Moments of Rapture
Warnings: Angst, OOC, language, Duo POV.
Thanks to Christy for beta reading with her usual excellence.
Standard disclaimers apply. We all know I don't own them... why do we
keep repeating it? Are we just in denial?
It was a car accident that
finally made me wake up and stop the drinking. Sounds pretty typical,
huh? Alcoholic has near-death experience and re-evaluates life? Except
the accident wasn't mine... it was Heero's.
Part of it was simply looking into the mirror that was Heero Yuy, suddenly
seeing in him all the things that I was going through. Realizing that
for his own reasons he was hurting just as badly. That he was just as
lost as I was. Maybe more so. But mostly, it was understanding that the
perfect fighting machine was not equipped to bring himself back from the
black hole we had both wandered into. And somehow... oddly perhaps, where
I couldn't seem to bring myself to care for my own sake... I couldn't
not care for Heero's.
He had pretty much managed to alienate everyone who might have ever given
enough of a damn to be there for him. Relena had tucked tail and run fairly
quickly after the war was over, once she had figured out that soldiers
aren't romantic... they're just kind of scary. The rest of the guys? Well,
we're all still pretty tight. Except for Heero... it's hard to stay close
to a spitting, pissing wolverine with an attitude. So I guess you could
say that I gave up my own wallow in self-pity because I figured that watching
out for Heero was my responsibility, simply because nobody else was going
to do it. And yeah; I can see how it sounds kind of stupid when I just
out and say it like that. At the time it just sort of boiled down to this
single thought: 'he needs me'. There really wasn't much more to it than
We were creatures of war. We had been raised for one purpose. Trained
for one purpose. Lived for one purpose. Then peace had come, all the goals
we had been given were met, and... we didn't know what in the hell we
were any more. What is a fighter when there is nothing left to fight?
Obsolete. Can you imagine being obsolete before you are technically old
enough to vote?
The day that Quatre called me to tell me that Heero was in the hospital
because he'd gotten behind the wheel of a car drunk off his ass, I had
understood that he had just tried to hit his self-destruct button, and
that if somebody didn't do something, he would keep trying until he succeeded.
I had gone through my apartment that day, poured out every last drop of
booze and hadn't touched the stuff since. Because Heero had not only become
a drunk, he'd become a surly drunk and I honestly didn't think there was
a person left who was going to do anything about the little mess he had
made for himself, unless it was... me.
So yeah, I pulled myself out of my own little tailspin and got my act
together so that I could be there to try to help him pull out of his.
Despite the fact that he didn't really want my help. Hadn't asked for
my help. Was pretty darned bound and determined to take my help and shove
it up my ass... sideways.
"Fuck off, Duo," came the rather expected growl. "I can
take care of myself."
"That's odd," I grinned at him. "That isn't what the Doctor's
orders said... like it or not, you're in that wheelchair for awhile yet."
"I'm going home," he insisted, glaring at me in a manner that
was meant to raise blisters on exposed skin.
"Not a problem," I consented amiably. "We can stay at your
place if you'd rather. I just thought my place would be easier because
I have a spare bedroom."
That bought me an inarticulate little growl of sound before he found his
voice enough to tell me, "You are not staying in my apartment!"
I finally turned away from where I had been packing his duffle bag and
planted myself beside his hospital bed, putting my hands on my hips and
giving him my look that usually tells people not to fuck with me. "Look,
Yuy," I growled. "You put yourself in this position, I didn't.
Like it or not, you need somebody to stay with you. Sure, you can ignore
the Doctor's orders, but you could also screw yourself up bad enough to
be in that chair forever. This is an A or B question; your place or mine,
make up your damn mind. But you are stuck with me... sorry about your
We stared at each other. I didn't have to remind him that he had managed
to drive away every other friend that he'd ever had. I was all he had
left. He broke away from the staring match first.
"You're a bastard," he snarled. Heero hates to lose. Always
"Well now," I chuckled at him. "That's a pretty safe bet!"
He looked at me oddly for a second, not understanding. Hell, he probably
hadn't even heard what he was saying. It took a second for him to get
it. I couldn't read him well enough to know if he felt badly for it or
not. Probably not. I turned back to packing, managing to finish just as
the discharge nurse arrived with the wheelchair. She gave me a bright
smile and told me hello, parking the chair next to the bed. She didn't
give Heero so much as a glance. He had been a somewhat... unpleasant patient.
She handed me the paperwork that he had to sign, letting me present it
"What the hell is that?" he barked.
"What you have to sign in order to get out of here," I told
him sweetly, knowing just how badly he wanted that. He jerked the papers
and the pen from my hand, scribbling his signature in all the right places
and then stuck them out in the direction of the nurse, forcing her to
take them from him. She gave me a rather sympathetic smile and left, leaving
me to get him in the chair by myself. I think I sighed, but I could hardly
I positioned the chair and came around to get him, trying to gauge his
weight by eye, hoping that I could manage to lift him. I truly thought
he was going to kill me when I leaned in to try it.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" he snarled.
I stopped, bent over at the waist, and looked him square in the eye. "Look
asshole," I told him rather firmly. "I am more than aware that
I am not your favorite person in the world. But you have to face up to
the fact that I am your best friend right now. I am going to help you
and you are going to let me because the more you disobey the doctor's
orders, the longer you are going to be stuck with me. You want me out
of your hair... you have to heal."
The look he gave me might very well have caused King Kong to turn tail
and run. I didn't flinch, I stared him down until his face began to flush,
then I slipped my arms under him and transferred him to the chair. It
wasn't as difficult as it should have been; during the war I am quite
sure he outweighed me. He was obviously to the stage in his drinking that
made food a low priority.
I was starting to understand what a monstrous job I had undertaken. Guess
it was a good thing I didn't have anything else to do with my time.
Thankfully, his stay in the hospital had been long enough that I had gotten
through the worst of my detox. While I am more than willing to admit that
I'm an alcoholic... recovering alcoholic... I had never gotten to the
place that Heero had managed. I had never become an obnoxious alcoholic.
I am mostly a night drinker. I can't stand the nighttime. I have... nightmares.
I have insomnia. I usually do ok during the day, there's enough to do
and enough people I can go be around that I can get through. But when
the night comes and there's no one there and I have nothing to do but
sit and think and remember and imagine and... dream, I can't handle it.
I tried sleeping pills for a while, but they only made the nightmares
even more macabre, if that were at all possible, and eventually I turned
to drinking. It didn't happen over night. I did not come through the war
and go 'Gee, I think I'll be a drunk'. It was just something that helped
me cope at first, something that helped me sleep. But then it took more
drink to shut out the memories and then even more. Eventually I was hopelessly
addicted and so damn depressed I just didn't care.
Didn't help watching the other guys as they not only coped, but thrived
and got on with the business of making lives for themselves. I don't know
why it was so much harder for Heero and me. I think sometimes because
neither of us had ever truly believed that we would live through it. I
mean, I never gave the future a second thought while I was fighting, because
I honestly hadn't thought I had one. What was the point? I figured that
one of those times hitting the self-destruct button, the darn thing was
actually going to work. I think it was the same for Heero. Its funny,
I wonder sometimes if he and I had tried to become friends during those
first days if we might have been able to help each other before we ended
up where we did. Probably not. I don't think I could have talked to anyone
back then. I had felt so... ridiculous having trouble when no one else
seemed to be, that I probably wouldn't have been able to talk to Heero
The guys. God, I love 'em. They're a great bunch of friends. But they're
so... damn normal.
Quatre. Good Lord, but he had blossomed once the fighting was over. The
guy is a natural politician, an absolute born leader. He had switched
all his focus straight from being a Gundam pilot, to being a peacekeeper
and a lobbyist. Never missed a stride. Took over control of his father's
business and immersed himself so completely that he never had a chance
to think twice. Of course, he'd had a relatively normal childhood. Had
a family and friends, had gone to school. The war was an interlude to
him... a couple of years out of his life. I think it was easier for him
to move on because it was more like going back to a life he'd left, not
forging a new one.
Wufei. He's a strange one. I hadn't been sure about him during the war
sometimes. He just seemed like he kind of enjoyed the damn fighting. Like
he saw something high and noble in it. After it was all over he joined
the Preventers almost instantly. Hell, he helped start them up. He, too,
had never missed a beat. He kind of surprised me, actually. I had expected
him to go to pieces when it was all over and he finally had to stop and
deal with the destruction of his entire colony, but somehow... he had
come to terms with it. For him too, I suspected that part of it was his
normal childhood. Like Quatre, he had something to look back on with some
fondness. Something that had existed outside the war.
Trowa. I had always thought that he was more like Heero and me. Raised
with the mercenaries, fighting for as long as he could remember. He didn't
have that solid foundation like Quatre and Wufei. I thought that he would
have as much trouble adjusting as we had. But he had something I didn't;
Quatre. Quatre and Catherine. It had done a hell of a lot for him when
Catherine had gone behind his back and done the genetic tests and discovered
that he really was her brother. I guess it had given him a foundation
of sorts... even if he had to live it vicariously through Catherine's
stories. Between her, and Quatre's absolute undying devotion, Trowa had
come through just fine.
But Heero and me... two dark carrion birds of a feather. We'd known nothing
before the war. We had nothing to look back on, nothing to point to and
say 'There; that is what I am'. Hell... the war was practically my mother.
And I suppose that makes Shinigami my father and Dr. G my damn nanny.
What did I know about life? What did I know about normal? What in the
flaming hell did I know about what to do with myself? We were seventeen
when the war ended and we were obsolete. Where do you go after you've
saved the planet?
Neither of us caved immediately. Well... at least I didn't, I'm not real
sure about Heero. He might have been hiding it better at first. I don't
know, I mean, nobody had ever figured out that I was consuming enough
whiskey each night to medicate a good-sized horse there at the end. Like
I said; I did most of my drinking at night when I was home alone.
I had actually started out fairly gung-ho. Had been kind of excited about
the prospects of peace. I had planned on traveling, seeing the Earth,
playing the tourist. Naïve little me; that shit takes money. All
your financial needs are met when you have the backing of what amounts
to a terrorist organization, and you are fighting in a war. But hey
war's over... sorry about your luck kid; get a job. That had proved...
interesting. Not a lot of call out there for hanging by your teeth and
setting C4 charges. Not a whole lot of jobs where the job-description
requires you to shoot a fly off an orange at fifty paces without damaging
the fruit. What I did best, I wasn't allowed to do; seventeen is too young
to be a commercial pilot.
However... most jobs did require a whole lot of crap we didn't know a
thing about. Balance a checkbook? What the hell is a checkbook? Driver's
license? What do I need a license for; I'm a fucking Gundam pilot. We
had done things for so long for the results, damn the laws and the rules
and polite society, that we didn't know how to deal with all the red tape
and paperwork and... the damn tedium. All of it complicated by our notoriety
and the stigma attached to our names. Complicated by the fact that a car
backfiring in the street would send us diving for cover. Yeah sure; shall
I calculate the necessary amount of explosives to remove table number
four from the dining room without scorching the floor, and would you like
fries with that?
I personally, had tried for almost a year to make it on my own before
caving and accepting the bank account Quatre had offered all of us. I
never quite had the nerve to ask if any of the other guys had. I liked
to pretend that they did, so if I didn't ask... I didn't have to know
I was the only fucking loser in the bunch. Though I suspect Heero did
too... because I sure as hell never heard about him having a job.
I suppose it's little wonder that we ended up the way we did. It's probably
a small miracle that neither of us decided to do the self-destruct routine
a little faster and just eat a bullet for breakfast one morning. And ironic
as hell that we were both going through the same things at the same time
on opposite sides of the same town and never cared enough to notice.
I suppose you could say I owed Heero my sobriety, because I don't know
if I could have turned myself around without the self-appointed mission
of turning him around.
The day that Quatre had called, with the news of Heero's accident, his
voice was full of muted concern. Heero had already driven the wedge between
himself and most of the others, and though he was still considered part
of the group, I discovered that they all 'tsked' behind his back about
the sad state he was in. I was a little appalled that I had never noticed
before, so lost had I been in my own private Hell that I had never noticed
Heero's adjoining room. Listening to Quatre gossip to me about how 'awful'
it all was, about how he couldn't believe the depths to which Heero had
sunk, all I could think was... 'You have no freaking idea what it's like
on our side of the fence'. But then... he'd had no clue he was talking
to somebody who had sunk just as low.
But I found that thing that one needs to pull oneself up by the bootstraps.
God, I'd had no stinking idea what I was undertaking. Who in the hell
was I to think that I could single handedly save Heero Yuy's ass? I barely
had my own shit together and here I was taking on the care and feeding
of a rabid pit bull in a wheelchair. The guy had more issues than I had
empty bottles to my credit. And he bit. Hard.
When I brought him into my home from the hospital, I suppose I had expected
a certain amount of grudging, Heero style, pissed off gratitude. What
I got was more like attitude. He resented everything I did for him most
of the time. On his good days, we managed a tentative civility. On his
bad days... I thought he would eviscerate me. For a guy with little or
no people skills, he had managed to learn where all my mental weak spots
were, and when he got severely pissed at me... he didn't hesitate to hit
every one of them. I did my best to bear up under it, to not let him see
just how well he was hitting his mark. But I went to my room on more than
one occasion during that period of time shaking like a leaf. If there
had been a bottle in the house on those nights... I'd have drunk it.
I wondered if I could ever manage to teach him just how much words could
cut. I wondered if he'd ever been wounded in that way. I wondered if there
was anyone in the world that he cared about enough to be able to hurt
him like that. Words don't really have any sting if they don't come from
someone who matters to you.
Yes, I know what I just said. Shut up about it.
"What in the hell is that damn thing?" he asked with an irritated
tone in his voice. I had to stop and think for a minute what he was talking
about. My glass. My little piece of stained glass. I was worrying it in
my fingers the way I do. It's such a habit that I do it unconsciously,
whenever I'm doing something fairly mindless, like we were doing now.
Watching TV, reading, anything that didn't require both my hands. My fingers
would go to my pocket and find the little thing and I would rub it and
feel it and turn it in my fingers. I stopped fiddling with it and turned
my hand over to display it on my palm.
"It's a piece of the stained glass window from the Maxwell church,"
I told him; not at all sure he would know what I was talking about. "I
kept it... after the fire. It's all I was able to take away from there
with me... to remember it by."
There was something calculating in his eyes. Something dark. I suppose
I had an inkling what was coming, but I didn't try to stop it... I just
sat with the thing in my hand and let him do what he felt he had to.
He reached out and took it from me, raising it to look through it at the
light and then he calmly snapped it in two. I wasn't able to stop the
wince. He dropped the two halves on the floor beside his chair, rolling
across them and crushing what was left. Then he turned and looked at me...
waiting for my reaction.
I allowed myself a single deep, steadying breath because damnit; that
had hurt. Then I rose and stepped in front of him, leaning down to look
him square in the eye. I saw a tiny little smirk trying to come out, just
a hint of self-righteousness. 'See?' his eyes were saying, 'I'm not a
very nice person.'
I reached for his hand, turning it over and his tense _expression told
me he was expecting a blow. Was expecting my anger... was ready to welcome
it as proof that I had been lying about being his friend. "You didn't
cut yourself, did you?" I asked carefully as I looked his fingers
over. In my peripheral vision, I saw his face lose a little of its cocky
smugness. When I had established that he was unharmed, I dropped his hand
and looked him unflinchingly in the eye. "You're more important than
an object. You cannot drive me away. You cannot force me to leave. I am
your best friend whether you choose to believe it or not... it has very
little to do with you."
"I hate you," he told me coldly, though his eyes spoke to me
"I am well aware of that," I informed him rather matter-of-factly.
Then I went to get the vacuum cleaner. When I came back, he had fled to
I figured he needed a little time to think things over, so I delayed dinner
just a little bit. Truth be told, I needed a little time myself. What
I had said was true. He was more important than any damn object. But that
didn't make the loss of that object any less painful. I hadn't come through
from those days with much of anything. That stupid little scrap of broken
glass and Sister Helen's cross had been it. I stopped wearing my cross
that night. Call me a coward, but I feared for it. If the devil himself
had walked up to me and said 'Heero or the cross', I'd have handed over
the cross in less than a heartbeat. But... why risk it if it wasn't going
to buy Heero's soul? I locked the thing away and hid it in my room. There
was nothing to be done for my little piece of Angel's wing though. The
glass had been a milky white with odd little veins of clear glass run
through it. It had been part of an angel's wing, I was almost sure of
that. I had found it after Sister Helen had died and my little kid's mind
had told me that she had ascended to Heaven as an Angel... and left a
feather behind for me. When I got older, I realized that it was just part
of the stained glass window that had shattered into a million pieces from
the explosions, but by that time, the thing had become so much a part
of me that I had smoothed the edges of it from rubbing and holding it.
Sister Helen's feather. To this day I find my fingers searching for it.
Heero Yuy has never pulled his punches.
I dithered with dinner for a bit, pondering the pitfalls of mixed messages.
I would not reward him for what he had done, but I would not punish him
either. So I made sure that dinner was something that was far from his
favorite, but nothing he had ever expressed an outright distaste for.
He was testing me and I was well aware of that. I was bound and determined
that he would not get to me. I would not let him force me to push back.
I finally settled on meatloaf; can't get any more neutral than that.
When it was ready to go on the table, I went and tapped on his door. There
was, rather predictably, no immediate answer. I tapped again, a little
harder and called, "Heero, dinner's ready."
I got the standard, "Go away." I sighed, wondering if we would
ever get passed this. I pushed the door open and took a tentative step
inside, not moving too far until I could see a little better in the darkness
of his room. "Heero, if you ever expect to heal enough to get out
of here, you have to take better care of yourself," I told him with
just a trace of amusement in my voice.
"I'm fine," he growled sullenly and I couldn't help a grin.
I reached out and flicked the damn light on... the hell with this game.
He was lying in bed, his back to the door, his wheelchair sitting there
right next to the bed. He refused to react to the light. I went closer,
now that I could see, and tried again.
"Come on, dinner is going to get cold."
"I'm not hungry," he said and I was glad he wasn't looking at
me, because I almost laughed at the petulant sound of his voice. Like
an angry little boy. That thought would surely have gotten me shot.
"Look, Heero," I ventured, standing over him but not able to
judge much from the back of his head. "I know you're not happy here...
I know you don't like me. But you have to see that you're not getting
out of here any time soon if you don't give your body the fuel and care
it needs to get better."
He finally rolled over and looked up at me. "What the hell do you
want from me?" he snapped.
"From you?" I asked softly. "Nothing. What I want for you
is for you to understand that you are not alone and that you can't drive
me away the way you have everyone else."
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