Guardian Spirits (cont)

Both Trowa and Quatre chuckled lightly, sharing another of those looks. I was starting to squirm. I guess that’s what I got for eavesdropping.

Sally looked around at them, seeming vaguely confused. ‘You make them sound like they should be in therapy,’ she said dryly.

There was a strange silence, then a trio of chuckles and Trowa snickered lightly, ‘Shouldn’t we all?’

I decided I really didn’t want to hear any more than I already had, and shifted in the bed to let them know that I was ‘waking up’.

All four of them jumped like they’d been shot. I would have grinned if I hadn’t been trying so hard to appear as though I had just blinked open blurry eyes. Sally and Wufei both rose to come and check on me, and I did my damnedest to look blissfully innocent.

Wufei smiled so fondly at me that I was instantly awash with guilt and felt myself blushing. Wufei’s smile turned into a grin. ‘And just how long have you been awake?’

‘Busted, huh?’ I grinned back.

He hummed an affirmative and I sighed. ‘Long enough. What’s this about Heero having nightmares?’

He looked a little sad then, and squatted down so I didn’t have to twist my neck to look up at him.

‘We don’t know much more than that ourselves,’ he told me, reaching to brush my hair out of my eyes for me. It was still loose from the shower. ‘He was pretty… out of it by the time we questioned him. He’s, apparently, not been sleeping more than a couple of hours a night… since the storm.’ I almost groaned. ‘Storm’ had apparently become part of our collective vocabulary. I could almost hear the capital letters in it ‘The Storm’. It sounded like a freaking movie title.

‘Wufei…’ Sally warned and I would have glared at her if it wouldn’t have looked pretty pathetic.

But Wufei just smiled up at her. ‘I think there’s been enough secrets kept in this household for awhile, don’t you?’

She subsided and I smiled gratefully at him. ‘Where’s Heero now?’ I asked, suddenly a little worried.

Wufei actually smirked. ‘We sedated him.’ He jerked his head toward the bedroom. ‘He’s in there sleeping like a baby.’

I felt myself relax and sighed heavily. ‘Thank the Gods for you guys,’ I blurted and then blushed.

Wufei chuckled and rubbed the pad of a calloused thumb across my cheek. ‘You’re welcome.’

I glanced at Sally. ‘But, uhmmm… if you don’t mind my asking; why is there a coroner in the middle of my living room?’

Sally burst out with a laugh that she quickly stifled, settling on a wide grin. ‘Because I come with a free drug supply and no questions asked.’

‘Oh,’ Wufei said wryly, ‘you’ve been doing nothing but ask questions.’

She rolled her eyes and jerked her thumb over her shoulder. ‘Get out of the way, Wufei and let me do the other part of what you called me over here for.’

And I suddenly found myself being poked and prodded, and checked over from top to bottom. Literally, when Quatre had to come and show her the bed sores that were trying to form on my hip and shoulder blade. She was very thorough, asking me all manner of questions about intake and output that left me wanting to pull the covers over my head and die of embarrassment. She checked my eyes, listened to my heart, took my temperature, had the guys help me turn over so she could feel and listen to my abdomen.

At length, she pronounced me mildly dehydrated but otherwise none the worse for wear. She gave me a little lecture about changing position at least once every hour or so. Gave Wufei a list of recommended sports drinks and a warning to make sure I drank more than just water. She looked over my prescriptions and made a couple of suggestions to talk to Doc McKay about. Changes that might help with the side effects I was suffering with. Finally, she was packing her stuff back into the bag it had all come out of and I managed to mutter my thanks.

She smiled at me. ‘I’d been meaning to come by and see you anyway. I just thought I’d wait until you felt a little more up to company.’ A sad look crossed her face. ‘I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner.’

I gave her one of the patented grins. ‘Hell; the shape we were in, we might not have answered the door.’

It was meant to be funny, but nobody laughed. She patted my hand and went to get her jacket. I watched her walk across the room and then looked up to watch Wufei watch her walk across the room. I grinned.

‘Fei?’ I said softly, soft enough to ensure that he knelt down next to me to hear better.

‘What, Duo?’ he asked, voice a little concerned.

I carefully reached out and took hold of the collar of his shirt and drew him closer. ‘Walk the woman to her car.’

I was most gratified to see him flush darkly. He hissed a warning at me but I only smiled.

‘You were the one who called her out here,’ I murmured. ‘It would only be the… honorable thing to do.’

He tried to maintain the stern look, but it finally crumbled and he just shook his head. ‘You are incorrigible.’

‘Yes,’ I grinned at him. ‘But that’s why you love me.’

He finally grinned back and surprised me with, ‘Well, I knew there had to be a reason.’

I let him go and he stood, so that when Sally finally got her stuff together and turned to leave, Wufei offered to see her out without so much as a glance in my direction.

Well… a little bloody progress after all these years. Maybe I could dare dream about nieces and nephews someday after all.

I turned to find Quatre at my side with the most beautiful bottle of Mt. Dew I have ever seen. I beamed at him.

‘Quatre…’ Trowa frowned and I feared I would lose it before I could take the first swallow. But Quatre just smiled back at him.

‘She said not plain water.’

‘I doubt that’s what she had in mind,’ Trowa glared.

‘Well, we don’t have any Gatorade,’ Quatre reasoned blandly. ‘I doubt if one is going to hurt him.’

He opened the bottle and passed it to me and I swallowed in pure, unadulterated bliss. ‘Thanks, Quatre. This is the nicest thing anyone’s done for me all day.’

‘Suck up,’ Trowa muttered to Quatre and I almost spit the drink back out all over myself.

+

It was a difficult climb back to consciousness. It seemed to happen in stages. In the first stage, I was distantly aware of voices and movement in the apartment, but was completely and totally unable to make myself care enough to even try to listen to what was being said. At some length, I was able to discern that the voices belonged to Trowa, Quatre and Wufei.

After a bit longer, that jogged my memory enough that I started to remember why I was so obviously coming out of a drug induced stupor.

Oh dear Gods.

Duo. My Duo. What had I done?

I felt like my brain was engaging for the first time in days. I looked at the clock and it didn’t help a whole lot. My best guess was that I had been asleep for somewhere close to sixteen hours, either that or only four. Based on how I felt, my money was on the sixteen.

I staggered up to the bathroom, and after using the facilities, took a few moments to wash my face and rinse the bad taste out of my mouth.

Then I went to find Duo. I had a lot of apologizing to do… if he was still speaking to me.

All conversation ceased when I came wobbling out of the bedroom, and I flushed, not able to meet anyone’s eyes. I looked towards Duo’s bed and found him there asleep. I wanted to go to him. I wanted to talk to him. I wished him awake. I hesitated, standing just inside the living room, feeling like a damned intruder in my own home. There was the sudden sound of an exasperated sigh.

‘Yuy,’ Wufei said to me as he rose from the couch. ‘When did ‘stupid’ become your middle name?’

Before I could stop him, he had gone and gently shaken Duo awake. ‘Sleeping Beauty’s finally conscious,’ I heard him snicker, then he turned away and bluntly told Trowa and Quatre, ‘I think we need to go make lunch.’ The three of them trailed out of the room.

Duo’s eyes blinked open and flicked around a bit, hunting before finding me, and he smiled warmly.

I thought my heart would break. How can he always forgive me the stupid, damn crap I do?

‘Come here, lover,’ he called softly, and I was drawn to the side of the bed as though pulled by a siren’s song.

‘Duo…’ I breathed his name. It felt like a prayer on my lips. There was no barrier here; the barrier had been in me. Careful as I could, I sat on the edge of the bed, ‘Duo, love… I…’

He stopped me with the touch of his fingers. ‘We are going to talk,’ he said firmly. ‘But I do not want to hear the word failed, not even once. Do you understand me?’

I nodded, because his fingers were still covering my lips; and blinked furiously.

‘But first, you’re going to kiss me,’ his voice held an odd tremor, ‘and you’re going to do it like you mean it, understand?’

I nodded again, and he moved his hand to my cheek, guiding me down until our lips met. His parted beneath mine, and I accepted the invitation. His hand slid further and tangled in my hair, pulling me closer, drawing me down to meet his sudden desperation.

I drew back long enough to tell him, ‘I’m so damn sorry.’ Before I met his trembling lips again. He matched me frantic need for frantic need until he was panting beneath me and I had to stop before I completely forgot his injuries.

He looked up at me with fever bright intensity. ‘It’s good to have you back, love.’

He gave me his hand because it was about the only thing I could hold without hurting him, and I hugged it to my chest. I was struggling with a hundred twisted, conflicting emotions, completely overwhelmed that he could so easily forgive me for screwing things up so badly.

‘Duo, how in the hell can you forgive me? I betrayed your trust… I…’ I didn’t even know where to start.

He growled low in his throat and glared at me. ‘No failed. No betrayed. No fucking sorrys. We’ve wasted days and I’m tired of it.’

He took his hand away and reached up to pull my head down to rest on his shoulder and whispered fiercely in my ear, ‘This damn hospital bed is going away. Tonight I’m sleeping in our bed… with you. You are going to hold me in your arms. You are going to tell me about these nightmares and I am going to hold you. We are going to get past this. We’re going to get through it… together.’

He let me go and I sat up to look down at him. ‘You are so… beautiful,’ I sighed, and something strange passed across his face. ‘I don’t deserve you.’

He rolled his eyes and sighed. ‘You are bound and determined to beat yourself up over this, aren’t you?’

‘Pretty much,’ I confirmed for him with a tiny smile. ‘I fucked up. Huge amounts.’

‘I think that has already been established,’ he glared. ‘And I may have made a couple of decisions that were probably not the smartest ones I’ve ever made.’

I recaptured his fingers and held them in the circle of mine. ‘You didn’t do anything…’ I began, but he cut me off.

‘Precisely,’ he pounced on that opening in a heartbeat. ‘I could see something was wrong and I didn’t call for help. I got so wrapped up in coping with my problems that I didn’t look outside myself to try to help you with yours.’

‘I shouldn’t have put you in a position where you had to,’ I told him firmly. I didn’t want him trying to share this guilt. This mess was entirely my fault.

He sighed and let his head fall back on the pillow. ‘Heero… let’s just say that once again between the two of us we have fairly well confirmed that after all these years… we are still pretty damn screwed up.’

I couldn’t help but laugh and he smiled up at me tenderly. ‘Sally thinks we need therapy.’

I shook my head in defeat and smiled down into those beautiful amethyst eyes, that somehow never lost their faith in me. ‘I love you,’ I told him simply.

‘Heart and soul,’ he murmured and gave me a look that demanded another kiss.

I leaned down to comply and behind me, heard the sounds of lunch being delivered to the coffee table.

‘Glad to see you two got things straightened out,’ I heard Wufei chuckle, but I ignored him and finished what I had started. Let them watch, damnit; I didn’t care.

+

The guys stayed with us the rest of that day, feeding us lunch and cleaning up the place a little bit. Quatre and Trowa made a trip to the grocery and restocked the kitchen, incidentally getting me the sports and protein drinks that Sally had recommended. They spent a couple of hours cooking and freezing meals to replace what we had gone through in the last couple of days.

I dozed quite a bit, the last several days had, apparently, taken a lot out of me. I felt like I’d been severely beaten with a rather large stick. Just the sound and feel of the guys in the apartment was such a comforting thing. A feeling like… coming home after a long time away. I felt safe and secure, and confident that Heero was being cared for. I didn’t even have to hold onto my little plushy buddy. Though I woke once to find Wufei standing over me, the little thing resting in the palm of his hand and a strange look on his face. He met my eyes squarely, holding my gaze for a long time before softly telling me, ‘I didn’t give this to you to replace your friends. I gave it to you to remind you of us.’

I opened my mouth to speak, but under the intensity of his dark eyes, nothing came out.

‘Don’t you ever not call me when you need me again, understand?’

I nodded; utterly mute, feeling like a damned deer in headlights.

‘Good,’ he smiled, laying the panther back on the table, turned and walked away.

It took a little while before I was able to doze back off.

When I roused again, it was to see Wufei in Heero’s face and my lover had much the same unfortunate deer expression.

‘…won’t come running over here every couple of days to sedate you,’ I heard Wufei say and I almost gave myself away with a snicker. Trowa and Quatre were nowhere in sight, probably out shopping.

Heero hung his head and flushed darkly, his face registering a heart wrenching mixture of shame and guilt. He mumbled something I couldn’t hear.

‘Heero,’ Wufei said patiently. ‘Nightmares are perfectly understandable… I’ve had a few myself over this, but they shouldn’t be taking over your life.’

‘I know that, damnit,’ Heero sounded a little irritated and I wondered how long this conversation had been going on. ‘Just what the hell would you have me do?’

‘You need to talk to somebody…’ Wufei told him surprisingly gently, and I heard the word therapy echoing behind his words.

‘I’m not… I can’t…!’ Heero almost snarled and threw himself up off the couch. He only walked a little ways off though, before stopping with his back to Wufei and wrapping his arms around himself. Wufei stood after a long moment and went softly to stand behind him, reaching out and putting his hands on Heero’s shoulders. That and nothing more. It was one of those frozen moments. One of those mental images I will carry with me for a long time to come. It spoke to me of Wufei’s infinite patience… his endless strength. And it spoke to me of Heero’s vulnerability. Told me that even an ex-Perfect Soldier had his limits.

They stood like that for a long while, I think Wufei could have offered more, but I think it was all that Heero was able to accept.

They stayed with us through dinner, a somewhat lavish affair that was cooked fresh from what Trowa and Quatre brought from the market. They said it was to save the pre-cooked, frozen meals for us when we needed them, but it was at least partially designed to entice me to eat. Comprised entirely, as it was, of my favorite foods, and brought to me by a beaming Quatre. They knew I couldn’t deny that man anything any more than the rest of them could. I personally felt like it wasn’t fighting fair.

I let Heero feed me, mostly because cutting the steak up with only one good hand was just a pain in the ass. Besides, it seemed to make him feel better to do things for me, and the Gods only knew he needed something to make him feel better.

They left us with admonishments and reassurances until I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. They vowed someone would be back tomorrow to check on us. It was dark before the front door was finally shut and we were alone.

There wasn’t any uncomfortable dancing around each other tonight. He came to me straight away, taking my hand in his and raising it to his lips to lightly kiss the scar there.

‘We have an incredible little family, don’t we love?’ I smiled up at him, content under his touch.

He quirked a small grin in response. ‘That we do.’ Then he sobered a little. ‘I don’t know where in the hell we would be without them.’

There was no answer to that, no answer that either of us wanted to think about, so I didn’t speak.

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