Deliveryman + Part 15I wish I could say that after that letter the nightmares stopped. They didn't. In some ways I think they got worse, since I had actually seen the tape. There were a lot of nights that I woke up in a cold sweat, biting down on a scream. Fortunately, I had my own room at the Sweeper's base, so I didn't have to worry about waking anyone up.
Howard and the Sweepers were great. I had forgotten how much fun they were to be around. It didn't take too long until I was mobile, and not too long after that until I could work alongside the rest of the crew without aching too badly. Howard's base was on L3, and that's where I spent most of my time. The three months passed quickly, though I was still unsure if I should contact the guys.
Of course, right before I was due to go down to Sally I noticed a disturbing habit that I had developed.
I was helping dismantle a Taurus suit, working with several other guys. The suit was on it's back, laying on a platform. Most of them were on top of the suit, carefully pulling it apart. I was working on an arm, a bit below them.
I was focused on my work, and without thinking I shifted to the side, just before a wrench tumbled down past me. If I hadn't of moved, it would've conked me a good one.
"Hey!" I hollered. "Watch the flying tools!"
"Ah Duo, sorry about that!" One of the sweepers called back.
"It's not like it was gonna hit you anyway, psychic!" Another one called. I blinked up at him.
"It would've if I hadn't have moved!"
"But you moved!" He grinned back. "You always do." Alarm bells rang in my head. Always do? Thinking back, I had had a few near misses- everyone on a sweeper crew does. When you work with dangerous equipment accidents happen. I wanted to dismiss it, I really did.
But then there were the headaches. I'd get them about once a week or so, not really bad ones, but it would feel like something was buzzing around in my skull. They'd vanish with a painkiller, and so I hadn't really thought about it.
I began to wonder if Zero had really left me at all.
I went to go talk to Howard. I felt like an idiot, asking him if I had seemed 'psychic' to him lately and I expected- hell- wanted him to laugh at me.
"I wondered if you'd noticed it kid," was his response and my heart sank.
"Maybe I'm just lucky?"
"Maybe with the accidents, but there's been some other things you've done too. Told me who was on that call the other day before I answered it. You knew something was wrong with Jake before his wife called in." I must have looked panicky, because Howard got to his feet and reached out to sling an arm around my shoulders.
"What's happening to me Howard?"
"I don't know kid, but it's not bad. Think of it as a good thing." That's Howard- the cup's always half-full with him. "Nothing wrong with knowing things before they happen." I wanted to yell at him that there was something wrong, but he stopped me in advance. "Duo, kid, relax. You haven't been violent. You haven't attacked anyone. The docs probably dosed ya with something that hasn't worked it's way out of your system yet. Relax." I let him talk me out of my panic, because I didn't know what the hell else to do. It was easier to ignore it.
The deadline day came and went. I didn't go to my scheduled med checkup. Call me a coward but I was afraid of what Sally might find. What if Zero was still lurking in my head? What would the guys do to me then? It was easier to continue to hide out with the sweepers.
I had forgotten to factor in one thing: Sally.
A week after I was supposed to have shown up in Preventers HQ for that physical, Sally showed up at the sweeper base on L3. She pulled me away from my work and into Howard's office. She checked me over thoroughly.
"You're doing very well," she told me when she finished. I must've looked slightly panicked because she put a gentle hand on my arm. "Do you not want to be?"
"You really didn't find anything wrong?"
"Why Duo? Is there something?" Sally raised an eyebrow at me and looked expectant.
"I've been... getting headaches. And sometimes... sometimes I know when things are going to happen. Accidents... stuff like that." To give Sally credit, she didn't freak out.
"You think it's Zero." It wasn't a question.
"How bad are the headaches Duo?"
"Not bad. I take a painkiller and they're gone." I told her honestly. She frowned as she thought it through.
"We checked your skull right afterwards. You didn't have any fractures- just the concussion. How often do you get them?"
"Once a week or so."
"Are they getting more frequent? Less frequent?"
"No- about the same every week." She studied me thoughtfully.
"Do get a headache after you 'know something is going to happen'?" I had to think about that one. I really didn't know.
"I don't know. Maybe?"
"Hm. I'll want you to keep a record of when you get them- and when you get these psychic flashes." She tapped her fingers on Howard's desk. "Do you ever get angry? Pick fights? Feel the need to attack?"
"Does it feel like the Zero system?" I thought of the sliding sensation of Zero and shook my head.
"We don't really know what the doctors did to you. It does sound a bit like Zero, but it might be something else- one of the drugs they gave you. I will have Une ask them and we'll try to get to the bottom of this, okay?"
"Okay. What about the guys? I'm still having the nightmares. If I am getting psychic- maybe I'm trying to warn myself?" I paused, hating myself for sounding like a complete idiot. She reached out and hugged me gently.
"I don't think so Duo. You dream about that room, right?"
"Do you wake up with a headache?"
"No..." I met her gaze. "But..."
"I'll tell them you aren't ready yet." Sally smiled sadly.
"Sally- what if I'm never ready?" She held me tightly.
"You will be, Duo. Don't worry."
A few days after Sally left I was on a late-night shift working by myself in the Sweeper's office. Howard had a tendency to let paperwork slide until threatened, so one of us had to occasionally sneak in there and do what we could. I was almost to the bottom of a stack of papers and my caffeine was wearing off. I could feel myself getting drowsy.
I yawned and decided that I needed to get to bed. I blinked heavy eyelids and then a cold chill went down my spine. I whirled around as fast as I could to find Heero standing in the doorway, his expression dark and shuttered, the Heero of my nightmares.
I freaked. There's no other way to put it. I jumped up out of my seat and flattened myself against the wall before I could even think about it.
"Duo?" The hurt on Heero's face made me stop trying to become one with the wall. "Oh gods, I'm sorry." He dropped the hand he had extended towards me when I had jumped backwards. "This was a bad idea." Before I could speak, he vanished from the doorway.
That was the real Heero. Shit!
I took off down the hallway after him without thinking. He was never as fast as I was; it was an easy thing to catch up with him.
"Heero!" I grabbed his shoulder and forced him to stop. "I'm sorry, you startled me. I wasn't expecting you..."
"I know. Sally said you didn't want to see us yet." His eyes met mine and I flinched at the pain in his. "Why Duo?"
"She didn't tell you?"
"She just said that you were having nightmares." His arms twitched like he wanted to reach out to me, but stopped himself.
"That's all she said?"
"Yes." Heero's gaze intensified. "Why? What else is going on?" Before I could stop myself I reached out and pulled him into my arms. "Duo?" He returned my hug tightly. "Tell me."
"I've been having... well, I'm not really sure how to explain it... uh..." Can you tell I didn't really want to tell him anything? I just wanted to stand there in that damn hallway and have him hold me for a while. I didn't want to talk about Zero or whatever the hell was wrong with me.
"Duo?" He pulled away a little, still maintaining his hold on me, and leaned his forehead against mine. "Tell me."
I couldn't lie to Heero. So I told him about the headaches and the psychic flashes and the nightmares. He held on to me for the whole explanation. It was...nice being back in his arms. I had missed him so much, even while being terrified of seeing him again. Now, those fears seemed silly as he listened to me with a concerned look.
"Crap," he said, when I finished. "I'm going to kill them. Is Sally taking care of it?"
"She said she'd talk to Une."
"If Une doesn't get answers, then I will." His gaze hardened and I flinched. "Duo," he pulled me closer again, "don't. I'm not going to hurt you. Not ever again. I swear it."
"But what if it is Zero?"
"Doesn't matter. We'll handle it a different way." He kissed my cheek. "I'm so sorry Duo. I messed up."
"Well, you can't say I was thinking clearly either," I joked halfheartedly and then surprised myself by yawning. Heero let me go.
"I'll let you get to bed. I'll contact the others and..."
"You're leaving?" Popped out before I could stop it. I had to think about that. Did I want Heero to stay? I looked into those deep blue eyes and knew the answer to that question.
"I'm not supposed to be here," he reminded me. "We were supposed to wait until you..."
"We can say that I contacted you." I told him.
"All right," he smiled. "I'll stay."
[part 14] [part 16] [back to Merula's fic]