÖ GodÖ No more. Not tonight. I canít bear to be under that penetrating blue gaze tonight. Thereís no point in trying to push him off, heís stronger than me and it will only make him take longer to figure the situation out. Just screw my eyes shut and wait for him to come to his senses, and hope that he does before his hand finds my neck.
I hear him swear, the metal is gone from my temple, the gun clicks as he puts the safety back on and again as he places it on the table beside him. Now I can hear him shifting closer to me, his voice whispering apologies in my ear, pleading, sorrowful, but it only makes me cry harder. His fingers thread in my unbound hair, stroking out the tangles he put there not so long ago. Ok, that helps. Breathe. Breathe. Donít think.
"Are you all right, Duo?"
Breathe in. Hold it. OneÖ twoÖ threeÖ fourÖ fiveÖ "I--Iím ok."
He doesnít believe me. No, heís wrapping his arms around me and pulling me onto his chest. At least he isnít talking, that would just break me. If he just holds me I should be all right.
His eyes are so blue in the dark. Like twin lasers right into my skull. But tonightÖ They almost--heal. Like theyíre burning away pain. Eh? This is new. They hold me as securely as his arms do, not letting me look away until they can do no more. So blue. Isnít blue the colour of serenity? Of calm, cool water and cleansing? Whoíd have thought the Perfect Soldier would have such beautiful eyesÖ
His lips move, is he saying something? I canít tell, but thatís not important, because I have to kiss those lips, right now, or Iíll lose it. He jumps, not expecting it, but kisses me back, so soft. Should I cry? But for sadness or happiness? I feel them both so sharply right now. Hot and cold, happiness and sadness, pleasure and pain. His arms tighten around me, holding me snug against him. His fingers slide on my skin. That moment, I need that moment. I donít care if I had it once already tonight! Itís an addiction. I need a fix. A fix of Heero, and the painkiller he is. Like heroin. Like morphine.
I need to forget. I need to not think. And only he can make me stop thinking.
Mais ce soir tu tíendors
Comme un ange dans mes bras.