by: Shoori

The Beginning's End + Part 20

I sigh, glancing at my watch. I've been in this room for over twelve hours. I can't imagine where Duo and Heero are. When I sent Quatre back to our room four hours ago, I'd figured I'd be joining him any time. But Maxwell and Yuy still haven't returned.

Well, they did say that they had to ‘talk.' And neither of them had slept in days. And, being themselves, they doubtless had other activities to engage in…

I push away the thought before it can start to make me angry. If they have engaged in the activity I suspect, I suppose I really can't blame them. If I thought I'd lost Quatre, I would have to touch him to confirm that he were there. But, really…those two have the most inappropriate timing that I have ever encountered.

I glance at the silent form on the bed, wondering what his reaction would be were he to suspect that Duo and Heero were having sex on another part of the base. Since he's still unconscious it's not really an issue, but I feel myself wince at the mere thought.

I scowl, and force myself up and out of the chair, suppressing a groan as sore, tired muscles, stiffened from many hours in the same position, protest the sudden movement. I must be more tired than I realized, to be thinking such frivolous thoughts.

I wish Maxwell and Yuy would hurry up and get down here. I'm tired. And I'm worried about Quatre. We had a long discussion about everything that had happened recently. We were able to say a lot of things that needed saying; I was even able to explain to him why I was so cold to him after the explosion of Barton's colony base. But he's still a long way from all right…and I don't want him to be alone. I want to be near him, in case he needs me.

But Trowa can't be alone, either.

Trowa.

I move closer to the bed, and stare down at him. In the past few hours, his heartbeat has become a little faster, grown stronger and steadier. The nurses who bustle in and out every hour or so have informed me that his fever has gone down, and that he's resting easily. I wanted to suggest that they undo the damned monitors then, since they're incessant beeping has been slowly driving me crazy, but I managed to refrain.

Looking down, I see that he does look better. The almost transparent quality to his skin that had given him such a fragile, unearthly appearance is gone. He is still very pale, so thin as to be gaunt, and, even asleep, seems unbearably weary, but he looks… Well, he looks like someone who's ill and badly hurt, but who's going to be all right.

I feel intense relief. All of the sudden and frightening set-backs in the last few days had had me more worried than I cared to admit. We've all been hurt before, sometimes so badly as to be unconscious for days and weeks, but once we wake up, we're usually fine. Seeing Trowa suspended so precariously between life and death was nerve-wracking, to say the least.

I never realized, until all this, how…how much all of my friends…how important they all are to me. When I believed Trowa dead…and thought Duo was gone…it was as though I too had died. Their absence opened great, gaping holes in my soul that I think would never have been filled. The emptiness disappeared with their return, of course, but the temporary presence of that emptiness made me aware of its potential for existence. It made me aware of how deep my feelings go for all of them.

I stare at Trowa, thinking of all of the confusion and hurt and suffering hidden beneath that slumbering facade. In becoming aware of the bond between us, I also realized the potential we all have to hurt each other, and ourselves. I hope…I hope that the…situation…between Trowa and Heero and Duo can be resolved. If it isn't…it won't just affect them. It will affect us all, hurt us all. None of us can be complete until all of us are complete.

I didn't know that, really, until Duo returned from the dead. I wonder if Trowa knows it. I hope…I hope he realizes it, before it is too late.

I turn away and pace around the room, trying to work some of the stiffness out of my limbs. There's not much of anywhere to walk, and I have to be careful not to crash into the machinery and equipment and furniture, but if I don't get some sort of exercise I'm going to go stark, raving mad.

All thoughts of confinement, exercise and cabin fever are driven from my mind, though, at a sound from the other occupant of the room. The sound is soft and muted, a cross between a gasp and a groan, and even as I whirl to stare at the bed, I wonder if I imagined it.

I didn't, though. Trowa's green eyes are open, though crinkled at the corners from the effort he's expending trying to push himself into a sitting position.

"Trowa!" I cry out, speeding to his bedside.

He glances up and acknowledges my presence with a nod and a grunt, continuing to try to push himself up on shaking arms.

I remember what Dr. Rushton said, about how weak Trowa would be, about how much pain any movement would cause him, and I try to interfere.

"I'm glad you're awake," I say simply. "But you shouldn't move. The doctor said that when you wake up you should remain lying down on your…"

"Bullshit," Trowa interrupts clearly, bracing himself on one elbow to rest. "The hell with that. I'm not lying here on my face like some kind of…"

Apparently he can't think of any disgraceful creature that spends its time lying prone, because he abandons his declaration and begins pushing himself upward again. This time he can't hold back a grimace of pain. When I see it cross his features, I reach out, determined to assist him.

"At least let me help," I insist, resigned to the fact that he isn't going to obey doctor's orders.

"I don't need help," he snarls, trying to pull away. He can't do much, though, or he risks losing his balance completely, and he knows it.

"Bullshit," I reply calmly, repeating his phrase back to him. He glares at me through the shock of auburn hair falling over his face, but I ignore his displeasure and help him lift himself up and around, so that he's sitting upright in the bed. He leans back, and immediately tenses as his injured back comes in contact with the frame of the bed. Without comment I help him move forward, and arrange some pillows so that they will help hold him upright while touching his back as little as possible. It must still hurt, but less than before. That's the best that we can do.

He accepts my assistance in tight-lipped silence, and even manages to mumble a few words of thanks when I'm finished. I nod and step back, regarding him silently.

He glances up at me but looks quickly away, his gaze moving to the wires in his arms. With a scowl, he begins pulling the needles and straps away.

I have to protest. "Trowa…those need to be there. You shouldn't…"

He looks steadily at me, and my protests dies away. He methodically removes the needles and wires from his arms and chest, starting with the monitoring devices. I feel a nagging relief as I move and shut off the protesting monitors. However, I step forward and place my hand over his before he can pull out the final needle, stilling his movements.

"Leave that one," I say quietly. That one controls the drip of the medication that controls pain, keeping the full impact of Trowa's injuries from flooding his body all at once.

"I don't want it," he says flatly. "I can't think with it. I need to…"

"You need to get better, Trowa," I tell him quietly. "You won't, if you push yourself."

He stares at me almost angrily for a moment, then shrugs slightly and drops his hand away from his arm. His eyes fall to his blankets and I step away somewhat awkwardly, suddenly unsure of what to say to him.

"How do you feel?" I ask after a moment.

"Fine," he says briefly.

I sigh in exasperation. "Liar," I say flatly.

He looks up, and a trace of a smile lingers on his mouth for an instant. "Better," he amends.

I nod.

"Where's Quatre?" he asks after a moment.

"Getting some sleep," I tell him. "So are the others," I add. "They should be here soon."

A closed-off, shuttered look descends on his face, and he looks away from me again.

I feel my own lips tighten. Injured or no, Trowa must begin to think and act rationally. He can't, after all that we have all endured, still be planning to hold on to his grudge, as justified as it may have been at the outset.

"They should be here soon, and then you and they can talk," I expand meaningfully.

His lips tighten again in a wry grimace.

"Trowa, you must not do this," I declare firmly.

He looks up, startled.

I respond to the unasked question. "You must talk to them," I insist. "You must…forgive them. And go on. What is the use of holding on to old hurts?"

"Old hurts…" he repeats hollowly. He's silent for so long that I almost decide to press him when he speaks again. "Sometimes old hurts can't be let go, Wufei."

Well, that remark decidedly took the wind out of my sails. I know, of course, that he isn't talking about Duo and Heero anymore.

I close my eyes briefly, then move the chair over to his bedside. I can't loom over him for this conversation.

"Trowa…I know…I know what you have suffered. And…"

"No, you don't, Wufei," he interrupts angrily. "You don't know."

"I have never received injuries like those on your back," I admit. "But I know…"

"The Hell with my back!" he almost shouts. "That's not what I'm talking about…"

"I know," I interrupt, loudly.

Now its my turn to deflate his sails. "What do you mean, you know?" he asks weakly.

"I know…I know what you consider to be your great shame," I tell him slowly. "And I know…what it is to feel that shame."

He looks stunned. His eyes are wide and troubled as they stare into mine. "What….who?" he asks slowly, his confusion as to whether he is correctly interpreting what I'm telling him still obvious.

I take a deep breath. I have never discussed this with anyone but Quatre, and I didn't even really want to tell him about it. I'm not sure if it's a good idea to be talking about this topic with Trowa right now. But…he is not alone. He needs to know it, needs to know that, despite what has happened to him, he is not unworthy.

"Treize," I say simply.

He starts in amazement, a look of anger sweeping across his face, even as his pale skin reddens with indignation.

"Treize?" he repeats.

I jerk my head once in affirmation.

He swears softly under his breath, his expression turning murderous. "When?" he demands. "How?"

"After…New Edwards," I tell him, unable to hold back a wince at the thought of that disastrous mission. To this day, the fiasco at that base still haunts us all.

"After New Edwards?" he repeats, frowning. "But…you said you lost a duel…"

"I did," I confirm. "And once I was out of my Gundam, disarmed, powerless…" I trail off, shrugging, not really wanting to explain in much more detail.

Trowa swears again, then whitens as something strikes him. "Wufei!" he gasps. "I was there! I was right there, in the water and…"

"Fighting off twenty or thirty Cancer suits," I point out. "There was nothing you could have done."

"And after, when we went back to the circus, I didn't…"

"How should you have known?" I ask reasonably. "You only met me that day. You couldn't know. I didn't want you to know," I admit

"I should have…"

"Why?" I demand, suddenly feeling impatient. "Why should you always be held to a higher standard than the rest of us?" He stares mutely at me, his face uncomprehending. "Why should you have to know everything, and react properly? Why should every one of us have the right to be happy and protected except for you?" I'm starting to feel angry. "Why do you have to get in the way of shots meant for Heero? Why do you have to infiltrate the rebellion army to keep me from destroying myself? Why do you have to surrender yourself to your greatest enemy in order to keep the rest of us safe?"

He stares at me, unspeaking, his expression unguarded, shaken into relaxing by my unexpected onslaught.

I sigh, feeling my sudden anger subside. "I know why," I say tiredly. "You do all of that for the same reason that Heero knocked Duo out and risked his hatred rather than let him fight, and for the same reason Quatre and Duo risked themselves on that colony to destroy Barton for you. We risk ourselves to save each other. We all do. We all," I state with absolute confidence, "would risk anything to protect the others. And you have risked - and almost lost - everything to save us. We would all do the same for you. So why," I demand, "do you continue to believe yourself so unimportant to us?"

His eyes close, but not before I see the pain within them. "Wufei…" he chokes, obviously speaking with difficulty. "I can't…I only…defile…all of you…"

"Bullshit," I say again, with relish. I could grow fond of that word. "Listen to me, Trowa," I command. "I have told you of Treize, but I haven't told you everything." I force him to look at me, to listen, as I pour out the whole sordid story. The first brief, painful encounters, that grew to longer liaisons and nights of passion. I reveal to him this secret I had only ever told to one person before.

"Am I unworthy?" I demand roughly. "I hated every moment I spent with Treize, every single thing I did with him. But I was there. Those things happened, and I can't change it. I spent years trying to hide from it, from all of you. I cut myself off from you all, believing that I soiled you with my presence. Is that true, Trowa?" I demand roughly. "Am I unworthy of your friendship? Am I unworthy of Quatre's love?" I press relentlessly, ignoring his weak protests. "Do I defile him with my touch? Should I leave him to save him from me? Should I?" I demand.

"No!" he shouts, cutting me off. "God, Wufei, of course not. Of course not."

I nod arrogantly, accepting his reassurance. I am conscious, though, of a feeling of intense relief. It was, somehow, very important that I hear those words from Trowa.

"So if I am not unworthy, why are you?" I ask quietly, staring at him.

He closes his eyes again, but I see the struggle written on his face. I am perhaps being unfair - I know that intellectually he can see the contradiction in logic, but I know as well that it takes more than logic to soothe a wounded spirit. But there has to be a beginning. Healing will take time, but something has to start it.

"I just…I…"

"I know," I say quietly. "I know that when your body is used in such a way, it injures your mind. The memories hurt, Trowa. I know. But…" hesitantly I take his hand, and press it within mine until he opens his eyes and looks at me. "But it doesn't tarnish your soul, Trowa-kun. You are still you, and you are still worthy. Still deserving of love."

I see tears well up in his eyes, but neither look away nor object when he presses his eyelids firmly closed to keep them from spilling over. I certainly will never be the one to encourage anyone to cry. But I am glad that he is able to feel enough to be able to cry.

"Wufei…I…thank you…but…"

"But what?" I demand.

"But…Duo…and Heero…."

Issues within issues within issues. How has this man managed to hold on to his sanity in any measure, with all of the worries and fears that he seems determined to torture himself with?

"What about them?" I ask calmly.

"They…want…each other…" he manages.

"Yes," I agree. "It certainly seems that way."

"So how…"

I sigh. "Look, Trowa, I won't presume to tell you how they feel. All I can tell you is what they do." I think for a moment, think of Duo and Heero and the things that they did that made me believe that, despite their incredibly idiotic and immature behavior, they really did care, and care deeply, and about Trowa.

"When you were gone, and we thought you were dead, they were miserable. Duo didn't even eat, if that tells you anything. And Heero… once I saw him…cry." I nod at Trowa's start of surprise, confirming what I said. "Yes, Heero. Then, when you came back, they never left you alone. One of them, at least, was always there, staring at you, talking to you, willing you to get better."

I lean back. I'm more comfortable with this, this listing off of observable behaviors, than I am with any conversation about emotion.

"At the battle, Duo was determined to destroy Barton - to gain revenge for you, and, he told Une, to help you get better. So you wouldn't have to be afraid again."

I sigh, thinking about those more recent, still tender, hurts. "Then, after we thought he was dead, Heero…Heero thought only of you. I think…I thought at the time that the only reason he was holding himself together was for you," I admit. "He had to get back here, to tell you himself, before you could find out from someone else. He wouldn't even consider having someone else tell you - he needed to do it himself. And…he had to see that you were alive. He was afraid that you would be dead too. That…everything would be gone."

"He didn't say that," Trowa protests.

I frown at that interruption. "He said, and I quote, ‘I need to tell Trowa. I need to see him. I need to make sure that I have…something left.'"

Trowa still looks disbelieving. "Heero said that?" he asks doubtfully.

"He wasn't at his best," I admit. "Anyway…then, since we've been back, both of them were with you constantly until about…thirteen hours ago," I tell him, checking my watch again. "When I threw them both the hell out because they were irritating me."1

Trowa smiles slightly at that, then sighs, and looks down at his blankets.

I echo the sigh. "Look, Trowa," I say awkwardly. "I told you, I can't tell you how they feel. I'm not them. But…they love you. You can see it. Don't…don't deny that. Don't throw it away. It's not a typical arrangement…but…what about our lives is typical?" I question wryly.

He sighs again, and raises one hand to his forehead.

"Are you going to…"

"Wufei," he interrupts, looking over at me. "Thank you," he says, sincerely, staring into my eyes "I…Well, I…you're a good guy," he says awkwardly. "I'm glad…you're here. And that you're with Quatre." I nod, knowing exactly what he's trying to express. "And I…You've given me a lot to…a lot to think about," he admits. "But…I don't know what…" he stops, sighing in frustration.

"You want me to leave you alone," I say, not at all offended.

"Yes," he says, obviously relieved.

I stand up and stare down at him. "You will be all right?" I ask.

He nods.

"You will leave the pain medication in?" I press.

He snorts in amusement, then nods his agreement.

"I consider that your word of honor," I warn.

"Okay," he concedes, throwing me a mock salute.

I smile down at him, then move toward the door. I pause before leaving. "Trowa…" I call. He looks up inquiringly. "As far as I can see, you've all been given two fresh chances," I tell him thoughtfully. I stare into those amazingly green eyes for a moment. "I don't know that you'll get a third. So don't waste them," I advise softly, then let myself out of the room, leaving him alone with his thoughts.

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[cont]