Disclaimer: I don't own ‘em, wish I did, just enjoy writing about ‘em
for free etc
Category: Romance, some angst
Notes: Therapy isn't always a medical matter ...
Feedback: If you liked it, PLEASE let me know!
Written for gwy's inspiration ...
Heero stood for a moment in
the doorway, watching. He knew that Duo hadn't seen him yet. The other
man sat cross-legged on the carpet, his back to the door. There were three
open books on one side of him, two magazines on the other. He had earphones
on, his upper body swaying gently in time with whatever was playing at
the moment, and his hands busy leafing through the glossy pages. Heero
watched the thick braid flick carelessly along Duo's left side, then spring
back towards the right as he jerked to the beat of his music. Occasionally
a few notes would burst out as he sang along. They weren't particularly
tuneful, but they were bold.
Heero smiled. It had been quite some time since Duo had sung along to
He took a few steps into the room, carrying the hot tea carefully. He
moved to the side of Duo so that he'd be seen. Only once had he approached
Duo from behind: Duo had reacted swiftly and aggressively, not realizing
for that split second who was there. Heero had lost a couple of good china
mugs that day, and still had the pale mark of a scald on his forearm.
Duo had apologized for almost a week, until Heero persuaded him to shut
up. It had been another couple of days before the wary scowl had left
Heero wasn't exactly counting the days that Duo had been with him, but
his heart seemed to have the imprint of their pattern.
Duo looked up at the movement, saw him and grinned. It was an easy smile,
but Heero noticed how his hand darted to the nearest magazine, flipping
it shut. He peeled the earphones out of his ears. "Hi. Thanks for the
tea. I was going to come and do some breakfast for us."
Heero shook his head gently. "No need." Duo forgot time more easily nowadays
-- he couldn't always hold perspective well in his thoughts and words.
Things were getting better by the day, of course. That was another measure
that Heero was counting. "Do you want to use the desk? I can move my stuff
to one side."
Duo sat back, sipping at the tea. "Nah. Just browsing. Nothing important.
Just keeping myself occupied until I go back to work."
Heero caught the reply before it even formed on his lips, though his eyes
may have flickered their concern. He knew it'd be some months before Duo
went back to work. Maybe he was worried for his house guest's sake ...
maybe there were other, more personal reasons that he wasn't.
"Can I see what you were looking at?"
Duo frowned. He so obviously wanted to say ‘no' -- this nervous secrecy
had been characteristic, ever since he was released from hospital. Heero
was meant to try to draw him back out, to facilitate the healing process.
He met Duo's wary look this morning and knew that he had no real interest
in the doctor's medical instructions -- he just wanted to talk to Duo
in the old ways again.
Duo nudged the magazine with his toe and it opened again. Heero was startled
to see what looked like a fashion spread. Not only that ...
"They're kimono. I didn't know you had an interest in them."
Duo shrugged, but his eyes darted to Heero's face and back down again.
"Sorry. Bet you think I'm some kind of a stalker or something. It's just
that I saw yours and it fascinated me. Wanted to know some more about
Engage him, the doctors had said to him, their eyes narrow with
the caution that comes with diagnosing mental conditions, their clipboards
pressed to their chests like shields that proved a poor defence against
the force of Heero Yuy's surprising distress. The disorientation will
pass, as the drugs they used on him work through his system. But he needs
to be encouraged back into the reality you both shared. He needs to be
stimulated again, by people he knows and respects.
Heero sat slowly down beside him. He was as close as he dared go; close
enough to see the muscle in Duo's thigh clench, though the other man tried
to hide it by wriggling; far enough not to brush against him without warning.
Yet another daily improvement: Duo let him take his arm now -- let him
sit on the same couch with him. Heero found it astonishingly rewarding,
for all kinds of conflicting reasons.
"Would you wear one yourself?"
It was Duo's turn to be startled, but not in a serious way. "Me? It's
a Japanese thing, isn't it ..."
Heero's turn to shrug, though he accompanied it with a smile. "Not exclusively.
I wear American clothing, don't I? Maybe neither of us is entirely of
one country, one place." One home. "We can choose what we want."
Duo nodded. "Maybe. I suppose I wonder what it must feel like. Looks pretty
relaxed -- pretty comfy."
Heero stood up and held out a hand for him. "Come and try one on. I have
Duo looked at his hand. This time, Heero could see he wanted to say ‘yes'.
He would make it easy for him to do so, and not because that was one of
the strategies the psychologists had advised, but because he wanted to
make life easy for Duo Maxwell.
Duo stood in front of the mirror and smiled. "It's cool. Feels good."
He wrapped the dark blue fabric around him, left over right, just like
he'd obviously read in the magazines, for Heero hadn't tried to instruct
him. The hem brushed at his thin ankles and bare feet: the wave pattern
burst across the fabric, as if the sea water washed over him.
Heero stood carefully to one side, belting his own choice around him,
watching Duo's delight. "It's called a yukata, it's in a cooler cotton
than the more formal kimono. It's easy to wear around the house. People
would wear it around the onsen --" He saw Duo's eyebrows rise, quizzically.
"A hot spring. No, I don't have one in the apartment." Duo's brief smile
made his heart shiver with pleasure. It had been a pathetic little joke,
really, but he avoided a more robust, cynical humour. "If you wore it
out, you'd need geta, the Japanese sandals. Also a proper belt, to keep
yourself decent ..." He bit his lip. Duo was particularly possessive of
his body at the moment. When he arrived, the scars had been deep, the
bruises colourful -- the vivid patterns on his pale skin a testament to
something far from beautiful.
But Duo was nodding, apparently unworried. "Cool. But I guess I can't
quite carry it off like you do." He looked away from the mirror, suddenly
catching Heero's gaze. There wasn't any time to glance away -- Heero met
his eyes in the hope he wouldn't be intimidated.
Duo sighed. "I'm not made of china, Heero. You can look at me if
you like. I'm not going to leap for your throat." He saw Heero's troubled
expression and grimaced. "They think I might lapse back, don't they? That,
or leap ahead off an imaginary, hallucinatory cliff. They'll have told
you to keep me very calm -- to treat me with kid gloves. I know what it's
about. Therapy ... pity, maybe. Please don't think I'm not grateful, though,
for your care ..."
Heero stepped forward, unable to stop himself. "I don't need gratitude.
You're my friend, Duo. You're here because I want you with me -- because
I want you to have a place where you feel safe. Where you can heal more
quickly." Where I can care for you.
Duo smiled at him, though it didn't quite reach his eyes. "I understand
that healing has to happen. I just don't feel it. Does that make sense?"
Heero nodded. "That's why I'm here. Not for them, Duo -- the doctors,
the department. I'm here for you, so that you can see your recovery.
So that you can see you'll be the same man again, see your strength returning.
So that you can see your defeat of them, of the bastards who took you
" -- of the ghosts," Duo broke in. His eye were wide, the pupils dilated.
Heero took a deep breath. "The dreams will go, too."
"You know that?" Duo challenged, though his voice was soft.
"Yes," Heero replied, staring back at him. "I know, because I've had them
too, in the past. I know, because I sleep beside you." He saw Duo shiver
and he put out a hand to his arm, instinctively. "Please. I didn't tell
you, but I wanted to. I hear you in the night and I want to ..." He couldn't
find the right words: his throat felt tight. "Every day your sleep gets
deeper -- every day your rest is better."
Duo's eyes were even wider. "How the fuck am I meant to know that, Heero
"That's why you have me. Like I said. I'm here as your validation."
They stared at each other for moments longer, both of them breathing a
little too heavily. Heero still held his hand on Duo's arm, creasing the
soft cotton fabric of the kimono. Duo's feet shifted slightly, as if he
wanted to move away, but he stayed where he was. A slight flush came to
When he broke the silence, his words were calm again, though brittle.
"So here I am, an all-American boy in a borrowed Japanese gown. An alien
"No," said Heero, sharply. "No pity, Duo. Not from me, not from yourself.
You're better than that."
Duo pulled at his hand suddenly, tugging him beside him. Heero swallowed
down the shock of his touch, once so familiar, now so rare. They stood
together, looking into the mirror. Matching kimono, Duo's in a dark blue
fabric, Heero's a cool white with the waves in black. As Heero caught
the other pair of eyes in the reflection, Duo smiled at him. It was a
smile from the old days. Heero's heart lost a couple of steps, then steadied
Duo turned back to peer in the mirror. "Still say you look better in it
than me." He was smiling, but now there was a tiny flame of mischief in
his expression. Heero could remember the last time Duo had looked like
that -- could remember how he'd felt: how he'd sounded: how his skin had
tasted between his lips ...
It hurt to remember -- but it was a hopeful hurt. He laughed at himself
for considering such a Duo phrase.
"You look fine," he said aloud. "I like you because you're you, not because
you're like me. Does that make sense?"
Duo grinned. "Yeah. We're more like each other than we ever thought."
He turned suddenly, facing back to Heero. "I didn't mean to imply you
pitied me. I know it's not that."
Heero smiled, too. "Sure. Though I have to confess it's not entirely selfless,
Duo peered at him. "The treating with kid gloves? Or the sleeping with
me?" The shoulder of his kimono had slipped down his arm as he'd turned.
There'd been the glimpse of bare, muscled thigh as the cloth settled back
in place below his waist. Heero looked into his eyes and saw that Duo
knew he was watching -- and that he accepted it. That maybe - soon --
he would welcome more. Once again.
"You're what I need, Heero. You know that? You always have been."
"I'm not sure I'm the best fashion source for a whole new look..." Heero
knew his face was flushed, but knew he should still step carefully, still
seek compassion, not controversy...
Duo laughed gently beside him. "I'm feeling those kid gloves again. OK,
so we take it easy for a while longer. But I've always known how I feel,
always felt it, whatever happened -- you remember that."
"I will," he replied. I do
He knew he was grinning too, now -- he could feel happiness creasing the
corners of his eyes. He wanted to hold Duo, but that would wait. The steps
had to be followed -- but not necessarily at a snail's pace. They stood
in their matching robes, their very different features contrasting in
the mirror's reflection, and their eyes shining at each other.
The laugh that followed -- though soft and cautious -- was from both of
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