Disclaimer: See all the others; status unchanged.

This is a sequel to 'At The Core'
Pairing: 1+2(+1)
Rating: R
900 words
Warnings: Shounen Ai, Alcohol abuse, some angst, Heero POV

AN: Part #33 of the 'Road to Recovery' microseries. Written for [ gw500 ] challenge #80 - 'flawless'.

Beams and Motes
by kebzero

I studied the data crystal pinned between my thumb and forefinger, watched as the shimmering holographic light within reflected vast amounts of information; a near endless sequence of photons signalling zeros and ones, ons and offs, momentarily amazed that so much could fit in so little.

Putting the crystal away, I looked up at the wall above my bed. Then again, some things were better blown up to scale and put in full view.

Earlier that day, after copying a few select files from my laptop into the crystal, I had run an errand, stopping by a photo studio to get a small set of posters done. I'd limited myself to three motifs. I was admiring the first one now. An old photograph, taken back during the war. Duo had undoubtedly seen it stored on the computer, but for some reason, he hadn't deleted it. I wasn't sure that meant approval of me doing this, though. There was something inherently kinky of having a full-body poster of Duo on the wall above my bed, especially one with his backside bare, short of black boxers clinging to damp skin and a cascade of long, unbraided hair to one side, the profile of Duo's somber face showing.

"You know," I heard from behind me, "I've lived with him for years now," Hilde started, studying the second poster across the room. That one, Duo had deleted - which was all the more reason I'd picked it out of the recycle bin and put it on my wall. If the first made me lustful, the other made me smile. "I'll admit he can be a fun guy to hang out with, but I still can't see what you see in him - which I guess is really a good thing."

I could almost hear her grinning. Another wartime photo, but of Duo sleeping, not in the most flattering of poses, nor attire. I wondered if he still had that tank top with Mickey Mouse on it, or the white boxers dotted with red hearts.

If not - well, there was the next birthday gift.

I reached out to touch the first poster, putting my hand on the two-dimensional shoulder. "I see perfection..."

Not getting an answer right away, I glanced over my shoulder and caught Hilde's incredulous look.

My lips curled into a smirk. "I'm laying it on too thick, huh?" Sighing, I trailed my fingers down the poster boy's side, caressing the paper. "Well, I suppose when you like someone enough, you start to ignore whatever faults you once saw..." My fingers picked at the hem of the boxers, unable to slip inside. Shaking my head, I stepped away, turned around. "Or at least most of them." Grin. "I don't think I'll ever get used to his snoring."

She laughed, came over to stand next to me to admire sleepyhead Duo. "Be careful about putting him on a pedestal - you might never reach him." She paused, subtly rubbed her chin. "You know, Duo is probably going to go through the roof when he sees these..." She gave me a glance out of the corner of her eye. "But that's the point, isn't it?"

I shrugged indifferently. In part, she was right. It is so much easier to create feelings of hate in others than love. No matter what I did, my attempted advances usually frustrated Duo more than anything. I wasn't going for tolerance, nor acceptance. I wanted it all reflected back at me.

I looked over my shoulder. At least - this way, I'd have a life-size facsimile of him to admire. Three of them, actually - one even looking content in the care of my own shadow. I turned to face the door, where the third poster was placed. This picture was new, a snapshot Hilde had taken only last week, when Duo had hesitantly agreed to let me help him brush and braid his hair after a shower. I'd taken my time, but he hadn't complained. Hilde had captured his soft smile perfectly. I only wish she hadn't captured my sad look of longing just as well.

Stuck at the back of my door, Duo would probably never see it. It was probably better that way. I'm not sure how he'd react if the idea of us being domestic together reached through his thick skull.

My hand slipped into my pocket almost automatically, clutching the bottle tucked away there. A picture might tell a thousand words, but does it tell the truth?

Duo didn't love me, at least not like I wanted him to. I hadn't given up my mutual hold on alcohol, at least not like he wanted me to.

My fingertips brushed against the data crystal, and absentmindedly I picked it up, held it up against the light, catching my faceted mirror image.

We all crave perfection, in ourselves and in others. Yet, none of us are flawless. Worse, it's much easier to see discrepancies in others than fixing your own faults.

I felt the beam in my own eye well enough, but couldn't remove it. Then, how was I supposed to pick the mote out of his eye, and make him see me?

"You look cute together," Hilde suddenly commented, breaking me out of my reverie.

I looked away, grinning sheepishly. To that, I had no good answer - not as long as Duo's was 'no'.


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