Labels/Warnings: shonen ai, slight language, angst
Pairings: 1+2 implied 3+4
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
"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
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
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
"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,
"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
"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.