Tangled In The Web
“Get away from him.” The deep, shaky voice came unexpectedly from the bedroom doorway. Duo’s fogged mind had a hard time registering the fact that someone other than himself and his attacker were in the room as the weight on top of his body shifted slightly.
“What the hell?” Harley sounded surprised.
“I said, get away from him.” The voice was more firm and commanding the second time.
Duo’s scalp and muddled mind registered the painful grip on his hair that held him firmly in place on the bed as his attacker lifted his weight off of him. Harley stood from the bed and turned around to face the new intruder. Duo turned his head, in spite of the painful grasp on the back of it, and immediately recognized the unmistakable, silhouetted outline of shaggy hair, a cast on the left arm and Heero’s strong body as his lover leaned his shoulder against the doorframe for support. A long object, looking like a baseball bat, was held in his right hand.
Pulling the cloth out of his mouth with a trembling hand, Duo managed to yell out a strangled warning. “Run, Heero!” His lover didn’t go immediately, but slowly and deliberately straightened his body away from the doorframe. From the shadowed view of the man he loved more than his own life, Duo could tell that Heero was in no shape to successfully defend himself from an attack by the larger man.
The braided man’s heart almost stopped when, instead of following his advice, Heero brought the bat up and stepped into the room, demonstrating that he was unwilling to leave him to the other man’s mercy. Taking a defensive stance, Heero looked prepared for whatever the intruder might try.
Duo’s captor tightened his grip on his hair and with a jerk of his arm, roughly pulled him up and off of the bed to hold him up like a shield or trophy in front of his lover. In the darkness of the room, lit only by the hallway’s light spilling through the doorway, Duo desperately sought out but couldn’t see Heero’s eyes. His heart sank with dread at seeing Heero’s body sway slightly. It was obvious he was fighting the drugs that were still coursing through his system. And though Duo’s eyes remained fixed on the silhouette in the doorway, waiting for his attacker to make his move, his mind struggled to focus on the here and now, to break past the nightmarish visions in his head of Penal Colony Four, with its dark, threatening shadows looming over him and large hands on his body, pinning him down to the cold metal surface. With the strong scent of sweat, beer and cigarettes coming off his assailant and wafting into his nostrils, and the man’s large hand and stumped arm holding him in place against a broad chest, the past and present merged in his mind and he mentally reeled, becoming disoriented as fear and revulsion kept him in place more than the man physically restraining him. His thoughts spun wildly as visions, unordered and horrifying, consumed him, causing his knees to suddenly buckle, bringing them roughly to the carpet as a deep, nefarious laugh came from the man above him.
“Looks like this is my lucky day. I get two pretty asses instead of one,” the intruder chuckled without mirth. Then with unexpected speed, the man dropped his grip on Duo’s hair and hit the kneeling young man with his fist, sending him to the floor and bringing him to the edge of unconsciousness.
The blow to his head helped to momentarily bring Duo back to the present and out of his deranged state. Vaguely cognizant of what was going on, Duo forced his eyes opening, unable to ignore the excruciating pain in his head. Turning his head on the textured carpet, rough against his cheek and his bare back, he fought to focus his eyes on the movement by the door. After blinking at the shadows, the blurred figures made sense, just as the larger shadow before him lunged at Heero.
The bat was a blur as it was swung and hit the upper arm of the intruder’s stump, causing the man to grunt. Unfortunately, their attacker seemed impervious to the blow. To Duo’s horror, his attacker proved once again that he was surprisingly fast. His hand came up and grabbed the bat before Heero could pull it back and wrenched it out of his hand. He didn’t see what happened next, but he heard the sound of someone being hit by a solid object and he watched as Heero’s shadow doubled over. Harley threw the bat over Heero’s bent form and into the hallway then closed the distance between them, viciously kicking Heero in the shoulder, toppling him to the floor. The overbearing man paused a moment to take a look behind him to make sure his Duo hadn’t moved from his place. And even in the shadowed room, the braided man could make out their attacker’s warning glare, aimed at him, warning him to stay put. He then turned back to Heero, still lying curled up on the floor, and began to beat the unmoving man with his one tightly-clenched and powerful fist.
Climbing up onto his hands and knees, Duo used every ounce of his strength, determination and willpower to get to his feet. Ignoring the dizziness and nausea rising in his throat, he swallowed the bile down, struggled to maintain his balance, and more or less launched himself at the man’s back, throwing an arm around the front of Harley Stubben’s neck, hoping to get him into a choke hold and cut off his air. Unfortunately, the former convict, a man used to street fighting, put his chin down in time, making the stranglehold ineffective. But Duo felt some small measure of success when the brute left off hitting Heero long enough to try and dislodge the nearly naked man from off his back.
Duo inflicted as much damage as he could. With one arm still wrapped around the thick neck and his legs tightly wrapped around the stocky waist, he used his free hand to claw at the man’s face and pull savagely at his ears while using his teeth to bite his neck and shoulder and any other available piece of skin. His attack came to an abrupt end when he was slammed into the bedroom wall, hitting his abused head once again. Blackness crept in on his vision and he desperately wanted to give into it to this time, wanting this never-ending nightmare to end ... but he couldn’t. Heero was still on the floor and vulnerable. Duo told himself that he had to stay conscious and fight with all he had left in him to protect his lover. It was his fault, after all, that they were in this dire situation. Another powerful as well as painful slam to the wall and his legs and arms went slack and he fell like a rag doll to the floor. The cruel, curled fist, feeling more like a jack hammer, hit his face again. After that, Duo was only vaguely aware of being dragged back to the bed by the top of his braid and tossed onto the mattress. He lay there dazed and unable to react quickly enough to avoid the other man’s assault. With Frank’s comforter pillowing around his face, the man’s body covered his backside once more, and Duo could only pray that if he wasn’t going to get a miracle rescue, that something, anything might happen to end this nightmare.
Sitting in the car, wondering why the lights in the house had come on at two in the morning, Trowa sat up, alert and watchful. For a while there seemed to be nothing untoward happening. He wondered if maybe Frank was having a hard time sleeping and got up to fix himself some warm milk or tea. The lights had been on approximately fifteen minutes when there was a flicker of light in the front room. The light wavered wildly as if it had toppled over. That was odd. He wondered if maybe the older man was having some kind of medical trouble. But the light - seen only slightly through the small windows set above the larger, draped front window - went out and he thought maybe it had just been bumped when Frank went to turn it off.
He yawned, then rolled down his window, hoping the cool night air would help him stay more alert. The one thing he’d learned from this stakeout was that Heero and Duo’s home was located on a completely boring and utterly safe street.
He let his head settle back on the headrest of the driver’s seat and forced his eyes to stay open. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but a sound, so out of place in the sleeping neighborhood, caught his immediate attention. It was like a long, muffled and drawn-out animal’s cry. One that was dying. He knew that a sound like that wasn’t natural, be it animal or human. Without pausing he silently left the safety of the car, pulling his gun from his shoulder holster. Moving like a wraith in the darkness, he approached the former doctor’s house and crept around the back, sticking to the shadows. There was a light on in the kitchen but the curtains were drawn so he couldn’t tell if everything was alright or not. Approaching the back door, he took out a pen light and turned the small intense beam onto the doorknob. To his surprise, it had been jimmied and the door had been forcibly opened. A feeling of foreboding filled him, and warning signals went off in his head. Pulling the front of his shirt out of his jeans, he put his hand under the hem and used it to cautiously open the door, preserving any fingerprints left there. Opening the door, he slipped inside and immediately discovered Frank McAdams, dressed in his pajamas, lying face down on the kitchen floor and surrounded by a pool of blood. At the edges of that bloody pool were shoe and foot marks, imprints made by the owners having accidentally stepped into the red stain and heading into the direction of the living room.
There was another door only a few feet from his position and it was open. He slipped into the house and, after checking the prostrate man’s pulse to confirm he was dead, he made a quick inspection of the basement, finding an odd, small room with a lock on the outside of the open door. A quick scan inside revealed a thin mattress, sleeping bag, a bucket used like a chamber pot, packaged food and bottled water. He went to the bedding and put his hand onto it. He detected warmth on the inside of the sleeping bag telling him it had just recently been vacated.
Quickly but silently moving back up the stairs toward the kitchen, he stepped over the dead man’s body and moved with caution into the living room where he noted the broken lamp on the floor next to the small table. He turned his attention to the upstairs where he could hear some movement. He silently climbed the stairs, his gun out and back against the wall. He paused at the top step and realized that something was happening in the last room on the far left of the hallway. Using the same caution he’d used as a gundam pilot and Preventer agent, he moved with stealth down the lit hallway and past the other open doors, checking each one briefly to make sure they were unoccupied, eliminating any chance of someone attacking him from behind as he progressed to the last door. Then reaching his target, he paused just outside the door and raised his gun to place it against his face, listening intently to the muffled sounds coming from inside the room. Moving in a blur of motion, he swung his body around the door frame, pointing his gun out in front of him, ready to fire if he had to. His mind was a scant second behind interpreting what his eyes were seeing in the dim lit bedroom, and an involuntarily gasp escaped his lips at the shocking scene before him.
A slight, almost imperceptible gasp came from the room’s doorway and stilled the would-be rapist’s movements. The attacker, his pants pooling around his knees, looked over his shoulder to see yet another silhouette in the doorway. The hallway light outlined a tall, slender man with a very big gun in his hands. “Preventers,” the cool-toned and deadly voice announced. “Get away from him now and you might live to have your rights given to you.”
Trowa, Duo’s mind cried out, even as he was put in a quick stranglehold by his attacker and lifted from off the bed once again to act as a shield. “Back away from the door or I’ll kill him,” the intruder ordered in a deadly-serious tone. Duo, barely conscious at this point, vaguely noted the man’s stumped arm was wrapped around his neck, holding him in place against the larger body. It took moment before he registered the fact that the firm hold was constricting his air supply. Reacting by instinct, Duo brought his hands up and began to struggle against being strangled.
The lack of oxygen quickly made his limbs weak and Duo’s vision dimmed even as his rapid heartbeat thundered in his ears. Yet even with his strength and consciousness fading, he realized that the darkness of the room would probably prevent Trowa from taking the shot that would end this madness. In a last effort, he rallied all the strength he had left and kicked at the man’s legs and stomped on the tops of his feet, but the hold on his neck remained firm. His breath was coming out as a tight wheeze, and Duo realized he was being allowed enough oxygen to stay alive, but only just barely. He figured his attacker probably realized that if he were dead he’d be out of a shield. Searching his mind frantically for any possible means of escape, he suddenly felt a brush of something against his leg. A second later, his captor screamed, and the hold on Duo’s neck tightened as his attacker’s good arm wrapped around his waist, holding him in place as the two of them bent over to see what was happening.
“Let go, you son of a bitch!” the man behind him yelled in his ear, and Duo could feel movement around his feet and legs. Dazed, he didn’t understand what was happening until he suddenly slipped out of his attacker’s slackened grasp and he fell on top of someone. He panicked, realizing this was probably his last chance to get away. But before he could move, he realized that it was Heero he’d fallen on and that his lover, weak and still drugged, lay belly down on the floor with his teeth firmly embedded in their Harley Stubben’s calf.
With Duo out of his hold, the angry man seemed to forget about the man aiming the gun at him, and swiftly leveled a blow to Heero’s head. The sound of the fist hitting his lover’s head was one that Duo didn’t think he’d ever forget. But that sound was drowned out when a gunshot reverberated throughout the small room, and the former convict screamed and fell backwards onto the bed, curling up into a protective position. It all happened so quickly that Duo wasn’t sure if what was happening was real or only his imagination.
“Duo, come to me,” Trowa called out sharply. The semi-active Preventer was all business as he stepped further into the room, his gun remaining leveled on the man writhing and cursing on the bed. Duo hesitated for a moment, trying to focus his blurry eyes on their friend and savior. He then shifted his unfocused gaze on Heero, lying on the floor next to him, unnaturally still and unmoving. Ignoring Trowa’s command for a moment, Duo crawled to Heero, keeping a careful eye on the large man caterwauling on the bed. Grabbing Heero’s uninjured arm, Duo slowly dragged his lover across the floor as he crawled from where he’d fallen and away from the dangerous man above them. When at last he reached Trowa’s feet and the last of his strength, Duo leaned heavily against his friend’s long legs, his breathing rough and raspy while his arms remained wrapped securely around his injured lover. He slumped wearily in Trowa’s protective shadow, feeling for the first time in days that he and Heero were safe at last. Giving into his exhaustion and pain, he finally let his eyes close. Trowa would take care of them now, of that Duo had no doubt.
“Stand up!” Trowa ordered in a stern voice that commanded obedience. Duo wondered for a moment if the command was meant for him, and he forced his eyes open once more and tilted his head back so he could look up at his friend. Trowa’s eyes were narrowed and unerringly aimed towards the bed. Following his gaze, Duo saw the man known as Harley move to comply. His screaming had been reduced to a painful whimper as he held his hand close to his stomach and struggled to a sitting position on the bed.
“I said stand up,” Trowa ordered, his tone deadly serious, not brooking any defiance.
“You bastard!” Harley growled out through gritted teeth, sounding like he was in extreme pain. “You shot my only hand.”
“You touched something that wasn’t yours. Let is serve as a grim reminder to you of your very big mistake.”
“You might have caught me now, but I’ll get out again. I always do,” the injured man said, then forced a chuckle from his throat that sounded ominously dark. “And when I do get out, I’ll find Duo Maxwell again and make him pay for taking my arm. And then I’ll come for you, or your pretty blond boyfriend. Quatre Winner, right? He’s always in the public eye, isn’t he? That makes him easy to find and susceptible to all kinds of unfortunate... accidents.”
“You’re not very smart, are you?” Trowa said coolly, his tone a clear warning.
“I never forgive or forget,” came Stubben’s snide reply. “Now get me to the hospital. I know my rights.”
“No need for that. Stand up,” Trowa said in a tone that was cold and emotionless.
Duo heard the deadly timber of Trowa’s voice and knew that something was about to happen. Even with his vision blurred and his head feeling like it was splitting open, he could just make out his friend taking his cell phone out of his jacket pocket and without away from his prisoner, he dialed someone. “Wufei,” Trowa said, speaking in a terse voice. “I need back up at Dr. McAdams’s house. Duo and Heero are here and they’ve been injured. I have the perpetrator at gunpoint in the master bedroom.” Then suddenly Trowa’s voice changed. “Get back!” he shouted in anger at the injured and confused-looking man standing next to the bed, cradling his injured hand. “I said, get away from him. I’m warning you,” he shouted, sounding alarmed. Then raising his gun slightly, Trowa didn’t even blink before his gun went off. The power of the bullet hitting the large man caused him to fall back onto the bed. He hit the mattress with his eyes frozen open with a look or terror in them while his arms and legs flung out lifelessly. The large bullet hole in the middle of his forehead caused a trail of blood to dribble down the dead man’s forehead and nose.
“Send for a coroner and an ambulance,” Trowa said into the phone as he lowered his gun and shoved it back into his shoulder holster. “Two men are dead and Duo and Heero need medical help.”
Duo could vaguely hear Wufei screaming something indecipherable as Trowa lowered the phone and turned it off. His head dropped and he looked into Duo’s wide, dazed eyes. When he spoke, Trowa’s voice was quiet but resolute. “If I have to kill everyone of those bastards who hurt you, Duo, I will. I’ll always have your back. He was a fool to threaten your or Quatre.” Pausing to run his hand through his hair, Trowa sighed as he looked to his silent friend once more. “You might want to forget what I just did when you’re questioned by the police. I’m going to tell them I shot the perpetrator as he was attempted to attack you again. Quatre will probably think my acting as judge and executioner was wrong, but I’m not sorry for taking that scumbag’s life. And even if it was wrong, morally or legally, I’ll never regret it. I’ll do whatever I have to in order to keep you and Quatre safe.”
Pocketing his phone, he supported Duo with his hands as he knelt down next to him and Heero. “I need to move you closer to the bed to make my alibi feasible, alright?”
Duo nodded, not really caring anymore about anything but the fact that he and Heero had been saved by Trowa. He felt himself being gently moved towards the bed, while he clutched Heero to him, unwilling to let go. One repositioned, Trowa began to examine the both of them to determine their injuries. Though his awareness was fading in and out, Duo was cognizant of the moment when Trowa left the room. His mind and body suddenly became flooded with panic, as feelings of being alone and unprotected came back to him. He recalled that Harley Stubben was on the bed just above their position. Too close, too close, he thought, and clung to Heero for protection as well as attempting to protect him. He didn’t realize Trowa to the room until a blanket was set on top of his naked body and tucked in around him.
“They’re here,” Trowa’s soothing voice whispered to him. “Just try to stay calm and remain quiet. I’ll get you to the hospital as soon as I can, alright?”
Nodding that he understood, Duo closed his eyes. A moment later he heard distant voices shouting from the front of the house. The voices grew more clear with the sound of many feet pounding up the stairs. “What the hell has gone on here?” Wufei demanded anxiously a moment later from the doorway, then gasped his eyes fell on his two friends, lying under a blanket on the floor next to the bed that had an obviously dead man lying sprawled out on top of the mattress. Obsidian eyes flew back to Heero who appeared to be unconscious, and then to Duo, who was curled up tightly behind him looking small and terrified. He raced to them and fell onto his knees, then reached out to touch both of their faces to make sure they were alive. “Duo? Can you hear me?”
This time, the braided man didn’t have the energy to open his eyes, much less answer the question. At last he knew that he was truly safe with two of his friends there to protect Heero and himself. He could finally give into the overwhelming darkness, knowing their trusted friends would take care of them.
As Duo’s mind faded, he felt the blanket over his and Heero’s body being cautiously lifted, the cold air uncomfortable on his already chilled skin. “Natuaku, no!” Wufei’s shocked exclamation was the last sound Duo heard as he gave into the pain in his head and body and the darkness that he’d craved since the attack had begun swept over him at last.
Having been awakened abruptly by the phone ringing in the middle of the night, Quatre sat up in his bed and knew that from the pain in his heart that something terrible had happened. He grabbed the phone and listened without speaking to Wufei’s short and urgent message. The clock reported the time as being two-forty. Hanging up the phone, the blond threw on whatever clothing he could find, grabbed his car keys and drove like a madman through the deserted city streets to the hospital. Parking in the red zone, he jumped out of the car and ran into the emergency room in a panic, not caring that his clothes were uncharacteristically rumpled, his shirt untucked and his face was flushed and reflecting his anxiety. He rushed straight to the reception desk and breathlessly addressed the receptionist. “Duo Maxwell and Heero Yuy, please.”
The blond looked up to see Wufei approaching, his face dark and frowning. Quatre’s heart sunk, believing the worst had happened after viewing his friend’s expression. Wufei had basically told him only the basics over the phone: that Heero and Duo had been found, that they were wounded and en route to the hospital, and that he should make his way there ASAP. After ending the hurried call, he immediately tried to reach Trowa but found his lover’s cell phone had been turned off.
“Are they alright? Where have they been? What’s happened?” he asked anxiously, meeting his Asian friend halfway and clutching nervously to the sleeve of Wufei’s Preventer jacket.
“We’re still trying to figure things out,” the Chinese man replied, turning to lead the blond man down the direction he’d just come from. “Trowa heard a suspicious noise and approached the house. He found the back door had been forced open and he entered through it and found Frank McAdams dead on the kitchen floor. The basement door was also open so he investigated further and found a small, enclosed structure down there, its usage unknown. But Trowa said that it appeared as if someone had been held prisoner there. I searched the house briefly after I arrived and discovered someone else had been staying in the guest room. There were two I.V.s set up and we’re having the contents of the bags analyzed.
“From what we’ve gathered, Duo was apparently attacked by a former prison inmate from Penal Colony Four. The man has been identified as Harley Stubben; a repeat criminal imprisoned several times for a variety of assault and weapons convictions as well as mayhem, racketeering and rape.” Wufei stopped in the middle of the hallway and looked into the blond man’s face, struggling to keep his own emotions in check as he told his friend the last thing he ever wanted to say. “He was trying to rape Duo. He had his clothes off and was on top of him when Trowa came in. Heero was unconscious on the floor. We’re not sure exactly what happened to him, but it looks like the two of them were beaten by Stubben.” A puzzled expression crossed Wufei’s face as he continued. “I can’t understand how a one-armed man could have hurt the two of them so badly. Even with Heero’s injuries from the car accident, either one of them could have killed their attacker without much effort. I don’t know why they didn’t.”
“One arm?” Quatre asked, equally puzzled.
Wufei nodded. “He apparently lost it in an accident in the penal colony’s factory.”
“Are they conscious?”
“No. From what I deduced, they both sustained blows to the head and have suffered numerous concussions. I guess we’ll have to wait for the answers to this puzzle for when they wake up.”
Quatre shook his head, looking somewhat at a loss. He then buried his face in his hands and sounding miserable he asked, “Why? Why can’t they be left alone to live in peace? What else can we do to protect them, Wufei? I just... I can’t bear for them to be hurt anymore.”
The blond man felt a comforting arm settle across his shoulders. “I don’t know, Quatre,” the slightly taller man said sadly. “But we’re going to make sure they’re safe, even if we all have to move to a deserted island with only the Maguanacs knowing where we are. We won’t let anyone harm them ever again.”
Dropping his hands and looking up into his friend’s dark and worried eyes, Quatre spoke his greatest fear for his friend as moisture blurred his vision. “I’m afraid of what this will do to Duo, Wufei.” He spoke softly even though he stood close to his friend. “He was just getting better and then this happens again. Was he... raped?” he asked, afraid to hear the answer.
“I don’t know yet, the doctors are still examining him. For his and Heero’s sake I pray to my ancestors that he wasn’t.”
Putting his arm around the other man’s waist for support and comfort, Quatre rested his head on Wufei’s shoulder and let his friend guide him down the corridor again, both of them worried, fearful for their friends’ well-being and determined to never let anything like this ever happen again.
They stopped abruptly and released each other as the sounds of startled voices rang out in the deserted corridor. “Trowa’s not where I left him,” Wufei stated and rushed forward to room E-115, the one from which the urgent sounds emanated from.
“Duo, calm down, you’re safe,” Trowa’s voice said while attempting to sound and appear calm himself. Quatre followed Wufei as he rushed into the room to see three nurses, a doctor and Trowa trying to restrain the violently struggling body on the bed. Quatre could sense waves of overwhelming fear and panic coming from Duo.
“Don’t hold him down,” the blond called out, loud enough to be heard by those professionals loudly discussing ways to calm the terrified man. “Heero said Duo can’t abide being held down for any reason.”
“Let him go,” Wufei’s stern voice cut through the profession team’s discussion, and only then did the four hospital employees release their hold on Duo’s limbs.
The panicked young man on the bed continued to struggle for a few moments until at last he realized that he was no longer being held down.
The three friends, now standing together several feet from the bedside, looked down at Duo, whose face lacked all color and he appeared to be terrified. He was backed up against the railing on his bed like a scared child, dressed only in a hospital gown with a disarranged blanket that barely covered his curled legs. That fact was ignored in lieu of Duo’s eyes, for they were wide and shifting wildly as if he were frightened half out of his mind. The sheen of sweat on the braided man’s face as well as his breathing, elevated, raspy and erratic, were clear signs of his disturbed state of mind.
“You’re safe, Duo,” Trowa gently assured him as he move slowly to approach the bed again. Leaning over the metal handrail, he stretched his hand out to rest on Duo’s head and began to stroke his fingers over the messy brown hair. “The man who attacked you and Heero is dead,” he continued in a soft and reassuring voice. “He can’t hurt you any more.”
At that pronouncement, Duo closed his eyes and dropped his upper body to the mattress and curled up on his side. Simultaneously, he grabbed the hand on his head and brought down to his chest where he clutched it tightly there between his own two hands. Now curled into a protective, fetal position, Duo’s body began to tremble. Trowa looked from Duo and turned his head to glace back at his lover and worried friend, his eyes filling quickly with tears that threatened to spill over at any moment. He bit his lower lip in an attempt to hold back his emotions. From the expression of pain and grief on the faces of the other two, he could see he didn’t need to tell them that Duo was crying. Focusing once again on the smaller man on the bed, Trowa reached down and pulled the blankets over his Duo’s curled-up body.
Wufei, not unaffected by the emotions swirling in the room, cleared his throat, swallowed hard and turned to address the doctor. “What are his injuries?” he asked, and though his face was pinched with pain and worry, his tone sounded like the professional peacekeeper that he was.
“He’s got a concussion, and an abrasion around his neck from where the collar of his shirt was pulled violently against it. There are contusions on his face resulting from blows, most likely from a fist, and evidence that some type of sharp object impacted with the top of his head. His body has numerous bruises forming from what looks to be both boots and fists, and his scalp is raw from where his hair was pulled out with excessive force.”
“Any signs of rape?” Trowa asked as quietly as possible, hoping Duo, in his current state, wouldn’t hear.
“No. The police specifically asked me to check for that and there’s no sign of any type of penetration.”
“Thank Allah,” Quatre said, almost weak with relief. He then moved closer to his friend on the bed and leaned over the railing to softly speak words of reassurance as he gently brushed his fingers against the bruised, upturned cheek. “We’re here, Duo. All three of us. I promise you that we won’t leave you again. We’ll keep you safe.”
Wufei felt an enormous amount of relief that Duo hadn’t been violated, but he also felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness as he tried to think of a way he could offer some form of comfort. Other than Heero, he could only think of one thing that might be able calm his traumatized friend. He looked to the doctor, who stood on the other side of the bed, wearing a worried look on his face. “Have you any word on the other man that was brought in with him, Heero Yuy? Is he alright?”
“We won’t be sure until the lab tests come back. Our initial examination found that Mr. Yuy has rather large needle punctures in both of his arms. His eyes are dilated, which indicates he’s been under the influence of some drug, and his responses are extremely sluggish. He’s suffered some blows to the head resulting in a concussion and we’re checking for internal bleeding as a result of a severe blow to his stomach with a blunt object. He also has numerous contusions from an apparent beating. He seems to be trying to regain consciousness but can hardly open his eyes. Until he or Mr. Maxwell can give us some answers, we can only wait for the lab reports and then try to counteract whatever he was given.”
“What the hell happened in that house?” Wufei demanded of the other two, his own mind putting together what little facts they’d gathered. “If Heero was in the bed all this time, drugged, then Duo must have been in the basement, held as a prisoner. But by who? Dr. McAdams or Stubben? Did Stubben force the old man into drugging Heero and keeping Duo captive or was it the doctor who was the culprit?”
Trowa shook his head and looked down at his silently crying friend. His free hand came up to stroke Duo’s un-braided hair again in an effort to try and calm and comfort him. “I think our answers will have to come from Heero when he wakes up. Duo is far too traumatized to be questioned.” He looked solemnly at the two and a slow-moving tear pushed over his lower eyelid and slowly slid undisturbed down his cheek. “He hasn’t said a word since I burst into that room.”
Quatre moved behind his lover and buried his face in Trowa’s back while wrapping his arms around his waist, offering the love of his life some measure of comfort while hiding his own grief at the idea of Duo being silent once again. It brought back so many memories from that difficult time, after Trowa had rescued Duo from the penal colony, and of the long, often painful road to recovery for their friend.
With Quatre at his back and Duo holding tightly to his right hand, Trowa reached back to awkwardly hold his lover, one handed, knowing his lover needed to be comforted. He raised his eyes to see Wufei walk to the other side of the bed and reach out his hand to rub slow, soothing circles on Duo’s curved back, murmuring in Chinese his solemn pledge that he would never leave him or Heero alone and vulnerable to attack ever again. He also whispered repeatedly that, in time, everything would be alright. As Wufei’s dark eyes rose to meet Trowa’s, the usually prideful man, so scrupulous about his appearance and fine-tuned control in not showing his true emotions to others, let a single tear flow unchecked down his cheek. Wufei did not look away from Trowa, for he was not ashamed to show his grief and the fear he had shared with his former comrades, now his closest friends and only family.
The doctor spoke softly, not wanting to intrude on the grieving young men. “I think it’s a fair assessment that we should have Mr. Maxwell examined by a psychiatrist.”
“He already has one,” Trowa answered. “I’ll furnish you with his name and phone number in the morning. If you don’t mind, could you please leave us alone with him for a few minutes?”
The doctor, a man in his mid forties, of medium build and a circle of dark brown hair that ringed his otherwise bald head, nodded, then turned and left the room. He stopped and paused at the door for a moment. “Ring the nurse if there’s a problem. The button is fixed to the top of the bed,” he said, and then he was gone, the door slowly sliding closed behind him.
The occupants left in the room stayed in their places for several moments, then Wufei bent at the waist and placed a gentle kiss on his injured friend’s temple before he whispered something in his ear. He straightened slowly, his eyes lingering over Duo’s curled up form. “I’ve got an errand to run. Call me on my cell phone when you learn anything more.”
“How long will you be gone?” Quatre asked, stepping out from behind his taller lover, his eyes and nose both a bit red.
“I don’t know. Probably until you need me back here.”
“I’ll call,” Trowa said, then nodded farewell to their friend as Wufei moved from the bed and slipped silently out the door.
Quatre looked at Duo’s curled form and wondered what he could to do comfort him. An idea came to him and he moved to the other side of the bed. Letting down the guard rail, he spoke to his friend in a quiet, reassuring voice. “I’m going to climb onto the bed with you, Duo. I promise I won’t hurt you. I only want to hold you, alright?”
There was no answer either way from the braided man, so as carefully as he could manage, the blond man climbed onto the mattress and eased himself down alongside Duo’s back. Moving slowly and deliberately, he put his hand on Duo’s blanket-covered waist and felt the other’s body flinch under his fingertips. “It’s just me, Duo. It’s Quatre. Trowa and I are here to protect you. We’re going to take care of you and Heero.”
It was discouraging not to get any response from him, but, nevertheless, Quatre slowly moved forward until his chest was pressed against Duo’s back and his arms further moved to gently encircle his slender body. The trembling slowly eased, and after several minutes, ceased altogether. Only Duo’s hitched breathing could be heard in the otherwise silent room. Liquid blue-green eyes rose to meet Trowa’s, and though no words were exchanged, the two lover’s shared the same thought, that they would do anything they could to help Duo recover from his nightmarish ordeal.
Turning his attention back to his friend, Quatre’s lips pressed gently into the cinnamon-colored hair as he softly said, “Please be okay, Duo.” He then pushed his lips further to place a kiss on the side of his friend’s head and whispered, “We love you.”
The two men spent the next half hour speaking words of comfort to Duo until the doctor entered the room. The man’s footsteps faltered upon seeing the blond young man not only on the patient’s bed, but spooned up against his back while the tall auburn haired man remained standing at the bedside, his hand clutched in the patient’s grasp even though it looked like Mr. Maxwell was asleep. He quietly cleared his throat and got the attention of the other two. “I have the lab results,” he announced in a voice purposely lowered so he’d not wake the patient. “Mr. Yuy was given a drug we normally use to treat severe head injuries. It induces a coma-like state that keeps an injured individual quiet and unmoving while the injured head and brain tissue heal. There are also slight traces of sedatives in his system. Has he been treated for depression recently?”
“No,” Trowa said firmly. “Things have been going well with him He started a new job with the Preventers not long ago and seemed happy with it. Duo has had several medical and emotional problems in the past, but he was getting better and becoming more independent. Things were looking up for them until Heero’s accident a little over a week ago.”
“Yes, I see from his chart that he was admitted to the hospital after a car accident. He was treated for a concussion and fracture to his left arm and severely sprained ankle. Until he wakes up, it’s hard to tell if those injuries, especially the concussion, were made worse from the beating he sustained this evening. I’ve given him an injection that will counteract the drug in his system and he should wake up within a day or so.”
“Good,” Trowa said, nodding thoughtfully. “Then we can get some answers to this puzzle.”
“Mr. Milliardo Peacecraft is out in the lobby looking for some information,” the doctor informed them. “I know he’s the head of the Preventers Organization, but I told him Mr. Maxwell wasn’t up for any more visitors and he requested one of you come out to speak with him.”
“I’ll go,” Trowa said, and he gently began to twist his hand, trying to extricate it from Duo’s tight grasp. Quatre looked up at him as he finally freed himself and began rubbing some feeling back into his red hand. “Stay with him. I’ll be back in a few moments,” Trowa told him, then took a moment to reach across the bed to comb his fingers through his lover’s silky blond hair. ‘Love you,’ he mouthed silently, not wanting to share something so personal with the doctor as an audience. He received Quatre’s words of love in the same manner before he turned to leave the room for the lobby and Milliardo Peacecraft.