I Started From...
+ Part 7
Heero lay on the rumpled bed
staring at the ceiling. After a tense couple of hours, he'd finally surrendered
the living room to Trowa's irritated glowering. Stubborn only went so
far when Trowa was truly disgusted with you.
Heero scowled at the ceiling.
He'd done what he had to do. What was best, in the long run, for everyone
Yes, Duo was very angry, and part of Heero regretted the strain this would
probably put on their friendship...
"I think I hate you."
Heero's scowl softened slightly
into a somewhat more mournful expression as he recalled the coldness in
Duo's voice. The American just may have meant that statement very literally.
Heero sighed, shaking his head. It didn't matter if Duo was angry at him.
Angry was good. It would reestablish the correct distance between them.
Not that he blamed Duo for what had happened. As Trowa had so astutely
determined, Heero had started it. The responsibility, the fault, lay with
Trowa had called him weak. But not for quite the same reasons...
"You're afraid to be human."
"If you had never responded
to him... "
But I did. I did respond.
And that was 'being human', wasn't it? And it was a bad thing.
Heero closed his eyes briefly
and was assaulted with a painfully clear memory of Duo's face the night
before, just moments before Heero had finally found the release he had
sought, had been craving, for so long. He'd thought they would have to
be back to front, but Duo had shown him there were other possible configurations.
And Duo had said he wanted to be able to see Heero's face.
Heero had understood that request. Naturally, Duo would want to remain
aware he was not sharing the bed with another faceless partner off the
street. And, he had to admit, he didn't mind being able to see Duo's face
The memory was briefly overlaid by a slightly earlier one, of Duo's face
when the... encounter first began. It had been different, somehow. The
American hadn't quite looked like himself, and Heero had questioned his
determination to go through with... it.
But Duo's face had changed after he said that.
"Please let me do this for
Heero squirmed slightly on
the bed, frowning. He hadn't really thought about Duo's words before.
He'd grown so accustomed to tuning out nonessential babble that he sometimes
didn't even register anything Duo said if he was distracted.
And he had been distracted. But now...
"Please, Heero... "
He had been the supplicant.
Not Duo. He was the untrained, clumsy virgin. He was the
one who wanted...
"Please, Heero... "
Duo's face, just before Heero
came inside him, had been... flushed, of course. Happy, in a way. But
mostly... Mostly the braided boy had been... intent.
Heero turned that thought over in his mind a few times. Yes, intent was
definitely the right word. So very intensely focused...
When Heero had woken up, limbs still entangled with Duo's, the other boy's
warm breath making a damp spot on the side of his neck, Heero had panicked.
The storm of hormones from the night before had passed, and he realized
he had let things go a bit too far.
He had taken things a bit too far.
His body had started to react to Duo's close presence even before he was
fully awake, and that had made Heero... scared. Scared, yes, but also
He'd trained for years to achieve the control he had over himself. Yes,
it had been a goal imposed on him by others, but he had achieved
it. And now, in one night, Duo had completely ripped that control away...
"Please let me... "
Except that Duo hadn't started
"You're an ass."
Heero heaved an exasperated
sigh. He'd been confused, uncertain, and he had done the first thing he
could think of to reset the relationship to it's proper detachment. He'd
thought it would be cruel to wake Duo up and inform him that the previous
night's experiment was something that could never happen again, so he
had decided that the money would be a better way to give the same message.
It was just the one time. It couldn't happen again. Not that he hadn't
He'd actually overpaid. Sort of a compliment. Duo didn't seem to have
noticed or appreciated that detail. Heero frowned. Duo actually hadn't
seemed to 'appreciate' much at all about his little message.
He had known Duo would be less than thrilled with him, but... well, he
hadn't quite expected the degree of Duo's fury. Duo should have been more
accepting of a one night stand than Heero himself.
"You're an ass."
"Please let me do this for
That face, softened by some
unnamable emotion, so curiously focused and intent... on what? On the
sensations Duo was experiencing? On what the boy's practiced hands were
doing to Heero's body? On keeping his hips raised at just the right angle?
No, none of that seemed right, somehow.
"Please let me... "
"If you had accepted that
you feel more than casual friendship... "
But that's the one thing I can't accept. That's the one thing I can't
"Please let me... "
Duo kissing him quickly, unexpectedly,
laughing as he backed away, watching Heero with mischievous eyes... Duo
staring at him in dismay, his pupils contracted to pinpoints... Duo standing
in a dozen different doorways, smiling patiently and pushing Heero's gun
aside... Duo watching him from across a quiet dorm room, a noisy cafeteria,
peering from the viewscreen of his Gundam... Always, always watching,
looking... at Heero.
"Please, let me do this right for once... "
... for you...
his mind suddenly translated in a flash of insight.
"You're an ass."
"Oh gods... " Heero murmured
flatly to the ceiling. "I am an ass."
The ceiling offered no comfort.
Heero rolled into a sitting position on the edge of the bed.
He did that... for me. Did it 'right'... let it be more, mean more,
than just a one night stand. Just a fling. Just physical interaction.
That was... that was...
And I paid him.
Heero felt his stomach twist
sickeningly at that thought.
That had been a bad thing to do, he was suddenly quite certain.
A very bad thing.
He still wasn't supposed to form attachments. He was supposed to maintain
an appropriate distance. Attachments were dangerous, a liability...
But he was already attached, wasn't he?
Heero scuffed his sneakers on the scarred wood floor.
"I don't know," he murmured softly, repeating his confession of the previous
night. "I don't know what I'm doing."
He pushed himself up off the bed and shoved a hand through his dark mop
of hair. He didn't know what he was doing. But he knew what he had to
And perhaps, try to accept that things could not go back to being the
way they were before. He wasn't supposed to form attachments. But he had.
Accept it. Deal with it.
Nobody else seemed to have
much of a problem with the concept, after all.
"Ninmu ryoukai," Heero muttered, setting his shoulders determinedly and
striding out into the main room, ignoring Wufei's wary glance and Trowa's
speculative gaze. He marched determinedly out the door, with never a pause
to betray the fact that he had no idea where he was going.
Trowa flipped through the paper with a slightly triumphant smirk on his
face. It had taken some time for the Japanese pilot to process Trowa's
earlier speech, but it seemed to have had the desired effect. Heero had
suddenly gone stomping out of the apartment with firm intent written all
over his scowling face just a half-hour earlier. Trowa hoped Heero could
locate Duo before this fiasco got any further out of hand. The histrionics
were quite wearing on him in his exhaustion.
Trowa gave a little sigh and felt the smirk fade. To himself, he supposed
he could admit his concern went deeper than having to endure teenage theatrics.
He didn't know if the others hadn't picked up on it because the change
had been gradual, but to Trowa, who had been unconscious for several days,
Duo's personality seemed to have undergone drastic alteration. The normally
friendly, jovial boy had been very withdrawn and tense... in those few
moments Trowa had actually seen Duo. He supposed he could be basing his
observation on too little evidence - the times he had seen the American
had been rather tense situations. But considering all that had happened,
it didn't seem outside the realm of possibility that Duo had adopted a
different persona. Rather like Trowa himself did when infiltrating Oz.
Duo had adapted his behavior to his environment.
Which, considering the behavior that was appropriate for this environment,
was indeed cause for concern.
He really hoped Heero managed to find Duo again. This time felt... worse
than the last. Trowa had a very strong feeling that Duo really shouldn't
be alone right now, and that an apology from Heero was very important
at this point.
Despite his harsh words to the Japanese boy earlier, and despite the fact
that Heero really had done something incredibly cruel and stupid, Trowa
hadn't given up all faith in Heero. The boy could be an amazing ass, but
Trowa believed that deep down, somewhere, Heero really did have some feeling
for Duo. All other considerations aside, the psychotically antisocial
pilot certainly wouldn't permit, much less invite, physical contact from
someone with whom he didn't feel some strong connection.
So it looked like perhaps Heero was going to rise to the challenge after
Of course, that still left Duo's reaction to worry about...
Trowa started slightly at a quiet knock on the door. He frowned. It couldn't
be Heero, he'd just left, and he wouldn't knock so diffidently. Quatre
was asleep in his bedroom, wearied by the traumatic storm of emotions
Duo had unleashed at breakfast. Wufei had gone up to the roof to meditate.
Perhaps it was Wufei. There was only one key to the apartment, and it
hung on a rusty nail beside the door. That way no one could lose it, or,
if anyone was captured, it couldn't be used to trace the location of the
Trowa considered yelling for Quatre. He was only barely mobile, and still
somewhat unsteady... But the little blond had been so upset earlier, it
was probably best for everyone if he just slept himself out.
A cranky, petulant Quatre in a confined space was not good for anyone's
Suppressing a groan, Trowa pushed himself to his feet and shuffled slowly
to the door, wondering at the patience Wufei was displaying in not knocking
again. Finally, he reached the panel, and briefly considered trying to
get his gun out as Heero would.
Then immediately decided that was silly. First of all, he wasn't sure
he could even hold it up, and second of all, if the person on the other
side wasn't one of the pilots, being greeted with a gun in the face was
sure to rouse suspicions.
Trowa pulled the door open and peered into the hall.
He frowned slightly, thinking at first that it had been a prank or that
the knocker had just decided no one was in and departed, but then he heard
a small sniff from the direction of the floor. He looked down to see a
familiar braid trailing in the dirt of the neglected hallway.
He opened the door a bit further, and saw Duo huddled against the wall
in a compact ball, his face pressed to his drawn up knees and arms wrapped
around his legs. One hand was clutching Heero's tank top like it was his
only anchor to reality.
"Duo?" Trowa asked cautiously, not sure what reaction he would get from
Duo's head jerked up, violet eyes too wide in the light of the bare bulb
illuminating the hallway. He blinked rapidly, not seeming to notice the
moisture forced from his eyes to roll down his cheeks by the movement.
For a moment, they just stared at one another, then Duo murmured, so softly
Trowa barely heard him, "Trowa... "
Speech seemed to galvanize the American into action, and he pushed himself
upright using the wall at his back. He took a hesitant step closer to
the door, watching Trowa nervously all the while. "Tro? Can I... is it
okay if I... could you... " Duo's faint speech trailed off into uncertainty,
leaving Trowa with no coherent question to reply to, but facing a look
of desperation in those wide violet eyes that absolutely required an answer.
"Come inside," Trowa said calmly, keeping his gaze locked with Duo's.
It was a command, not a request, although soft in tone, but it seemed
to be the right thing to say, as Duo shuffled slowly forward, face relaxing
in apparent relief.
Of course, Trowa thought. No need to worry about whether or
not I mean it, whether or not he's welcome. Just an order to follow. No
responsibility, no consequences. Keep it simple, use a light touch,
he advised himself as he moved aside to allow Duo to warily enter the
apartment. He shut the door behind them both, noting Duo's slight flinch
at the sound, and the sudden tension in the slender shoulders clearly
defined by the tight black tee shirt he wore.
"Where is... " After a moment's pause seemed to indicate Duo wasn't going
to finish the question, Trowa quickly ran through the possibilities.
"Quatre is napping. Wufei is up on the roof. Heero is... out." He wasn't
sure whether or not he should tell Duo the Japanese boy was looking for
him. On the one hand, it might make Duo feel better, but on the other
hand, the American might decide he had to go find Heero. And Trowa was
growing more certain by the minute, observing Duo's trembling body and
the makeshift bag clutched in one white-knuckled hand, that under no circumstances
should he let Duo leave his sight, much less the apartment.
Duo seemed to react well to Trowa's report, though, some of the tension
easing from his wiry muscles. Trowa idly wondered if Duo had always been
so painfully slender under the bulky clothes he usually favored, or if
he'd lost weight recently. Taking a calculated risk, he reached out and
laid a gentle hand on Duo's shoulder.
"It's been somewhat lonely. Sit with me?" he asked, keeping his voice
conversational, but applying enough pressure to the shoulder that it still
wasn't really a request. Duo would have to pull away to avoid sitting.
Duo didn't pull away. He actually attempted to help Trowa back to the
couch, but it quickly became apparent that neither of them was particularly
steady on their feet, and inevitably, they got tangled up and collapsed.
Duo was instantly apologetic, trying to push himself away, but when Trowa
groaned as the American's flailing arm bounced off one of his wounds,
Duo froze, afraid to move and possibly injure Trowa further.
Probably doesn't want to face the Wrath of Quatre, Trowa mused,
trying not to grimace in pain, which would only make Duo feel worse. Instead,
he took a moment to consider the position they found themselves in, and
decided it was probably a fairly good arrangement for his purposes.
He'd managed, somehow, to get turned around and had landed rather comfortably
on his behind in the corner of the couch. One leg was pinned beneath Duo's
body, which was half-sprawled across Trowa and the couch, but at least
it wasn't his injured leg. He gently encouraged Duo to crawl up onto the
couch the rest of the way, and not wanting to hurt Trowa, the boy complied,
ending up curled next to the taller pilot with his head in Trowa's lap.
This effort seemed to have just about exhausted Duo, and Trowa was feeling
some strain himself. He was far from top condition. Trowa just sat there
a moment, letting his body recover what little strength it had, one hand
idly caressing Duo's ragged bangs.
The American's hair was damp, his forehead slicked with chill sweat. Trowa
could feel Duo's body shivering slightly where it was pressed against
his own, although the smaller boy was almost feverishly warm. After a
few minutes, the shivering began to recede a bit, until only the occasional
tremor wracked the slight frame.
As they sat there quietly, Trowa took the time to study Duo as he hadn't
that morning. He had vaguely registered a few dark splotches on the boy's
arms, but had been so distracted first by Duo's rarely seen fury and then
by Heero's unconscionable actions, that he hadn't looked too closely.
Now he could see Duo's arm was mottled with multiple bruises, from a large,
dark palm-sized mark on his wrist, which also had scratches on it, to
smaller, sickly green splotches that looked like fingermarks. But far
worse than the arm was the portion of Duo's stomach revealed by the too-small
shirt riding up. The boy's abdomen was stained almost black from the repeated
pummeling he'd taken, the bruises outlined by that sickly green tone.
Trowa frowned, slowly sliding his fingers over Duo's stomach, probing
gently. He didn't seem to detect any unusual swelling or tightness, although
it seemed practically a bona fide miracle for Duo not to have any internal
bleeding. He supposed with sheer luck it was possible, though, and Duo
almost certainly knew how to take a punch to avoid major damage.
As Trowa considered this, he realized Duo had gone very still beneath
his inquisitive exploration. As soon as he realized this, he froze as
well, his fingers resting lightly just above the loose waistband of Duo's
"You can keep going if you want," Duo said quietly, his voice completely
empty of emotion. It was such an artificial tone, and so very wrong coming
from the outgoing American, that Trowa jerked his hand away in surprise.
That had been a mistake, he discovered as Duo let out a small whimper
and attempted to curl up into a little ball again, as he had been in the
Rejection, Trowa realized, cursing his reflexes. He took that
"Duo... " he murmured softly,
wondering what he should say or do to repair the damage. "Duo, I'm sorry,
I didn't mean to... upset you... It's okay, Duo... It's going to be okay...
"No, it's not," Duo contradicted sharply, his muffled voice an
odd combination of misery and anger. "It's not fucking okay! It's
never been okay, and it's never gonna be goddamn okay!"
Trowa was at something of a loss. He wanted to soothe the troubled boy,
but words had never been his strong suit. Biting his lip in frustrated
concern, Trowa finally elected to ignore the pain of half-healed wounds
as he dragged Duo's trembling body fully into his lap until the smaller
boy's head was tucked neatly under Trowa's chin. Not knowing what would
comfort Duo, Trowa just held him, gently stroking the sweat-dampened hair
and murmuring softly in half-remembered French.
Duo's fragile control shattered abruptly, and he wept against Trowa's
neck, harsh, wracking sobs of desolation and hopelessness. The sounds
tore at Trowa's heart as they awoke echoes of pain within himself. Trowa's
past was no doubt somewhat different from Duo's, but still...
There was something about Duo. There always had been. At first, Trowa
had been nervous around the outgoing, always-smiling boy, rebuffing his
friendly overtures coldly. He had believed his defensiveness was inspired
by an ingrained distrust of people who smiled too much. But over time,
as he came to know Duo better, he had realized what it truly was that
had instinctively made him keep his distance from the garrulous American.
Duo understood him.
They had never discussed the matter beyond a few speaking looks that had
confirmed Trowa's new suspicions. Duo had far more tact than that. Most
wouldn't credit him with such, Trowa knew, but that was simply because
Duo could only be bothered to be courteous over matters he felt deserved
Duo, the only one of the pilots whose history bore any similarity to Trowa's
own, understood the taller boy's silence and desire not to speak of irrelevant
difficulties endured long ago. Less painful idiosyncrasies, however, such
as Wufei's obsession with justice, were fair game for Duo's occasionally
Trowa had eventually decided that while it unnerved him to know that there
was one of the group who knew things about him... not specifics, but probably
damn close approximations... it was also strangely comforting. There were
moments when a situation would overwhelm him, when he just needed to get
out, to be alone for a moment so he could breathe... and he soon came
to realize that Duo almost always picked up on those moods. The braided
boy was skilled at manipulating attention, and on more than one occasion,
had put that talent to use to allow Trowa a graceful exit when he needed
He didn't have to explain, he didn't have to talk about it.
Because Duo just... understood.
Trowa frowned slightly, resting his chin on Duo's thick hair. That understanding,
the unspoken commiseration, had been a precious gift. And now Duo needed
his understanding in turn. Trowa felt he was on somewhat shaky ground,
having no real experience with or understanding of drug addiction, but...
for Duo, he had to try.
He supposed that in the final analysis, all Duo might really need at the
moment was someone to hold him, to reassure him that he wasn't alone,
and just to accept, without judging, that Duo wasn't perfect. That he
made mistakes, and that the life he'd led had been a difficult one to
deal with. That sometimes... he couldn't deal with it.
Trowa could do that.
"It will be all right," he declared firmly against the top of Duo's
Duo responded with a noncommittal grunt. Trowa rested his cheek against
the soft hair and began rubbing Duo's back with one hand. The smaller
boy's trembling seemed to ease a bit more at the soothing caress.
"I'm so tired, Tro," Duo murmured after a while, his voice conveying an
exhaustion that was far more than merely physical. "I'm so tired of running
and hiding and fighting and... fucking trying so hard... I don't
think I can keep going much longer... "
"Then don't," Trowa replied calmly. He felt Duo stiffen beneath his touch,
and wondered how the American had interpreted that statement. "You don't
have to do anything right now, Duo. I'm here, you're safe. I'll watch
over you. You just rest."
"I'm sorry," Duo whispered miserably, his voice muffled as he buried his
face against Trowa's chest. "I'm sorry... to ask this... "
"You didn't ask. I offered," Trowa corrected him patiently. He wrapped
his arms around the smaller pilot and gave him a brief hug before returning
to his endless stroking of Duo's back. "Now sleep. Sleep, mon petit frere,"
Trowa murmured softly, not really concentrating on his words as he attempted
to soothe his friend.
Duo, however, released a little grunt of surprise. "Whadja... call me?"
he slurred, weariness slowing his tongue.
Trowa frowned slightly, trying to recall what he'd said. Then a small
grin tilted his lips. "I called you... mon petit frere," he repeated softly,
secure in the belief that Duo didn't speak French. If Catherine can
adopt me, I can adopt Duo, I suppose.
"Oh... 's nice... " Duo murmured
sleepily. He then fell silent for a while, and Trowa thought he'd fallen
asleep. But then the braided boy muttered, "Guess I could do worse fer
a brother. But if ya'd called me a cabbage, I'da had ta slap ya fuckin'
silly... " Trowa let out a snort of amusement and chagrin, but the soft
snores Duo began emitting revealed that the braided boy had quickly dropped
off after his last comment.
Never underestimate Shinigami, Trowa reminded himself ruefully.
The smile soon faded from his face, though, as he considered the boy curled
in his embrace.
"It will be all right," he whispered again, emerald eyes glinting
with fierce determination. "I'll make sure of it." But the implacable
expression slowly faded from his face as he considered all he knew of
the situation. He shook his head slightly, then turned it to rest his
cheek against Duo's hair again.
"Somehow," he murmured apprehensively.
[part 6] [part 8]
[back to Aoe's fic]