The Cost

Chapter 3: Not There
by Kracken


Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money off of them.
Warning:Male/male sex, Duo sufferitus, violence, language. 1x2, 3x4, Sally x 5xZechs.

The Cost

Not There

"Why wasn't I called?" Heero demanded as he turned his eyes from Duo's bed, covered in blood, to the nurse. She was pale, her hands raised almost defensively as she tried to calm him.

"I tried, Mr. Yuy, but you were out most of the day. I did leave a message with your secretary."

Heero glared. "I don't have a secretary."

The nurse went wide eyed. "A Ms. Hanover, sir. She told me that she would leave a note for you."

Heero growled, "She's another agent. The note is probably on my work desk, which I rarely visit." He scribbled his cell number onto a business card and handed it to her. "That's my personal line. Next time, call it, and keep calling, until I answer it. Now, tell me which hospital Duo was taken to."

"Mercy Hospital, East side," she replied as she clasped the card. "He is under the best care, Mr. Yuy, as I've already told you, and not in any danger. I called as soon as I found him, unconscious and bleeding."

Heero wiped a hand over his face and then strode for the door. "He over dosed on his pain meds and started removing his pins before he passed out. I don't think that I would call that nothing to worry about."

The trip to the hospital was a long one. Heero cursed traffic and road construction. He imagined Duo's ambulance running into the same obstacles and wondered, with a gut wrenching sickness in the pit of his stomach, if he had come close to losing Duo.

Heero pulled out his cell phone.

"Une," his commander answered promptly, but with an air of a busy person being bothered.

"Yuy here," he said without preamble. "I'm quit my position with Preventers, effective immediately."

Une spluttered, but Heero was already turning off the connection. Duo had needed him and he had been working a case. That wasn't going to happen again.

When Heero reached the hospital at last, it was all he could do to not crush the computer the admittance nurse was busily punching lengthy codes into. The clock behind her ticked the seconds, and then the minutes, as Heero was made to wade through an id check, a retina scan, and forms that had to be filled out and entered properly. Only then was he allowed to see Duo's doctor.

"Is he awake?" Heero demanded as they stood in the hall leading to Duo's room.

"He's stable and lucid," the doctor replied, but then continued, "As Duo's medical advocate, I'll need your signature on his admittance into a mental health facility." He motioned towards an office. "If you please... This shouldn't be discussed out in the hallway, sir."

Heero stood his ground. "You're committing him?"

"His attempted suicide warrants it," the doctor replied in a tone of voice that suggested that Heero was being dense.

Heero's jaw worked angrily and then he said, "He wasn't trying to commit suicide. He was in pain and his medication wasn't working properly. Under their influence, he must have tried to remove the things he imagined were hurting him; the pins."

"You were there?" the Doctor questioned, knowing full well that Heero hadn't been.

Heero snarled back, "We are both Gundam pilots and highly trained, Doctor. If Duo had wanted to kill himself, he wouldn't have done it so painfully or slowly. We both know a hundred ways to do it quickly and cleanly."

The doctor looked alarmed. He swallowed hard and then replied, "I've seen suicides kill themselves in very horrific ways, Mr. Yuy. It springs from self loathing. Mr. Maxwell has displayed that state of mind on many of my visits."

"I want to see him, now," Heero insisted. "I won't sign any papers until I've evaluated him myself."

The doctor agreed, as if it were only a formality and a given that Heero would come to the same conclusion as himself. He waited outside of Duo's hospital room in the belief that Heero would sign the papers as soon as his visit was concluded.

Heero entered Duo's room quietly and closed the door firmly behind him to give them privacy. When Duo's bruised eyes swivelled to him from where he lay in his bed, Heero saw shame there, and embarrassment, but not the expression of a man in the throes of deep depression.

Heero didn't ask how Duo was feeling. He didn't ask foolish questions. Instead, he stood beside the bed and waited for Duo to speak. Duo fretted with the blankets a moment and then fiddled with the snaking line of an IV, before he muttered, as if to the thin tube of plastic, "When you're there... I don't think about the pain," he admitted. "You keep my mind off of it. When I'm alone, all I do is think how damned much it hurts... and it hurt a lot worse today. I just... wanted it to stop. The pins... I don't know what the hell happened there."

"You weren't thinking clearly," Heero told him. "Have they adjusted your medication?"

Duo nodded. "It's strong stuff. My body feels like it's not there."

"Duo, you won't take them forever," Heero told him. His fingers traced the IV line until they met Duo's hand. He let them rest there, giving weight to his words. "Don't let the pain get so bad, because you don't like how the drugs make you... feel."

"Feel?" Duo grunted. "Lose control of everything's more like it. I... I really hate that."

"You allowed the pain to overwhelm you and then you attempted to make it stop?" Heero guessed.

"Yeah," Duo sighed. He turned his hand over and clasped Heero's hand.

Heero's eyes moved down Duo's body to where the pins were in his legs. Duo shifted the blankets off. He was only wearing a brief hospital gown and his legs were bare, both of them wrapped from hip to ankle in braces and bandages, peppered with metal pins.

"I didn't actually manage to get any of them out," Duo told him. "I just bled... a lot."

"They want to commit you to a mental institution," Heero replied as he pulled the blanket back over Duo's legs. "They want me to sign the papers."

Duo's face went angry and then resigned. "It doesn't look good, so I wouldn't blame you. I'd hate you , though."

"I know that." Heero brought his other hand up and stroked the back of Duo's hand."I have an alternative, though."

"Straight jacket?" Duo snorted. "Bed Restraints? Twenty four hour nurse?"

"Yes," Heero replied.

Duo started. "Yes to which?"

"Twenty four hour nurse," Heero replied and then smiled tightly as he clarified, "Or twenty four hour friend. I resigned from my position with Preventers. I want to be involved with your recovery and my job was interfering."

Duo's mouth was open in astonishment. His concern was instant. "You can't do that, Heero! I told you, don't stop your life for me. I'm not worth-"

Heero's hand tightened on Duo's hand enough to hurt and he said distinctly, "You will not finish that sentence. I've made my decision. It's final."

Duo swallowed hard. "Okay," he said in a small voice and then relaxed into the bed and smiled. "I've never had a roommate before. I warn you. I snore."

Heero smiled back. "So do I."

Duo laughed and then he cried.

"I want you to leave, just for an hour, until my therapy is over with" Duo insisted as he managed to get his wheelchair to the refrigerator. He opened it and rummaged inside.

Heero frowned and crossed his arms over his chest from where he sat on his bed. It was trucked into one corner, furthest away from Duo, so that he wouldn't disturb Duo's often uneasy sleep.

"Is it worse than having to help you in the bathroom?" Heero asked pointedly. "Is it worse than cleaning you up after your pills have made you throw up? Is it worse than listening to you-"

"Yes," Duo grunted back. "Can I keep some of my damned dignity?"

"I can help," Heero argued. "I was trained extensively to understand the tolerances of my body and how to work to exceed them. I might know things the therapist doesn't."

"Listen to your ego!" Duo growled. He wheeled backwards, closed the refrigerator door, and turned with a grimace of pain with a drink can in his lap. An infection and another surgery had his leg out stiffly and wrapped securely in a brace. That set back had made his mood very dark, but Heero's presence over the last few weeks, encouraging him and eliminating his loneliness, had made that mood short lived. Though they often argued and became irritated, as they grew used to each other's habits and routines, neither of them could deny that they were both glad that the decision for Heero to move in had been made. Duo's insistence that Heero absent himself from both therapy and medical checkup, was a severe bone of contention between them, though, and something that Duo had refused to reconsider.

Heero rose from the bed and went to Duo's side. He bent and looked deeply into Duo's eyes as he touched Duo's hand. Duo looked up reluctantly and swallowed. "I want you to understand," Heero told him, "that I know what it's like to suffer through a recovery. I know the pain. I've cried trying to move healing bone and muscle, and hated how long it took me to heal. I won't judge you, Duo, or think any less of you. I've told you this before."

Duo looked stubborn. "And what I want is still the same. I don't want you to see me... go through that. It's really... not... good."

Heero ran his eyes over Duo's body, almost possessively, and then he looked into Duo's eyes again. "I know that I can help you and I won't let you deny yourself that help any longer."

Duo grabbed a bit of Heero's shirt as if he wished that he could shake him. His healing fingers were not in any shape for it, though. "If you're not going to respect what I want- "

Heero stopped Duo's words with a kiss. Duo's eyes flew wide and he gasped as Heero broke it abruptly. "I respect you," Heero told him, "but I won't let you make a very bad decision because you are embarrassed. I care too much about you."

Duo wiped a hand over his face and then sighed shakily. "Nobody can accuse you of being shallow, Heero. Anybody else would have bugged out by now."

"And this won't make me go either," Heero assured him.

Duo took a few deep breaths, as if he needed to keep his emotions in check, and then he touched a finger to his lips. "Can you... that was kind of nice... and maybe you won't want to do it again... after."

Heero smiled and bent to kiss Duo again. The knock on the door disturbed them and he pulled back reluctantly.

Duo wheeled to the bed with a frown, saying briskly, "Well, if you're staying, make yourself useful, open the damned door and let her in."

The therapist had a bag of equipment. She looked strong and capable, blonde hair pulled back in a tight braid and eyes blue and steely. She wore a tank top, her arms bare and showing hard muscle. She gave Heero a once over when he opened the door and then swept past him to appraise Duo.

"How are we today, Mr. Maxwell?" she asked as she put her bag down on the floor, did a few stretches, and then approached his chair.

"I'm not older than you, so can the 'Mr.' for the thousandth time, Doro" Duo growled. "Duo's fine.... and lousy, as usual."

She grunted in reply as she slipped on gloves and helped Duo onto the bed. It was already covered with a stiff, cushioned, mat. Dressed in shorts and bare foot, Duo lay back, staring at the ceiling as she prepared to force his body to move. She looked over his legs, reached up under his shorts to check his hips in such an impersonal manner that Duo didn't even blink at the intimacy of it, and then looked over his arms.

"Any hot spots?" she asked. "Pain points?"

"Too many drugs to know for sure," Duo replied. "Don't see any swelling, though."

She looked over her shoulder at Heero speculatively and then down at Duo again. "He staying?"

Duo looked uncomfortable. "I'm hoping he will."

"Elbow flex first," she warned.

Duo gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. He sweated, he cried, and he panted in an agony that transcended his medication as she took him through a routine, that only included one knee, two elbows, and a hip. When she was done, Duo was red in the face, running with sweat and snot, and still trying to stop from crying. She handed him tissues and didn't look at him as she cleaned him up the rest of him.

Heero had been standing with arms crossed tightly over his chest through the entire session. He couldn't fault the therapist. She knew her job thoroughly and her detachment was just what Duo needed. Heero wasn't certain that he could have pushed Duo to such limits in the face of his clear agony.

"All right?" Doro said as she made sure Duo's can drink and his pain pills were in reach. "Want to sit again?"

"No!" Duo replied quickly, gritted his teeth, and then said more calmly, "I just need stay here a bit. Heero will take care of me."

Her eyes went to the other bed and she frowned. She snapped her gloves off and tossed them into the garbage. After putting her things away and zipping up her bag, she hefted it and started for the door. She gave Heero a long look and then said, "Sir, can I speak with you a moment?"

Heero nodded, worried, and then followed her, curious, as she took him out into the hallway.

"You two are... more than friends?" Doro asked.

Heero scowled, hands balling into fists. "That isn't your concern. If you're prejudiced..."

She glared at him angrily. "Sir, I only want to warn you that Mr. Maxwell is not capable of any physical relationship."

"I know that!" Heero retorted, fighting a blush. "Do you think it matters to me? I know we will have to wait a long while for him to heal."

"The drugs make him incapable, sir," she clarified. "And his injuries would suffer if you were to... press that kind of activity regardless. I'm warning you not to try it."

Heero's jaw worked in anger and embarrassment, but he saw her real concern. "I understand," he managed. He had a question of his own and it was difficult to ask it. "Duo's progress... has there been any?"

She lifted an eyebrow. "Yes, of course, but, unfortunately, not as he measures it. Mr. Maxwell sees small gains as none at all." She gave Heero a sad look. "If you're hoping for a full recovery, you are going to be disappointed. He will be lucky to leave that chair on crutches and braces. He was crushed, sir, almost literally. That kind of damage takes miracles to heal. I don't happen to have any of those in my bag."

Heero nodded. "Thank you for being honest."

She almost turned away and then said, "He was a hero of mine. I'd do this for free if I had to. I wish... I wish I could give him what he wants."

She was gone, then, and Heero hurried back into the room to check on Duo. He found Duo with an open can of drink in one hand, about to tumble to the floor, and his bottle of pills open on the stand next to the bed. Duo's eyes were half closed and glazed.

Heero took away the drink, dried Duo off, washed his face, and then lifted him from the sweat dampened mat. He carried Duo to his own bed and covered him with a throw. Smoothing a hand over Duo's brow, Heero leaned close and whispered, "I'm still here."

Duo smiled in his haze and then fell into true sleep.



On to Chapter four

Back to chapter two

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