see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
Lost Souls + Chapter 39
Quatre had managed to get to his hotel room with some semblance of dignity before he fell to pieces. Rashid, as his ever present bodyguard, had plowed through the reporters still lurking in the hospital lobby and got him into the hotel without having to talk to anyone. Quatre dismissed him politely at the door of his suite. As soon as he'd locked it he dashed for the bathroom and threw up in the toilet, bringing up the bland hospital supper. It was getting harder and harder to hold food down; he'd lost nearly ten pounds in the last month and it was beginning to show. Being around Wufei and Duo had only made it worse, and the dreams, and actually seeing Trowa? It felt like his heart was going to explode.
He staggered out of the bathroom and collapsed on the wide bed, hyperventilating and clutching his chest. He pressed a pillow to his face and curled up in a ball and stayed like that until the attack passed. It lasted longer than usual this time and left him so shaky he spilled weed all over the nightstand trying to roll a blunt. He managed it at last and sucked it down with hoarse, rasping gasps, then, a bit calmer, rolled and smoked another. What would the reporters have to say about that, he wondered with a twisted smile.
But weed wasn't enough anymore. He went to his overnight bag and took out the large flask hidden under his underwear and clean shirts. The vodka burned his throat after the smoke, and burned his stomach, too, but he'd gotten used to it since he'd started drinking a few months ago, and he welcomed the numbness that followed the burn. He took another drink, then shook the flask. Almost empty. Oh well, he was sure the concierge could take care of his needs.
Well, not all of them. Not with Rashid outside the door. The drug and alcohol had quelled the panic and self loathing, leaving in its place the ever present ache to be touched. At the end he and Trowa had made love every day, every chance they got, knowing each time might be their last. It had been urgent and passionate and beautiful. And he'd thrown it all away. For family. For duty. Now by day he was the perfect young executive, efficient, charming, smoothly ruthless when necessary. His sisters and uncle were very proud of him. By night he was in hell.
'If they could see me now!' Quatre slid a hand down the front of his pants and rubbed his aching cock through his underwear. After a few moments of that he pulled off his dirty, slept-in clothing, imagining other hands doing it for him, then took his cock in both hands and stroked it and his balls. Like Trowa used to. But thinking of Trowa now only conjured up the image of him tonight, and the flash of raw pain and anger that had come from him as they locked eyes for the first time since their parting fight.
'I did that to him.' Quatre's cock went soft, leaving him empty and miserable. Rolling onto his belly, he buried his face in the pillow again, fighting back tears. Oh, god, he needed sex so bad! Not even love, just the feel of other hands, other lips, other flesh touching his.
Not just touching. Lately darker thoughts had been creeping in.
There were reporters in the hotel lobby when he came down the following morning, freshly showered and dressed in neatly pressed slacks and a linen shirt. Looking in his mirror before he came down, he'd combed his fingers back through his hair. Those dark thoughts didn't show in the daytime. A good thing, too, with all the cameras trained on him now.
"Is it true, Mr. Winner? Was Trowa Barton Duo's lover during the war?"
"What? No!" Quatre exclaimed, blindsided. "Who on earth told you that?"
"Come along, Master Quatre," Rashid said as more members of Quatre's bodyguard closed in around them and hurried him across the street.
When he got to the hospital room Wufei looked up from the newspaper he was reading and frowned. "So you've heard, as well?" he said softly. Duo was asleep.
"About Trowa and Duo? Yes, you too?"
Wufei showed him an interview with Hilde that pretty much destroyed Duo's character, saying that he'd been a freeloader, lazy, a drug addict, and that she'd had her suspicians about his sexuality from the start of their relationship. She then went on to speculate about the rest of them, implying Duo had slept with some of his fellow pilots. She named Trowa specifically.
"Oh, god," Quatre groaned softly.
"It's libel," Wufei growled. "Barton should sue her for defamation. I'm considering it."
"She didn't name you."
"No, but she implied that we were all involved." Wufei was livid now.
"It's probably better if we just ignore it."
Wufei shook his head angrily, then took a closer look at Quatre. "You look terrible. Didn't you sleep?"
"Not well. You don't look so great yourself. Rough night with Duo?"
"He had nightmares and kept wanting to call his former girl friend to apologize. The doctor said it may be a few days before the medications take effect. They finally gave him something to make him sleep. He'll be out for a while."
"That's good. Would you mind staying a little longer? There's something I need to do."
"Certainly. I don't look forward to trying to get to the hotel with the press circling like sharks."
"I'll send some of my men with you."
Michael O'Rourke was in a private room on the next floor up. The door was open and Quatre could see that he was alone, watching cartoons. His chest and right arm were encased in white regen units, and his head was cradled in a partial regen helmet. His face was bruised and badly swollen and both eyes were black.
Quatre knocked on the doorframe. "Hello. Mind if I come in?"
"Who is it?" He couldn't turn his head.
Quatre moved to the end of the bed. "I'm Quatre Winner, Duo's friend."
"Oh yeah. I know who you are."
"I just wanted to see how you're doing."
The boy turned the TV off with the remote and lay there looking at him for a moment. "The doc says you're paying my bills."
"Well, they told me you didn't have any family to take care of you--"
Quatre was completely taken aback.
"Did Duo tell you to?" asked Michael.
"No, he doesn't even know."
"I don't get it. What do you want?"
"I don't want anything," Quatre assured him. "My family has a foundation that helps people. You needed help."
"I can't pay you back."
"You don't need to."
The boy stared at him in silence for another long moment. "Yeah. OK. Thanks, I guess."
"You're welcome." He hadn't come up seeking thanks, just to see how the guy was doing, but now he was profoundly uncomfortable, as if he'd insulted him somehow.
"Hey, how come Duo didn't come?" Michael asked as Quatre turned to go, and now he sounded shy.
"Duo's very sick. The morning the news broke he tried to kill himself."
"Shit! 'Cause of me?"
"In part, I suppose."
"Shit. Tell him I'm sorry, huh?"
"You have nothing to be sorry for, Michael. Your family did a terrible thing to you."
"Mikey. It's Mikey."
"All right, Mikey."
"Just tell him, OK?"
"If you like. But really, it's not your fault, what happened. And if you need help getting on your feet once you're better--A job--"
"I'm covered. Got a job. Got friends." A bit of the defensive edge had crept back into his voice.
"Oh. All right. Well, nice meeting you. Good luck."
Quatre left the room not quite sure how to feel.
"Gotta love that L-2 pride, huh?" said a nurse, who'd evidently overheard some of their exchange.
Quatre went back down stairs to relieve Wufei.
"How much longer can you stay?"
"I really should be getting back, but I can ask for more time."
"No, I can handle it."
Wufei raised his arms over his head and stretched. "Then I think I'll go take advantage of that hotel room and come back this afternoon to say good bye."
Quatre settled in the chair Wufei had vacated and watched Duo sleep. His face wasn't so much peaceful as slack. His hair hadn't been washed since he'd come in and there was still some dried blood in it, but it was combed. He couldn't imagine Wufei doing that. It must have been-- No, think of Duo. He had on a clean hospital gown and he was curled on his side, drooling a little onto the pillow under his cheek. The bandages on his wrists had been changed and weren't as thick. According to the doctor, Duo had done a thorough job, two vertical slashes on each wrist. It was a miracle he hadn't damaged any tendons.
Duo woke up around ten, eyes glassy from whatever drug he'd given him. "Hey, Q-ball," he said softly, speech a little slurred.
"How are you doing?"
"Mmmmm." Duo's eyes fluttered shut for a moment, then opened a bit wider. "Hungry."
"Want me to go speak to the nurse?"
Quatre wasn't gone more than five minutes, but when he came back, Duo out of bed, clinging to the bed rail and trying to stay upright. He was still glassy-eyed, but frantic now. The TV was on. "Mikey! I just saw it on the news. Why the hell didn't you tell me? Where is he?"
Quatre got an arm around him before he could fall on his face and found the remote to turn off the TV. "He's upstairs and he's getting the best care. I just talked to him."
"Oh fuck!" Duo's legs gave out as a tear rolled down his cheek. "Jesus, I fuck up everyone I touch!"
"That's not true.
"Yes it is!"
There was no arguing with him now. "Would you like to go see him?"
Duo sagged against him, then shook his head. "No. Not right now."
Quatre got him back into bed and coaxed him to eat when the nurse brought in his breakfast. He'd stopped crying, but he looked terribly depressed.
Thinking of his exchange with Mikey, Quatre sat forward in his chair and said, "There's something else I haven't told you. I've had you added to my insurance plan. All your expenses are covered. I sort of had myself declared your next of kin."
Duo didn't get angry, just looked more depressed than ever. "Guess I'd be out on the street otherwise. I'm really sorry. I'll pay you back, somehow."
'L-2 pride,' thought Quatre. "Duo, you're my best friend in the world, and I love you. And I know that if our situations were reversed, you'd do the same for me, right?"
Duo managed a half hearted little smile. "Yeah, I would. Thanks, Kat. Love you, too." He poked at his uneaten poached egg with a toast crust, then started painting designs on the plate with the runny yolk. "Guess you're wondering about Mikey."
"Is he your lover?"
Duo looked up from his egg painting. "He's someone I picked up in a bar while Hilde was out of town, Kat. We went to that motel a few times. He wasn't the first, either."
Quatre nodded slowly. "I've been thinking of doing that, myself."
Duo's eyes widened. "You're shitting me!"
"I shit you not." That at least got him a smile. Duo loved it when he talked gutter.
But the smile quickly faded. "So you and Tro-- You really didn't talk or anything while he was here?"
"No, Duo. And please, I'm asking as a friend--just stop bringing him up, OK?"
"OK." He was quiet for a while, still poking at his egg. "I guess I'd like to take a shower, then go see Mikey."
With Quatre stationed outside the shower stall, Duo got cleaned up, brushed his teeth, and braided his hair. Wrapped up in a hospital bathrobe, he was thin and pale still, but looked more like himself than he had in days. The nurse came and changed his bandages and Quatre got to see first hand what Duo had done to himself. The cuts had been fused closed, but there's been no regen. It was hard to do when the patient was in restraints.
When he was ready Quatre got him a wheel chair and took him as far as Mikey's door.
"Thanks, Kat," Duo told him. "I got it from here."
Duo waited until Kat had closed the door, then got out of the chair and went to the bed.
"Jesus, Mikey," he said, taking in the damage. He hardly recognized him.
"Hey, Duo." At least those blue eyes were the same. With his good arm he reached out to Duo and took his hand. "Did you really try to off yourself?"
Duo held up a bandaged wrist. "Almost made it, too."
Duo thought about that for a minute. "I guess 'cause my life is so fucked up."
"But you're a hero."
"Ancient history, Mikey. I'm just a trailer rat, same as everyone else in Dravittown."
"No you're not," Mikey said, with what might have been an attempt at a smile.
Duo just shook his head, not up to an argument.
"So, what about you and me?"
"I'm sorry Mikey. I like you a lot. I do. But I'm not looking for a 'you and me' kind of thing. I'm sorry this happened to you because of me."
"So I was just a fuck."
"No! Like I said, I like you."
"Then why can't we--"
"Because I just don't have it in me to be with anyone. You saw what I did to Hilde. I don't want to do that to anyone else."
Tears filled Mikey's eyes and Duo was almost tempted to change his mind. Mikey was cute, fun, affectionate, great in bed. But it would be too easy, too convenient, just to jump into a new relationship--there was that word again--because Duo was scared and lonely. And he was.
He pulled a tissue from the box on the nightstand beside the bed and wiped away the tears running down Mikey's cheeks. "I can be your friend. Can we do that?"
Mikey sniffled. "Can we still hook up sometimes?"
"I don't know. My head's pretty fucked up right now. I don't want to make any promises I can't keep."
"At least you're honest, I guess."
"My one redeeming grace," Duo said with a grin. Bending down, he kissed Mikey gently on the cheek. "So long, buddy."
As Quatre took him back down to his room, he knew he'd done the right thing. It must be, because he felt like shit.
When Wufei came back that afternoon to say good-bye, he was carrying a large shopping back and a small duffle, which he placed on the bed beside Duo.
"For me?" he asked, looking up in surprise. Looking inside the duffle, he nearly cried. "You went to Hilde's for my stuff?"
"Trowa did," Wufei replied.
"No, he didn't bring that."
"Oh. Well, I'm glad he got the rest of it before Hilde threw it all out."
Wufei set the bag on the end of the bed and began taking out new clothes with the tags still on: underwear, socks, some jeans, a few colored tee shirts, a sky blue button up like the one he'd worn on New Year's eve, and a pair of black sneakers. "I hope these fit. I used the clothing you were wearing when they brought you in as a reference."
"Thanks, man. What do I owe you?"
"Consider it a gift, and don't insult me by arguing," Wufei told him firmly.
Duo colored a bit, but gave him a strained smile. "Thanks. I appreciate it."
Dr. Batoosingh kept Duo in the hospital for four more days and met with him for legally mandated therapy sessions. That, and the medications seemed to be helping and by the end of the week Duo was at least stable, if not his usual happy, irreverent self, and impatient to get out.
Dr. Batoosingh met with the two of them in Duo's room. "I think you've made some improvement, Duo, but I'm concerned about what your living arrangements are going to be once you leave here. You have no family? No home or job?"
"He has me," Quatre told him. "He can come stay with me until--"
"Until what?" said Duo, on the defensive now. "Until I find the rest of my marbles? So I need a keeper?"
"I wouldn't put it that way," said Batoosingh. "But until you are fully stabilized, you should be in an environment conducive to recovery, and regular therapy. There are group homes I could get you into here on L-2."
"No fucking way!"
"Stay with me," Quatre urged. "Just for a while. Please, Duo."
Duo sat looking down at his bandaged wrists, saying nothing, but there was a stubborn set to his jaw.
'L-2 pride again,' thought Quatre. Taking Duo's hand, he tugged on it until Duo looked up at him, then said, "I'd really like to have you around, Duo. I've missed you. Please?"
Guess I don't have much choice." Then he gave Quatre a knowing look under his lashes. "We can have some fun, huh?"
[ch. 38] [ch. 40] [back to Pyrzm's fic]