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fic - the long trip back [misc] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
turnippatch
turnippatch
fic - the long trip back [misc]
Title:  The Long Trip Back
Summary:  So Valentine's Day was just around the corner.  And I felt ornery enough to write break-up fic.  But not ornery enough to actually post it on the big V-Day, so I set my sights on 2/12 day instead.  Actually, I didn't really end up writing break-up fic because, well, you know, break-up?  No thanks.  So I did post-breakup instead, so I only had to imply a break-up, except you know it would have had to be something pretty spectacular to have broken them up in the first place, so I couldn't really have them just getting back together again so easily, which is why we ended up with this:  An awkward 'i'm glad we talked' post-breakup fic.  And if you must know, I'm sure they finally end up getting together like five years after the end of the fic.  But inside the space of this little ficlet?  Uh, yeah, doesn't really do much.  Gotta post it anyway, though, just to prove I'm still writing, right?



The Long Trip Back


Duo took his seat gingerly next to the man already sitting on the park bench.  He drew breath to say something, changed his mind, and released the air in a soft sigh.  He tried again.  "Um.  Hey.  Thanks for meeting me."

He got a slight nod for his troubles.

Temporarily stumped as to his next move, he looked up at the night sky.  The sounds of the city were still audible from here, but it seemed quiet and peaceful nevertheless.  It was a decent backdrop for their little reunion.  "I'm sorry, I really didn't ask you to meet me just so I could waste your time.  It's just, well, I didn't want to have a prepared little speech all ready to go for you.  I feel like I... I owe you better than that.  But now I don't know... where to start, I guess."

Heero released a little puff of air before finally turning to look at him directly.  "Hello, Duo.  How are you?"

Duo blinked at him dumbly.  "Uh..."  After an awkward silence, he laughed weakly.  "Wow, I really fumbled that pass, didn't I?"

"I'm sorry.  Was that too difficult a question?"

He shook his head, rubbing at the back of his neck.  "No.  No, that's... exactly why I'm here, isn't it?"

"Is it?"

Okay, that was as good a place to start as any.  "I told this to Quatre, and I expect he passed it along, but I want to say it again, face to face -- I'm not here to... to try to... to start something with you.  That ship launched a long time ago, I know.  And I'm not... I'm not going to beg your forgiveness.  I just thought... Well primarily, my therapist thought this was a good idea, and I guess I think it's a good idea, too, except I really needed to talk myself into it, and while I was doing that, I thought maybe... maybe you'd like to know."

"I'm listening."

He wasn't prepared for quite how hard that hit him in the gut.  It was a relief to know he'd have his chance to be heard, and also a reminder of everything he had screwed up so badly.  "I'm sorry for just dropping in out of the blue like this.  I wasn't sure if -- never mind.  I hope Quatre broke it to you gently, but, well, I asked, you answered, here we are, so I won't waste your time re-hashing all that."

He took a few seconds to gather his thoughts before beginning again.  "I treated you like shit, Heero.  I didn't realize it at the time, but I did.  I totally did.  I took you for granted.  I... I was rude, inconsiderate, disrespectful, hurtful... And I may even have done a little bit of it deliberately.  And you didn't deserve any of that.  If you have anything in particular you'd like me to address, I am absolutely willing to do that, but otherwise... I acknowledge and take full responsibility for all of that, and I am so, so sorry for all of it."

Heero seemed content to maintain his silence for the moment, so after another deep breath while looking out over the deserted park, Duo pressed on.

"I was... confused at the time.  I didn't know who I was, who I wanted to be.  Peace just... really did a number on my head.  Well, not that my head wasn't totally messed up to begin with.  But at least it was messed up in a way that was kind of useful before peace came a'knocking.  Looking back on it... I took the easy way out.  I didn't want to deal with it... so I didn't.  I did things that helped me not think about it.  I found people who were as messed up as I was.  I lived down to my worst expectations.  I ran, I hid... and I lied outrageously to myself."

He risked a glance over to Heero, which Heero returned, but only to indicate that he was still listening.  Heero's expression was neutral, and patient, perhaps.

It seemed like a good time for a sigh.  "When you told me you loved me... I couldn't figure out why you were lying to me.  Or lying to yourself.  At best... I figured maybe peace had messed with your head, too, in a way that was way worse than the number it did on me, or that maybe you were just the butt of some god's twisted sense of humor.  That was the only way I could process that at the time.  That doesn't excuse why I treated you the way that I did.  But, well, I hope it explains it, at least a little.  I know you like your explanations and your reasons."

Heero looked a little pained, but he nodded.

"After you left me--"  Duo paused for a snort of self-deprecating amusement.  "Not that I ever let us actually be together.  After you left.  It didn't hit me right away.  I felt... I just felt kind of vindicated.  Sad, but true.  And things mostly kept going the direction they were going for a few more months.  But eventually... I bottomed out.  I just hit that point where I realized that... I was a mess.  My life was a mess.  My relationships were a mess.  Everything was just... a mess.  I... tried to clean myself up.  I... was pretty terrible at that.  I figured I could use some help, but of course, I'd burned all my bridges by that point, so I got myself a therapist.  Switched therapists.  Switched back.  Long story.  Anyway.  Since then... it's been a long trip back to sanity.  It was one day at a time for a while.  I was pretty damn proud of myself when I got myself up to one week at a time."

He laughed self-consciously when he saw no visible reaction out of Heero.  "But I think I've more or less made it here in one piece.  I've got a job, an apartment.  I'm staying healthy.  I've got a few friends.  We do totally normal things with each other.  I've picked up a couple of harmless hobbies.  I'm... feeling like I'm not a complete waste of space and resources.  I still have a ways to go, but, you know, all things considered... my therapist thought maybe it was time I started confronting my past.  One more step toward... toward being a better person.  Can't quite 'make amends', but... I owe you all something.  An explanation, or maybe the opportunity to beat the crap out of me.  I don't know."

"You've spoken to all of us now."

"Yeah.  Saved the biggest, most burnt-down bridge for last.  Just because no one else has beaten me up yet, don't feel obliged to do the same."

Heero was quiet for a good long nerve-wracking minute.  "Gundanium doesn't burn, Duo."

"Huh?  Oh...."  He wasn't sure how to respond to that.  Something hopeful wanted to stir within him, but caution held it back.

Heero focused his gaze on the toes of his boots.  "I didn't leave because I... didn't love you anymore.  I left because... I wasn't what you needed, and I couldn't stay and watch... I couldn't... For my own sanity, Duo.  I did what I had to do.  I'm sorry."

Duo stared at him, flabbergasted for a moment, after which the guilt hit.  He floundered about for a bit, trying to find the words.  "Are you kidding me?  You did exactly what you needed to do.  What I needed you to do.  I may never have believed you, but whether the joke was on me or you, I took you for granted.  I expected you to be there for me.  And that enabled me to go out and do stupid shit.  It was only after you were gone, after I didn't have anyone anymore, that I finally realized what I'd done to myself, and the people around me."

Heero's deep, fortifying breath surprised Duo.  He sort of thought he knew what it meant, but he wasn't quite ready to believe it yet.  But on the off-chance that he was, somehow, unbelieveably correct, he knew what he had to say next.

"You made the right decision, Heero.  You absolutely made the right decision.  For both of us."

There, another of those careful, audible breaths.  Duo waited, ready to figure out where to go from here, but Heero's lack of response seemed only temporary, and indeed, he was rewarded eventually.  "I'm... glad to hear you're doing better, Duo."

It more or less confirmed what he'd thought.  "God, Heero, I am so sorry.  I never once thought you might be anything but relieved after you left.  I never... I'm so sorry."

Heero snorted softly.  "For what, exactly?  What would have you done differently if you had known?"

"I'd..."  Nothing, really, but he was loathe to admit it.  It just seemed right and proper that it be added to his list of offenses.  "Maybe..."

"You came when you were ready.  That's... That was the right decision."

"And... coming here at all?  Was that the right decision?"

"I agreed to meet with you, didn't I?"

"Yeah, but... I didn't want you to feel... yanno..."  He suddenly didn't want to specify, for fear that maybe one of those 'yanno's were true.

Heero sighed and stared up at the stars for a bit.  "That was a good move.  Having Quatre warn me that you might try to reach out.  That... was thoughtful."

Duo shrugged uncomfortably.  "Yeah, well... I didn't want to be a chicken and have him middle-man us, but I thought it'd be pretty damn inconsiderate to just drop in out of the blue... I mean, I didn't know if..."

"You were right.  I did want to understand... why things happened the way they did.  But that's not the only reason I agreed to meet with you.  I also... I'm glad to see you're doing better, Duo."  He offered the faintest of smiles.

"That's it?"  Duo only realized his incredulous, petulant tone after the words were out of his mouth.  He backtracked.  "I mean, not that I--  It's just...  You don't...?"

"Hate you?"

Duo nodded mutely.

Heero's expression took on a rueful cast.  "Things were rough after the war.  I get that.  We all had our periods of adjustment.  It wasn't personal.  You just..."  He trailed off into pensiveness.  "Leaving you was like leaving a man down behind enemy lines.  I didn't want to."

"But you would have gotten yourself hurt pretty bad if you'd tried to come after me.  And honestly, having you around... I dunno, it would have complicated things, I think."

"You made it out okay.  I'm glad.  But that doesn't change the fact that I left you.  Maybe I should be the one asking you --"

"God, no, Heero.  I would never have wanted that for you.  I was the one who messed up and got myself stranded out there.  I would never have wanted to take you down with me.  God, I would have put a bullet in my brain to make it not even an option before I'd have let -- Uh, I mean, a metaphorical bullet.  I don't think I would have actually... well, hell, I dunno, I was... It's entirely possible, I was so damn messed up, but it doesn't really seem...  Argh."  He threw himself out of his seat and paced a little, stopping half a minute later when he noticed the slight tilt to Heero's lips.  "What?" he asked defensively.

The tilt became symmetrical.  "I don't think we've talked like this since... Peacemillion."

"Oh."  He slumped himself back onto the park bench with nearly as much force as when he left it and rubbed a hand over his face tiredly.  "I really am sorry I messed us up, Heero."

"I know."

"How are you, Heero?" he asked suddenly.  "How are you doing?"

Heero blinked, then smiled with a little shrug.  "I'm doing okay."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

"That's good.  That's good to hear, man.  Glad to hear it."

They sat for a bit, each to their own thoughts, each pondering the answers they'd gotten tonight, and the answers they hadn't gotten to questions they hadn't asked.

Eventually, Duo stood, and turned to face him, following through on his original intent to not make this drawn out and uncomfortable.  "Well.  I guess that's probably it.  Thanks again for meeting me.  If there's anything, anything at all I can do to somehow... somehow... I don't know, make--"

"Keep in touch."

"Huh?"

Heero pursed his lips for a few seconds, as if maybe his words had been impulsive and now he wanted to hold anything else back he might release without proper consideration.  "I... wouldn't mind an update on your status, now and again."

"Oh."  He felt like he'd said that a few too many times tonight, but Heero always had the ability to throw him off-kilter with such simple things.  "Uh, yeah.  Sure.  Of course.  E-mail?  Phone call?"

"E-mail.  Phone call," Heero agreed amiably.  "Maybe even a face-to-face somewhere other than an empty park at midnight."

Duo chuckled.  "Hey, you chose the time and the place, man."

"I wasn't sure how this conversation was going to go.  Neutral location with no witnesses seemed like the safest choice."

"True, true.  Okay.  You got it."  He hesitated, then stuck his hand out, and sighed with relief that Heero took it for a solid shake.  Things had gone well tonight, but that fact sat uncomfortably in his head, with all the other issues still sloshing around in there.

"Take care of yourself, Duo."

"You, too.  I'll, uh..."

"Until next time?"

"Yeah.  Until next time."  He smiled, and turned to go while the going was good.

He'd gotten a handful of steps away before Heero caught his attention again.  "One more thing, Duo."

"Whatever you want."

"No more making fun of my tour of Europe, looking for Noventas."  Heero maintained the straight face for a few seconds before smirking congenially.

It took a moment for the irony to sink in, but once it did, Duo laughed.  "You got it, Yuy."  He delivered a lazy salute before setting off.


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Comments
salmastryon From: salmastryon Date: February 13th, 2013 01:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
"No more making fun of my tour of Europe, looking for Noventas." Heero maintained the straight face for a few seconds before smirking congenially.

awesome line!! *giggles* Though I will admit much like Duo I was a bit slow on the uptake. :P
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: February 14th, 2013 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Hopefully, Duo won't need anyone to now challenge him to a duel in Antarctica to complete the penitence cycle. =p
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: February 13th, 2013 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that had to be said somewhere in there. ^___^ The morning after is never pretty, but it's better in the long run to just start the clean-up and get it over with. Gotta happen sometime.

Absolutely would not mind a 'five years after' fic next valentine's day. ^___^

turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: February 14th, 2013 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I imagine them spending two years of occasional contact, maybe year 3 could be regular contact, maybe in year 4 they might actually progress to tentative hand-holding, after which they would stall out for a little while, and then maybe finally in year 5 they might actually be able to get together, once all the various personal issues had been worked out.  This does not sound conducive to a good fic.  And/or it would probably be as pointless as this one.

On the other hand, a sequel would actually give this ficlet a point. =p
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: February 15th, 2013 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
A point is a good thing to have... ^___^

Would it really take them that long to work out the issues? O.o I keep thinking of them as starting that work the next day after this meeting. Perhaps without realizing that they're doing it? Or is that too optimistic for a pair of determined former terrorists? O.^

Perhaps I am just hoping - without nagging! - for more reading. ^____^

turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: February 15th, 2013 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)
They didn't agree to meet with the expectation of starting something.  Duo expected Heero to say, well thank you for the explanation, but you're a loser and I never want to see you again.  Heero just hoped maybe they could be kind of friendly again.  So 'tomorrow' is a bit soon.

I think Duo is about half an hour northeast, while Heero moved half an hour south by southwest.  They're close enough to meet once in a while on a weekend.  Which they wouldn't do immediately.  They would definitely start out cautious.  Duo's still getting his head screwed on straight.  Granted, that's going to be a continuing process for many years to come, but at this point in time, he knows he's not ready for constant contact with his old friends, let alone a relationship.  He knows that having Heero and them around would complicate his 'recovery', just as having Heero around would have and did complicate things back then.

So first they need to stabilize a bit, get used to the idea of being back around each other.  Then they need to re-learn each other.  A lot has happened, and they've both changed.  And maybe they might get to hand-holding, but then they have to deal with the things that would come up with a relationship but not a friendship, like fear of hurting or being hurt.  And then, after they overcome all that... Then maybe they get on with the business of being together properly.
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: February 15th, 2013 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Is it sad that I use all my romantic notions in service to fanfiction?

^____^

If they must take five years, then so they must. *sigh* At least then they'll be forever. >_>

turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: February 15th, 2013 08:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh golly, so do I.  My crustiness in real life is quite the contrast from all that fluff I throw around here. ^^'
sharona1x2 From: sharona1x2 Date: February 14th, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
When you love a couple, it's always a little bittersweet to read a story where they aren't together any more. I did get the feeling from the story itself that they'll eventually work it out. The fact that Heero seems to be so patient makes me think that he'll wait for Duo to work out all his issues. Like he implied at the end, he's done his fair share of screwing up and repenting, too.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: February 14th, 2013 11:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was the right decision for both of them at the time, and I think they both came out stronger for it.  Which just means, in the end, they'll have an even stronger relationship. ^_^

(it's a little sad that i couldn't bring myself to actually break them up on the page. ^^'')
ramenkuri From: ramenkuri Date: February 15th, 2013 07:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, that was wonderful.

Your opening was very cute too; I hope you feel ornery next year too! Any fic is always welcome.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: February 15th, 2013 08:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I think I just like excuses to use the word 'ornery'. =D

This year, I was aiming on maybe posting something once a month.  That's not that ambitious.  I've already failed. -_-
tyreling From: tyreling Date: May 21st, 2017 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad Duo finally had his say and Heero was so patient to hear him out completely without cutting in.

At least this shows that their bridge is on the mend.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: May 26th, 2017 06:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't read this story as breakup fic or even makeup fic... It's just the prequel story to a fic where they've overcome some challenges to be with each other. ^_^
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