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fic - unremarkable [dorm] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - unremarkable [dorm]
Title:  Unremarkable
Series:  Moments in a Dorm Room
Summary:  Sometimes remarkable things really are just commonplace.

A Moment in a Dorm Room

Perhaps Heero was entirely incorrect.  He was under the general impression that Maxwell was the one with the most problems, but perhaps that was only because they had spent the most time with each other.  Otherwise, why was it that he was often the one earliest out of their sessions?  "I think I frustrated the shrinks again."

"Heh, better than me.  I just piss 'em off."  Well, maybe that explained why his meetings were the shortest.  "Wait, is that a smirk?  Hell, musta been something good, then."

"I am not smirking, Maxwell."  He had only been stating an opinion.  It was perhaps even a statement of confusion.  He was never quite certain what the shrinks thought to accomplish in their sessions, if anything at all, but he supposed it didn't matter.  He'd placate the government officials with accounts of normalcy that they never believed, he'd get cleared for interaction with the general populace, and then he'd become a member of the general populace.  It sounded like a good plan to him.  Except maybe for the large amount of handwaving over that last step.

Duo laughed, tipping his head back and enjoying the springtime sun.  "You were so smirking."

Whether or not he had been, Heero now frowned, crossing his arms disapprovingly.  "I do not smirk."

The amusement fell away into a near gape as he realized how serious Heero was.  "Wow.  You're kidding, right?"

"No."  That wouldn't have been much of a joke.

Duo blinked at him for a few long seconds.  "Wow.  You're... wow.  I mean, you're like the most self-aware guy I've ever been stuck knowing, but this time... man.  You've really dropped the ball on this one.  You smirk, Yuy.  You so smirk."

"I do not smirk."  This time, Heero said the word as if it offended him, or was incomprehensible to him, even.  Why was this such a major issue, all of a sudden?  Oddly, though, he considered Duo incomprehensible simply because he was.  The incomprehensibility of the base psychologists would have been equally tolerable, if only they didn't choose to inflict themselves upon him.

"You're completely in denial."

"Why would I deny something like that?"

"I dunno, you tell me."

Well, he might deny it because it wasn't true.  But that should have been self-evident.  Of course, self-evidence differed greatly between the two of them sometimes.  He sighed minutely as he sat down on the bench.  "...Just to be sure, what are you calling a smirk, first?"

Duo opted for a mildly withering look initially, trying to convey the obvious, but then he found that it wasn't as simple as all that, once he tried putting it to words.  "You know... that look you get."

"You will have to be more specific than that."  One eyebrow rose to lend a wry air to the retort.  A corner of his lips tagged along for the ride.

"Yeah, like that!" Duo said, waving his hand at Heero's expression.

The mouth turned downwards again.  "That wasn't a smirk."

"Yes, it was."

If that was a smirk, then indeed, he smirked all the time.  But he didn't, so it wasn't.  "A smirk implies some sort of smug self-satisfaction, doesn't it?"

"And you don't think you ever imply some sort of self-satisfaction?"

"I'm sure I do.  When I'm self-satisfied."  Which, he had to admit, did happen on occasion.

"And you don't find it satisfying to piss off the shrinks?"

"That was you, remember?  I said that maybe I frustrated them."

Oh yeah.  "Same thing."

"Not quite."

Whatever.  If Yuy wanted to believe that he didn't smirk, then that was fine with him.  It was reassuring, maybe.  Yuy saw things with a bit too much clarity sometimes.  Clarity of a sort.  Maybe it was just a bit of lunacy.  It was hard to tell with him.  But then, maybe they were the same thing in the end.  In which case, Duo himself probably had a great deal of clarity.  Which he sometimes chose to use in strange ways.  "Do you practice?"

"What?"  Heero had intended to pass the time waiting for their comrades by simply sitting in the sun at their rendezvous point outside, surveying the activity of the Preventers base from a distance.  He should have known better.

"Keeping a straight face like that.  Because seriously, no one can be that deadpan naturally."

'Deadpan'.  That was a funny word.  He pondered its etymology for a moment.  "Why not?"

"You do know that a flat affect is a sign of a psychopath, right?"

"Psychopathy is a naturally occurring phenomenon, is it not?"

Duo glanced sharply at him, trying to determine if Heero was trying to make a joke, or just stating a fact.  It didn't take him long to realize that Heero's idea of a joke pretty much was just stating the facts.  "You know, I'm pretty sure I know why you frustrate the shrinks."

Heero was pretty sure why, too, and maybe it did call for a bit of self-satisfaction once in a while.  But not right now.  "I just prefer not to... what's the term?  Wear my heart on my sleeve?  There's nothing wrong with that."

"It's one thing not to give away what you're thinking or feeling."  Duo wasn't exactly very open with his innermost thoughts, either.  Alright, occasionally he vented, but that was his choice to do or not to do.  "It's another thing entirely to be completely expressionless."

"Did you not say that I was prone to smirks?  That is an expression."

Oh yeah, he was really sure he knew why Heero frustrated the shrinks, and once again, he had to wonder if the boy did it on purpose.  Wait a minute.  "That's it, isn't it?  That *is* your expression."

"I do not smirk, Maxwell."

First he did, then he didn't.  Couldn't keep changing his mind for convenience's sake.  "I don't mean the smirking."  Although he still wasn't convinced the guy wasn't secretly laughing at the world.  "I mean, the deadpan thing.  That is your expression.  A lack of expression.  Huh.  Weird."

Heero wouldn't necessarily agree to that assessment, but hey, if it made Duo happy, he wouldn't fight it.  "Much like not making a decision is a decision in and of itself," he declared, deciding to help solidify Duo's opinion.  Life would go on just as smoothly if they never had to have this conversation again.

"Whoa.  Deep."  Maybe there was another reason Yuy frustrated the shrinks so much.  He was so completely unforthcoming, and yet there were such tantalizing hints of what was beneath the surface that they just couldn't touch.  It seemed almost cruel to tease them like that.  "What did you do this week?  My docs tried to get me to do some 'visualization' exercises.  I gave them some interesting things to visualize in exchange."

Heero didn't doubt it.  He worried sometimes that the doctors would hold Duo back on account of his little rebellions, but trusted that his comrade knew where the boundaries were.  Duo couldn't wait to get out of here, and he wouldn't do anything to seriously jeopardize his chances of that, nor anyone else's.  "Same thing that happens every week.  Looking for signs that I'll break."

"Like you're gonna give them any."  What sort of idiot would show such a weakness to an enemy?  Whether or not they had any to show.

"You just get visualization exercises?"

Duo shrugged.  "Guess they don't really peg me as the about-to-break type.  I think they just think I'm disturbed on a more basic level.  Already broken or something."

Lucky him.  Maybe if Heero showed some sort of behavioral problems, they'd stop trying to encourage him to talk things out as well.  Hm.  He wondered if psychopathy counted as a behavioral problem.  "They've seemed to be dancing around the subject of post-traumatic stress disorder for a while now, so I looked it up this time."

"And skipped the runaround?"  Duo chuckled.  "Yeah, I could see how that might be frustrating.  The docs don't like it when you steal the wind from their sails."

"I don't really see why they think I should be suffering from PTSD."

Oh, this was going to be interesting.  "I think it's the combination of trauma and stress.  And youth.  And lack of, ooh, what do they call it?  Grounding, healthy support systems, or whatever the hell it is."

"From what I could tell, PTSD mostly applies to people who experience periods of intense, powerful emotional trauma."

"I think war qualifies, buddy."  See, he was capable of a droll humor, too.

"For someone else, perhaps.  For me, however... it was really just... 'par for the course'."

Humor at Heero's bland measure of his life, along with his usual hesitance before using an idiomatic phrase, dissolved slowly into something else.  It seemed sort of sad, Duo thought.  Not in the boo-hoo sort of way, though.  "You really think that?  Just another day on the job?"

It sounded depressing when put that way.  "Not like that.  I mean that, soldiers these days, not all of them had the benefit of going through Lake Victoria, if you know what I mean.  Some of them are pulled from the ranks of the citizenry, put through a few weeks of training, and then tossed onto the frontlines, right?  Those are the people I would expect to display the symptoms of such a disorder.  Even the cadets that went years through a training program.  Noin may have been good, but nothing compares to seeing it firsthand."

"And you never had a firsthand experience?" Duo drawled with a bit of acidity.

Heero took the sarcasm in stride as the prod it was.  "Logically, some experience had to have been my first, of course.  But it was a long time ago.  I don't remember it, exactly.  But being shot at, pursued, in hiding, dealing with life and death, knowing how fragile our illusions of safety can be, understanding how what seems to be just a small decision can have dire consequences... that's nothing new to me."

Nothing new to Duo, either.  He considered the others.  Trowa, maybe.  He might have had a similar maturation, but he doubted the other two had.  "You don't remember the first man you killed?"

A Preventer strolled down the path off to their right, far enough away to not be intrusive, but Heero chose to wait until she cleared out before answering, taking advantage of the pause to review his memories.  "The first man I killed... I know I must have caused someone's death first, did something that killed someone else, but it was probably innocuous at the time.  Pressed a button, planted something, led someone somewhere.  I don't remember what was my first.  By the time I got around to the first person I killed up close and personal..."  He shook his head.  "No.  I don't remember that either.  It wasn't remarkable."

Duo stared off into the cloud formations above, flipping through his own dusty memories.  "I remember mine.  Not because it was traumatic or anything, though.  I just remember because the bastard got what he deserved."

"My early experiences... Odin was probably there.  Not that he was the most paternal of souls, nor the most sympathetic.  He was a practical man.  And he would have been there, guiding me.  I'm sure it was comforting, knowing that he knew what he was doing."

A pang of envy, not so brief as Duo would have liked, slid through him.  "Par for the course, okay.  But don't tell me that blowing yourself up was par for the course.  Okay, so I guess you were mostly unconscious during that one.  How 'bout the trauma of taking out the wrong target?  Don't tell me that that was 'par for the course', too.  Pretty traumatic, yeah?"

Heero shut his eyes and saw the explosions anyway, so he opened them again.  "Mistakes, Duo.  I've made mistakes.  We've all made mistakes.  Hopefully not so many of them that they become as commonplace as the next kill," he added, a touch of dryness to dilute the strength of the memories.  "Mistakes are different.  If I relive them in my dreams, that would be for separate reasons entirely.  They're consequences of my actions.  You remember them.  You learn from them.  You think what might have been if things had gone differently.  You grow.  Trauma?  Perhaps.  But not the kind they're talking about."

"How many mistakes have you made, Heero?"  It wasn't really a question Duo expected to have answered, not with a number.  But something did drive him to wonder aloud the length and breadth of Heero's regrets.

After a minute of soft silence, Heero did respond in a way.  "Have you ever run a simulation of artificial life?  Read the studies?  They have some very basic templates of behavior that they try.  Typically, they create an environment with resources.  There's some creature that consumes these resources, and another creature that feeds upon that first creature.  They let the computer run, and see which creatures running which algorithms ultimately survive.  And it's always proven that the 'perfect' algorithm, the one with the optimal pathfinding and the most efficient use of resources, never comes out on top.  Those creatures consume all of their resources too quickly, and then they die out."

That was a parable he was familiar with, if usually in a different form.  He found a spurt of amusement in the fact that his roommate had chosen a computer/algorithmic version of the lesson.  "I wouldn't call that perfect at all."

"No.  Perfection gets us nowhere.  We need flaws, mistakes, imperfections."  A small smile took one breath of life upon Heero's lips.  "In moderation, of course.  All things in moderation."

"Moderation," Duo echoed agreeably, leaning back on his hands.  The slab of concrete that served as a bench bit irritably into his palms, but it was warm.  "Maybe our whole lives have been one giant traumatic stress event."

"Then we can hardly be 'post'-traumatic, now can we?"

"Hm.  Point."

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