Author: Lyssira
Category: Romance
Labels/Warnings: shonen ai, slight language, angst
Pairings: 1+2 implied 3+4


AC 195

Bruises and cuts ached all over his body, making their presence well known in the cold. His arm, in an attempt to make him talk, had been brutally broken and dried blood ran the length of it, crusted and a dark rusty color that spoke of old death. His insides felt twisted and abused, while hunger pounded ruthlessly at his mind. The young man practically crawled towards the townhouse, feeling all these things on top of exhaustion, frustration and great deal of grief. The weight of his grief alone should have been enough to crush him. Yet the soldier limped on, mostly dragging himself to the door, drinking in the sight of warm lights and the temporary haven that awaited him.

Draped in black, midnight stained by blood, the boy blinked snow-crusted lashes and knocked one bruise fist on the door. Even this caused pain and he was forced to fight the wave of dizziness that swept over him. When the door swung open, he summoned every ounce of strength and stubbornness he had left. As beaten as he was, Duo refused to let them see him like this, especially Heero. He would face this weakness alone, like he always had. He preferred it that way. Nearly tripping over the threshold, the American strode into the room trying to the project the cockiness he'd not felt since his capture.

"You escaped," stated the dry, emotionless monotone that could only belong to his occasional partner, Heero Yuy.

"Did you expect anything less?" Duo snorted, plastering his typical grin on a face colored purple and yellow from dozens of bruises. Damn. Even that hurt.

"Not from you," the slender Japanese boy was now watching him with curiosity. Or least he thought it was curiosity. You never could tell with Heero.

"Welcome back, Duo," called Quatre as he jogged into the room, having heard the door open. He would have given the other boy a hug (Duo being the only one who actually put up with such displays of affection), but something warned him not to. He frowned, examining the braided pilot with more scrutiny than Heero had. Why is he holding his arm like that? And what happened to his face? Quatre wondered as he studied his friend. He would have said something, had Wufei and Trowa not entered.

"Mission accomplished, Maxwell?" barked the Chinese boy, not glancing at Duo for more than a second. If he was standing, Wufei didn't really care. He didn't realize that at that very moment, Duo's pride was the only thing keeping him on his feet.

"Mission accomplished. Man, I could use me some grub!" Duo grinned, trying to escape as both Quatre and Trowa's gazes fell on him. Trowa felt something odd from the blonde. Was it concern? For Duo? The green-eyed boy studied Duo from under his bangs. Lots of bruises, he noted. The American was moving towards the kitchen as fast as he could with a slight limp. One arm was gripped protectively at one side and his clothes appeared slightly wet.

"Duo?" Quatre tried to sound casual. His space heart was screaming at him about something and it wasn't exactly being polite . . . .

"Yeah, Quat?" he brutally forced any weariness out of his voice. They don't need to know. They don't need to care. Let them just go on with whatever they were doing. Please don't let them notice! He groaned softly to himself, thinking only he'd been the only one to hear.

Never underestimate the Perfect Soldier. Heero's ears were sensitive to almost any sound, especially those made by his partner. Since the other boy found it so easy to get under his skin, Heero had made it his business to learn more about Duo. His information had been no less than fascinating. But that wasn't important right now. The sound he'd just heard from Duo was one of pure pain and agony, the sound of a wounded or dying animal. This angered him somehow, distantly, but Heero pushed the feelings away. What was wrong with Duo? The Japanese boy looked at his friend for the first time that night, really looked at him, and almost fell out of his chair (that would definitely get their attention). How could he have not noticed before? The limp, the obviously broken arm, more bruises and cuts than he cared to think about, and the blood . . . the blood that stained Duo's clothes an even darker shade of black. Heero winced in sympathy at the sight. He hadn't been in that much pain in a long time.

Meanwhile Quatre was talking.

"No damages to your gundam? Injuries? Did you get any information?" normally the Arabian pilot wouldn't bother with those questions, would have waited till his friend was fed and rested. Duo's eyes narrowed. He's suspicious. I gotta get out of here. Find a nice quiet place to lick my wounds. Duo shook his head roughly, ignoring the stars he saw, and started to make his getaway. Then he collapsed to the floor, dropping like a puppet that's had its strings cut. He didn't notice when strong hands caught him, hands that had bent steel now gently cradling the battered boy.

"God, Duo," was all Heero said before carrying the injured boy in his arms to the sofa despite the incredulous glances he received from the others. Even Wufei looked up, shocked when Duo had sunk into Heero's embrace bonelessly. He'd seemed fine only minutes ago. The Chinese boy's eyes narrowed.

How dare he keep his injuries a secret! We're supposed to know about things like this! Wufei ranted silently, watching as the others raced for bandages, hot water, and enough disinfectant to treat an army.

You've hidden your weaknesses before this, my dear Wufei. He is no different than you whispered a feminine voice in his mind.

Nataku . . . will he die? Because of his hiding of these injuries? He felt the cooling presence that was she, that was Meiran.

He will not perish. His friends are with him. The one that cares for him is with him. You are all there. Help Duo, Wufei. He needs every ally now.

One that cares for him?

You know who, Wufei. Now go.

The Chinese boy opened his eyes, watching as Quatre had begun checking Duo's vital signs as the others gathered the supplies they needed. Wufei's hands joined him as he examined the extent of the injuries.

"How did he make it this far Wufei? How did he not call to ask for our aid? He's more battered than I've ever seen anyone before . . . ." Quatre's voice crackled with emotion and for once Wufei did not berate him for it. The scene beneath the braided boy's clothes was horrific. A mottled collage of purples, reds and yellows, Duo's abdomen was covered with bruises and cuts, some of them still bleeding freely. Blood was smeared across his chest and shoulders, from the gash in his arm where splintered bone had pierced the skin. His breathing was rasping and hoarse, like he'd been inhaling smoke for the past week. Welts and burn marks were fresh on the pale skin, showing where Duo had been unsuccessfully tortured. Wufei shivered slightly. He did not want to be in Heero's way when the Japanese boy saw this.

"How is he? What are the extent of his injuries?" that dull monotone echoed from the doorway, heavy with concern. Wufei sighed. Too late to escape.

"It's pretty bad. I don't know where to start." Quatre's voice wavered as he began treating the first of the bruises, hand shaking slightly. He jumped when gentle hands pushed him out of the way. Trowa shoved the blonde onto the loveseat, motioning for him to stay where he was. Unfortunately, now Quatre no longer blocked Heero's view of Duo's battered form. His vision turned red, then wavered slightly. Tears.

First thought of the perfect soldier's: They are all going to hell. NOW.

Second thought: Oh god, Duo . . . why didn't you tell us?

"Heero, we're going to need your help. Are you up to it? Heero?" Trowa's soft voice penetrated the haze. Resisting the urge to strangle the person closest to him, who happened to be the tall pilot of Heavyarms, Heero strode towards the couch and began doing what he could to mend Duo's broken body. Every scrap of unused knowledge he had on first aid came surging into his mind. The night grew long, but he ignored any weariness. He barely noticed Wufei and Trowa helping him, while Quatre watched nervously, well aware that now the space heart was a major handicap.


Twenty-eight stitches, fifty-four anesthetic soaked pads, seventy-one band-aids, and two gauze wrapped ankles later, all that remained was the broken arm and Duo began regaining consciousness. He pulled at the improvised IV tube in his arm and rubbed at his bandaged head. The bump there was smaller by a great deal now. But he couldn't help but wonder how he'd managed to lose so much of the pain and to have his cuts treated. Being Duo, the braided boy struggled to sit up, only to be forced down again by strong and equally stubborn hands.

"You," stated that grim monotone voice," are not going anywhere."

Duo groaned. He was in for it now. Days of mission importance lectures, speeches about how he should take better care during said missions, and lots of silent, angry glares. And that was only from Heero. There would be justice rants and more mission importance lectures from Wufei, silent, but very uncomfortable scrutiny from Trowa, and more pity and sympathy from Quatre than a normal person should be able to stomach. Somewhere in the back his mind, Duo wondered how far the OZ base was from here. Maybe they'd take him back and torture him some more if he asked real nice . . . anything was better than what he was bound to get from those four.

"I . . . . Where am I?" he asked, wondering if playing stupid would keep him from getting yelled at for a while.

"You don't remember anything?" Heero's voice had become heavy with . . . was it concern? For him? Why? Mentally Duo gave himself a kick in his already very sore posterior.

Great now you've got him thinking that you've contracted amnesia and he's gonna spend the next week agonizing on how to cure you . . . waitaminute . . . is he worried about me? Heero? Duo's thoughts raced around for a few seconds while Heero's question hung in the air. He winced from the headache he gave himself. Heero looked vaguely frightened at this and moved closer, bringing a cool rag to the other boy's forehead. Duo stared through violet eyes at the Perfect Soldier for a moment. Okay, Hell has frozen over . . . Heero is worried about me. Duo said to himself.

To Heero he whispered, "No, I remember getting out of the base, and everything before that. And I remember going somewhere through the snow. And I saw you guys, but I thought it was a hallucination or a dream."

"You're in the safe house, Duo. And after you get better, we are all going to have a long talk about honesty," growled Heero softly, continuing to smooth the rag over Duo's eyes. The fever accompanying his wounds hadn't gone down.

"Never one for small talk, ne?"

"You scared us, Duo. Don't do it again." Cobalt blue eyes flashed slightly and Duo found himself nodding. He wasn't going to argue with his partner on this one. His health was damaged enough at the moment, thank you.

"Is he awake, Heero?" asked a plaintive voice from the chair that Quatre had been deposited on.


"When he gets better, may I borrow the Zero system please? I think I might need to use it to get my point across." Green-blue eyes flashed in an expression dangerously similar to Heero's.

"Okay, okay, you two. Point taken," Duo laughed nervously. This was not good.

"But we haven't made ours yet," replied a thickly accented Asian voice said as Wufei and Trowa returned with more bandages and a splint. The hardest part was yet to come.

"Yes. It was to your disadvantage, Duo, to assume you will only have two enemies to deal with, when in realty, there are four." Trowa's voice had the same angry, strained quality as Heero's.

"I take it that I am going to spend a lot of time making this up to you."

Four nods.


Four smirks.

"I do thank you, though."

More nodding. Heero gently held one of his bandaged hands, to Duo's amazement. What was this feeling he'd been getting from the Perfect Soldier?

"Duo," he said softly, "we have to set your arm. I'm afraid it's going to hurt a lot." His resolution wavered when he saw a look of sheer panic fleet across the injured boy's features.

"How much a lot? More than when they broke it?" the normally cheerful voice cracked.

"Who broke it?" Anger, long ago buried, reasserted itself in Heero's mind. Whoever did this was going to pay.

"Don't change the subject!"

"Unfortunately, it will hurt quite a bit more." Quatre looked regretfully at his friend before answering for Heero.

"I . . ." Duo couldn't meet their gazes any more. The agony that had gripped him when they had broken it had been like fire, like the hottest flames on earth. Something worse? Hell perhaps.

"We'll be right here with you, Duo," Quatre rose to take Duo's uninjured shoulder gently.

"And I'll make it as fast as I possibly can," whispered Heero, the expression on his face totally foreign.

"Fast, with no mistakes," Wufei agreed, earning a nod from Trowa. He slipped a piece of rubber in between Duo's teeth.

"Bite down when you have to," he told the braided boy.

The three pilots circle around the bed, while Quatre gripped Duo's uninjured hand, a determination not to let go in his eyes. Before he placed his hands on the swollen arm, Heero bent to brush lips against Duo's forehead. Shock ran through the American like electricity.

"Forgive me," Heero said. Then, the pain began.