Author: Sunhawk
Warnings : 1+2 pure fluff, OOC, Heero POV, 2004 alternate Christmas ficlet.
And trust me; there is no profit being made here.

Promises

I have always been the type of person who needs to have a plan of action in any given situation. No matter how peripheral I am to an operation, if there is a problem, I have to be doing something. I do not suffer idle waiting well. I want to act. I want to help. I need to have a hand in making things right.

But what plan can you formulate when your partner is in surgery? What act can you take while you are waiting for other, more skilled hands to save his life? How can you help?

The answer is; you can't. You can only wait. And pace. And think about how things went wrong. And wish that you had been there.

And I suppose you pray.

I'm not the praying kind. I don't think I even believe in God. But Duo does, and I suppose that was what had led me to the hospital chapel that day.

Oh, to be honest, I had mostly been looking for a moment of privacy. Had needed away from the others for awhile. The tension of the waiting was bad enough without the added burden of small-talk.

But once in that quiet chapel, I could so easily picture Duo there if it had been one of us in that operating room. Could picture him appealing to his God on our behalf, and it suddenly seemed like I was somehow letting him down by not being able to do the same.

So, feeling self-conscious as hell, I found myself on my knees praying for the first time in my life. Praying to a God I didn't really believe in. Making promises. Bargaining for the life of my partner the way all novice petitioners do.

If you spare him, I won't take him for granted any more.

If you spare him, I'll stop ignoring him.

If you spare him... I'll finally tell him how I feel.

And that was how I found myself sitting at Duo Maxwell's bedside on Christmas eve, watching the shallow, steady, rise and fall of his chest. Listening to the beep of the heart monitor that told me he was alive. Feeling the too-cool skin of the lax fingers I held in my own.

The others were long gone, assured by doctors and nurses that Duo wouldn't wake for a while. But I had promises to keep. A debt to pay to Duo's benevolent God, and I was determined to stay until I could uphold my end of the bargain.

Afraid, perhaps, that God would turn out to be impatient if I wasn't prompt. Afraid that it wasn't too late for him to renege.

How quick we humans are to look for a source for both blame and gratitude. Easier to shrug and point to an invisible being and say, 'he did it'.

How quick we are to rationalize doing what, deep in our hearts, we want to do anyway. I promised God, after all.

A twitch of the hand in my own, a change in the sound of the monitor, told me long before I saw any other signs, that Duo wasn't going to sleep nearly as long as predicted. So I was there, squeezing his hand and hovering close, when those eyes of his finally drifted open and I was surprised to see him try out a wan little smile.

'H'ro?' he murmured, all full of pain killers and so fuzzy I wanted to weep.

'Right here,' I told him, and squeezed his hand again. There was a twitch that told me he tried to respond in kind.

He attempted to look around, but quickly gave it up, letting his eyes fall closed instead. 'Where...?' he asked muzzily, brow furrowed in an attempt at concentration.

'Preventers' infirmary,' I told him gently. 'You're going to be ok.' I could see him still thinking and I told him the things I would want to know, were I in his place. 'The mission was a success. Your team got the hostages out. You were in surgery almost six hours. It's still Friday night.'

The frown cleared away and he blinked his eyes open again, looking for me. 'Chr'mas eve,' he managed after a moment. 'Aren't you... supposed to be... at 'Lena's party?'

I shook my head and wrapped his hand in both of mine. 'I think she'll understand.'

He tried a smile, his eyes meeting mine for a moment. 'You'll... miss S'nta Claus.'

I snorted and needed to kiss the knuckles I held in my hand. 'I already got the only thing I needed,' I told him. I could see him trying to make sense of me, watching me through those heavy-lidded eyes. It was probably the best opening I was going to get, and with the presence of Duo's God hovering somewhere over me, I leaned down to whisper softly, 'I got what I asked for the minute they brought you out of surgery alive. Another chance to tell you... I love you.'

It was oddly liberating to have blurted that out. Liberating and scary as hell. I waited, completely unaware that I was holding my breath, for some sort of reaction.

It took him a long moment of blinking at me, before he smiled and said, 'I thought you said... it wasn't Christmas yet?'

'Close enough,' I managed around the lump in my throat. 'Now you should rest; I'll be here.'

He let his eyes close again, his fingers curling more comfortably in my hand, but then that little frown of thought was back. 'H'ro?' he asked, voice already slurring into sleep. 'Tell me 'gain tomorrow? 'Fraid I dreamed it.'

I couldn't help a chuckle that was so full of relief it bordered on... something else. 'Every day from now on,' I whispered.

I waited until his breathing had evened out before I cast a glance toward the ceiling, and softly said, 'Thank you.'

You know... just to be on the safe side.


End

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