A normal clock ticks 60 times every minute. The clock in their current safehouse only clicked 57 times. The ceiling had 263 cracks in it and the mouse in the hole under the window had nine children just two weeks old. Water took exactly 3.4 minutes to boil and a TV dinner was prone to stay frozen more often than not. The air conditioner didn't make nearly as much noise as it could have, neither did dishwasher nor dryer. Every sound was eaten up by silence in an empty house, no matter how much one blasted Papa Roach and Orgy at the same time. The lack of sound was an oppressive force that settled over the upstairs and downstairs of the cozy townhouse where five rebel terrorists hid and recuperated. Duo knew all of this very well. Having been out of commission for almost a month, he could've told anyone every little detail about their haven plus its various occupants. He was bored and tired of being bored. Though his many injuries gained by the last mission still caused him pain right down to the last bruise, long stilled limbs and mind wanted some action. Now.
There was one small problem. And his name was Heero Yuy.
The deceptively slender, almost girlishly pretty Wing Pilot was now risking his life during yet another mission. He was to infiltrate an OZ and get more information on some of their latest mobile suits. In several ways it was very similar to the mission Duo had taken a month before, one that had him bruised, broken and nearly unconscious on the townhouse's doorstep. Both had an extremely high chance of failure. Which is why Quatre had been forced to lock Duo in his room for two days, where he was now.
The braided boy curled up on the edge the window seat gazing forlornly out of the tinted glass. He'd just started getting to know Heero. And now, according to the laws of physics, he could lose him. Duo pushed absently a tear that escaped one violet eye.
Dammit! He can take care of himself. We all know that.
Lights on the road below interupted anything else he might have told himself. A small, compact black jeep pulled into the driveway. Duo was on his feet and at the locked door quicker than he'd ever moved, despite numerous stitches and a splint on his left arm. Fumbling with the lock, the Deathscythe pilot cursed his lack of hairpins and nails. The others had been careful to remove all such items from the room. Finally, he resorted to banging on the solid wood, hollering at the top of his lungs.
"QUATRE!!!! Let me out of here! SHIT!!! NOW!!!! Come on! LET ME THE HELL OUT!"Duo yelled, bruising fists and knees in his urgency to get out.
Outside the floor in the hall, pattering bare feet could be heard. The braided boy suppressed a shiver. How Quatre could parade around barefoot in the middle of winter was beyond him. Wasn't he supposed to be from the desert?
"Hold on, Duo. Don't hurt yourself, I'm letting you out," came that soft, eternally patient tenor. The blonde boy fiddled with the key a minute before finally unlocking it. Then, he jumped back from the door, fully expecting it to slam open. Instead he entered the room a few minutes later, surprised to find Duo on his knees in the middle of the floor, gasping for breath. Quatre was at the others side in an instant, pulling him to his feet and onto the bed.
"Duo?" he whispered quietly, not wishing to startle the braided pilot.
"I'm alright....Just felt something pull loose.....what's that mean Quatre?" he hissed, pain thick in his deeper voice.
"Let me look at you...Calm down..." he began murmuring comforting nonsense to his friend with he unbuttoned the shirt, which was beginning to stick in some places. Blood.
As there had never been anything romantic between the two, not even attraction, Quatre felt no heated blush rise to his face when the cumbersome fabric was free from the paler boy's skin. There was only deep worry for a friend. Several of the deeper gashes and cuts in his side had reopened, probably during the night. Further stress had widened them, along with stretching some of the black threaded stitches. Because of this, Duo's abdomen was painted red. Swallowing shock and anger, Quatre went to work fixing the damage. He forgot all hesitations he'd ever held when working on other human beings. Damn the space heart, Duo needed his help.
Several moments later, it was as if nothing had happened. The only evidence was a few bloody rags and Duo's hoarse breathing. Even that stopped after a time. The two sat, one supporting the other, only startled out of silence when voices echoed up the stairs and Quatre was reminded of the reason for all this in the first place.
"Heero...."the braided pilot groaned, fluttering lashes revealing violet eyes.
"I'll take you down to see him on one condition," Quatre's normally angelic face hardened, "Stop getting so worked up. You'll never heal that way."
"I'm sorry, Quatre, I really am. I've been sorry for a month. But I'm sick of being locked up!" Duo growled before his violet eyes turned placid and he willingly leaned on his friend. Shakily, step by careful step, they made it down the stairs to where three other young men were waiting. Duo responded with a shaky grin to the two open-mouthed stares he got from Trowa and Wufei before focusing his attention the snow sodden, weary figure between them. Heero.
It was all of three seconds of quick cross examination between the two before the Japanese boy and the American were wrapped up into the others arms, sheltered against all the woes and problems in the world. Both were careful not to squeeze too hard, but they also wanted as much contact as possible. Duo happily rubbed his cheek against Heero's, almost catlike, welcoming him back without words. Heero tightened his grip on the braided boy, protective and vulnerable at the same time. Unconsciously, Trowa slid his arm around Quatre's waist, enjoying the warmth shared from someone close. And Wufei, off to his corner as always, though he kept a strict watch on them all, could not help but think of his Nataku.
Still holding his newly found love carefully, Heero pulled back to look at him. Noting dark circles shadowing his eyes and almost hollow cheekbones, he frowned.
I wish he would take better care of himself, the blue eyed pilot growled in his mind. In turn, Duo was doing the same. Heero felt thinner than before and lines of weariness had begun to show in that chiseled face. They both needed rest and healing, that was certain.
Trowa, satisfied that Heero was more than well taken care of in the arms of his koi, turned to look at the slight blonde hugged close to his side. Quatre looked paler than usual and there was a definite red tinge on slender hands. Trowa raised on eyebrow, the most visible reaction he ever gave. Quatre noticed other things too, a slight stiffening of his spine, the way his muscles seemed to tighten. He glanced up at his green eyed lover, inquiringly.
"Hmmmm..?" he said, realizing vaguely somewhere that someone must have turned up the heat for Heero's a arrival. The atmosphere was making him feel sleepy...
Trowa nodded his chin to the stained hands clasped around one of his own.
"I'll explain later. Let's get some food in Heero and get him to bed," Quatre whispered quietly next his ear, the Heavyarms pilot feeling the words against his skin as much as he heard them.
Wufei watched the two couples with a growing sense of approval. They need each other, he smiled softly, knowing their attention was elsewhere. Quickly, though, the smile was replaced by a frown. But I wonder if it will be enough for them to heal...
Heero and Duo left the room, supporting each other, though much to Duo's frustration he needed the strength more than his comrade did. He was relieved that Heero had returned well, but this situation did serve to remind him of his own mistakes. And that he still suffered from them. Noticing his violet-eyed partner's darkening statement, Heero set them both onto a bed in the room they normally shared. He fixed Duo with an attentive stare.
"What's the matter?" he growled softly in his monotone.
"Noth-" Duo swallowed the lie quickly. He doubted Heero would buy it anyway.
"Tell me," the Wing pilot urged when he was met with silence. A quiet Duo worried him. Even injured, he was prone to make a certain amount of noise.
"I...I was worried about you, okay? I shouldn't be. I know you can take care of yourself. Still...I was... " Duo's voice cracked and he rubbed one arm absently over his eyes. He was more than a little surprised when a calloused but gentle hand intertwined with his. Heero met his eyes silently, as was his way, before nodding, encouraging the braided boy to go on. "And....I'm sick of being stuck in this house!" he interupted swiftly when Heero opened his mouth to argue, " I know you're all worried about me and all, but I've done my time. I shouldn't be treated like an invalid anymore! I can understand you not wanting me to take missions or make repairs on Deathscythe but I could run errands or type up message reports. All the extra work that you guys do...I can help! Right now the team is operating like a man with a broken leg. You're carrying deadweight. And I won't be a burden."
"....."Heero stared, openly surprised, eyes wide.
"If you won't let me help in some ways. I'll..." his voice cracked again but Duo stubbornly folded his arms across his chest, "I'll leave Heero. I'll have to."
"I...I..."Heero trailed off for a moment, ignoring the hurt those few words brought, "Okay. You're not under house arrest. I'll appreciate your help."
Perhaps it was the long and adamant speech that changed his love's mind. Or the burning way Duo's violet eyes seemed to glow when he ranted about his confinement. It could have been his growing love and respect for the soldier before him. But perhaps what really changed Heero's mind was the regretful way Duo had told him he would leave. As if he didn't want to.
He doesn't want to leave me....I don't have to tie him down.
Duo was awestruck for a moment, mouth comically hanging opened and violet eyes the size of saucers. Shock numbed his senses before he recovered and threw his arms around Heero's neck, stopping just short of throttling the slender boy. Heero returned the embrace, shakily, a large weight suddenly removed from his relatively inexperienced heart.
"So what's my first duty as a free man?" a low voice whispered in his ear after a while. Heero drew back and smirked at him, a twist of his old cynical humor returning. Gently, but passionately he kissed the braided boy, catching his slightly open mouth off guard. Heero held the kiss, though Duo wasn't resisting at all, until neither couldn't breath and oxygen had become vital. Then, he sat gasping, enjoying the even more surprised statement on Duo's face.
"Help me get to sleep," he replied quietly, stretching against not-at-all-soft pillows, and pulling Duo against him. Content, he let out a soft sigh and resumed his earlier task of depriving the Deathscythe pilot of air.
Quatre stared down into his empty mug, the ceramic once being filled with chamomile tea. He'd finished recounting the events of that evening to Trowa and Wufei, who'd actually seemed semi-interested. Somehow, he felt like he was betraying Duo's trust by telling the others how he had found the Deathscythe pilot collapsed on the floor. Any justifications he had for telling were flimsy barriers against his guilt. And the silence consuming the kitchen did not ease this feeling whatsoever.
Finally, Trowa spoke, "Should we tell Heero?"
Vigorously Quatre shook his head, sending blonde locks flying, "No. That's their business. Besides... Heero will find out soon enough."
"You're right Quatre," Wufei added softly, causing the other two pilots to jump. They'd almost forgotten his presence, quiet as it was. "They should get through this together. If we interfere, it could ruin it for both of them."
With a final nod of agreement, the Chinese boy grabbed the tray they'd set up for Heero and started for the stairs. Reaching the door quickly, moving like a panther in the shadows of the upstairs hall, Wufei debated knocking first then decided against it. He might interrupt something, yes. But he felt a deep obligation to make sure Yuy got some food in his system. He pushed the solid door open, revealing a scene he had not expected at all. Duo was perched on the windowsill once more, a guilty statement clear on his constantly animated face. Heero was on the opposite side of the room, hanging his head and leaning precariously against the wall. Neither looked up at Wufei's arrival. He cleared his throat, both heads snapping up, first looking at each other then the figure in the doorway.
"Winner wanted you to have something to eat, Yuy," Wufei murmured callously, as was his way. Inwardly he was dying of curiosity. But Heero strode over to accept the nourishment so there was little else to be said. He left the door with a little humph. Behind him, Duo suppressed a grin when the door clicked shut. Heero's statement was clearly that of a cat who'd gotten his cream.
"He's not nearly as quiet as he thinks," he smirked then set down the food, pouncing on the braided boy once more. It was time to start healing.
And so they did.