Breaking Free - Part 7
Duo's Friendship Arc 12
by Dyna Dee
Duo realized that it would take time for the double dose of tranquilizers to leave his system, but after the fifth day from when he woke up in the stripped-down room, he came to the conclusion that he was being drugged on a regular basis. He slept a lot and felt a strong lethargy, his mind and body felt dull, heavy, and weak. Whatever they were slipping him, it made him horribly nauseous.
"Why are you drugging me?" he asked accusingly to the Colonel when he visited him that night.
The older man didn't look in any way apologetic to the confined boy. "I know, as a soldier, it's your first objective to escape. You and your comrades have done it successfully before. I can't allow you to do that now. You pose a threat to myself and my family."
Duo looked up at him in misery, clutching his stomach. "I don't like feeling like this." he complained in a moan. "I've always been sensitive to drugs of any kind, and they make me feel sick."
The colonel looked down in slight concern at the boy curled up in his blankets and laying on the mattress placed on the floor. He'd cleaned the portable toilet out enough to know he'd lost several meals to nausea. "I'll have the dose decreased." he said in way of a compromise.
The incarcerated boy did feel slightly better in the days to follow from the decreased dosage, but found that he was still mentally and physically lethargic. Life in his room of confinement quickly set into a pattern. His three meals a day were served regularly, and after breakfast, he was given magazines, books, and paper and pencil to entertain himself. Pierre arrived after lunch to study with him. He attended a public school in the morning, but home-studied under the direction of his mother with Duo in his room each weekday afternoon. To break up the monotony, Pierre sometimes brought a radio, comic books, or a deck of cards to pass the time after their lessons were finished.
The colonel visited every evening to ask questions. He answered some of them, but only those that wouldn't reveal anything of who was behind their orders, where the gundams were built, or any information regarding the other pilots nor the data on the gundams or resources that supplied their hide outs.
As time passed, the Deathscythe pilot had lost count of how long he had been trapped in his room. He'd set up a transmitting beacon on a frequency the pilots all used for emergencies to go off in his gundam if he didn't return to it within a three-week period of time from his last visit. It was a safety precaution they all took in case they were captured or killed. The deadly machine of war could then be located and retrieved for future battles. Had it been three weeks? He wondered. Would the others come looking for him, or would they assume he had been killed, or worse, quit the cause? 'No.' he shook his head, willing the negative thoughts away. His last conversation with Trowa had been a good one. They would know he hadn't just quit. Heero would search for him. Wouldn't he?
A knock sounded on the door and the Colonel entered the room, just as he did every night. He walked over and sat on the edge of the mattress next to him and studied the long-haired boy. He noted the dazed look in the half-closed eyes, the sedatives in his evening meal had already taken effect. "I suppose," he began slowly so the boy could understand him. "That you could look at this time in your life as a turning point, a new lease on life." he observed dryly.
Duo looked up puzzled. "How so?"
"I've taken you out of the war." the older man replied with a smug smile. "You will survive and you won't have to kill anymore."
Duo nodded slowly. "I suppose you could look at it that way." he replied, his words in French slurring. "But are you so sure OZ is right?" he asked. "Have the atrocities stopped? The domination of the colonists? How about the construction of mobile suits or the mobile dolls, or war stations pinpointing weapons on the colonies? Are they the true peace keepers? As long as the colonies are oppressed by Earth's rule, whether it be the Alliance or OZ, I will fight."
The colonel reached over and pushed aside the long bangs away from in front of Duo's large, glazed eyes and a tender look settled on his face. "You are so young to have such strong convictions. If our soldiers had the same level of conviction as you do, this war would be over."
Slowly, Duo shook his head and replied. "Only if they truly believe their cause is a righteous and just one could they have the same level of conviction." He smiled to himself as his eyes closed, thinking Wufei would be proud of his last statement. He'd gleaned at least something from the rants on justice.
Time passed, and Pierre inadvertently informed Duo that well over a month had passed since he had been confined to his room. A surge of anger rose at his impotent state. There was nothing in the room to use to open the door, and with the daily drugs in his system, he couldn't seem to focus his mind to formulate a plan. He reasoned that, by now, the other pilots would have recovered Deathscythe.
The Lafaietes were kind to him in their own way, despite keeping him in an enclosed room and drugged. He had not been given over to OZ nor beaten or tortured for information, which was a surprise and a relief. Added to the fact that he understood they looked at his imprisonment as saving him from himself. But as nice as they tried to be to him, he wanted to break free of this confinement. Several times he pondered the irony of his imprisonment. Initially, he had run from his friends complaining about the confining rules, only to find he'd run into total confinement, every aspect of his life was controlled. It put a whole new spin on his ideas of being previously stifled and contained by rules. At this point, all he wanted was to return to his friends, his only family. He'd be more than happy to live with the rules that he'd once viewed as constricting. He could see more clearly now, even in his drugged state, that they were set for a reason, for his and the others' safety.
To gain control over the situation, he began to refuse breakfast and lunch, knowing the drugs they fed him daily was in the food. He also began to exercise during the morning, to build up his strength after weeks of inactivity. As his energy returned, the drugs wearing off, he began to pace the room like an agitated, caged animal. The confinement was wearing thin on him.
"I can't stand this much longer!" he snapped at the french boy who nervously watched him pace almost ferociously back and forth, from one corner of the room to the other. "I've lived most of my life outdoors." Duo complained loudly. "I'm going to go crazy confined like this."
"At least you're alive." his friend tried to reason with him. The long haired boy spun to glare at him.
"Alive?" he shouted "I might be alive, but I'm certainly not living!" he dragged his hand through his tangled mass of loose hair.
"If you'd eat your breakfast you wouldn't feel this anxious." Pierre said gently.
"No," Duo spat angrily. "I'd spend the day in a drugged, zombie-like state. Is that any better?"
Pierre left shortly after their tense discussion feeling frustrated at not being able to console his friend and alarmed at his growing anger. He did not return to the room for several days after that, as a precaution imposed by his parents. His recent confrontations with the gundam pilot left him ill at ease and they worried that the imprisoned boy could become dangerous without the sedatives to calm him. After a family council, the Colonel informed the pilot that his son would not return to the room unless he began to eat his meals again. Four days after that conversation, the imprisoned boy relented, desperate for a break in the silence and boredom.
Pierre entered the familiar room noting immediately that Duo lay curled up tightly on his mattress. "Want to play some cards?" he asked brightly, glad for a chance to return to his friend.
Duo shook his head, and Pierre noted the dazed look had returned to his friend's eyes and inwardly felt sorry for it. "Do you want me to leave?" he asked as guilt washed over him.
"No." came the soft, slow reply. "I let them drug me so you could visit."
Pierre moved to sit on the mattress and picked up his friends limp hand. "I'm sorry." he whispered.
"Yeah, sure you are." Duo snorted sarcastically.
Pierre took a deep breath. "Well then, what do you want to do?" he quickly changed the subject.
Duo shrugged his pajama clad shoulder. "Not in any shape to do anything." He replied, his voice slurred. "Just talk to me."
"Alright." Pierre smiled as he squeezed his friend's hand. "You remember me telling you about my friend Jacques?"
"Well, he introduced me to a new guy at school. He transferred here from colony L-4. His name is Quatre Barton, a short blonde guy. He seems really nice, maybe a little too polite though." Pierre stopped his description of the new kid in school when Duo took in a sharp intake of breath. "What's the matter? Do you know him?" he asked suspiciously.
"No." Duo answered, hoping to cover up his lapse in control as hope surged through him. "I'm just really nauseous from the drug and feel like I'm going to throw up." he answered sounding miserable. "Just keep talking and I'll try to fight it."
Pierre relaxed, knowing the effects the tranquilizers had on his captive friend. "Well," he continued. "I asked if he was related to Quatre Winner, the heir to the Winner Empire. He said half the colony's boys were named after the Winner heir." Pierre then went on to describe his new acquaintance and some of the tales he had related about living on a colony in space.
"You should ask him if he's ever seen an L-2 Sea Dragon." Duo groggily suggested. "It's a rare sight, and if he's traveled at all, he could tell you about it."
"Why don't you tell me, since it's from your colony?" Pierre asked, hoping to get Duo to communicated more with him.
"Can't." He moaned and curled up tighter on his side. "I don't feel well."
Pierre helped him to sit up and drink some water from a pitcher he'd brought in with him. Setting him back down, he watched as his friend fell into an uneasy sleep.
Duo heard the door shut as Pierre left the room. He turned his face into his pillow and silently gave into the tears that he'd held back from the miserable feeling of being helpless, weak, sick, and vulnerable. But now his tears were also shed with a shred of hope that his friends were close to finding him.
Several days passed in a drugged haze, and Duo realized that it could have been as long as a week since he began to take his meals and live in a dreary oblivion. Pierre came bounding into the room one day, only to stay for a few moments.
"Guess what?" he asked the barely conscious boy on the mattress.
Duo managed to open his eyes and tried to focus on the speaker.
"Jacques and Quatre are coming for supper so I won't be able to eat with you tonight. But I'll be sure to come back after they leave and tell you all about it." Pierre said enthusiastically.
The boy on the mattress nodded. "Did you ask him about the Sea Dragon?" he managed to croak out.
"Yeah, I did." Pierre happily replied. "He looked surprised at first, saying not many people on earth had heard of it before and was surprised I had. He said it was a beautiful, delicate creature that inspired awe. I think I should like to see one." He declared.
"Then you must travel to L-2, for it is the colonies treasure, kept hidden to preserve it." Duo lied without guilt.
"Hum.... maybe one day." Pierre mused. "After the war is over." He then turned back to the door. "Mother will bring you your supper soon." he called back.
"Can't eat." Duo moaned, clutching his stomach. "Please, Pierre," he whispered a plea. "Tell them to decrease the dosage. I'm sick all the time now."
Pierre frowned and turned back, kneeling down he bent to brush back the sweat slick bangs from off the moist forehead. "Father will bathe you tonight if you eat your supper. You'll feel better then, and I'll tell mother about the medication."
Duo nodded and looked up at his friend looking pitiful. "Thank you." he whispered. His hair had not been brushed since he began eating breakfast again. He was too drugged out and sick to care or try. He snorted in disgust. He was in a no-win predicament. If he didn't eat, he was denied contact with anyone. And though he might feel better physically, his mental stability was threatened. When he was left alone for long stretches of time without human contact or anything to do, he felt the dark well of loneliness and boredom engulf him, bringing him closer to losing his mind.
He dutifully ate the soft textured food that was pressed to his lips by Pierre's mother. It tasted like potatoes with gravy, and a broth soup. His deep lethargy continued, and he was dimly aware of being picked up and soon after, being lowered into warm water. He weakly tried to push away the hands that cleansed his body, but calmed completely as his scalp was gently massaged with fragrant shampoo.
He slowly woke, realizing he was back in his room. He felt and smelled clean, for which he was grateful. Looking up, he saw Colonel Lafaiete sitting next to him. He concentrated on focusing his blurred vision on what the man was doing. His eyes slowly focused to see Pierre's father was filling a syringe with a clear fluid. The Colonel then turned to look at him.
"Good, you're awake." he smiled as if they were about to embark into a pleasant conversation.
"What the hell's that?" Duo asked alarmed, though his words and tone were dulled and slurred.
Duo felt panic set in. If he mentioned Quatre's name, it would ruin any chance of his being rescued and might endanger his friend. "No, don't." he pleaded weakly, putting his arm up in a feeble attempt to stop what was about to happen. "No more drugs." he begged.
"I just need some answers. It won't hurt, I promise." The colonel looked down with a trace of compassion on his face.
"If you get anything from me, where would you tell your superiors you got it from? Your own captive gundam pilot?" he questioned, feeling panic rising in him.
The man shrugged. "I can always say it came from an underground source."
Duo, unable to struggle against the colonel, whimpered as the needle pressed into his bared arm, and felt the injected fluid flow into his veins. He mentally tried to focus and concentrate. Even in his drug induced state, he knew he had to fight this. He needed to be strong, like Heero would be in this situation. 'I need to be like Heero' he told himself. His friend would never succumb to drugs.
"Who?" the Colonel asked, leaning over him with interest, a notebook in his hand.
"I need to be like Heero." Duo whispered. Finding strength in the statement, the Deathscythe began to chant this phrase over and over in his desire to be like his friend, and hoped that the words would occupy his mind enough that he wouldn't say anything else. As the drug deepened, a feeling like a blanket of fog shrouded his mind, and the mantra he repeated came out to the shortened phrase, "I need Heero." He spoke it over and over, overriding the deep male voice above him asking indecipherable words, until he was aware of nothing but the comfort of a deep sleep.
A bright light flashed into his eyes, and he became aware that his eyelid was being most uncomfortably held open. He tried to turn his head from the offensive light and touch.
"Drugged." said a vaguely familiar voice that was close by, but seemed at the same time to be at a great distance. Fearing the interrogation was beginning again, he began his chant. "I need Heero." he whispered in an attempt to drown out the voice, not wanting the truth serum to get anything out of him.
"I'm here, Duo." a different voice reassured him. Tuning out the voices, he began his litany again: "I need Heero, I need Heero, I need Heero........"
Voices murmured soothingly as he was picked up and carried. To where, he didn't know, or by whom. He only knew warmth, and a strange sense of security as he continued on with his repetitive phrasing.
"Who are you?" a boy's voice challenged them as a bright light was switched on. The two pilots stopped just short of the kitchen door. Quatre turned around quickly, his gun pointed towards the sound of the voice.
"Quatre!" Pierre jumped in surprise as he recognized the bearer of the gun and then looked to the Japanese boy carrying Duo wrapped in one of his blankets..
"We're his friends and were taking him home." The blonde answered quietly but firmly.
"No!" Pierre gasped looking panicked. "You can't." He then rushed to explain to the unhappy looking boys who, he had no doubt, were gundam pilots. "We can keep him here. Safe, away from the war and killing, and from OZ. He's my friend. Please don't take him away." he pleaded earnestly.
Quatre stepped in front of the boy carrying Duo, his face was disapproving. "What kind of a friend keeps you locked in a room and drugged?" he asked accusingly.
"We were just trying to protect ourselves and him." Pierre rushed to explain just as Duo began to mumble again against the shirt of the boy who held him.
"What's he saying?" Pierre asked.
"He's saying 'I need Heero.'" the Japanese boy answered.
"Whose that?" Pierre inquired curiously.
Quatre answered. "His best friend."
"I'm his best friend!" Pierre said adamantly.
"Doesn't sound like it to me." The Japanese boy replied smugly.
"I need Heero, I need Heero...." Duo's voice whispered on and on.
Pierre watched helplessly as the stoic boy holding Duo held him closer and reassured him. "I'm here, Duo. Shhh, I'm here. It's all right now." he whispered comfortingly.
Quatre looked at the French boy with understanding. "If you are truly his friend, you'll let us go without raising any alarm. Duo wouldn't want us to hurt a friend." The boy's brown eyes grew wide at the quiet, pleasantly said threat.
"You'll take care of him?" Pierre asked.
"We will." The blond answered.
Hesitating for only a moment, the boy nodded, his eyes taking on a glint of certainty at his decision. "Then take him. Just....., please, tell him I'm sorry and that I'll....miss him."
Quatre nodded, then the three quickly exited the kitchen leaving Pierre to feel a keen sense of loss as the door quietly clicked shut.
Duo was only vaguely aware of being held and transferred from one vehicle to another. He sensed, on and off, that he was being held by different people. Voices whispered reassurances, but the words and owner of the voices were lost to him.
Slowly emerging from the dark and hazy place that his mind and body were cloaked in, he felt the familiar nauseating feeling in his stomach, and bile rising in his throat. With a brief strangled warning, he felt hands supporting him as he emptied his stomach into a miraculously placed bucket. Gentle hands settled him back into what felt like a bed, and a cool cloth bathed his face and forehead. He fell back into a restless sleep, plagued by dreams of the past and present.
When at last he found the strength to open his eyes, he realized that he was in a room he'd never been in before. It wasn't the stark, empty room he had previously inhabited, nor was it a hospital room or prison cell. It felt like a safehouse. From the dim light coming through the partially curtained window, he determined that it looked to be early in the morning or late evening, he couldn't tell for sure. He turned his head to see an empty bed across from where he slept.
"Heero." he whispered the name of the person who should be occupying that bed. The words that he had said endlessly while fighting the truth serum came back to him. "I need to be like Heero." he said again, just under his breath, finding comfort in the phrase.
"I'm here." a deep, sleepy voice sounded from behind him and Duo jumped at the unexpectedness of it. A strong arm came over his body and pulled him up against a strong chest."
"Heero?" he questioned with hope in his voice. Into his line of vision came the familiar face of his friend from over his shoulder, his dark brown hair was mussed with sleep, and the dark shadows under the cobalt blue eyes displayed the lack of rest.
"You're awake?" Heero asked, sleepily rubbing his eyes.
"You're real?" Duo replied, blinking his eyes at the other. Then together, they smiled at each other.
"Hai." Heero said as he lay back down and pulled the other against him in a protective hold. "Go back to sleep, baka." he ordered gently.
A moment of contented silence passed before Duo spoke. "Thank you for bringing me home." He sighed deeply. "I missed you, all of you."
He could feel Heero nod against his head. "Just don't go away like that again, alright? We need to work problems out instead of running away from them." He yawned and pulled the covers up over the two of them. "Let's talk it out later though, when your feeling better and the rest of us have had some sleep."
Duo nodded, to tired to keep up the conversation, and his eyes, feeling as heavy as his limbs, began to close again. But for the first time in a very long while, when he slipped back into the comfort of sleep, knowing his sleep was guarded by his friend, it was with a lingering smile on his face. He was home.