The Cost

Chapter 17:Believe in Me

"There isn't any fairy dust here, Mr. Maxwell," the doctor said as he pushed Duo's wheelchair to the end of the ramp. "This first walk is going to be pitiful and maybe painful as well. You'll be lucky to get one foot in front of the other, before you'll need to sit down again.Don't push it."

Duo smiled weakly as he reached up to the parallel bars. "That's why I didn't want an audience in a regular therapy room," he said as he tested his gloved grip. "It's bad enough that Heero has to see me fall flat on my face."

Heero smiled and reached around Duo's waist. "I won't laugh," he promised.

"Better not," Duo mock growled.

Duo's hands tensed, but he didn't make an effort to stand. His face was a study in concentration, eyes on the length of walkway and the end that was his goal.

"I can do this," Duo whispered, but it was fierce.

"Yes, you can," Heero said in his ear, poised to take his weight and help him up.

Duo's hands worked a moment and then he took a slow, deep breath. His arm muscles tensed and then he pulled himself up.

"Shit!" Duo swore as weight settled on his bones and caused some pain.


"Mr. Maxwell?" the doctor was there, alongside Heero. "Maybe you should sit again? I'll check you to make sure nothing-"

"No!" Duo growled sharply. "I-I'm fine."

"He's fine," Tango said as he appeared on Duo's other side with Duo's team ranged behind him, all smiling and giving salutes encouragingly. Tango nodded to Duo's shocked look. "Commander?. Taking a stroll in medical without your team to back you up?"

An embarrassed blush tinged Duo's cheeks. "I wouldn't call it a stroll... more like an attempt not to fall forward."

The doctor was worried. "I agreed to walking therapy at Preventer Headquarters, because you insisted, Mr. Maxwell, and they had the equipment. If this is going to turn into a show, one that might cause you to push yourself too far, then I have to protest."

"He talks a lot, doesn't he?" Tango chuckled as he put a hand under Duo's trembling arm to help him stay standing..

Heero was frowning. "He may be right, Duo. Don't push it."

Duo snorted. "I don't have enough strength to push anything." He gave Heero and Tango a scowl. "If you two will let go, now, I'll try to take a step."

Tango let go, but he didn't step away. Heero reluctantly released Duo as well.

"Your show, Commander," Tango said.

"Careful," Heero warned.

Duo rolled his eyes at Heero with a snort of exasperation and then brought all of his attention to bear on his feet. "So," he said as he struggled to move one leg. "How did you know I was here, Tango?"

"Didn't," Tango replied as he watched Duo's feet as well. "Une told us when she called to order us to do our first module without you."

"And you're not following orders?" Duo wondered angrily.

"We finished the module as fast as we could and came here," Tango corrected him. "Nobody's brave enough to go against Une's orders." He nodded to Duo's legs. "Are you going to walk or chew us out all day?"

"Duo?" Heero was ready to toss Tango and his team out, but he wouldn't embarrass Duo that way.

"I'm okay," Duo replied tensely and then forced a foot to move. Carefully, he put his weight on it. It held. Duo let out a shuddering breath of relief.

"Good, Mr. Maxwell," the doctor said encouragingly. "Do you need to sit down?"

Duo tossed a glare over his shoulder at the man."I think I can try a little more than that!"

Duo brought his attention back to his feet, arms shaking as he kept his balance. Slowly, he slid another foot forward. He was gritting his teeth with effort, refusing to allow his knees to buckle.

His team cheered and Tango gave out a whoop of delight. Duo almost stumbled in surprise but Tango and Heero were there to steady him and lower him back into his chair.

Duo wiped sweat from his brow with a trembling hand, saying shakily, "Guess they still work."

Duo grinned and hugged Heero, one armed, when the man leaned into him, clutching his shirt and hiding his emotions against Duo's chest. Duo gave his men a salute and then gave them a curt hand signal, a clear dismissal. Tango saluted back, his team, and himself, looking as if they were barely controlling their own emotions.Duo waved the doctor away as well and the man suddenly found something else to do in another corner of the room.

"Told you I could do it," Duo whispered into Heero's hair.

Heero nodded, wiped at his eyes, and then tried to straighten. Duo kept a tight hold on him, though, and kissed him.

"Thank you," Duo told him, "For believing in me."

"I knew that you were too damned stubborn to fail," Heero manage to joke.

Duo chuckled, pulled him in for another kiss and then admitted seriously, "I couldn't have done it without you."

Heero shook his head in denial, "No, you would have," he argued, "but it was good to be here."

"I still have a long way to go," Duo said, looking uncertain. "Are you sure you want to stay around that long?"

Heero clutched at Duo again, emotions naked on his face. "Always, no matter what happens."

Duo chuckled. "Who's the stubborn guy?"

"We both are," Heero replied. "It makes us perfect for each other."

"Perfect," Duo agreed and pulled him in for another kiss.


The End... but there will be a few shorts later later...


On to Chapter Eighteen

Back to chapter Sixteen






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