by: Sunhawk

Guidance (cont)

He waited for me until I was done and then helped me back upstairs.

I fell back into bed, relieved to get off the knee again, "Thanks, Wufei." I sighed, crawling back under the covers.

"No problem." He told me and it took him a minute to return to his own bed, "I'll be here if you need anything."

I was a little surprised at how quickly I fell back asleep despite all the aches and pains.

The next few days were rough. The house was monstrous and it was taking me forever to learn my way around. Quatre blatantly hovered and I had to wonder if Trowa had lost his nerve and never spoken with him about it, or if this was actually toned down from what I would have dealt with if he hadn't talked to him.

Wufei wasn't quite as bad but was never far and somehow, between the two of them, Trowa just seemed to fade away all together. I missed his calm acceptance of my need to do things for myself. With Quatre around, I was lucky I got to shower alone.

I knew that part of my agitation was stemming from the fact that I was quickly closing on the date when the base medic had said they wanted to see me again. That terror of being permanently blind that I had thought I had squelched completely was back and gnawing holes in my stomach lining.

My focus had become not biting anybody's head off.

The only good thing was that the swelling in my knee went down after a day or two and it seemed I hadn't done any real damage to it after all. I had to wonder if the damned thing would ever stop bothering me. The cuts on my hands were fairly superficial and bothered Quatre more than they bothered me.

That last day, I was a bundle of tension just looking for a place to explode. Quatre was absolutely on my last screaming nerve and all I wanted was a little solitude. I wished Deathscythe weren't off in Howard's scrap yard in hiding while he was being repaired from the crash; I would have gone and crawled in and locked the damn hatch behind me. In desperate fear that I was going to rip Quatre a new asshole, I fled to the shower in the middle of the afternoon and spent an hour washing my hair. It was the only place in the whole house that I was allowed a modicum of privacy. Even that was subjected to a tap on the door and Quatre's calling, "Duo? Are you all right in there?" After he felt I had been holed up too long.

If Quatre's sister hadn't been a teetotaler, I would have been tempted to go hunting for a stiff drink. Or two or three. Instead, I had Quatre lead me to the living room where I proceeded to lie down on the couch and pretend to take a nap. It relieved Quatre's mind and made him go away and leave me alone so as not to disturb me. I just had to get through the rest of the day and in the morning I would get dragged off to face the music at the base hospital. Lying here pretending to sleep was getting me a touch of the solitude I so desperately wanted but was leaving me with nothing to do but stare at the inside of my eyelids and wonder if that's what the world was going to look like with the bandages off... for the rest of my life.

My mind was running in tight little corrosive circles; my body craving some sort of activity. But I knew as soon as I admitted I was awake, my little mother-hen society would descend again and I truly didn't trust myself not to explode all over them. A line from an ancient song ran through my head, '... livin' in a powder keg and givin' off sparks!' It was just how I felt.

"Duo." I heard Wufei's amused voice near the doorway, "I know you're awake."

"Don't tell." I stage whispered and he chuckled softly and I heard him coming closer.

"Trowa was telling us about you... " He hesitated, "Working out, at the cabin."

I felt myself flushing and elbowed myself over in an effort to hide it.

"Not much else to do." I muttered.

"We've found a place here... " Again that strange hesitation, "That we thought suitable... " He trailed off and I raised my head so I could better hear his body sounds. He was shifting uncomfortably.

"What kind of place?" I ventured.

"Large open space... level ground." His voice was hesitant and I realized that this was probably Trowa's idea and that Wufei didn't completely believe him.

I sighed, "I need some sort of... " I thought about it, remembering the rougher bricks that bordered the patio, "edge... something to tell me when I've gone too far."

"We've taken care of that." He said and it moved me to sit up, "Would to go... ?" He stopped himself before he said see it.

I smirked to let him know I had caught that almost slip and imagined him blushing.

"It beats the hell out of lying around here waiting for my head to implode." I grinned and allowed him to lead me there.

It was outside behind the house somewhere, because he took me out the backdoor. Trowa and Quatre were there and I sighed, wondering if they expected me to work with them watching me like some sort of trained monkey.

Trowa came and took my arm away from Wufei and offered me his shoulder. I put my hand there and followed him out onto a hard surface. I stopped and kicked my shoes off, crouching to find the edge of the concrete and set them in the grass out of the way. Then I let Trowa 'show' me around.

It was some sort of tennis or basketball court or something, level and relatively smooth. Trowa led me to where I could feel the tape they had put down for me. I grinned up at him and he patted my hand where it rested on his shoulder, taking me into a corner and letting me orient myself.

"It's approximately a fifteen foot square." He told me, "The tape is a foot wide strip, so you shouldn't miss it when you hit it." He lowered his voice, "Will it do, Daredevil?"

I grinned again, "That's Mr. Murdock to you." And we laughed together. I wanted to ask him where the hell he'd been for the past four days.

He left my side then and I paced out the square. It's fine for someone to tell you fifteen feet; but you need to feel the distance. I counted it out, learned the surface beneath my feet and found the center. I took a couple of deep breaths and then tilted my head in the direction I knew they were in.

"Quatre?" I called quietly, half hoping he wouldn't answer, that they had gone back to the house.

"What is it, Duo?" I guess a little privacy would have been too much to hope for.

"I'm gonna fall on my ass." I told him, "You know that; right?"

He made a noise that let me know that he hadn't realized that fact but Trowa said something to him that I couldn't hear and he subsided.

I wished they'd just go away.

I rolled my shoulders, took a deep, calming breath and took my stance. In my head, I tried to bring back the thunderstorm. Tried to just let it all wash away and forget tomorrow, forget that they were standing there staring at me, forget how much I wanted Heero to come back.

I began the kata, slowly at first because I hadn't taken the time to stretch and made it through the first six moves before I lost my balance and fell. There was a sound from my right that I just freaking ignored; counting on Trowa to keep Quatre from coming out to help me.

I climbed to my feet, found the tape, traced my way to a corner, paced out to the center and started again. I was a little looser this time and more in tune with what my still stiff knee would bear and I made it farther. Not falling until I was almost through the first set. There was no noise from the sidelines and I tried to convince myself that they had gone in the house. Tried to convince myself that I was truly alone out here.

Another quick reorientation and I began again, determined to get through the entire set without falling.

It felt good; giving my body something to do was pulling my mind out of the yipping, panicked circle it had been running in. I could feel myself relaxing a little, could feel some of the tension easing away.

I made it through without falling on the third try but it was sloppy so I went back and did it again. I was able to concentrate a little more on the details of the moves, a little less afraid of falling and I could feel myself smoothing out. I ran through the first set four times clean before I allowed myself to move on to the second set.

The second set is harder, naturally and requires several sudden turns and a couple of kicks that give me trouble. Leaving the ground completely is a little disorienting. It took me six tries to get through it without falling on my butt. I wanted four clean, consecutive passes of the second kata before I put the two together. Consecutive became the key word. Eventually, I managed it and looking back; I realize that I did manage to completely block out the rest of the world in there somewhere. I forgot the watchful eyes, forgot to listen for Quatre's hissing breath whenever I fell, forgot to worry about one of them rushing out to help me to my feet. There was just nothing but the feel of the wind and the warmth of the sun and the dance.

I started over with the first kata, determined to get through both sets without falling all over myself. Time seemed to lose its flow, things just seemed to hold still and I wasn't even aware of the feel of the wind anymore. It just came down to movement.

When the kata came to its close, I found myself in the world again, heart pounding, skin slick with sweat but blessedly free of the anxiety that had been worrying at me all day.

I heard the scuff of a footstep and turned to meet Wufei as he came out to make me stop.

"Pretty pathetic, huh, 'Fei?" I grinned and found a towel pressed into my hands. If I had surprised him by guessing it was him before he spoke, he didn't let me know. There was a long silence while I wiped my dripping face and when he did finally speak, his voice held something strange.

"You never cease to amaze me, Maxwell."

All I could do was grunt in surprise. He didn't take my arm as he had before but guided my hand to his shoulder as he had seen Trowa do and led me off the court. We stopped long enough to retrieve my shoes and I realized that the two of us were alone. I wondered how in the hell Trowa had gotten Quatre to go back to the house, or maybe Quatre had just gotten tired of seeing me skin my elbows and knees. I couldn't help but grin. For the first time that day I felt like we might actually get through without coming to blows.

"How the hell long did it take you guys to tape that off, anyway?" I asked on the sudden realization that they had done it on Trowa's say-so alone, because I knew as sure as the Gods had made bunny rabbits and rainbows that Chang Wufei had not believed I could do it.

I was more than a little pleased that I had pulled it off; if for no other reason than that I had backed Trowa up. I knew I had probably looked like a drunken ox out there; but by the Gods I had done it.

"Maybe an hour." He told me, voice a little subdued and I couldn't hide a tiny smirk, though I was slightly behind him and he might not have seen. I waited until I was able to suppress it a little before I told him, "Thank you... it helped."

He grunted and then surprised me again, "We... I'm sorry. We don't mean to treat you disrespectfully... "

I honestly doubted what my ears were telling me and had the wind picked up in that moment, it might well have blown me over.

"I... I know you guys are just worried." I told him and wondered which of us was blushing harder, "I appreciate that. I really do... it just... "

He laughed, "Makes you crazy?' He finished for me and I laughed with him.

I could smell dinner cooking when we went into the house and guessed that was how Trowa had connived to get Quatre away from me for five minutes.

Things were a little easier the rest of the day. Dinner was an uncomplicated affair that Trowa had obviously put some thought into in an effort to make things easier for me. After the work out, I needed another shower, though I didn't wash my hair again.

I spent the rest of the evening listening to Trowa and Wufei play a round of chess and I made them call the moves so I could follow it. I grinned to myself when I realized that I could see the game in my head well enough that I saw Trowa lose two moves before he realized it.

Quatre put some music on toward the end of the game, just a little background music; something instrumental. I liked it but it brought to my attention just how long I'd been without my music. The cabin, with its single outlet, had been without song the entire time we were there. I hadn't thought about it since I'd been here. It rather jolted me how much it jangled my nerves. I relied on my hearing for almost all of my input now and the stereo interfered with that. Not a lot... I could still follow the game, could still talk with Quatre but it kept me from hearing the subtle undercurrent of sounds that I had come to unconsciously count on. I didn't notice, for instance, when Quatre left the stereo and was suddenly speaking to me ten feet from where I had thought he was. It made me jump. I excused myself not long after and sought the quiet of my assigned room.

I sprawled out across my bed and let myself feel the misery that wanted to envelop me; it was just one more thing I had lost. One more thing that would never be the same. I wanted with all my being to lie and bawl like a baby, wanted to howl out my frustration and my despair, wanted to scream with the terror that was eating me alive.

I heard the soft sound of Wufei's tread. It had surprised me when I had realized I could tell them apart from the way they walked.

"Maxwell?" He asked softly and I wanted to laugh; only Wufei could make my last name come out sounding like a pet name, "Are you all right?"

"Fine." I told him and rolled over so he didn't have to talk to the back of my head.

"You left rather suddenly." He observed, moving a little farther into the room.

"The stereo... makes it difficult to track sounds." I sighed and pushed up on one elbow to turn my blind eyes his way.

"We... we didn't realize." He apologized, "We'll turn it off if you... "

I chuckled and it came out sounding a little edgy, "Don't worry about it. It won't matter one way or the other after tomorrow." I almost bit my own tongue as soon as it was out of my mouth but it was too late.

He came the rest of the way across the room and sat down beside me on the bed, "What do you mean?"

I flopped back and let out a gust of a sigh, "Come on 'Fei. Either I'm blind or I'm not. If I'm not; it won't matter... things will go back to normal. If I am... it still won't matter; I won't be staying with you guys. I'm... kind of a huge liability."

He didn't know what to say; the truth was the truth. I felt bad for opening my damn mouth, "Sorry." I muttered and rolled to face the wall so my back was to him and he couldn't see me frantically trying to piece my mask back together.

His hand came to rest on my shoulder, touching hesitantly at first and then gripping more firmly. It was a surprise what a comfort that simple touch was. Just a little human contact. I felt tight muscles relaxing a little under the warmth of his hand. Neither of us spoke; I didn't trust my voice and I suspect he still just didn't know what the hell to say.

Then I heard a stride on the stairs that wasn't Trowa or Quatre's. I jumped and sat up, listening harder. I didn't trust what I thought I was hearing. I wanted it too much, was afraid my ears were telling me what I needed to hear.

"Who... ?" I breathed and Wufei rose from the bed, understanding that I wasn't sure whose step that was. He hauled me up by one arm and shoved me behind him and I could feel the tension in his muscles. And I also felt when that tension melted away.

"Yuy." He confirmed with a sigh, letting go of my arm.

"What's wrong?" Heero wanted to know and I couldn't help but grin like an idiot from just the sound of his voice.

Wufei chuckled lightly, sounding a little embarrassed, "Maxwell here, can apparently tell us apart from the sound of our damn walks and he hasn't learned yours yet."

There was a surprised grunt from Heero and then Wufei was stepping away from me. I just stood where he left me, not sure what to do. I heard him move to the other side of the room and I realized he was gathering his things, giving way to Heero's presence.

"You can hear the difference in the way we walk?" Heero questioned, sounding amused.

I grinned and ducked my head, feeling inexplicably embarrassed, "Uhmmm... yeah; Wufei walks real quiet... like a cat. Trowa makes almost no sound at all unless he means to. Quatre... isn't noisy, exactly but you can tell he doesn't think about it. You sort of... stride."

There were twin, surprised grunts and I imagined that I would have to study the sounds of them again tomorrow after they started thinking about how they were moving.

It got quiet again and there was some of that feeling of communication that didn't involve me. I think I hated that more than anything else. The silence dragged out and suddenly Wufei burst out with an exasperated sigh, "Oh for the Gods sake, Maxwell!" I almost jumped in surprise, "I got a more exuberant welcome than this!"

It shocked a bark of laughter out of me and I opened my mouth to retort but by then he had his gear together and was leaving the room. I heard Heero softly close the door. There was a strange moment and then I opened my arms. He came across the room in three strides and gathered me up.

"Gods, I missed you." He breathed close to my ear and I could feel the quiver of his emotion clear down in his chest.

I turned my face awkwardly toward his, seeking his lips with mine and he met me in a kiss that was both tender and uncompromising, loving and passionate; speaking to me of need long denied.

His pure, animal scent rose up around me, overwhelming in its strength, unbelievably intoxicating.

"How long?" I sighed when he let me.

"I don't know." He told me vehemently, "But I'm going to be with you tomorrow no matter what; I swear."

My knees felt weak thinking about it; what had he done to make sure he was here with me for this? What chances had he taken? What had he rushed? It scared the hell out of me at the same time that it filled me with an almost giddy relief. This is what I hadn't been able to admit even to myself; just how badly I had wanted Heero with me when I got the answer to the question I was afraid to ask.

"Thank you... " I sighed, reaching for him again, finding him in the dark, "I don't think I can do this without you... " I shivered with the feelings running through me and he held me tight in his arms. I came as close to breaking down as I had since the night he left me in that cabin in the woods.

"I'm here now." He crooned to me softly and for the merest moment, it was like he had lifted a crushing weight from my shoulders and shifted it to his own. I felt like I could breath deep for the first time in weeks.

"I love you so very damn much." I told him in the moment I had before the weight came settling back.

"With all my heart and soul." He responded, his fingers tracing gently over my face.

A quiet knock came at the door and we both jumped, easing away from each other with matching embarrassed chuckles.

"Yes?" Heero called to the closed door and Quatre's voice told him that they had heated his dinner up.

"I'll be right down." He answered and sighed softly, his fingers coming back to brush across my cheek.

I laughed at him, "Go eat. Shower. I'll be here when you come back."

When he was gone, I lay back on the bed and thought about my refusal to make love with him that last time we had been together. I remembered the guilt the next morning when he had gotten called away. I didn't mean to let that happen again.

I got up and made sure the bedroom door was closed and then very deliberately stripped out of my clothes and crawled in under the covers to wait for Heero to return.

I was taken with a tremulous nervousness, a strange mix of anticipation and dread. I couldn't refute that my body missed his; that I wanted his hands on me, needed his touch. But there was still that underlying feeling of being completely vulnerable and exposed, of being stripped of all my defenses.

By the time he came back to the room a good hour later, I was wound as tight as a cheap watch, balled up and almost shivering in the middle of my bed. I jumped when the door opened, suddenly taken with the fear that one of the other guys had come to check on me.

"It's just me." Heero called softly and I heard the door close behind him. His steps took him to his side of the room where his things were and I heard a strange hesitation. I imagined him noticing the pile of my clothes that I had very deliberately left close by the side of the bed, my 'pajamas' laying pointedly on top. Then I heard him undressing. I was tuned to his every sound; the quiet thump as his boots hit the floor made me jump, the rustle of his shirt being pulled over his head made me shiver, the sound of the zipper and snap on his pants being undone went through me like an electrical shock.

I didn't initiate sex very often. It was still a new and sometimes frightening thing to me and I tended to follow Heero's leads. He was the most gentle, patient partner I could ever have asked for. He understood the needs of my body better than I did most of the time. Our first time together he had guided me so carefully, had eased me gently through it, had gotten me passed my fears and freed me from the nightmares that had haunted me since childhood.

I had grown to love the feelings he awoke in me, had learned to open myself to the cravings of my own body, was no longer so afraid of giving in to the pleasure he could give me. Had found great delight in learning how to return that pleasure.

Tonight I lay in bed, listening to him preparing to come to me and trembled like it was our first time.

I heard the soft brush of his bare feet across the floor as he moved and I slid to the back edge of the bed to give him room. He crawled in beside me and though my mind and my emotions were in turmoil, my body knew what it wanted and I sought the comfort that came from curling against him, pillowed against his chest.

He settled beside me, drawing me into the curl of his arm, brushing his cheek against the top of my head where it nestled against him.

"Duo... love," He sighed softly, "You're so cold." His voice was troubled.

"Warm me." I told him, my voice somewhere between husky and trembling.

His arms tightened around me and he ignored the implied invitation, "What's wrong, my heart?"

I snuggled closer to his heat, trying to banish the chill that was making me shiver, "Make love to me." I asked and wished I didn't sound so desperate.

He tried to raise my face up where he could see me and I found myself resisting.

"Duo... you're hiding from me." His voice held a gentle reprimand, "Don't hide from me... please."

I gave in to his touch when he tried again to lift my face.

"Duo... " He sighed, brushing his fingers along the edge of the bandages around my eyes, "It's still just us... it's only me."

"I'm sorry... " I couldn't begin to explain to him what was in my head. I felt broken inside, like something was out of place and it was beyond my power to fix. I wanted Heero to fix it; I wanted him to put me back together.

His voice became suddenly firm, "I won't let you slip away from me. The past months I've watched you... coming to terms with... what's growing between us." I could feel him struggling with the words; "I won't let your fears steal this from us."

I didn't know what to say to him, I felt like I was on the edge of something beyond my ability to cope with.

"I love to watch you when passion takes you." He told me in that deep, seductive voice that makes goose flesh run down my spine, "Don't take that away from me."

He bent down to kiss me. Softly, gently but insistent all the same, "I want you to make love to me." He said and his tone would stand no argument.

I curled back against his chest and tried to calm my skittering nerves. I truly didn't understand why this was so difficult, why I was so nervous, why my inability to see him as he saw me was making things so... different.

"Touch me." He commanded gently, "Explore me. Show me what you want."

His voice became my soothing guide, an almost hypnotic call that lead me where we both wanted to go.

I found my hand sliding over his skin, relearning the curves and muscles of his body and the litany of words changed to sighs and quiet moans. He let me hear his pleasure, knowing it was all I had, that I needed to know what I was doing to him.

His sounds, his scent filled me like the thunderstorm had. It took me over and as I had on that patio in the pouring rain, I forgot for a small space that I was frightened, that I was blind. I rose above him and explored his tastes, his scent, the delicious feel of him and he finally began to touch me in return. We commenced our dance together and it was sweet after the long separation. He let my body dictate what it needed and when I made it plain what I wanted, he was the one who prepared us both, stroking the oil over his length and carefully preparing me as well. But still he left the doing of it to me, lying back and letting me impale myself on him, letting me use his body to answer the desires of my own. It had been so long that merely taking him inside me was almost enough to send me into a shuddering orgasm but I didn't want it to end so quickly and forced myself still until the clenching rush of it eased.

He laced our fingers together and steadied me where I knelt over his hips, groaning encouragement as I began to ride him. The sounds he made were soft, well aware that we were not alone in the house and for a time I tried to keep still as well. But as the end of the dance fast approached, my body's long neglected needs finding an answer in his, my moans began to increase and I no longer cared what anybody thought. It no longer mattered that I couldn't see; the absence of my sight only served to focus everything down to sensation, to feelings, to the slide of our bodies together. My hips were rocking in a hard rhythm all their own and I was completely lost in the feelings cresting in me.

I felt Heero let go of my hand and he pulled me forward, rising to meet me, his mouth closing over mine, stifling my impassioned cries. I felt his hips buck up to meet mine as he came deep inside me, his deep-throated groan vibrating through me. It was all it took to send me plummeting after him. I would have screamed with it if he had allowed me to.

I knew nothing for a time but the sound of panting breath and the thunder of my own heart in my ears.

Heero cleaned us up and I let him, feeling as weak and wobbly as a newborn. Then he crawled back in with me and let me curl around him and rest my head on his shoulder.

"How do you always know what I need?" I asked him softly.

"I don't." He chuckled, "I'm just making it up as I go along."

I laughed and twined a little closer, "If I wake up in the middle of the night, will you make something else up?"

He chuckled again and kissed the top of my head, "If you think you can keep your voice down next time."

I growled at him in mock irritation, "I wasn't being that loud."

I thought he would laugh out right, "Love; as worried as the whole house is about you right now, they would have all three come storming in here to see what was wrong."

I felt myself flush hotly, "Well, that would have been... awkward."

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