see ch. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
Warriors + Chapter 86
Zechs must have dozed off,
because he woke with a start to find Dr. Minako standing before him in
the OR waiting room. The clock on the wall read 4:11 am. The doctor wasn't
in bloodied scrubs this time, but an impeccable suit.
"Is Wufei all right?"
"Yes, he's been moved from recovery back to Cardiac ICU. He's doing very
well. Would you like to see him?"
Minako smiled. "The nurses are waiting for you. They'll help you change."
"Change?" Zechs blinked stupidly at him, still half asleep. "You mean
I can actually be with him?"
"Yes, if you take proper precautions."
At the ICU unit a nurse showed him to a small changing room, where he
stripped off his own clothes, showered with a special soap, and put on
faded green scrubs, stretchy slippers, and surgical mask. His long hair
was swept up under a sort of paper shower cap. Latex gloves gave the outfit
its finishing touch.
"It's only for a few days," a similarly attired nurse told him she led
him down a glassed in corridor to a room similar to the one Wufei had
been in before. There was an observation room beyond a glass panel; he
was very happy to be on this side of the glass now.
Wufei looked much the same has he had before, lying very still under the
regen unit, tubes and monitors. But the life support machine was gone.
He was breathing on his own now. His long, dark hair hadn't been washed
in days, but some kind nurse had plaited it into a neat braid over one
shoulder. Zechs grinned as he sat down by the bed; the braid was tied
off with a strip of white medical gauze, tied in a bow. He looked so young
and tender and innocent like this, not like a trained killer.
Assuming the gloves meant it was acceptable to touch Wufei, Zechs bent
and kissed his lover's forehead through his mask, then took one limp,
calloused hand in his own and held it gently, as if Wufei might break
with rough handling. Wufei's skin was cool. His face was very pale and
there were dark, sunken circles under his closed eyes. He looked much
thinner, too, but none of that mattered. Wufei had never looked lovelier
to him than he did right now.
"My love," Zechs whispered, fighting the lump in his throat. "Mei, I'm
sorry I wasn't with you before, but I'm here now. I'll stay with you as
long as you need me. Are you awake yet? No? That's all right. I'll talk
to you anyway. It's been days since I could, little love. I've missed
you so much! You gave us all such a scare. The other boys are here too,
except Quatre, and Duo says he calls so often it's like he's actually
He babbled on like that, stroking and kissing Wufei's hand and gazing
at that wan, peaceful face. He couldn't see the rise and fall of Wufei's
chest under the unit, but there were monitors enough to tell him that
Wufei's vitals were strong and steady now.
Wufei was so tired! He felt himself rise to the edge of consciousness
many times, but he could not break through. He was trapped in cold dark
water, under ice. It was cold and lonely. He didn't want to be here! But
again and again he just sank back into darkness.
Then, as if from a distance, he heard Zechs's deep, raspy voice. He couldn't
make out the words at first, but knew he was calling to him. He seemed
to remember hearing him before, and he'd sounded sad then, but now it
was the deep, rumbling love voice Wufei heard. It drew him up from the
darkness until he felt light on his eyelids. They felt so heavy, it was
hard to open them, but he clung to the sound of that voice as long as
he could. Zechs was calling him "little love" and "mei" and all sorts
of other tender endearments that touched Wufei like caresses. Consciousness
came and went, but that voice was always there for him when he tried to
surface. Words of love and poetry wove a lifeline for him to cling to.
More than anything he wanted to open his eyes and embrace his lover, but
he was still so tired, so heavy!
Dawn was breaking outside the window when Zechs saw Wufei stir slightly
against the pillow. His eyes were moving rapidly behind the closed lids
and the fingers in Zechs's hand began to twitch.
Thrilled, Zechs leaned closer. "Are you awake now, my love? Can you open
Soft dark lashes fluttered and Wufei's liquid black eyes slowly opened
to regard him drowsily. His dry lips moved, silently shaping Zechs's name.
"I'm here, mei," Zechs's whispered, wishing he could gather him up in
"Mmmmm," Wufei whispered, barely audible. "Zechs." Those sleepy eyes found
him again, focused briefly, and the most beautiful smile came over his
face. "Too early. Come back to bed. I'm cold."
"Poor baby. I wish I could," Zechs told him, kissing his fingers through
the mask but Wufei had already dozed off again. Zechs released him just
long enough to hit the call button. A nurse responded over the small speaker
set in the wall above the bed. "He just woke up for a moment. He says
"That's good news, Peacecraft-sama! It is quite natural, after surgery.
I will bring some blankets."
She appeared a moment later with several flannel blankets that had been
warmed. Zechs helped her lay them over Wufei, and then took his place
by the bed again, reclaiming that hand.
The nurse's dark eyes were smiling above her mask as she went out. "You
are very good medicine for him, sir. He'll probably drift in and out for
a little longer, but he should wake up soon. Keep talking to him. That
Zechs would gladly talk until his voice failed, if that's what it took,
but he was running out of things to say. Chiding Wufei about the flak
vest was not appropriate to the situation. Instead, he fell back on poetry,
reciting all of Wufei's favorites and his own. Byron, Keats, Shakespeare,
Marlowe, and the Chinese and Japanese poets Wufei had introduced him to,
anything that came to mind. He avoided T.S. Eliot, though; that had been
their poet of sorrow, before they'd filled each other's empty hearts.
He'd tried to commit some of Wufei's Chinese verses to memory, but his
recollection was imperfect. He closed his eyes, trying to summon the beautiful
friendship oath Wufei had gifted him with the first time they'd made love.
The lines came slowly, and he allowed himself to embellish a little.
"'If you were riding in a coach,
And I were wearing a peasant's coat,
And one day we met in the road,
You would get down and bow.
If you were carrying a peddler's umbrella,' my darling Chang Wufei,
'And I were riding on a horse,
And one day we met in the road
I would get down for you.
"'I want to be your lover
Forever and ever without break or decay.
When the hills are all flat
And the rivers are all dry---'"
Damn, what was the next line? He looked up to find Wufei awake again,
and gazing at him.
"When it lightens and thunders in winter," he whispered, closing his fingers
weakly around Zechs's. "When it rains and snows in summer, when Heaven
and Earth mingle. Not even then will I part from you."
Zechs blinked back tears and kissed those fingers again, silently cursing
the mask and gloves.
"That outfit isn't very flattering, though it does emphasize your beautiful
eyes," Wufei rasped, still groggy. "What happened? Why am I in the hospital?"
"You were with Sally, looking for Heero and Duo in Japan. Do you remember?"
Wufei's eyes lost focus for a moment. "Oh. Oh yes--Hato. And your lover,
Nakamura was helping me."
Zechs blushed in spite of himself. That was a conversation for another
time. "Yes. You found them. You saved their lives, Wufei."
Wufei squeezed his eyes shut as he swallowed painfully and frowned. "Missed
one of the bastards-- Forgot my vest. So stupid!"
Wufei's eyes snapped open, and now he was glaring at Zechs. "You
were there! What the hell were you doing there? You were supposed to stay
in New Orleans!"
"We can fight about that later."
"I--oh god!" He grimaced and lifted his head, getting a better look at
Zechs. "Your arm! What happened?"
"It stopped a few more bullets meant for you. Don't worry, it can be replaced.
Wufei fell back with a sigh. His braid bounced a little. He noticed the
bow and glared at it. "Don't tell me. Maxwell has been in here."
"No, but I'm sure he'll want to see you soon," Zechs chuckled. He pulled
the bow out and secured it in a more manly fashion. "Everyone has been
so worried about you. We almost lost you several times, my love."
"Really?" Wufei's glare was replaced with a softer, rather lost look as
he touched the regen unit still strapped across his chest. "Where was
"It grazed your heart." It was enough information for now. According to
the surgeon, the bullet had narrowly missed the vena cava and spine before
it lodged under Wufei's left shoulder blade, sparing him a messy exit
wound. A few inches difference and he'd certainly have bled out at the
Wufei shifted uncomfortably, and Zechs noticed the sheen of sweat on his
forehead and upper lip. "My chest hurts. And my thighs."
Zechs called the nurse again, requesting pain relief. "You've had several
operations. They took arterial grafts from both femoral arteries. They're
going to put regen units on them, too, to get rid of the scars."
Was Wufei blushing, concerned over unsightly marks marring those creamy
inner thighs? Zechs smiled behind his mask and kissed his lover's palm.
The nurse came in and injected something into Wufei's IV line. Wufei went
back to sleep almost instantly. "He'll sleep for a few hours now," she
told Zechs. "You should go get something to eat."
Zechs stood reluctantly and stretched. He could use a bathroom break,
he supposed, and this was as good a time as any. "I'll be back soon. Take
good care of him."
Outside in the corridor he pulled off the hair cap, mask and gloves and
tossed them in a waste can. He used the rest room, then headed out to
the main waiting area beyond in search of a soda machine. He was parched
and had the beginning of a headache.
As he entered the waiting room he was surprised to see a tall, familiar
form at the receptionist's window.
Masa turned and broke into a huge grin, then hurried over to embrace him.
"Zechs! I was hoping I'd see you. How is Chang?"
"Much better. He was awake just now." Masa was a bit taller than Zechs.
He'd forgotten that detail until now. As he stepped back with Masa's hands
still around his waist, he remembered leaning into the man, resting his
head on that broad shoulder as they'd danced in shadowy clubs, hiding
out from the Academy censors.
Masa's dark eyes smoldered just the way he remembered and he took another
step back, not wanting to court any misunderstandings. Masa and Keno might
have an open relationship, but Zechs did not. He realized he'd better
keep his old lover clear on that point if they were going to stay friends.
Masa took the hint, though, and led him over to sit in the hard plastic
chairs against the wall. All the same, his eyes seemed to be devouring
Zechs, even after his hands retreated. "Damn Zechs! You look good for
a dead man."
"Six months in a regen and a coma did wonders," Zechs replied. "You've
filled out a bit. You look good, too."
"Guess marriage agrees with me," he replied with a grin. "That Keno, he's
still a handful. Keeps me on my toes."
"He's not with you?"
"Home asleep. And I think he's a little jealous of you."
"I think Wufei feels the same way about you. Tell me, what did you think
"He's a hothead, and a bit of a stiff, if you want my honest opinion.
Good fighter, though; more guts than brains. I can see the attraction,
though I'd never have pegged him as your type. Struck me as a real ice
Zechs laughed outright at that, remembering his own first impressions
of Wufei, compared to the reality he'd discovered. "There are sides of
him only I get to see."
Masa laughed, too. "Yeah, I figured that was probably the case."
"Thank you for helping him, and all of them. Maxwell and Yuy are recovering,
"All guts, no brains there, too, huh?"
"Not entirely. But close, in this instance. I think if you met them, your
opinion might improve."
Masa shook his head. "No, I just came by to see you. Too bad about the
arm. Will they have to replace the locking mechanism?"
"Yes. Can't say I'm looking forward to going through the whole process
again. I'm going to lose some more of the arm, but it was worth it."
"I bet he is," Masa replied, clapping Zechs on his good shoulder. "Well,
that's all I had to say. Look me up someday. You know how to find me."
Zechs chuckled over Masa's assessment of Wufei as he resumed his hunt
for the soda machine, noticing only after he found it that he'd left all
his money with his clothes when he'd changed into the scrubs. Wufei had
been an "ice princess", as he'd put it. Who would have guessed that was
exactly Zechs's type?
Duo woke up disoriented with a crick in his neck. He was still in Heero's
bed. Heero was asleep, but he was frowning and looked tired and drawn.
Duo reached up and gently smoothed the tousled dark hair from his brow.
Heero's beard was heavier these days. His cheeks were covered in thick
stubble, which accentuated how sunken they'd become. In the early morning
light, he looked a lot like he had when they'd found him in that Madrid
hospital. Except that he'd looked happier back then than he did right
Duo wasn't feeling too happy himself. The previous evening's argument
had ended inconclusively and left him unsettled. What the hell had gotten
into Heero and Quatre? It wasn't like Trowa would spontaneously combust
if he didn't get laid, right? And he wouldn't want Duo like that, anyway,
right? It wasn't like Duo was getting any come on signals from him. So
why had it hit Duo so hard, when Heero, who was obviously not himself
again, started talking about sharing him like some---
//Some piece of meat street whore.//
//Like it didn't matter.//
But that was just stupid! He knew none of his friends, and certainly not
Heero, thought of him like that. But the old feelings, the bad old demons
that had driven him after the war, they were back, digging into his hard
won trust and self esteem.
Duo untangled himself from Heero as gently as he could and hurried into
the bathroom where his pills were. He took the required morning doses.
Except for the few days while they were on their "mission" he'd kept up
with his meds very carefully. Looking into his own haunted eyes in the
mirror, he suspected that the anxious sadness making a hard knot around
his heart right now had nothing to do with missed meds.
Suddenly he heard a crash and a loud groan from the other room. Dashing
out, he found Heero in a heap on the floor, clutching at his crotch through
the hospital gown. The torn out catheter line hung over the side of the
bed and there were little patches of blood seeping through the back of
Heero's hospital gown.
"Heero, what the hell?" Duo gasped, trying to gather him up in his arms.
"You were gone!" Heero whispered, and Duo realized he was crying. "I woke
up and you were gone. I dreamed you didn't want me anymore because I hurt
you and when I woke up, you were gone!"
"Oh baby, no!" Duo soothed, his own pain momentarily forgotten as he knelt
there, rocking Heero's shaking body in his arms. "Don't be silly. I'm
not going anywhere."
After a few moments Heero wiped his eyes, trying to get himself under
control. "I hurt your feelings last night. I didn't mean to."
"I know you didn't," Duo told him, running his fingers through Heero's
shaggy hair. It really was getting long. In the back it was almost down
to his shoulders. Four months. It had been four months since they'd found
each other again, but suddenly it felt like they were back at square one
//But I'm stronger now,// he told himself. //He's just had to
live all his shit over again. He's right back in hell, probably, but I'm
strong now. I can help him.//
All the same, he'd be really glad when Dr. B. got here.
A gray haired nurse came in just then and found them on the floor. She
didn't speak any English, this one. She bent over them, scolding them
in Japanese. Heero said something that calmed her down. Well, he growled
it, but it had a calming effect all the same. He let her help him back
into bed and glared up at the ceiling, suffering the indignity of her
lifting his gown to check where the tape holding the catheter in had torn
loose. She handled his limp, shrunken penis with brisk authority, then
pulled the gown down and tugged the covers back over him. Heero gripped
them with his right hand, as if expecting someone else to come in and
embarrass him. She checked the cast on his left wrist, flexed the fingers,
lectured him a little more, and then tried to steer Duo back to his own
"That's ok," he told her, stubbornly hunkering down in the chair by Heero's
bed. "I'm fine right here."
She gave them both a last exasperated look and started to leave.
"Ask her about Wufei," Duo told Heero.
Heero rattled off something else in Japanese and she gave him a short
reply, then bustled out.
"She's going to call Cardiac ICU and check," Heero told him.
Nurse Mariko came in a few moments later and put a small shopping bag
in Duo's lap. He looked inside and grinned. She'd found his sandalwood
shampoo and conditioner, and even bought him a new comb--blue this time--
and some hair ties. They had colorful beads and little kitties attached,
but he could live with that for now. "Thanks! Leave me the receipt and
I'll pay you back."
"No need, Duo-san," she told him, blushing a little and giving him a star-struck
smile. "A gift from the nurses to you. Head Nurse says that you two should
have breakfast, and then orderlies will take you up to see your friend.
Chang-sama is awake now. Head Nurse also says Yuy-sama can do without
catheter, if he promises to call for help with a urinal and stay in bed."
Heero gave her a curt nod. "Hai."
That news drove Duo's blues away for a little while. Trowa wandered in
as they were eating the bland hospital breakfast. He looked like he hadn't
slept well, either, but he'd showered and had on a clean Circus della
Notte tee shirt under his leather jacket. Better still, he'd brought them
hot coffee and pastries for breakfast. He already knew about Wufei, too.
Quatre had called the hospital.
"Kat says good morning. We should call him after we see 'fei," Trowa told
them, picking half-heartedly at his cinnamon roll.
Duo studied him over the rim of his paper coffee cup, trying to decide
if Tro was depressed or just tired. It looked like both. They never had
been able to convince him to go in for therapy. Duo wondered if it was
time to try again. If anyone was in a situation that needed some professional
support, it was Tro.
When they were done an orderly came in. Duo helped Heero into his brown
silk robe and some hospital slippers, then let Trowa and the orderly get
him into a wheel chair. Heero glared and grumbled a little, but didn't
have much choice in the matter. Duo could tell he was still weaker than
he liked to admit. Trowa took over, pushing the chair to the elevator
while Duo trailed along behind.
Wufei was still in isolation, so they had to stay on their side of the
glass in the observation room, but Zechs was in there with him, bundled
up in scrubs and holding his hand. There was a speakerphone for communication.
Wu still looked like hell and the white regen unit was still in place,
but at least he was awake and breathing on his own. Duo pressed his face
to the glass and blew his cheeks out, crossing his eyes. Wufei grinned
and weakly flipped him off.
"How are you?" Heero asked.
"I've been better," Wufei replied, his voice shockingly weak and soft.
"How are you?"
"Fine," Heero told him. "Thank you for helping us, Wufei. Duo and I are
in your debt."
"Just don't do anything so stupid again and we're even," Wufei shot back,
stabbing a finger at him. "Trowa, what are you doing here? How is Quatre?"
Trowa shrugged. "He's much better, thank you. He--we thought I should
come over for a bit, make sure you're all getting the right care."
"Ridiculous!" Wufei scoffed. "Go home to your husband. You should be with
Trowa just shrugged again and jammed his hands deeper into the front pockets
of his jeans.
"Yuy, tell him to go home!" Wufei insisted.
"I will." Heero was grinning. "You must be feeling better. You're getting
"Definitely a good sign," Zechs agreed, and Duo could tell by the way
those blue eyes slanted up at the corners that he was grinning like crazy.
Wufei was sounding a lot more like his old self.
No one was really up to talking about what had put them all there. They
made cheerful small talk until a nurse came and shooed them away so Wu
"He does look better, doesn't he?" said Trowa, wheeling Heero back to
Heero had fallen into a funk again, though, and just nodded. Duo knew
how he felt. They'd landed Wu in that hospital bed. There was no getting
Seeing Wufei had left Heero with mixed feelings, but depression was winning
out. The short trip to ICU had tired him more than he liked to admit,
too, and breakfast hadn't settled very well. Back in their room again,
he let Trowa help him back into bed and dozed off while the others played
Trowa had gone out in search of lunch and Duo was stretched out on his
own bed, leafing listlessly through one of the circus arts magazines he'd
left behind. A sound at the door made him look up and there was Dr. Batoosingh,
smiling at him from the doorway with an overcoat over one arm and a briefcase
Duo pointed to Heero, still sleeping peacefully in the other bed, then
got up and went into the corridor to talk.
"Hey, good to see you, doc! I'm really glad you could come down in person."
"You boys are becoming a full time occupation," Batoosingh replied, though
he was still smiling. "You and Heero have gotten into some trouble since
we last spoke. How are you?"
Duo shrugged, trying not to wince at how it pulled at the stitches in
his chest. "Better than Heero. I'm worried about him, Doc. He's really
low. Kat can feel it all the way over in New Orleans."
"I'm not surprised. But let's talk about you, shall we? The staff here
has given me an office. Can you talk now?"
Duo hesitated, thinking of Heero's earlier panic attack when he'd woken
up without him. Just then, however, he saw Trowa getting off the elevator.
"Tro, if Heero wakes up, tell him I'm with the doc, OK?"
Trowa nodded, then gave Batoosingh a silent nod of acknowledgment before
going in to watch Heero. Batoosingh watched him for a moment, a thoughtful
expression on his face, then led Duo around a corner to a small consultation
office. They sat facing each other in matching armchairs and for a moment
Batoosingh looked him over with the same air of scrutiny.
"That's a very nice robe you have on," he said, taking a notebook from
"Heero got it for me," Duo told him, knowing the man was just warming
up to grill him. "So, you gonna yell at me, too?"
"Of course not, Duo. I'm here to help you and Heero process what you've
been through. That's all. Do you think I should chastise you?"
//Here we go!// thought Duo. "Yes. I think I was really stupid
not to stop him from going. I got caught up in his view of things and
it all just spun out of control."
Batoosingh nodded, not writing anything down yet. "That's understandable,
given your shared history, and your feelings for him. You wanted to help
and protect him, didn't you?"
"Yeah. That's all I could think of."
"Why don't you tell me everything that happened, starting with your decision
to go to Japan."
Duo sighed and shifted in his chair to get comfortable. Thinking of it
as a mission debriefing, he sketched out the circumstances, starting with
their meeting with Meir in Berlin and the information he'd given them.
It took a while, but he tried to be as detailed and honest as he could.
When he reached the part where he'd woken up stretched naked over that
table, though, he began to lose it a little. His hands and voice were
both shaking, but he made himself go on.
"You called for help," Batoosingh noted, interrupting for the first time
after Duo had explained how he'd yelled for Heero, hoping to snap him
out of his dazed state.
Duo sighed. "Yeah, and it worked. I mean, I wasn't sure Heero was close
enough to hear, but I couldn't figure out anything else to do."
"You've told me in past sessions that you prided yourself on never asking
for help in such situations. What changed your mind this time?"
Duo frowned, fidgeting with the sash of his robe. "Like I said, I thought
I could snap Heero out of it. And let's face it, I was out of options."
"Were you frightened?"
Duo snorted, suppressing a shudder. "Scared shitless!"
"And it was a good plan, as it turned out. Still, it was quite an emotional
risk for you, wasn't it? On some level, you must have had a great deal
of faith in Heero's abilities, even though he was sick."
Duo considered this. "Yeah, I did. I mean, it's Heero, right? And man,
did he come through! Tore his wrist all to hell getting loose, but he
came through that door like a tornado and took on those guys with his
"But he did not try to break free before that? What you've described sounds
like a retreat to a fugue state. At the very least, he was experiencing
"But having you call for help 'snapped him out of it' and motivated him
to fight as only he could."
"Yeah." Duo wondered why he was restating the obvious. He was scribbling
things down on that pad of his, too.
At last Batoosingh looked up again over the tops of his glasses. "Very
good. And after Heero got you free, what happened then?"
Duo went on, right up to when they got cornered in that awful hallway
with all those bodies, and how Heero had gone down in a blaze of gunfire,
and how he'd been hit, right before Wufei and Zechs and everyone showed
up to kick ass.
"Did you see Agent Chang get shot?"
"Not really. I thought Heero was dead and so I was kinda focused on him.
But I looked up when Hato shot him, and saw Zechs trying to protect Wu."
He paused with a grim grin. "I was watching when Zechs shot the fucker
between the eyes. I'm glad I didn't miss that."
"Understandable. Well, anything else you'd like to tell me?"
"That's pretty much what happened. I don't remember much after that, except
being really scared for Heero in the ambulance. Then they took me up to
surgery and when I woke up, I was here."
"And since then, how has your mood been?"
"What are you, a mind reader?" Duo shook his head. Of course he was. Batoosingh
knew him inside and out. "I've been kinda up and down. I feel really bad
about the trouble we caused for Wufei, getting him shot and all. Heero
is really down on himself about everything. He figures it's all his fault:
Wufei, Tro and Kat getting blown up, me getting shot. He's--" Duo broke
off, rubbing at his eyes, which were stinging all of a sudden. "He said
something like maybe he shouldn't have come back. He feels like he's brought
trouble on all of us."
"Are you afraid he might leave again, like he did before?"
"Yeah, I am. And he's being kinda weird about us, too."
"Oh? How so?"
Duo sighed and rubbed his eyes again. "Well, last night he more or less
suggested that I fu--that I have sex with Trowa. It wasn't just him, either.
Kat was hinting around, too."
"Indeed? Why would they do that?"
Duo took another deep breath and tried to explain how things were between
the four of them, and how Trowa worked. Dr. B nodded and took notes the
"A complex relationship. Yet from what you've described, Trowa himself
has not approached you or anyone else for sexual release?"
"No, but like I said, Trowa doesn't think of me that way. If he needed
topping, it would be Heero he'd go to, not me."
"And how would you feel about that, if Heero did?"
"I'd kick his ass, for starters!" Duo blurted out, then clapped a hand
over his mouth, amazed at his own vehemence.
"Heero's ass, or Trowa's?" Batoosingh asked, unphased by the outburst.
Duo blinked at him. "Both, I guess."
"Well, I don't blame you."
"So you don't think I'm being selfish?"
It was rare for the doc to look surprised, but he did. "Of course not,
Duo. What you share with each of your friends is very special and unique.
You clearly love them all very deeply. But what you have with Heero? That's
quite a different relationship. You love him, but you also look to him
to make you feel safe and special, right? You love them all, but it's
only Heero with whom you are in love."
Duo felt himself blushing. "Yeah," he mumbled, still finding his robe's
sash of great interest.
"Did you feel betrayed, when Heero suggested he wouldn't mind if you had
sex with your friend?"
"Are you angry with him about that?"
Duo squirmed in his chair, then sighed again. "Yeah, I guess I am."
"You should talk to him about that. From what you've told me, as good
and strengthening as the relationship with all your friends is, you may
have a different sense of personal boundaries than they do. You've said
yourself that Heero is--what was that term you used? 'Socially retarded'?
I would venture that your other friends are operating from a different
emotional template than you are, as well. But that doesn't make you selfish
or wrong. If anything, yours is the more normal reaction for someone in
a committed relationship."
"You're saying I'm the normal one, for once?" Duo scoffed.
Batoosingh chuckled. "Yes. Imagine that, eh? I'm not condemning the morals
of your friends, Duo. Polyamory can work, and apparently did work in Trowa's
past, although I wouldn't mind exploring that with him at some point."
He paused, tapping his lips with his pen. "I've only met him a few times,
but I think deep down, Trowa is a very unhappy person."
"Kat calls him 'complex'."
"That's one way of looking at it. As I've said in the past, I think all
of you have done remarkably well overcoming your backgrounds, but that
doesn't mean there aren't scars, or work left to be done. But we've strayed
off topic, haven't we? This is your session. I'd like to give you a brief
physical exam. Will you allow me to approach you?"
"Sure, whatever, doc."
The doctor looked in his eyes, checked his pulse, and then took a close
look at his hands and braid. He sat down again, jotted a few notes, and
looked up with a smile. "You're taking your medications faithfully now,
"Yeah. I missed a couple of days when we came here, but I'm back on them
"Very good. I'd like to point out a few things, if I may. Despite the
ordeal you have been though, you fought your way through it, and were,
in fact, the strong one for Heero. It was your quick thinking that saved
the two of you long enough for help to arrive. Even though you were put
in a position that could potentially stir up your very worst memories
and fears, you remained in control and took action, rather than collapsing."
"Yeah, I guess I did."
"It also appears that you haven't been chewing your nails or your hair
recently. Both are neatly trimmed. You didn't cry once during this session,
or lose control, or throw anything. You have hardly fidgeted at all, you
aren't curled up in a ball in your chair, and you haven't gotten up to
Duo blinked again. "So?"
"So, you are doing exceptionally well for someone who's been through such
a traumatic experience. I must say, Duo, this is the first time since
I've known you that I can see the boy who piloted a Gundam and survived
a war. I've always considered you remarkable. At the moment, I'm very
impressed. You took good care of your friend, even if you went about it
the wrong way. And let's not forget, your 'mission' was, in the final
analysis, a success. A sadistic serial killer was stopped, and you two
saved one of his intended victims. " He looked down and consulted some
notes. "Yuki, isn't it?"
"Yeah, but I'm not sure how good a job we did. Have you seen him?"
"As a matter of fact, yes. You and Heero are in no way responsible for
what happened to that boy, Duo. But you are completely responsible for
the fact that he is still alive now. Don't forget that, and make sure
Heero doesn't. I also heard on the news this morning that Raphael Conte
is under investigation. It seems the Tokyo police and Preventers are very
eager to find some reason to shut down his operation. Relena Peacecraft
has also issued a formal statement, condemning the contents of those films
and the hate it represents. I believe there is a thinly veiled version
of her brother in them, as well?"
Duo grimaced. "Yeah. Alex Lightning. As in Lightning Count Zechs Merquise?
"Not particularly. And the rumor is that some of the scenarios Conte's
films portray in those vids were based on fact. That could get him a great
deal of trouble if you and your friends are willing to testify against
"I don't know about that," Duo muttered, as his belly knotted. Going after
Conte meant publicly admitting that those fucked up vids existed, and
that some of what they showed was true. "Hato's dead. That's all I care
"That's up to you, of course."
Duo sat back in his chair, staring at the doctor in amazement as the import
of his earlier words finally sank in. "You're saying that I did OK, aren't
you? That because I held it together for Heero, I'm not crazy anymore."
"I never considered you insane, Duo. Troubled, certainly, with serious
emotional difficulties. But never crazy. I've seen an improvement in your
condition ever since Heero returned to you, and I must say, you came through
this latest trauma with flying colors. You should be proud of yourself,
Duo. You really are much stronger than you've been giving yourself credit
"No shit. You were a Gundam pilot, after all."
"Huh!" He didn't know what else to say. "So, what do I do about Heero?"
"Keep on loving and supporting him, as you have been. But be honest with
him about your feelings surrounding your relationship to your other friends.
However, I'd prefer it if you'd wait until I've had a chance to speak
with him. From what you've described, he's fallen back into a serious
depression. You shouldn't hold him responsible for any of the decisions
he's made in recent weeks. As strong as he is, everyone has their limits.
And if you are correct about him remembering things from the time he was
in the fugue state, then he may be more fragile and unbalanced that it
appears. Don't worry too much, though. For now, he's in a safe environment,
with excellent care. I'll stay on a few days and do a thorough evaluation.
Some interesting things have turned up in his blood work, but I want to
speak with him before I draw any final conclusions. Can you be patient,
"I'll do anything for him, doc. Anything!"
"Good. So don't worry too much, and don't take anything he says too seriously.
Well, that's it for now, unless there's anything else you'd like to say?"
"I'm talked out!" Duo laughed, feeling remarkably better than he had.
"And really, I'm awful glad you're here. For Heero, I mean. Ad me, too,
of course, but mostly so I don't mess Heero up with my own shit, er--
Batoosingh noted the catch and chuckled. "You're cursing less, I notice."
Duo blushed. "Yeah? Well, I figure Heero deserves someone a little classier.
Just 'cause I was a street rat doesn't mean I have to come off like one
the rest of my life, right?"
"That's your choice to make, Duo." He checked his watch. "I'd like to
see Heero at five, if he's feeling up to it. I can come to his room."
Duo nodded and walked out feeling a lot happier than when he'd come in.
Wufei woke up again in the late afternoon, feeling disoriented. He was
seldom ill and this enforced bed rest was already wearing on him. Zechs
was still there at his side and took his hand as soon as he saw that Wufei
"How are you feeling now, little love?" he asked. Wufei could see nothing
of his lover's face except for his eyes, but those were expressive enough.
"Better," Wufei whispered. "Thirsty."
Zechs fed him a few spoonfuls of ice chips and then applied something
oily and soothing to his cracked lips. "You've been on an IV for days.
I'm afraid they won't remove it until the regen is complete and you can
get up. The units are on your legs now, too. Can you feel them?"
"Are those restraints?" Wufei asked, trying to shift his legs and meeting
"Standard procedure, so you don't disturb the units. It's only for a few
days." Zechs kissed his forehead and stroked Wufei's hair.
The latex caught on stray strands and pulled a little, but Wufei didn't
care. It felt good to be touched, even through masks and gloves. Not sensual,
but comforting. Having Zechs here with him made anything bearable.
"Apart from the vest thing, I understand you did a very good job," Zechs
said. "I spoke with Masa earlier. He was impressed with your performance
and he's a good judge of men."
"He was very capable and helpful, too," Wufei replied. "So, were you and
"I think you know the answer to that already, my love, but it was a long
time ago, in another life, one that's long in the past. But he is still
my friend. You met Keno, too, I assume?"
"Yes. I wasn't sure what to make of him. Was he a good soldier?"
"I only knew him as a cadet at the Academy. He was outstanding."
For some reason the way Zechs lingered over that last word rather annoyed
Wufei. "He struck me as rather--I don't know. A follower? He certainly
jumps when Nakamura says to. And--well, he was wearing a collar. Like
a dog. Even I know what that means, after being around Duo and Quatre."
Zechs raised one pale eyebrow. "Does he? Well, well. But Masa was his
training officer, and later his commander. You were never a line soldier,
so you didn't have that sort of training. But he didn't have your training,
either." Zechs paused and stroked the back of his fingers down Wufei's
cheek. "You would have made a fascinating cadet. I've often thought so."
"I still would never wear a dog collar!" Wufei grumbled.
"Well, certainly not in public," Zechs murmured, and gave him an amused
"Oh please," Wufei rasped, though he colored a bit at the memory of wearing
something quite a lot more shocking than a collar for Zechs not so long
ago. "I'm in no condition to be teased!"
Zechs kissed Wufei's fingers contritely. "Of course not, mei. Forgive
me." He was quiet for a moment, and his eyes grew serious. "My love?"
He paused again.
Zechs shook his head. "Nothing. Would you like me to read to you to pass
"No. You have something on your mind. I can tell. Please, Zechs, what
Zechs looked down at him for a long moment, and Wufei could not quite
read the expression in his eyes.
At last Zechs said, "I fear I may have lied to you, love, though I didn't
mean to at the time."
Wufei's heart skipped a beat. His first thought was that Zechs had decided
to go back to Masa. Part of him realized how irrational and disloyal that
was, but he was weak and sick and he'd been jealous of the tall, handsome
stranger from the moment he'd laid eyes on him.
"The day we became lovers, I told you that I would never stand in your
way, that I wanted you to do whatever you needed to do, knowing that I
would always be there for you. Do you remember?"
"Yes, I remember." Wufei's heart sank lower. This might be worse than
"I meant it at the time," Zechs continued slowly, "but-- after all this?"
He gestured around at the room, the regen unit, the monitors. "Wufei,
it tore my heart out to see you go off in that uniform again. It wasn't
just jealousy that you can still carry a gun and I can't legally, although
I admit that was part of it. No, it was fear, and that fear is so much
worse now that I've had to watch you die again and again. I was there
every time your heart stopped beating, not knowing if they could bring
you back again."
Wufei watched in growing dismay as tears gathered in Zechs's eyes above
"Every time I was certain I'd lost you!" Zechs continued softly. "I love
you, Wufei, more than I've ever loved anyone in the world. But I don't
know if I can stand to watch you walk away into danger without me again.
I don't mean to give you an ultimatum. I'm only telling you the truth.
I don't want to live in a world that doesn't have you in it. Masa told
me how good you were in the field, and he wouldn't say that lightly, believe
me. And just seeing you with Sally that day you left New Orleans--it was
a side of you I don't know, a side Treize saw, perhaps, but I'd only imagined.
You are warrior, Wufei, and if being in the Preventers is what you love,
then I won't stand in your way, but I don't know--I don't know how I can
bear it when you're gone, not knowing what's happening or if you're safe!"
"Oh Zechs, is that it?" Wufei reached for his hand and clasped it. "I'm--well,
to be honest I'm relieved! I was afraid you'd think less of me if I told
"Told me what, love?"
Wufei sighed. "You still don't know that much about my background, Zechs,
not the details. I chose to be a scholar. I accepted becoming a
Gundam pilot because it was necessary, and I did have the skills, and
because I wanted revenge for the death of my wife. But it was never what
I would have chosen for myself. As for Preventers? I was so broken and
lost after the war, it was the only thing I thought I was suited for.
I saw it as a useful occupation, nothing more. You have no idea how miserable
I was before I met you. I didn't come alive until you reached out to me,
and I haven't been this happy in years as I am with you. No, that's not
right. I've never been happier than I have been, these past few months.
To have someone as educated and cultured as you love me? I don't love
you only with my body, Zechs, but with my mind and soul. I fully alive
again for the first time since before the war and I love it, that I can
share that with you. You told me once that poetry is your first love,
even before warfare. It's the same with me. I put that Preventer uniform
back on for my friends, because I saw it as the best way to help them.
But it was never for any reason more than that."
He paused, sure he was just rambling now. It was exhausting, pouring out
his feelings like this, but he forced himself on, knowing he had Zechs's
full attention. "That mission is over. All I want now is to go back to
how things were between us, and to find some useful occupation that springs
from that, not from fighting and violence. Remember the catalogue of universities
you gave me for my birthday? That made me think that you understood. I
think--I think I might like to get a degree, perhaps teach or write. Would
you mind it very much, Zechs, if I didn't want to be a warrior anymore?"
Zechs stared at him, then slowly shook his head. "Oh, mei, I would love
that! But you're not just saying all this to please me, are you? I would
never want you to force yourself to become anything but what you wish
Wufei smiled up at him. "I swear to you, on the names of my ancestors,
Zechs Merquise, that there are only two things I wish to be, above all
others: a peaceful man, and your lover."
Zechs could hardly catch his breath as Wufei spoke. The naked honesty
in that wan face, the way Wufei's hand trembled in his, and the way his
voice shook with emotion made him tremble himself. The urge to take the
boy in his arms was painfully strong, but Zechs had to settle for kissing
Wufei's brow and lips through the damned mask as he fought to get control
of his own overwhelming emotions.
"Wufei, my love!" he rasped, holding that hand to his cheek now as he
gazed into those dark eyes. "There is only one thing that could make me
any happier than I am at this moment, something I wanted to ask you before
you left New Orleans. This isn't quite the setting I'd imagined, but I
can't wait any longer."
He paused, kissing each finger and the palm of Wufei's hand. "A week ago
I would have said that I couldn't imagine life without you. These past
few days, I have had too many moments of knowing exactly that. Life without
you would be no life at all, my love. Chang Wufei, will you do me the
honor of marrying me?"
He held his breath, watching Wufei's reaction carefully, and was shocked
to see tears welling up in those black eyes before Wufei turned his face
away. At the same time, however, Wufei's fingers tightened painfully around
"My love, what's wrong?" Zechs asked anxiously. "Damn, I've chosen a terrible
time to spring this on you, haven't I? I'm so-"
"No, no that's not it," Wufei whispered, closing his eyes as if he was
in pain. "I--nothing would make me happier, but--"
"But what? Can't you tell me, mei?"
Wufei opened his eyes again and looked up at him, as tears broke free
of his thick lashes and rolled down his cheeks. "Duty! Damnable duty!
I was raised to it and I realize now it's not so easily outrun."
"I don't understand."
Wufei squeezed his hand again. "I am the last of my clan, one of the last
of my people, since the destruction of L-5. All the time I was growing
up, I was told that if I did not have children, my great line would end
with me. Ever since I realized what my true nature is, ever since I fell
in love with you, I have been trying to tell myself that it doesn't matter.
But I cannot escape my heritage, Zechs. I could not live with the guilt
of it. How can you want me, knowing that I must procreate with another,
make a family with-with some--" He broke off as more tears fell. "And
it's the same with you, isn't it? You're the last male heir of a royal
line. Could you face your ancestors if you let that line die out?"
Zechs blinked as the basis of Wufei's fears sank in. He blinked again,
then let out a husky laugh of relief. "Is that all?"
"Is that all?" Wufei echoed, shocked.
"Well, I admit, you're looking farther ahead than I have been, but you're
quite right. We should have children some day, and we can. Together."
"H--how? What are you talking about?" Wufei demanded, still miserable.
"Haven't you heard of homogametic embryogenesis?" He let go of Wufei's
hand long enough to dry the boy's tears and wipe his nose with a corner
of the sheet.
"Nuh-no! What's that?" Wufei asked, unconsciously turning his face to
press into Zechs's touch.
Zechs recaptured his hand. "It's all very technical, but as I understand
it, the genetic material is removed from a donor egg, and replaced with
the nucleus of a man's sperm cell which has been screened to guarantee
it contains the X chromosome. After that, the process is the same as any
external gestation process, which are so common in the colonies. The egg
is fertilized in vitro with the sperm of another man, and the resulting
embryo is placed in a gestation chamber. Nine months later, our very own
biological child is born. They've been doing it on L-2 and L-3, and in
some of the Scandinavian countries here on Earth for several years now."
Wufei's eyes were wide with amazement now. "They can really do that? You
and I? We could really have children of our own?"
Zechs smiled down at him, relieved at his reaction. He'd worried that
Wufei's upbringing might not allow him to consider the possibility, but
instead he looked thrilled at the prospect. "Imagine it, Wufei. The mingling
of the Dragon clan with the Peacecraft line. I think our children will
be very beautiful and intelligent, don't you? How could they not be?"
Wufei looked positively dazed now as he tried to imagine it.
"Of course, I think we are both rather young to be parents just yet,"
Zechs added gently. "You have your education and a career to think of
first, and I'd like time for us to just be a couple. But yes, someday
when we're both ready, I would love to have children with you. As many
as you like!"
Wufei was crying again, but this time joy shone in his eyes. "Then my
answer is yes, Zechs. Nothing would make me happier than to marry you!"
"It's settled, then," Zechs said, his heart bursting with happiness. "You
concentrate on getting better now, and we'll talk about details when you're
feeling better. You've made me very happy, mei."
Wufei pulled Zech's hand to his cheek and sighed contentedly. "I never
would have imagined it, that first day we met."
"I doubt my dear sister did, either, when she requested you for that security
detail," Zechs agreed with a dry laugh. "Would you like to be with me
when I tell her? It should be-interesting."
"Would you think me a terrible coward if I said no?" Wufei mumbled. He
looked exhausted again.
Zechs stroked his forehead gently and watched those dark eyes flutter
shut again. "No my love," he chuckled softly. "I'd think you very wise."
>OK Wuffie fans; happy now? ;-)
>As far as I know the fertilization process I described is not being
done, but it's conceivable (I made a pun!) given recent developments in
genetic technology. For those of you who haven't had just enough bio background
to be dangerous, as I have, the female egg cell contains only the X sex
chromosome. A male sperm cell can have an X or a Y. When fertilization
occurs, XX = girl baby; XY = boy. I don't believe a YY fertilizations
would result in a viable embryo, so the male "egg substitute" would have
to be an X carrier. I for one would love to see the children that Wu and
Zechs would make, and I think this issue would be an important one for
someone like Wufei, but I don't do male pregnancy stories, so here's my
3/23: Thanks to Maxwell's Demon for professional advice in the male fertilization
technique. She wrote: "Nice hypothesis on the "dual zygotic cytogenesis".
"Homo(meaning "same")-gametic embryogenesis" would work as well. "Dual
zygotic cytogenesis" sounds a little repeatitive. A zygote, which is a
diploid cell, is formed after the fusion of two haploid cells (sperm and
egg, which are called gametes). The zygote becomes a viable embryo after
going through many stages of division and implantation in the uterus.
But I'm just a picky microbiologist! ^_^ Its always nice to see that someone
who understands the basic laws of genetics can be creative. If parthenogenesis
is possible and it is, then maybe male-male fertilization can be possible
at some point as well."
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