by: Shoori

The Beginning's End + Part 15

I feel like I'm rising up out of a long, dark cavern…

I'm getting higher and higher…almost there…

I'm aware of sound first…a faint beeping noise, the rustle of cloth…

Then feeling returns. I feel something soft under my cheek, and I rub my face against it…

That small movement jars something, though, and now…now I feel a dull ache, a throbbing in my back, growing greater and greater…

The pain is even more prevalent now. It stings. I flex the muscles of my shoulders. Something is covering my back, something bulky and rather heavy…

"So, you're awake?"

The voice startles me, badly, and I whirl in the - bed? - opening my eyes and forcing myself into a sitting position, ignoring the searing pain that sweeps through my back and mustering what feeble resistance I can against this unknown foe.

The room is dimly lit. I am in a bed. The only person in the room is a man I have never seen before, standing with his arms crossed at the foot of my bed.

The man is wearing a long white coat. I'm in a bed, there's wires coming out of my arm, the beeping sounds are coming from monitors positioned above the bed. It doesn't take too much logic to figure out that I'm in some kind of hospital, and the man is a doctor.

Right now he's frowning at me. "That must have hurt," he comments wryly.

I scowl at him for a moment before I realize that he's talking about my sudden movement when I heard his voice. It did hurt, but I'll be damned if I tell him about it.

"Who are you? Where am I?" I demand. I have hazy memories of being shot at, of…of….I scowl more deeply as more memories flood my mind. Quatre and Wufei refusing to let me die. And…Duo and Heero. I scowl again, more deeply. Are these memories real? Did that happen, or has my mind created these memories to torture me?

"You're on the Preventer Base, at L4," the man tells me. "I'm Dr. Rushton. I've spent a lot of time recently trying to put you back together. I'd appreciate it if you didn't jump around like that and mess up all my work."

The Preventer Base. Then it's true. It did all happen. I shake my head slowly, the rest of the doctor's words penetrating my mind.

"Thank you," I say dully. "I'll…what's going on?"

"You had several fractures. And your back…well, it's healing now. Quite well, actually. We're confident that tissue will begin regenerating soon. But you have to be careful - if you move too much or too abruptly, you're going to tear it again."

My back. I can't hold back a shudder as this man continues to talk so calmly and clinically about my back. That means he's seen it - touched it to bandage it and whatever….And probably other people have too, who knows how many, whole legions of people staring at my back and…

"Mr. Barton."

I jump, as the voice breaks into my budding hysteria. I force myself to breathe deeply, try to calm down.

"Mr. Barton, are you…"

"Trowa," I interrupt harshly. "Call me Trowa." I wonder how long it will be before I can hear my name without panicking. I feel a flash of irritation at my fifteen-year-old self. I had to adopt his name. Had to go for the dramatic gesture. Couldn't just give myself some ordinary name, oh no. I had to adopt the name of my enemy. Very dramatic. Very symbolic. But it's proven to be damn irritating and confusing. I should have just gone with Joe, or George, or Jefe or something…

The doctor is talking. I shake my head slowly, and look up at him.

"What drugs are you giving me?" I demand, interrupting him in mid-sentence.

He frowns down. "Some painkillers, muscle relaxants," he tells me. "Why?"

"I want you to stop them," I tell him flatly. They're making me feel strange, sending my thoughts off on odd tangents.

He stares at me for a moment. "They're helping with your pain," he explains softly. "If I stop them, it'll hurt a lot more."

I shrug negligently. Pain I can handle. I can't handle this fuzziness in my mind.

The doctor moves next to me, and carefully slides two of the needles out of my arm. Two still remain.

"What about them?" I ask.

"The one is an antibiotic, the other is nutrients," he replies. "You still need them both. They don't have any side effects."

I nod. I look away from him, and concentrate for a moment on my body, flexing muscles, moving slightly, trying to assess the damage. Despite a dragging exhaustion, I feel better than I did before. My back, of course, is still damaged, and there are a few lingering aches, and a lot of stiffness, but that's probably from lying in bed for…

I frown, and look up at the doctor. "How long was I out for?" I ask.

His gaze darts away from me, and then his eyes return to mine. He looks a little uncomfortable. "You've been unconscious for ten days," he finally informs me.

Ten days! What the hell?! Who knows what could have happened in ten days. Is Barton attacking? Have the others…the others!

"Where are the other pilots?" I demand hoarsely.

The doctor looks away again, and doesn't answer me. I feel a sickness in the pit of my stomach. "Where are they?" I repeat coldly.

Dr. Rushton looks back at me calmly. "They've gone to XV7889," he says. "That colony has been evacuated - the citizens arrived here just a few hours ago. They planned to use that colony as a base to attack XV7870."

I grip the steel rails at the side of my bed, trying to remain upright through the sudden dizziness that sweeps through me. They've all gone - all gone to attack Barton. I failed my mission.

"Attack XV7870," I repeat weakly. "When are they…when will they…"

The doctor clears his throat. "The battle is likely going on now," he says reluctantly. "Today, or maybe tomorrow, depending on how quickly they managed to arrange things."

Today! Now! I push aside the blanket that covers me to my waist and manage to pull the other two needles out of my arm before the doctor realizes what I intend. I'm struggling with the rail when he surges forward to stop me.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he demands. Some corner of my mind is amused that he's been shaken out of his professional calm.

"Doctor, I appreciate what you've done." I pause, then decide that that lie is acceptable. "But if you think I'm going to sit here in bed like someone's grandmother while everyone else is fighting a war, you're crazy."

"Mr….Trowa," he begins, and I see him force himself to be calm. "You can't go there."

"The hell I can't," I growl.

He smiles. "I was warned you'd be a bear," he muses. "Ok. Let me give you my reasons why leaving here is a bad and impossible idea."

I hold back a sigh. He's going to be logical.

"One," he begins, "the battle will be resolved one way or another before you get there. Two, all of the suits are already there, and I can't see you piloting one of the transport vehicles into the middle of a battleground."

I snarl at him, but he continues inexorably. "And three, you'll be unconscious before you're out of our air space. Maybe in a couple of days you'll be able to get out of this bed, but you aren't flying to battle any time soon, my friend."

"The hell with that!" I half-shout. "I have to go! They don't know what they're up against!"

The doctor's expression suddenly sobers. "Your friends have all seen the condition you were in when you got here," he says quietly. "Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Yuy were in the room when we took care of you. I think they're very aware of what they're up against."

I reel slightly under the doctor's words…Heero and Duo were…they saw… "You let them stay for that?" I demand, trying to force my rage to overcome my humiliation.

Dr. Rushton stares steadily at me. "I couldn't make them leave," he corrects me with a small smile. "Your friends are all very devoted to you, those two especially. Until they had to leave, at least one of them was with you every minute."

I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear how Duo and Heero tried to soothe their guilty consciences by poking around in my shame.

The doctor has my arm, and is carefully re-inserting the needles. "You need to stay here," he says firmly. "There's nothing you can do about the battle now."

I struggle against his grip. "Fuck that! I'm…"

"About where would you say you are in the progression of your temper tantrum?" he interrupts.

I stare at him wordlessly. My temper tantrum?

"Mr. Maxwell…Duo…said that when you woke up you'd have a temper tantrum, and that when you were done with it I was to give you this letter," he continues, pulling a sealed envelope out of his pocket. "I have some other rounds to do - are you done now, or should I bring it back later?"

I glare at the other man, not missing the gleam of humor in his mild brown eyes. He thinks he's going to manipulate me with this letter - hold it out like candy to bribe some recalcitrant child…Well, I'll just tell him to…

"Give it to me."

He raises his brows. "Are you done?" he presses.

"Yes," I grind out between my teeth.

"There's a nurse's station right outside your door," he warns as he hands me the envelope. "Don't try anything cute."

I snarl wordlessly, and he smiles back.

"You need to lay down - but not on your back," he warns. He moves to the other side of my bed and quickly arranges me so I'm lying on my side, held in position and my head propped up with strategically arranged pillows.

"Call if you need anything," he tells me on his way out of the room. I nod, not replying. "And, Trowa?"

I glance up to see that he's paused in the doorway.

"Good to see you awake," he tells me, smiling.

"Thanks," I mutter grudgingly, and he's gone.

Left alone, I stare at the letter for a long time. My name is written on the outside, in Duo's handwriting. My mind is curiously blank as I stare at it.

Finally, I slowly open the envelope, and pull out the several folded sheets of paper inside it. I slowly smooth them out, and stare at the top page, not reading the words, just looking at the writing.

Duo's writing is big, the letters jagged and uneven. Just glancing at it, you'd think it would be horrible to try to decipher. But when you look closer, you realize that it's actually very legible, the letters are shaped quite clearly and it's very easy to read. It just looks messy and undecipherable.

I close my eyes. I don't want to read this, don't want to see the explanations of why and how and when. I don't know which would be worse - to read that Duo doesn't love me, or that he does. I don't know if I can love him back like I used to - I don't know if I can love anyone - don't know if I can ever shake the miasma of Barton that has settled so firmly over me. Just the thought of Duo and Heero looking at my back makes me want to run to somewhere where they can never find me. I don't know if I can face them - him - again.

I clench my fists against that thought, and hear the crinkle of the paper in my hand. I force myself to open my eyes, to relax. With a shaking hand, I smooth the creases in the paper. I take a deep breath, and force myself to read.

Dear Trowa,

I'm sorry. It seems that that's all I ever say to you anymore, isn't it? You'd think I'd learn and quit fucking up, but ‘asshole' is pretty much my m.o. lately, so…

Anyway. This time, I'm sorry that I left before you woke up. I didn't want to, but we decided that we needed to take advantage of the mess you made when you left XV7870 - because I know you didn't get out without leaving some kind of mess behind - and follow our original attack plan. We really, really want to get Barton.

That's the next thing I'm sorry for. Barton. I'm sorry you got hurt like that, I'm sorry we didn't save you…I'm sorry. I know what happened, Tro. I know how he hurt you. You probably didn't want me to know, but I do. And I don't care. Oh geez, wait - that came out wrong. Of course I care. But it doesn't change anything about the way I feel about you.

Maybe it's good that I have to tell you this in a letter, because you can't argue with me or tune me out or twist what I'm saying and confuse me and piss me off…I love you, Trowa. You haven't believed that recently, but I do. I love you so much I can't even describe it. I have for years, and I always will. Whatever happens to you can't change that.

Nothing can change it. And that brings us to the final point, the one that is hardest for me to explain, maybe because I don't totally understand it myself. Heero. Yeah, I slept with him back on Earth. You know, you saw us. And you seem to have figured out - because you're too damn observant for your own good - that we were together while you were gone.

When you left, Tro, when you went away without telling me, without saying good-bye, and I knew you were probably going to die, I felt…well, I can't even describe how I felt. It sucked. It hurt more than anything I've ever experienced. When you didn't come back, and we were sure you were dead, I felt like I'd died too. I know I wanted to.

Heero helped me through that. He saved me. He gave me some focus, something to hang on to, some reason to live. But he wasn't just comfort. I - don't stop reading at this part, you need to finish the whole thing - I love him, too.

Gushy people think that no person is whole, that everyone has another person, another half that completes them and makes them whole. A soulmate. I guess I'm one of those gushy people. But there's not one other piece needed to make me complete, there's two. You and Heero.

Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I think we're all connected, somehow. All five of us. But that would get a little crowded, so we kind of partition off…Quatre and Wu found each other. And you and I were together. But that left out Heero, so none of us could be completely happy until he was back where he belonged, back with us.

That doesn't excuse the way I went about putting us all back together. If there was a stupid mistake I could make, I made it. If there was a way to be an insensitive loser, I found it. But that doesn't mean I don't love you, or that I don't love Heero. That I love him doesn't mean I love you less. Somehow, I think, I love you both more for loving the other. Do you understand?

You probably think this is crap. I sound like some kind of pussy. But I don't care, Tro. It's how I feel, and I'm not hiding it. We've both been hiding things from each other for too long. You hid your past from me, and I let you. I let you think I only loved the happy, together face that you presented to the world, so you thought that I couldn't love you if I knew the bad parts too. But I do. I want us to be together, and to share everything, even if it's not neat and pretty.

And I want Heero with us too. I want you both. I need you both. I know you probably haven't thought about that ever - I don't even know how you'd feel about the idea. But I remember the way you used to look at Heero when we were younger…and I've seen him watching you from time to time and I wondered…but that's for later. Right now, all I want you to do is believe that I love you. Please, Trowa. I swear it. I don't lie. Especially not to you.

So, now, believe that I love you. Later, when Heero and I come back, we all need to talk. Talk honestly, and try to figure some things out. Because if you are a part of me, and he is part of me, that means he is part of you and you are part of him…And we'll solve the puzzle together. There's no rush. We have lots of time to figure stuff out.

Rest, and get better. I'll be back soon, and we'll talk. Remember - I love you.

Love,

Duo

PS I hope I didn't gross you out being so mushy

I smile at the postscript, forcing myself to blink the suspicious moisture away from my eyes. I do not cry. If the events of the past few months never made me cry, this letter isn't going to.

This letter. Carefully, I fold the pages, and slide them back into the envelope.

There's too much - too much to understand at once. Too many possibilities, too many variables…

Duo understood that, though. He acknowledged it. He said we'd talk - all of us - when he got back.

But one thing he said wasn't unclear, one thing he repeated over and over, to convince me he meant it.

Duo loves me.

And Duo doesn't lie.

I close my eyes, holding the letter close to my chest. I'm tired - too tired to sort through what-ifs and buts and maybes.

I can't do anything but accept it.

I feel more relaxed then I have in months.

I need to rest, need to sleep…

And, despite everything, I can finally do so, can finally sleep…because…

Because Duo loves me.

_________________________________________

[cont]