Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of them.
Warnings: Male/Male sex, graphic, language, violence.
I can't say it was retaliation for my choice, but it was far too coincidental when Duo arrived back at headquarters, after a full scale fire fight, and I was denied admittance to the hanger. The man barring my way, didn't realize how close he was to reaching my breaking point. My emotions were never highest than when my worry for Duo was concerned.
"Listen," the man drawled, with a smirky grin that told me that was enjoying denying me entrance thoroughly, "You don't have the clearance. You're just a file clerk. Maybe someone was letting you get away with it before now, but things have tightened up. These guys don't need little clerks getting in their way."
He was a big man, muscled as if he spent most of his days working out. I was still a force to be reckoned with, but I'd grown slimmer, and I didn't keep up my exercises so religiously. I could take him, I thought, but not as easily as in the past.Fighting, though, was out of the question. This wasn't the war. This was a place of law and order. As much as I hated it, and hated that man just then, I couldn't use my fist to clear the path to Duo.
I could imagine Duo in the hanger, pumped up on adrenaline, and not feeling his wounds, or the fact that he might be on the raw edge of passing out. I could imagine his grin, and the fire in his eyes, while he did his report and made sure his team was taken care of. He'd push himself past all limits and no one would be there to care for him when it was all over.
"Don't you have work to do?" the man wondered in a tone that told me that he was about to make me leave. "I'm sure Maxwell doesn't need his wang taken care of right now."
The heat that hit my face, at his crude words, was hot enough to scald. I couldn't see for a few heartbeats as my heart lost its rhythm, and then I simply pointed a finger at the camera, positioned near the door, "That records sound as well," I told him.
The man squinted at it and then glared at me, "Good, then it can record you being where you're not supposed to and me telling you to get the hell out of here."
My hands were shaking. It was anger, seething through me, not fear, not intimidation, and it was getting past my ability to control it. The man was in serious danger.It had been a long time since I had felt that ready to do someone harm. I didn't want to go, but I knew that I had to. It was like leaving a bleeding chunk of my heart behind to ignore his triumphant snicker, his sneering taunt of, "Yeah, coward, just like everybody said." and walk away from that door, from my Duo. I hoped that he was all right. I hoped that he would understand.If he wasn't... If he didn't... I had rather graphic mental imagery of what I would do to that bastard keeping me away from the man I loved. Pacifism wouldn't matter, I realized, or life, if Duo...
I throttled my thoughts and my worries and reminded myself that Duo had done a damned good job of taking care of himself long before I had decided to help him do it. He wasn't a stupid man, just dedicated beyond reason; as dedicated to winning battles, to keeping the peace with force, as I was to keeping the peace through pacifism.That thought didn't comfort me as it should have. It only reminded me of how much of himself he was willing to give for his beliefs. It made me stop in the hallway, resolve faltering, and turn back.
I wasn't sure what I had decided to do, and I didn't want to think about it after, but, whatever my plan had been, it was short circuited by the agent who came running up to me.
"Yuy!" he panted. "Come on. Talk reason into that bastard!"
I felt fear then, but it was all for Duo, as I hurried into the hanger, ignoring the agent guarding the door completely.
"Status?" I demanded of the man hurrying by my side.
He didn't hesitate to supply, "No gunshots, or laser burns, as far as I can see, but he's been working with a virus, for three days now, and he looks dead on his feet. He needed to be in medical yesterday, but the fucking idiot won't stand down, even now."
He hadn't, because it was chaos that greeted me. They had heavy, dangerous equipment and weapons that needed to be accounted for and stored, wounded, walking and otherwise, that were being spot checked and then taken out of the transport by order of severity, and captured rebels that were handcuffed, but still needing guards and processing. The ship was pockmarked with blast marks, it's engines were smoking and still heating the air in waves, and the cargo doors were open and spilling out men and machines as if it were hemorrhaging from a gaping wound.
"There!" my guide said and pointed to the top of the cargo ramp.
Duo stood there, back against the hot metal hatch frame, hair whipping about from the force of an engine having trouble powering down, shouting orders. He looked angry, face filthy, black jumpsuit torn and hanging with weapons, and an air mask draped down, telling me who had ended up piloting at the end. White, was my first thought; he looked like a ghost, a tragic captain of a Flying Dutchmen, presiding over the ship of the damned. The groaning and cries of the wounded made that image seem even more valid.
I didn't run to him, though I felt every fiber of my body wanting to do just that.I knew Duo better than that. I understood the situation, as well, perfectly. Our eyes met, whether he had been looking for me all along or not, I couldn't tell, but he was aware of me that quickly. Can you embrace in a look? Can you have an entire conversation in the glint in a purple eye? We managed it. I turned away from him and began helping the men around me, ignoring my startled companion. The only way to get Duo to stand down, was to complete his mission.
After shoving a laser cannon into a lock down position, along with six other men, and turning to find another task, it was then that I saw the agent, arm in a sling, head down, and trying to yank the controls on the engine from a top hatch.Not a good way to do it, but considering the situation, a quick one. I saw his precarious situation, and his inability to keep his balance, and was up the side of the huge, hot carrier, between one breath and the next. Service handholds helped me, but it was sheer muscle power, and the strength of my fingers, getting me most of the way up. A running engine is a damned dangerous thing, and a man is supposed to stay clear of them, if he values his life. The agent was topside, but probably feeling the rumble and heat through his feet. I had to pass the sucking feeling, the blast furnace heat, and cling to the side of a trembling bulk of armor plating along side it.
When I reached the agent, I tangled a hand in his coat. He was pale from wounds and looking dazed, some autopilot inside of him having driven him to the dangerous job despite how he was feeling. He gave me a glazed look, frowned, and began to say something along the lines of, "But you're Duo's...I'm supposed to watch out for you..." before I had him sitting down and my own hands in the mess of wires and connectors in the service hatch.
Watch out for me? I thought. That could mean so many things.I shoved it out of my mind to concentrate and had the engine powering down in under a minute. It gave me a feeling of satisfaction, hearing the noise level fall and knowing that everyone could work without that dangerous distraction. Slapping the hatch closed again, I hooked an arm under the agent's good one and helped him to safer ground.
I threw myself back into the job of helping others, desperate for it to be over and for Duo to be able to rest. It took a long time, but the bay cleared, and everything and everyone was finally secured. Duo sat down on hard metal, then, head in his hands, and his braid snaking over the edge of the cargo plane ramp . One of his team bent to talk to him anxiously while he waved over a medic. A weary man began to walk up the ramp towards them, but I was faster. I crouched by Duo, carefully putting a hand on his shoulder.
His eyes blinked and then he turned his head to look at me, as if his head weighed more than his body, and he said raspily, "Honey, I'm home."
The agent looked uncomfortable as I laughed, touched my forehead to Duo's dirty one, and then made way for the medic. The no nonsense man, looked totally centered on his job. I doubt that he cared what we were to each other, or even if Duo was a multi colored llama. He had a job, a duty, and he was ready to perform it to the best of his ability.
After checking Duo over, the medic growled, "You have a bad case of pneumonia, aggravated by a lack of giving a shit, Commander Maxwell. I suggest that you get your dumb ass to the infirmary, stat, before you get cozy with a morgue slab.Should I call for a gurney, or will you continue with the heroic bullshit and insist on walking there?"
Duo stared, open mouthed, closed it, and then replied meekly, "Uhm, yeah, call for it."
That told me just how bad he was and my heart clenched. Duo gave me an amused smile, though, as he leaned into me and I wrapped arms around him to support him. "You'd just insist on carrying me the whole way," Duo snickered as his eyes began drifting shut. "I'll save you the trouble..." and then he was out and I was the one shouting for the gurney.
Duo spent two days in the hospital, being pumped with antibiotics, fluids, and lectures about taking care of himself. He didn't take any of it well, and tried to finish his reports and check on his team, even when he could barely raise his head up from his pillow. I helped him complete his mission, appointing myself his go between with headquarters, and he was able to rest after he was certain everything was taken care of.
When he was released from the hospital, and back in his own bed at home, he was more than willing to sleep and let me care for him, at least for the first few days. After that, it was a fight against his need to always be in motion. I contemplated tying him down, when he insisted I return to work, and then tried to take his motorcycle for a ride. I came home for lunch, to check on him, and found him cursing with his helmet in one hand.
"You took the keys!" Duo accused, leaning against the bike and looking ready to fall over.
"Because I'm not a fool," I growled back. "I know you!"
I helped him back to bed, yanking off his shoes and leather jacket, and pushing him back into the pillows. The blankets were a battle ground against boredom, strewn with crossword puzzles, remotes to vids and music, books, and his laptop, open and skewed on it's side.
"I can't leave you if I can't trust you," I said as I righted the laptop and began cleaning up.
Duo caught my wrist, his grip hard and his expression fierce. "Stop acting like the maid, or my nurse. I can do all that myself."
Duo pulled me to the bed and I sat down. I grabbed his mussy braid and gave it a jerk, before wrapping it around one hand.
"Punishment accepted," Duo chuckled, coughed, and then became serious. "Okay, I admit that I was about to forget the idea when you showed up. I was out of breath just getting down to the garage. I was being stupid."
Drugs were busy cleaning up his lungs, but Duo still had two weeks before he could hope to be cleared for duty. I wasn't sure that I could convince him to rest until then.I could be as much of a workaholic as he was, and I admit that I felt irritation that I had to contemplate taking more time off of work. I wasn't a nursemaid. I had as little patience as he did. Yes, he was far more important than anything else in my life, but it was only human to wish that he could behave and that he wasn't taking his confinement with less grace than a five year old.
"Sorry," Duo sighed, sensing my mood. "I don't know why, but sitting still just eats me alive after awhile."
I didn't say anything as ridiculous as, 'It's all right.' It wasn't. He was endangering his life with his hyperactive nature.
Duo coughed and it sounded as if he were bringing up a lung. He went pale, closed his eyes, and then said, "You go back to work. I promise to be a good boy."
"You promised that when I left this morning," I reminded him sourly, but I pushed off my shoes and climbed into bed with him.
"You're going to be late getting back to work," Duo warned, but he made room for me.
"Tough shit, " I replied.
"I like when you act all bad ass and insubordinate," Duo snickered, as I forced him to lean against me and rest his cheek against my chest. He looked up, purple eyes amused, and then I felt his hand wander.
"Don't," I growled. "I do have to go back to work and you're not in any shape for that."
"Spoil sport," Duo chuckled and then coughed again. "Okay," he said when he could, "I guess I'm not."
"Duo..." I tried not to make it sound like a lecture, but it was. I had to tell him why he had to stay in bed, to let the drugs work properly, and what wandering around town, in his condition, could do to him. When I was done, feeling as if I had just volunteered for motherhood, and not liking it, I realized that he had fallen asleep.
I slipped out from under Duo and put the blanket over him. Smoothing hair from his eyes I said, "Stop being an idiot. Maybe this isn't a wound that needed eighty stitches, but it can be just as deadly." He murmured something, only half aware of me.When he called later, demanding to know what the hell I had for brains, I was more than ready to defend my decision to hire a nurse.
"She looks like an ex Oz interrogation expert!" Duo complained, keeping his voice low, so that, presumably, the woman couldn't hear him. "She wants forms filled out in triplicate, with a detailed explanation, if I even want to go take a piss!"
"I think she did say something about working for Oz," I blandly replied as I shuffled file disks on my desk at headquarters.
"Heero, this isn't necessary!" Duo complained.
"It was either her or a leg restraint," I replied. "Take your choice."
"I hate you," Duo groused. "I take back all of that love stuff..."
I felt a sinking depression, though I knew he didn't mean it. It was the stress, I knew, and my worry for him. My silence must have warned him.
"You know I love you?" Duo quickly amended. "I was just... I'm an asshole, aren't I? Why do you put up with my shit?"
"Because I love you," I replied, finding a smile.
"I'm glad," he said and his voice sounded warm. "Okay, I'll be a good boy, but she may torture all of our secrets out of me by the end of the day.... I hope you don't mind if she finds out that you like romance novels and having your toes sucked?"
I blushed. "As a matter of fact, I do. Try to hold out until I get home."
He laughed and we hung up. It was then that I noticed several people in my office glaring at me with different levels of disgust and anger. I wasn't surprised, later, to find my locker defaced with black marker. 'Cocksucker' was written in large letters. I glared, and then called the janitor to have it cleaned off.
On to Chapter six
Back to chapter four