Author: Sunhawk

Memories of Pain (cont)

He went white as death, all in an instant, and swayed on his feet. I reached to catch him, but he flinched so violently away from me he went over side-ways and fell, cracking his hip against the desk. We ended up on the floor, me on my hands and knees not knowing what the hell to do next, Duo curled up in a ball, rocking back and forth, moaning softly. It was very little consolation that I had put the pieces together right. I lay down beside him, very carefully not touching him.

"Duo? Talk to me, Duo." He was looking right through me, I tried to sound stern even though my insides were shaking like a leaf, "Come on Duo, it's Heero. Let me help you up. Are you all right? You're scaring me. Duo?"

Nothing seemed to register. I reached out a cautious hand and was able to lay it on his shoulder. His skin was icy cold, muscles knotted and tense.

"Please don't do this. Please don't leave me here alone."

Something flickered in his eyes and he suddenly had my wrist in a bone-grinding grip. "Help me." He growled, but when I started to pull him into my arms, he gritted his teeth and almost snarled, "Help me... focus." he was fading. I knew what he wanted and I balked away from it. But his eyes were wide and empty again and he was being sucked back into whatever nightmare world awaited him.

I jerked him up by the arm and shook him, "Damn it, Duo! Don't make me do this!" I could see him struggling to find his way back and not making it.

I had done this; I had pushed too much at him too soon, I had ripped the cover off the nightmare and exposed it to the light and driven him screaming into the dark to hide from it. Now I had to undo it, had to deal with the consequences. I steeled myself and slapped him hard across the face. Pain equals anger, anger equals control. Duo's world, Duo's way. I saw a flash of anger in him and struck again. His lip split and a tiny thread of blood crept down his chin.

"Damn it, Duo, come back to me!" I was shouting at him now, my hands on his shoulders, the only thing holding him up, he was like a rag doll lolling in my grip. "Don't make me do this!" My voice cracked and I was shaking almost as hard as he was. His blood was on my hand.

Then the bedroom door crashed open, and Wufei was there, "Yuy! What the hell...!"

The light from the hall flooded the room and fell across us, illuminating us in what must have been a very bizarre scene. Wufei was clad only in a pair of very wet pants, and some detached part of my mind realized he had come running from the shower. His hair was raining drops of water everywhere as he strode across the room, his eyes flicking to all the clues, my shoes by the bed, our rumpled, obviously slept-in clothes, the blood on Duo's mouth.

Then he was shoving me violently away, pulling Duo up and heaving him to the bed, "Damn it, Yuy! Give him a focal point!"

I was still on my knees on the floor; dumbfounded that Wufei had figured it all out in just three strides across the room.

And, crack, went his open hand across Duo's face, hard enough to nearly knock him off the bed. But Wufei had his arm in a tight grip and held him in place.

"Maxwell! Come on, damn it! Focus!"

Crack!

"You can do it, come on and focus!"

Crack!

"Damn it, Yuy! Get up here! Talk to him!"

I heard a gasp from the doorway as I pulled myself up the side of the bed, and spared a glance to see Trowa and Quatre standing there, obviously roused from sleep by the noise. Quatre had a horrified look on his pale face, only held back by a grim looking Trowa.

But in Duo's eyes I could see a spark of life again, his face turning toward Wufei's blows, unconsciously asking for the pain.

"Duo, can you hear me? Please, Duo, come back... come back... "

Wufei hesitated, looking deep into Duo's eyes, "Maxwell?" There was still no response, and Wufei hauled back and belted him so hard he lost the hold he had on his arm, and Duo went over sideways.

"Wufei!" Quatre yelled in mixed anger and fear, and struggled in Trowa's grasp to get to the bed.

Then, very softly, Duo's voice came drifting up, muffled in the blankets, "Wufei? That's enough now... damn. That's more than enough now."

I sat down heavily on the side of the bed, relief spreading through me and making me feel like someone had just pulled the plug on whatever powered me. I just sat and stared at the blood on my hand. Duo's blood on my hand.

Trowa finally freed the frantic Quatre, who flew to the bed and set to finding Duo under the hair and the bedclothes. "Duo? Duo, are you all right?"

"Shhhhh," came back the distant voice, "Head really hurts."

Quatre probed around, gently evaluating the damage, smoothing the long wisps of hair away from Duos face, straightening the tangled limbs, "I need an ice pack and some aspirin."

He fairly leapt off the bed to go after it; Trowa hesitated for a moment and then trailed in his wake.

Slowly, wobbling like a newborn, Duo sat up and his eyes found mine through the veil of his hair. He didn't speak, didn't move, but his eyes begged for the shelter of my arms. But even poised as he was on the edge of that hungry, catatonic, oblivion, he respected the discretion we had maintained in front of the others and he wouldn't reach for me until I granted him permission. His face swam for a moment before my eyes, I blinked hard and banished the tears and opened my arms to him.

A primal, anguished moan escaped his lips as he pitched forward into my lap and flung his arms around my waist, holding on as though something was trying to rip him away. I gathered him up and rocked him like a child.

Wufei watched, his normally impassive face overshadowed by a faint, hurting frown. I'd never seen his hair down before; it hung on either side of his face like the black wings of some exotic bird and made him look entirely unlike the Wufei I knew.

"Wufei... " I couldn't find the words to tell him what I wanted to say; I didn't know how to tell him how much I valued his constant level-headedness, his uncanny ability to somehow always know what was right, and so, I sat in silence, staring at him over the top of Duo's head.

But Duo couldn't leave it at that and blindly reached out until Wufei relented and took hold of his hand. Duo drew him down to sit on the bed beside us, where he could see him.

"Thanks for bringing me home, Mr. Dragon." A ghost of a smile played around his already swelling lips.

It surprised a tiny grunt of a laugh from Wufei, and the pained look passed from his face, "My pleasure Mr. Black. See I don't have to do it again."

Trowa and Quatre returned, and aspirin was immediately forced down Duo's throat and an ice pack was applied to the side of his face. If they thought it odd when they returned to find Duo nestled in my arms, they didn't mention it. I didn't care any more; after all the things I had done wrong tonight, Duo still wanted to be in my arms.

"What in the hell happened here?" Wufei finally queried, after watching Quatre hover over Duo for a minute.

"Nightmare." Duo said simply, but Wufei wasn't having any of it.

"I think there has to be a little more to it than that."

"The mother of all nightmares?" Duo tried on a tired grin, but that didn't wash either.

"Maxwell." Wufei stood firm, hands on hips, looking from one of us to the other.

Duo gave up all pretense, and his voice sounded small and very tired, "Look, guys, I'm sorry. But I can not talk about this right now, OK? I can't even think about it too hard... please, just give me a little time."

Even Wufei softened, "All right, Maxwell... for now." He gave Trowa and Quatre a look and they left the room somewhat reluctantly under his gaze. He followed them out, stopping at the door only long enough to say, "You leave with Trowa in two hours, Yuy. Get this worked out."

When we were alone again, Duo let his head recline back into the crook of my arm, letting the ice pack fall away, and smiled up at me, "Does this mean our first night together is an unprecedented disaster?"

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry and settled on kissing his forehead.

"We are so screwed up." He muttered, eyes drifting closed.

"Don't you ever, as long as you live, ever do that to me again." I told him, meaning it to be light banter, but it came out in a strangled, near-sob and I had to stop talking.

He stopped trying to pull the mask back on, and heaved a sigh, "I'm sorry, love. I don't really know what happened."

That scared me, "What... what do you mean? How much do you remember?"

His eyes refused to meet mine for a moment, "Oh... I remember... everything." He got very quiet and I could see him poking at something in his head, like a small child testing the water with a cautious toe. Then his head snapped harshly from side to side in firm denial, and he whispered, "I'm gonna have to come at this in my own time, Heero. I'm sorry."

"I'm the one who's sorry, my heart. I pushed you too hard. I... "

His fingers came up and brushed my lips, halting me.

"Heero, we can sit here all day telling each other how sorry we are for shit that is not either one of our faults, or you can put me to bed and go get ready for your mission."

"Bed?" I smiled, rubbing my thumb across the scars on his left hand.

He closed his eyes and blew his breath out, "I am so tired, I feel like I've been carting Deathscythe around on my back all night. Just let me sleep a couple more hours."

I eased him down on the bed, and indeed, when he tried to lever himself up to get under the blankets, his muscles shook with fatigue.

"Duo?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you have underwear on?"

"Uhmmm... yeah. Why?"

"Lose the jeans."

"Oh. OK. Would be more comfortable."

He managed to wriggle them off his hips, but I had to pull them free of his legs, then I lifted him up, worked him under the blankets and tucked him into the place we had so recently curled together.

His utter exhaustion was catching up to him, his eyes getting heavy-lidded. I found the discarded ice pack and tucked it in against the bruised side of his face, bending to kiss him gently on his uninjured temple.

"Sleep." I commanded, "No dreams. Just rest." I felt his hand slide up my chest and he turned his face to receive a soft kiss on his bruised lips.

Then, suddenly, the front of my shirt was clinched tight in a fist that just seconds ago had been trembling with exhaustion and I found myself nose to nose with him, staring, surprised, into a pair of very bright, very clear, amethyst eyes.

"If," he growled low and menacing, "you go off on this mission and get yourself killed, I will firmly believe it was all my fault, I will not be dissuaded from this belief; I will then self destruct my Gundam, follow you all the way to hell, and haunt you for the rest of eternity. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"

"Uhmmm, abundantly."

"Good." He let go of my shirt, his arm falling bonelessly back on the bed. "Now go get ready. Do what you have to do. I will be fine until you get back."

I sat and stared at him, his eyes were already closed, and I shivered. I had no doubt he meant it.

I brushed away a lock of sweat-darkened hair, and murmured, "Good night."

"Night." He mumbled in turn, voice distant and sleepy.

I left the door open when I left the room.

The door to my own room I shut tight, I had just under two hours and had a lot of work to do. I started with a solid hour of rigorous calisthenics until I was slick with sweat and my mind was finally focused away from where it had been for most of the night. I followed that up with a quick shower and a change of clothes. When I went downstairs, I felt almost ready to face the others and still had most of the last half hour in which to grab a quick breakfast.

Quatre was in the kitchen again, making batches of perfect omelets as fast as Wufei and Trowa could eat them. I took my place at the table without comment, and Quatre slipped a steaming plate in front of me with a bright, beaming smile.

I took it as approval of the current state of things between Duo and myself. Quatre was something of a romantic. Wufei kept frowning at him. Reminding him, I suspected, of some previous agreement not to broach the subject with me. Breakfast was passed pretty much in silence.

Unfortunately, this left my mind free to wander, and it circled right back around to the thing I had just spent an hour sweating it away from; Duo. Should I talk to someone about what I had learned last night? Should I warn them? It seemed a breech of confidence somehow. Duo wasn't ready to deal with it yet. In fact, I was beginning to suspect he had been repressing the memory and had not really been aware of the whole truth until I had shoved his face in it. I didn't know a thing about repressed memories. Could it be dangerous? Was it going to make the nightmares better or worse? Would Duo try to face up to it alone, while I wasn't there? In the end, Wufei took the decision out of my hands. As I finished eating, he caught my eye and then left the table and headed into the study. I dumped my dirty dishes in the sink and followed him. He closed the door behind me, and cut right to the core of things.

"You've given me a mission without all the pertinent information, Yuy."

He moved to sit on the corner of the large desk this room contained, and after a moment of shocked silence, I pulled the chair out and slumped into it. This was why I could rely on him, why I had asked him, to take on this 'mission', as he had termed it. He was the one who had been able to bring Duo back to me. He was the one who could keep a calm, rational head. I was a little surprised when I thought about just how much I had come to count on him in the last couple of months. Opening my heart to Duo had opened it to the others as well. A year ago, I would not have flinched at allowing any one of them to die if it had meant the success of a mission. Now, I don't think I could have. That scared me as much as anything ever had. At the same time that it gave me hope that I wasn't quite the monster I had always believed I was. Duo had given this gift to me, but I couldn't yet tell if it was a good or a bad thing.

I raked my hands through my still damp hair and let my breath out in a sigh. "I don't really know what I can tell you."

"Are you two lovers?"

Always straight for the killing blow, our Wufei. It shocked a grunt out of me and forced me to meet his eyes for a moment. There wasn't any judgment there, just a search for legitimate information.

"No... not... No." I said, face burning.

He granted no quarter, "But you're in love?"

I hadn't thought my face could get any hotter, but I was wrong, "Apparently." I mumbled.

He regarded me for a moment, and granted me a reprieve with a slight change of subject. "Do you know what brought on that... attack, this morning?"

I chewed on that, and he waited patiently.

"Do you know anything about repressed memories?" I finally asked.

"Not much."

I was finally able to meet his eyes as I made the decision to share what little information I had, "This stays between you and me until Duo has a chance to work this out."

He nodded a grave affirmative and I continued.

"He had a nightmare last night and he talked in his sleep a little. I think... I'm almost sure, that he was assaulted as a child back on L2."

Wufei's face turned grim and angry, but he kept silent.

"Maybe more than once."

His jaw worked as he ground his teeth, "As a child?"

"I think so. His voice sounded... much younger."

He looked off into some distance, over my head and took a slow, calming breath.

"When he woke up, all it took was the word 'rape' to send him into that... fit."

"You think he was repressing the memory of the attack?"

I nodded, "At least partially."

Out in the foyer, I could hear Trowa making final preparations to leave for the hanger. I saw Wufei's eyes flick in that direction. I was running out of time, and I abandoned the last of my stupid introversion in a rush.

"I'm afraid for him, Chang. I'm afraid he's going to try to dig those memories up on his own. I'm afraid he'll go off into that... that dark place with nobody around to help him and be lost forever."

His face lost the anger and registered astonishment; I'm sure it came as quite a surprise coming out of the mouth of the perfect soldier, "Heero... " he began.

But I was started and couldn't stop, I cut him off before the moment was gone, "I'm trusting you with my heart. Watch over him. Keep him safe for me until I get back. I can't do this mission if my gut's all tied up with worry. I have to be able to convince myself he's safe in order to get my head where it has to be."

He stood up and gravely laid his hand on my shoulder, "You have my word."

And that came with all the weight of a life lived with the strictest of honor.

I nodded, not trusting myself to speak again, and went out to join Trowa in the walk to the hanger. I managed to glance up the staircase only once.

end

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