+ Part 2
"Mr. Maxwell, why must we go through this every time?"
Wu Fei swam out of a drug haze and saw that a doctor and two nurses were hovering over Duo's bed. Duo had his bandaged arms raised as if to fend them off, face full of fury. Heero stood at his elbow, whether to save the doctor and his staff, or to make sure that Duo wasn't harmed, Wu Fei wasn't sure. His _expression was fierce and determined, as if he were on a mission.
"Mr. Maxwell," the doctor tried again. "Your dressing needs to be changed. The bandages have to be taken off. The skin grafts have to be checked and tended. I know that it is a very painful process, but if we don't do these things, infection will set in at the worst and you will end up badly scarred at the least."
"No!" Duo shouted back.
"Mr. Yuy?" The doctor pleaded.
"Drug him," Heero said with a heavy sigh.
Wu Fei was shocked to see a nurse inject a syringe into Duo's IV.
"Bastard!" Duo swore as he tried to fight his way out of the bed. Heero held him down easily. "I never gave you permission to make decisions for me!"
"You did," Heero replied, as calm and as steady as a rock. "The paperwork is on file."
Duo glared, but the drugs were taking effect and it lacked force. "Liar! You... forged... my... signat-" He was unconscious then and Heero gently settled him back onto his pillows. Wu Fei saw him carefully move Duo's braid out of harm's way as the doctor and the nurses peeled back the blanket and began to strip Duo of his bandages.
They stuck to the wounds. It looked painful. Wu Fei watched them carefully work the bandages off. The sight of Duo's wounds; his burns, his grafts, the stitched lacerations, and the treatment that Duo was subjected to, made his reluctance suddenly more understandable.
Heero looked over and saw that Wu Fei was awake. He moved around the working doctor and nurses, and approached him, though his body was poised and alert, ready to dash back if he was needed.
Wu Fei nodded at Duo. "Is he all right?"
"As well as can be expected," Heero replied, which wasn't reassuring.
"You shouldn't drug him against his will, Yuy," Wu Fei growled and weakly used the remote by his hand to raise the bed. Sitting slightly upright now, he checked his drain tube, his catheter, and IV before skewering Heero with another dark look. "If he wishes to-"
"He doesn't wish to," Heero retorted, "but he must. Just as you do."
"I am my own man," Wu Fei protested hotly. "I didn't sign any form to allow you to make medical decisions for me."
Heero smirked. "But you did."
Wu Fei was indignant. "I did not."
Heero shrugged slightly and then half turned to watch the doctors work.
"I will make sure that you are charged with forgery and falsifying documents," Wu Fei warned. "If that's what you want to do," Heero replied indifferently and began to walk back to Duo.
"Chang," Quatre's voice` admonished softly.
Wu Fei started and turned his head. Quatre was leaning against that side of the bed, looking at him sadly. "Don't be angry with him. He's worried about both of you. He's doing what's best."
"Why?" Wu Fei demanded angrily. "I am not weak. Let him care for Maxwell."
"He knows what you need," Quatre insisted. "He won't shame you or be ashamed by you, Chang Wu Fei. He understands honor and keeping face."
Quatre smiled. The world lost focus for what seemed like a moment and then Heero was bending in Wu Fei's line of sight and saying with a worried frown, "The doctor wants to check your wounds next, Wu Fei, and take out your catheter. I'm going to be by Duo's bed, but I will still be on guard."
Just as Quatre had said, Heero was being careful not to witness Wu Fei's shame, the indignity of his catheter being removed.
"Quatre," Wu Fei frowned. "Go with him."
He turned his head and saw nothing. Heero's voice said worriedly, "Quatre's not here, Wu Fei."
Wu Fei had a moment of severe disorientation. The doctor and the nurses were preparing themselves. He couldn't be this off balance and endure it. "Heero?" Wu Fei said quickly, trying not to let his desperation sound in his voice. "Was Quatre here... earlier?"
"Yes," Heero replied. "He had to go. If he had known that the doctor would decide to do this, though, he wouldn't have left."
Relief. It felt acute. It was good to know that he wasn't hallucinating. "Thank you," Wu Fei told him and turned his face away, a seeming dismissal, but, in actuality, a plea. Heero mercifully understood and moved away, turning his back.
The doctor approached cautiously and checked to make certain that Wu Fei was alert. "I am going to remove your catheter and check your drainage. If everything looks good, the therapist will be visiting next. It's very important that you begin to walk. It will be painful, but the longer that you remain in this bed, the greater the chance that complications will develop."
Wu Fei gave a stiff nod of acknowledgment, keeping his eyes averted. He tried to center himself, tried to pretend that he was elsewhere, as his humiliation began. The nurses were quick and competent. They cleaned him after, checked his IVs, and checked his bedding, as the doctor peeled back wound dressings and removed something that stung from the worst of the wounds.
"Good." The doctor sounded very impressed. "Your healing abilities are phenomenal. With any other patient, I would have been preparing next of kin and filling out a death certificate. I've heard rumors that Gundam pilots are physically superior, but to see it firsthand.... I'll get an award for the paper I submit on this."
"How long?" Wu Fei bit out. "How long until I may leave this place?"
The doctor frowned as he replaced the dressings and motioned the nurses to clean up that area as well. "With therapy and further improvement... several weeks."
Wu Fei cut that estimate in half and was still frustrated. "Maxwell? How long..."
The doctor's frown deepened. "He's still listed in critical, Mr. Wu Fei."
"What?" Wu Fei turned his head sharply to look at the doctor in shock. "I thought..." He remembered Duo sitting up, exchanging barbs with him, looking completely healthy. The fool. He was a master at subterfuge.
"You will force him to stay and heal," Wu Fei told the doctor, the threat heavy in his voice. "He will try to trick you. He pretends... very well. He will convince you that he is well enough to leave."
The doctor looked unhappy. "I won't release Mr. Maxwell until my observations of his medical condition warrant it, but the law says that I can't keep him against his will. You, and his friends, will have to convince him not to leave before it's wise."
"I will not 'convince'," Wu Fei snapped and hated how the weakness and drugs made that statement impotent. "He will stay."
The nurse began to inject his IV with a pain killer. Wu Fei reached out and closed his hand hard on her wrist. She squeaked in alarm.
"You will not give me any more drugs," Wu Fei told her as he released her.
The doctor was anxious. "Mr. Wu Fei, the pain-"
"Is my own concern," Wu Fei told him firmly.
"All right," the doctor sighed, "but, when the pain hits, and you change your mind, call the nurse."
Wu Fei looked irritated and said nothing to that.
The doctor and the nurses left the room with their equipment. The silence felt strange. Wu Fei looked over at Heero, who was standing by Duo and looking down at him intently. His concern for Duo was almost an aura around him. Wu Fei wasn't sure about Duo's feeling for anyone. It surprised Wu Fei that it was Heero, and not the one time pilot of Deathscythe, who was wearing his emotions for anyone to see.
"Critical," Wu Fei said, a stone in a still pool. Heero nodded without turning.
"He's my partner," Wu Fei stated and wondered why he did. It sounded almost as if he were staking some claim.
Heero's shoulders stiffened. He replied, "I know, but he told me not to tell you. He didn't want you to be upset."
He was upset, Wu Fei thought. He wanted to be by Duo's bedside, not stuck in his own.
"My fault," Wu Fei grated, surprising them both.
Heero turned, looking puzzled. "What?"
"I failed to protect him during the mission," Wu Fei explained, feeling the shame twist in his gut. "It was my duty and I failed."
Wu Fei glared at him.
"If you can tell me how you could have brought both of you out of that firefight without being wounded, I would like to hear it," Heero asked."I am not immune to bombs and bullets. Are you?"
Wu Fei continued to glare, but then he suddenly found his blanket, twisted in his clenched hands, the most fascinating thing in the room.
"Duo would say, 'The truth is painful. Get over it'," Heero told him. "I think that's good advice."
Guilt wouldn't let go so easily, though, especially when Wu Fei's partner was breathing the same air as death only a few feet away.
The therapist came, a no nonsense young man who helped Wu Fei sit up further than he had in long days, and held him steady until the dizziness passed. When Wu Fei felt better, the man asked briskly, as if he expected a long argument, "Ready to put your feet on the floor and try a few steps?" He positioned a chair exactly three steps away. "Just there. I'll help you every step of the way."
Wu Fei's nostrils flared in annoyance and then he demanded, "I will walk to Maxwell's bed."
The therapist blinked and then measured the distance with his eyes. "I don't think you realize how weak you are, Mr. Wu Fei."
Heero was suddenly at Wu Fei's bedside. He said to the therapist, as if he were angry on Wu Fei's behalf, "You don't realize how strong he is."
The therapist looked skeptical. "You can give me a hand, Mr.Yuy, when he starts to fall flat on his face," he told him acidly.
Heero nodded and he stood ready.
Wu Fei trembled and sweated with pain as the therapist levered him off the bed. He made it four steps, before he fell. Heero was there, though, even before the therapist could react, and, as Wu Fei's senses spun, he felt himself moving forward again.
A soft surface pressed against him. He realized that he was leaning against a bed, strong hands still holding him. He fought to clear his head, fought to straighten. He used every ounce of will to accomplish it and then found himself looking into Duo Maxwell's very pale face. Those purple eyes opened blearily at all the noise and movement. They focused with difficulty on Wu Fei.
"Moron," Duo groused hoarsely and then he was drifting off into the drugs again.
"Was it worth the effort to hear that?" Heero asked with some humor.
"Yes," Wu Fei growled back. He studied Duo's face, willed his partner's fierce spirit to remain, and then gave up. Heero lifted him easily, keeping his IV lines clear, and the therapist helped him maneuver IV stand and Preventer agent back into his bed.
Wu Fei closed his eyes and waited for his heart to stop beating wildly. He heard the therapist say to Heero, "I'm sorry, I didn't know that they were... uhm... lovers?"
Wu Fei went hot at the man's presumption. "Are you done with your duty?" he demanded.
"Yes, sir," the man replied.
The man exchanged looks with Heero and then said to Wu Fei, "I'll be back in the morning. If you feel an increase in pain, don't hesitate to call the nurse."
Wu Fei reminded himself that the man was only doing his job and that he didn't realize how much he was insulting him. When the therapist was gone, Wu Fei rubbed at his eyes wearily.
"You should sleep some more," Heero suggested.
The bed tilted downward and the blankets were pulled up under Wu Fei's chin. Would embarrassment never end?
"Duo was right when he called you 'Nurse Yuy'," Wu Fei grumbled, trying to regain some face.
Heero didn't reply but his hands stopped their fussing motions.
"Lovers..." Wu Fei complained as he began to drift off into sleep. "The man is foolish and insane." He struggled awake enough to add, "Any change in Duo... wake me... at once... promise."
A hand smoothed dark hair from his face. Wu Fei felt the light brush of fingers. He remembered Quatre doing the same thing only Heero's hand trailed along his cheek in a manner that was more intimate.
"I promise," Heero said and then Wu Fei let go of consciousness.
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