Love Among Friends
"I love you, Heero." Those soft-spoken words hang in the air between us. They should make me happy, knowing that someone cares so much for me. But they don't. They aren't welcomed here, between us. You are my friend -- my best friend -- but I don't love you.
Part of me wishes that I could. You're a decent person and deserve better than to have me squash all of your hopes. You've been with me through so much, supported me when I had my doubts, helped me through my weakness. It seems so unfair that I can't say those words back to you. But I can't. It wouldn't be fair to you, and it wouldn't be fair to me. I could never truly mean them.
We both deserve a chance to find love, real love, the kind that everyone grows up thinking they want. If I told you I loved you, I'd be taking that chance away from us both. In the end, we'd probably end up hating each other, and I'd rather face the pain of rejecting you now than have to deal with something much worse later.
You look at me with such hope in your eyes, and I know I'm going to break your heart. I'd give anything not to have to do that. As hard as it might be for you to believe after this, I do care about you. That will never change. You understand me in ways no one else can. I don't have to try to be anything but myself when I'm with you. You accept what I have to offer, and seem happy that I'm willing to give even that much to you.
I just can't tell you that I feel something I don't. Whatever spark is necessary to make one person willing to do anything to ensure another's happiness just isn't there for me. It's got nothing to do with who you are, or how you look. By anyone's standards you're a handsome man. Anyone would get lost in the brilliant color of your eyes. Anyone would want to run their fingers through your incredible hair. Anyone would love to coax gentle moans from your soft lips.
Anyone, but me.
You'll probably think it's because of someone else. I wish I could say it's not, but that wouldn't be entirely true. There is someone else. I think I knew it the first time I saw him, but I've never acted on it. Part of me can't believe he'd ever feel the same way for me. Part of me is scared. Scared of having this same conversation with him, only I'd be the one left sitting all alone when it's over.
You look at me expectantly, and I just dread what I'm going to have to do. I don't know if you'll be able to understand what I'm feeling. Or not feeling. You're as new to this kind of love as I am. I know I'm your first. I want to let you down gently, telling you that I love you as a friend, but I don't know if you'll hear me. I'm afraid you'll only hear the rejection and nothing else. I don't want to totally lose you. I just want to make things go back to what they were, without any guilt on either of our parts.
I don't have to tell you the truth to know how you'll react. You'll give me your best smile and lower your eyes so I can't see the hurt in them. Then you'll make some kind of excuse and go off somewhere to be by yourself. Sometimes you think too much. You keep too much hidden deep inside where you think it'll be safe from everyone -- including you. I'm guilty of that myself sometimes. That's how I know it never solves anything. It's better to deal with it here and now. Get it out and over with, and then move on.
This is going to change things between us. I'm not so optimistic that I don't believe it will. We're going to lose a part of our closeness. There will always be a wall between us, a line that we know we can't cross. Before we could tell each other anything. Now we'll hold back on certain things, not totally willing to trust each other with all of our most intimate thoughts. I'm sorry that has to happen. I wish it didn't, but I understand why.
I take your hand in mine, feeling its warmth. You're trembling a little, and I know it's because I haven't said a word yet. You're hoping for the best and anticipating the worst. I can't look into your eyes. I don't know which scares me more -- seeing your hope or your fear reflected in them. I feel inadequate to deal with either.
When I do finally met your eyes, I don't have to say a word. You know. You have this ability to know what I'm going to say without me even speaking a single word. I don't know if that's because we've been friends for so long, or because we're so much alike. The result is the same either way: you just know what my answer is.
I see you crumble inside behind your eyes. I see the disappointment and the hurt, even if you only let it show for a fleeting moment. You take a deep breath and force a smile onto your face. You rise slowly from where we've been sitting and reach out to place a hand on my shoulder. I hear you say "It's alright, Heero. I understand." I wonder if you do. If you know the agony I've just gone through. The pain of having to reject the offer of a love I can never return. The sadness of having to hurt my best friend.
I want to reach out to you and tell you how sorry I am, but I let you go. Maybe later when we've both had time to accept what's happened, how our relationship has changed, I'll be able to talk to you about this. But for now I can't face you. I can't even face myself.
"I'm so sorry, Trowa."