+ Part 6
Duo leaned in very close and said, his warm breath in Qu Fei's ear, "It's okay."
Relief flooded through Wu Fei's body, but he was still too unsure, still to new to this revelation about his best friend, his partner. He turned away, ignoring his pains, and said to Heero to cover his awkwardness, "We shouldn't just sit here... maybe we could have reports, paperwork, or research that needs to be done, sent here?"
Duo made an exasperated sound. Heero was frowning, but then he was nodding too as he said, "I'll ask Sally to bring some, along with our things from our homes."
It was very quiet after that except for Heero's radio. What was there to say? Duo lay at Wu Fei's back, humming a tune under his breath, and Wu Fei suffered on his side, unwilling to face Duo and his inner knowledge. Sally had been an irritation, but Wu Fei could have kissed her in relief when she came to check on them.
Heero let her into the apartment and then stood close by, awaiting her report. Tossing her coat aside, Sally opened up a medical case on the coffee table, slung a stethoscope around her neck, and then blinked in surprise when she realized that the shape behind Wu Fei's shoulder was Duo.
"Am I going to find you all in jammies, and having a slumber party, next time I come?" She asked with a laugh.
"Woman!" Wu Fei growled, "It's foolish for Duo to be in another room, in isolation, when we are not sleeping."
Sally raised an eyebrow. "Well, Chang Wu Fei," she replied impishly, "Does that explain why Duo isn't sitting in a chair?"
Wu Fei narrowed eyes dangerously and then looked away when she wasn't intimidated. She didn't press her advantage, though, even when Duo snickered.
She checked Wu Fei's wounds, listened to his heartbeat, checked his eyes, and then asked irritably, "May I ask why your wounds have been stressed?"
"A fall," Heero told her and Wu Fei felt like cursing him. "Nothing serious. I was there to help him."
Sally frowned, "Could have been worse," she replied, and then she turned her attention to Duo. He squirmed, choked on laughs, and bumped Wu Fei in the ribs several times by accident. Sally finally said in exasperation, "Duo, I have better things to do than deal with your ticklishness. Hold still." She hummed tunelessly and leaned over Wu Fei to reach him. Wu Fei turned his head and saw that she was now examining Duo's throat. "Slightly swollen, of course," she said, "but still healing. Take your medicine, Duo, and you should be talking again in a week. You've already been warned what will happen if you keep straining it."
Sally turned away from them and went to the kitchen counter. Heero followed her and they turned their backs on the others as they talked in low tones. Duo grunted in suspicion when Sally passed Heero a small bottle of pills. Heero put it by his radio as she said, "Don't let these idiots exhaust you, Heero. You still have to take care of yourself."
He nodded and said, as she re-packed her case, "We would like some things to keep us occupied."
"Oh?" She was wary.
"There must be work piling up at headquarters," Wu Fei interjected. "Our bodies are out of commission, but our minds are not. If you could bring some work here, things might be less... stressful."
She laughed, "Making each other crazy all ready?"
"There isn't anything to do," Wu Fei corrected her angrily. "We are not the kind of men who sit idle."
"Meaning, yes, you are making each other crazy," she snorted, but relented. "I'll ask. Give me a list of anything else you would like and I'll make sure to bring it my next trip."
She left and Duo was immediately sitting up. He looked angry as he pointed a finger at the bottle next to Heero's radio.
"It's for me," Heero replied shortly. He picked the bottle up and jammed it into the front pocket of his jeans.
"If those are tranquilizers or sleep aids...," Wu Fei began in warning.
"No," Heero replied irritably. "It's not your concern."
"Heero," Duo's thin voice insisted. "Want to know."
"No!" Heero snapped and went into the kitchen. They heard a high cabinet open and the pills rattled as they were tossed into it. Heero returned to his radio, sat down, and kept his back to them.
Duo growled and then stretched out on his back as if defeated. "Pisses me off!" Wu Fei heard him whisper, but there was hurt in that voice too, and Wu Fei found himself feeling that hurt as well. It was foolish, he told himself, as foolish as everything else he had been feeling that day.
"It isn't our business," Wu Fei told Duo in a low voice.
Duo glared at him, purple eyes snapping. He pointed a finger at Wu Fei and then at Heero. "Care about both of you," he whispered angrily. "Worried."
For both of them? "Don't talk," Wu Fei admonished him as his insides clenched. Duo made a face, but then directed his glare at Heero's back. He'd found friendship, love, and rejection all in one day, Wu Fei thought. He was still just Duo's partner, it seemed. He tried to settle his heart on that and cursed his weakness and the possibility that his emotional madness was caused by his injuries. Of course Duo didn't love him, he thought bitterly, who could?
Wu Fei supposed that he shouldn't have been surprised when Heero went to bed early and Duo begged to stay up late with his book. He swore he would call Heero and wake him when he wanted to go to bed, but then he made a face at Wu Fei after Heero went into the bedroom.
I can walk, Duo wrote on his pad in clipboard in large letters.
"Yes," Wu Fei sighed, "but you are not supposed to strain your grafts."
Wu Fei was bored. He looked forward to the next day when Sally would have some items from his home and some work from the Preventers. There was only so much time that talking could fill and Heero had not been very good at contributing to that conversation. In fact, after Sally had left, he had been even more tight lipped and dinner and the long evening had been a quiet affair.
Duo read his book for another hour, shifting and sighing in his chair. Wu Fei tried to become interested in Duo's magazines, but he found himself feeling a tension in the air. Looking over his magazine at Duo, he saw Duo shooting repeated glances at the bedroom.
"Tired of sleeping with Yuy?" Wu Fei guessed and couldn't help his jealous relief.
Duo put a finger to his lips in a shushing gesture and wrote, No, he keeps to his side of the bed and he doesn't snore. Wu Fei raised eyebrows curiously and Duo added, I want to see what those pills are.
Wu Fei frowned in disapproval. "I will shout for him if you do," he snorted. "Those pills are none of your concern."
Maybe they are, Duo wrote. Maybe he's going to slip them to us.
"You are accusing him of lying to us?" Wu Fei was outraged, but he felt a bit of doubt too.
Yes, Duo wrote. He does and says what he needs to. Always has.
Wu Fei considered that and then suggested, "He said he went into therapy. It's possible those pills are a part of it."
Duo frowned now as if he couldn't believe that something could be wrong with Heero. He chewed on his lip for a moment and then shrugged with a lopsided grin as he wrote, I gotta find out, Fei.
"You could trust him to tell you himself," Wu Fei pointed out. "It's obviously something very personal. You are violating his privacy."
Duo looked frustrated. He chewed on his pencil, ran a hand through his tangled bangs, and then wrote, What if he needs our help and he's not saying so? What if we're messing him up by having him take care of us?
That had to do with honor, Wu Fei felt. It was bad enough that he was showing weakness by needing care, but if he was hurting someone because of it, that was unconscionable. Conflicting morals fought for supremacy. When Wu Fei looked back at Duo to give him his answer, he found Duo's chair empty.
Startled, Wu Fei saw Duo making his careful way into the kitchen. So strong and determined, Wu Fei thought and felt regret and a wave of pride in his partner. He couldn't let him hurt himself doing something that concerned him as well.
Carefully, Wu Fei levered himself off of the futon. Pain shot through him, not as much as the day before, but still debilitating. He eyed the distance and determined to make it regardless. Bracing his wounds, he used furniture for supports as he followed in Duo's footsteps.
Duo was stretching up high to reach an upper cabinet and having trouble.
"Fool!" Wu Fei swore in a low growl. Duo turned and glared at him, but came and helped Wu Fei make it to the kitchen counter. "If you reach, you will stretch your grafts," Wu Fei warned unnecessarily. "Let me get the bottle."
Duo sighed, but shored Wu Fei up by leaning along his back as he reached up and felt inside the high cabinet. Wu Fei's fingers found the bottle, but it slid out from under them and rolled further back. He swore.
"I can't reach it," Wu Fei admitted in defeat.
"Which is why I put it there," Heero's tired voice said from behind them.
They both turned to see Heero, dressed only in pajama bottoms, standing in the kitchen's doorway. He looked sleep mussed, his chocolate hair disordered and his blue eyes weary. His muscled upper body looked as hard as a rock and Wu Fei found himself appreciating it even as he felt a wave of shame.
"Yuy," Wu Fei began, but didn't know what to say. He had violated the man's privacy.
"Tell," Duo said simply and pointed at Heero with a scowl.
Heero looked angry, but then his _expression smoothed out and his impression of being very tired was even more marked. "They're for ulcers."
Wu Fei almost laughed to find out that it wasn't as serious as he had feared, but he could see how wound tight Heero was. Wu Fei could see Duo go wide eyed beside him, but Duo refrained from laughing as well.
"You have ulcers?" Wu Fei finally managed to ask.
Heero nodded. He shoved his hair out of his eyes with an impatient hand as he came forward, stretched to reach the cabinet, and pulled the bottle down. For a moment, Wu Fei was very close to Heero's smooth skin, his rippling muscles, and his faint scent of male. He felt heat wash through him and he almost stepped back, but Duo's presence on his other side kept him from doing that.
Heero turned the bottle around in his hands. His jaw clenched as he opened it and fished one pill out. He swallowed it, closed the bottle, and then put the bottle on the counter as if it were an act of defiance. Duo picked up a glass from the rack, filled it with water, and handed it to Heero without comment.
Heero took the glass and sipped at the water, leaning back against the counter and staring at nothing.
"You're angry," Wu Fei suddenly understood, "because you shouldn't have that kind of foolish weakness. You're strong, superior in every way, but... vulnerable enough to get an ulcer."
Heero nodded hard, once. His jaw clenched, his teeth ground together, and then he said, as if the effort of speech was somehow a defeat in itself, "I've always had stomach pains. After the war, they grew much worse. Dealing with so many unfamiliar things and joining Preventers... Sally told me that some people are just more vulnerable to the bacteria that causes them, but that acid building up from stress is a factor too. The pills keep it under control. I'll have to take them for the rest of my life. The pain gets bad when I skip doses."
"Therapy help?" Duo asked very softly.
"With the stress?" Wu Fei clarified and Duo nodded.
"Yes," Heero replied. "But I was trained to always be alert, always ready... I can't stand down, not really, in any situation. I learned to control my temper and they taught me..." He stopped and frowned as if he had said to much.
Duo reached out and tugged on the waist band of Heero's pajamas. Heero was startled and he took a flustered step backwards. The waist band snapped back into place and Duo grinned.
"Talk," Duo urged.
"I didn't think much of my life," Heero admitted. "It was hard to get past my mission parameters."
"Which were?" Wu Fei asked, thinking that he already knew.
"When the mission was completed, I was to self destruct," Heero replied.
Duo grabbed Heero by the arm, squeezing painfully tight, his _expression fierce and his meaning clear. Wu Fei voiced it, "The world would know your lack if you completed that mission parameter."
Heero ducked his head, moved.
Duo sighed and then he brightened. He pointed to all of them and made a motion near his ear as if he were holding a phone receiver. "Pizza, beer."
"NO!" Heero and Wu Fei said together. "Sleep," Wu Fei told him. "Alcohol and wounds don't mix and we all need our sleep."
Duo grimaced but didn't argue and Wu Fei suspected that it had just been a ploy to get them out of a difficult moment. His knees beginning to shake was another. Wu Fei stubbornly tried to walk back to the futon himself, but Heero was suddenly there and giving him support.
"I don't want you to make yourself sick caring for us," Wu Fei told the man as Heero helped him sit."This situation has the potential to be very stressful for you."
Heero smirked. "I'm an agent," he reminded Wu Fei. "I live a stress filled life."
That made Duo curious. He said, as he began his slow way towards the bedroom, "Quit."
"As well ask him to quit breathing," Wu Fei snorted and Heero gave him a warm, appreciative look. He looked so different when he was that human, that relaxed, and Wu Fei couldn't remember many times when he had seen Heero that way.
Duo gave a short wave goodnight as he passed the doorway.
"Do you need anything?" Heero asked as he pulled Wu Fei's blankets into order.
Again Heero's solid, bare, upper body was very close to Wu Fei. He couldn't help the flicker of his traitor eyes as he unconsciously 'looked'. Heero's blue eyes were before his, then, blocking his view, and Wu Fei covered his indiscretion with temper. "Nothing. Go to sleep, Yuy."
Heero searched his eyes as if reading something there and then he whispered, as if he was afraid to have Duo hear him, "Thank you... for understanding. I think we are very much alike." He lifted a hand hesitantly and then briefly touched Wu Fei's hair, just a light brush of fingers, and then he was gone and disappearing into Duo's bedroom.
Wu Fei remained frozen in place for a long time afterward.
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