Author: Kracken
Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money off of them
Warning:Male/male sex, graphic, language, violence.

Cadence + Part 3
Pillow Talk

"I can't eat this," Wu Fei groused as he pushed his food tray aside.

Duo made a motion of disgust at his own tray and pushed it aside as well. He lay back into his pillows and stared at the ceiling.

Wu Fei watched him silently for some moments and then asked carefully. "Is your throat bothering you?"

Duo shrugged dispiritedly.

"You should eat," Wu Fei said and then grabbed a remote and jabbed buttons until he managed to find a news station on the overhead vidscreen. "You've lost far too much weight."

After a moment, the sound of knuckles on plastic made Wu Fei look at Duo again. Duo was still staring at the ceiling, but he was holding up a clipboard that read, 'When food shows up, I'll eat it.'

Duo wasn't on Wu Fei's soft food diet. His actually looked like a meal. A small bite had been taken out of what was trying to pass as mashed potatoes and that was all. "If you aren't careful," Wu Fei warned, "Heero will make them give you food through an IV."

Duo glared at him.

"You know he will," Wu Fei insisted. "He convinced the doctors that we are too incapacitated to make our own medical decisions and he forged our signatures to give him the legal right to make them for us."

Duo scribbled and held up the clipboard. 'Prosecute later.'

Wu Fei agreed.

Duo reluctantly picked up a fork and poked at his meal. He brought a mouthful up and ate it with a grimace. His throat was hurting him, Wu Fei decided, and it wasn't just the unpleasantness of the meal.

"If you would only stop speaking, the medication the doctor gives you would heal your throat much faster," Wu Fei pointed out. Duo didn't bother responding as he forced down another mouthful.

Duo suddenly went very pale and he clutched at his stomach. He shoved the tray aside, bent over the side of the bed, and began throwing up violently. After only a moment of that, he began choking. His hands flailed around him for the emergency call button.

Wu Fei had only walked twice, both times with help from Heero and the therapist. Adrenalin alone had him out of bed and across the space between their beds as he shouted for Heero. He grabbed Duo, pulled him close, and forced him down as Heero burst through the door and joined him.

Heero's fingers went into Duo's mouth as Duo's eyes went wide and his face went blue. Feeling nothing he could reach, Heero elbowed Wu Fei aside, turned Duo, and did a heimlich even as several nurses rushed into the room. Nothing happened. It was Heero's turn to be shoved aside by a male nurse, who was suctioning Duo's throat in the next moment as two female nurses pinned Duo in place.

Duo sucked in air audibly and then kept gasping like landed fish as the male nurse let out a sound of relief and ordered, "Call the doctor."

Heero helped Duo lay back, but then he was clutching at Wu Fei as Wu Fei began to fall. Emergency over, adrenalin rushed out like a wave and Wu Fei was left with nothing left over. His senses reeled and his body screamed pain. People rushed about. Voices shouted. The world upended and then blessed softness hit his back as he was put in bed. He kept his eyes closed, letting his mind and body calm down and regain control.

"I have never had so much trouble from two patients!" Wu Fei heard the doctor exclaim as the man rushed into the room. "Are they trying to die? Mr. Maxwell? Can you hear me? Your insistence on speaking, against all of my clear orders, has caused your throat to swell. That swelling caused you to choke on your food just now. I'm afraid that it's now necessary for me to do an exploratory. Nurse Kirkpatrick? Please prepare the patient. Mr. Maxwell? I assure you this is necessary. While purging your system of toxic poison has been our main focus, as well as the burns, the damage to your esophagus is not a small matter either. If you persist in ignoring my orders, you may be spending the rest of your life breathing and eating through a plastic tube. Do I make myself clear? I thought so."

Wu Fei felt a chill as fear prickled at him. When Duo had finally been taken off the critical list, he had known acute relief and happiness, to hear that Duo was that close to returning to that list rubbed his face in just how easily he could lose Duo. The body in that other bed, always so strong, so confident, and seeming so damned invulnerable, could be snuffed out of existence as easily as any candle flame.

Hands checked Wu Fei's wounds. He kept still, refusing to look and suffer the indignity of actually knowing who was touching him. He was surprised to hear Heero say, "He didn't pull any of his wounds open, Doctor."

"Good," The doctor said from Duo's bedside. Footsteps, and then the doctor's voice asked, very close to Wu Fei's face, "Are you all right, Mr. Wu Fei?"

Wu Fei nodded.

"You shouldn't be," the doctor told him angrily. "While I commend your actions in trying to help your partner, may I remind you that Mr, Yuy, and an entire staff of nurses, were close by. Attempting to help Mr. Maxwell yourself, could have done irreparable harm to him as well as to yourself."

Wu Fei felt the cold touch on his chest while the doctor checked his vitals and then it was gone and footsteps retreated back to Duo's bedside.

"Ready?" The Doctor asked. When he was give an affirmative he said, "Try to relax, Mr. Maxwell. I'll try to make this brief."

Wu Fei winced at the strangled, whimper, something that should never have come from Duo Maxwell. He pretended that he hadn't heard it, not wanting to shame Duo by acknowledging it. He opened his eyes and saw Heero by his bedside, face pale as he watched the backs of the people working on Duo.

"Yuy," Wu Fei managed around his pain. Heero looked down at him and those dark blue eyes were trying to control a deep anguish."Thank you." Heero frowned, not understanding. "Thank you for coming..."

Heero frowned even more. He reached out and his hand hovered as if he wanted to touch Wu Fei, but then he lowered it again and said with a frustrated growl, "I should have been in here, not... not out there."

"We are not children," Wu Fei retorted softly. He studied this man, who had seemed so indifferent during the time they had known each other, but was now acting as if it were his sole duty to be their protectors. Of course, they had never come so close to dying before, had never touched the fragile barrier between this world and the next and felt that icy hand of death so keenly. During the war, there had been close calls, but youth gave a person a false feeling of immortality. Now that they were older, that veil had not only been lifted, but destroyed completely. Perhaps that was why Wu Fei's heart was still hammering in fear for Duo and why Heero was clutching at his blankets as if he needed it as an anchor to prevent himself from running to Duo's side. They both knew how easily Duo could breathe his last.

"Done, Mr. Maxwell," the doctor said at last. "There is swelling and a small rupture. I cannot impress on you enough that you need to stay silent. I will need to place you on a soft food diet until the rupture heals. A course of intravenous fluid will be administered as well. Let this be a warning, Mr. Maxwell. I don't think your injuries can take any more abuse."

"What's going on?" Quatre's voice came from the doorway and the man was there, looking anxious.

Heero moved to Duo's side as the nurses and the doctor gathered their things and left. A janitor began cleaning up the vomit. Quatre joined Heero as the man explained what had happened.

Quatre swore softly. "Idiots! I've never known two such infuriating men!" His voice softened in the next moment as he said, "Oh, Duo.... It must have hurt... It will be all right. I'll get you some tissue. No, no one can see you, just us. Don't worry. We understand."

Wu Fei found himself pressing his hands to his ears as he heard it. No, it couldn't be! Not Duo! He refused to hear it. Refused to believe it. Shinigami didn't cry.

Things quieted down after awhile. Duo slept. Wu Fei sat in a deepening depression. Heero paced. Quatre tidied up the room, needing something to do.

"Go home," Wu Fei said suddenly, firm and determined.

Heero glared at him. Quatre looked uncomfortable as he came to his bedside. "Chang? Are you awake?"

"Very much so," Wu Fei told him. "I want you both to leave."

"Why?" Heero looked pained as he stopped pacing and stared at him.

"Because we are both shamed by having our weaknesses witnessed by our comrades," Wu Fei's jaw worked and then he continued, "No one should have witnessed..." he motioned towards Duo. "The drugs and his injuries... no one should have witnessed that."

Quatre understood. Wu Fei could see it, could hear it in the careful way that he replied, "We understand that Duo isn't in complete control because of the drugs he was given. We aren't judging him, Chang, or you.."

That burned like fire, to be included, to know that Quatre was aware of Wu Fei's shame and embarrassment.

"I'm not going," Heero stated and turned away to regard Duo's sleeping form.

"These people are not equipped to deal with soldiers, Chang," Quatre argued softly. "For their safety, and yours, we should stay. I'm sorry that it upsets you."

Wu Fei felt as if he might explode. His hands opened and closed harshly on his blanket and then he bit out, "Then you'll both stay outside our room until you are needed. At least give us-"

"No," Heero protested. "Someone has to make sure that something doesn't happen to you. Duo choked. He could have died."

"Life is full of danger, Yuy!" Wu Fei snarled back. "We are not children. We are men. You will stand outside or..." There was no 'or' Wu Fei knew. He didn't have any way to back up his threat.

Heero began to argue again, but Quatre turned and touched his arm. They whispered together. Wu Fei saw Heero's back stiffen, the tension in his shoulders telling him how much Heero didn't like what Quatre was saying. Those strong shoulders slumped in the next moment, and Heero was leaving, pushing a hand hard into the door and walking out.

Quatre turned back to Wu Fei. "He's worried. So am I. I think you're right, though. Duo wasn't happy that we saw... It's difficult enough to convince him to stay here and heal. We can't make it impossible for him."

Maybe he had seen the look on Wu Fei's face, or maybe he had felt Wu Fei's shame with the acute empathy he seemed to posses. Whatever the reason, Quatre hadn't included Wu Fei again and for that, Wu Fei could grant him a thankful nod without too much temper.

It was, perhaps, a decision he sorely regretted when he next woke to find Duo halfway out of the hospital room window.

"Maxwell!" Wu Fei shouted.

Duo froze and then looked back over his shoulder. He was wearing a pair of shorts at least and not an open backed gown, but it was still raining outside and dark as pitch. A chill win whipped water droplets all over Duo and into the room. He was bandaged at a dozen points and holding himself as if he were in great pain, but the fierce determination on his face was almost demonic.

Wu Fei struggled out of bed, ignoring his own pain, and hobbled over to Duo with his hands pressed against his wounds to brace them. "If you go, you will have to take me," Wu Fei told him angrily.

Duo wiped at the water on his face with a shaking hand, scowling. The IV marks on his arms were darkly bruised and bleeding slightly. "Stay," he told Wu Fei hoarsely.

"No," Wu Fei replied. He leaned against the wall as he looked out of the window. Parking lot lights showed that they were only on the second floor and that a tree could assist them down, if they hadn't both been weak and wounded. "I refuse to be left here to suffer these fools alone."

Duo growled, rubbed at his throat, and then slumped against the wall. He looked dejected, lost, and at the end of his strength emotionally. Wu Fei determined, then and there, that he would never let Duo know that he had seen him cry.

"How do you intend to get home?" Wu Fei wondered.

Duo pulled keys from his pocket. He mouthed, 'Yuy'. He had picked Heero's pocket.

"Smooth," Wu Fei grunted appreciatively. "And your status is such that you can survive this escape attempt?"

Duo pointed to his chart. Wu Fei leaned and read it. Aside from fluids and pain killers, Duo was simply getting his skin grafts checked and dressings changed. Wu Fei himself was being encouraged to move about more and more. Climbing down trees, however, was not something he was ready for.

"Rather than try for the dramatic," Wu Fei complained. "Why don't we try the easier way first?"

Duo raised an eyebrow and then made a motion from the war, a hand sign that said, 'mission yours'. It warmed Wu Fei. Duo was usually the leader, but Wu Fei was the solid presence of reason that Duo turned to when he needed advice or simply someone to tell him that he was wrong. The actions Wu Fei were about to take, were not reasonable at all.

"Wait here," Wu Fei told Duo as he hobbled to the door. Yuy and Winner were standing outside, Quatre sipping tea from a Styrofoam cup and Heero eating a protein bar.

"Chang!" Quatre said anxiously when Wu Fei opened the door. "Is everything all right?"

Heero started past him, but Wu Fei stopped him, using what little charm he possessed to touch Heero's arm reassuringly as he asked, "Forgive me, but Duo and I are hungry. Is it possible to get something from the commissary this late?"

"Of course, I'll get you both something," Quatre offered. "What would you like?"

"Rice with pork," Wu Fei told him. "A salad, if possible.... and tea. Maxwell would like a hamburger with fries, but he still needs soft food... soup, maybe, a soft desert, soft bread that he doesn't have to chew too much, and a drink. I don't think that you can carry that all by yourself, Quatre."

Quatre had raised eyebrows. "I don't think so either."

"Duo can't eat all of that," Heero said skeptically. "He's barely managing-"

"He hates the regular hospital meals," Wu Fei told him, warming to the deception for Duo's sake. "I think he will eat more if he's given food from a regular menu."

"You're probably right," Quatre agreed. "Come with me, Heero. You can help carry the food."

Heero frowned. "I think someone should stay-"

"I'm awake and alert," Wu Fei told him and then angrily looked down his nose at Heero. "I am more than capable of watching Duo sit in a hospital bed."

Heero was still reluctant, but Quatre was growing exasperated. "Even wounded, Wu Fei is a match for any man, Heero. I think they will both be all right for a few minutes."

Heero finally agreed to go, but from the long strides he was taking, Wu Fei estimated that they wouldn't be gone long. He returned to Duo and then wondered how a man in a hospital gown, and a man naked to the waist and in shorts, was going to escape a hospital.

Duo didn't hesitate when Wu Fei gave the all clear signal. He put an arm around Wu Fei and went into the hall with him as if he were helping him with a therapy walk. That plan would only go so far, but Duo had somehow been paying more attention than Wu Fei to the hospital layout when they had come in. They pilfered some lockers and were in mismatched clothing, that didn't fit, before too long, but Wu Fei's inner clock was telling him that Heero and Quatre had been given ample time to find out their deception. He wasn't surprised that it was Heero who found them at the entrance to a supply bay not five minutes later.

"We're going," Duo said hoarsely, but he was leaning heavily against a wall. Wu Fei sat down on the floor without Duo's support, but he was keeping his composure, looking as if he were about to meditate.

Heero stared at them both, jaw working. Wu Fei was ready for a shameful call, for nurses to come at a run, and the inevitable trip back to their beds. Instead, Heero said, "I will go get my car, Give me my keys, Duo."

Duo's mouth was hanging open. He looked suspicious. There was something about Heero, though, that was different. Nurse Yuy was gone. This was someone they knew, someone they had been missing. This was Heero Yuy, soldier, and he could understand them perfectly. Duo slowly handed over the car keys. Heero closed his hand on them, gave them both a stern look that said better than words to stay until he returned, and then he was slipping out of the building and into the parking lot.

[part 2] [part 4] [back to Kracken's fic]