Behind the Dark Curtain
It’s Friday evening. Quatre has gone finally, and once more I’m alone in the condo. I’ve been instructed to report to the shrink every other day this week, since Sally doesn’t want me back at work yet. Gotta give her credit – where most bosses would be wanting to know why you were taking so long to come back to work, she wants me to take all the time I need to feel better. Hate to tell her, but I don’t think it’s possible, feeling better. Really, the only thing I will probably be able to do is train myself not to think about Heero during work hours, but as of yet I haven’t been able to be that disciplined.
Though he didn’t realize it, Quatre mistakenly left the little vial of diazepam, also casually known as valium, on my kitchen counter along the wall, where he put it the night he slipped me the Mickey. I realized this only minutes after he left, when I walked back into the condo after seeing him to the door. I had come to the kitchen to rummage for something to eat that I wasn’t going to eat anyway and saw the vial. Initially I thought I could catch him to give it back, since I certainly didn’t need it, but then I hesitated. I felt myself decide without me that I had no intentions of going after him.
here it was, sitting on the counter, pushed over next to the coffee pot, the coffee pot which hasn’t been touched since Heero has been gone, and I’ve been leaning here against the center island, arms crossed over my chest, staring at it ever since. I have no idea how many tablets are in the vial, or if there are any left at all, but just knowing its there has caused an alarm in me. I stare at it more, my eyes hard and burning, until I finally give up and quickly leave the kitchen without touching the vial.
Making my way upstairs, I go to the bedroom, and there I plant myself on the end of the queen-sized bed that Heero and I used to share. A few days ago I took out my pictures while Quatre was at his meeting, and arranged them in the collage frame that I’ve had all this time and never used. I picked the snapshots that meant the most to me, evoking the most reaction and feeling in me. Naturally, the one photo that Noin shot, the one of Heero and I in the break room aboard Peacemillion, I put right in the center, since it was the biggest opening. It looks right there, as the centerpiece to all the other memories. I’ve been staring at it every chance I can get, whenever Quatre hasn’t been around.
Tonight I lean back on the bed, sliding myself back so that I can rest against the headboard, and I look at the photos again, feeling them. The center picture always draws me in and holds me, that one being the most meaningful of all the pictures in the frame, but as I’ve sat here the past few days thinking, I’ve noticed something about this frame. It makes me feel warm. It makes me feel loved; the love that I used to feel with Heero around. Not the frame itself, of course, but the pictures, displayed in it. There’s something about the way the pictures are displayed in the frame that makes me feel like… like… he’s looking at it too. Like he can see what I’ve done here, and he approves of it. He’s never seen the picture that Noin gave me – I don’t know why, but I always kept that one secret. It was such a private moment between the two of us, even though it was right in the middle of a crowd of people. I just always felt like keeping that one picture special and sacred to me, but I think he sees it now.
My mind wanders as I get sleepy. Rest has been hard to come by, so I take it when I can. I glance to the alarm clock on the nightstand beside the bed and see that it’s only four o’clock in the afternoon, but if I’m going to fall asleep, then so be it. I lay back some more, to encourage the sleep that’s skirting around me, but then before I can get any deeper, my eyes snap open. Four o’clock – that’s when Sally called you to tell you about the accident. I’m wide awake again now, as is usually the case. I start to get groggy and then suddenly my head reminds me of some stupid detail, just in case I’ve forgotten, which undoubtedly keeps me awake for the majority of another day. Between the details and the voice that wont let me be, I’m starting to think that I’m going to have to let the psychiatrist medicate me. Won’t that be grand? On top of all this becoming dependant on sleeping pills? Just what I need. I close my eyes and sigh, and just as I do, the pill vial in the kitchen pops back into my mind.
You know if you weren’t here any longer, you wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone else, right Duo?
It’s back. It’s back and I sit straight up on the bed, my heart racing suddenly. “Leave me alone,” I tell it, insistent on shutting it up.
I can’t leave you alone, Duo. I AM you, Duo.”
“You aren’t me,” I say, realizing that I’m talking out loud to the voice that’s in my head. I’m having a conversation with a figment of my sick imagination. “You aren’t me, you’re just a sick, twisted thought, and I’m not going to listen to you.” I slide myself back against the headboard in my seated position once more, and look to the framed pictures. My eyes go immediately to the one in the center, the one of me laughing and Heero looking at me lovingly, in a candid moment of emotional display.
“But I am you,” the voice returns. “I’m every bit you as you make me, and so far you’re doing a good job of it, Duo. You’re confirming the idea that I exist. We’re Shinigami, Duo, remember?” It laughs, mocking me.
“There is no Shinigami,” I say, but my voice isn’t very convincing. “Just me, and I’m going out of my wits right now is all.” I lock my eyes on the picture. “I’m going totally nuts right now, because you’re gone, Heero.” I slide myself to the edge of the bed, my eyes not wavering their contact with the picture, and follow the urge to be close to the frame. “I miss you, Heero. My life is falling apart without you.” I get up and step to the dresser along the wall. Then reaching a hand out and placing it on the glass of the frame, I’m rushed through with the most amazing sensation of emotion that I’ve felt since losing him. Fresh tears begin to fall from my eyes as I experience the feeling of my heart being ripped in two.
Friday, September 25, AC 203
Quatre has gone home finally.
I burned the picture in the frame – the one I put in the middle. Yes, the one that Noin gave me. I couldn’t help it. It was causing too much pain, to look at it over and over again, because that one picture signified our life together. Me laughing, him looking at me the way that he was, his eyes all relaxed, the way no one has ever seen Heero Yuy look at someone before. I love that picture, but it hurt too much. It was almost like looking at HIM, the way I felt looking at that picture over and over again – like he was really looking back through his own eyes in the picture, and it’s just become too much for me. It’s made me sad and angry at the same time. I took it out of the frame and lit it up over the bathroom sink, with a pack of matches. I watched it until every last part was burned up, and then I sat down on the bathroom floor and cried. Stupid, I know. Over a damn picture.
I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I miss you, Heero. Every day I miss you more, and I don’t know if I want to go on without you. You were everything to me. God, I miss you, and every time I say it again, the hole inside me, the emptiness that’s there, gets bigger and bigger. I’m a shell of the person that I used to be, Heero, because I can’t do this without you. Maybe I am sick. Maybe I am insane over this, but so be it. I don’t WANT to do this without you.
I love you. Now, forever, in life and in death. I love you.
Somehow Treize always seems to be only a beck and call away, as he was today, when he heard my distraught cries. Before I realize it he is standing with me, staring, amazed as am I. We stand here, side by side watching in awe as the center picture in the frame disintegrates before us in a ball of orange flame. No other picture is damaged – only the center one, and as it burns, a trail of black carbon floating up to the ceiling from under the edges of the glass in the frame, I can feel an emptiness forming inside me.
I rush to the frame, putting my hands on the glass, the way I’d done just minutes before the picture went alight, when I felt so close to him , only this time it feels different. It feels cold and hard. It feels like glass, and not like a channel to the one I so desire on the other side. Searching all over the frame as if I expect to find my explanation, Treize steps forward and puts a hand on my shoulder.
We exchange unsure glances before he finally says “I don’t understand the significance of this.”
“Something is wrong. I can feel it.” I am visibly shaken and upset by what we’ve just witnesses, and Treize frowns.
“You can’t interfere, Heero.”
I drop my hand from the frame, frustration writ all over my expression. “I know.” I do know. Whatever it is that’s wrong, whatever the reason that the picture burned up, I cannot interfere. I’ve already learned that. No matter how terrible I feel inside, no matter how I’m able to understand the pain happening to Duo, I can’t interfere anymore.
“Heero,” Treize begins, motioning for me to walk away from the picture frame, “you need to let him go, Heero. You need to move on, so you can get on with your afterlife.”
This infuriates me. “Let him go? Do you mean forget? Forget about everything we’ve shared, and all the time he spent helping me become the person that I am?” My tone is aggressive and angry.
“Not forget, but get past. This is doing nothing for either of you, staying with him so close in your memory and your heart. Nothing can be done about it, Heero. You are here, he is there. Let it pass. Please.” Treize’s voice is insistent, bordering on annoyed.
“I can’t just let it pass, Treize. Can’t you understand that? This is not a ‘time heals all’ emotion in me. I… I just can’t.” Choking up, I finally turn from the picture and walk away, toward the bed. “He’s in so much pain, Treize. I can feel it.”
“It can’t be helped.”
I whip around to face him, my eyes harsh, and say “If this is supposed to be Heaven, then why does it hurt to be here? Why, Treize?”
He looks at me sympathetically. “Dear Heero, the reason why it is so miserable for you right now is because you refuse to allow order to take its course.” His blue eyes are soft and welcoming, but I’m no more encouraged by them than I am by his words. “Please. Let it pass. You have to. Things will get better, but you have to let it pass.”
“You said before that I will have an assignment while here – something that I’m supposed to do – what is it?”
“I also said that no one knows what his or her task is until the moment arrives, but you won’t learn of your task until you’ve accepted the afterlife yourself. Heero, in order to help someone else, you need to be past the point of needing help yourself.”
Thinking about his words, I barely nod. I lift my chin and look back to the picture frame. In the center there remained nothing more than a blackened, charred opening where a picture of Duo and I used to be. A wave of emotion and guilt wash over me and I force myself to turn away once more.
“The only chance you will have to apply for reincarnation is after you have proven yourself worthy, Heero, and to do that, you have to let yourself let go. I know how difficult that is, Heero. I do. But it’s the only way. Your heart has to let go.”