Crossing Paths Arc: Part 10

Part 10: Blinders
by Kracken

Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money off of them.
Warning: Male/Male sex, graphic, violence, language, etc.,etc.

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"Duo Maxwell?" the nurse, a prim woman in a white uniform, smiled crisply and motioned Duo inside the small examination room. It wasn't a full fledged doctor's office, just an over-large room full of cabinets and shinning equipment.

Duo blinked in surprise at the woman as Rashid took up his station outside. "You were expecting me?"

"Mr. Winner informed us to be prepared to take certain tests and to have equipment for them on hand," she explained as she began to take instruments out of a drawer and spread them out onto a tray. Duo eyed a long, thin scope nervously. "I'm afraid that your reputation proceeds you as well," the woman continued apologetically. "I've seen the vids enough times to recognize you."

"Oh," was all Duo could find to say as she handed him a paper robe.

"The opening of the robe goes at the back. The doctor will be in shortly," the nurse told him reassuringly and then left, closing the door behind her.

Duo shivered with cold as he undressed and put on the robe. Sitting on the paper covered examination table, his thin legs were left swinging far from the floor, the sound of crinkling paper the only noise in a deafening silence. He had far too much time to look at the waiting instruments before the doctor made his appearance. By that time, Duo was ready to change his mind.

The doctor was a stern, no nonsense, older man with glasses perched at the end of a thin nose. He eyed Duo over the rim and then glanced down at the computerized chart he held in his hands.

"From government records?" Duo wondered.

"It's the only one you have," the doctor replied. He didn't shake hands. He sat on a metal stool in front of Duo that put him level with Duo's body. "I'm Dr. Kinson." His eyes were constantly scanning Duo as he spoke, "I must confess, I've always wanted to examine you."

Duo frowned. "Why?"

The Doctor looked somewhat embarrassed. "I watch those silly vid shows, I'm afraid, and when you appeared on them, I noticed... abnormalities. It was obvious to me that you were not developing normally, that something had affected you. War time after effects have always been an interest of mine. From what I understand of Gundams, they had minimal radiation shielding to make them light and maneuverable, they put great stresses on the mind and body, and they put a pilot in dangerous proximity to extraordinary weaponry. A boy is flexible, heals quickly, and can take much more punishment than a man who's skeleton and mental faculties have set. I could see the method behind the choice of young men for pilots. I could also see that there was the possibility for permanent damage. Quatre and Trowa both have permanent skeletal damage in certain joints and they have both displayed unbalanced mental processes on occasion. Trowa Barton was, unfortunately, made sterile by long term radiation exposure. Heero Yuy, after a brief examination, seems the least effected, but I have been told that his Gundam had been the most sophisticated in its operations."

"He's also genetically enhanced," Duo remembered and then said impatiently, "I don't really care about all of that, okay? Yeah, I know I'm probably messed up good from spending weeks floating in space in a Gundam, getting blasted with ion cannons, and being shaken near to death from impacts and explosions, but I think Quatre's already told you what I'm looking for."

The doctor nodded, but said, "I simply wished to offer an alternative explanation for your condition, Captain Maxwell."

"Just do the examination," Duo grated. He didn't want to hear another explanation, another reason to believe that he was simply being paranoid. He wanted clear, concise test results to tell him that and he suddenly didn't care what test he had to suffer through to achieve that.

The doctor pursed his lips and made a note on his chart. Then he said briskly as he stood up, "Let's get started then."

"Take him back to his room," the doctor's voice said near Duo and Duo felt a strong hand take hold of his elbow. "I had to give him a very mild sedative. Some of the tests alarmed him unnecessarily. I believe that he suffered torture at the hands of Oz during the war. I think some of the procedures reminded him of that torture. I tried to convince him to wait, to take a few days to calm down and finish the tests then, but he insisted on continuing. Here are his test results. They are very interesting. Have Captain Duo read them and come back to me when he's made a decision how to proceed." There was a pause and then the doctor said apologetically, "I'm afraid that he reacted to the sedative more strongly than I had anticipated. Now that I see the results of his blood work, I can see why. If you like, I can send a nurse along to monitor him, but he should be fine if you can manage to get him to bed." Someone, Rashid, must have simply shaken his head. The doctor said, "All right then. Thank you for taking care of him. Mr. Winner is generous, but I still don't have a very large staff and nurses are at a minimum."

"I will take care of him." It was Heero's voice and Heero's hand supporting Duo as the ex pilot helped Duo leave the doctor's office.

Once in the hallway, Duo pulled his arm out of Heero's grasp. He staggered. The world blurred and then came slowly into focus. Heero's serious face was watching him in concern, his chocolate hair a tangle over his dark, blue eyes. "I'm NOT sleeping my life away," Duo protested, "and I don't want YOU to help me!"

Shit! He had sounded like a whining child, Duo thought. His tongue felt two times too big for his mouth and he was as incoherent as a drunk. He should have refused the drugs. His determination to complete all of the tests had made him vulnerable.

Heero surprised him by agreeing. "All right, I will help you walk until your head clears.

"No!" Duo leaned against the wall and stopped himself from sliding down it to the floor with a tremendous effort. "Where's Rashid? He can help me."

"I came to see how you were doing," Heero replied, his face swimming in and out of focus. "I guessed that you would try to go to the doctor today. When I saw Rashid here, I told him that Quatre had been looking for him and that I would make sure that you didn't cause any trouble."

"You lied and he left?" Duo growled. "He doesn't trust you either. Why would he do that?"

Duo imagined Heero shrugging, though he couldn't see it. He could hear the rustle of cloth, Heero's shirt moving at a motion. "Perhaps you gave him reason to trust the both of us."

Duo didn't think that was likely. It was more likely that, after seeing Duo hobble, out of breath, down the maze of Quatre's estate, Rashid's estimation of Duo's danger had down graded considerably. "Why did you lie to Rashid?"

"I knew that you probably disliked his presence, that having a guard most likely upset you," Heero explained smoothly. "I thought, especially after seeing the doctor, that you would feel more comfortable with me."

"You did?" Duo's voice was sarcastic. He wished that his head would stop spinning enough to think clearly, to really tell Heero what he thought of him. Instead, he said, "I kicked you in the balls the last time we were together. Can't you take a hint?"

He could imagine Heero being angry. He tried to see it, squinting at Heero's face. Instead, he saw heavy guilt. "I shouldn't have made those kinds of advances towards you. Punishment was given where punishment was due, though it was excessive," Heero replied tightly.

"You weren't the one being attacked," Duo snapped back. He shoved at Heero, but it put him off balance instead of Heero as he said viciously, "I don't want you to think that you can do that again. I don't want you around me. Go find someone else to fantasize about!"

The drugs were making Duo stupid, letting him say his thoughts without realizing it. Duo took a few steps before Heero came out of his shock enough to move and block his way. A thundercloud full of lightning and rain couldn't have been darker than Heero's expression. His eyes were panicking though and his skin was flushing and then growing pale. It was easy to tell that he was finding it hard to decide whether he should be angry that his privacy had been violated, or embarrassed that he had been caught masturbating and fantasizing about Duo.

"What are you thinking?" Heero demanded. Heero didn't deal in subtleties. He always went straight to the point. "It is obvious that you came into my room earlier without my knowledge. It is also obvious that you have judged me."

"Why shouldn't I?" Duo wondered. "You were jacking off and thinking about 'doing it' to me!"

Duo tried to get away again, tried to escape before emotions pulled him down and drowned him. It was Heero's words that stopped him, as powerful as any hand on his arm. "I am only human."

Duo turned, staggered, and couldn't do anything but sit down hard on the floor as he lost his balance completely. The world did a sickening flip-flop and he put his head in his hands, squeezing his eyes tightly shut against nausea. He replied, "Human? I think 'pervert' describes you better."

Duo lifted his head again when his stomach decided to stay where it belonged. He cringed and gasped when he found Heero crouched in front of him, face not more than a few inches from his own. He was given the full force of Heero's blue eyes. They were full of pain and confusion even though his expression was tight and angry. "Pervert?" Heero echoed and it was as if that one word weighed a ton and he was settling it onto Duo's shoulders as a punishment, something Duo could only escape with an explanation.

"Yeah!" Duo exclaimed, straightening as best he could and meeting Heero's eyes with a glare. "You have to be a pervert to get off on thinking about me."

Heero suddenly sat on the floor as well, cross-legged, hands limp in his lap and body slumped as if he were a puppet and someone had cut his strings. He stared at Duo in incomprehension. "Explain," was all he seemed to be able to manage to say.

"Jeez!" Duo swore. "Do I have to spell it out? I'm skin and bones and I look like a kid! I'm not the kind of person people have wet dreams over unless they like-"

Heero reached out and put a sun bronzed hand over Duo's pale lips, silencing him. "Don't," he said, "Don't say it. If you do. It will be between us forever." He leaned closer, until their noses almost touched, not dropping his hand and Duo too confused by Heero's intensity to think to react. "Duo Maxwell," Heero said very clearly and then paused, as if he were fighting every bit of training ever imposed on him. Duo saw him shiver ever so slightly and then he continued, his next words shocking Duo to the bone, "I have always dreamed about you. I have always wanted you. I spent the war in agony, denying myself, denying how I felt, refusing to approach you and break the training that I knew that I had to have to win the war. That war is over. That training I still need, in part, but the missions I perform now are far different. They don't require that I be, as in the war, more than human. They don't require that I deny myself a life. I am a man now. I am a man who is allowed now to make the choices that I couldn't during the war." Heero paused again, searching Duo's eyes intently, trying to see his reaction. "I came for you, Duo, not just to evaluate you for a mission. I came because I lo-"

Duo jerked away, turned his body from Heero and wrapped his arms about his knees. He hitched on a sob and shook his head hard, making his braid whip over the floor behind him. "You're going to lie, aren't you? You want something from me. You want me to go on some mission for your baby killing Tiger Cell. You are part of the anti unification forces and what you're doing now is just a con to get me to cooperate. There is no way in Hell that Heero Yuy can care anything about me."

"It's true that there is a mission that would benefit from your skills," Heero admitted, "But it doesn't have anything to do with the Tiger Cell. If it's that belief that is keeping you from trusting me, then I will never ask you to be a part of that mission or any other again."

Duo was quiet, his mind trying to make sense of that, still trying to hold on to the belief that it was a con, because if it wasn't, if what Heero was trying to say to him was... what was he trying to say? That he had always wanted him? That he...

"Say it again," Duo asked, hunched over, forehead pressed against his knees and every nerve and muscle tight, ready for his heart to be shattered by one wrong move, one wrong word from Heero. "Say why I'm not just a perverted fuck you want. Say why I'm not a con you have to run so that you can get me to do what you want. Say- Say what you had been going to say before-"

"I love you," Heero interrupted very softly, but as strong as steel and without any reservation.

Time stopped. Everything inside of Duo said, 'does not compute'. It was the drugs, he thought. He had to be hallucinating. This couldn't be real. When he felt the hand on his braid, touching it, caressing it, he sucked in a deep breath.

"I used to do this while you were sleeping, during the war," Heero said thoughtfully. "I used to do it when you had your back turned, just touch the end, hoping that you wouldn't notice. Wu Fei noticed me doing it one day. He called me weak and warned me that you were a distraction. He's the one who convinced me to keep our mission separate."

"After the war, I was ready for love," Duo said bitterly as he let out his breath in a gusting sigh. "I was young. I was healthy. I was looking forward to life. I looked for you, but you had already run away. I should have run too. Now... I don't have anything to offer you. The Duo Maxwell you knew is gone. He's the one you really want, isn't it? When you were playing with yourself in your room, you were dreaming of him, right?"

Heero's chest was suddenly against Duo's back and strong arms pried him out of his fetal position, slipping about his waist and holding him in a comforting embrace. Heero's lips ghosted along Duo's neck. Duo shivered and another sob threatened to tear itself from his lips, a sob of wonder, a sob of a man who was getting his heart's desire.

Heero said in Duo's ear, his breath hot. "I'm inexperienced in expressing myself. I've had sex, but I've never had to be a lover. I don't know the rituals, the correct way to approach you. I've already made mistakes. Duo, I can only speak plainly and hope that I am saying what must be said correctly- well enough so that you understand my intentions, my feelings." He groped for words. "You think that I want someone from the past, that what I feel is lust for a handsome boy. What I want is Duo Maxwell. All of Duo Maxwell. The Duo Maxwell that I hold in my arms right now. Perhaps there aren't any words to explain this feeling that I have. None of the ones that surface in my thoughts seem logical or able to encompass it. It's more than just the body that you have and my like or dislike for it... I think that I would feel the same no matter how you looked. It's deeper. Much deeper. From the moment that I first saw you, when you were trying to 'save' Relena Peacecraft from me, this feeling was with me, just as strong, just as powerful. It didn't matter where I went, or how long it was between glimpses of you, it never went away. The mission was valid, but only an excuse to see you, to know, once and for all, if you felt the same way about me."

It was a question. Duo's thoughts were swimming. His anxiety was making being ill a real possibility. Their positions on the floor, just down the corridor from the doctor's office, sitting where anyone could see, was starting to disturb him. He needed safety. He needed to know where his pills were. He needed...

"Help me back to my room," Duo said and Heero stiffened, not sure whether his worst or best hope had come true. Duo couldn't enlighten him. He was too weak, too unsure if his drugged mind was really experiencing all of what had just happened or imagining it. He needed a safe, quiet place to process it, to let it sink in. He couldn't begin to express how he felt to Heero until then.

"It's okay," Duo said, a blanket reassurance to Heero that he hadn't been rejected outright, that Duo wasn't angry, and that Duo was all right. It was all he could say, all he could do to simply lay limp in Heero's arms as the man lifted his aching body off of the cold floor and the world slipped out of focus all around him.

"I need something to eat," Duo said as he limped to his bed and stretched out onto it with a groan. The joy of having the weight taken off of his joints were close to nirvana. "Something light. Soup, maybe, and some bread."

Heero hovered, making sure that Duo didn't fall, and then he nodded and used the phone to call the kitchen. When he hung up, Duo had slipped into a calm place, lulled by the drugs and the sedative, body ready to slip into oblivion, but mind fighting it stubbornly.

Heero pulled a chair close to the bed, turned the back facing Duo, and then straddled it. Resting his arms on top of the back, he watched Duo anxiously. "I ordered an onion broth soup. It will be easier on a sour stomach."

Duo made a face. It didn't sound like that was possible, but he was too far gone to care. "You can go, I guess. I'm almost asleep."

"I'll wait until your food arrives," Heero said, "That way you won't have to get up."

"If you're waiting for me to discuss a relationship, you'll be disappointed," Duo warned. "I have a lot to think about... I'm not going to try and talk about it when these drugs have me so messed up."

Heero was quiet and Duo was close to forgetting that he was even there, when the man said, "I can wait to talk, but... I've waited a long time to ask you how you feel about me. I think I know, but... "

Duo found himself saying, "You know...? How can you know how much I love you? All I've done is hurt you, yell at you, and make you miserable...."

Heero sat up very straight. Duo wondered why and then his own words sank in. He had just told Heero that he loved him. Duo felt a chill over his skin that penetrated even the drug haze. He didn't know why it bothered him to admit it to Heero. It was something he had dreamed about all of those lonely years. What was wrong with saying it now, especially after Heero had admitted to loving him too? Shouldn't it have been the happiest moment of his life? Shouldn't he thank God that his dreams had become a reality? Shouldn't he be holding Heero now and...

"I don't know you," Duo said suddenly and that was the whole truth and the problem in a nutshell. "I don't know you at all."

Heero had started to reach out to him, to caress him maybe or simply take his hand. Heero's face, slowly filling with some grand emotion, became as still as stone. He nodded, once, and withdrew his hand. "I understand," was all he replied, but that reply meant everything to Duo. If Heero meant to lie to him, to con him, then he wouldn't have given up just then. Duo had admitted a weakness. A soldier would have gone in for the kill.

"You have my heart, I guess," Duo managed to concede roughly, still wishing he could call back that admission. He hadn't been ready to make it, hadn't wanted that vulnerability on top of everything else, "You don't have my mind yet, though," he continued, "and those two things go together, Heero. My mind still needs to know who the Hell you are and what you're up too."

"Of course," Heero replied, as if that was completely logical. There was a thrum to his voice, though. Happiness, Duo realized, a complete joy he was trying to suppress.

"Not fair," Duo murmured as his eyes closed. "You should have been an Oz interrogator. They went after a man when he was messed up too."

"Duo," Heero began, shocked, but then said as if passing Duo's words off as drug induced, "I'll check on your food."

"Kay," Duo slurred, "Have to sleep now. Eat later."

"All Right."



"Am I still a virgin, do you think?"

"Why ask?"

"Doctor. Tests. "

"Oh." There was a soft chuckle from Heero. Duo felt his hand taken and warm lips pressed to the back of it. The ridiculousness of a man doing that to another man kept Duo lucid for one more moment, long enough to hear Heero say, "That doesn't count, Love."

"Good... was saving that for you."

Go to Part 11: Shadows

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