Author: pyrzm
see ch. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Broken Warriors + Chapter 13
Flashback, con't

"I wouldn't have stopped, Duo." Heero sat at the far end of the bed, looking as miserable as he had that long ago lost night.

"You don't know that. I didn't give you a chance to finad out."
Still sitting against the headboard, Duo hugged his knees. This was the conversation he'd tried to have the morning after That Night. It hadn't gotten any easier.

Heero shook his head. "I was in 'mission mode.' I wanted to have sex with you. I thought I knew how, but I had no idea, did I?"

"Neither did I. Heero, we were just kids. I talked big, but I was still practically a virgin, mostly. I sure as hell didn't know much about-" He hesitated, still looking for the right words after all this time. Fucking wasn't right; it had been more than that for him. But 'making love' just sounded too girly. "About real sex," he said. "I'd just messed around some and made out. You?"

"Just research."

"Research, huh? Well, you did all right. Don't you remember how good you made me feel?"

"I could only observe your reactions," Heero reminded him, in typical Heero speak, but Duo saw the ghost of a smile. "I thought it was good. I could tell you climaxed."

"Came," Duo corrected with a wry smirk. "Just say I came, OK?"

Heero groaned and tugged at his bangs. "You came and I took it as a signal to continue. But then you changed completely and I didn't know why. I went too far and you protected yourself."

"I freaked out on you. Believe me, Heero, that wasn't your fault. You didn't know . . ."

Heero gave him a sidelong look. "Know what?"

Duo went all cold and sick inside, the way he always did when he tried to think about--that. He'd never spoken of it out loud. Not ever, to anyone. He'd gone out of his way to believe nothing like that had ever happened to him. Ever. If he believed hard enough, maybe it would be true.

No, he didn't want to talk about this because then it started to be real again. But Heero's expression of self-loathing, that same look as three years ago, made him force the words. It felt like tearing open a wound. He took a deep breath and gritted out, "You didn't know that I'd been-" He had to swallow against a ripple of nausea. "Raped. A couple of times, actually, and one near miss. I didn't ever let myself think about it after, though. I don't think about it. I just-I dunno, I guess when you climbed on top of me like that, wanting to, y'know. I had a flashback or something, when you tried to--When you asked to--" He rested his head in one hand. Suddenly his heart was pounding its way up his throat and his vision was going dark around the edges and the world was off kilter and he was sliding toward the edge.

"You can't even say it."

"Not because of you!" Duo exploded, slamming his fists into the mattress. "It wasn't you!" He lurched off the bed and kicked the trashcan across the room, scattering the contents. "Maybe I could have told you that night, if you hadn't run away! Fuck, Heero, why do you run away every time I really need you to stay?"

Where had that come from? He hadn't known he was going to say that until the words were already out of his mouth. It was like standing back, watching someone else control his body. Duo saw Heero's eyes widen in pain, saw the way he flinched, but he couldn't stop. "Who the hell are you to decide what's right for me, huh? You fucking ran away! You left me!" A sob caught in his throat and his voice broke. "You abandoned me, Heero, when I needed you so bad!"

His whole body felt like an open wound now. He turned away, clutching the sides of his head. "Go on, leave again! You know the truth now, all right, don't you? The great Shinigami's damaged goods. That's what I am. No good street rat trash killer whore . . . And the news sure gave you an eyeful, all these years. I know you saw! What a slut, huh? No wonder you took off and stayed away!"

Hands closed on his shoulders, trying to turn him around. Duo dropped into a crouch, burying his face in his arms. "Go already! Just piss off now, with no surprises later."

Heero knelt beside him, not touching, but close. "You're right. I left, but not because of anything like that. I'm stubborn and I was sick and I still don't know much about dealing with people. I'm not going to argue about these past couple of years right now, but I was wrong to run away that night, after everything that happened. And I should have talked to you the next morning, instead of shutting you out. But I was so ashamed and shocked at myself. I was stronger than you; I was trained to not need anything beyond what I was trained for. But the way you made me feel when you let me touch you--I can't explain to you what that was like! It was so good, so different than anything I'd ever known. It's like I short-circuited. But that's not an excuse. I stopped thinking about you, what was right for you. I was only thinking about myself, what I wanted."

"Said you needed 'it'," Duo muttered. "Not me. It. To fuck me."

"I lost control. I won't lie to you or try to justify it. And that was totally counter to my training, Duo. I'd never, ever been allowed to get away with such selfishness and when I forgot the rules, look what happened! I know what you said in the letter, wishing I'd just done it, but that's not how it was at the time. I could've really hurt you and then you'd have hated me forever." When Duo said nothing, he sighed and stood up. "Maybe you do anyway."

Duo whacked him on the shin, still not looking at him. "Don't play the pity card on me, Yuy! I don't want to hear it. I've been handing you my heart since day one. I never did that with anyone, ever. Not even Solo. Not like this. I needed you! I still do!"

"I need you. More than I can say. But you haven't forgiven me," Heero said softly.

Duo shrugged. "For leaving two years ago and trying to off yourself? Maybe not. But for leaving me alone that night? You shouldn't have, but like I said, that was my fault. There's nothing to forgive. And for almost fucking me?"

"Almost ra-" Heero started to correct him.

"No! Don't you dare use that word! So help me, I'll punch you! You and that word do not belong in the same room, on the same planet, got it? I don't ever want to hear that word again, especially from you!"

"But--"

"Shut up!" Duo slapped his hands over his ears again and strode across the room, pacing, hardly knowing what he was doing. Strands of hair had pulled loose from his braid and he shook them back furiously. "Shut up shut up shut up! I know what that word means. You don't! You never fucking had someone twice your size bend you over and ram their--Oh, fuck!" It was too much. Everything was spinning around him and he couldn't hear what Heero was saying and he was going over the edge of the world again, right back into that stinking alleyway where he belonged.

He hadn't heard the door open, but suddenly Trowa was there, pulling him into a tight, restraining embrace against his chest. Duo struggled for a moment, then clung to him like a drowning man.

Quatre was there, too, talking rapidly to Heero in a low voice. "It's OK, Heero. Just sit down. It's OK."

"It's not OK! It's as fucking far from OK as it gets!" Duo raged, trying to break away again. Trowa held on, like he always did, keeping Duo from flying apart. When Quatre appeared with Duo's tranquillizers and a glass of water he loosened up just enough for him to take them, then pulled him in again and guided him over to sit on the bed. "When's the last time you took your meds?"

Duo hung his head, avoiding that knowing gaze. "Dunno."

"How many days?" Trowa asked again, in that dead level voice. Trowa never let him get away with anything.

"Yesterday? No, since the night before that. I was so-- I felt so good, I just forgot."

"That's what I thought. And this is what happens, isn't it? Especially when you get stressed."

"It wasn't just that." Heero sounded completely calm now. "We were talking about something very difficult. And personal."

"We heard," Wufei said from the open doorway. "Most of this floor heard, and probably upstairs, too. Heero, you should probably go."

"No."

That was Heero's Perfect Soldier voice. Duo looked up in surprise. He hadn't heard him sound like that since the war. Thin and exhausted as he still was, eyes all red from that amazing crying jag, he suddenly looked like the old Heero Yuy, or at least an older, taller version in borrowed clothes.

"I'm sorry if we disturbed anyone, but Duo and I have to finish this conversation. We've left too many unfinished as it is. 02, I want you to come back to my room with me now, and stay the night there. I'll explain it to Dr. Santos. And you won't forget to take your medications again. You won't use me or the situation as an excuse." Issuing orders. Expecting them to be followed. Total mission mode.

Duo nodded as some of the old inner calm stole over him. When times got tough, Heero Yuy got tougher. Unlike certain other people in the room, he thought, still feeling wretched.

"I don't think that's such a good idea," Trowa said.

"It's all right, Tro," Duo said. "Heero's right. We need to talk some more, and I think I can hold it together now. If not, we'll already be in the hospital, right? The pills are kicking in." He took his friend's hand. "Please, Tro. I need this. My second chance, remember?"

"We'll walk you over," said Quatre, giving Duo an understanding look as he slid a hand under Trowa's arm and pulled him to his feet. "C'mon, babe, let's help them carry the bags. They're in our room, Duo."

"Bags?" asked Heero.

"We did some clothes shopping for you," Duo told him, feeling a little silly, given the circumstances. When he'd seen the lights on in his room and heard someone inside, he'd dropped everything in the hallway to draw his gun. He'd forgotten all about them.

"For me?" Heero's stern "mission face" softened for just an instant. "Thank you. I hope you bought some for yourself. All yours are dirty. Bring your kit bag from the bathroom. It has everything you need for tonight."

"How do you know?"

Heero regarded him impassively. "I looked."

Now Duo knew the tranqs were working. He wasn't even pissed.

+

Duo was wrong to blame himself for what had gone wrong that night in the silo. Knowing that his mistake had triggered such a traumatic memory for him only made Heero feel worse. But it was clear that trying to convince him of Heero's fault was not a productive course of action at the moment. When Duo was rested and calmer, he would invite him to join him at his therapy session tomorrow. His top priority now was to defuse the existing level of tension. The tranquillizers were helping, but he wanted to talk to Duo while he was still alert enough to carry on a conversation. As the five of them crossed the street back to the hospital Heero walked close beside Duo, but made no effort to touch him.

Quatre kept his arm through Trowa's, even on the street, he noted. They were very affectionate with each other, often touching each other like that, even in public. It occurred to him that such sights didn't make him feel jealous right now. Duo might be very upset at the moment, and things were admittedly still very uncertain between them, but he couldn't help feeling optimistic. 'Always, always love you, forever,' Duo had told him, and Duo Maxwell didn't lie.

+

At first the nurses said Duo could not stay with him. It was against regulations. Heero's assurance that nothing of a sexual nature was planned did not sway them and embarrassed Duo. Nonetheless, he was glad he'd been clear on that point. Fortunately, Sister Agnes was on duty that evening and she agreed to call Dr. Santos, who in turn consulted Batoosingh. Permission was finally granted and they said good night to Trowa and the others.

Trowa caught Heero's eye as he turned to leave, giving him what looked like a very dark warning look. Trowa was very protective of Duo; Heero had picked up on that from the start. Only now did it start to seem like a potential problem. It was almost as if Trowa felt he had some claim on Duo, one that Heero was somehow challenging.

Heero answered the glare with a polite nod goodnight, thinking, 'I wouldn't beat him. I would find another solution.'

Alone in Heero's room at last, Duo sagged visibly. Heero steered him to the bed, took the bath bag from his unresisting hand, and carried it into the bathroom. He took out Duo's medications, committed the dosages and schedules on the labels to memory, and poured out the required combination of pills. Judging by the number left and the dates of the most recent refill, Duo was often careless about taking them. There were too many of each left. He filled a plastic cup with water and brought the meds to Duo, watching to make sure he took them.

"You will take them as prescribed from now on," he repeated.

Duo made him a mocking salute. Heero noted the attitude for future reference as he carried the cup back to the bathroom and reached into the bag again. He needed to know what was "Duo in need of medication" and what was just Duo being Duo. He'd always been excitable and highly expressive. Heero wanted him stable and safe, not medicated into a submissive stupor.

Duo was up unpacking things from the shopping bags when he came back. "We got yer tee shirts here, and jeans, one pair black, one blue. Those of Trowa's you had on fit you good so I found the same kind. Socks and underwear. You're still a boxer brief guy, right?"

Heero nodded. It didn't matter to him, so long as they were clean. Duo looked sad and tired and nervous. He clearly needed to be busy, so Heero sat on the bed and let him show him what else he'd bought. There were several tee shirts in black or dark colors, a white Oxford, a sage-colored sweater cut loose and comfortable, black running shoes, and several pairs of sweatpants.

"Wuffie was afraid Quatre would try to convert you to his wardrobe, but you know he has more sense than that. But he did pick out these." Duo tossed him an olive drab tank top and a pair of black cyling shorts. "Figured they'd be good when you start working out again. And-uh . . ." He turned holding the largest bag against his chest. The contents appeared to be something bulky. "We all chipped in on the rest of it, but this is from me. Sort of a welcome back present, I guess."

Blushing, he pulled out a black leather bomber jacket. "I never saw you wear anything like this, but, well, I just thought you'd look good in it. It's got a zip out lining, so you can wear it most of the year. I saved the receipt, in case you hated it. You can exchange it if you--"

"No, I like it." Heero stood up and put it on. It was lighter than it looked, and was made of some very soft, supple leather. It came down over his hips far enough to hide a gun in the back of a waistband, and was just loose enough to not show a shoulder holster. There were inner pockets for other supplies, too. Heero stroked his fingers down one sleeve, admiring the texture.

"Lambskin," Duo told him. "You really like it?"

"I really do," Heero said, smiling. "Very much!" He rolled his shoulders and shot the cuffs. "It fits."

"Turn around and let me see." Duo made an approving sound deep in his throat. "Hot. Very hot."

Heero felt his own face go warm. "I like lambskin. But it must have been expensive. You should let me pay you back."

Duo ran a hand down the arm of the jecket and shook his head. "No way. I want you to have it, from me. The others don't want your money either, so don't bother asking. It's no biggie, really. We just wanted to give you something to get started with. Relena said you didn't leave anything behind, and even if you had, it probably wouldn't have fit anymore. You're a lot taller." He passed a hand over their heads. "Wow, a little taller than me, and I grew a lot. Anyway, I just--I saw this in a store window and thought you'd look good in it. And you do."

Duo was still standing very close. Touched by the gift and Duo's assessment of how he looked in it, Heero chanced a hug and was glad when Duo relaxed against him and wrapped his arms around his waist.

"Yeah!" Duo's chuckle was a little muffled against Heero's shoulder. "Lambskin's good." He stayed there, leaning on Heero, and after a moment he yawned, then chuckled again. "We better be careful. The sisters will think we're dancing."

"I know how to dance."

"Seriously?"

"Part of my urban infiltration training."

"Very useful."

"Do you think you might want to dance with me sometime?" Heero asked, resting his cheek against Duo's hair. It was a mess; stray strands tickled his nose and threatened to get in his mouth, but it was clean and soft and smelled of sandalwood. "I know you like those kinds of clubs."

Duo laughed softly, then stepped back. "Damn reporters. I got no secrets from you."

Heero slipped the jacket off and hung it carefully in the closet. "I wish I had something to give you."

When he turned back, Duo was holding something out to him. It was the comb Heero taken from the kit bag; he'd put it in his back pocket. Only then did it occur to him that this appeared to be the same pink comb Duo had owned during the war.

Duo gave him an embarassed grin. "I'm dead on my feet from that damn pill. Could you--That is, would you mind? Your gift to me. I remember you were really good at braiding."

Considering what had happened the only other time he'd combed Duo's hair for him, he wondered if this was a show of trust, too. He wouldn't fail him this time. He handed Duo a pair of the new sweats and took the other for himself. "If you're going to fall asleep, you should get ready for bed first."

Duo nodded and went into the bathroom. As Heero changed into his sweats and a black tee shirt, he heard the sound of the toilet, then water running. He sat on the bed with his back to the headboard. Duo came out wearing just the sweats. It was the first time Heero had seen him like that in years. He was still very slim and didn't have any hair on his chest, but he wasn't a skinny kid anymore, either. His belly was very flat and hard. Heero tried not to notice whether his nipples were hard or not, but failed. They were, but the room was cool.

Duo was looking more sleepy than ever as he climbed up in front of Heero and stretched his legs out in front of him, leaning back on his hands. His toenails were unpainted now.

"What happened to the Cayman Green?" Heero asked.

Duo wiggled his toes. "I had Kat take it off. I thought maybe it weirded you the other day."

"No." He'd only been worried he was seeing things. Heero took the elastic off the end of the braid and pulled the hair free. The conditioner Duo used now made it even softer than he remembered, and very shiny. There were hardly any tangles. He took his time anyway, teasing out those he found, then using long, slow strokes. Soon it hung in a chestnut cascade between them. It was so long it pooled in Heero's lap, heavy and soft against his bare feet. He tried not to think too much about that, either.

"You're still good at this," Duo said softly.

"It's longer now."

"Yeah, I should probably trim it more."

"Don't cut it off," Heero said. He hadn't meant it to come out sounding like an order.

Duo chuckled. "Yes, sir! I won't, sir!" He'd understood what Heero meant and made a joke. The bad mood swing seemed to have passed.

"Do you want to talk a little more?" Heero asked. He moved the comb with his right hand and followed it with his left, letting Duo know he was there, that he was relaxed and receptive to conversation. And it felt good under his hands.

Duo sighed. "That morning, afterwards? You said we'd made a mistake."

"I was still upset. But mostly I meant that I'd made a mistake. I didn't sleep all that night. I was sure that you wouldn't want to stay friends anymore."

"Yeah, me, too. But we did, huh?"

"Yes we did." Somehow they'd both managed to just pretend nothing had happened. "Dr. Batoosingh told me you think of me as your best friend. Is that true?"

"Of course!"

"Do you think that's really true?"

Duo turned and looked at him. "Whadya mean? Of course it's true."

Heero dropped his hands in his lap, or rather, into the pile of Duo's hair there. "You live with Trowa and Quatre. You've seen more of them than you ever did of me. You've had fun with them, gone through difficulties. And they were there for you. I wasn't."

Duo turned away again and shrugged. "Yeah, I guess. But I never forgot about you. Even though we screwed up on the lover thing, I still felt good whenever we were around each other, even if we were arguing or competing for a target. I felt different with you than anyone else. I still do. Kinda illogical, but it's the truth."

Heero lifted Duo's hair away from his back and started braiding it. "I feel the same way. I thought of you all the time, when I could think. But it's not the same as actually dealing with each other, like you do with them."

"Still jealous, huh? It's OK, Heero. I'd be way worse, in your place." Duo yawned. "But I know what you're saying. We need to be careful we're not just seeing each other as some image we built up in our heads, right?"

"Yes." What he felt for Duo right this moment, all the affection and attraction, and the worry, too; he wanted to make sure it was based on fact, not some romantic fantasy. "This situation. It's not like everyday life. I think I know you, Duo. I just want to be sure. To be honest, I'm not even sure who I am yet. I feel--different."

Duo yawned and rubbed his eyes. "You are, and you're not." He yawned again, and waved a hand in front of his face as if he could brush away the exhaustion. "Sorry, I'm passing out. You are different, but so far it's just that you seem happier, less driven. The good things still seem to be there. Like the way you took charge over there." He hooked a thumb in the direction of the hostel and blushed again. Without his shirt on, Heero could see that it went all the way down to his chest this time. "I--uh, I kinda still like that."

Heero smiled as he wound the elastic around the finished braid. "That's good, because I can't seem to help it. So you won't mind if I take charge and order 02 to see Dr. Batoosingh with me tomorrow?"

"Tricky, Heero! Waiting until I'm drugged." But Duo was grinning as he shifted back between Heero and the wall and got under the blankets. Curling up facing him, he closed his eyes. "Yeah yeah, mission accepted and all that. Sleep now."

"Good." Heero took one of the pillows and got up.

Duo opened one eye, frowning. "Where y'goin'?"

"I can sleep on the floor. There's an extra blanket in the closet."

Duo snorted. "Back in bed, Yuy. That's an order. "

"You take charge, too, then?"

"When you do dumb things. C'mon. I'll behave."

Heero slid under the covers. The bed was not large. There was no way not to lie close together, especially when Duo reached over and pulled him closer, leaving his arm across Heero's chest as he fell asleep.

Heero switched off the light. Soft yellow light from the corridor showed through the observation port, and nurses walked by now and then. He could hear the clatter of a gurney somewhere, and soft Spanish music from the radio at the nurses' station. It was peaceful. Tomorrow would probably be difficult; he had no illusions about that. There were still many things to be learned and talked about. 'Like those condoms,' he thought, then pushed the thought away for later. But for now it was peaceful.

It was also very pleasant to feel Duo's breath against his shoulder, and the warmth of his body beside him. He didn't even mind the arm across his chest. He could get up quickly if he needed to. He understood now why Duo would want to sleep with the others, even if they weren't having sex. This was good, much better than sleeping alone.

Moving carefully so as not to wake Duo, Heero reached over and lifted the braid forward across his chest. He ran his fingertips over it, then clasped his hand over it and Duo's wrist, wondering if they'd still sleep together if they decided to stay just friends.

He hoped so.

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