Author: Merula
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is not mine.

WARNINGS: Here be angst. And a lot of talking. Sorry this part is so long, I just couldn't find a good place to end it sooner. Again, a very 'Gundamesque' chapter- lots of talking.

Deliveryman + Part 14

Une was there the next time I woke up. This time my vision had cleared enough so that things weren't as blurry. It looked like I was in a hospital room.

"Maxwell?" Une smiled down at me and handed me a glass of water. "How are you feeling?" She helped me sit up to drink it. I was relieved that I didn't feeling like throwing it back up after the first few sips.

"Why do you ask? How does it look like I'm feeling?" I griped. Une smiled wider.

"Obviously better. In that case, are you feeling well enough to give me a report? I need to have all the information you have for the case against the doctors."

"All right." Une sat down next to me and set up her recorder. I told her everything. Finding the docs on the Libra, getting them off afterwards, how they contacted me after the second war, talked me into the delivery business when I told G that I wasn't happy in salvage. How they funded me, sprang the news about the transmitters each pilot had received and what they wanted me to do. I told her how and where each pilot was being monitored. Told her that all the information and my reports had already been wiped.

"You edited what they saw?"

"Well yeah. It didn't seem right, y'know? So the cameras weren't on all the time. Only in some places- cars, offices, living rooms- no bedrooms or showers or anything creepy like that and not at night. The docs were a bit mad at me, but I told them that I couldn't tape that kind of stuff."

"Did you watch the tapes?"

"No way. The cameras were under my control, but the recordings went straight to the docs." I shrugged. "I did see some things, of course, while adjusting them and setting feeds up, but I didn't watch them afterwards."

"And your reports?"

"Things the others had told me, things I observed, stuff like that. There were some things I was supposed to watch- like Wufei and Heero's partnership in the Preventers or Trowa and Quatre's relationship. I was to let the docs know when they were doing well, if they had differences of opinion that they shared with me, that kind of thing."

"Gossip, basically."

"Pretty much." I sighed. Une turned off the recording.

"Well, you have earned yourself immunity by testifying against them. The others don't want to press charges against you, so you don't have to worry about any legal problems." She reached out with surprisingly gentle fingers and brushed my bangs out of my eyes. "Do you want to take legal action?"

"For what?"

"Well, we got the doctors on plenty- don't need to worry there- but the other pilots? Sally wanted a restraining order put in place for you."

"A restraining order?" I gaped at her. "That's not necessary."

"I don't think so either." Une agreed. "But I wanted to see how you felt. They can't get in here anyway- we put a guard on the door."

"A guard on the door?" I repeated. I was beginning to feel like a parrot.

"We don't know if the doctors had any other 'backup' plans. I thought it would be for the best. I haven't had time yet to talk to the others about what happened in that room, but I want to know everything before I allow them in to see you. Sally was insistent that you be kept away from them for the time being, so I complied with her request." Une got to her feet gracefully.

"Why?" I asked her.

"You need some time," she said as she went to the door and knocked. She turned back around suddenly. "Duo, I'm sorry." The door opened behind her.

"For what?" I blinked at her.

"I realized that I was doing the same thing the doctors were- using you to benefit the Preventers."

"Um, Une, I think that's kind of different."

"Is it?" She smiled sadly. "I don't see it that way." Zechs leaned in the doorway, looking puzzled.

"Lady?"

"I'm finished." Apparently Zechs was my guard. He gave me a quick smile as the commander went past him and then closed the door firmly behind her.

Well, that sure gave me some things to think about.

I wasn't sure that I agreed with Sally's assessment. I couldn't imagine the guys deciding to come in and beat me up further. If they had really wanted to kill me, I wouldn't be breathing now.

Then again, she had a point. I had already been injured at the start of the fight. And it had been four against one.

But I could see where a one-on-one fight wouldn't have worked. I knew that more combatants meant more possibilities to screw up Zero, but--it did seem kind of overkill.

Heero had said that they would've done the same in my place. Wufei had defended me to Master O, but was it true that on some level they were feeling betrayed? I couldn't blame them for that. A little over a day after they find out that I had been spying on them, they had to go pull me out of the fire. I could see where they might still be harboring some resentment.

I had to wonder how they were feeling about me now.

All this thinking was making my head ache more. Maybe all I needed was a good night's sleep to rest my brain. I could just think about it in the morning.

+

Sleep was not a good idea. I woke up in a cold sweat, shaking so hard that the bed was tapping the wall.

I had dreamed about that metal room. Had dreamed about the guys attacking me. I shook harder remembering their faces. The other three's faces had been twisted with rage- but Heero's... he had looked at me with hatred as he struck at me again and again. Oh gods.

Was that how they had been or was that what my subconscious was guessing had happened? I couldn't stop shaking. Gods, the hate and anger had been thick in the air. I had felt it in their blows.

"It's only a dream," I murmured into the dark. "It couldn't have been like that!" Could it? I wished I could remember it better!

It was a long time before I went back to sleep.

+

Zechs opened my door the next morning with a smile. "Visitor, Duo."

"Duo!" Hilde came into the room, her cheerful smile banishing my dark thoughts. She leaned over and kissed me gently on the cheek before perching on the side of the bed. "You look like crap!"

"Thanks sweetheart," I told her dryly. "That makes me feel so much better."

"I can't stay long," she replied, ignoring my sarcasm like she usually did. "I'm down here on business, but I wanted to check in on you."

"How'd you find out?"

"Quatre called me." Hilde fiddled with the end of my braid. "He said they weren't allowed to see you yet."

"No, I guess not."

"Are you mad at them?" She asked softly.

"No," I met her eyes. "In all honesty Hilde, I kind of deserved this." I saw her eyes travel over my visible injures.

"You were just doing what you thought was right." There was a hint of anger in her voice.

"And we know how well that's always worked." Like when I had stolen that mobile suit as a kid on L2. Yeah, there was another case of my good intentions gone very very bad. Maybe I needed to rethink my ideas of right and wrong. Hilde tugged my braid gently.

"You're a good guy, Duo." She grinned. "I guess Sally really read the others the riot act about it." I smiled back at her.

"You could say that." Hilde lost her smile.

"Quatre wanted me to tell you that they were sorry." She leaned over me, "You know that they care for you- so much. They're all really upset about this." She looked at my injures again and frowned. "And they should be!"

"There's no reason for them to be. None of us were really thinking clearly, I guess." I tried to soothe her. She glanced at her watch.

"I gotta go. I called Howard and he said he'd be in to see you soon too."

"Thanks Hilde." She kissed my cheek again.

"Take care Duo. I'll check in on you again soon, okay?" She went to the door and knocked. This was almost amusing. It was like being in a jail cell. Zechs let her out and a nurse came in.

+

The jail cell feeling didn't go away. It was making me twitchy. The dreams didn't help much either. Even when the nurses gave me sleeping pills I still woke up in a cold sweat from visions of that metal room.

The third night of my hospital stay was the worse. The dream was really awful, and I woke from the image of Heero reaching for me with hate- filled eyes to a dark-haired figure bending over my bed.

I threw my hands up in a defensive position, ripping out my IV in the process.

It wasn't Heero leaning over my bed, I realized a few moments later. It was Noin. She looked shaky.

"Duo?" She asked when she saw that I had focused on her. "Are you all right? You were screaming."

"Bad dream," I told her. "Sorry, didn't mean to scare you."

"It's okay," she smiled and pulled herself together. "I'll go get a nurse to reattach that IV."

On the fourth day of my stay, in the morning, Sally, Une, Howard and a Preventer I didn't recognize came in with a small TV set up. Sally, Howard and Une came to stand beside me while the other Preventer set up the TV.

"Hey Duo," Howard greeted me with his usual wave. "How ya doin kiddo?"

"Pretty sucky, old man. How about you?" He grinned at me.

"Better than you. These ladies tell me that you can be released today."

"Really?" I couldn't keep the hopefulness out of my voice.

"Really," Sally replied. "We just need to talk to you about a few things first." She nodded to the tech by the TV. "Play the recording."

As the recording started, I nearly jumped out of my skin. It was that plain metal room. A moment later and Heero entered, dragging me by the arm. I looked freaking awful. The burns on my arms and legs were red looking and angry and I was pretty bruised-looking. There wasn't any sound with the tape, but I knew what this was.

"Why are we...?"

"Just watch Duo." Sally told me.

The battle started and we watched silently. I was beginning to feel sick. The expressions on the others' faces were not the hate-filled ones from my dreams, but their battle-faces.

In a way that was worse.

"Stop there." Sally said and the tech paused the tape. "Do you see what we see Duo? You had two good chances to take out Wufei and then Trowa- you missed both of them." I nodded. The tape started again then stopped and another opportunity was pointed out. What was the point of this?

When it was finished Sally looked at me. "Do you understand Duo? You had chance after chance- chances I know that system had to be pointing out to you..."

"It was malfunctioning..."

"They were obvious Duo! There may have been other ones that weren't that we missed!"

She was right; I had noticed a few openings that they hadn't pointed out. I didn't mention them now.

"The other pilots are on disciplinary leave from the Preventers." Une stated briskly.

"No!"

"Duo- we can't have Preventers injuring civilians!"

"I'm not a civilian, "I told her. "You know I was doing covert ops for you too. They were doing what they thought was needed."

"Your objection is noted," she told me. "Don't worry Duo. It's only for a couple of weeks. We couldn't not act- don't you see? If this" - she gestured to the tape, "got out, we had to say we took some steps. They're in uniform- you aren't. You're injured already- they aren't. Do you see how this might look?"

"Yes," I agreed unhappily.

"Now, Duo, here's the deal," Sally took the conversation over again. "Howard and the Sweeper crew are going to take you in. You need someone to watch you and they volunteered." I looked at Howard and he grinned.

"Once a sweeper, always a sweeper," he told me.

"Thanks old man."

"In 3 months time you need to come in for a physical. The other pilots are not allowed to see you until you pass that physical." Sally continued.

"What!?" Was she kidding?

"You saw them Duo," Sally gestured at the tape. "No way am I letting them around you until you can defend yourself. Especially with the nightmares you've been having. They are on strict orders not to make contact with you until then. They watched this tape as well." She pointed to a small camera in the ceiling. "We showed them the tape of your little episode with Noin. After that, they agreed that you needed some space."

"She just woke me up from a nightmare."

"Duo, you were screaming."

"So?" I muttered.

"Specifically you were screaming for them not to hurt you anymore."

"Maybe I meant the doctors."

"You mentioned Heero and Trowa by name." Oh shit. Maybe another tactic? I met Sally's eyes.

"Does Wufei agree with this decision of yours Sally? I mean basically, you're accusing your boyfriend of not acting honorably."

"He wasn't," she said. "One on one is honorable. Two on one even, with the Zero system included. But four on one? When you weren't fighting up at your level and it was obvious you weren't?" She raised an eyebrow. "They saw what you did Duo. You had several chances to take them out- and you didn't. They should've seen that then."

"We were in the middle of a battle, Sally."

"Duo- who do you think noted all the chances you had? They did. You're gundam pilots. They saw what you could've done and they saw how they ignored it." She smiled slightly. "I love Wufei, but in this case, he was wrong and he knows he was. He agrees with my decision." I looked at Une questioningly.

"I think Sally is overreacting," she said simply. "I don't think the others want to hurt you anymore- subconsciously or not. However, I do agree that you all need some space from each other. If three months is not sufficient, I can extend it for you. If you want to see them tomorrow- as long as you are the one to contact them- it's fine with me. But, they are not to make contact with you until you agree to it. All right Duo?"

I thought about it for a minute and was surprised to find that I was feeling relieved. Maybe I did need some time? I guess I wasn't up for facing the guys yet, but I didn't agree with Sally either. I couldn't blame them for their reaction.

"All right. Thank you."

"No problem Duo." Une and Sally got to their feet. "You have another visitor waiting, so we'll take Howard to get your paperwork done, okay?" Sally smiled.

"Okay." They left and the last person I had expected to see walked in the room. Relena. What was she doing here?

"Duo," Relena gave me her 'public' smile. "How are you feeling?" She sat down in the chair next to my bed and continued without waiting for an answer. "Heero asked me to look in on you."

Heero sent the harpy in to see me? I was going to kill him.

"Oh?" I asked.

"Yes. I guess Une won't let him in." She sniffed derisively. "As if Heero would ever hurt one of his friends." Hello? Was she not looking at me? Good gods. "Well, he's terribly upset as you can imagine over this little misunderstanding. So, he asked me to give you this." She handed me an envelope with a large wax seal and a few layers of tape on it. At least Heero had learned that Relena had no compunctions about reading his mail.

"Oh, thanks," I told her.

"You're welcome." She got to her feet, eager to go now that her favor to Heero was complete. "I hope you feel better soon, Duo."

"Thanks," I didn't look at her again. I just turned the envelope over in my hands as she left. They weren't supposed to contact me, so what was this?

I've never been known for my patience or for following the rules however, so I opened the envelope- which took some doing!- and read the letter inside.

Duo,

I know I'm not supposed to contact you until you feel like talking to me, but I just couldn't wait. I'm sorry for sending Relena in to see you, I know you can't stand her, but she was the only one that agreed to take a note into you. I tried to get Hilde to do it, but after she saw you, she's a bit angry with the rest of us.

I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry. I made a lot of mistakes. I should've told you that I knew about the doctors earlier. I should've taken you with me when I left to talk to the others- or stayed and talked to the doctors with you. I should've realized that you weren't fighting all out that day.

I should've told you that I love you sooner than this.

I don't think we were wrong in what we did, Duo. You needed to work off the Zero system. We needed to fight all out or else Zero would've used that against us. If we had been fighting below our level, Zero would've realized it. But we should've had a better plan. And I should've taken our feelings into account. We were feeling upset and I think in some ways we did lash out at you. But you didn't deserve it. You did what you thought was right. I wasn't lying when I said that I would've done the same. You know I would've- and you know what your reaction would've been.

I love you Duo. I have for a very long time. I hope that you love me- even after all of this. I know you need time, we all do, but I want you to know that however long it takes- I'll be waiting for you.

Heero


I put the letter down in my lap. My eyes were burning and I had to close them tight to keep from crying like a baka.

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