The Cost

Chapter 6:Turning
by Kracken


Disclaimer:I don't own this and I don't make any money off of it
Warning:Male/male sex, graphic, language, violence, physical trauma, duosufferitus

The Cost

Turning Over

"Jeez! Look at this ugly shit!" a young voice sneered.

Duo tensed. Sitting near a few potted plants and a bench along the sidewalk, it had seemed a nice, safe place for Heero to leave him while he went in and saw to the details of paying for and arranging the delivery of a few new pieces of equipment. Boredom had been a problem of late, now that Duo was regaining some of his strength and reducing the dosage of his pain medication, and Heero had promised to find something to keep Duo busy. It was a surprise of sorts and Duo had been waiting with some anticipation. Trouble had been the last thing on his mind.

"Trash like that shouldn't be messing up the street," another voice snickered. "Maybe we should do something about it?"

Duo clenched hands and didn't look, hoped that ignoring them, and the fact that people were passing by him regularly, would keep the owners of those voices from doing anything more than tossing insults.

A hand landed on Duo's wheelchair. Another fiddled with the knob of one of his oxygen tanks. He did look then and saw three young men grinning at him. Their grins were like wolves ready to take down prey, though, and Duo tried to keep the trepidation off his face. He gave them, instead, a bored look and said, "Don't you have anything better to do than annoy cripples?"

One of them, a husky youth with a shock of black hair and a scar under his lip, snickered. "Nope, not a thing," he replied. He leaned very close and eyed Duo. "You are one ugly mother fucker. What the hell happened to you?"

"Saved a baby from a burning building," Duo told them with a dangerous gleam in his own eye. "You don't come out looking too pretty when the whole building lands on you afterward."

"No shit?" The one fiddling with the tank grunted. He had long, dirty blonde hair in dreds and his clothes were two sizes too large. "So ugly's a hero, and all?"

"No, just a dumb shit who didn't run fast enough," Duo chuckled.

The third one had wide eyes. "Damn," he muttered. He was scrawny and had an almost bald head. A tattoo of a snake traveled around one arm. He nudged the blonde. "Leave 'em alone. Let's go to the arcade."

The one with the scar glared at him. "You don't believe that crap, do you? He just don't want us messing with him."

Duo made a motion at his own body. "You explain all this then."

"Don't need to," scar growled, angry that the bald boy and the blonde were starting to back away from Duo. He was their leader and he didn't want anyone questioning that. When he pulled a small knife out, Duo tensed. It hovered near his braid. "Maybe I want a souvenier," the boy whispered to Duo with evil intent. "Something from a real hero?"

No one slowed their steps. Duo and the three boys were passed by as if they didn't exist. It was a moment where anything could have happened, a moment when, later, those self same people passing by might ask themselves why they hadn't stopped it.

"Jeez, Jordan!" The blonde complained and jerked at his coat. "Leave the guy alone and let's get going!"

The boy with the scar glared and then suddenly changed his aim. He slashed a part of the tube from Duo's oxygen tank off and then waggled it at Duo. "Hope you didn't need this. I'd ask for an autograph, but I don't think it'd fit." He laughed as he turned, with a swirl of his coat, and strode away with his friends.

"Little shit!" Duo swore. He fingered the cut tube nervously. He wasn't as sensitive as he had been, but he still needed the mask and oxygen when the air irritated his lungs too much. He checked to make sure that he had his inhaler, patted it when he found it, and hoped that it was enough.

"Duo?" Heero startled Duo by leaning close.

Duo let out a breath of relief and sank in his chair. "Too bad you weren't here a bit earlier."

"Why?" Heero was already scanning the street, tense and worried.

"Ran into a couple of young kids with nothing better to do than harass ex gundam pilots in wheelchairs," Duo groused. "One of the shits cut my tube."

Heero studied it and then glared about the street again. Duo knew what was on his mind and how to distract him. "I need to get back home. If something happens now..." He let it hang. He knew that Heero was aware what might happen.

Heero deposited a bag into Duo's lap and then began rolling him down the street towards their apartment. Duo looked down at it and then up at Heero. "So?" he questioned.

Heero was still on edge, thinking, probably, about his failure to be there when Duo needed him. It took him a moment to bring his attention back and reply, "Satellite uplink and three data ports with G.U. capability. The new computer system is arriving tomorrow."

Duo grinned, almost forgetting the fact that he had been useless against three boys. "You know that's pure candy to me, don't you? I can't wait to start hacking."

"I'm not certain Preventers will approve, but I doubt you'll give them anything to trace," Heero told him, but then added, "Unless you want to use your skills for them? They're always looking for infiltration specialists."

Duo frowned. "So," he growled, "This is either a way to make me feel 'useful' or an attempt to ease me into 'settling' for not getting back %100 percent. Look, Duo!" he mocked. "You can actually do something!"

Heero stopped, leaned down, and gave Duo a light kiss. Then he looked into Duo's eyes very seriously and said, "Neither. Stop reading between the lines. I love you. It's that simple."

"Good," Duo retorted, "Because I don't need another Quatre trying to manage my life."

Heero made a face and began pushing Duo again. They passed a deli and Duo's stomach grumbled. "I really want a ham and cheese, Heero, melted, and with that really great sauce they put on it. If you really do love me, got get me one."

Heero hesitated. His eyes swept the streets around them. Duo wasn't sure himself, but he couldn't go back without proving something to himself, that he wasn't going to be intimidated by children.

"I'm right outside and you can see me through the window," Duo told Heero impatiently. "Nothing's going to happen."

Heero measured the distance to the inside counter and mentally measured reaction time scenarios before he replied cautiously, "You won't come inside?"

Duo motioned to the narrow door. "That deli's been here since horse and carriages. That door's too narrow for all my gear. Besides," he turned his wheelchair to face the street, "I gotta be out here. You know why."

Heero still looked nervous, but he understood. It was another reason that Duo loved him. He would let Duo do whatever he thought he could. A hand squeezed Duo's shoulder and then he heard the tinkle of the bell suspended over the door of the deli as Heero went inside.

Duo sat nervously, watching traffic go by, and trying to convince himself that street toughs were the exception, not the rule. It was warm in the sun, though, and the trees that lined the street were pleasant to look at. Duo found himself slowly relaxing and feeling better.

A woman was talking to a neighbor, nodding and rolling eyes as she made some point, her child playing at her feet. Duo watched idly as the child found a beetle struggling across the heated sidewalk. Three, Duo decided on the age of the child, a little boy in overalls with a teddy bear gracing the front. He was a little blond imp that was even now finding a bit of something to poke at the beetle with. Soon it would be cripples in wheelchairs, Duo thought sourly.

The beetle took flight with iridescent wings and the boy, not wanting to lose his new pet, chased after it, right into the street. Not again, Duo thought. Not his business. He had already given everything. It was someone else's turn. He couldn't anyway, right? He was a goddam cripple. His only duty was to be a bystander, the one they would question later about how horrible the accident had been.

The pain was incredible. Duo was out of his chair and running on limbs that should never have taken even his light weight. He wasn't sure how he managed it, how artificial bones and joints, held together by bubble gum and rubber bands, were allowing him to sprint for all he was worth after a little boy about to be taken out of this life by the front grill of a car. The braces hampered him, he nearly fell a dozen times, but he made it, just, and threw himself the rest of the way. One braced arm snagged the child and carried him along with his weight and momentum out of harms' way. The impact of asphalt was bone shattering. Duo tasted blood, saw red, and then stared up at the blue sky as a child and a woman began screaming at the same time.

His vision was filled then by Heero's face. He'd never sen the man looked frightened. He was shaking with it as his trembling hands fluttered over Duo, afraid to touch, afraid to see that he had killed himself. Duo grinned at him as that beloved face whirled into a vortex of darkness.

"G-Guess I still got it," Duo managed, and then, "I hate kids."


The voice called him back to numbness. Duo felt afraid, very afraid. If he had damaged his spine... His eyes opened reluctantly to a lowered light and a hospital bed. Heero was gripping his hand and calling him back from where ever he had been.

Someone sighed with relief but then a voice berated, "Mr. Maxwell, while I commend your heroics, I have to say that you are the damnedest patient. I think I'll be able to retire on the sheer amount of money that I'll receive from writing a paper about you."

"Or the money you make off of piecing me back together," Duo whispered with a tired smirk."How bad is it?"

"I can't explain how you managed it." The doctor looked Duo up and down as if the explanation would present itself somehow. "I can only surmise that the braces were holding you together and that your insistence on intense exercises allowed your muscles to take over where your bones could not."

"Yeah, so I was Mr. Impossible," Duo groused, "but how much did it fucking cost me this time?"

Heero rubbed a hand over Duo's and replied quietly, "Broken leg, fractured ankle, broken wrist, abrasions, cuts, and a concussion." He managed a smile that held a bit of awe. "It is incredible that more didn't happen."

"Clean breaks," the doctor interjected. "Nothing that can't be put back together. You are one lucky bastard."

"Lucky?" Duo retorted. "You have a strange idea what luck is."

"Continuing to draw breath is always damned lucky in my book," the doctor told him as he nodded to Heero and left them.

Duo sighed and looked at Heero. "So, you must be ready to give up? I wouldn't blame you if you decided to leave me. I'd leave myself if I could."

Heero looked confused. He said, "You are the most incredible man that I've ever met. Who else would I be with?" He pointed to a bouquet of flowers. "The mother of the boy you saved knows that too. She sent those."

Duo was too much of a realist to accept what Heero was offering. It was one thing to say that you loved a hero, a selfless man who was willing to give his life, but it was another thing to live with what was left over after the appreciation club went home. That took something more than most people possessed.

"Duo," Heero said. "You have to see what I see. Even after all that your body has suffered, you still managed to walk, to run, to make it do what needed to be done. Everyone says that it was impossible. Everyone wanted you to believe that such a thing couldn't happen. Can't you see that you've just proven them wrong?"

Duo blinked, the realization hitting him hard. He had... walked. What was to say that he couldn't do it again? His hand turned and he wrapped it in Heero's hand, believing in himself again and grasping onto something that had been lacking in his life for awhile, despite all of his words to the contrary. He had hope again.

"Your physical therapist is a sadist," Wufie muttered after closing the door behind her. "Did she work for Oz?"

Duo, panting and shaking from pain and exhaustion, still managed a snicker. "Too young." When Wu Fei arched an eyebrow at him, he amended, "You know what I mean, one of those lucky people who stayed clear of the war."

Wu Fei nodded as he cleaned up used towels and sports drinks. "How is it?"

The pain, he meant, Duo knew. There wasn't any good answer for that, so he shrugged and replied, "Just be glad you weren't at any of the earlier sessions. This is a cake walk compared to them."

"Do you want your medication?" Wu Fei asked as he ran a hand over the long line of bottles on the kitchen counter.

"No," Duo replied. "My dosage is a lot lower and I want to keep it that way. Besides, pain lets me know when to stop."

Wu Fei shook his head as he tossed the towels into a bin. "You should stop before it comes to that."

"If you're gonna ride me, at least give me a saddle, Fei," Duo growled.

"What?" Wu Fei looked mystified and then he sighed. "I see, I should keep my good advice to myself?"

"Yeah," Duo retorted. They stared at each other uncomfortably and then Duo groused, "You know you can leave me alone, right? Heero wanted you here for the therapy, but I can manage until he gets back." Heero had gone to arrange for Duo to be admitted to a facility that would supervise his next level of therapy. It would take him most of that day to interview all the personnel, check the place and references thoroughly, and handle the paperwork and financing.

"And break my promise?" Wu Fei snorted. "You know that I wouldn't do that."

"I was doing for myself before Heero ever showed up," Duo argued as he picked at his sweat soaked shirt with a grimace.

"Well?" Wu Fei asked with a raised eyebrow. Duo didn't answer. They both knew the answer. Wu Fei sighed and finished cleaning, then he faced Duo as he settled into a chair. "I didn't realize that my presence was so onerous."

Duo rolled his eyes. "It's not, so shut up! I just..." Duo sat up, ignoring the pain, and propped himself against pillows. "A guy gets tired of being treated like a baby."

There was a painful truth to that statement and Duo flushed uncomfortably. Such things were in the past now, lost in his slow climb back from total disability, but it didn't make the embarrassment over them any worse. Heero had definitely seen him at his lowest, had cared for him more than anyone should have been expected to.

Wu Fei was nodding, though, and his next words shocked Duo. "Then, perhaps, your desires should be respected."

"You're leaving?" Duo asked, feeling hopeful and like an asshole at the same time.

"No," Wu Fei replied with a frown as he began gathering things that would allow Duo to clean himself. "I think that it would be a very good idea for you to escape this room, rather than wait for Heero to return from his business."

"The park?" Duo asked hopefully.

Wu Fei snorted. "That is for infants."

Duo stared in confusion as he took wet towels from the man and began wiping off the sweat. "Where, then?"

"I need to practice my shooting..." Wu Fei began as he took the used towels and began looking for appropriate clothing for Duo.

"The range?" Duo grinned. "But that's at Preventer HQ, right? Heero will kill you."

"I doubt that he can," Wu Fei replied rather arrogantly, but he gave Duo a long appraising look. "You will tell me, at once, when you begin to feel that it is too much. On your honor."

"On my honor," Duo promised, feeling a thrill and a sense of trepidation at the same time. Preventer HQ meant seeing people that he knew, meant brushing elbows with his old life. He wondered if he were ready to face that yet, but then knew that he couldn't voice a concern like that in front of Chang Wu Fei. The man didn't respect mental weakness of any kind. Heero was definitely going to kill them both when he found out.


On to Chapter seven

Back to chapter five

This page last updated: