I Love You, But If You Leave Me...
Part Three of the 'I Love You' series
by Dev-Aki Basaa
He's resting now; the slightest thing wears him out.
I finally got to see his eyes. I can't say enough how
much I've missed his eyes; the blue of them. The
depth of them.
As you might guess, he did wake.
But I'll get to that in a minute.
It's been an interesting last eight days. I've spent
every moment at his side, caring for him, crying for
him, defending him, and hopefully helping him. And,
you know, I'm even more attached to him now than I was
before. I didn't think that was possible, but it's
true. I feel a sense of protectiveness over him that
I never had before. I certainly didn't think there
had been limits to my love for him prior to this, but
I know I've gone beyond that now, into something even
deeper than what I thought was bottomless.
And yet... I'm still scared.
Sometimes I think I'm just overreacting. I know my
initial fear stemmed from the fact that I'd almost
lost him for good and, until he woke, I feared he
might never open those beautiful eyes of his again.
But I can't be satisfied, can I? I sit here now,
gently holding his bandaged hand, realizing there are
greater fears to be had.
Do you know what's even scarier than loving someone
and losing them? Loving them, losing them and never
falling out of love with them. That aching hole in
your heart and soul broken wide open by the depth of
your love might never fill in and you go on with your
life always knowing you're incomplete and longing for
something you can never have. I've heard the stories,
it can happen.
I'm still scared.
I had asked Sally, a few days after she arrived, if I
should be here - if I really had any right. Une's
decision haunting me still, I suppose. She assured me
that since I loved Heero and Heero loved me,
regardless of what had happened between us, that I was
right where I was supposed to be. And the thing is,
I'm not sure if I believe her. I mean, what if Heero
really didn't love me; what if his leaving was all
about him not being as in love with me as he'd
thought. That's what he did to Relena.
Am I so arrogant to think he couldn't do that to me?
I always felt like I knew he loved me and there was no
doubt in that, but I've found myself questioning it
now. I'm not saying he hates me or anything. For
example, though I know he didn't love Relena, he cared
enough for her to be devastated when she died. That's
a kind of love. Heero could have been saying he loves
me and meaning something different than I did. See,
because what I just can't stop thinking about, what I
still can't get my head around is 'why'. Why did he
leave? I love him, to the bottom of my soul and no
matter what fears I could have had or thoughts that
something was wrong, I never would have left him the
way that he left me.
Can't think about this right now...
Right, so I said something about how interesting the
last days have been.
The doc - Dr. Rahmel - had told me the morning after
my arrival that there was still some dead skin that
needed to be removed, thus encouraging healthy skin to
grow. Seemed like a good thing, you know? Then he
went on about how because of the significant pain
involved in the process that they were going to put
Heero into a drug-induced coma to do it. Stupid me
said I wanted to be there. You don't want to know the
look the doc gave me then. Thought I was delusional,
I think. But I assured him I'd seen some horrible
things in my life. Brought up the wars, you know,
came off sounding pretty damn detached. I wanted to
be there, for Heero, even if he had no clue I was
there. It meant something to me - the doc could see
that much, so he acquiesced. He told me if I were
completely robed and masked I could stay. However, he
warned me again, it wouldn't be pretty.
Dr. Rahmel has the art of understatement down pat.
So there I was, in a paper apron and robe with a mask
on, my braid tucked up into a little paper shower-cap,
booties on my shoes and latex gloves. They didn't
take any risks, never mind that I was standing several
feet away. But then, I saw why. With gauze by the
piles and these little tweezer-like instruments, they
started pulling up pieces of his skin. They were
FUCKING stripping his skin!
Why I didn't think it was going to be like that, I
I... I'd never seen anything so...gruesome in my
life. I know it was probably worse to me because it
was Heero. Perhaps if it were just some stranger
lying there I could have stayed as detached as I'd
boasted and watched with a sort of fascination and
However, I wasn't detached at all. I was growing more
and more horrified and wanted to make them stop! They
were pulling skin off Heero! MY Heero! What if he
could feel it, even in his drug-induced coma? Thank
God he couldn't see it. The dead, black skin, the
bright bloody redness of the flesh underneath, the way
it was sticky from plasma...
I couldn't... I left the room and ended up in the
waiting area, trying not to vomit on the plastic fern.
I half expected a huge 'I told you so' from the doc,
but he was very understanding. Just assured me again
of Heero's progress and how the skin underneath was
healing well and they probably wouldn't need to do
that again. A huge sigh of relief was had by all.
Okay, maybe just me.
I'm amazed by how much the staff is humoring me, to be
quite honest. They've all been very encouraging and
supportive. Always with a familiar greeting and a
smile. I'm not so stupid as to think it's not against
hospital policy to have me sleeping at his bedside in
the cushy chair I stole from the waiting room down the
hall. Nothing has been said about it, though. Not
one aide gives me a hard time about being there as
they change bandages. They just hand me a mask and
shower-cap thingy and go about their business. The
doc always waits and makes sure I'm around when he
briefs Sally on any changes or updates regarding
I suspect, of course, that Sally took every last one
of them aside and briefed them on Heero and my
relationship. But the thing is, they were all pretty
damn nice to me from the get-go. Evidenced by the doc
even letting me come near that... procedure. I don't
think they needed to be briefed. I think they could
take one look at me and I know exactly how madly in
love with him I am.
Now, while Sally has been very involved, this isn't
her only assignment. Hell, can't waste a good agent
on only being a go-between. Especially when one of
her partners asked for an extension on his leave,
without pay if that's what it took. Quitting, if
that's really what it took. I know I have my friends
to thank for getting the paid extension. Maybe they
threatened to leave too, I don't know. They did
something, I know that much. If Une wouldn't sign
over Heero's living will to me, then I seriously doubt
I fall under the 'Family and Medical Leave' policy.
According to Preventers, Heero is not my family.
I dare anyone to tell me that to my face, though.
So, anyway, Sally is not here all the time, like me.
She's doing some work for the L3 branch office
part-time, actually staying at a hotel like a normal
person. Going to restaurants and eating food.
Nothing like me. She brings me her doggy bags; aides
swipe food for me from the cafeteria.
The vending machine in the waiting room has become my
new best friend.
Not that I like to be away from him for long. If I
didn't have to take a piss periodically and keep my
growling stomach tamed, it'd be fine by me.
Which, actually, brings me to the day Heero finally
woke after the last coma they put him in.
Sally had just showed up with a little baggie of cold
ribs - she's a good eater, that one - and I thought it
might be an okay time to slip out, freshen up and
prepare my food.
It seemed like a good idea and yet, I hesitated. I
just couldn't bring myself to leave, couldn't take my
eyes off of him. I think Sally was preparing to lay
into me, giving me the token 'you must take care of
yourself as well, Duo' speech when the amazing
happened - his eyes fluttered.
I wanted to say his name, but I choked on the words
when I saw his eyes open. Good God, his beautiful
eyes - deep blue, staring up unfocused at the ceiling
and blinking - how I'd longed to see them. We'd kept
the lights dimmed on purpose, for when he did wake up.
We wanted to make it an easier transition than it
would have been under those bright hospital lights.
I took his hand again, I didn't even know if he could
feel me through all the bandages. But after a few
more blinks, he turned his face towards me and I saw
the flash of recognition. Then those beautiful eyes
began to water.
I shushed him, I don't even know why. It's like a
reflex or something. I just keep shushing him as I
brushed my free hand across his forehead, feathering
his bangs against the white bandage as I so often did
while sitting here watching him.
He raised his hand and I let my fingers slide down his
arm, stroking lightly as he reached up and rubbed his
bandaged together fingers across my cheek. The gauze
was surprisingly soft, like a well-worn shirt, but
cold against my skin. His body heat didn't seep
through the layers. His touch was clumsy, bumping
against my nose and ear as he seemed to want to open
his palm and cup my jaw - as he once would, like when
we'd just woken from a nap on the couch, after
watching a movie perhaps. I'd open my eyes, and just
be thankful that he was there, even though the way he
had his leg draped over mine had sent my foot asleep.
But I'd tell him I loved him and he'd get that look on
his face, this deepness in his gaze, and he'd cup my
jaw and I'd lean into his touch and smile. So, just
as I always did, I leaned and I smiled down at him
now, biting my tongue to keep from sobbing. I could
taste the tang of my blood before long. His lips
worked around the tube down his throat and he suddenly
seemed agitated. His fingers brushed across my lips
and my smile turned to a frown when I saw him
struggling with the vent tube. I shushed him again
and mumbled something about how it was going to be
okay - must be from some pre-programmed trite phrases
set into our brain for times like these. Things to
say when there's nothing to say. Heero calmed for a
moment, but then he seemed agitated again. I didn't
know what to do, I was afraid he'd start choking if he
got too upset. I about jumped out of my skin when the
nurse spoke. I hadn't even known she was there.
"I think he wants you to speak."
She was focused on checking his IV machine and seemed
to be intent on what she was doing, but she gave me a
little side-glance and a nod of encouragement. I
looked back down at Heero and even with that damn tube
coming out of his mouth, head wrapped, he had this
expectant look on his face.
"It's okay, Heero," I said then. "I'm here; I've been
here for over a week." He seemed to sigh then and his
bandaged fingers went back to bumping against my nose
and ear, still staring up at me.
"Sally's here too," I went on. "She's representing
you on Une and Preventers' behalf. Wufei is planning
on coming up in a few days to see you and, actually, I
expect Trowa any day now. Quatre planned to come the
moment he knew you were awake. Guess I'll have to
give him a call, eh?"
I glanced up to see Sally speaking with the nurse.
They'd moved away to the threshold of Heero's room and
spoke in hushed tones. I had no idea what they were
talking about and, frankly, I didn't care.
I looked back down at Heero. Already his lids were
beginning to droop, but he almost resolutely held his
hand to my face.
"It's okay, lo...Heero." I stopped myself from
calling him 'love' and winced internally at the slip -
though for stopping myself, or for having almost said
it, I don't know. "Go ahead and rest, I'll still be
here. I'll be here when you wake again, I promise."
I reached up and took his hand, pressing it against my
cheek and I could feel him relax and let me take over
the effort of holding up his arm. He closed his eyes
then and his arm went even more lax. But I didn't let
go. I raised my other hand, supporting his wrist and
turned my head to bury my face in his wrapped palm.
His soft white bandages caught my tears.
I knew they were working toward taking Heero off the
vent, but since he'd woken, I strayed a bit from the
updates on his condition and the talks with the
doctors about this that or the other thing. Sally
handled it all and I trusted her. I just...I couldn't
leave his side anymore. Not for even the briefest
thing. The staff worried for me now, I could see it
in their eyes. Sally accommodated me, but she wasn't
happy about it.
I'd promised him I'd be here ever time he woke and,
dammit, I would NOT break that promise. He'd be awake
for such brief moments, at random intervals. How
could I leave? If I slept, it was with my head
resting on his bed so he'd still know that I was there
when he woke.
And yes, my back is aching like a son-of-a-bitch!
But I don't care. Sally tried to talk me into going
to the ER for it, but it was a rouse, I knew. She
wanted to have them prescribe me a sedative, but I had
to go through the proper channels to do it. Heero's
doctor couldn't prescribe me anything - I wasn't his
But I did sleep and food found its way to me,
regardless. The one thing I did have to step away for
was to use the bathroom, but as there was one in the
room (though, I've been reminded a few times that it's
not for ME to use. There's a bathroom down the hall
for ME), I just did my business with the door open,
Heero leaving my sight only for the brief moment I had
my back to him.
Every time he woke, it was the same. I'd take his
hand, press it to my cheek and talk. Endlessly,
aimlessly, about nothing.
"Trowa came back earlier, sorry you missed him again.
He was telling me that he was thinking about getting a
dog but couldn't decide what kind to get. I think
he's leaning towards a Great Dane, or maybe a German
Sheppard, but I told him he should get a Chihuahua.
Isn't that funny? Couldn't you just see Trowa with
one of those little dogs yapping at his feet? I don't
care how drawn he is to animals, he'd end up stomping
that one, don't you think?"
Sometimes I wondered if he could even hear me, he
never seemed to react to what I said. He'd just stare
at me, straight into the eyes, his own watering a
little, and rub my face as best he could. Then his
lids would begin to droop and soon I was laying his
arm back down at his side.
Sometimes I would rest my head down next to his chest
just so I could feel the heat of his body next to mine
again. I've missed it so much.
Anyway, as I'd failed to attend the last several
updates, I was surprised when Sally came in with a
small crew to tell me that they were going to be
taking Heero off the vent.
And I'd have to leave the room for them to do it.
I was not amused with this. In fact, it pissed me the
hell off! I was there while they pulled off his dead
skin! Why couldn't I be there for when they took the
tube out of his throat!?
Regulated to the waiting room, I paced back and forth,
my jaw aching as I kept grinding my teeth. Sally
complained that I was making her dizzy, but I really
didn't care. Hell, I barely even registered that she
was talking to me - all I could think of was the
promise I'd made and how I was breaking it by being
forced away from his side. It didn't matter that they
threatened to have security escort me off the floor,
it didn't matter that Sally claimed she'd drug me if I
didn't calm down. All that mattered to me was Heero -
and Heero knowing that I wouldn't leave him, ever! I
would make up for his mistake...
Christ! Did I just say that!?
Anyway, it was not Dr. Rahmel that met us at the
waiting room. I wondered if that's why I wasn't
allowed to stay - this doctor didn't understand.
Didn't know, as good ol' Doc Rahmel did, what Heero
meant to me. This doc stood in the threshold of the
waiting room door and adjusted his glasses and tugged
at his pristine white lab coat before he addressed us.
"Everything went fine," he'd said with a nod. "He's
just on oxygen now, but it'll still be a while before
he can talk well. However, he is asking for you."
That was all I needed to hear. I shoved passed the
doc, grumbling as I went. "Damn straight he is!"
I left Sally in my wake to apologize for my behavior,
as I knew she would. I'd have to buy her a dozen
roses every week for a year to make up for all the
trouble I've put her through just these past couple of
weeks. If not roses, then something else. I swear to
God that I'll make this up to her.
When I entered his room, Heero's head was turned away,
his eyes closed. He looked so normal lying there, for
the first time. Just sleeping, lying in bed, as I'd
seen him so often before...all of this happened. On
the nights he went to bed before me, I would watch him
sleep. I'd stand at the edge of the bed and just gaze
at him, observe the rise and fall of his chest. I'd
watch the way his breaths would flutter the long edges
of his bangs. There was a peace about him now that
reminded me of those times. But unlike then, this
time I whispered his name to wake him. I only had to
say it once, softy, and he looked towards me. I
couldn't hold back my choked sob when he opened his
eyes and mouthed my name.
I moved to his bedside and took his hand, holding it
in both of mine. He smiled at me and tried to talk.
His voice cracked and he winced in pain. I told him
not to worry, that it could wait - no matter how badly
I wanted to hear his voice. Only he shook his head
and swallowed a few times. Whatever he had to say, he
was going to say it now. I grabbed the cup of water
I'd kept at his bedside and directed the straw into
his mouth. He sipped a little, coughed a bit and then
took a few more good swallows.
He turned to look at me directly again, staring
straight into my eyes as he had in those brief
cognizant moments he had while still on the vent. I
knew what he had to say couldn't wait; I could see the
determination in his eyes. And I thought he'd say one
of the things I needed to hear him say more than
anything else. Something along the lines of 'I'm
sorry', 'I missed you', 'I love you.' Any one of them
would have been fine.
But that's not what he said.
"Duo," he croaked. "There's something I need to tell