By : Sunhawk
"You going to live?"
Trowa asked with a bit of amusement in his voice.
"Why?" I responded, somewhat guardedly.
He chuckled. "That's the third time you've sighed in less than a
I sighed again, heard what I'd done and laughed. Trowa laughed along with
me, but it was short lived. "He's just so... overwhelming when he
gets like this."
"I know," he commiserated. "Not too many people will get
in the way of Heero Yuy in 'protect mode'."
I almost sighed again, but cut it off. I caught a grin on Trowa's face
and realized he'd noticed. "I just don't want to go to the damn hospital,
ok? I don't need to go."
"No you don't," he agreed. "I know that."
"Then why didn't you say something back at the house?" I blurted
before I had a chance to think about it.
He chuckled, but I noticed the blood rise to his cheeks. "Because
I had no desire to get castrated?" he ventured. "Like I said...
Heero Yuy in full defense mode is a damn daunting thing."
I only glared at him.
"So... you want me to come up with you?" he said when I didn't
respond. We were damn near there and I was starting to feel like I was
going to throw up.
"Will I look like a sniveling weenie who's afraid of his own... roommate,
if I say yes?" I chuckled.
"No," he grinned in return. "You'll look like a man with
a level head on his shoulders."
And then we were there. Joy.
Trowa pulled in and parked, giving me an encouraging look before we climbed
out of the car. I had to resist the urge to move in close to him as we
walked across the lot. I could only thank God our apartment windows were
on the other side of the building, though I still felt like there were
eyes on me the entire way.
I hesitated at the bottom of the stairs, looking up and feeling that wobble
again. Damn but I hated living on the third floor.
There was a hand under my elbow quite suddenly, and I looked up into amused
green eyes. "If you don't think you can make it, I can go get Heero.
I'll bet he'd come down and carry you."
I rolled my eyes. "The entire damn three flights? No thank you."
But it served to poke me into movement.
"You feel shaky," he observed as though he were commenting on
the weather. "You all right?"
"Yeah," I told him, holding my hands up to look at them as we
climbed. "I may not be able to feel it, but... something happens.
Like my body knows there's been a trauma somehow, even without the nerve
pathways to tell my brain."
He grunted, concern crossing his face, but he held his tongue, for which
I was grateful. I had the strangest sense of déjà vu and
remembered the last time I'd made this climb with Trowa at my side. I
chuckled and he looked at me oddly. "So, what exactly, are your bodyguard
rates? I'm thinking it might just be cheaper for me to keep you on retainer
instead of paying hourly."
He broke out in a wide grin and shook his head. "You're family...
I can get you the special discount. Don't worry about it."
I was going to try for the flippant answer, but there was suddenly a weird
little warm place in my chest and when I opened my mouth to speak, it
seemed to clog my throat. We were almost at the top of the stairs before
I managed, "Thanks, man... sometimes it seems like you're the only
rational one in the bunch of us."
"I'm not sure that says a lot," he quipped and we laughed a
little bit, around the strain of almost being there. I was trying to fumble
my apartment key out of my pocket with my bandaged hands when the door
flew open in our faces.
Heero has this habit of running his hands through his hair when he's really
upset. He kind of looked like he'd been doing nothing else for about the
last three hours. If it wouldn't have gotten me decked, I'd have laughed
"Uh... hi honey, I'm home?" I struggled valiantly for light
and teasing, but it kind of came out uncertain and... wobbly. My new favorite
word; wobbly. It just seemed to sum me up today.
He stood there, doorknob clutched in one hand, looking first at one of
us and then at the other. I thought for about three seconds that he might
just be having a stroke or something. I didn't know what else to say,
it was kind of in his court and he didn't seem to have a damn clue.
"Heero," Trowa said calmly. "Breathe."
It served to make Heero blush and he finally stepped back so that we could
at least come into the apartment. It was Trowa who thought to close the
damn door. I couldn't read Heero's mood, beyond the 'upset' part. He didn't
seem to know what to do, what to say. So we just stood there, staring
at each other.
Trowa was starting to seem amused as hell with the whole thing, and walking
around behind Heero, said something low in his ear. Heero looked at him
sharply, blinking rapidly, and Trowa grinned. "Those are pretty much
your only three choices... pick one; I have to use your bathroom."
Then he left us alone. I resisted the urge to throw something at him for
running out on me.
Heero was looking at me funny, his head cocked off to the side. "He
said... I should hit you, hug you, or help you pack your bags. I'm not
hitting you... do you... you don't want to... pack... do you?"
All I could manage was a vehement shake of my head, but that was all it
took to make him close the distance and sweep me into his arms.
"Damnit, Duo," he whispered, low and husky, "You have to
stop doing this to me."
I wrapped my own arms tight around his neck and just murmured my apologies.
"You've got me on that damn roller coaster ride again," he said
softly, trying to tease me, trying to smooth it over, but it was rather
put to the lie by the clutching hold he had on me.
"I'm sorry," I sighed next to his ear, eyes squeezed shut and
just breathing him in. "I guess I was a little more... on edge than
I'd realized. I just couldn't handle anymore..."
He drew back to look at me, loosening his hold just enough to bring a
hand up to my face. He looked pained. "I told you on the way over,
to tell me if it got to be too much, love... why didn't you..."
That rather served to remind me of what had started the whole damn 'barbecue
incident' in the first place, and I pulled back a little bit. "Because
things 'got to be too much' kind of all at once, when I ran into Relena
and she offered to let Abdul put me on the grill with the rest of the
"Nani?" he demanded, and I could see him getting all set to
get seriously pissed off at Relena.
"Oh no you don't, big boy," I informed him, a bit of my earlier
anger coming back. "This is all your mess! What the hell was the
meaning of telling Relena she wasn't allowed to visit you in the hospital?"
He did, thank God, have the decency to look chagrined. I think it was
the only thing that kept me from getting really worked up to fuming again,
that and the fact that I was just too damn tired.
"I was trying to protect you," he said, his arms tightening
unconsciously and then easing off as he realized what he was doing. "You
were... like I'd never seen you. I was scared to death about the shape
you were in, and there was almost nothing I could do to help. I just thought...
you two don't get along very well, and I thought it would be easier if
you didn't have to deal with her."
I groaned and dropped my head onto his shoulder in exasperation, lacking
the strength to strangle him. "Yuy... you idiot, she was left with
the impression that I demanded that she not be allowed near you. She thought
that I... threw some kind of jealous fit or something!"
"But," he muttered, confused as hell, "she never said a
thing! It's been months!"
"That's because she wasn't mad at you, she was mad at me." I
lifted my head and looked him in the eye. "She's had this weird complex,
thinking I'm trying to cut her out of your life, ever since the accident."
"I had no idea," he frowned, almost as though he doubted what
I was saying. "She was fine with it when I called her from the hospital."
I managed to keep myself from rolling my eyes. "And just how drugged
up were you at the time?" I inquired flatly. I was pleased to see
the dawning horror on his face.
"But she hasn't said a damn word about it in two months!" He
had to go back around and take one more whack at that dead horse, and
we finally broke away from each other, mostly because I needed my arms
to truly make the annoyed gesture I was working on.
"She's a woman, Yuy! They don't just come out and tell you anything!"
I snapped, and would have delved further into that topic if Trowa's boisterous
laughter hadn't interrupted me.
"Coming from you, Maxwell... that's kind of priceless," he chortled
I whirled around to face him, but couldn't keep the anger alive. "Yeah
well, Barton..." I began, then blinked at him for a second before
chuckling, "I'm just to damn worn-out to come up with anything witty
right now... get back with me on that."
He snorted and shook his head as though disappointed in me. "Listen,
can I borrow your car to get home so I don't have to sit around here for
a half an hour listening to you two fight and make up?"
"Sure," I told him and gingerly fished the keys out of my coat
pocket. The move did two things, reminded me I was still wearing my jacket,
and reminded Heero of my hands. After I tossed the keys to Trowa, I started
to unzip and slip out of the thing, and Heero was suddenly right there
"Easy," he murmured, low and soft, trying to keep Trowa from
hearing, I'm sure. "Let me."
Trowa has good hearing though; he chuckled maliciously and Heero flushed.
But he didn't stop what he was doing, peeling me gently out of my coat
and then going to hang it up for me.
"Hey Duo," Trowa suddenly said, in a calm, almost lazy voice,
that totally did not match the intense gaze he was giving me. "Could
you get me a soda or something for the road?"
"All right," I said uncertainly, trying to read his eyes and
failing. But it was obvious he wanted me to leave the room, so I did.
Heero started to object, started to tell me to sit down and rest while
he went to fetch the drink, but Trowa was already talking to him. I stopped
just inside the kitchen door to listen.
"Oh, before I forget again, Heero," Trowa was saying. "Quatre's
sister Judith heard you were house-hunting. She's interested in getting
into real estate. She found a house listing and wanted us to drop if off."
I felt my eyes widening in shock. What the hell was he doing? There was
a feeling in the pit of my stomach that was somewhat reminiscent of the
flu. From the other room, I heard them moving, imagined the paper changing
Heero grunted and chuckled lightly. "She's too late... we actually
already looked at this one."
Trowa chuckled along with him and I could almost see the innocent look
on his face. "No kidding? That's funny. What did you think of it,
if you don't mind my asking? Judith will want to know how close she came."
I realized I was holding my breath, but couldn't exhale for fear of missing
something. I thought I'd die waiting for Heero to speak.
"Oh, it was a beautiful old house, damn near perfect, if a bit large,"
Heero tossed out carelessly. "But it needs a lot of work. Duo doesn't
need that kind of burden right now. I want to be able to give him a home
that we can enjoy... not one that's going to take all our time and resources."
There was a pause and I imagined the flyer was changing hands again. "But
tell Judith thank you for thinking of us. If she can find another place
like that one, that isn't so... run down, have her call us."
I just kind of drifted over into the doorway, where I could see them,
as though I had to look to verify who had spoken.
Trowa gets large amounts of credit here for not laughing his ass off at
"You know, Duo," he called out in a voice that damn near drawled.
"On second thought, forget the soda. I'll get your car back to you
sometime tomorrow. Good night."
I got a wink as he turned and left, and a broad grin, but he didn't laugh.
"Good night," Heero replied, oblivious to the by-play. "And
For fetching and bandaging his errant boyfriend.
He was almost out the door before I got my tongue unglued from the roof
of my mouth. "Yeah, Trowa... thank you." For a hell of a lot
of other things.
He waved dismissively and walked out. I just kind of stood and stared
I know what I heard... but I wasn't sure I could trust it. Heero wasn't
just being polite? He had really thought the house was 'damn near perfect'?
It didn't mesh with what he had said to Miss Montoya. I would not let
my hopes start that damn upward climb. Not yet. It hurt too much when
they just fell down again.
But now that Trowa was gone, I was left alone with Heero Yuy in full 'nurture
and protect' mode. The man should have been a nurse. Or someone's mother.
He couldn't seem to bear to be too far from me, coming over to wrap me
in his arms for a lingering hug as soon as the door was closed.
"You're all right?" he asked me gently. "Really all right?"
"Just a little... shaky," I answered, trying out that honesty
thing, just for kicks.
He was quiet for a minute, just holding me close against him and I basked
in his warmth, starting to relax for the first time in hours. "I..."
he began cautiously, "would feel a lot better if you'd let me take
you to the hospital."
I sighed, but didn't raise my head from where I had it burrowed against
his neck. "I do not need to go to the hospital, Yuy," I said
very resolutely. "Forget it. I am fine."
His hand found its way under my braid, his fingers curling lovingly around
the back of my neck, stroking lightly. "Baby... those are second-degree
burns. They need to be looked at." His voice was so... troubled,
bordering on distraught, that I almost caved in. But the idea of spending
the next couple of hours in a crowded emergency room for no real reason
was enough to stiffen my resolve.
"Listen to me, husband-mine," I told him, keeping my voice as
reassuring as I could manage. "I know this is the first time this
has happened since we've been living together, but you're going to have
to deal with the fact that it's not really a rare occurrence. Not being
able to feel things like heat and cold means that I make these little
blunders from time to time. I know how to deal with it and I know when
I've passed the point of dealing with it on my own." I drew back
to look him in the eye, to hopefully add weight to the words. "Trust
me... all right?"
He didn't look convinced, sliding his hand away from the back of my neck
to brush his fingertips across my cheek. He finally settled his hand on
my forehead, continuing to frown at me. "Duo," he said gently,
as though he were talking to a child. "I'm afraid you might be in
the early stages of shock... your skin is too cool, you admitted you feel
shaky... I just want..."
I think he got kind of pissed off when I started to laugh. "I just
spent the last couple of hours sitting outside without my coat on! Of
course I feel chilled!"
He didn't... see the humor.
The remark got me ensconced on the couch, wrapped in the afghan before
you could say 'stupid thing to say'. But at least he seemed to get over
the hospital idea. A sweater was fetched from his closet, pillows were
brought from the bed, a second afghan was dug out of the bottom of a blanket
chest somewhere. All of these excesses were delivered on my person with
an almost constant running monologue about the idiocy of sitting around
outside in thirty-degree weather without a coat. I just let him go, letting
him work off his anxiety, hopefully getting some of this mother-hen crap
out of his system. I was just thankful he'd finally forgotten about calling
After a little bit, I found myself alone in the living room while he took
himself off to the kitchen to make hot soup for me. I had little doubt
that it would be chicken soup if we had any. I kept myself from grinning
until he was out of the room. Like I said; he'd make somebody one kick-ass
I suppose I have to admit I was feeling a little better as I started to
warm up, but that really wasn't what was on my mind.
Once Heero had stopped fussing, or at least stopped fussing in the same
room as me, I couldn't help but notice that Trowa had managed to leave
the house listing lying on the coffee table. It was right there next to
my sketchpad and I leaned over to snag them both, bringing them into my
lap. I looked at the tiny picture of that house again and sighed wistfully.
God I wish Heero would calm down. I really, really wanted to talk to him
about what he'd said, but I was pretty sure he needed to be out of the
mood he was in first. I opened the tablet, and being very careful to avoid
certain pages, flipped forward to the sketch of Heero in the back room
of that house. The sketch of Heero... in my studio. My studio. It kind
of made me shiver, thinking about that, and not from the cold. It had
been so long since I'd had someplace to call my own, someplace where I
could feel free to make changes. When you make a home, you put your mark
on it. Even if it's nothing more than choosing the furniture and arranging
it. The colors and the placement of things is your choice, it reflects
something about you. This apartment reflected only Heero. There was nothing
of me here at all. And while it was a perfectly livable, pleasant place...
it wasn't mine. Wasn't... ours.
I heard the unmistakable sounds of Heero dishing up the soup, and rose
to go to the kitchen before he hauled it all into the living room. I moved
quietly and was sitting at the table before he half knew I was there.
"Duo," he said reprovingly. "Go back where it's warm. I'll
get a tray and..."
"Get a grip, Yuy." I grinned at him. "I got chilled...
I didn't catch pneumonia! And dish some of that soup up for yourself.
I know damn good and well you haven't eaten either."
Some of that almost scary, almost maniacal light seemed to finally fade
from his eyes and he gave me a little smile. Almost sheepish, but not
We were quiet while he moved around the kitchen, putting a bowl in front
of me, setting out some crackers. He got down another bowl and dished
up some of the soup for himself. It was, as I had suspected it would be,
chicken noodle. I had to hide a grin with my first spoonful.
"Listen..." I began, just as he said,
We both stopped, and we grinned nervously at each other.
"Go ahead," he offered.
"No," I told him. "I think mine's going to be kind of...
long. You go first."
He frowned at that, and I thought I was going to have to argue him into
it, but then I think his own need to know the answer to whatever it was
he wanted to ask me, got the better of him. He didn't chew on it near
as long as I expected him to.
"Duo-love," he said very gently. "Why did you run away?"
Well shit. Maybe his subject matter would take longer than mine. I repressed
the urge to renege and tell him that I would go first after all.
"You... kind of scare me when you get like... that," I told
him, watching my spoon push noodles into the depths of my soup to drown.
He sat and stared at me for a long minute, his own dinner forgotten. "What?"
he fairly breathed. "You're... afraid of me?"
I flushed crimson and tried not to cringe. "Not... like that,"
I blurted. "You just over-react to anything that happens to me...
and the whole damn world follows your lead!"
"Follows my lead?" he parroted, obviously confused as hell.
"Yeah," I said, somewhat bolstered by the fact that he was still
talking to me, and we weren't yelling yet. "The other guys knew that
whole rushing to the emergency room thing was over the top... but they
won't say no to you. I just get... lost in the shuffle."
"I was not over-reacting," he protested, doing his best to keep
his voice steady and calm. "Quatre agreed with me..."
I almost laughed, but managed to keep it toned down to a snort. "That's
not fair... you know how Quatre reacts to anything to do with my hands!"
He opened his mouth to argue that point, but I raised an eyebrow and he
finally shook his head in defeat. "Ok... I have to give you that
one. Quatre is just a bit... sensitive on that subject."
I did let myself laugh out loud then. "Now there's an understatement
He smiled along with me, seeming a little relieved to hear me laughing.
"Eat your dinner," he scolded, and took a spoonful of his own.
"Yes sir," I murmured and followed suit.
I thought about his question while we ate for a bit. Thought about what
had been running through my head in that moment, trying to find him a
truly honest answer. "I don't really know what makes me do it, Heero,"
I finally sighed. We both knew we were talking about more than today.
This wasn't the first time I'd headed for the hills when I'd started feeling
pressured. "Damn it... it was just so humiliating, having all those
people staring at me." I shuddered theatrically and he looked like
he wanted to argue with that statement, but I didn't let him. "I
was already a little irritated with Sally..."
"Sally?" he questioned, his voice going a little cold. A little
I let out a little frustrated growl and started to run my hand through
my bangs, stopping when the stark, white gauze caught my eye. "She's
bound and determined to 'fix' things between Wufei and me. And much as
I would like for things to go back to normal... the middle of one of Quatre's
parties wasn't the place to try it."
"I'll speak to her," he told me, and there was a hint of irritation
in his voice.
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