The Cost

Chapter 4:For You
by Kracken


Disclaimer:Don't own them, don't make any money off of this.
Warning: Male/male sex, graphic, language, violence

The Cost

For You

"Visit him," Heero urged as he walked through the aisle of the pharmacy with Duo's prescriptions in a bag. His cell phone cradled against his shoulder and ear, he stared at the receipt and the very large cost of the small bag.

"I want to," Quatre replied, but sounded unsure.

"He doesn't hate you," Heero assured him yet again.

"I hate myself," Quatre replied.

"So, avoiding your best friend makes the situation better?" Heero scowled as he shoved the receipt into the bag and left the shop, a small bell tinkling as the door swung open and closed. He turned and walked down the street. "He's a great deal better, Quatre," he continued. "He's finally making gains in his therapy and even his doctor is amazed that he's managed to move that injured hip. What he needs, though, is to know that he hasn't been forgotten, that his friends aren't abandoning him because of what has happened to him."

"We have, though, haven't we?" Quatre replied dispiritedly. "We've all wanted to avoid seeing his pain, seeing what he's become. We couldn't face his optimism with any of our own. Only you were able to do that."

"We're going to the park today. Be there, or don't consider yourself Duo's friend any longer," Heero growled angrily, not giving Quatre any sympathy as he cut the connection.

"Don't move, I've got a gun," a voice snarled. Heero began to turn his head slowly, but the voice warned, "Just hand the drugs back. If you look, I'll paint the sidewalk with your brains."

In the old days, Heero would have gauged the man's position and attacked. In the old days, there wouldn't have been anyone to care if he died in the attempt. In the old days, there hadn't been anyone at home, counting on his return. Duo needed him. Heero knew that he couldn't take the chance that something might happen to him. He handed back the bag with Duo's prescriptions and then heard the quick retreat of feet down the sidewalk. Only then did he turn and see the flying flaps of a jacket as a nondescript man disappeared into the bustling city crowds.

"Damn it!" Heero swore, clenched his fists, and then walked back to the pharmacy to try and explain why he needed the prescriptions refilled once again.

They weren't understanding. When Heero called Duo's doctor to request that he resubmit the prescription, the man asked for a police report and proof, citing the many occasions that pain medication had been sold to third parties or misused by patients. In acute frustration, Heero called Preventers and made a report of the theft. He had to wait a long while for an agent to show up, ask questions, make a computerized report, and promise to have it submitted as soon as possible.

Heero's phone rang and he picked it up, knowing that it would be Duo, worrying about his long absence.

"Heero? Everything okay?" Duo wondered.

"I had an accident with your pills," Heero told him, not wanting to alarm him. "I need to have your doctor resubmit the prescription and refill it. That might take some time."

"He wasn't too keen, was he?" Duo guessed. "After my overdose..."

Heero hadn't even considered that and clenched the phone almost tight enough to break it. "I'll get the pills," Heero told him, "One way or another."

"Hey, buddy! Calm down!" Duo exclaimed. "Stay in channels, okay? I still have..." Heero heard a bottle rattle. "... at least two days worth."

"That's if you aren't in any serious pain," Heero pointed out. "I don't like that kind of margin."

"But we'll live with it," Duo chuckled. "I appreciate the love, and all that, but you're not helping me, or yourself, by breaking and entering into pharmacies."

Heero took a steadying breath and then let it out. "All right," he finally agreed, but didn't feel as confident as Duo about things being straightened out.

"So much for the park today." Duo sighed. "I was really hoping we could do that."

It would have been his third attempt at the short journey. The second had ended before the entrance, when a car, smoking and smelling like burning oil, had sent Duo into near convulsions with coughing. Knowing that Quatre might have been waiting for them, a reward of sorts, if they had managed to make it all the way, didn't help Heero's mood.

"I'll return to the apartment as soon as I can," Heero promised. "Maybe we'll still have time."

"I hope so, but there's always tomorrow," Duo replied. "Later, Heero... uhm... love you, you know?"

Heero felt a hot blush as he looked around him and then replied softly, "Love you, too."

Heero broke the connection with Duo then and tried one more attempt to convince Duo's doctor of the seriousness of their position. The doctor was immovable, insisting on waiting for the agent's report. Heero gritted his teeth, mentally going over the long steps of submitting that report and how long it would take to become available to the doctor. It added up to unacceptable.

Pocketing his phone, Heero began walking, following the path he had seen the thief take through the crowds. He would get Duo's medications back, he decided. Some things were worth risking himself for.

At the apartment, Duo tried not to feel anxious, but he was more worried about his small supply of pain pills than he wanted Heero to realize. The pain was bad enough when he took them. He didn't want to find out how bad it would be without them. He checked them, counting them carefully and gauging how few he could get by with, and then put them in a safe place, feeling paranoid about losing them as well.

A knock on the door some time later, startled him. He had managed his wheel chair and had reached a halfway point in the room. That often required a breather, but he hadn't needed one this time. That surprise was foremost in his mind and he couldn't think past that to react to his visitor.

"Duo?" a tentative voice called. "I didn't see Heero's car... are you... I waited at the park. When you didn't come, I thought..."

Quatre had been waiting at the park? Duo snorted. Trust Heero to try and patch things between them. He punched the remote and the door unlocked.

"Come in!" he called and turned his chair to face the door. He gave himself a once over before Quatre opened the door and wished that he was wearing something other than ragged shorts and a tank top. It felt good not to have cloth rubbing against his wounds and braces, but he wasn't eager to have Quatre see all of the damage.

The man's wide eyes and white face were expected. Duo grimaced, wheeled his chair around, and made it to the bed with motions that sent the pain singing through him. He gritted his teeth against it, snagged a throw from the bed, and draped it across his legs.

"You don't have to do that," Quatre said in a tense, small voice.

"No?" Duo grunted sourly. "I wouldn't want you to throw up, or anything."

Quatre was silent. Duo refused to turn. Finally, Quatre said, "It's not the wounds, Duo, it's you... it's knowing how much you were hurt. You're my best friend. It tears me up inside."

"Yeah? You have a funny way of showing that you give a damn." Duo snapped back. He did turn then and saw Quatre's stricken eyes. The man's hands were fisting and releasing, his nails driving into his palms.

"I thought you might hate me, because I couldn't help you," Quatre replied. "I hated myself. I couldn't face you. I felt too guilty."

Duo stared at him and then he lowered his eyes, hands twisting in his lap. "You know what, Quatre? I can understand, I really can. Who wants to see something like this?" His hands came apart and motioned to himself. "One badass Gundam pilot turned into pieced together shit. It'd make my stomach turn."

Quatre's hands were gently taking hold of Duo's shoulders, careful not to squeeze. Duo looked up into his hard, blue eyes, and wondered why Quatre was angry with him. "Don't say that again," Quatre told him. "You are not... shit. I dealt with my emotions, my reactions, in the wrong way. It's me, not you."

"I couldn't do this by myself," Duo told him. It stung his pride, but it had to be said. "I needed Heero... still do. It's not your money, I need. Do you understand that, Quatre? I need you, just like I need Heero, but I can't force that."

Quatre leaned over and kissed the top of Duo's head, his hand caught in Duo's hair as if he needed a way to hang on to him. "Forgive me, please?"

"Always," Duo grinned fiercely, "Now, forget it, okay? Let's start over. Get a beer, or some juice, from the fridge and have a seat."

Quatre managed a smile as he released Duo. He nodded, at a loss for words, and then hid his emotions by going to the refrigerator and looking inside. He said, his back turned to Duo, "Why didn't you go to the park, if you weren't angry with me?"

Duo grunted. "Well, Heero had some trouble with my meds. He's trying to get a refill, but... there's problems. It's my own fault. The docs don't trust me."

Quatre had turned in concern, a can of beer in one hand. "How long has Heero been gone?"

Duo knew better than to shrug. It hurt. "I dunno. The meds make me kind of fuzzy. An hour?"

Quatre put his drink back. "I think that I should go and find him. I might be able to-"

"He said that he wouldn't, Quat," Duo assured him, knowing what he was thinking. "He said that he'd stay in channels."

"Oh," Quatre replied, but still looked worried.

The door opened and Heero came in, looking rushed, a mangled white bag in one hand. He stopped, hand twitching towards a hidden gun before he registered that it was Quatre standing there. His tense expression turned pleased then.

"Is everything all right?" Heero asked as he placed the bag on a counter and began taking out the bottles.

"Yeah," Duo replied, "We talked. I see you managed to get the docs to refill my prescription. What did you say to convince them?"

"You have to take a few blood tests," Heero replied as he checked the seals on the bottles.

"So they know I'm not taking extra?" Duo guessed.

Heero made a grunt that said nothing and then turned to them. He brushed his hair out of his eyes with one hand and then regarded them both as he said, "We still have time to go to the park."

Duo was eager. "Can we? I'm up for it if you guys are."

"Of course," Quatre replied, but he was studying Heero carefully as he asked, "Are you sure that you aren't too tired? Getting through red tape can be exhausting."

Heero gave him a sharp look, but replied, as he began helping Duo get ready, "I'm fine."

He was moving stiffly though, and favoring one arm as he checked the oxygen tank, his cell phone in case he had to call in an emergency, and all of Duo's straps and cushions to make certain that nothing became jarred out of position.

"Duo?" Quatre said as he stepped forward and put a hand on the back of Duo's chair. "May I walk with you?"

"Sure, "Duo replied, pleased. "You can be my copilot this time."

Heero looked as if he would have liked to protest, but one hand went to the arm that he was favoring and he stepped aside to let Quatre walk behind the chair as they headed for the door.

"We're going to make it this time," Duo vowed.

"Of course we will," Quatre agreed with a fierceness that had Duo grinning at him.

Five yards down the sidewalk, though, Quatre was beginning to have doubts. Heero looked weary and his grimaces were well hidden, but he was still full of enthusiasm and encouragement. It kept Quatre silent when he felt the need to protest. Duo was coughing and holding his middle, bracing himself to keep his body from jerking, and looking pale. The oxygen mask went on, then, and they paused while he adjusted.

"What did the doctor say about his lungs?" Quatre asked worriedly.

"They will heal," Heero replied, "but the sensitivity may never go away."

"Meaning that the oxygen tank might be my lifelong buddy," Duo snickered through his mask, as if it didn't matter to him. "Onward, guys. I'm okay."

Quatre looked searchingly at Heero, wondering if they should put a stop to the outing, but then he noticed the blood spotting Heero's shirt where the jacket had hitched up. Quatre's eyes went wide. Heero looked down, adjusted his coat to cover it, and then glared at Quatre, daring him to say anything.

"Race you," Duo snickered and sent his wheel chair forward. Heero and Quatre hurried to catch up.

If Duo was hurting, he refused to show it. They made it through the gates of the park and onto a narrow jogging path. Duo stopped then and covered his eyes with one twisted hand. It was a moment before they realized that he was crying and trying to hide it.

"Duo?" Quatre felt near panic, wondering if Duo had harmed himself.

Heero rested a hand on Duo's shoulder, leaned down, and kissed his tear streaked face. "You did it," he said and sounded on the edge of tears himself. "You reached the park."

Quatre understood then and put a hand to his mouth to cover his own emotion.

Duo recovered enough to chuckle, "First the park and then the world."

Getting back to the apartment was harder. Once they reached it, Heero knew that Duo wouldn't want Quatre to see how such a small outing had effected him. They said their goodbyes and Quatre left with a promise to return again soon.

Heero cleaned Duo, checked over all of his braces, pins, and still healing bones, and then put him to bed with his medications. When he began to withdraw, Duo took a tight hold of Heero's shirt, keeping him bent close. "You don't need to lie to me," Duo said softly. "I know how you got my medicine back. Take care of yourself now."

Heero's jaw worked for a moment. He didn't apologize. He wasn't sorry for his actions. He turned away to clean and tape closed, a hastily bandaged slash under his arm. That done, he turned back to Duo and saw that he had fought sleep, and the grip of the drugs, to make certain that Heero was all right.

"Come 'ere," Duo slurred and crooked a finger at him. When Heero complied, he tugged at Heero and said, "In... Tired of sleeping alone."

"Duo," Heero protested. "I-"

Duo gave him a bleary glare. "Um not gonna fuck you, just... just wanna have you next to me."

Heero chuckled. "We need more room."

"Slide y'r bed 'ver here," Duo ordered.

Heero weighed the pros and cons and then decided that he could be next to Duo without harming him. He pulled his bed over, crawled in, and then lay facing Duo. Duo moved his body fitfully, attempting several positions, and then settled on his back with his head tilted to rest against Heero's shoulder. Heero smoothed a hand along his face.

"Nice," Duo mumbled. "Smell good. Warm. Tired of myself." He paused and Heero almost decided that he had fallen asleep, but then Duo said very softly, "I know Quatre doesn't believe in me... but it was still gr't."

"He'll come again," Heero said, deciding that Duo needed to hear that.

"G'd," Duo managed and then he was asleep.

Heero stared at Duo's sleeping face, the lines of pain smoothed out, and thought about the lengths that he had gone to in order to assure that. He didn't regret it. Being next to Duo, hearing his steady breathing, and enjoying his closeness, made everything else fade away. He smiled, kissed Duo's forehead, and then fell asleep himself.


On to Chapter five

Back to chapter three

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