Author: Mel, Christy, Redcap the Violence Muse & Stormdancer the Angst Dragon
Category: AU, Fantasy
Pairings: 1x2, 3x4, 5x?
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Yaoi, language, angst.
Disclaimer: We're not making any money from our writing; we're just having fun! (Even if the characters aren't...)
Feedback: Yes

Demon of Justice + Chapter 20
Trust

Duo drifted up out of unconsciousness, slowly gathering the strength to open his eyes. He was feeling strangely heavy, and everything except his right hand was chilled...

"...not likely to wake up for at least half an hour," he heard, echoing as if it was coming from the bottom of a well. "Would you like to take a break? The visitor waiting room is quite comfortable, and you can get something to eat."

"No," Heero's voice replied, and the warmth cradling Duo's hand shifted. "I'd rather wait here."

"Really, sir, there's no need for you to be here while he's still under the anaesthetic. At least take a short walk to stretch your legs!"

"No," he repeated, politely but firmly. "Thank you, but I'm staying here."

"He promised," Duo mumbled through what seemed to be a mouthful of cotton wool.

"Duo? Are you awake?" Heero's voice was suddenly closer, and there was a surprised exclamation from the other person in the room.

"Izzit over?"

"Yeah." Calloused fingertips gently stroked over Duo's forehead and through his fringe. "All done."

"Good. M'thirsty..."

"Here," the other person said, apparently recovering from the shock of having Duo wake up early. "Just a few sips, until we're sure your stomach hasn't reacted badly to the anaesthetic, all right?"

Duo managed to open his eyes a little as he sipped cool water through a straw, and blinked fuzzily at the slightly out-of-focus faces of Heero and a nurse, both watching him intently. The nurse smiled a bit sheepishly as she took the glass away, and patted him on the shoulder. "My apologies, Mr. Maxwell; I was sure you were going to be asleep for a while yet, and I was trying to drag your friend away for a break. Luckily he knows better than me, hmm?"

"I know Duo," Heero muttered, managing a crooked grin. "I'd listen to you if it was anyone else, but Duo always manages to surprise people."

"Smart guy," Duo told her, squinting slightly and feeling a mild surge of triumph as he managed to bring them into focus. "He's been payin' attention lately."

"That's always a good thing," she chuckled, checking his pulse. "Mm- hmm... are you feeling up to raising your head a bit?"

"Dunno. Less' find out."

A few seconds spent fiddling with the bed's controls later, the head of the bed had lifted up about twenty degrees, and Heero was helping the nurse rearrange Duo's pillows behind him. "How's that?"

"Feels all right," Duo said, shifting experimentally and looking curiously at the long bulge under the covers where a frame was keeping them off his leg. "M'sorta fuzzy-headed, but thass' going-- ulp!" A queer expression crossed his face, and he swallowed hard.

Before Heero could work out what was happening, the nurse had whipped a paper cup in front of Duo's mouth and was steadying him as the water came back up.

Shit! Automatically, Heero clutched at Duo's hand again, quickly assessing his vital signs. No blood in the vomit-- colour's good-- temperature's OK-- pupils dilated but tracking-- he's coherent-- It's just a drug reaction. That's all! His heart slowly settled back into its proper place as Duo stopped heaving and blinked, looking confused. "Whoa," he muttered, pressing one hand to his stomach. "Thass' weird. I don' feel sick..."

"About thirty percent of the population react that way to this anaesthetic," the nurse said comfortingly, handing Heero the vomit cup and taking Duo's pulse again, then making a note on a datapad. "Most people's stomachs settle down in under ten minutes. If you still can't keep water down after half an hour, or if it gets uncomfortable, I'll give you something to fix it, all right?"

"Sounds fair t'me," he agreed, still rubbing his stomach. "Can I have 'nother blanket?"

"Feeling cold?" When he nodded, she frowned slightly and felt his forehead, then his hands. "There's extra blankets in the cupboard, but I think this is another side effect, sorry. It won't make much difference." She still got him the blankets, though.

----------

Twenty minutes later, Heero was nearly frantic. Duo was thirsty and dry-mouthed, so he kept taking sips of water, and then bringing them straight back up. The only thing stopping Heero from charging out into the corridor, grabbing the first nurse or doctor he saw, and demanding that they do something to fix this was Duo's repeated assurance that it wasn't a problem.

"I don't feel sick or anything," he insisted, pulling the blankets back up around his shoulders and shivering. "Normally throwing up makes my stomach hurt, but not this time. It's like everything is working just fine, except that anything I swallow gets stamped 'no such address' and returned to sender."

"By express courier," Heero said, trying to smile in response. "'When it absolutely, positively has to get out of there NOW'," Duo quipped, imitating an ad's voice-over, "'use HurlMail and'-- ulp!"

Heero got the vomit cup in place and sighed, shaking his head. "I think that was tempting fate just a little too far, Duo."

* * * * *

Relena lingered at the breakfast table long after she would normally have left for her office at the Ministry, picking at the cold food on her plate and ignoring the stack of mail still waiting to be read.

"Is everything all right, Miss Relena?" Pargan eventually asked, beginning to be seriously worried.

"...I don't know," she said quietly, putting her fork down and standing up.

"I don't understand."

"Neither do I, Pargan. That's the problem." She began to turn away, then looked back at him. "I don't have any appointments or meetings today, do I?"

"No, Miss Relena, you do not."

"Good. I won't be going into the office today, Pargan; please let my secretary know."

"Certainly, Miss Relena. Will you be going anywhere else?" he inquired, smoothly passing her to open the door.

"I haven't decided yet. That will be all for now, thank you."

Normally, when Relena needed to think, she would close herself off in her study; but the scent of burnt plastic and smoke was still too strong, and a maid was busily cleaning ashes out of the ornamental fireplace. Relena's search for privacy took her out into the garden, to a quiet spot with a bench to sit on, where she began to examine her own motives for the first time in years.

I preach pacifism and tolerance, she thought, looking at the beautiful view in front of her without seeing it. I tell people to be kind to each other. Two days ago, I even did a live broadcast to the entire Earth sphere, saying that we can all get along peacefully despite our different backgrounds... and yet I was willing to ruin Duo's life by raking up the worst parts of his background, because I want what he's got.

I have everything. He has almost nothing. And I'm still jealous.

And what am I jealous of? Heero's in love with him.

So... I was willing to ruin Heero's life too, wasn't I?she suddenly realised, eyes widening. I love... no. I kept telling myself I loved Heero, but I never once considered that if he loves Duo -- and he does, I saw it so clearly -- then the best thing I could do for him would be to leave them alone!

Do I love Heero?! I've believed that for two years, but... Slowly, Relena thought back over all the times she'd spoken to Heero. What he'd said back. The way he acted. How they'd met...

...I never really listened to him, did I? I never paid attention. I hung on his arm, and watched his every move, and memorised every expression... I told him everything I thought and wanted, and I assumed that of course he agreed with me, but... I never asked. He'd look at me as if I was stupid, sometimes. I memorised that expression! And I never, not even for a second, stopped to think that maybe that expression meant he really did think I was stupid!

That's not love. That's blind obsession.

I met him in an incredibly dramatic way, and I fixated on him. All the things I've hoped for since, the plans I've made for the future, how he'd finally be able to let down his masks and admit he loved me... I made all of that up inside my head, and never thought to find out if my plans had any resemblance to reality. I never even thought of consulting Heero to find out what he thought, because I was so sure I was right. I've been viewing everything to do with Heero through my own set of warped assumptions, and never realised just how far it's twisted my own behaviour.

I'm a pacifist, but I told Heero it was all right to kill someone, because he was trying to kill Heero. If it had been anyone else, I would have tried to make them both stop... I would have said nobody should die... but he was threatening Heero, so that made it all right for him to be killed.

I think of Quatre as good, because Heero respects him. I think of Duo as bad, because the first time I met him, he shot Heero...

...defending me.

Now, that is monumentally stupid.

Relena dropped her head into her hands, shaking as the full impact hit her. Duo saved my life. I should have been grateful. I should have thought of him as some sort of hero... but I hated him, because he shot Heero. He wounded Heero to save my life, and I made him into the bad guy!

And I kept chasing after Heero. I was still convinced that we were in love! He pulled a gun on me, and it didn't shake my fixation a bit!

What is wrong with me?!

If I'd met Duo first... would I have fixated on him instead? Would I have cheered him on when he shot Heero? Would I be digging into Heero's past to find something to use against him? Or Quatre... if I'd met him first, would I hate Trowa now? What about Wufei? If I'd fixated on him, would it have survived the sort of cold politeness he could turn on when he didn't like someone?

Probably. He used it on me often enough and I just ignored it.

So what do I really want? Am I so desperate for love that I'll invent it when it doesn't turn up on cue?

...No. Not love, she decided. I wanted Heero, and I told myself it was love, because that fit all the stereotypes and stories I knew. So what was I really after?

* * * * *

"You know, that's the first time I've ever been grateful to someone who's just stuck me with a needle," Duo commented, sipping at his second glass of orange juice. Thanks to an injection from a nurse, the first glassful had gone down and stayed down.

"Now if they could just do something to stop you feeling cold, it'd be perfect," Heero muttered, tucking the blankets in around Duo more snugly.

"I don't mind just waiting it out," Duo shrugged. "At least now I can stay still and keep the blankets in place."

"Still..." Heero grimaced and sat down again.

"Did you get hold of the guys?"

The Japanese pilot nodded. "They'll come in for a visit later this afternoon, when they've finished moving our stuff."

"I'm surprised you didn't call them earlier," Duo said absently, examining the multifunction remote control attached to the head of the bed. "I would've expected Quatre to be just about vibrating with impatience until he found out how it went."

"I didn't feel like calling him and telling him 'Duo is throwing up every thirty seconds, but that's nothing to worry about'," Heero said dryly. "He wouldn't have taken it well." And there was no way in hell I was going to leave you to find a payphone before that stopped!

"Good point." Duo yawned, surprising himself, and scowled indignantly. "This is ridiculous! I just woke up and I'm sleepy again? I haven't even had lunch yet!"

"Bits of you have had a busy morning," Heero pointed out. "If you want a nap, I'll wake you up when the food arrives. Assuming they're planning to feed you, that is," Heero added, suddenly uncertain. "I know they don't let you eat before an operation, but I don't know about after."

"They'd better," Duo growled, stabbing at the remote to lower the head of his bed. "Otherwise, knee or no knee, I'm going out for junk food."

"You will not! You will assign me a search-and-acquire mission on the kitchens. Or on the nearest pizza place, if the food here lives up to the usual hospital stereotype."

Duo had been about to snap an angry reply to Heero's first order, but the rest of what he said made him chuckle. "Sounds good," he yawned, settling down and adjusting his pillows. "I've got a loaded Heero and I'm not afraid to use him..."

* * * * *

[cont]