Warnings : Yaoi,
angst/sap, OOC, language, and a couple of OCs, Duo POV.
Thanks to Christy and Ash for beta reading and Aya for encouragement.
Dedicated to Ebonydove.
Feed-back is a dream I have.
And I don't own anything in this series, either.
It was not as difficult as
it probably should have been to convince Wufei that my nightmare had been
a fluke. The man had a life, after all. An apartment. A girlfriend. A
cat, for cryin' out loud. That one still got me; Wufei... with a cat.
Anyway, the point was; he had a life and he wanted to get back to it.
He needed to get back to it.
It took me a couple of days to get my feet back under me, but I finally
managed to pull my head out of my ass and got back to the business of
taking care of Heero. Wufei stayed with me a second night, and I was truly
grateful... at the same time that I was extremely embarrassed. Once I
got some decent sleep again, that run to L3 and back started to fade a
little and I realized that I had once again demonstrated my incredible
sense of timing. Or lack thereof.
Out there, between the stars, with all my fears knocking at my airlock,
I had listened to Neo talk and I had let his fears feed my own until I'd
had this blood-inspired piranha frenzy on my hands. I completely panicked.
I should have come back and concentrated all my attention on Heero. I
should have used the last of my funds to 'dry-dock' my ship and just left
her there until Heero was recovered and I was able to spare the time for
what I should have known was going to be a mind-bending task.
I still don't think I was wrong in the choice I made. I am not a slow
individual. I like to think I'm a fairly quick study... stubborn maybe,
but quick. I had it very dramatically demonstrated to me on the trip to
L2 just how screwed up I was. Being a stubborn individual, I made the
trip to L3 just to verify the results of my 'I can do this if I just push
hard enough' experiment. All the test results were in, and they were pretty
damn conclusive; Duo Maxwell was no longer a pilot. There was no need
to continue the experimentation until somebody got killed. I would not
be another Neo. So I stand by my decision, since it was the only one left
to me, but I suppose I kinda have to take it on the chin over the timing
I will say it now to all pertinent parties. I was stupid. I am sorry.
I am done for now. Nervous breakdown all over; we now take you back to
your regularly scheduled program.
I had managed that first night with Wufei, despite the small interruption
in the wee hours, to get a decent amount of rest. Wufei hadn't dared leave
the room again after returning from the bathroom to find me struggling
with unseen attackers and refusing to draw breath. I think he woke hours
before I did, that second time, but he just stayed until I woke on my
own. I honestly don't even remember what time it was when we went to bed,
but I'd be willing to bet I slept for over twelve hours... not counting
the brief intermission. I was just fucking exhausted.
I woke to find Wufei sitting in bed beside me, leaning against the headboard
and smiling at me in a way that made me blush all the way to my toes.
He led me gently through that first day like I was made out of eggshells.
Fixed me breakfast and wheedled until I ate. Helped me with the laundry
so I had clean clothes. Took me back to the hospital. Led me around like
a puppy, and that first day I was more than willing to be led. I was just
still too damn wrung out to work up the large amount of irritation it
would have taken to argue with all of them
It had been afternoon by the time we had gotten to the hospital. I was
surprised at first that neither Trowa nor Quatre mentioned the fact that
I hadn't been there when they arrived that morning. Surprised until I
thought about it, and realized that it only meant that they had been briefed
on my little stress related... incident. So I got to go through the rest
of the day with the knowledge that the whole damn world knew what a screw
up I was. Joy.
That day was rough. Not, I suppose, as rough as the day before it... but
rough all the same.
Wufei left me alone with Heero for part of the early evening while he
went home to feed his cat, shower and change clothes, but came back to
the hospital in time to take me back to the apartment again at the end
of visiting hours. Hours that we were being pushed to observe now that
it had been demonstrated that Heero could be a good boy and stay where
the hell he was supposed to.
Those few hours were... sweet, quite possibly the salve on my soul that
got me through the day. Heero was very... gentle with me; not bringing
up the day before, not trying to make me 'talk about it'. I was there
for one of his forays up and down the hall, and got to be the one to support
him and hold his arm. I had bathed him again, afterward, doing my best
to put everything I couldn't say into my touch. We talked a little bit,
nothing really heavy, just some reconnecting. I sat on the side of his
bed and he rested his hand on my hip. We just sat for a while and... oh
hell; we did the whole gazing into each other's eyes thing, ok? Shut up
about it. I think LeAnn had to go lie down somewhere from a sugar overload,
because I didn't see a whole lot of her during that period. But by the
time Wufei showed up to get me, I felt... grounded. A little more centered.
Heero had insisted, before I left, that LeAnn fetch his car keys from
his personal belongings and give them to me. It was a lovely gesture,
so much so that I didn't have the heart to tell him that for the last
three years, all my travel had been inter-planetary. I'd never bothered
to get myself an official driver's license. I just took the keys and gave
him a smile and a kiss. I've never understood his problem with public
Wufei stayed with me again that second night, fixing us dinner and helping
me put a couple more boxes worth of stuff away. That stopped when he ran
across my box of pictures, and we spent the next hour going through them
while I spun stories to go with the faces. He laughed in all the right
places, and I think he thought he was doing a good thing for me, in getting
me to talk a little bit. I had been... somewhat quiet that first day.
But the majority of the pictures were either from the war, or from my
years just starting out in the trade... two time periods I was not all
that eager to think about right then.
There were pictures of Smitty, Bernie and Havers. Some taken at McMurphy's,
and a couple from a day I had popped up at their office to surprise them,
taking pictures of them in 'their natural habitat'. There were some pictures
of Hayden and me. Then Hayden and Toria; I was able to get a couple of
laughs out of Wufei with stories of how Toria and Hayden had met. There
were pictures of the kids from the home, and those made me pause a moment,
guilt taking a nibble as I worried about my finances.
Then Wufei pulled out a picture of me with Hayden and Toria, taken in
the cargo hold of my ship the day I took possession of her. We had set
the camera up with an automatic timer and laughed like little kids, trying
to get all three of us in the picture at the same time. It's the freakiest
damn picture; we were in zero-g and the camera was just floating there;
we might have been a little drunk as we careened around the cargo bay,
trying to get in front of it as the shutter clicked. I'd thrown away half
a roll of pictures of blank walls and people's feet. Only one picture
had really come out; Hayden is dead center and he has one arm out, snagging
his wife as she had drifted by and drawing her, giggling insanely, into
the frame. His other hand had stretched out at the last minute and grabbed
my braid, pulling me down into range. We are twisted every which way,
all laughing uproariously. It was probably one of the happiest days of
Looking at it, I knew my grinning mask slipped just a trifle, but I was
relatively helpless to stop the _expression that must have crossed my
Wufei carefully took the pictures from my hands and slipped them back
in the box, putting the lid back on my life.
"I'm sorry, Maxwell," he grunted. "Sally tells me that
sometimes I'm not the most sensitive person in the world."
I just snorted, letting him take my memories away and put them in the
drawer. "It's ok." We stopped unpacking for the night.
I showered and we went to bed. That is a decidedly weird statement...
'we went to bed'. Since one half of that statement was Wufei, and not
Heero. It didn't help matters much that I was feeling... physically lonely.
Heero has a way of... of using those hands and that body of his and taking
me places that allow me to forget. Allow me to set everything aside while
he's touching me. I missed him.
After the lights went out and the goodnights were said, there was a bit
of silence before Wufei ventured, very softly, "You remember you
have therapy tomorrow... right?"
I think I sighed; I had kind of pushed it out of my head. I had missed
two or three sessions now, I'm not even sure, and would have been more
than happy to just quit. Though some part of my head knew that was a bad
idea. Some small part of me was quick to point out the little signs that
told me my body was feeling the lack of those sessions. I knew I needed
to get back. Besides, Wufei wouldn't have reminded me unless Heero had
reminded him. If I showed up at the hospital tomorrow when I should have
been at the clinic, Heero was going to throw a flaming fit.
"Yeah," I muttered and heard a slightly surprised sounding grunt.
He had been putting that reminder off for some time, obviously, because
he had been anticipating a fight. I sighed again. "I'm not a total
"I didn't say you were," he grumbled.
I was feeling drowsy and yawned before mumbling, "Your grunts are
as expressive as Relena's little sniffs."
He chuckled, "That dismissive one she does?"
I laughed, delighted that someone else had noticed those. "With her
nose tilted in the air just so?"
"That's the one," he confirmed. "I've been on the receiving
end more than once."
I blinked into the dark for a second. "You mean I'm not the only
person in the world she would like to see boiled in oil and served to
rabid dogs on a platter?"
"With soy sauce." I could hear him grinning.
"Oddly..." I said around another yawn, "that makes me feel
He was quiet for a minute and sleep began to creep up on me. "I didn't
mean to imply you were being... an idiot," he sighed. "But...
we weren't sure if you were intending on quitting all together...you didn't
go the other day..."
He let that hang there in the air and I thought about it for a minute.
"Didn't really mean to," I mumbled, voice feeling thick. "But
erasing your life is kinda an all day job."
There was a shocked little grunt and I repressed a chuckle.
"That'n was your 'upset' grunt," I told him, barely able to
get the syllables out.
Warm fingers touched my shoulder. "Go to sleep, Maxwell."
"I'm tryin'," I mumbled, "but s'body keeps talkin'."
He snorted, but shut up. All I remember after that was willing myself
to stay on my own side of the bed. Reminding my sleepy brain that was
not Heero over there, and that rolling over to seek the warm body next
to mine would be an incredibly bad idea.
I managed to wake first the next morning and fixed breakfast for him,
for a change. It seemed to signal to him that I was getting my shit together.
Either that, or he was lulled into a false sense of security by the fact
that I had gone the night without a nightmare. No one had realized, despite
my fears otherwise, that I couldn't sleep alone. Wufei had only been spending
the night with me because of the... breakdown I'd had at the hospital.
Now that I didn't look quite like a cast member of 'Night of the Living
Dead', he seemed to be relaxing his vigil. Which was fine with me. Sure,
it was going to put me back with my 'where the hell am I going to sleep?'
problem, but I was heartily sick of being hovered over.
To be honest, I was more than a little surprised, but pleased as all hell
when he headed off to work after breakfast. I got the little reminder
of therapy again just before he left, but then he really did leave. I
could have danced for joy.
Of course, it didn't take ten minutes before I had to turn the stereo
on to combat the silence.
I spent the couple of hours before I had to leave working around the apartment.
Half the dishes Heero owned were stacked in the sink, and I still had
a couple boxes full of stuff to put away. I did what I could before heading
off for the bus stop. I tossed Heero's car keys in the dish by the front
door on my way out.
I walked into the clinic with guilt-beast in tow and having trouble keeping
my head up. I could already hear the tongue-lashing I was gonna get from
Jean. I had actually considered trying to wear a long sleeved shirt to
hide the gauze, but it was an ironclad cinch she was going to find out
sooner or later anyway, so I just wore my regular workout clothes; running
shorts and a t-shirt. My only rebellious act being the message on the
front of my t-shirt; 'Due to budget cuts... the light at the end of the
tunnel has been shut off'. Jean would appreciate it.
I signed in and took a seat, waiting for Jean to notice I was there and
wave me into the gym. I figured she wouldn't do much more than glare at
me before turning me over to the dreaded Dan... as she had promised to
do if I 'screwed myself up again'. I hadn't had to work with Dan all that
much, but he seemed like a guy who enjoyed his job a little too much.
She finally caught sight of me and grinned, giving me the sign to enter
her domain. I could see her say something, through the big front window,
but didn't think to start lip reading until I noticed her say my name.
I saw several of the other patients that I had come to know over the months,
stop what they were doing and turn to watch me walk through the doors.
I felt my shoulders hunching as I made my way across the room, and tried
to relax. I saw her notice the bandage and waited for the explosion. I
wasn't prepared for the wide grin.
"Do I know my Duo, or what?" she chortled and I heard a collective
groan from the rest of the room. "Pay up ladies and gentlemen."
I should have been shocked that the lot of them had been betting on me...
or against me, depending on how you wanted to take it. But, Jean made
close to a hundred dollars from the other ten people in the room and it
put her in such a good mood that she didn't even abandon me to Dan.
Of course, the gauze had to come off so she could examine the wound. There
were questions and I gamely pulled out fairy dust and my patented self-deprecating
grin, spinning my story again. Jean wasn't suspicious at all and I spent
the entire session enduring cracks about 'stripped screws'.
She did ease my mind, somewhat, by opining that she thought I would get
full movement back in my arm once the cut healed. I trusted her judgment
more than any doctor's; she had more experience with the aftereffects
of things. Doctors, if you ask me, can be overly optimistic sometimes.
Therapists are a little more realistic.
She ran me through my workout like a damned trained dog, setting me to
do an exercise and going off to start somebody else off on their routine,
returning in the nick of time to make absolutely sure I didn't have time
to rest before starting me on my next task. She pushed me through my entire
two hours and then some, taking the time to make me work with my arm to
evaluate its condition. Her parting words were, "no more trips for
you... at all. Ever. Don't even think about it."
I didn't have the heart to tell her that she had nothing to worry about;
trips were a thing of my past.
By the time I got the hell out of there, I was sweat-soaked and shaking
and needing an aspirin for my throbbing arm. I had not realized how much
I was favoring it until Jean had forced me to actually use it. I sat on
the bench outside the clinic waiting for the bus and thought of my old
afternoon naps with some fondness.
It was already after lunch, and I debated going straight to the hospital,
but I knew I really had to stink. So I made a run back to the apartment
for a quick shower and a change of clothes. I took a few minutes to set
my laptop up and boot it, logging into the net to see if I had any nibbles
on the ship.
My picture of Sisyphus greeted me after my system finished playing its
'happy music' and finally booted. I couldn't help but grin at the poor
guy. "I know just how you feel, man," I muttered.
The two extra vacuum suits had sold. At my asking price, no less, but
there were no messages about the ship yet. The income from the suits,
though, would be enough to let me send some money off to Octavia and the
kids. That went a long way toward making me feel... a little less like
Then it was back to the bus stop and off to the hospital.
Therapy had left me feeling washed out and I was just as happy to get
to Heero's room and find him alone. I didn't want to have to make small
talk with the other guys or have them looking at me like they were afraid
I was going to spontaneously shatter where I sat.
Heero's face lit like Christmas morning when I walked into the room. I
felt strangely light-hearted myself; I had done nothing today that I had
to keep from him. The thought almost made me laugh. I had gotten a full
night's sleep. I had gone to therapy. I hadn't gone down to the port.
There wasn't a thing I was going to have to lie about... for the first
time in a long time, I was going to be able to tell him about my whole
day and not have to worry about leaving things unsaid. I was eager for
a day like I'd had with him the day before. His gentle words and soft
touch, his eyes on me so warm and loving.
"Did you have trouble getting the car started after it sat for so
long?" he greeted me and I repressed a groan. Oh yeah... the car.
Ouch. Perhaps not a day like the day before.
"I had no trouble with the car what-so-ever," I grinned at him.
Since I never went near it.
"Where'd you park?" he queried. "Did you need money for
the garage? I think they charge..."
I snorted at him and rolled my eyes. "The car is out front."
Of the apartment. "They don't charge if you park on the street."
"What did you have for lunch?" he continued with his third degree
and I actually frowned at him.
"The same damn thing I had yesterday!" Nothing. "Heero...
what in the hell is with the interrogation?"
He had the decency to blush and ducked his head, looking away from me.
"It's just... driving me nuts. Being stuck here and not being able..."
He ended in an inarticulate mumble and I went around the bed and sat on
the edge, leaning down to give him a gentle kiss.
"Can we start this over, love?" I grinned at him.
His eyes flicked up to meet mine, and he smiled sheepishly in return.
"Ok, then," I chuckled at him. "Hello, Heero... how are
you feeling this afternoon?"
"Better," he informed me, and I laughed.
"You've been saying that since the day I got back," I chided.
"By your account, you ought to be feeling better now than before
you got shot!"
A corner of his mouth quirked up. "I just want the hell out of here."
I tapped the end of his nose and then soothed it with a tiny kiss. "Not
yet, oh husband-mine. It's your turn to endure."
His hand came up to cup my cheek tenderly. "I just want to be able
to come home and take care of you," he whispered, voice sounding
I sighed and shook my head ruefully. "You've got that a little backwards,
don't you, love? You want to go home so I can take care of you."
I knew damn well he had meant exactly what he had said, but I chose to
He caught my hand in his when I reached to stroke his hair away from his
eyes. "You scared me," he said softly.
I guess I had just gotten the previous day because he'd thought I was
still... emotionally fragile or something. Now I was going to pay for
the good day with a bad one.
I dropped the feeble attempt to lighten things up and just sat looking
at him for a minute, collecting my thoughts. He'd obviously been sitting
here alone for some time, with nothing to do but think. "Look, Heero...
I'm sorry. I shouldn't have..."
He cut me off with a pained little sigh. "Don't apologize. There's
nothing to apologize for. I tried to tell you; you haven't dealt with
the accident yet..."
I couldn't help a small chuckle. "Heero... I think it's been dealt
with. I got back in the saddle. The horse kicked the shit out of me. End
He frowned darkly and his fingers squeezed mine. "No... that's not
the end of it..."
I didn't growl, ok? It flitted through my head, but I did not growl. "What
in the hell is driving this?"
He looked vaguely guilty and glanced down at our hands, still linked together.
"Wufei... told me about the nightmare."
I had to count to ten. Forward... and then backward.
"And did he report to you how many times I peed?" I asked him,
rather proud of the level tone of voice.
He flushed, but I could see his jaw get that set to it that told me he
was going to get stubborn, and I jumped in again before he could speak.
"Are you telling me you never have bad dreams?" I gritted. "I
had a fucking nightmare... find me somebody who doesn't now and again.
What in the hell is the big deal?"
"He said... he said you stopped breathing," he whispered, looking
at me with wide eyes. "He said... he said your damn lips were turning
Wufei had failed to mention that part to me. If he hadn't been there,
would I have started breathing again on my own? Would I have woken myself
up? Could you actually kill yourself by simply believing you didn't have
I repressed a shiver that would have told him how much that revelation
had shaken me. I didn't know how to answer that. I didn't know what to
say to him.
Frustration danced in his eyes and suddenly he had hold of me by the shoulders,
pulling me down against his shoulder where he could wrap his arms around
"Heero!" I yelped. "Be careful!"
He ignored me, his fingers seeking the back of my neck and holding me
against him. "This is making me crazy," he told me. "I
want to go home. I want to be there with you. You need me and I... I can't...
I'm not able..."
He was still struggling with words that he either couldn't find, or was
afraid I wouldn't hear.
"Damn it, Heero," I growled, relaxing against his shoulder since
he wouldn't let me go anyway. "You've been taking care of me for
the last stinking seven months! I am fine."
"Fine?" he whispered, very near my ear. "You're trembling...
I can feel it."
I sighed in exasperation and pulled back again, this time he let me sit
up. I looked him squarely in the eye. "I hadn't been to therapy in
a week. Jean worked me like a trained monkey, ok? Yeah... I feel a little
shaky; it will pass."
He looked like he was choking on the knot of words trying to find their
way out of his mouth.
"How in the hell would you feel?" I blurted, before he got the
knot untangled. "If our positions were reversed? Damn it, love; you
scared the holy crap out of me, too. When I saw Trowa and Quatre at the
dockyard, I thought... I thought..." I bit it off and looked away,
eyes stinging and gut clenching in remembrance of that day.
"I'm sorry," he murmured, reaching to touch my cheek.
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