Reunion + Chapter 8 (cont)

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-takatakatakatakataka-

As the light tapping of keys switched tempo, becoming faster and louder, Duo shifted in his sleep.

"Damnit Heero... get off that stupid thing and go to sleep, why don't ya...?" he muttered, rolling over; then he opened his eyes and stiffened. The room wasn't familiar, the bed wasn't familiar, and when he checked, he was wearing a t-shirt and sweat pants that he couldn't remember ever seeing before.
He tensed and took a deep breath, ready to roll silently to his feet, then lost the breath as pain stabbed his side and he coughed.

The typing stopped.

----------

Wufei paused half-way through typing his mail to Relena and raised his head, listening intently, but the cough wasn't repeated and he relaxed.

----------

Duo held himself still, one hand pressed tightly over his mouth and the other arm wrapped around his ribcage as he muffled a string of coughs, eyes watering. Once the immediate urge was gone he relaxed slightly, hand slipping away from his mouth as he forced himself to breathe shallowly and evenly; he
relaxed a little more as the sound of typing began again. When he was fairly sure movement wouldn't start the cough, he rolled slowly off the futon, shifting out from underneath the quilts as quietly as possible.

Carefully pulling himself upright, holding onto the pine chest of drawers for support, he glared hatefully towards the door. I remember now, he thought viciously. I remember... they came to get me. And if that's Heero out there... He slid slowly along the wall, bare feet silent on the carpet, until
he could see through the slightly open door; then he leaned forwards, shifting to see the edge of the desk, the computer...

Duo's jaw dropped, lips silently forming a name.

'Fei?

Wufei was sitting in front of the computer, typing, dressed only in a pair of sweat pants. A towel was draped over the back of the chair and his damp hair was falling loose around his shoulders, a little longer than Duo remembered; as he watched, open-mouthed, Wufei pushed a strand back behind his ear and
turned slightly, profile visible for a moment as he reached for a steaming mug.

Duo leaned back against the wall, swallowing. The rest of his memories of the day before presented themselves, becoming clear.

"I told Duo I was taking him home, and I meant it."

Oh. Oh wow. He really did...

"I'll look after him."

'Fei never says anything he doesn't mean. He might avoid a question, or ignore it, or just shut up, but I've never heard him tell an outright lie. This must be his place... and I don't hear anyone else here. He's going to look after me himself.

I'm safe.

Duo leaned forwards again and watched Wufei type, just for a little while; then his legs began to tremble and he reluctantly turned away, making his way back to bed.

* * * * *

TO: Relena <flowerchild@secure.mail.net>
FROM: Chang Wufei <chang.wufei@secure.mail.net>
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0845hrs
SUBJECT: Duo.
---message begins---

Relena,

The ringer on my phone is off; email or page me if you need
to get in touch. I got Duo home and settled all right last
night, and he's still sleeping. The cough seems to have eased a
bit. It's too early to really tell how things will go,
though.

I'll keep you up to date.

-Wufei

---message ends---

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TO: Heero Yui <wing@secure.mail.net>
FROM: Chang Wufei <chang.wufei@secure.mail.net>
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0848hrs
SUBJECT: Duo.
---message begins---

Yui,

The phone ringer is off. Use my pager or email if you have to
call. Duo's still asleep; I'll keep you informed.

-Chang

---message ends---

* * * * *

Heero wandered aimlessly through the house after breakfast, unable to settle down in one place or to doing one thing. Finally, he ended up in the study, sitting at his desk and staring moodily at the collection of photographs by the computer. Relena; Relena with Heero; Duo with Heero; the five pilots at the start of Quatre's party...

Heero picked that last, largest picture up and looked at it. I think we all have a copy of this. Relena's got one in her bedroom. Quatre's got a copy in every single one of his houses... even Duo kept it. He stroked a gentle fingertip over Duo's laughing face; then his eyes slid to the right and settled on Wufei.

I should be looking after Duo, he thought angrily. I didn't walk out and leave him sleeping. I didn't ignore him and drive him away. I didn't...

The photo in his hands began to shake.

I didn't worry about him for eight months.

I changed all my contact details.

"I went away for a month to get my head straight and you just couldn't wait to block me out!"

I did drive him away. It wasn't Wufei. It was me.

"Don't-- fuckin' touch me-- Yui."

A drop of water landed on the glass protecting the photo. Then another. Two more...

"...leave me to rest in peace..."

I was supposed to watch his back. I was supposed to be there for him. If I'd paid more attention... if I'd just asked him what was wrong when he said he was leaving, none of this would have happened. He wouldn't be sick. He wouldn't be hurt. He wouldn't hate me...

Unnoticed by Heero, the study door swung open and Relena stepped in. She stood for a few seconds, watching him; then she backed out as quietly as she'd come in, closing the door behind her.

----------

Outside in the hall, Relena stood with her hand on the door, head down and eyes closed.

I've never seen him cry before... not really cry. Even when I walked in on him and Duo that time, he looked so vulnerable, but he wasn't crying. I've never seen him shed tears...

There has to be some way to fix this. I don't think Heero can be whole without Duo's friendship.

----------

Some time later, Heero's computer chimed; he looked up blearily, rubbing the back of his hand across sore eyes.

What...? Oh. I never logged out last night...

Carefully, he set the photo aside and hit a key to open the new email; after reading it, he swallowed painfully, then slowly reached out and hit 'reply'.

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TO: Chang Wufei <chang.wufei@secure.mail.net>
FROM: Heero Yui <wing@secure.mail.net>
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0852hrs
SUBJECT: Re: Duo.
---message begins---

Wufei,

Please take care of Duo for me.

-Heero

---message ends---

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TO: Heero Yui <wing@secure.mail.net>
FROM: Chang Wufei <chang.wufei@secure.mail.net>
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0854hrs
SUBJECT: Re: Duo.
---message begins---

Of course I'll take care of Duo. I'm doing it for him.

---message ends---

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TO: Chang Wufei <chang.wufei@secure.mail.net>
FROM: Heero Yui <wing@secure.mail.net>
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0855hrs
SUBJECT: Re: Duo.
---message begins---

Thank you.

---message ends---

* * * * *

Wufei wasn't pleased with the amount of food Duo ate when he finally woke him for 'breakfast'; but Sally had warned him that it might be some time before Duo could comfortably eat more than a few mouthfuls at a sitting. A few mouthfuls at a time it is, then, he thought, watching Duo slump back against the pillows with a half-eaten piece of toast in his hand. I'll just have to make him a lot of small meals every day. It's not just that he can't get much down; just eating seems to tire him... It's a good thing I gave him the tablets first.

"Duo, you don't have to finish that if you don't want it," Wufei said gently as the other boy raised the toast for one more reluctant bite; it paused just below Duo's chin as he looked up guiltily.

"But... you cooked, and..."

"That doesn't mean you have to make yourself sick trying to eat it all. I can nag you about eating your meals and proper nutrition later, after you're feeling better."

"Like, 'pizza is not one of the four food groups'?" Duo asked with a ghost of a smile, putting the toast down.

Wufei snorted. "That, or 'half a gallon of ice-cream in one sitting has got to be a bad idea'. I'm still amazed you didn't give yourself hypothermia with that stunt. You didn't even get a headache, and I'm firmly convinced that you're the only person who could pull it off. Are you finished?"

"Um... yeah." Duo looked guilty again; most of what Wufei had served him was still on the plate.

"Not a problem. I'll be back... oh! I nearly forgot, Lady Une put a message for you at the end of an email she sent me this morning. 'P.S. Give Maxwell my best, and tell him I said "thank you for the roses".' When did you ever give her roses?"

"Huh? Um... Townsville Base, I think."

Wufei thought for a moment. "I remember you saying something about 'five hundred pizzas and the Macarena make a great distraction', but..."

Duo shrugged. "I thought she'd like them."

"...Right. I'll be right back."

Out in the kitchen, Wufei dropped the plate on the counter and leaned back against the cupboards. Okay... I'm still prone to babble, but... maybe that's good? At least he's talking to me. And he smiled! Okay, it wasn't much of a smile, but it was still a smile. He... oh gods, I'm babbling to myself now. I sound like Quatre!

----------

After making sure Duo was settled and comfortable for a midday nap, Wufei stretched out on the sofa to get a little rest himself.

I won't actually sleep, he thought, eyes falling shut. I need to stay awake so I can hear Duo if he needs me... so I'll just lie here for a while. That's all...

Three hours later:

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TO: Lady Une <lady.une@preventers.com>
FROM: Chang Wufei <chang.wufei@secure.mail.net>
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 1507hrs
SUBJECT: -none----message begins---

You're welcome.

-D.M.

---message ends---

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The computer beeped softly as Duo hit 'send', and Wufei's eyes flew open.

"What... huh... Duo?" Confused and sleep-fogged, he blinked at the thin figure sitting in the chair, listing to one side as he favoured his ribs. "What are you doing?"

"Email."

"Um... okay. You shouldn't be up. Why didn't you call me?"

Shrug.

Wufei sat up, scrubbing at his face, then looked at his watch. Three o'clock?! I slept for three hours? Damn it, what if Duo had needed my help and I didn't hear him?! I didn't hear him come out..."Did you call me?"

"No."

That's a relief, but still, I shouldn't have gone to sleep!"Um." He blinked, a little more awake now. "Are you finished? You can stay out here on the couch if you don't want to go back to bed."

Duo nodded; Wufei helped him to the couch, spreading the blanket over his legs, then straightened. "I should get changed; I need to go shopping, but I won't be long."

Duo followed Wufei with his eyes as he walked into the bedroom; then he pulled the blanket to one side and shakily pushed himself to his feet.

Five minutes later, Wufei walked out, hair back in a loose tail, wearing a faded pair of blue jeans and tugging down the hem of a dark sweater. "I just need to get food, so-- Duo, what are you doing?!"

The other boy didn't look up as he stepped carefully into his boots over by the door; he was already wearing his ragged coat. "Going shopping."

"But-- why-- you can't--" Wufei sputtered; then Duo peeked up at him from under his bangs, eyes wide and imploring, and he folded. "...All right. All right, but you're wearing my coat; it's warmer. And I'll get you a pair of socks. Sit down, Duo, please!" He turned and walked back into the bedroom, heading for the chest of drawers, muttering "Sally is going to kill me if she finds out!" as he went.

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"Hey look, it's that cute Preventers guy, the Chinese one!"

"Where? ...That can't be him. He's always in uniform. And who's that he's with?"

"I don't know, but it's him all right. Pretty out of character, hey?"

"No kidding!"

The cashiers watched with interest as 'that cute Preventers guy' carefully settled someone on the bench by the customer service desk and hovered for a few minutes, talking with a worried look on his face, before moving into the store.

"Is that a guy or a girl?"

"Hard to say. Nice hair, though."

"Has to be a girl. Did you see the look on the guy's face? I say that's his girlfriend."

"Welllll, I see a basket on the floor over there, so I guess I should go tidy it up..."

Shortly afterwards:

"It's a guy."

"No!"

"Uh-huh, and you should see the bruise on the other side of his jaw! He's awfully thin, and shivering, but he's got the most gorgeous eyes."

"Think he's on drugs?"

"Get real! You think cute-and-Chinese would stand for that? He looks more like my cousin Karen after she was in an accident and spent two weeks in hospital; she was so weak, if she walked anywhere she got the shakes."

"So is he the boyfriend, then, or just a friend?"

"Boyfriend. Definitely boyfriend."

"What a waste!"

"All the best guys are either dead, gay or taken. You know that."

"Damn. Gay and taken. Guess I won't be asking him out, then..."

"At least he's not dead. We can still look."

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