author: trixie
see part 1 for notes, disclaimers, etc.
notes: descriptions of graphic violence. lots of swearing. angst. the usual.

Rattlesnakes + Part 11

Duo's nose crinkled and his face was twisted in discomfort. Trowa wanted to reach out and brush his fingers over Duo's face, but he couldn't move his arms. He had watched Duo sleep until the sky started to bleach with the approaching sun, and now that the sunlight was over the ledge of the window, it seemed that Duo was going to wake up.

Trowa hoped that he hadn't caused Duo to lose sleep.

Duo started to make small noises in his sleep, and Trowa could see the imprint of the nightmare on Duo's eyelids. There was nothing he could do. He waited for the dream to break, and for Duo's eyes to open.

A short cry, and then Duo shuddered, and pushed himself up. The bleariness of sleep still cloaked his eyes, and Trowa could see that Duo was still half in the dream. Clearing his throat, he tried to speak, to bring Duo to the real world, but his tongue and lips seemed to not wish to work together all that well. His arms rested uselessly on the once-white comforter, unable to reach up to touch.

Trowa felt helpless.

"God, I hate those dreams... Shouldn'ta fallen asleep..." Duo rubbed his hands over his face, and pushed the sheets off of his body. He turned to face Trowa, his face still contorted. "Man, could I use a drink or some valium or somethin'..."

Trowa nodded with a faint hint of a smile, and he leaned closer to Duo, not fully able to control himself. His shoulder bumped into Duo, and Duo smiled at him.

It was enough to make Trowa smile in return.

"Damn, Tro, I thought I was the only one hitting the mini bar last night! We can't both be hung over ya know." Duo realized something was wrong when he reached out to touch Trowa. He pulled his hand back as soon as he felt the wetness, staring at the thick red streak over his fingers for long, panicked moments before he put it all together. "Fuck!"

Duo jumped off the bed, his eyes wide as he stared at the blood that covered Trowa's arms and soaked the sheets around Trowa. Trowa shook his head, trying to get his mouth to work properly. "It's'ok, really. 'M fine."

"What?!? Trowa!" Duo backed away from the bed, his eyes never leaving Trowa's. "I thought I was dreaming the blood... What the fuck have you done?!?"

Trowa shook his head, feeling more than a little woozy. It felt like his head wasn't properly tethered to his neck. "Not that much. Not... too much."

"What?" Duo ran into the bathroom, his panic finally hitting the stage where he was operational. Trowa could hear the sound of running water, and Duo came back out very quickly, holding a sopping wet washcloth. "Fuck, Tro, damn, damn, damn... What have you done?"

Trowa could feel the cool touch of the cloth on his skin, the way the rough terry cloth rubbed at his skin. Duo wiped away some blood, but there was enough that he wasn't able to clean the skin off in one pass. Duo's hands trembled as he held Trowa's arms, and his face was bent to his task, hiding his eyes. "Just a little. Release. 'Sokay. I'm fine."

"Fine?!?!" Duo looked up, and Trowa saw Duo's eyes shine with unshed tears. "This is fine? Are you mental?"

Trowa wanted to laugh.

Duo shook his head, and kept cleaning Trowa's arms. The long, criss-crossed lines of the cuts oozed as the weak scabs were brushed away. "Trowa, this is insane. What the fuck were you thinking?"

"Wasn't gonna kill myself." Trowa knew that his voice was weak, barely audible, but he didn't know what to do. "Jus' a little release."

Duo shook his head and bit his lip, his hands trembling as he pulled away the washcloth, now pink and red in stripes and blotches. "Damn, Tro..."

"Bandages." Trowa looked at the plastic bag on the floor next to the table. "In there."

Duo looked around, confusedly, until he saw what Trowa was seeing. He leaned over to pick up the back, holding it open as he set it on the bed. "Damn, Tro," he said as he looked down into the bag like a child finding a roast in their Halloween trick or treat bag, "you planned this. Didn't you?"

Trowa shrugged weakly, a gesture made complicated by his inability to move his arms all that well.

"Fuck." Duo slumped, staring down into the bag of neatly packaged gauze and tape and bandages. "God damn it. Trowa! God damn it." Duo ran his hands through his hair, his fingers clutching at his scalp as they got buried in his thick hair. He pulled his hands out quickly, staring down at the residue of blood covering his fingers and palms. His whole body shook as he recoiled from his hands, his arms folding to cover his stomach weakly. He picked up the wet washcloth and stumbled into the bathroom.

Trowa listened to him mutter and curse. He leaned against the headboard, and waited for Duo to come back in. The blade that he had used was sitting in the ashtray next to him, a small collection of his blood decorating it. He had tossed it there when he had finished, but he had gone a little overboard.

It was still fine, because he knew that it was going to be fine.

Duo came back from the bathroom carrying a bath towel carefully, trying to minimize the dripping. He laid it over Trowa's arms, gently squeezing over the length of each arm carefully. He lifted the towel, and then fastidiously went over Trowa's arms, from the elbow to the wrist, where the cuts were, cleaning. When the excess blood had all been cleared away, he poked into the bag, pulling out some antiseptic.

Trowa winced, wishing he hadn't bought that crap. He knew intellectually that it was necessary, but it stung.

Duo was working diligently, not looking at Trowa directly. He snorted, though, when Trowa winced at the touch of the antiseptic, and his hands still shook a little.

He applied the bandages over the length of Trowa's forearms, wrapping them in gauze and taping them off. The wrapping had the efficiency of a field dressing, and Trowa was pleased to see that Duo was as capable as Trowa had suspected he would be.

"Fuck." Duo stared down at Trowa's bound arms, his hands on the bed, a few inches from Trowa's legs on either side, his white fingers splayed out over the bloody sheets.

Trowa swallowed hard, blinking. "Sorry 'bout the sheets... Wanted to watch you when you were asleep..."

"God damn it, Tro." Duo's voice shook and his head lowered so that his chin was nearly touching his chest. His arms were still spread out, and his back was hunched, and Trowa lifted his arm to touch Duo. He put his fingers on Duo's face.

His fingers felt numb and cold, and he couldn't feel Duo's skin that well.

Duo pushed his face against Trowa's fingers as he shook his head, his eyes cast down. "Damn, Tro... The sheets. Damn. Here, wait, let me wash them out for you... Damn. Are you hungry? Should you eat? Maybe you should drink something. Yeah, we have... Damn."

Trowa's arm fell to the bed, and he just shrugged his shoulders. Duo jumped up and started to rummage though their bags. Trowa leaned back and watched him.

"We have fruit juice, right? Here, fruit juice, that would be the best thing, right? Did you want to eat something? I don't know if we have... fruit. We have fruit. Would you like an apple? I can peel an orange for you..." Duo was looking down, so when he went to stand near the bed, a juice box in one hand and an orange in the other, his eyes fell on the blade in the ashtray. He stopped talking and moving, going completely still as he seemed entranced by the sight before him.

Trowa reached up as best he could. "I'll take the juice."

Duo nodded mutely, and he sat down next to Trowa. Trowa thought that maybe that was the closest they'd been since Duo had overdosed, although he was probably wrong about that. Duo punctured the box with the tiny attached straw, and he held it up for Trowa to drink from it. Trowa tried to take it from Duo, but he couldn't get his hands up quite high enough.

He looked directly into Duo's eyes, and he saw everything that Duo had ever felt. The color seemed to defy description, heightened by the watery sheen that seemed to sparkle and quiver with every breath they took together. Duo was so expressive, so unrestrained, and Trowa felt a deep certainty settle over him peacefully.

He would always want to be able to look into those eyes.

Duo let him drink the whole box, and then he peeled the orange, discarding the thick skin in the ashtray on top of the blade and Trowa's blood. He pulled out the seeds from each section, and slipped them into Trowa's mouth. As Trowa ate them, his lips touched Duo's sticky fingers.

Trowa reached out to touch Duo, putting his fingers on Duo's leg. He tried to smile, but Duo was still feeding him.

He ate the whole orange, and was so satisfied entirely, he closed his eyes and let himself relax. He felt like there had been a storm raging inside of him, but it had finally passed over, and he was calm again.

Duo picked up the ashtray and the juice box, and tossed them into an empty plastic bag. "Let me get the sheets." He slipped the sheets out from under Trowa carefully, as a nurse in a hospital would, and carried them into the bathroom.

Trowa could hear the rush of water filling the tub, and then he heard Duo coming back into the room. He wanted to open his eyes, but he was tired, and he was calm and relaxed, and he wanted to sleep, too. Duo swooshed the comforter away, and Trowa must have slipped away for a moment into sleep, because the next thing he knew, Duo was trying to get him to rest on a large bath towel.

"The mattress is icky," Duo explained, his voice strained. Trowa nodded weakly, or at least thought that he had. Duo slipped his pillowcase off, apparently finding some drops of blood. "Use my pillow," he directed quietly.

Trowa smiled, and put his face down on the pillow that Duo had slept on while he had bled.

Duo was gone again, but Trowa wasn't fully aware of it. He was aware of it when the sound of the water stopped, but he was already mostly asleep.

"Hey!"

Trowa opened his eyes, but not all the way. He was calm, and relaxed.

"Don't fall asleep on me!" Duo sounded worried, panicked even.

Trowa grinned, amused on a level he couldn't identify. "That's a concussion. 'M tired."

"You lost a lot of blood," Duo reproached, sounding mournful.

"Not that much," Trowa whispered, his eyes closed again.

He fell asleep, and did not dream.

~*~

Trowa stumbled into consciousness. He could hear the sound of the ocean outside, and for a long time, he just listened to the patient in and out of the waves. He was aware of light around him, and color, but his eyes weren't open. He was aware of his own breathing, and the sluggish feeling of being lightheaded and weak.

He remembered cutting himself.

He had taken the blade and sliced his arm, criss-crossing the lines haphazardly. He had wanted to bleed, and the blood had seeped out of him willingly. He watched Duo sleep as the blood dripped from his veins.

What had he been thinking? He had never done anything like that. There was an incredible excess of intimacy in doing that with Duo right there, almost as if he had lost some form of virginity. He had *wanted* Duo to see it, he thought that he had wanted to scare Duo as much as Duo had scared him, but as he waited for the color and the sound to coalesce into something coherent, he realized that he hadn't really been teaching Duo a lesson.

He opened his eyes in defeat when he knew that his brain was awake enough to demand it.

The room was painted in the light of the dwindling sun. The drapes over the picture window were open, and the vista was one of total relaxation. He didn't see Duo right away, but he knew that Duo was close.

He wasn't worried that Duo might have left him alone.

He didn't move. He was parched, so that even his bones felt dry. He supposed that he was hungry, too, but that was more of an intellectual assessment than an appetite. He was still tired, and completely drained, which seemed rather funny but he didn't have the energy to laugh.

Duo moved, and Trowa saw him.

Duo was sitting under the picture window, his arms hugging his legs to his chest. From the angle at which Trowa was seeing him, he looked as if he might be naked. Trowa thought that he was likely wearing boxers, but the way his legs were situated, he couldn't see them. The corners of Trowa's lips tugged up, and he blinked at Duo.

"Hungry? Thirsty?"

Trowa was both, but he didn't say anything. He just watched Duo. His braid was slouched over his back, looking as tired as Trowa felt. His eyes were bloodshot, but Trowa couldn't visualize the idea of Duo crying over him. Trowa felt the shadow of desire quiver through him. He wanted to touch Duo, but Duo was far away, and Trowa lacked the strength to stand.

"Look, Trowa, I've... I've been thinking about this, and I think... Well, let's face, we're the fucking deaf, dumb, and blind leading the fucking deaf, dumb, and blind. This isn't... This *can't* work."

"No." Trowa wasn't sure if he could hear himself. It was hard to speak. It required too many muscles.

Duo might have heard him, though, because he was shaking his head. "We can't... we can't keep this up. We're going to kill ourselves like this, and I don't... I won't hurt you like that."

"No."

"Trowa..." Duo was pleading with him, but he wasn't looking at him. Trowa put his elbow down on the bed in preparation of lifting himself up.

"No."

Duo moaned a little, like a banshee's ghost. "Trowa... Damn, fuck, and hell, Tro, you scared the shit out of me!"

"Better than an enema."

Duo winced, and shook his head in denial. "Why? Why do you want to torture yourself like this? I'm no good. Damn, anyone else in the Earthsphere would have figured that out by now. I can't save you, Tro. Get out before the boat goes down."

Trowa swallowed twice, his throat dry and his mouth incapable of producing saliva. He pushed himself up, only making it half way before his arm started to ache. "I can't save you, either. Maybe we'll both drown. Maybe we need to. Maybe we'll learn to breathe under water."

Duo laughed bitterly, turning his eyes away from Trowa. "God, just stuff the Pollyanna crap, ok? We're fucked. Only difference is, you don't need to be. Fuck, Trowa, *you're better than this*! Get over it, and get on with your life, while you still *have* a life!"

"Not alone." Trowa turned on his side, so that half his back was leaning against the headboard. "I'm not doing this alone."

"Why me?" Duo sounded despondent. Trowa had the vague sense that something important was happening, that some boundary had been crossed, but he wasn't thinking fast enough to put the elements of the conversation and situation together to understand it. "Why does it have to be me? You don't even fucking know me, you know. Whatever it is about me that makes you think that I'd be some fucking great catch, you're wrong. I'm a fucking lead weight, and I'm gonna drag you straight down and suffocate you. Please, Trowa, for the love of God, *please*!"

Trowa smiled. "I don't love God."

"Damn it," Duo muttered, hugging his legs tighter and pressing his forehead against his knees.

"What makes you think you are any worse'n me," Trowa slurred, his eyes narrowing out of exhaustion. "Why can't it be you?"

"I'm not the sort of person people attach themselves to."

Trowa ignored Duo's mournful reply. "We're not that dissimilar. Why do you get to wallow in misery and death, and I have to better myself? Fuck that. I don't want to be better."

"Trowa!" Duo's head flung up in what appeared to be an involuntary gesture. "Don't say shit like that!"

"Why not? Who the fuck cares? You don't, and I don't, so fuck it. Who else is there? Who *should* I attach myself to, Duo? Quatre? Catherine? They don't want me. They don't know me. And I know you better than you think. Hell, I know you better than you know yourself." Trowa knew that his words were slipping into one another, and his voice was fading in and out, but he didn't care. He closed his eyes, and ran his cold fingers over the mattress. He wanted to be touching Duo.

"I don't know, Trowa! I don't know who you should be with, I just know it sure as hell ain't me. Fuck, Tro! I'm a one-way ticket straight down the crapper, can't you tell?" Duo's hands fluttered up and down, as if they were trying to fling his point over to Trowa.

Trowa chuckled humorlessly. "Why, cuz Heero said so? Fuck him, Duo. Fuck him and his anger and his fucking drugs. Tell me, why would you pick him over me? Huh? What makes you so fucking worthless that you get to put up with that shit? What, do you want to die? What is it?"

Duo laughed like a dead man. "I don't want to die. I'm going to burn in hell for the things I've done; if I could, I would figure out how to live forever."

Trowa pushed himself up with the heel of his foot. "Aren't you being melodramatic?" He had thought that he was too tired to sneer, but apparently not.

Duo thrashed in place painfully. "You don't know, you have no idea, so fuck off."

"What have you done that's so horrible that I haven't? If you're going to burn in hell, than won't I be right there with you? Why is my life so much more valuable than yours?" Trowa felt the flicker of a flame in his belly, his anger fueling him. He tried to sit up, but he moved slowly, so he wouldn't topple over.

"God, you can't even... you have no idea." Duo was staring out the window, his face resting against the side of the windowsill. His face was washed out with the color of the sunset, his eyes so distant they couldn't be seen. "You don't know the things I've done."

"Tell me."

Trowa could only see the effect of his words on Duo's face, as muscles flickered. Duo winced, his pain and turmoil bubbling beneath his cheeks and around his eyes. He bit his lip, and he blinked several times.

Trowa waited, the room feeling suspended, for Duo to speak.

[cont]