Author: Calic0cat
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Fragments + Chapter 25

I turned the com over to Wufei and headed back to the main cabin to take Sally's place watching over Duo while she joined Wufei to report in. We'd sent a general report, a request to be met by a med-ship, and a request for troops to shut down the satellite *immediately* the moment that we'd cleared the satellite's jamming range but we'd put off filing a more detailed report until after Sally tended to Duo. It had taken both Wufei and myself to hold him down while she probed the wound and found a tiny bit of cloth that she'd missed previously then flushed the wound with whiskey from the ship's bar. I'd been relieved when he'd finally passed out; he'd been in so much pain... Pain that we *still* couldn't give him anything for; the only painkiller in the ship's medical kit was aspirin and there was no way that Sally was about to give Duo something with blood-thinning properties under the circumstances. She'd had a hell of a time stopping the bleeding again as it was.

Standing in the cabin's doorway, I watched Sally coax Duo to swallow a few more sips of fluid before he slipped back into unconsciousness again. He was so damn pale...

"Sally? Wufei requested that you join him to make your report. I'll stay with Duo."

She stood and gave me a dark glare. "I'm surprised Wufei is willing to let you be alone with him," she commented coolly.

I found myself having trouble meeting her eyes. Wufei had - had words with me on the subject. He'd made it perfectly clear that while he understood why I'd acted the way that I had he still held me responsible for Duo's condition. I'd freely admitted my guilt and told him that I realized my amnesia was not sufficient reason to have shot Duo. That I knew I owed Duo a great deal more than an apology. My response surprised him, I think. He'd been silent for a few very long moments and I'd had to make a real effort to continue to meet his intent gaze. Finally, he'd nodded sharply and told me to go relieve Sally so that she could make her report together with him.

After waiting for a few moments for me to say something, Sally finally pushed past me towards the doorway. She stopped in it with her back to me and said flatly, "You missed the brachial artery by a hairbreadth. When they brought him to the cell, I thought at first that it *had* been hit, he was bleeding so badly. I almost couldn't get it stopped. If he'd been put in that room alone or if the artery had been hit..." She shook her head slightly then left without finishing her sentence.

I sank into the chair Sally had been using, horrified by what she'd just told me. By the knowledge that I had come very, very close to killing the man I loved.

***

"Heero? How's the headache?"

"Gone again. The painkillers were effective." Sally was already returning her attention to her computer's screen by the time that I remembered to belatedly add, "Thank you."

The startled look and slight smile she gave me as she said, "You're welcome," reminded me just how badly I usually fared at that kind of thing. At those little niceties of social interaction that came so naturally to others.

'How am I ever going to keep the promise I made to myself and act like I did while I was just "Odin" when I have trouble with simple things like saying "Thank you" to a friend? How can I display happiness and affection openly when I have trouble even showing gratitude?' I gave the duffle bag in the corner a frustrated glance, thinking of the notebook inside it. While searching the offices in the factory part of the satellite, we'd found a box containing most of the things that Duo and I had left behind. Getting the notebook back was a decidedly mixed blessing. I didn't really need it as the reminder it was originally intended to be. I still remembered the things that I'd written about in it. Still wanted those things just as badly. But I wasn't sure how I was going to go about managing to accomplish them. Especially with Duo in an L3 hospital and me here on the resource satellite.

I could have requested medical leave myself based on the lingering effects from the head injury. I was still missing some memories; those immediately preceding and including the accident might never come back. And I was still getting the headaches that were an inevitable part of the aftermath of any head trauma. But I hadn't requested leave; I needed to see this through. To know that I'd done everything in my power to make sure that Mattis and his cohorts got what they so richly deserved - a one way ticket to jail. Both because they were putting weapons on the street and endangering peace and because they'd nearly killed my partner, the man I loved.

Oh, I was the one to pull the trigger; there was no denying that. That severe error in judgement was mine and mine alone. But the cause of the situation - my amnesia - was their fault; we'd gotten one of Mattis's employees to admit that the scaffolding "accident" was no accident at all. They'd been monitoring all of the satellite's communications closely enough to note the discrepancy in transmission size between the size that a vid call *should* have been and the size that our check-in call was with the data from the bugs added to the signal. They hadn't been able to positively identify let alone crack the encoded part of the transmission but they'd been aware that something was unusual. That had been more than enough to make them suspicious of the ones placing the call. More than enough reason for them to arrange an "accident" that would either get rid of those individuals - namely Duo and myself - or draw us out into more open action.

The fact that Duo had ended up as seriously ill as he was at one point was their fault too. If Sally and Wufei hadn't been in that cell with him, he would have died. Would have bled to death before I ever found him.

Remembering the simple, flat way that Sally had told me just how close he'd come to bleeding to death even with her there, I had to suppress a shiver.

It was going to be difficult facing Duo with that knowledge in the back of my mind. It was just another reminder that I really had no business even asking him for a chance. A reminder of just how fucked-up my head was; that I'd let my training override my feelings for Duo. That I couldn't guarantee even now that I could break free of the conditioning enough to give Duo the open, loving relationship that he deserved.

'But I *did* tell him how I felt and kiss him before I left...' I suppressed a sigh and admitted to myself that I couldn't count that. I knew damn well that he hadn't been lucid. If he remembered any of that, it was probably only a vague impression that I'd been there.

His condition had been stable, maybe even beginning to improve a tiny bit by then. Sally's treatment of the wound - removing that scrap of cloth and flushing the wound with alcohol - together with the fact that we'd managed to mix a simple rehydration solution using basic ingredients from the ship's galley and get some of it down him had been enough to turn things around. He wasn't completely better by any means but he was on the road to recovery. If it hadn't been clear that Duo was going to be alright once he had a transfusion, I wouldn't have left. As it was though, Sally had said that he was going to be fine. She didn't even expect the hospital to keep him more than a few days. And since Wufei's broken arm left him on medical leave for at least a few days as well, he would be able to keep Duo company.

'And by leaving when I did, I didn't have to face Duo yet...' Didn't have to face him and try to admit my feelings face to face when he was both conscious and lucid. Didn't have to face the possibility that the love he'd admitted to "Odin" was just a necessary part of our cover. Or worse yet, that the love had been real but I'd destroyed it with my later actions.

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