I don't know how to say I'm sorry when I'm not sure exactly what it is I'm sorry for. Maybe it's because I can tell that you feel as lonely as I do. We're two people in a room, but there's more than a few miles between us.
It's not so much that things are falling apart as we weren't smart enough to build anything in the first place. I don't even know how you like your coffee, or what your favorite colour is.
They seem like stupid little things, but they say it's the little things that matter.
I fold and unfold the cuff of my sleeve as I consider my options. How can a person be sure that the signals firing off in their brain is love?
Stop dead. That's it. That's the heart of what's turning my stomach.
I want to apologize because I don't know if I love you.
"I liked it better short."
"So cut it for me."
"I've never put scissors to hair before in my life. Can't you tell? Look at me."
"I trust you."
"You're an idiot, Heero."
Silence. A crooked grin that found its twin on my lips.
I watched you, your lashes fanned out in slumber above your high, sweet cheekbones.
I'd almost forgotten what it was like to sleep, and now I was waking up with a good six hours a night and a warm body next to mine.
"Good morning," I said, kissing your cheek and moving my way down to your neck as you opened your eyes.
"Morning," you said, stifling a yawn.
You curled your arms around me and tangled your fingers in my hair. The sex was slow, and the sun was warm across our legs by the time we decided to get out of bed.
"Would you shoot me if I kissed you?"
"Cross your heart and hope to die?"
"I don't carry a gun anymore."
Silence. Soft puffs of warm breath mixing in the cold air.
"Hurry up and kiss me."
One look at my jacket and you were grinning. "Where can I get one of those?" you asked.
"You can have mine," I said. I took it off, folded it over my arm and handed it to you.
You shook it out, eyes wide and not noticing the bare spots where some of the patches used to be. "What? Won't you like need to fill out forms or something to get a new one?"
"Technically, I'm not supposed to still have it," I said.
"What happened?" you asked, pulling it on over your faded black t-shirt and smoothing down the front of it. The green on black looked good on you.
"Four months in the field, and I killed a civilian."
You looked up at me, your eyes shining and your face framed by your hair. "Oh, Heero," you said, and wrapped your arms around me.
"Speaking. Can I help you?"
"You sound just like I remember. I mean, this is... This is Heero."
Silence. The sudden blink of the vid request light coming on.
"Hello, Duo. It's been a while."
I took a sip from my cup of coffee. It tasted like it had been on the warmer for hours, but it was better than what I made for myself at home.
"He was your friend, right? So what's stopping you from looking him up in the registry and saying hello?"
I shrugged and looked out the window. It was a cold night. Steam painted the glass white, blurring all the lights and neon signs along the street. "More of a... comrade... than a friend," I said. "We fought in the war together."
The girl sitting across form me stirred a spoonful of sugar into her tea. Her left eyebrow swept upwards. I noticed she had blue eyes. "I had no idea you were a soldier," she mumbled. "Maybe you're in the wrong support group."
"Maybe," I responded.
Her spoon clinked as she held it to the side with a thumb and raised the cup to drink. "I think you should sign up for a group that'll help you learn to divulge these kinds of important facts to your friends," she said.
"Am I what?" Her eyes shone in the harsh flourescent light. They were dark, almost black, like the coffee cooling between my fingers.
"We meet here twice a week," she said.
I drank more coffee.
"You look like shit."
"I feel like shit."
"You also need a haircut."
"I could say the same for you."
"Sally likes it this way."
"They're going to put me on leave aren't they?"
Silence. A frown. A whisper of thick black hair brushing against a jacket collar.
"They should. I fucked up."
Wait, go back. There's more, isn't there. With the girl?
I traced the scars on the formica with my fingertips. There were hundreds of them, mostly scuffs and scratches, but the deeper ones - the obvious ones - were deliberate. Names and declarations of love, intials carved into the center of hearts; all plastered with promises of 4-ever.
I caught her eye. "Would you?" I asked.
"What? Fuck you?"
Glitterblack eyes stabbed through me, looked deep inside my soul and didn't like what they saw. "No," she whispered, and dragged a few crumpled bills from her pocket.
Her fingers shook as she smoothed them out and set them under the corner of her cup.
She didn't come to group the next Thursday. Or the Thursday after that.
The last inch of coffee in my cup was gritty, but I swallowed it all anyway.
"Nice watch, hand it over."
"Hurry up, asshole."
"And your money."
"I don't have any."
Silence. Fear in the air. Firecracker snap and the slump of a body.
"I said I didn't have any."
There was no mistaking it, that million watt smile.
You'd recognize me too, I was sure of it. Even with the way my hair hung to my jaw and my sunglasses on. I wanted to push them up, let our eyes meet.
You looked good, tanned and tall, like someone who should be in the movies. And what a movie moment it would be if I said hello.
Reunion of the century, except I was dead and buried, and you'd shed tears at my funeral. Hell, you visited my grave and even made a pilgrimage to that stupid statue Relena couldn't talk them out of.
I ducked my head, shoved a fistful of creds into your little red bucket and walked on by. I felt the weight of all the regrets that no amount of new names and new identities could erase. And I stopped being able to sleep.
"Do I know you?"
"I don't think so."
"No, I'm sure I do."
"I get that a lot."
"Are you famous? Shit, wait, I got it, you're that pilot. You're Heero Yuy! Fuck me, I knew you weren't dead! The Weekly Sphere News said you were spotted on Mars just three day-"
Silence. Disappointment and suspicion hanging in the air like the heavy smoke of a cigar.
I guided another container into the hold. Traffic on and between colonies was double what it had been before Marimaia's uprising and trade was booming. Manual labor was mindnumbing, and I think if there were more people around, I wouldn't be going stir crazy.
Time went by faster when there were people for me to watch. I liked to sit back and speculate on their lives. I liked noticing all the complexities they fabricated and the simple truths at the bottom of it all.
There were others options, of course, than being holed up in a warehouse and working a loader suit. I just needed to stop and consider them.
"They think you're dead, Heero."
"Everyone? Are you sure?"
"I suppose of all people, you're entitled to a fresh start..."
"Can you help me get off-planet?"
Silence. Shining eyes. Sorrow for all the things that might have been.
"Thank you, Relena."
Hold it! Start again. Let's revisit the rain.
The rain painted the world slate gray outside the window. Your face in its reflection painted my heart pitch black.
What I wouldn't give for everything to be the way it was; nothing but whirlwind days and breathless nights.
I never thought you and I would last this long, and I doubt that you did either. We fell into bed far too fast; followed our dicks and not our hearts. And now, I'm ashamed at how easy it to have sex instead of talk about everything that's wrong.
It hurts. It hurts far worse than anything I've ever felt before. Broken bones or the hot kiss of a bullet are nothing compared to this.
I was never so lonely until you came into my life.
No. That's not quite right, but, as they say, ignorance is bliss.
"Do you love me, Heero?"
"I don't know."
"Are you afraid? I mean, of where all this is going? Could go? Might not go..."
"I wish I could tell you I love you..."
Silence. Rain glittering on the windows. Cars hissing along the street below.
"...but, all I can say is that I think I'd feel empty without you."