DISCLAIMERS: The usual. Not mine. Don’t sue. Yadda yadda.

WARNINGS: a disturbed Duo POV

SUMMARY: Duo contemplates his life, some time during the war.

by Shira

Gleaming silver flickers in the mirror as I stare, my eyes transfixed on it; on me. A bright white flashes as I rotate the cool, honed steel in my fingers, watching the flat turn on edge, its gleam disappearing as it does. My thumb pulls gently across the surgical edge of the blade and I watch, eyes hard and cold, as a thin layer of skin curls into a transparent roll of cells on the other side, proof to its sharpness. Its seriousness. Blowing a moist breath across my thumb, the shaved skin flies off as the gleaming blade fogs, just momentarily, before I can see myself in its width once more.

I look up into the mirror and see not me, but the monster that I’ve become. My eyes travel the reflective surface, noting the tiny spatters of toothpaste and barely-visible fibers from the last towel that was used to wipe it down, and I shudder, for these are the eyes of hatred. Deep, sucking pools of color that promise death, be it them or me. Hard, cutting icicles that send chills through me, for I know what lies behind them. I know about the despicable one that lives behind them. It’s me.

Looking back to the blade in my hand, I watch, mesmerized, as its tip moves lightly across the fleshy part of my forearm, leaving in its wake a thin, white line. Barely a memento of its passing, considering it is capable of so much more. So much more. I stop and sigh.

When did it all get to be like this? When did everything fall apart, the way it has? When did I become such a monster?

When I went into this, I was ready. I was strong, enthusiastic – nothing would stop me. I had purpose. I had hope. I thought I knew it all, or at least how it would turn out. Nothing could stop me. I was hell-bent on a dream, a reality of happiness and a future for us, but what did I know then? What could I know, really? A kid of sixteen, who had already had his life destroyed not once but three times? I knew I had motivation, and they say that motivation is all that anyone needs. Sometimes, though, we find out the hard way that motivation dies quickly when the good is overwrought with the bad. Sometimes the bad gets to be a little too much to deal with, and we falter. We drown in it.

Sometimes that motivation is sucked right out of us when we aren’t expecting it, and suddenly all that hope, all that purpose, gets turned around, and the hope and purpose are for a different reason. When you’ve suffered enough pain, not the kind of pain that comes from broken bones, but rather from broken souls, the motivation gets directed differently. From their pain to my pain. When no action or decision is a right one, sometimes the dream twists a little. Or a lot. Either way, it changes, and usually without even being realized, until we can step back and look into that mirror and see it with our own eyes. The way I’m seeing it with my own eyes.

The motivation, it’s all still there. Only the motive has changed.

In my eyes…with my eyes…I see all the enthusiasm replaced by pain. The pain of love lost. The pain of loneliness. The pain of knowing that I am powerless to change what is and has become, and makes me hate myself all that much more. Emptiness shows clearly in those eyes now, my eyes; the emptiness of all that has been lost, wondering if there is any way to get it back. Is there a way to get in back? I stare deep into blue-violet, thinking that the eyes really are the passageway to one’s soul, and that mine is hollow and cold now, with icy-hued walls the color of frostbite, purple and bruised from lack of circulation. Everything that was there is now gone, and I stare, still searching for it, hoping that there is a way to thaw the ice, to heal the bruised soul, but answers like that elude me. I only know what I know, and that, right now, is hurt. The hurt of failure. The hurt of isolation. The hurt of having hurt them. The hurt of being me.

The motive is now one of escape.

Watching again as the blade scratches another line in my pale skin, I apply a slightly greater pressure, awed as the sharp tip, just the end of it, disappears with a quick ‘pop,’ under the layers of my skin, to reappear cloaked in runny, transparent red. No register of pain is made by me; this pain cannot compare with the pain that habitually resides within me. A bead of blood forms on my skin, proof that I am not as dead as I feel, but somehow it doesn’t help the impression that I really am dead. Long dead. I watch as the bead gets bigger, bulging like a tiny water balloon, then lift my arm, causing my body’s teardrop to roll silently toward me, leaving a trail of red in its path. Coming to rest in the crook of my bent elbow, spreading out in the crease, the droplet, now joined by a few friends, mingles with a few strands of my loosed, coppery hair, making it look muddy and dark. I push the hair back, tucking strands behind my ear to hold them out of the way, then look some more before raising the small incision to my lips, where I suck the remaining blood away.

After wiping off the bloodied tip of the blade with my shirt, I snap it closed. Placing it down carefully on the edge of the sink, I look up one more time at empty eyes looking back and sigh, and then walk away. Despite the self-hatred and the emptiness, today I manage to stay strong. Today I manage to hold onto enough shreds of my original motivation that I walk away from the hurt.

Either way I look at it, tomorrow is always another day.


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