Warnings : Hints of 1+2, OOC, angst, Duo POV, death of an
OC… so it’s a little depressing. After war.
Don’t own. Don’t make money.
When the Bullet Hits the Bone
There is no one who puts me first. I figured that out in
a hospital bed after a particularly nasty mission failure.
I’d been point man on the team that went in after a kidnapped politician’s
son. I’d had only one job… get the kid. The rest of the team
was to do the neutralize routine. There had been not a breath between the
shout of ‘Freeze! Preventers!’, and the gunshot that had hit
me squarely in the hip. I hadn’t let it stop me, but damn it…
it had slowed me down just enough that…
Like I said; mission failure.
As fucking failed as you can get.
The kid had died under my hands.
I call him a kid, but really, he wasn’t any younger than I’d
been when I’d piloted a Gundam in the war. But these were new times,
and hell… he really had been just a kid. A stinking damn kid in the
wrong place at the wrong time.
It wasn’t much consolation that none of his abductors left that building
alive. Failed is still failed. Dead is still dead.
The wound in my hip wasn’t that awful; I think it was just the impact
that made me falter. That lost me those fatal few seconds. Landed me in
the hospital for over-night observation though; mostly because they had
trouble getting me to wake up from the anesthesia after they got the bullet
out. I don’t know if they figured out that I just didn’t want
to wake up or not. When I was asleep, I couldn’t see those wide, frightened
eyes staring up at me as the light slowly went out of them.
And it was when I finally couldn’t force myself to hide in that drugged
stupor anymore that I figured it out. Wee damn hours of the morning, staring
blankly at a white ceiling and seeing eyes looking back at me that weren’t
While there had been visitors who came and patted my shoulder or even stroked
a hand over my hair, who brought me water before saying their good-byes…
there wasn’t anybody holding my hand when I woke.
There wasn’t anyone who put me first.
No one who knew me well enough to see past the pain of the physical wounds.
I don’t let that happen to my friends. I’d never consciously
thought about it before… never really stopped to analysis what I did,
but I gave them all priority.
Oh, I can’t say that there’s a one of them that I would put
ahead of the rest… not since the one who might have been more, up
and disappeared on us. But I would put any one of them ahead of myself.
So I lay in that bed and stared into the eyes of that dead kid and I thought
about sitting with Wufei on the first anniversary of the destruction of
his colony even after he told me to go the fuck away, and I remembered how
he’d ended up crying while he’d leaned against my shoulder and
I’d pretended not to notice.
I remembered listening to Quatre while he’d torn himself apart over
his family and his father’s business. Passed him beers while he talked
himself into doing what he had to. Had his back while he explained to his
eldest sister that he wasn’t going to just conveniently vanish into
the history books for her.
I thought about standing between Trowa and his sister, keeping him from
doing something stupid when she’d told him about the trapeze artist
she’d fallen in love with and the little event they were expecting
together. I remembered having to jog to keep up with his long stride when
he’d stormed out, and how I’d had to slow my steps when we’d
come dragging back after he’d talked it out with me hours later.
I remembered the hours I’d spent with Hilde, going over books and
records and helping her save her Uncle’s scrap-yard after she’d
inherited it and then almost let it go bankrupt. It was the money I lent
her that kept it afloat until we’d gotten the accounting straightened
The accusing eyes of that little boy wanted to know why, if I was such a
good friend, I was lying there all alone.
So I explained to him that friendship wasn’t a game of fair. It wasn’t
about taking, it was about giving.
After the ghost of his mocking laughter faded, I admitted that I was feeling
sorry for myself, got up, disconnected the IV, dressed and checked myself
The nurse wasn’t happy with me, but you know… they really can’t
Walking was painful, but not impossible, and the unhappy nurse was kind
enough to call a cab for me, even while she muttered things under her breath
that I don’t think were particularly flattering.
The cab-driver’s name was Lenny. He was a really nice guy and we talked
on the drive about his mother’s hip operation, and I tipped him pretty
well even though I wasn’t sure he wasn’t just fishing for it.
Hell… maybe his mother really did need surgery.
And then I was home in my own little place where I could be petulant and
depressed and cranky, and there was no one to see. No one but the damn dead
kid who’d followed me home from the hospital like some little lost
I had pain pills that I didn’t really need, but I took them anyway
because they made me sleepy. I stripped out of my blood-stained clothes
and was finally able to clean myself up. I’d hoped that washing away
the last of the kid’s blood might break his link to me, but when I
looked up into the mirror in the bathroom, he was still there looking at
me with a disappointed air. So I went and ate ice cream right from the carton
until the pills started to kick in, and then I went and crawled into my
I knew I was lost to the self-pity when it crossed my mind that I needed
to buy myself a teddy bear… just to have something to hold on to in
The kid told me that he’d give me a hug if I didn’t mind the
blood and that was when I finally burst into tears and fell asleep not long
Sometimes… I really hate my job.
Drugs work funny with me. Kind of unpredictably. A lot of things take twice
the normal dosage to even begin to think about working, while other things…
mundane things, just fuck me sideways.
I decided when I roused up next, that I would probably be flushing the rest
of those pain pills down the john. I felt rather groggy and weirdly rubbery,
but worse… the pills had given the kid enough substance that I swear
to God I could feel his weight on the side of the bed.
I felt vaguely bad for a minute; he’d probably gotten pretty bored
waiting for me to wake up, but then I got a little aggravated… it
wasn’t exactly as though I’d invited him home with me. ‘Go
be dead, kid. Le’me alone.’
He chuckled faintly, and it was scary how real he sounded. ‘I think
I’ll stay,’ he said, and it just about made me jump out of my
skin. I jerked and rolled to face him, hissing when the sudden movement
sent a sharp pain through my hip.
‘Take it easy,’ Heero told me. ‘Sorry… didn’t
mean to scare you.’
I blinked at him for a couple of long minutes, trying to make my head function
and then I felt compelled to tell him, ‘Damn… those are some
seriously screwed up pills.’
His smile was kind of amused and he said, ‘I think it’s as much
the other stuff still in your system, Duo. I went to the hospital first…
you’re supposed to still be there.’
He was an amazingly detailed hallucination, and I just stared at him for
awhile, until he looked a little bit concerned and spoke my name again.
‘You’re nicer than the kid,’ I told him. ‘You don’t
have blood all over you. Not that the kid isn’t nice enough…
he was a good kid. He’s around here somewhere, but he must not like
Heero looked a little bit confused for a second and then a little bit pained.
‘Then I’ll stay and make sure he doesn’t come back.’
That just seemed… terribly sad and I said so. ‘But I don’t
think he knows where else to go, Heero,’ I was surprised to find that
I wanted to cry again. ‘And it’s my fault that he’s dead
and all… it’s ok if he stays.’
‘Damn,’ Heero muttered. ‘You’re a mess. Come on…
you need to go back to sleep. I’m here now…’
‘God, I wish,’ I said, wondering that he still seemed so clear
and solid. The kid had been kind of… ghostly. Though I suppose there
was a difference between ghosts and hallucinations. But then Heero took
hold of my face, stilling me while he leaned down to look right in my eyes.
I couldn’t help it… I gasped out loud.
‘I’m here,’ he said firmly and I kind of had to believe
it. I don’t think figments can touch you.
‘H…Heero?’ I whispered and he just looked sad.
‘It made the news,’ he soothed. ‘I came as soon as I could…’
I raised a hand to touch his arm and blinked some, just to see if he’d
disappear. When he didn’t, I opened my mouth and blurted, ‘I
don’t want a teddy bear.’
It was his turn to blink and he let me go then, using his thumb to wipe
at my cheeks. ‘Ok,’ he agreed, though he didn’t really
look like he understood. ‘Go back to sleep now… I’ll be
And then… he took hold of my hand.
I looked up at him, wide-eyed, I’m sure and said, ‘But, nobody…’
‘No,’ he corrected, his confusion suddenly gone. ‘Somebody.’
He took it quite in stride when I grabbed hold and threw my arms around
his neck. Just enfolded me in his arms and shifted me so that my weight
wasn’t on my hip.
‘Somebody?’ I had to ask, starting to believe he was really
‘Yes,’ he said firmly. ‘Me.’
Some part of me wanted to ask him where he’d been. Wanted to know
why he’d left in the first place. But the rest of me was just happy
with the affirmation that he wasn’t going to fade away. And not sure
I wasn’t going to fade myself.
Because here was the person that I really would put first above all else,
and nothing mattered but that he said he would still be there when I woke
Nothing mattered but the fact that wherever he had been, he’d known
me well enough to see past the surface, and he’d known to come and
hold my hand.
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