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

Broken Warriors + Chapter 22
Hang Over

Heero woke up as Duo struggled out of his arms the next morning. "What's wrong?"

"Sick!" Duo managed before staggering away to the bathroom. The sound of loud retching soon followed.

Trowa and Quatre blinked at Heero from the other end of the couch, looking bleary and hung-over.

Heero untangled his legs from theirs and sat up. There was a dull ache just behind his eyes and his stomach was a little off, but that was it. Thankfully this much at least had not changed with his physical decline. Duo, whose alcohol tolerance was usually high, was still heaving loudly in the bathroom.

"We shouldn't have done that," Quatre sighed, nodding at the empty sake bottles on the floor. "I didn't intend to drink that much. And-- about the rest of it?" He was having a hard time looking Heero in the eye. So was Trowa. "Heero, are you OK with that?"

Heero felt a sinking feeling. "I thought it was a game, just something between friends. Was I wrong?" He chanced another glance at Trowa and saw the other boy look away.

But Quatre shifted over to put an arm around him. Unlike Heero and Duo, who'd slept in their clothes, he and Trowa were naked under the blankets. "No! I just--well, I wasn't sure how you were taking it. I've never seen you unwind like that."

It was Heero's turn to blush. But even sober now in the harsh light of day, he knew he'd enjoyed himself, just as he liked waking up with his friends and lover close around him, and the way Quatre was sitting by him so comfortably now. It was almost as if his suicide attempt had killed off one aspect of Heero Yuy; the cold, driven, unbending one trained to quash every emotion in favor of carrying out missions. If so, he didn't regret the loss. He might never be normal but if he could accept Quatre's concern like this, not to mention Duo's various moods and forms of attention without rebelling and pushing them away, then it was worth it.

They could hear water running in the bathroom now. Duo was in the shower.

"That's a good sign," Trowa said. "He's really not supposed to be drinking at all. I'm sorry, Heero. Kat or I should have said something. The wine the other night, and the beers the first night here, then this. We should have said . . ."

"Is Duo an alcoholic?"

"Not officially. Not yet. But the doctor said the last thing he needs in his condition is a chemical depressant, especially with all the meds he's on. I noticed it yesterday, after the beer."

"Yes, he was really in a down swing for a while," Quatre agreed. "But he got himself out of it, did you notice?"

Heero had, though he hadn't guessed the reason. He thought guiltily of the whiskey he'd ordered at the embassy the other night. But that hadn't been much, not enough to make either of them drunk. "Does Duo know all this?"

The others nodded. Heero made a mental note; Duo was still not taking proper care of himself. No more alcohol for Duo.

"It's our fault," Quatre said, apologetic as always. "But it was just so good to have you back, especially the way you are now that you're feeling better, and--well, I'm sorry. I guess we all got a little carried away."

"Don't blame yourself," Heero told him, covering Quatre's hand with his and giving it a reassuring squeeze. "He's been very good about taking his meds, but neglected to mention this, even though it means there was all the more reason for him not to drink. I'll speak to him."

"Consider me spoken to," Duo moaned, limping out with a threadbare hospital towel clutched around his waist. His pale face had a distinctly greenish cast to it and there were dark circles under his eyes. His hair hung in a sodden, tangled mess around him, dripping down his sides and chest onto the floor. He slowly lowered himself down onto a chair, wincing a little as he settled.

"Stay there," Heero ordered, guessing the reason for that wince. As he went for more towels, he felt his underwear sticking to him uncomfortably in the front. He needed a shower, too. In spite of this less than romantic morning after, however, he caught himself grinning in the men's room mirror. The grin widened when he spotted the dried white stains on the wall he'd taken Duo against. He cleaned them away with some paper towels, found Duo's comb and some more towels, and went out again to deal with his sick friend.

Duo was huddled unhappily on the couch now, wrapped in blankets with the towel around his hair. Heero removed it and combed his hair out, ignoring Duo's muttered complaints as he worked through the knots. Dup hadn't used shampoo or conditioner, just rinsed himself down.

An orderly came by for their breakfast order and Quatre wisely kept it to toast, tea, and lots of water. When the man was gone, he wrapped himself in a blanket and tugged Trowa off to the shower.

Heero worked in silence, trying to gauge Duo's mood. Duo slumped, still pale. When Heero finished with the braid, however, he turned and kissed him. He'd brushed his teeth, but a sour tang lingered just beyond the attempt at minty freshness. Duo sighed and leaned his head against Heero's chest. "Sorry. Guess you wore me out last night. And my butt's sore!"

"Sorry." Heero's lower back had a few things to say on the matter, too.

"Don't be. It was fantastic!" Duo wrapped his arms around Heero. "But I think I'm going to be out of commission back there for a couple of days, if ya know what I mean?"

Heero chuckled. "There are lots of other things we can do."

"Ya got that right! However--" Duo pulled back, comically wrinkling his nose. "No offense, but I think it's shower time for 01. "

Heero nodded. He smelled like he'd been doing exactly what he'd been doing last night. Dropping a kiss on the top of Duo's damp head, he headed for the showers.

Quatre and Trowa were together in one of the two stalls, and from the position of their feet under the curtain, they were helping each other get clean. Or something.

Ignoring them, Heero started the water and stripped off his clothes. His briefs and the skin of his belly and thighs were stiff with dried semen. He was about to toss his clothes aside when he noticed that the white cotton briefs had a few pinkish stains in the front. Blood.

He'd made Duo bleed. His breath caught painfully in his chest, making it hard to get air into his lungs. Wadding the incriminating clothes up, he tossed them in a far corner and quickly got into the shower to wash away the suddenly distasteful evidence of this latest loss of control.

He'd hurt Duo. He'd fucked him so hard he'd bled. A slow growing sense of desolation filled him, and suddenly he was sliding down the shower wall into a miserable ball.

Fucking. Blood. Pain.

Bruises. On Duo?

//Bruises. On my hips, thighs. Lips bloody and swollen, both eyes black . . . No, don't! This can't be . . . . How can I not . . . . Help! Somebody, help me! Helpless! Help! No help . . .//

Heero shook his head sharply as cold water brought him back to the present. The other shower was silent. Trowa and Quatre were gone.

His right hand ached and he couldn't move the fingers. He'd squeezed the bar of soap so hard it had molded itself to his hand. Prying it loose, he climbed shakily to his feet.

Clean. He had to get clean.

//Never feel clean again . . .//

Fighting down the fragments of the flashback, he lathered himself all over, shivering with shock and a sudden bone deep exhaustion.

//Lesions-- Early stage--//

"No!" he whispered fiercely against the spray. He had no memories of that part of his life.

No memories! the old mission-oriented inner voice barked. So that Heero Yuy wasn't dead after all. Just as well.

It was his imagination. There was nothing to remember. Whatever had really happened, it was all lost in the fugue period, a blank. Gone. There was no point, no point at all in giving way to vague imaginings.

Duo was fine. They'd both been drunk and horny and wound up from the game. Like Quatre had said, they'd gotten carried away, but Duo had wanted it and enjoyed it just as much as he had. Heero focused on the memory of Duo's smoldering look, and the way he'd moaned and laughed as Heero had taken him. He'd been more than willing.

//Not rape!//

Duo was fine. These things happened.

And if the doctors had missed the syphilis? If he'd taken Duo like that, unprotected, and rough enough to make him bleed, even if it felt good and had been exactly what Shinigami wanted? If he hadn't taken the antibiotic?

//Lesions . . . Blood . . . Bruising hands and leering faces and stinking skin too close against his face, his mouth . . . //

Heero staggered out of the shower and barely made it to the sink in time before the dry retching took over. It shook him, knotting his empty belly painfully as he gagged up bitter yellow bile. Dark spots danced in front of his eyes and his legs were betraying him again. He gripped the edge of the sink, trying to control his descent. His bruised knees protested but he made it down without injury and rested his forehead against cold porcelain, willing the nausea and black, terrifying, half-formed images away.

//Bruises. Blood. Pain. Helphelphelphelp No! No help! Please, no, don't let me be this weak! Don't they know who I am? O no, please don't let them know who I am . . . Who am I? 'Hey, don't he look kinda like that kid . . ?' 'Yeah, right -' A name? Someone's name? A blank. 'Yeah right, we're fucking Heero fucking Yuy up the . . . //


"No!" He startled himself lucid again and was horrified to find the others in the doorway, seeing him like this. Trowa. Quatre. Duo. And he was naked and wet and his mouth was full of bitter not-memories and bile and . . .

"Heero? Babe?" Duo had pulled on a pair of jeans. Heero kept his eyes on Duo's shining blue green painted toes as he came and knelt by him. Not touching, but close enough to be sure Heero knew he was there. Close enough to know Heero was losing it.

Lost.

//Oh please, don't let that be me moaning like that . . . I won't give them the satisfaction . . . Had he? Had he let those leering, stinking men hear him whimper?//

Then strong arms were around him and his face was pressed to warm, familiar skin that smelled good, so good. Eyes closed, Heero made himself see nothing. Nothing.

"What's wrong, Heero?" Duo asked softly, holding him tighter and stroking his wet hair. "Talk to me, babe. I'm here."

"I hurt you," Heero mouthed against Duo's neck. He groped for the thick, damp braid and gripped it like a lifeline. "I made you bleed!"

"It's nothing, buddy! It happens."

"He's right," Quatre said softly, coming to join them. "It's nothing serious, I promise. Duo's just new to it, that's all. You need to take it easy."

"Seriously, Heero. I'm fine!"

Yes, he knew that, but it was good to hear the honest concern and love in that voice next to his ear. It gave him something to hold on to and focus on, instead of . . .

Someone was whispering, too low for him to make out. Then other hands touched him, and other arms settled warmly around him: warm breath against the back of his neck, and more on his cheek, smelling of toothpaste and tea.

"I flashed, I think. I'm not sure."

"It's OK, Heero." Trowa, quiet and sure and steady as Heero remembered from that long time ago. "It's happened to all of us. You're safe. We're with you, 01. You're safe. We understand."

Yes. Heero let himself relax in that circle of arms, hemmed in by their warmth and concern, surprisingly unashamed by the gentle press of their lips against his own, against his temple and the back of his neck. They did understand, even without knowing the particulars of the current demons Heero was fending off. They'd all thrashed and whimpered through nights in the safe houses, and kept their pain to themselves, not wanting to admit weakness. But those days were gone. He didn't seem to have any defenses left. Not with them.

He released his death grip on Duo and sat back on his heels with a sigh. "Thank you. I'm all right now."

"Not by a long shot," Duo said, standing and offering Heero a hand up. Trowa and Quatre were dressed, too, but Heero still felt no discomfort being naked. He'd never been taught modesty and felt no need for it now, until he saw the way Trowa glanced down, then quickly looked away. With an inward sigh Heero snagged a nearby towel and wrapped it around himself. OK, there were a few complications still to be dealt with, and last night's kissing game hadn't solved them.

No one pressed him for details as he found clean clothes and nibbled some breakfast, but Duo sat close beside him on the couch, sipping from his own mug in companionable silence. Quatre took the other side, as he had yesterday, and Trowa busied himself packing. No one asked Heero if he wanted to talk and he was grateful.

Dry toast and tea settled Heero's stomach and warmed away the chill from the shower. By the time he'd finished, the unpleasant moment had receded and he just felt empty. The strange, intrusive thoughts were gone for now. He needed something useful to do, to keep them at bay.

Trowa switched on an innocuous morning movie and Duo joined him. Heero borrowed Duo's phone and laptop. A call to the embassy verified that the passport and papers would be delivered today, perhaps by lunchtime. As soon as he was certain Duo was engrossed in Trowa's movie he hacked into Dr. Batoosingh's files and scanned Duo's case history, trying to get a handle on the true extent of his lover's problems.

As Quatre had said, there was no formal determination of alcoholism, but it was clear that heavy drinking had been associated with some of the worst episodes and both suicide attempts. Duo had cut his wrists the first time, but had been found in time by his friend and then-room mate, Hilde. Heero still didn't know why they'd split up. In the final months of the war it had seemed that a relationship was developing there; that was only one of several reasons why Heero had left to work with Relena on Earth. He made a mental note in his Duo file: query others re: Hilde.

For the second suicide attempt Duo had combined vodka and sleeping pills, but passed out and vomited up enough to both save and nearly asphyxiate himself. He'd spent three days in a coma after that one, and nearly a month in a locked ward at Winner Memorial.

And then there were the abuse incidents, when Duo had sought out strangers to hurt him. Strangers in sex clubs with names like Brand X, Top Hand, Spankers, and This End Up. The last of these had occurred in March, and ended with Duo battered, nearly strangled, and institutionalized yet again. After that, there were some terse but disquieting notations on Duo's reliance on Trowa for this kind of release, and Batoosingh's concerns. Scowling, Heero closed the file window and deleted the search history. No wonder Trowa couldn't look him in the eye half the time. What had Quatre been thinking?

Clearly there was much Heero had yet to understand about these three, but he had to balance that against his own experience, both before his break down and since his return. Despite his distaste at some of the partial information he had, there was something strong and real there between them and it was already extending to include him.

He sat back and closed his eyes, pondering Quatre's earlier question. Was he OK with all that had happened last night? Yes. That was the plain and simple answer and no amount of analysis seemed to change it. If they invited him to play that game again, he probably would. He might not even need alcohol. Which was just as well, since he didn't plan to allow Duo to drink anymore, which meant he would not be drinking, either.

Duo's phone rang and Duo glanced over in surprise. Heero handed to to him; the displayed caller's number meant nothing to him.

Duo looked at it, frowning, hesitated, then hit the answer button. "Maxwell here. Who? Oh yes. Yes, I--Hold on, I need to know how you got this number. Ah. No, that's fine. What can I do for you? What? You're joking, right? No--No, really--- Please, the answer is no! What? No, that's not the issue--No, he's not! Sorry, gotta run. Bye!"

Duo disconnected, scowled at the phone for a long moment, and then dialed in another number. "Hiya, Hilde. Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do know what time it is there. Tough shit. What the fuck are you thinking, handing my private, unlisted number out to--- No, I don't! No! What the hell gives you the-- Oh really? Good to know some things don't change, I guess. At least you're consistent-- Yeah, you're right about that! Is that right? Well, you can erase this number from your little black book. It's about to be out of service! No! Don't even try--- Oh yeah? Same to you!"

He disconnected with a vicious stab of the button and turned the phone off. Then he retrieved the computer from Heero and spent several minutes typing angrily as he killed that phone account and applied for a new unlisted number. When he was done he slammed the cover down and put it back in its case.

"What was that all about?" Quatre demanded.

"Nothing. Look, I need a little walk. Alone." He kissed Heero on the cheek. "Be back in ten, OK, babe? Just need to walk off some nastiness. I'll help you pack up when I get back."

"Stay in the building!" Heero ordered. Duo saluted without turning and was gone.

Heero looked at the other two, who appeared only slightly less perplexed. "What happened with Hilde? Before today, I mean."

"She was too possessive," Trowa replied with the hint of a sneer.

"They just weren't suited," Quatre said more kindly.

"They were lovers?"

"No, but not for lack of trying on her part," Trowa said. "The whole 'we can just be good friends who happen to live together' thing didn't work out so well, either. She kept trying to fix him. He cut his wrists in her bathroom."

"Tro, that wasn't her fault."

"Oh? She didn't let us know there was a problem, either, did she?"

"She thought we were the problem."

Heero quietly added Hilde to the list of people he had issues with.

"So, are you all right? After that, I mean." Trowa nodded meaningfully toward the bathroom as he sat down beside him.

"I think so. I'm not in any danger, and I have a vid appointment with Dr. Batoosingh this afternoon. There's no need to concern yourself."

Trowa reached out and tentatively covered Heero's hand with his own where it rested beside him on the cushions. "Duo is there for you, but he's not 100 percent, either. Quatre and I, we're here for both of you. Will you call us if you need us? That probably sounds silly, but Duo often let things get too bad, or to the point where he was too sick to let us know he needed help. I know you'll take care of each other, but--"

"I understand. Thank you. I promise I will keep you updated on his condition. He's been living with you for how long?"

"Six months."

Heero nodded slowly. "I don't know where he and I are going to end up. I never had a home, and I don't think he has a place of his own anymore, either."

"He had a small place on L-2 after he moved out of Hilde's," Quatre replied. "It was a real rat hole, though, so I got him out of the lease when he came to us. It was all he could afford after he quit that scrap yard job and he can't get back into the Preventers with his medical history. Do you think--That is, he's been doing so well working with the circus. I was sort of hoping that maybe there's some way you both could stay with us. Will you think about it, while you're at the Cape?"

"Of course. I have a lot to think about. I've been a soldier, and then a Preventer. I don't know what else I can do, but I know I don't want to go back to that."

"I felt the same way," Trowa agreed. "I was never anything else, either, until I met Cathy and got into circus work."

"And he's good at it, too!" Quatre exclaimed happily, curling up next to his lover. "Just wait until New Orleans, Heero. You won't believe it!"

"Red Silk?" Heero smiled.

"Among other things," Trowa said, wrapping an arm around Quatre. "Kat here's got some hidden talents, too."

Heero's smiled widened. "So I've heard." And he had the satisfaction of seeing both Winner-Bartons blush at the same time.

Duo burst back in red-cheeked and smelling of fresh air. "Where did you go?" Heero demanded.

"The roof," Duo replied, looking happier than when he left. "Look for me on the news tonight, flipping off a news chopper. And I intercepted Hector's courier in the corridor just now." He tossed Heero a sealed leather pouch. "I think you're a free man now."

Heero opened it and examined the passport and papers. The picture was one taken two years ago. He looked like a child in it. A dangerous, grim child, but too young all the same. "I've changed a lot, haven't I?" he murmured, smoothing a thumb over the photo.

Duo slid in behind him and rested his chin on Heero's shoulder. "You've grown up. And gotten handsomer, too. Right guys?"

"Yes," Trowa murmured, still sitting on Heero's other side.

Hardly thinking what he was doing, Heero stroked Trowa's bangs back and looked him square in those startled green eyes. "So have you, 03. And you, too, Quatre. Maybe peace agrees with us."

"What am I, chopped liver?" Duo demanded.

Heero smiled back over his shoulder. "You're already spoiled enough, little mer-" He caught himself just in time.

Duo's eyes widened dangerously, but then he grinned. "Back atcha, big boy." Ignoring the small choked gasp from Trowa, he grinned over at Quatre. "So, are we set for the beach house?"

"Yes, I made some calls. A Winner corporate jet is fueled and ready to go. Food and firewood will be delivered to the house and the security system has been upgraded. I'll ship you whatever clothes you want and the materials you need. Can you be in New Orleans a few days early?"

"No problem, babe. Don't worry about a thing. Everything will be ready, and I'll send you image files as it comes together. Make sure you get the right leather, though. I can't get that just anywhere, you know."

Quatre snorted. "And who taught you which leathers worked best, huh? Relax. It will all be there in a few days. Heero, I'm going to talk to your PT and have the necessary equipment delivered, too. There's a place in New Provincetown that should have everything you need, unless you'd rather join a public gym?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Then it's settled." He paused and his face fell. "Well, I guess it's about time to get going, then."

Duo moved to sit between him and Trowa, wrapping his arms round them both for a shared hug. "I know, guys. It's just for a few weeks, until Heero and I can figure some things out. We'll be back with you before you know it. And you've both got lots to do. After all the secrecy, I expect to be really wowed in New Orleans. Copy that?"

"We copy," Quatre said, grinning, but Heero saw the sheen of tears in those dark blue eyes. "We just sort of used to having you around, that's all."

Duo was looking misty too. He kissed them both and bounced to his feet. "C'mon, let's bug out before we all start bawling. 'Heero and I need to say good-bye to the docs. Meet you downstairs in ten, OK?"

+

The press was still lying in wait for them. At least twenty reporters surged forward with mikes and cameras as the four emerged from the hospital and tried to get to the hired car.

Heero paused, letting the others field a few questions. They'd all agreed to ignore any reference to Heero's medical problems or his supposed time as a prostitute. He waited, biding his time. At last, the GPR reported called out, "Mr. Yuy, Mr. Maxwell, can you comment on the nature of your relationship?"

"Yes," he replied. The crowd fell silent and the cameras turned to him. Without any warning, he pulled Duo close, tilted his chin up, and kissed him deeply. Duo looked up at him in surprise, then threw his arms around Heero and held on tight, returning it heart and soul. Scattered applause broke out, and some good-natured laughter. Heero broke the kiss, but kept an arm around Duo as he smiled at the reporters. "I hope that answers your question."

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