by: Sunhawk

Guidance (cont)

His voice grew soft and tender, losing the teasing tone completely, "Go to sleep now my little one."

I snorted softly at him but found myself slipping away.

"Love you." I murmured.

"Heart and soul." He replied.

When I did wake in the middle of the night, it was from a dream of darkness, laced only with sound and scent. I listened to the steady pulse of Heero's heart beating against my ear and let it calm me.

"Heero... " I breathed, knowing he was asleep, "I'm... scared."

It helped, a little bit, to confess that to someone even though I knew he didn't hear and I drifted back off to sleep.

The morning was a blur. I went downstairs to the kitchen with everybody else but wasn't able to eat breakfast when Quatre sat it in front of me.

He fussed over me until I managed some juice and I think he would have continued to push but Trowa gently called him away.

The ride to the base was a sort of torture; I couldn't work up to much conversation, though the guys kept trying to draw me out. It was two hours from Quatre's sister's house and I thought I would scream waiting to get there at the same time that I wanted the ride to never end.

I was shocked when I felt Heero's arm slide around my shoulders with the Gods and the whole world sitting there watching. He pulled me close and whispered softly in my ear, "I'm scared too."

I flushed, utterly appalled but let my head rest on his shoulder. If he was going to offer this, who was I to turn him down?

I felt the change when the car slowed some time later and I knew we were getting close. I couldn't stifle a nervous sigh as I raised my head, attempting to listen for clues that would tell me how near we were. I wasn't sure I was ready for this.

A hand from my left tentatively brushed my arm and I turned towards Trowa to let him know he had my attention.

"Doing Ok, Mr. Murdock?" He murmured and I had to chuckle, giving him a wide grin and reaching to squeeze his fingers.

I knew no one else in the car was going to get the comic book reference and it made me want to laugh out loud, knowing how appalled they would be if they had understood it.

"Risking a kick at the Easter bunny, are we?" I queried softly and felt Heero shifting uncomfortably next to me, realizing that things were being said that he didn't understand. That almost did make me laugh outright. Turn about's fair play; it served him right for all those hand signals he kept using to talk around me.

We were parked and getting out of the car before I knew it, Heero reluctantly losing the more intimate touches as we stepped out into what amounted to 'public'.

Gods; my freaking knees felt weak.

There was an awkward moment before Trowa took my hand, placed it on his shoulder and the five of us began the walk inside. I ducked my head to hide the maniacal grin I couldn't keep off my face imagining what we must look like. Loyal guards ranged around their prince? Glaring security escorting a dangerous prisoner? Some sort of bizarre blind-man's-bluff game that had gotten out of hand?

"Step up." Trowa guided me, "Single file through the doorway. Carpet runner. Three steps up... " A continual monologue that I think was as much to keep my mind occupied, as it was to lead me.

There was a waiting room then where they sat me down and I lost all contact with anybody as stranger's eyes made all of us uncomfortable. My hands were unconsciously clenched in my lap and I could feel a shudder wanting to run its course up my spine.

I heard the sound of Wufei's steps moving away but lost him quickly in among all the unfamiliar sounds. I imagined him going to tell some nurse or attendant that we were here.

I could feel Heero's body heat, he was sitting so close on my right and I knew he was being eaten alive with wanting to hold me. Looking back, I think I can say that was the one time in all our years together that I felt the faintest twinge of regret that he had problems with public displays of affection. I wanted his arms around me in that moment more than I ever had before or ever would again. All I could do was squeeze my own hands and try not to think.

It was sweet Quatre, who apparently has no problems with displays of affection in any time or place, who came and slid an arm around me.

"Can I get you anything. Duo?" He asked me gently, doing that circle thing in the small of my back.

I grinned in his general direction, "A barf bag?" and immediately had to make a grab for his arm as he started to leap to his feet, "I'm kidding, Quatre!"

There was a stony silence that let me know that he wasn't amused, "Sorry." I muttered and decided to just shut the fuck up. My nerves made me want to joke. Their nerves only served to kill whatever sense of humor they had started out with. Not a great combination.

It was quiet then until Wufei came back. I couldn't pick the sound of his step out of the flood of other sounds and I jumped when he spoke from right in front of me.

"It won't be long." He assured me and couldn't know how that news only set my heart to pounding harder, "They'll send someone out when the Doctor is ready for you.'

I think I muttered something but he only went and sat down.

I wished I were free to ball myself up in a corner somewhere and hide. I could hear bodies moving around us, probably not the hundreds of people it seemed like but more than enough to give me back that stripped down, exposed feeling again. The imp was prodding so damn hard I was getting a headache. My focus was in not letting myself shout that I wanted to go home and get the hell out of this place. Now. Right fucking now. As long as the Doctor didn't pronounce me blind, then it wasn't true. I wasn't ready for this. Even after the weeks of trying to convince myself it was already so... I still wasn't ready. Hope is a damn hard thing to kill. My imp had crawled out of my head somehow and was sitting on my lap chanting, ... gonna be fucking blind... in a sing-song voice.

I was vaguely aware that Quatre was moving away from me and it didn't seem by his choice. Then Trowa was sitting down beside me and without preamble or hesitation he pulled my hands out of the strangle hold they'd had on each other and took one in his. My left hand in his left hand in that backward guy grip that is apparently Ok for the general viewing public. That alone was enough to make me grin at him. I could hear him stretching those impossibly long legs out in front of us and in my head I could see him crossing his ankles and assuming that 'at ease' pose that he's so good at.

"There is the most drop dead gorgeous blond I have ever seen, checking out Wufei's ass." He drawled in a low voice, just as though we were sitting on the beach somewhere and had the whole day to do nothing but people watch.

I found myself leaning his way and couldn't keep a delighted grin from my face, "No way; where?" He might have been making it up but I didn't care; it was something to think about besides what I didn't want to think about.

Off to our left there was an incredibly irritated growl.

"She came in just a few minutes ago and watched him walk back over here."

"Soldier or civilian?" I wanted to know and didn't even care if we were playing a game or not.

"Soldier, I think." He lowered his voice a little more as though she had moved where she might hear us.

I found I was grinning like a loon, "Think we should try to get her to come over here? Introduce them?"

Trowa didn't have a chance to answer me before I got a decidedly nasty, "Maxwell!" from Wufei in a very low voice. I almost laughed out loud when I realized we weren't playing; there really was a beautiful blond somewhere in the room who was interested in our Wufei. I would have leered at him just to make him sweat if I'd thought I could have gotten it aimed in the right direction. Leers are decidedly ineffective when they don't hit their mark.

"What's she look like?" I turned my attention back to Trowa, letting him distract me, letting him guide me on a different kind of terrain.

"Almost as tall as you are, I would guess." He said slowly, as though looking her over as he considered it, "One of those classic hour-glass figures... pretty face... honey blond, shoulder length hair... "

From the chairs behind us, I felt Quatre lean down to join us, "Imagine a cross between Sandra Bullock and Virginia Hey." He whispered in my ear and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt we weren't playing; Quatre can't lie worth shit.

I opened my mouth to see just how far I could push Wufei's comfort level when I heard a strange woman's voice say, "Mr. Maxwell?"

My blood ran cold and I couldn't stop my fingers from clutching convulsively on Trowa's.

"That would be me." I admitted, though I imagine there wasn't that much doubt. How many blind guys could there be in the room?

"The Doctor will see you now."

Now there's a phrase that you wouldn't think was all that bloody scary. But there it was; my moment of truth was at hand.

Trowa gave my hand a final squeeze and Quatre reached from behind me to pat my shoulder. I hesitated, not sure what to do. Heero had been quiet the last while, just sitting close beside me but not joining in the banter. I wasn't sure if he had meant to go back with me. I didn't want to have to ask.

"Mr. Maxwell," Came that woman's voice again, "If you'll take my arm... "

A rather cold voice from my right cut her off, "I'll be guiding him."

I would have grinned at him if I hadn't felt like I was going to pee my pants.

He took my hand and brought it to his shoulder and I had to remind myself not to clutch.

"This way then." She said and the sound of her step spoke of irritation. I don't think Heero had been in her game plan.

She led and we followed, it wasn't far and she ushered us into a room that echoed in an ugly, sterile way. She informed us the Doctor would be there in a minute and shut the door on her way out.

I loosened my hold on Heero's shoulder, meaning to let go but he covered my hand with his and held it there.

"Your hands are cold again." He told me.

I chuckled, "Stark terror always does that to me."

"Duo... " He hesitated, "You know I love you; no matter how this... "

The door opened and served to shut him up.

The Doctor was a breezy, cheerful man and I had to wonder how long he'd been working with the military. He sounded middle-aged but it was hard to tell.

He had Heero help me sit on the exam table and I could hear the rattling sounds of equipment.

"Now, Mr. Maxwell," He was telling me as he brought that equipment closer, "I see this binding is fresh... have you had your eyes uncovered since the accident?"

I quirked him a grin and stifled the first thing that wanted to pop out of my mouth, "Call me Duo, Doc." I told him, "You're makin' me feel like somebody's Grandpa."

I was successful in pulling a small chuckle from him.

"I unwrap them to shower." I told him when I had his agreement not to call me Mister anything, "But... I shower in the dark."

He grunted, "Well, Duo; at least you can follow simple instructions. You'd be surprised how many people can't."

He was undoing the tape as he talked, "You may have a little trouble getting your eyes to open at first, not so bad if you've been showering and keeping them clean."

I felt the gauze begin to fall away and realized with a start that my hand wasn't on Heero's shoulder any more but was held tightly in his. I'm not sure which one of us was gripping harder.

"Your eyes are going to be extremely sensitive to light at first." The Doctor was babbling away to me and I idly wondered if he said that to all his eye injury patients.

"Is that just normal Doctor optimism?" I interrupted and it really was like listening to a recording slip. Heero's hand tensed around mine. Then it felt like the man was truly talking to me for the first time.

"Yeah... it is. I'm sorry; you're right." His voice became surprisingly gentle, "If your eyes have healed and you can see at all... then, yes they will be very sensitive to light."

I rewarded his candidness with the quirk of a grin, "So... I'm blind or I'm not... nothing you do in the next ten minutes is going to make any difference? You're just here for the unveiling?"

He actually laughed, "No. No difference. Either your eyes healed or they didn't."

"Then... would you mind if I... we... had a few minutes?"

There was a moment of electric silence and I found myself wondering what this man looked like.

"That would be... understandable." He said at length, "Keep the lights dimmed and just open the door when you're ready."

Then I heard him leave. Heero unwrapped the rest of the bindings with his own hands.

"Ready love?" He asked me gently.

"No." I told him honestly. I had thought I would have to struggle to keep my eyes from popping open but I didn't; and I knew I was going to have trouble making myself open them when the time came.

He moved to stand in front of me, where I still sat on the table and took me in his arms. I pressed my face into his neck. I felt oddly naked without the gauze covering me.

"No matter what happens," He told me, finishing what he had started to say earlier, "I will always love you. You are a part of me... this changes nothing."

"This changes everything." And I couldn't keep the pain out of my voice.

"Not what matters. Not how I feel about you." He sounded so sure of himself, so firm in his conviction, I could almost believe him.

"I won't be able to pilot. I won't be... what you fell in love with." I sounded almost like I was trying to win an argument; I don't know why I was pushing so hard. Maybe I just wanted to see if he would falter.

"I fell in love with you, not what you do." He told me and it came out sounding almost amused.

"You fell in love with a soldier." I insisted, "Not... "

He cut me off again, "You're a soldier still. You proved that on the mountain with Trowa. But it doesn't matter... I am in love with you; not some damned ideal."

"Heero... I won't be able to... "

He stopped my words with a kiss, just the barest brush of his lips over mine, "Are you telling me," He whispered, "That you would stop loving me if I lost an arm or... ?"

"Of course not!" I snapped and his wry chuckle told me I'd fallen into his trap. He kissed me again, a little deeper, "Why must you always poke at the damn bear so hard, love?"

I gave it up; maybe I couldn't conceive of a future together in the dark but apparently he could, "I guess it's just what I do." I sighed and he took me by the shoulders, straightening me up.

"Open your eyes, Duo." His voice was that firm, soothing one he uses when I need his guidance.

"I... I love you." I whispered and let my fingers trace the path up his arms to find his face. I wanted to be sure I was looking him in the eyes.

It took more will power than I would have thought possible but there was nothing else to say and the time was now.

"Open your eyes." He commanded me again, his voice nothing more than a sigh and I did.

They blinked shut again of their own accord from the brightness of the dim lights.

I grinned, forcing them open again. Heero was blurry and watery and difficult to see... but he was there.

"Fuck you, damn imp." I muttered with glee and heard Heero's confused,

"What... ?"

I grinned at him, "It hurts."

"It... hurts?" His voice was a study in shivering relief.

He jerked me off the table and into his arms and kissed me with a rising passion that made me afraid he intended to take me right there on the exam table.

A laugh bubbled up from somewhere deep inside me. I wrapped myself around him, blinking furiously and returned his kisses full measure.

"We should call the Doctor back in... we should have him check... "

"In a minute." I sighed and pulled back to look at his face. My eyes were watering profusely and I was forced to blink almost constantly but I could see his face... I could see his eyes. I drank him in, studied every line, every curve.

"Gods, I missed you." I smiled softly, losing the grin.

His fingers came to wipe gently at the tears washing down my face, "It's good to have you back."

Behind us the door flew open letting in a flood of light from the hall and I heard Wufei's agitated voice, "Damnit, Maxwell... what the hell is taking... " He stopped cold, seeing the tears on my face I'm sure, "Oh... Gods... " He murmured, horror-struck and there was the sound of Trowa and Quatre not a step behind him. Whether they had come with him or come to stop him, I don't know.

I quirked a grin at Heero, "Do you mind, Wufei? The light... is kinda bright."

There was a still, dead-calm moment and then he came across the room in a rush only to stop beside us, his face working through a score of emotions. I turned my wet, squinting face to his and grinned.

"You can... see?" He asked, voice no more than a whisper.

"Yeah... " I confirmed, "I can see."

I could see in his eyes that he wanted to embrace me but he couldn't unbend that much with everyone standing there watching. So he only smiled and moved to turn away. I was still floating on my little bubble of happiness and it was in me to reach out and grab him and pull him into a hug but I too was stopped by the awkwardness of the moment. The best I could do was touch his arm as he turned,

"Want... want some company in the morning?" I asked, afraid I might be overstepping myself but he gave me one of those rare, pleased smiles and a small incline of his head. Then he was out of reach.

Quatre came then, not having a problem at all with delivering a bright laugh and an exuberant hug, "Duo... I'm so glad." He murmured.

"I'm sorry I was such a pain in the ass." I told him softly and he grinned his forgiveness.

Trowa made me come passed the others to reach him, standing slightly off to the side, his arms folded across his chest and a tight smile on his face.

I grinned up at him and couldn't speak for a minute remembering what we'd gone through together.

"No more Mr. Murdock." I finally smiled.

"No." He confirmed, green eyes shining brightly down at me, "You won't need me to guide you any more."

There wasn't time for more; the Doctor was back. They had, after all, opened the door.

The man had to speak before I recognized him and I was rather surprised; he didn't look a thing like I thought he would. Mostly just younger than I had expected; and blond where I had envisioned a gray streaked brunette.

He was completely taken aback to find the room full of soldiers but quickly took me back in hand, choosing to ignore their presence. I had to endure a great deal of probing and checking, was given a list of things not to do, mostly involving prolonged exposure to light. There were drops that I was to use twice a day and instructions to buy myself a good pair of sunglasses immediately. He told me the watering would probably slow down in a couple of hours, sooner if I kept to dim lighting. He finally pronounced me fit and released me, with assurances that my sight would be back to normal in a few days. I felt like I was walking a foot off the ground as we left the building.

Trowa drove on the way back and I sat between Heero and Wufei in the backseat. I couldn't stop smiling, I couldn't see very clearly yet with my eyes tearing almost non-stop but every sight I managed to blink into focus was a miracle of it's very own. I kept stealing glances at Heero and Wufei and knew I probably looked like some kind of moronic, grinning idiot. I'd never noticed that tiny scar on Wufei's chin before. The way that one lock of hair wanted to wisp out of the tight ponytail. The sun streaming in through the window set the fine hairs on Heero's arm to golden light, making them glitter copper and bronze. I watched the tendons shift in the back of his hand as he moved. I couldn't get enough.

Of course they stopped at the first drug store we passed and made me find some sunglasses but I had to admit it helped with the watering. By the time we arrived back at the house I was able to see fairly clearly. Things kept surprising me; I had pictured the house as a tidy white frame and it turned out to be a massive brick and stone monstrosity. The same decorator must furnish most of the Winner estate houses and they all have a similar color scheme of warm, rich tones. Quatre's sister, apparently, did her own decorating and I was a little taken aback by the incredible array of pastels. I had not known there were so many different shades of sky blue and dusty rose. It was a very strange thing to wander the rooms and halls of a place I had been living in for days but had never seen before. It was... surreal.

It was a delight to leave the house and have no one hounding me, no one running after me to grab my arm or ask me just where in the hell I thought I was going. I walked the grounds mostly just because I could, finding things to stop and look at, feeling as though I had never seen them before. There was a rather extensive flower garden and I found myself lingering there among the heady scents and vibrant colors. It was enough to make my imp stop speaking to me all together; he had retreated to the back of my head and was sulking in a very non-impish way.

There was a low stone wall reminiscent of the one at the cabin, running around the outside edge of the gardens and I felt myself drawn to sit there in the shade. The sunglasses muted the colors and the light but it didn't matter; it was all still so much more than the dark I had been living in. The dark I had thought I would be living in forever. It was like some kind of incredible gift; everything seemed bright and shiny and new. I felt like I had when I had first come to Earth and realized what a pale comparison L2 had been. I knew this would fade; that I would get used to the colors and the sights and would begin to take things for granted again.

I sat with my eyes closed for a time, remembering. I let my fingers travel over the stones, felt their rough texture, felt their coolness. I listened to the sound of a bee buzzing not far away and imagined it dancing between the flowers. I inhaled the rich scent of mulch and roses... and heard the soft sound of Heero's step on the walk. I opened my eyes and watched him come to me, threading his way between the hedges and the stones of the garden. Watched the light on his hair, the play of strong muscles under smooth skin, the flash of clear, blue eyes. I smiled warmly.

"What are you doing?" He asked when he arrived, his voice holding a touch of puzzlement, a hint of concern.

I cocked my head and looked up at him with a grin, "I have absolutely no idea." I told him and let him take my hand and draw me to my feet, "Nothing, I suppose."

His fingers left mine and came to brush a lock of hair from my face and he frowned slightly, "Should you be out here? Your eyes are watering again."

"Not very much." I reassured him, "Not as much as before... I just wanted a little time to myself."

He hesitated, "Would you like me to leave?"

I caught at his hand, "No. I most definitely would not."

He moved to slip his arms around me but I danced away and turned to step up on the wall with a chuckle. I was more than a head above him now and I held out my hands until he came close and wrapped his arms around my hips. I tangled my fingers in his hair and he sighed.

"I came to tell you dinner is almost ready."

"That's nice." I told him, feeling lighthearted and mischievous and I teased his head back until I could lean down and find his lips with mine, "... and after dinner, my love?"

The shine in his eyes became playful, "What did you have in mind?" His arms tightened around me until he had me lifted from my feet and he stepped away from the wall with me clutching at his shoulders; he'd caught me by surprise and I laughed. Then he slowly lowered me, sliding my body down the length of his until my feet were on the ground again. I gasped with the feel of it.

"I was thinking that we needed to find someplace... private." And the husky, animal sound of my own voice surprised even me.

"Private?" He questioned, his eyes roaming over my face, his hands working their way up my back. I could see the astonishment in his eyes, hearing me talk like this. Astonishment and a bit of delight. It made me bold.

"I want you to make love to me tonight." I told him suddenly, before I lost the nerve and I felt my voice quaver, "And I think I'm going to be very loud."

His breath quickened and he pulled me close to ghost a kiss on my collarbone, "Are you now?"

"Yes," I sighed, letting my eyes fall closed again, lost in the feel of his breath on my throat, "I am. I mean to let you break me... and make me whole again."

He shivered and brought our bodies tight together with a deep-throated groan, "The hell with dinner... "

I laughed with amusement, leaning away from him "But I'm hungry; I missed breakfast."

"I'm hungry, too." He growled and there was an electric tingle up my spine.

"Dinner first." I chided and began to draw him down the path toward the house.

"You are such a tease." He grumbled and I had to laugh at him.

"Oh... I'm not teasing." I told him huskily, stopping to turn and look him in the eye, I almost didn't feel like myself; I was so full of wicked abandon, "We are going to go eat dinner and then we are going to go off together somewhere; just the two of us. Maybe into town to a motel. Maybe off into the damned woods; I don't care. But you are going to touch me and caress me and use that body of yours to make me scream. You are going to take me and I am going to watch your face while you do it. I like to see your passion, too."

I shocked him and pleased him and left him completely speechless and since he didn't have an argument, that's exactly what we did.


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