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

Broken Warriors + Chapter 84
Intensive Care

Wufei flat-lined twice in the ambulance and all Zechs could do was watch helplessly from the gurney they had him strapped to. It was the single worst experience of his life, watching his little love die again and again.

Little love.

Little fool!

//I had a vest on, Wufei! Where was yours?//


The paramedics brought Wufei back each time, but Zechs heard the warning tone again as they wheeled Wufei away from him at the emergency room.

"Please stay still, sir," Zechs's attendants warned as he'd tried to free himself to follow.

"No, let me go with him!" Zechs rasped, still trying to get up. His ruined left arm was a dead thing, dragging him down. He hadn't felt any pain when the bullets tore into his cybernetic limb, just a dull sense of shock and heat, and then the weight of it as it had shorted out and reverted to so much useless metal. The pain had come when one shot found the meat of his shoulder above the locking ring and tore out the delicate circuitry implanted there.

"Lay still, sir. You're still bleeding. You need surgery immediately or you could lose the rest of that arm."

Zechs still tried to fight but a nurse injected a stronger sedative into his IV line and the world began to fade. The last thing he saw was a group of nurses and security guards wrestling Duo back onto a gurney. The long-haired boy was swearing and crying, trying to get to the rolling bed whisking Heero away in the same direction Wufei had been taken.

+


Trowa's injured leg ached from all the pacing he'd done since Zechs left the day before. Merquise had called only once, reporting that he'd joined up with Sally and the Preventers who were looking for Heero and Duo. Wufei had been away on some other covert action with Zechs's contact, Nakamura.

Quatre promised Trowa that he was keeping his mental shields up, but Trowa kept a close eye on him all the same, knowing the temptation it must be for his worried, kind-hearted partner to reach out toward the others. Kat's last impressions from Heero had been deep confusion.

Trowa had spent the night dozing in a chair at Quatre's bedside and woke when the doctor came in early the next morning to supervise the removal of the regeneration units from Kat's leg and right arm. The fractures there were simple ones and had responded well to the treatment. Light splints were applied for the rest of the process. The compound fractures in Quatre's left radius and ulna and the burns on his back would take more time, but he was delighted to be able to do away with the cervical block at last.

"It's imperative that he remain calm," the doctor warned Trowa. "These episodes of his?"

"He can control them now that his mind is clear," Trowa assured him, but secretly he was still worried. Quatre's link to Heero was very strong.

"Don't worry, I've got my defenses up," Quatre promised again, but he made Trowa keep the news channel on, watching for any word of their friends.

The day dragged on. Quatre seemed to be resting comfortably, despite his worried state. Neither of them could really relax. Trowa was eating an early supper beside Quatre's bed when his husband suddenly caught his breath and squeezed his eyes shut as if in pain.

"Trowa!" His fingers twitched and Trowa covered them with his own, shocked at how cold his love's skin was. "What is it, meli?"

"Something--something bad!"

Trowa checked the clock on the wall. It would be early morning in Japan now.

Quatre shuddered and opened his eyes. "Turn the news back on, Tro."

There were no reports, but within half an hour Trowa's phone rang. He checked the number but didn't recognize it. "Hello?"

"Trowa, it's Sally Po."

Trowa swallowed hard. "Something's happened, right?"

"Everyone is alive," she assured him quickly, "but--"

"Who's down?" Trowa demanded, aware of Quatre's concerned gaze fixed on his face. He put the phone on speaker and held it in his lap so Quatre could hear.

"All of them," she told them. "Merquise, too. There was a firefight. They were all shot."

"All of them?" Trowa leaned forward and rested his hand on Quatre's forehead to keep him still. "Status?"

"Zechs and Duo aren't too bad, but--" Trowa could hear her fighting for control. Quatre let out a soft moan, and those wide blue eyes filled with tears.

"Heero and Wufei are both in critical condition. Heero has multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen. Wufei was shot once in the chest-it could have been worse. Zechs got in front of him and blocked the other shots, but not before--" Her voice broke. "Wufei was shot at point blank range. It grazed his heart, pierced a major artery. Zechs was wearing a vest. Wufei wasn't. If I'd only realized--" She broke off again and now they could hear her crying. "I'm sorry. They're all in surgery right now, here at Tokyo general."

Within minutes of hanging up the first reports showed up as breaking news on CNN.

"Are you sure you're ready for this, corazon?" Trowa asked.

"Leave it on," Quatre whispered, eyes never leaving TV screen attached to the wall at the foot of his bed. There, a Japanese reporter stood in front of what looked like an old factory.

"This is Kate Kurazawa reporting live from Kizarazu, Japan. Just after dawn a massive shoot out took place in the large structure you see behind me. Reports are still confused, but it appears to have been a joint action between the Preventers and local police against a child pornography ring. Twenty-two armed men have been captured or shot. At least five Preventer agents were injured in the fight. All are listed in critical condition. No names have been released yet."

"One of the men apprehended, said to be the ring leader, is Heidiki Hato. According to local sources, he is a scriptwriter for an international pornographic film company based in Tokyo, just across the harbor. The owner, Raphael Conte, has not responded to our questions, but his lawyers have already issued a statement, claiming that Hato's activities here are completely unrelated to his--"

The reporter paused, listening to some new information over her earphone. "I've just been informed that the bodies of at least a dozen young boys have been discovered in the basement of this structure, together with a huge collection of what can only be described as rape and torture vids. Local authorities have already declared Hato a serial killer, linking him to the disappearance of a number of homeless children in this area."

She turned and the camera zoomed in on a police captain. "Captain Ito, can you give us any details about what went on here today?"

The officer was stoic but looked shaken. "I am not at liberty to release details of the raid, but I can confirm that eleven bodies of young boys were found in the basement of the complex. Clearly they are victims of murder."

"Can you identify the agents wounded in this raid, sir?"

"Not at this time."

"Can you at least comment on the rumor that Heero Yuy and Chang Wufei came out of retirement to rejoin Preventers for this action, and that they were among the wounded?"

"Not at this time."

"Does this have any connection to the fact that the pornographic films produced by Conte and Hato used the Gundam pilots as characters and victims? Something called the 'Gundam Slut Killers Under Men' films, I believe?"

"Oh god!" Trowa moaned.

"I cannot confirm anything at this time," the captain gritted out and walked away.

She turned and buttonholed a tall, very handsome man in a black leather overcoat. "You, sir, were you also involved in the raid?"

"Only as a consultant," the man replied. "This was a Preventer operation and the men I interfaced with were outstanding."

"Can you give us any names, Mr.--?"

"Nakamura Masa, private investigator. That's my name, and the only one I'm authorized to divulge, sweetheart. You heard the captain." Smirking, he moved off camera.


+


Zechs came to later with his head full of cotton and his left shoulder on fire. Opening his eyes, he found himself propped up in a hospital bed in a dimly lit room. He was a one-armed man again, his left shoulder swathed in thick bandages under the empty sleeve of his thin hospital gown.

"How ya feeling?" a hoarse voice asked.

Turning his head was an effort, he found Duo huddled in a chair next to his bed. He had on a thin hospital gown and robe, too, and his right arm was secured across his chest in a canvass sling. His braid was a tangled mess, still caked here and there along its length with dried blood.

"You--you were hit, too?" Zechs rasped.

"Caught a couple before you showed up," Duo croaked. "Went through clean, though. I'm OK. Except they won't let me see Heero yet."

"You shouldn't be up."

"Hurts worse to lie down." Duo jerked a thumb at another bed across the room. "Figured I'd keep an eye on you. You've been moaning a lot, calling for 'fei. What's that other name you call him? May?"

"Mei. It means beautiful."

"Yeah?" Duo grinned at that. "Sometimes it sounded like you were kinda mad at him, too, though. You kept yelling about that vest."

Zechs struggled to sit up, and winced at the renewed wave of pain. "Damn right I am! He went into a high-risk situation without a flak--" His dry throat seized up and he doubled over with a coughing fit.

Duo passed him a glass of water from the bedside table. "Want me to call a nurse? You look like you could use some meds."

Zechs sipped at it gratefully and shook his head. "No. Where are Heero and Wufei?"

"Heero's in the recovery room. They won't let anyone in there. The nurse said-" Duo swallowed hard and wiped quickly at his eyes. "The nurse said he's not in such good shape. Wufei's still in surgery, I guess. He took one in the chest, huh?"

Zechs slumped down on the pillows, blinking back tears.

Duo shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "Don't be mad at Wufei. It's all my fault. I should have stopped Heero from going in the first place, but I didn't. I just got so caught up with it all and--and--"

Zechs raised his remaining hand, cutting short the apology. "No one's fault, except those men. Those bodies I saw when we found you? Looked like they were dressed like 01, back in the war."

"Yeah. That Hato creep had been doing nasty, sick shit for a while. Heero was just one that got away."

"You and Heero, are you all right? I mean, did they-- hurt you?"

"They were going to, but Heero got loose and raised hell before they could. Saved my ass. Literally."

"Thank god!" Zechs struggled up in bed and found that aside from his shoulder, he was perfectly all right. He felt awkward and unbalanced, though. He'd adjusted so quickly to the new arm that he felt it's loss keenly now. But he managed to get himself out of bed and to the restroom to empty his aching bladder without assistance. Bracing himself against the sink, he washed his hand and studied his reflection. Apart from the discoloration that showed around the edges of his shoulder bandages, he was fine. Or so he told himself until he made himself take an honest look and read the deep fear in his own eyes.

"Oh Wufei!" he whispered as tears tracked down his cheeks. "Fight, mei! Fight to stay with me and I'll never, ever let you go."

He got himself under control and emerged from the bathroom to find Duo curled up in a ball in the chair, shoulders shaking.

Zechs knelt awkwardly and put his arm around him, not knowing quite what reaction to expect. Far from rebuffing the offered comfort, Duo slumped against him and sobbed against his neck. Zechs held him as best he could, stroking the dirty braid. Duo was so thin, so lost. And yet Zechs knew the strength there; he'd seen him in action.

They stayed like that for some time, until Duo calmed down again and Zechs's knees were aching. He was about to get up when they heard a commotion outside. An harried-looking young doctor hurried in.

"Mr. Maxwell? Oh good, you're already up. Mr. Yuy is coming out of the anesthesia badly. He's disoriented and violent. He won't listen to anyone. He's demanding to see you."

"Seriously? Violent?" Duo staggered up, grinning like he'd just won the lottery. "Hot damn, that's my Heero! He's OK."

+

He'd been drugged, that much Heero was certain of. The rest was confusion. He looked for OZ uniforms, but the medical staff who were trying to restrain him wore no military insignia. He tried to get up, but his body was not cooperating. Something was pressing on his chest and his left wrist. He managed to tear out the monitor wires and IV lines they'd attached to him, but he couldn't get up or make his eyes to focus.

//Duo. Duo was on this mission with me---wasn't he?//


That didn't make any sense, either, but somehow he was certain Duo should be here. He tried to yell for him but his chest and throat hurt so badly it came out a hoarse whisper.

More men in white tried to hold him and the pain grew worse. Something was wrong with his body; he was in pain and bleeding. That didn't change the fact that he had to find Duo--

He grayed out at some point, and when he came around again Duo was there, sitting beside his bed in the too bright room, stroking his hair. Duo was a hospital bathrobe and his arm was in a sling. Hospital. They were in a hospital, Heero though, clinging to that bit of information. The weight on his chest was a regen unit. Straps were fastened across his chest and thighs to keep him in place. His left wrist and hand were encased in a cast. They'd been hurt and they were in a hospital where people spoke Japanese.

"It's OK, baby, I'm here! You're safe," Duo was whispering hoarsely. "Lie still and let them put the lines back in, please? Let 'em fix you up, baby. You just have to stay in the regen a little while. It helps, really. They did it for me, too, just a couple of hours and I'm already up on my feet, see? Don't fight anymore, baby. We're safe. We got the bad guys! You totally kicked ass, 'ro. Remember? We got Hato and his fuckers, Heero. No more nasty-grams. No more vids."

Heero blinked at him as his heart rate slowly returned to normal, trying to figure out what he was talking about. What bad guys?

Then all the memories came crashing back in on him. All those boys dressed like him. Killed in his place. Killed out of some sick need for vengeance against him. And Duo, screaming for help. He moaned and clasped Duo's shoulder, found the braid and brought it to his cheek.

It was dirty, and smelled like all the death they'd found in that corridor. He dropped it with another low moan, mourning the loss of that bit of comfort.

"I know, 'ro. I'm sorry, baby. I'll wash it as soon as they let me," Duo murmured. He brought Heero's right hand to his lips and kissed it, holding his attention as a nurse timidly approached and reattached the lines he'd torn free.

"Oh god, Duo. All those children!" Heero gasped.

"Not your fault, baby."

Another pang of panic shot through him. "Yuki! Did anyone find Yuki? We just left him there!"

"He's OK, baby. He's here at the hospital and they're taking good care of him."

Heero let out a shaky breath, then shook his head. "I got you shot."

"I got me shot, and you, too," Duo growled, kissing his palm. "You were sick. You were flashing back to all kinds of shit and I didn't drag your ass out of there in time. I messed up, baby. Please, forgive me?"

The pain and guilt in his lover's voice broke Heero's heart all over again, distracting him from his own guilt. "Nothing to forgive. I wanted you for my wingman and you were. I never would have broken out of those cuffs if it hadn't been for you."

"You're both complete idiots and you're coming back home to New Orleans as soon as I can make the doctors release you."

"Trowa!"

The lanky acrobat stood in the recovery room doorway, leaning on a silver topped cane. A surgical mask covered his lower face, but his green eyes were full of emotion and he limped over to them and leaned down to gently embrace them both. "Idiots!" he said again, the voice muffled against Duo's shoulder far rougher than his touch.

Heero reached up and wiped at the tears rolling down Trowa's cheeks to soak the edge of the mask. He didn't think he'd ever get used to seeing Trowa cry. "I'm sorry, Trowa-"

"Shut up!" Trowa muttered, burying one hand in Heero's hair and the other in Duo's. "God damn it, just shut up and get better!"

"Where's Kat?" asked Heero, too glad to see him to be intimidated.

"Where do you think? Still in ICU, but he wouldn't leave me alone until I came over to see you. Some of Zechs's men are watching him, along with most of the New Orleans PD and Preventers branch office. Oh, and Rashid is still camped out downstairs in the hospital lobby."

"Damn. Guess nothing's gonna get to him this time, huh?" chuckled Duo.

Trowa pulled back and gave them both a dark look. "The only thing that's been 'getting to him' is you two. I swear, if I didn't love you both so fucking much, I'd---" He broke off and wiped at his eyes. "No more stunts. No more running off. You hear me?"

Heero nodded. "I hear you. I promise you, it's over."

+

With Duo gone, Zechs felt cold and sick again. He got into bed and pulled up the blankets, but it didn't help. He couldn't relax and he couldn't lie still. He found the call button pinned to the side of the bed and pressed it.

An orderly appeared almost instantly. "Yes, Mr. Peacecraft? Are you in pain?"

"I need to know the exact status of Agent Chang!" he gritted out, trying to quell another fit of chills. He was probably coming down with a post op fever, he realized, but didn't care.

"I don't know, sir--"

"Then fucking get me someone who does!" Zechs barked in a voice that had tightened the sphincters of decorated field officers twice his age. "Now!"

The unfortunate orderly fled and Zechs forced himself from the bed again, seeking warmer clothing. The closet held nothing but another of those useless cotton robes. He struggled into it anyway, only to be utterly defeated by the belt tie. Damn, but he'd gotten used to having two working arms again! He kicked a plastic wastebasket furiously across the room. It did nothing to calm his nerves and he felt something tear painfully under his bandages. Looking down, he saw a red stain seeping through the shoulder of his robe.

"Fuck!"

"Mr. Peacecraft! Calm yourself at once." The authority in that voice rivaled Zechs's own outburst and froze him in his tracks. A gray-haired man still dressed in bloodstained surgical scrubs strode across the room and guided him down on Duo's abandoned bed. "You must calm yourself. Harming yourself will do nothing to help Mr. Chang and only delay your own recovery."

"Are you his surgeon?" Zechs demanded.

"Yes. I am Dr. Minako. The initial surgery is completed and Mr. Chang is resting under heavy sedation. It is in fact a medically induced coma. It is necessary to allow him to begin to heal, if he can."

"If?"

"The wound is a very serious one, requiring several arterial grafts. He will need extensive regen therapy, if we can keep him stabilized."

"You keep saying if!" Zechs exclaimed. The trembling was worse now. It was even affecting his voice.

Dr. Minako sighed and pulled up a chair. "Agent Chang's Preventer records list Sally Po as acting next of kin, but she has made it clear that this information is outdated. She says you are the one who should have family level access. Officially this hospital cannot grant you that, however, unless you are--" He paused, polishing a pair of old fashioned steel rimmed glasses and settling them on his nose. "Domestic partners?"

Zechs sank his face in his hand. "Yes! No. That is, we will be. I was going to ask him, as soon as all this was over."

"I see." He paused again and Zechs felt his desperation rising. "Well then," Minako said at last. "I suppose that would make you his fiance. I'll have the necessary paperwork drawn up for you to sign."

Zechs looked up in surprise and found the doctor smiling kindly at him. "Dr. Po says the bond between you and Agent Chang is very strong. I've been in medicine long enough, Mr. Peacecraft, to know the difference that sort of support can make in a patient's chances of recovery."

"You're telling me he's not in the clear yet, aren't you?"

"As I said, it is a very serious wound. Even with regeneration treatment, he may have some weakness in that area for life. I hope you are prepared for a difficult road ahead."

"Anything, doctor. I can face anything but death."

Dr. Minako patted his knee. "Good. Then if you promise not to frighten my orderlies and nurses anymore, I will call for a wheelchair and you can see him."

Zechs didn't have the strength left to argue. He let the timid orderly help him into a wheelchair and roll him through the hallways to a small observation room in Cardiac ICU. On the other side of a glass wall Wufei lay in a railed bed. A white regen unit covered his chest. A breathing tube was inserted down his throat and even through the glass Zechs could hear the steady wheeze of the oxygen pump. Those bare, golden arms lay limp on the sheet that covered him, with monitors, IV lines and transfusion tubes snaking from both. His face was slack and pale beneath the oxygen mask. Zechs leaned his forehead against the glass and pressed his palm to it, longing to hold him. Wufei, his little warrior love, looked like a broken doll now, or a wounded child.

"Oh, Wufei!" he whispered, heedless of the tears rolling down his cheeks now. "Don't leave me."

He wasn't sure how long he'd been sitting there when he felt a warm hand on his shoulder. Looking up, he found Duo beside him.

"Why aren't you with Heero?"

"I was. They finally got him sedated and strapped down. He's asleep for a while, and Trowa's sitting with him. I just--uh--well, I figured maybe you could use some company?"

He hooked a chair over with his foot and sat down beside Zechs, then took his hand and held it. He was looking at Wufei, not him as he asked, "How's he doing?"

"Not very well, according to the doctor. It's still touch and go," Zechs replied honestly. "God, Duo, I can't help thinking that if I hadn't been there, distracting him--"

The grip on Zechs's hand tightened painfully. "No, you can't do that to yourself, man. It was Heero and me that put him there. You saved him with that nifty arm of yours. He'd be dead if you hadn't taken him down when you did."

"But--"

Duo turned to him, capturing him with those big, expressive violet blue eyes. There was no suspicion there anymore, just sad understanding. "Look, I didn't think I'd ever hear myself say this, but you're the best damn thing that's ever happened to Wufei. He knows it. I know it. Hell, everyone knows it." He gave Zechs's hand a last squeeze and stood up. "So you heal up and look after him for us. We got some serious damn partying to do back in New Orleans when you're both back on your feet, right?"

Zechs swallowed hard and nodded. "Thank you, Duo."

"De nada, Zechsy. Save me a dance at your wedding."

"If you'll save me one at yours," Zechs replied, managing a small smile.

Duo blushed and ducked his head. "Yeah, well-- I better get back to Heero. Take care, buddy."

Zechs held up until Duo was gone, then sank his face in his hand again. "Get well, love, please!"

+

Heero was out cold now. Duo sat with him for a while, aching all over and feeling lonesome and useless. When he couldn't stand it any more, he walked slowly out to the nurse's station, trying to loosen up his muscles.

"English?" he asked the pretty young nurse behind the desk.

"Yes, Maxwell-sama. What do you need?"

"Something for pain, but nothing that'll knock me on my-" He caught himself. Ever since that morning he'd woken up wrapped around Zechs and they'd teased him about how much he swore, he'd been trying to clean up his act a little. He guessed he'd been slipping up again, these past few days. "Can you give me something that won't make me sleepy?" he amended.

She pulled his chart and consulted it, then sent another nurse off for some pills.

Duo downed them right there at the desk. "Thanks."

He hesitated, and she gave him a questioning look. "Something else, Maxwell-sama?"

He grinned, embarassed by the elevated title everyone kept giving him around here. "Please, just call me Duo, OK? I'm no sama, believe me."

She gave him a little seated bow. "As you wish, Duo-san."

Oh well, it was a little better, he supposed. "Look, I was just wondering about that kid they brought in with us. Yuki? I don't know what his full name is."

"Oh yes. He is on the twelfth floor, in pediatrics."

"Can he have visitors?"

The nurse checked her computer. "I'm not sure. You should check with the desk nurse there. He's in the psychiatric unit there."

"I bet," Duo said sadly. "Twelfth floor? Thanks. Oh, and could you page me or something if Heero wakes up and starts making trouble again?"

"Of course, Duo-san. But perhaps you should be using a wheelchair, or a walking frame?"

"No!" Duo said a little too quickly. He was more like Heero than he liked to admit. If you were dumb enough to let yourself get shot, you should just suck it up and get yourself better. No coddling. Of course, that only went for him; he'd coddle Heero like crazy and the knucklehead could just deal with it.

He held himself up as straight as he could on the way to the elevator, knowing the nice nurse was probably watching. He made it there, and let himself slump against the wall as the lift carried him up.

The pediatric ward was nice, with lots of bright colors and toys lying around. He found the desk and someone who spoke some English. He didn't have to introduce himself. The young male nurse jumped up and bowed to him at once. "Welcome, Maxwell-sama! What can I do for you?"

//Here we go again,// thought Duo. Screw it, he was too tired to have that argument again. "I'd like to see Yuki, the boy who was brought in with us?"

"Oh, yes. Very sad."

Duo clutched the edge of the desk. "He didn't die, did he?"

"No, Maxwell-sama, but he is not well. A very sad case."

"Does he have any family? Has anyone come to see him?"

"No. I believe the police are looking into the matter. For now he is a ward of the state."

"Can I see him?"

The nurse made a call to someone, then led him to a locked ward down the hall. Inside, it was still bright and colorful and kid friendly, but the doors were all locked and had reinforced glass observation ports. Duo shivered a little, knowing what it was like to be sick enough to be confined behind doors like that.

Yuki looked smaller than Duo remembered, lying there in the clean white bed. He was clean now, and someone had combed his hair in such a way that he didn't look so much like Heero now. His right arm was in a big cast. Someone had put some colorful stickers on it, to cheer him up, probably. Didn't look like it was working, though. He lay there, staring out the window, and seemed to hardly notice when Duo pushed the soft, heavy armchair up to his bed and sat down. This room was bright and nice, just like the ward outside, but there was nothing lying around loose for him to hurt himself with, except a big blue stuffed rabbit lying on the floor by the bed. Oh yeah, Duo knew these kinds of rooms.

"Hey kid, you doing ok?" he asked, then remembered that Yuki didn't speak any English. "Damn-I mean, darn. Guess we're not going to have a real long conversation, huh?" He smiled, hoping the tone of his voice would be enough. The kid glanced at him briefly, but his eyes were dull and showed no recognition. Duo tried again. "Remember me, Yuki-kun? 02? Maxwell-sama? No? Duo-san?"

But it was like the kid had never seen him before, even when Duo held up his braid for him to see. "Hang on, I'll be right back."

He went out and found a nurse who spoke English. Even with her translating, though, Yuki just lay there, looking like he didn't care about anything.

"His mind has retreated," the nurse tried to explain. She wasn't fluent, obviously. "He does not speak, or respond to anyone. Very sad case, yes?"

"Yes," Duo replied, sad for Yuki, but also unable to help thinking of Heero. "Is this what you call a fugue state?"

The nurse didn't know that word, though. Defeated, Duo turned to go, then turned back. He picked up the stuffed rabbit and tucked it into bed with Yuki, under his undamaged left arm. The kid flinched violently at his touch and pushed it off the bed again, staring up at Duo with wide, terrified black eyes.

Duo backed off quickly, automatically holding his hands up where Yuki could see them. "Sorry, kid, sorry! Nurse, please tell him I was just trying to help. I wouldn't hurt him."

She leaned down and translated quickly, but it didn't get much of a reaction.

"Do not worry, Maxwell-sama," she told him. "He is sick and does not know anyone. In time, perhaps, he will get better. Perhaps you should go now, so he can rest?"

"Yeah, OK." Duo gave the kid a last sad smile, then went back to Heero.

Heero appeared to be sleeping, but opened his eyes as soon as Duo sat down beside him. "You OK, Duo?" he asked, sounding muzzy and drugged.

Duo took his hand and kissed it. "Yeah, I'm fine, baby. How 'bout you?"

"Healing," Heero mumbled, eyelids fluttering shut again. "Miss you. Get in bed."

"Can't, baby. You're still to racked up. But I'll stay right here, OK? You go back to sleep now. I love you, baby." //And I'm so fucking sad to think you ever looked the way Yuki does right now! And that you didn't have anyone to help you or save you! You were so alone!//

Damn it, now he was crying, and knew it was Heero and Yuki and all those dead boys he'd scrubbed off his skin but never out of his memory. And Hato had survived, damn him. Duo had tried to kill him, tried damn hard, and saw him go down, but it turned out he'd fucked that up, too. Hato had put a bullet in Wufei, too, before Zechs had blown the guy's head off. Duo kept a tight grip on Heero's hand, trying not to think of anything for a while. Everyone was alive. That was something to cling to. Nothing else mattered right now.

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