Disclaimer: Don't own them and don't make any money off of this.
Warnings:Male/Male sex, graphic, violence, language
Paths + Part 19
"You must be able to do
something for him?" begged Quatre's stricken voice.
"I'm afraid not, Mr. Winner," a stranger's voice replied regretfully.
"If it's money-"
"Of course not, sir!" The voice sounded offended. "We do
of ethics. Captain Maxwell is simply not a good candidate for either hormone
therapy or growth stimulation procedures. Implementing those types of
procedures in his state of health might do more harm than good."
"Might?" Quatre echoed.
"Most probably," the man clarified. "He's simply too old,
"I'm not certain how he will react to this news," Quatre said
"He shouldn't be told at all, Mr. Winner," the man replied quickly.
"The body can recover from amazing damage. It is possible that it
may correct some things on it's own. Analyzing his percentage of disability,
at this point, would be detrimental in the extreme to Captain Maxwell's
psyche. He needs a positive attitude to help him to recover from the withdrawal
"Thank you, Doctor Winston," Quatre sighed. "I think you
are right. I will talk to the others. When he hears your diagnosis, Captain
Yuy will probably agree with you as well."
"Sir," the Doctor began carefully. "It isn't standard procedure
to let a non relative make health decisions for a patient. If Captain
Yuy had a Partner Contract with the boy, or even a statement from Captain
Maxwell on file giving him the right to make decisions for him, I would
feel better about this."
"Captain Maxwell is not a boy," Quatre snapped back. "If
you are so worried about his 'positive attitude' you'd better remember
that. As for Yuy, they are very close, if you understand me, and Captain
Maxwell's return to health is his top priority. He will make decisions
that are in Captain Maxwell's best interest."
"Yes, sir," the Doctor replied, but his voice was still colored
"I don't think that I have to remind you that our position here is
tenuous at best," Quatre
told him sternly. "Things may change at a moment's notice. Duo's
treatment has to be concluded as soon as possible."
Duo was through being a silent spectator. He struggled against numbness.
Pride stung him. He would make his own health decisions, dammit! It pounded
through his brain, that rebellion, and it gave him the push to open his
eyes at last and to see what was going on around him.
Duo blinked. His eyelids were crusty and his eyes felt dry. He had trouble
focusing. Duo blinked more rapidly, getting his eyes to tear. When his
vision cleared enough to see more than a blur, he saw that Quatre and
the doctor had gone and that he was not in a hospital. He was surrounded
by state of the art machines despite that fact. Solutions dripped slowly
from suspended bags into his veins through long tubes and needles. With
a small shiver of distaste and anxiety, Duo realized that a tube was down
his throat as well and that something was attached to his nose to help
Duo pulled the tube out of his throat slowly, gagging and almost throwing
up bile as he flung the thing away from him. "Told you, Yuy,"he
rasped in a voice he hardly recognized as his own, wincing at the raw
pain in his throat as he pulled off the breather tube as well, "tubes
and breather machines aren't going to keep me alive!"
"I expected this!" Heero exclaimed.
Duo started. "Shit!" he grated. "Make some... make some
noise next time, dammit!"
"I tried to be here when you regained consciousness, knowing that
the first thing that you would do was to try to damage the very things
that were keeping you alive!"Heero growled as he reached for a button
that would presumably call the nurse and a team of professionals who would,
no doubt, force the tubes back into Duo. Duo caught Heero's hand and squeezed
it with a strength that surprised them both, the strength of desperation.
"Heero! Don't!" Duo lost his voice and frantically tried again,
forcing the words out of his scraped raw throat. "Please, don't make
me live like that!"
Heero pulled his hand back from the button and settled on the edge of
the bed, giving Duo a hard look. "It's only for a short time. When
you are stable-"
"That- that might not happen," Duo whispered. He let himself
sink back into the pillows, drained, exhausted, and as limp as death.
"Once in, they don't take them out again. You know that. I could
go on for years..."
"You are being foolish,"Heero growled, but he was taking Duo's
hand in his and staring at it as he roughly caressed it. "I would
say 'cowardly', but I know you better than that."
Duo swallowed hard. "I'm glad that you do. C-Could I get a drink?"
"Not advisable," Heero
replied. "You haven't taken anything in, except intravenously, for
over a week."
"A week?"Duo blinked, confused. "What the Hell's been going
Heero smoothed Duo's fingers and made them curl around his own hand. "Milliardo
Peacecraft saved us. He knew about the drugs and he knew where a withdrawal
treatment could be obtained."
Duo used his free hand to touch his nose. It was sore from the breathing
tube. He wondered what he looked like. He felt thin and frail, ready to
blow away. He couldn't ask everything that he wanted to know. His throat
was too dry, his voice too uncertain. Instead, he kept it simple. First
things first. "Doctor. Get him. Have him okay food and water."
Heero nodded, but he didn't move. Duo pulled away his hand impatiently.
"Do as I say," Duo told him and managed not to sound needy.
"There are things that I have to tell you," Heero began.
Duo shook his head. It made him dizzy. He shut his eyes again and said,
"Later. Food and drink first.... and something for my throat. It
"Duo, about the raid on Quatre's estate-" Heero persisted, but
Duo cut him off again.
"Doctor," Duo demanded.
"Duo!" Heero exploded and Duo opened his eyes too look at him
Heero's blue eyes were shadowed and his face was hollow and pinched from
worry and exhaustion. His chocolate hair was a mess, hanging in his eyes
and making him look wild. He wore a simple green sweater and black pants.
He looked like an ordinary, tired young man, not a war hero who had accomplished
more in his short life than men three times his age.
"What?" Duo asked softly, suddenly concerned.
"You were... magnificent," Heero replied, much quieter, and
his eyes glowed as he leaned over and kissed Duo softly on a sunken cheek.
"Seeing you there, facing certain death, but standing firm to protect
our old comrades... It made me love you even more."
Duo blushed furiously and hardly knew how to respond. They stared at each
other, Heero very close, and almost eye to eye with Duo. Duo struggled
for a smart assed remark, an attempt to brush off that intimate declaration.
He was uncomfortable with this gentle, well spoken romantic who didn't
fit his mental picture of the old Heero Yuy.
"I-," Duo licked dry lips, all out of smart assed sayings and
"I guess I have to take another picture of you to match the new Heero."
Heero frowned for a moment, confused, but then he was smiling gently in
understanding. "Not new,"he replied, "Just buried deep
for too long."
"Well," Duo blushed again and fought a wave of weakness. "I
hope you aren't expecting a lot out of me right now, but,"he cleared
his throat and struggled to continue, "things might get serious in
the future if I get better. Of course, your chances of that might get
even better if you went to get me that Doctor."
Heero looked disappointed as he stood up. "You used to be the one
who always expressed his feelings."
"That was before they stomped all over me and showed me that everyone
is suspect!" Duo snarled without thought, just an outpouring of sudden
anger at the world, at his weakness, at his inability to be what Heero
deserved. He didn't want Heero to love him, he realized suddenly, and
that was at the heart of his continuing reluctance to admit that he loved
the man back, even though he did with all of his heart. It wasn't his
surprise that Heero was showing his emotions that was confusing Duo but
the clashing of his own emotions; love for Heero and contempt for himself
doing battle with his tongue. This time, his contempt for himself had
Heero stiffened, but he was used to soldiers at the end of their strength.
He knew better than to believe words born of pain and sickness. Still,
Duo could see that he was hurt. It was in his voice as he said. "All
right, I'll get you the Doctor, Duo. Try to rest while I'm gone."
"Sure," Duo replied as he turned his face away and closed his
eyes. Dumb ass! he called himself, and worse. Heero did deserve better
"How long have you all been staring at me?" Duo wondered as
he opened his eyes and found his comrades sitting about various parts
of the plain, whitewashed room. Not entirely plain, Duo corrected himself.
Aside from the many pieces of medical equipment, there was also a very
large crystal vase of purple roses and white baby's breath. "All
that's missing is Milliardo and his personal flower shop,"Duo added.
It was the tenth such arrangement in under a few days, but the Prince
of Sanq had not seen fit to follow them into his room just yet.
"This is personal business," Heero replied. He was sitting closest
to the bed, arms crossed over his chest, and he looked tense. He hated
the flowers and he had taken barely undisguised pleasure in throwing them
out each time Duo had asked him to.
Duo looked at all of their tight expressions and felt uncertain. Boney
hands gripping the blankets nervously, he asked, "I didn't do anything
wrong did I? I know I said some pretty ugly things while I was getting
off the drugs, but-"
"Maxwell!" Wu Fei admonished, "It isn't always about you."
Duo bit his lip and then found a soft laugh. "It usually is, Wu Fei,
so you can't blame me. Well, what's going on now? War start again? The
place falling down on our heads? Relena Peacecraft get a bind in her knickers?"
Quatre covered a laugh behind a polite hand. Despite his muscles and tall
stature, he could still, at times, revert back to the delicate, angelic
boy he had been during the war. At that moment, he looked childishly embarrassed
to have laughed.
"It's about Quatre's estate," Heero cut in worriedly. "Wu
Fei was able to get most of his staff to safety while we engaged the enemy
and made ourselves decoys-"
"Oh! So that's what was going on!" Duo realized with raised
eyebrows. "I thought Trowa and Quatre had gone soft to get captured
so easily and Wu Fei..."
"What?"Wu Fei snapped, ready for offense.
Duo smiled. "I knew you would be off protecting the weak. That's
just who you are."
Wu Fei relaxed and gave a small bow of his head, acknowledging Duo's words,
but then he was saying, "They need protecting again. Some of them
were captured and imprisoned as anti- unification rebels."
"That can't be allowed," Trowa interjected. The tall, quite
man stepped forward to
put a hand on Quatre's broad shoulder. "Quatre and I will do whatever
it takes to free them."
"Even if we have to take the entire household and holdings into Space,"
Quatre added, blue eyes determined. "There are a few out stations
that the Winners own that we can defend with some success."
Duo looked at Heero. "You'll be going too?" When Heero only
looked upset and
didn't say anything, Duo answered his own question, "Of course, Quatre
will need all the expert help he can get." He paused, swallowed in
a dry throat and added, "I can't go."
The drugs and the withdrawal had taken Duo to the edge of death and back.
He had spent long days hallucinating, screaming, cursing, and weeping
pathetically. Heero had stayed by his side though it all, encouraging
Duo and helping to clean him up when ever the food he insisted on eating
was violently ejected again or he simply couldn't control his shaking
body any longer. Duo didn't need a doctor to tell him that his hold on
life was still not a sure thing. The monitors attached to his arms and
heart were still erratic, the tests they ran on blood and tissue still
showing signs that his addiction had only been a small part of his problems.
The g force of a shuttle lift off from Earth's punishing gravity would
be the last coffin nail, Duo knew, if he attempted it.
Duo wasn't bitter about being abandoned. He was bitter at the life that
was necessitating that abandonment. He understood that Quatre needed to
save his people. Duo had dedicated his life to saving people, had fought
in the war and given up all hope of a peaceful youth in that cause. He
wasn't about to balk now and do less when the freedom of so many people
was contingent on him stepping out of the way of the people who were most
capable of helping them.
Duo tried for a smile. He knew he looked ghastly, skin stretched over
bones, dark circles under his eyes, and skeletal hands lifting and making
irritated shooing motions as he said in a rough voice, "Well, what
are you waiting for? Get the hell out of here then and do what you have
to. The government isn't playing by the rules. You can't play by them
either or innocent people are going to get executed for treason."
"I've talked to Sally Po and the Preventers," Heero told him.
"They are willing to help us covertly. They'll station small ships
as decoys while we escape Earth and they'll escort us to a Winner outpost
station. Once there, we hope to move the station out of position and take
up an orbit elsewhere. Hopefully, that will throw off pursuit and confrontation
long enough for us to return and convince the people that their government
has turned to self serving corruption."
Wu Fei stood and walked to Duo's bedside. He glanced briefly at Heero
and Heero looked away, scowling hard and knotting his fists together in
his lap. Wu Fei sighed and met Duo's eyes. Duo had been a soldier too
long to miss that his straw had come up short once again. "Maxwell,"
Wu Fei began and then, impatient with himself, he started again, "Duo,
Milliardo will use his influence to have the prisoners transferred to
a central holding station. Once there, we will attack and break them out
of confinement. While that is happening, we will require a distraction
of great proportions, one that will draw the troops away to another area."
"Zechs is going to help?" Duo was incredulous, using Milliardo's
war time alias. "I wouldn't trust him. He's a blue blood and he cares
a lot about Relena and his position. I can't see him endangering himself
"He is minimizing his involvement," Quatre interjected with
a bit of distaste. "You're right that he doesn't want to endanger
his position. He'll confine himself to innocent paperwork shuffling to
have the prisoners transferred."
"He's also willing to hide you," Heero bit out and looked at
Duo then, cobalt blue eyes full of fire, "After you create the diversion
"Oh," Duo said in a small voice. He thought about that information.
It was still amazing to him that he could think clearly, and was thinking
more clearly than he had since starting the pill regimen. With so little
left of him, it seemed a miracle to him, a miracle he was thankful for
as he returned Heero's look with intelligence and replied, "I'll
do whatever I can. Those people need to be saved. You can count on me."
Mission accepted. Duo settled back into his pillows, resigned as he had
resigned himself to die for his cause so many times before during the
war. It only hurt more now, and seemed more of a loss than it had been
when he had only been an orphan of L2 and half crazy from losing everyone
that he had ever loved.
"I don't want to leave you," Heero declared softly, as if they
were alone in the room. "But-"
"We'll do what we have to do, Heero," Duo told him sternly,
making his voice cold. "No entanglements, right? Back to business
and only business."
Heero reached out in concern and touched Duo's chin, making Duo look at
him. "It's too late to think like that. I can say I'm sad, that I'm
upset, and that I'm going to die a little for every day I worry about
you and can't be here protecting you. I don't want to leave you with Zechs.
I don't trust him. I don't want you to risk what bit of life you have
left for anyone. I know that's selfish, but I can't help the way I feel.
I have to go. I don't have to like it. I will come back and, if I don't
find you alive and well when I do, the universe won't be big enough to
hide Zechs and the damned government from my revenge!"
Duo shivered under the emotional onslaught of Heero's words. He wanted
to ask why? Why did Heero think so much of him that he could feel so strongly?
Duo held back, though, knowing it would hurt Heero to doubt or question
him now. He blinked back tears, glanced at the others in embarrassment,
and found them, even Wu Fei looking at their feet or turned away to give
them some privacy. Trowa had an arm about Quatre's broad shoulders and
he had drawn the man close to him, whispering something comforting in
"You have to go now? We have to do all of this now?" Duo wondered.
"I can hardly stand on my own. What sort of diversion am I going
to be able to create?"
Heero's face tightened. It wasn't the response that he had hoped for to
his declaration. Duo wondered how many times he would put his heart on
his sleeve before he stopped doing it. Maybe it was this time, Duo thought,
seeing something hard creep onto Heero's face.
Duo licked dry lips, hating his uncertainty and his own self loathing.
He reached out and took Heero's hand. He squeezed it hard and Heero blinked
at him, hoping once again. "Remember," Duo said, "after
I'm better, after this is over, we'll try to sort each other out. Give
me the time, Heero. I need every minute of it, k?"
It was as much as he could offer. Heero nodded stiffly and the hard look
was replaced by the serious look of duty, of a soldier compartmentalizing
and preparing himself to do what had to be done.
"We've already drawn up a plan," Heero began and Duo listened
in appreciation as Heero outlined his part in it.
"Zechs will report that he has you in custody." Heero explained
"The government knows that because of the leg locator, and Santoro
has filed a report stating that Zech's is in league with us, but no one,
as yet, has had the nerve to actually move against someone as important
as a Peacecraft. Zechs assures us that is changing."
"So," Duo guessed. "I'm going to pretend to kidnap Zechs
as a hostage and run like a bunny from the government hounds?"
Heero nodded. "Exactly. Such a move will remove suspicion from Zechs
and force the government to deploy it's troops to find you. After the
need for distraction has passed, you will then remove the locator and
then 'disappear'. In reality, Zechs will hide you until we can return
and stir up sympathy and popular support against the corrupt practices
of the government."
"Remove the locator?" Duo gave a sickly grin. "You make
it sound easy."
"They attach it to the leg bone, Heero," Quatre protested, not
looking well at the thought of what removing such a device would entail
for Duo. "You know that."
"Zechs will have his staff doctor attend Duo," Heero replied
impatiently. "There is little danger or possibility for pain. This
won't be a field operation."
Duo was only half relieved. He knew how a situation could deteriorate
quickly and deviate from the plan. It was a necessary risk, though. He
knew that he would remove the locator and make the mission successful,
even if it meant taking it out with sticks and tweezers. The lives of
Quatre's staff were going to depend on him not getting caught.
Trowa reminded them all that he had been a mercenary most of his life
when he assured Duo, "I'll pack you a med kit with anesthetics and
pain tabs, just in case. One will knock you out if there is an emergency
and the doctor is still with you, and the other will numb a large area
in case you are alone and have to perform the operation yourself."
"If I don't bleed to death, I can do it," Duo assured them.
"I've done field operations pulling parts of my own Gundam and shrapnel
out of myself. This can't be much worse, right?"
"You have the courage, but do you have the will?" Wu Fei asked
"The will?" Duo echoed. It took him a moment to understand and
then he nodded firmly. "I understand what you're asking, Wu Fei.
I want to live," He looked at Heero briefly and then back at Wu Fei
resolutely. "I have a reason, now. Don't be afraid that I'm going
to lay down and die when things get tough."
"We must leave,"Quatre said sadly. "It's terrible that
we have to leave you like this, Duo."
"Time to save the world again," Duo replied with a forced grin.
"That's what we're good at, right?"
"Right," Trowa replied and he was the first to file out of the
Quatre followed, looking back at Duo with a soft, regretful expression.
Wu Fei grunted, as if it were all nonsense, and said gruffly, "We
will work on your lessons when I return, Maxwell. You are far from being
"Love you too, Wu- man," Duo chuckled.
Wu Fei scowled, but it didn't reach his eyes. He gave Duo a respectful
nod and left the room as well. That left Heero and he was the one most
reluctant to go.
"Don't make this hard," Duo whispered. "Don't get all sappy
on me. Not now. I don't think I'm up to it. We're soldiers first. We have
Heero was silent, considering, and then he said, "Tell me, before
I go. I may- You know how things often fall out. We don't have the luxury
of being naive. Just... say it, so I know it's true, that I'm not imagining
it. You said it before, but you're a difficult person to understand and
I don't know for certain whether you really meant it. So, once more, and
then I'll go."
Every fiber of Duo's being tightened. He crossed his arms over his narrow
breast and shivered from reaction, the reaction of emotions he didn't
know if he dared to show, if he was worthy enough to show to such a man
as Heero Yuy. "What do you see in me?" Duo wondered at last,
bitter, perhaps questioning Heero's sanity.
Heero leaned close, lips almost touching Duo's ear. "The other half
of my soul," Heero whispered.
Duo turned his head and stared into Heero's fathomless blue eyes and then
he was suddenly overwhelmed by emotion. He fell into Heero's arms, all
resolve lost, all doubts and self disgust put aside in the need to be
held, to feel a warm body hold and care for him one last time before,
maybe, dying in an attempt to save others. Heero held Duo close, murmuring
reassurances into Duo's ear as he kissed Duo's cheek, his neck, and his
lips last of all in a devouring motion that showed that his need was as
strong as Duo's.
"I-I love you," Duo said throatily, embarrassed, unsure, but
wanting that confirmation as much as Heero, maybe more. "You're so
damn impatient, Yuy, but you're going to be late if you don't catch up
with the others. Get the Hell out of here, and let me get on with my part
of the job."
"Duo," Heero slid a hand to the back of Duo's neck and kept
his eyes locked with Duo's amethyst eyes. He wanted Duo to be sure of
him and not to doubt him after he left. "I know you said that you
needed time, but I know you meant you only needed time to convince me
that I can't want you. That's not going to happen. I'm going to convince
you, if it's the last thing I do, that I'm the one that's not worthy of
Duo snorted and felt tears threaten. He made a pre-emptive wipe with the
back of his hand across his eyes and growled, "The perfect couple,"he
said bitterly, "Two people who don't deserve each other."
"We will be perfect," Heero insisted seriously, "Don't
doubt that after I'm gone. Don't go back to thinking that I can't possibly
love you. I do. You are worthy. You are beautiful to me. I will come back
and make you see it too."
Duo shoved at Heero, but he was gentle as he said seriously, "Yeah,
sure thing Heero. You do that, come back to me and make me see things
through your rose colored glasses. Promise?"
Heero gave him one last kiss. Heero tasted of coffee and something cinnamon.
It was that taste Duo would remember, he thought, and the way Heero's
eyes glowed, trying to convince Duo by making them windows to his heart.
"I will return," Heero promised.
"I'll try to be waiting," Duo
replied, more pessimistic.
"You WILL be waiting," Heero insisted.
Duo looked sheepish and mumbled, "Yeah, okay."
Heero nodded and then he was gone like a wild shadow, as quiet as a breeze.
Duo stared at the empty doorway and felt tears begin to choke him. He
stifled them in the next instant when a familiar, tall, pale, blonde man
leaned against the doorjamb and looked at him with ice blue eyes and an
expression of pain.
[part 18] [part 20]
[back to Kracken's fic]