by Dyna Dee
Quatre Winner stood on the front steps of the courthouse wringing his gloved hands with worry, his breath a vapor cloud in the cold winter air. With his long, camel-colored wool coat and red paisley cashmere scarf wrapped around his neck, he was comfortable enough for standing in the gentle snowfall. His dress shoes, however, did nothing to protect his toes from the cold; and they were freezing. Yet the weather was the furthest thing from his mind at the moment. The phone call he'd received from Wufei less than twenty minutes earlier had sent he and Trowa rushing out of the off and racing to the courthouse. Why they had been summoned remained a mystery, other than it somehow involved Heero and Duo. Apparently, the two Preventers were in trouble again. Double trouble had become an apt description for the two men who were the main reason his stomach ached and his left eye was twitching uncontrollably.
Wiping away the snowflakes settling on his eyelashes, the blond put his hand over his eyes to shelter them as he looked up and down the busy street for his lover. Though the street lamps were decorated with large wreaths and cheery holiday banners marking the season, he took no more than a passing glance at them, his mind preoccupied by his two friends. While he cared dearly for the both of them, he sincerely wished they would stop being magnets for trouble.
Heero and Duo were Preventers, partners on and off the job. They were field agents, often assigned high-risk missions. But that was only one of his worries for them. The two adrenaline junkies were known to engage in heated arguments in public and reacted, more often than not, with their fists at the smallest provocation. They both drove too fast, drank too much, and played rough, all of which had landed them in trouble with the law at one time or another. He was developing an ulcer from worrying about what kind of trouble they were going to get into next. Calls for assistance, bail, legal advice, next of kin authorization or a simple ride home from a nightclub came at any given time of the night at least once a month. He didn't know how much more he could take.
He finally caught sight of his lover, hatless and dressed in black trousers and a dark green turtleneck sweater that was barely visible beneath his dark gray winter peacoat. Having dropped him off in front of the courthouse, Trowa had gone in search of a parking space. He must have been successful because he was now jogging effortlessly down the city street towards the courthouse. When Trowa finally looked to see him standing at the top of the stairs waiting for him, he smiled. That smile, which Trowa reserved only for him, warmed Quatre as surely as the sun and momentarily dispelled the worry over his two friends. He returned that lovely smile and watched as his lover ascended the white granite stairs three at a time until he stopped on the step just below him.
"Anything yet?" Trowa asked, reaching out to touch his arm in a way that was both intimate and reassuring. Quatre thought it very impressive, though not surprising, that the man showed no signs of being out of breath.
"No. I tried to call Wufei back but he didn't pick up."
Climbing the last step, Trowa turned and settled an arm around his lover's shoulders, giving him a comforting side hug. Quatre looked up into the handsome face he knew so well only to find his lover smiling back at him, communicating without words that everything was going to be all right. "Don't let the fact that he called from St. Mary's overly concern you. I'm sure Heero and Duo are fine. The doctors, not to mention Wufei, wouldn't have let them leave the hospital otherwise."
"Do you think they're in trouble with Judge Wycroft again?" the blond asked worriedly.
Trowa sighed. "I hope not. Une threatened them with unpaid suspensions if she got one more call from Wycroft. She apparently doesn't relish the thought of yet another lecture from the court about how Preventers' top agents are little more than juvenile delinquents."
"Well, they are only nineteen." Quatre said in defense of his friends.
Trowa frowned and shook his head. "Duo's been a bad influence on Heero."
"I beg to differ," the blond replied stiffly. "You'll remember that Heero had some difficulty adjusting to societal norms after the first war. You mentioned yourself, after spending time with him after he self detonated is gundam, how anti-social he could be. Duo is clearly responsible for bringing him out of his shell. Granted, there are times when Heero displays his reticent nature, but he's also become much more spontaneous. He actually smiles now, openly, and laughs out loud occasionally without it sounding maniacal. I think he's finally beginning to enjoy life and we have Duo to thank for those changes."
"Did you actually say Heero's come out of his shell?" Trowa looked at his lover with utter disbelief. "That's a bit of an understatement, don't you think? He's a maniac. I agree, there are times when he still governs his reactions very carefully, but that hasn't proven to be the case when Duo is in the picture. How many fights has he gotten into because some unfortunate, unwitting person hit on Duo, threatened or flirted with the loud mouth twit, or the fool who simply happened to stands too close to him."
"He's not that bad," Quatre retorted, though his tone indicated he wasn't going to argue the point too strongly. "He's just a little possessive, but who can blame him when his partner attracts so much attention. Duo assures me, though, that he's getting better at controlling the impulse to pulverize those who find Duo attractive."
Trowa gave a nod towards the street. "Look, I think that's them."
They watched together as an unmarked black sedan pulled up to the curb in front of the courthouse and parked in the white zone. Wufei, wearing his Preventer uniform, jumped out of the driver's seat and ran around the front of the car. The frown on his face that told the two men at the top of the steps that something was amiss.
"That doesn't look good," the blond observed as he tried to smooth away the twitch in his left eye.
From the top landing they watched their Chinese friend open the back door of the car. Extending his hand, he helped assist the passenger to stand.
"Oh my," Quatre whispered as Heero emerged from the car sporting a large white cast that encased his right leg from the toe of his foot all the way up to mid thigh. Beneath the coat that was thrown over his shoulders, his clothes appeared smudged with dirt, tattered and torn in places, and his face looked bruised. In all honestly, the blond thought he looked like hell.
"Allah, what in the world did they do this time?"
"Work related," Trowa assessed. "He's wearing his uniform, or what's left of it."
Wufei made sure Heero was steady, propped against the side of the car, before he turned to help the next person struggling to get out of the same door Heero had made his exit from. It came as no surprise when Duo stood at last on the curb, in no better shape than Heero. The condition of his clothing was similarly damaged, bad enough to make him look like an longtime, island stranded Robinson Crusoe. The long tear up his left pant's leg revealed a black brace encasing an injured leg, from his foot to just above his knee. The sleeves of his shirt seemed to be missing from his uniform, revealing his right forearm was in a cast, and a wide bandage covered most of his left arm. The black eye patch over his right eye topped the list of visible wounds and was the more worrisome. The man looked like he should be laying in a hospital bed, not being delivered to the courthouse to appear before a judge for whatever trouble he and Heero had gotten into.
"Holy shit!" Trowa whispered, obviously as shocked by the appearance of their friends as he was. They stood frozen in place as they watched Wufei maneuver himself between the two injured men, placing Duo on his right and Heero on his left. Heero managed to sling an arm over Wufei's shoulder to steady himself, while Duo clung to his arm. Then as one the three began their slow and unsteady walk from the car towards the stairs leading to the courthouse.
Watching the three struggle finally broke Trowa and Quatre out of their stunned trance. Racing down the steps to offer assistance, it wasn't until they were within a few feet of their friends that it became obvious that Heero and Duo were in the midst of some sort of disagreement.
"Take the damn pills, Heero," Duo ground out between clenched teeth.
"No, I can't think clearly under their influence. Besides, you didn't swallow the medication the nurse gave you in the hospital, so don't tell me to do something you didn't."
"I don't want to fall asleep on my feet," Duo grumbled. "Not in front of Wycroft. And what the hell do you need to think about that you can't take your meds? You agreed to this. Are you backing out now?"
Heero scowled at the other injured man, then winced as he stumbled.
"Damn it, Wu!" Duo snapped irritably. "Watch what you're doin'."
The Chinese man scowled and gave Duo a dark glare. "Is it my fault you two decided to leave the hospital against doctor's orders? If I had my way you'd both be strapped to your beds and sedated for a week before I'd let you loose on the public. Alone, you each pose a menace to society. Together you're double the trouble, a disaster waiting to descend on a planet of unsuspecting people."
Duo lifted his nose in a haughty gesture. "You're just grumpy 'cause you didn't get any of the ice cream Sally sent to our room."
"It was clearly a bribe to keep you there. And I would have had some if you hadn't eaten it all."
Just as Duo opened his mouth to reply, Quatre thought this might be a good time to announce his and Trowa's presence since the three hadn't noticed them up to that point. "What in the world happened to you?" he blurted out. "What's going on? Why are you here instead of in bed? Oh, your eye, Duo, is it all right?"
"Quatre!" Duo looked up, surprised, then put a hand to his head as if it pained him. "How the hell did you know to show up? I swear I was gonna call you, but I haven't had a chance to get to a phone. I think I lost my cell phone when the building fell on us."
"Fell on you?" the blond choked out.
"Wufei asked us to meet you here," Trowa replied to Duo's question as he moved to Heero's side. "But he failed to tell us why." He paused before offering to help the injured man up the stairs, not knowing how to proceed without causing him any more pain.
"To answer Quatre's questions," Duo began, his voice sounding strained and shaky, "I've been better, but I'm gonna be fine, my eye, too. Some flying debris got in it when the ceiling collapsed and it scratched the cornea, but Sally said it'll be good as new in a couple of weeks. By the way, thanks for comin'." Duo then gave a grunt and leaned more heavily against Wufei in order to set his injured leg up on the first of twenty steps that led up to the door of the courthouse. "Oh God," he moaned. "This is gonna hurt bad."
Despite the late December weather, sweat began to bead on Heero's forehead and upper lip as he successfully achieved the first step, though unlike Duo, not a sound escaped his lips, which remained pressed tightly together.
"What can we do to help?" Quatre asked, reaching out to Duo who was closest to him. He stopped short of touching him, however.
Duo, intently focused on the steps in front of him, replied with pain in his voice, "Whatever you do, Quat, don't let Wufei trip or fall. If he does, I'm a gonner."
Quatre took a step closer to Duo's side and extended his right arm. "Rest your cast on my arm for added support."
Wufei said something under his breath as both injured men leaned heavily on him and made it up another step.
"Wufei, are you all right?" Quatre glancing at the Chinese man and noted that his uniform, unlike the other two, appeared completely in tact.
"I'm fine," the man grumbled. "But these two are going to be indebted to me for quite some time."
"Tell us what happened," said Trowa.
"The usual," Heero replied, his voice also sounding strained. "Bad intel, flammable substance and Duo hell bent on getting the to the target first."
"There were more men and guns than we expected," the braided man added, his breathing now labored. "Wait. Can we stop for a sec? Gotta... catch my... breath."
They paused for several moments before Wufei reminded them that Judge Wycroft was waiting for them. Duo grumbled but took another step while Heero's face became set with determination, his eyes and attention once again focusing on the remaining steps he had to climb in order to reach the top landing.
Regardless of the cold winter temperature, Duo, Heero and Wufei were sweating profusely by the time they reached the front doors of the courthouse. Quatre and Trowa held them open as the three hobbled over the threshold and into the welcoming heat of the lobby.
"Honestly," the blond began, unable to stop himself from saying what he knew Trowa and Wufei were thinking, "would it have been too much to ask that you two stay out of trouble just before the holiday. Christmas is in two days. Are we ever going to have a Christmas where we can just relax and enjoy each other's company and celebrate like normal people do?"
"It's not like we planned this?" Heero returned sourly.
Mumbling, Duo said, "And when have any of our Christmases been normal. Better luck next year, buddy."
Having been summoned to Judge Wycroft's courtroom several times before, the three Preventers and their two friend knew all too well where they were going. They slowly limped down the long, busy corridor that was filled with people dressed mainly in business suits, all rushing to and fro, no doubt attending to last minute court business before the holiday began. In spite of their rushing, they found time to cast curious and wary glances at the odd picture the five young men made.
Quatre looked across their three friends to his lover, still hovering at Heero's side and waiting to be of his assistance. Green eyes met his own, and in them he could see the same concern he felt about the situation. No matter what trouble Heero and Duo had landed themselves in, he and Trowa would stand by them and do what they could to help.
Stepping into the courtroom, Quatre was surprised to find the large room empty, the lights dimmed and not a soul in sight.
"Ah... Are you sure this is the right room?" Trowa asked, looking over the empty benches and vacant raised desk in the center of the room with a doubtful expression. Then all eyes turned to the far end of the judge's bench when a sound came from that direction. A man dressed in a charcoal suit with skin the color of mocha and long ebony dreadlocks neatly pulled pack into a ponytail appeared from behind the judge's seat. "Misters Maxwell and Yuy?" he asked. After taking a good look at the two injured men, the man's expression turned to one of concern. "I'm Harris Vordall, Judge Wycroft's clerk. Please follow me. She's waiting for you in her chambers."
There was a pause before the two injured men began to move forward once again, Wufei holding them up. "Should I call my lawyer?" Quatre asked, thinking he probably should have done that the minute he'd received word from Wufei that they were headed to the courthouse. Who knew what trouble Heero and Duo had gotten into and how much more they would find themselves in if they were left to defend themselves.
"Nah," Duo grunted. "We know what we're doing, don't we, Heero?"
When the Japanese man failed to respond, the eye-patch wearing man stopped in his tracks to ask again, "Right, Heero?"
The other man's glare was his answer, which subsequently caused Duo to frown. "Hold on a minute." Pointing his cast-covered arm in the direction of his injured partner he growled out, "What the hell, Heero? You agreed to this. Are you backing out now?"
"This isn't how I wanted to do this."
"I know, you told me that at least a dozen times, but I'm not forcing you to do anything. If you say no, we'll go call a cab for you and you can go home."
Heero's frown deepened. "Where will you go?"
"I don't know. Probably home with Quat and Tro."
"What's going on here?" All eyes turned to Quatre, who looked at the injured Preventers with no small amount of confusion on his face. There were so many emotions emanating from the two that it was hard to sort out just what was happening.
Duo held his cast up to the blond, one finger pointing up, indicating his friend should wait before saying anything else. His bloodshot eye remained fixed on his partner. "So what's it gonna be, Heero?"
"Why now? A few months is all I'm asking."
"What difference would a few months make? Another dangerous mission, the chance of a sniper's bullet taking one of us out. I need this, Heero, and I need it now. But if you don't, well that's just fine. I'll see you at work in a couple of weeks." Duo reached out towards Quatre, but apparently Wufei wasn't about to let things deteriorate after getting the two this far.
With a look to the eye-patch wearing man, he said, "Oh no you don't, Maxwell. You stay right where you are." And then those dark eyes, looking as dangerous as any of them had ever seen, turned to Heero. "Listen here, Yuy, Duo makes sense. I've heard both arguments for and against visiting Wycroft today, and I think now is the time. Duo could have died last night, and so you might have also after you dashed into that crumbling ruin after him. How many times do you think you can escape death? Duo wants this, and he wants it to happen today. If you can't give this to him, now is the time to speak up."
Heero shot his Chinese friend a look of disapproval for his interference, but it didn't last more than a moment. With a slump of his shoulders, he looked with resignation at the injured long-haired man. "You're right. This may not be how I think this should happen, but I want this as much as you do, Duo. How we get it done doesn't really matter, does it?"
Duo's smile definitely wasn't as wide or bright as it usually was, probably because of his busted and swollen lip and loose teeth, but he made the effort. "That's the spirit," he said with as much gusto as he could manage. "Now let's go see the old battle ax and get this show on the road. I really need a double dose of pain pills."
"Me too," Heero admitted, though his voice was so quiet the others weren't sure he'd actually acknowledged such a need.
Trowa held open the thick wooden door the court clerk had passed though a moment before, and waited for their little group to follow before following.
"Ah, there you are," said the woman standing from her seat behind the oak desk that was situated by the far wall of the spacious room. The room looked like any other office, minus windows and that two of the walls were covered by two filled bookcases. A small Christmas tree, adorned with multi-colored blinking lights, sat on the corner of her desk, with a Santa Claus resting on the other end. Wearing a gray, pin-striped suit, adorned only by a red holiday scarf tucked into the neckline, the woman with the fading blond hair pulled to the back of her neck and secured in a bun looked less intimidating than when she wore he judge's robes. That was until her blue, spectacle covered eyes narrowed with displeasure as she gazed that the injured men. "When Director Une called me this morning she said you two had been to the hospital to get patched up, but from the looks of it, I'm not sure you should have been released."
"They signed themselves out," Wufei grouched. "Against the doctor's orders."
"This was too important," Duo stated, trying desperately to stand straight but failing due to his bruised ribs and because every inch of his body hurt.
The judge looked at the two with a discerning eye. "We can always reschedule."
"No!" Duo jumped to say, beating Heero to the punch and keeping him from whatever opinion he was about to voice. "If you don't mind," he added, quickly lowering his voice, "we'd like to get this over so we can go home."
"You're not proceeding without me, I hope?" asked a familiar voice from behind them, startling the five. Director Une, with Lucretia and Milliardo Peacecraft at her side, stood in the doorway from which they'd passed through moments before. Milliardo was wearing a navy blue suit and the two women were dressed in non-uniform dresses, making it clear that the small group hadn't come directly from the office. The head of Preventers, dressed warmly in a knee-length wool coat with a fur collar, greeted Quatre and Trowa with a nod, then turned he attention to the judge. "Thank you for fitting us in this afternoon, Amanda."
"My pleasure, Anne. Now, if everyone will come in and shut the door behind you, we'll begin."
Heero actually looked surprised by the appearance of the newcomers, while Duo scowled. "Do we really need an official audience?"
Une actually laughed lightly while her two companions snickered. "Of course you do. Besides," she added with a wink, "I wouldn't miss this for all the world."
"Let's just get this business over with," Heero grumbled.
"Okay, your honor," Duo tried once again to straighten himself. "Say what you gotta say, but do it quickly."
The woman looked amused, though she did a pretty good job of restraining herself. "Very well. Are you able to stand on your own?" She glanced at Wufei who looked to be holding the two injured Preventers up.
"Yes," Heero answered, and he too made an effort to straighten himself.
"I think so," Duo said a bit more hesitantly, and to prove it he released his hold on Wufei's arm, though much more slowly. Once his balance felt steady, he gave the Chinese man a signal to stand back.
"Are the witnesses present?"
"Me," Wufei stated. "And... Duo who else?"
"Quatre," The long-haired man answered without a pause.
"What?" The blond looked confused. "I'm sorry. I'm not sure what's going on here. What am I supposed to have witnessed?"
"Just come stand by me, Quat," Duo said, his voice slurring slightly. "It'll all come clear in a minute."
"I hate this," Heero mumbled, though only those who stood closest to him heard.
"Once again, buddy, nobody's forcing you to be here," Duo snapped, clearly agitated.
"Calm down," Wufei firmly admonished as he stepped back.
Duo held up his cast and said slowly and very carefully, "I'm calm. I just want to get this over with." He swayed slightly and Heero, who shuffled to his right to close the distance newly vacated by Wufei, reached out a hand to steady his partner.
"Are you all right? Maybe we should do this another day."
"No way, bud. This is do or die time. No more second guessing, stalling or canceling. The judge is ready and it's now or never."
A horrified looked crossed Heero's face. "You really mean that, don't you?"
"Damn straight. But if we don't hurry up, I'm gonna embarrass myself by falling flat on my face."
"Gentlemen." Everyone turned their attention to the judge. With a questioning look she asked, "I gather you're here of your own free will?"
"Yes," Duo answered first then tilted his head in order to glare at Heero with his one uncovered eye, making sure the man nodded in agreement a scant moment later.
"Begging your pardon, Judge Wycroft," Duo looked to the judge. "But could we cut to the chase here. I wasn't kidding about being on the verge of passing out."
"You don't want me to address the both of you?"
"Just pass sentence on us," Heero said quietly.
"All right," she agreed and directed her next comment to him. "Heero Yuy, do you take Duo Maxwell to be your lawful husband, to have and hold from this day forward, forsaking all others?"
Heero nodded. "I'm afraid I need a verbal response, Mr. Yuy."
The older woman's head tilted to the side. "Are you here under duress, Mr. Yuy?"
"Of course I am," he snapped.
"Would you care to explain the negative attitude?"
"Excuse me," Duo butted in. "I don't recall this being part of the marriage vows."
"Oh, this is perfect," Director Une said under her breath to Noin.
"Marriage is a solemn commitment," the woman said a bit more stiffly. "I can't in good conscience perform the ceremony when one of you is not in favor of the union."
Duo asked in a quiet but angry voice, "Did you hear that, Heero? Are you or are you not 'in favor' of getting hitched today."
"You know I wanted to do this differently," Heero answered with a frown.
Duo's strength seemed to flag as he answered in a less challenging manner, "I know you did. You want a big ceremony with all our friends and a reception that includes all the bells and whistles. We tried to do that, just like you wanted, but twice now we've had to cancel and lose our deposits on the hall, the caterer and flowers. Our job makes it almost impossible for us to do it that way. You were okay with this last night. What's the problem now?"
"We were both in the hospital and on pain pills when I first agreed to this," Heero replied sullenly. Then looking up and into the eye of his lover he added. "I almost lost you, Duo. I would have given you anything you wanted after that close call."
"Are you really against doing this today?" The lone bloodshot eye searched Heero's dark circled eyes, seeking the truth within them.
"You're sure this is how you want this day to be remembered?"
Leaning forward to press his forehead against the side of Heero's head, Duo whispered. "I was scared, too. Thought I was going to die. Please, Heero. I want to be your husband. I want forever, love."
Heero tipped his head and pressed his lips to his lover's mouth. The kiss was brief, and ended with both men echoing, "Ow," and covering their own damaged lips with their hands.
"My turn," Duo said to the judge.
Looking dubious, the woman continued the ceremony. "Duo Maxwell, do you take Heero Yuy to be your lawful husband, to have and hold from this day forward, forsaking all others?"
"Damn right I do." The braided man swayed again, and Quatre, standing at his side, quickly steadied him by grabbing his elbow. "Hurry up," Duo urged the officiator, looking worse than he had a few moments ago. Then as an afterthought he added, "Your Honor."
With a smile twitching at the corners of her mouth, the middle aged woman said, "By the powers invested in me as a judge in the Kingdom of Sanq, I pronounce you Duo Maxwell and Heero Yuy to be married. Congratulations, gentleman. May this union bring you happiness and keep you two out of trouble and out of my courtroom."
There was a smattering of applause from those in attendance, but it was cut short when one of the grooms collapsed in a dead faint.
A pained moan preceded the opening of one bloodshot eye. Though awake, Duo remained absolutely still. He was afraid to move, fearing the pain that would result no matter how small the action. He tried to study his surroundings but was hampered not only by the eye patch, but also by the ache in his head caused by the simple act of moving his undamaged eye from side to side. It hurt like hell. Closing his eye, he waited a couple of moments before he tried again. This time his vision was more focused and he could make out the walls of the unfamiliar room, painted in a calming shade of pale blue. There were pictures, no, paintings on the wall, landscapes. And on the dresser was a small decorated Christmas tree, it's multi-colored lights twinkling happily. Shit, just looking at it seemed to increase the pounding in his head and he still didn't know where the hell he was.
What was the last thing he could remember? Pain, that he did remember. It had been a constant since that damn building fell down around him and...
Heero? Where the hell was Heero?
A scene flashed through his mind. He and Heero were standing before Judge Wycroft. We're married, he realized, and a small smile began to form. "Ouch." He forgot his lips hurt, too.
"Duo? Are you awake?"
It took a moment for him to turn his head, closing his eye as he did so with the hope of keep the room from spinning. Upon opening it once again, his uncovered eye caught sight of his lover. No wait, husband, he happily corrected himself. His husband was lying on the bed next to him. Oh, he couldn't see Heero, exactly, but he recognized the white cast on his leg.
His hand fumbled in its search for his lover. When he found the warm open palm, he curled his hand around it, and gave it a gentle squeeze, which was all he could manage at the moment. "We're married," he sighed, quite satisfied.
"And this is our honeymoon." Neither Heero's dry, sardonic voice nor the reason he'd employed it was lost on the long-haired man.
Ignoring the jab, he said, "You made me very happy today."
"You've been out since collapsing in Judge Wycroft's office yesterday."
Duo's eye widened. "You mean I slept through our first night of being an official, legal couple?" Silence was his answer, indicating that Heero was not a happy camper.
Hoping to placate his lover he rushed to apologize. "Sorry, babe. I promise to make it up to you just as soon as I can move without feeling like I'm gonna pass out. I hate to ask, but did I hurt myself anywhere else when I keeled over?"
"No. Quatre caught you before you hit the ground."
Breathing a shallow sigh of relief, Duo asked his next question that came to mind. "By the way, where are we?"
"Quatre and Trowa's home."
"Well, I guess that's for the best, seeing it's going to be a while before we can take care of ourselves. A couple of days, at least."
"Dr. Poe asked Quatre to keep us here at least that long." Heero's tone was positively arctic.
"Ah come on, Heero, don't be mad."
"And why shouldn't I be?" Heero snapped. "This is not anything like how I imagined our marrying, not to mention our honeymoon. Can't we, just once, do things like other people? I wanted to take you to some place warm, with palm trees and exotic drinks. I had planned on spending a week giving you my undivided attention and a memory you'd never forget."
"I wanted that, too," Duo said with a sigh filled with true regret. "But just being with you is enough, for now at least. Like I said, I'll make it up to you. We'll have our topical honeymoon, I promise."
There was a long pause before a barely audible, "All right," was heard.
"Love you." Duo tried to squeeze Heero hand again, but after a brief twitch he gave up trying. "Shit, I hurt all over. How about you?"
"There isn't an inch of my body that doesn't feel like it was trampled by a herd of elephants." For Heero to admit that, Duo knew he had to be nearly comatose with pain.
With a Herculean effort and no little amount of pain, he eased himself over to lie on his side, making sure his broken arm didn't get in the way. He was panting from the effort when he finally achieved his goal of facing Heero. "Hey, good to see you," he said a bit breathless from his efforts.
Heero gave him a once over without moving a muscle other than his eyes. "You look like hell," he whispered.
"Yeah? So do you, but I've never seen anything as wonderful. Why the hell did you charge into that building after me when I told you to stay back? That was just crazy and you know it."
Heero rolled his eyes. "Do you really need to ask?"
After a painful sigh, Duo replied, "Guess not. I would have done the same, â€˜cause you're sure not goin' anywhere without me."
The long-hair man couldn't help but smile at Heero's answer. Then his smile faded when his lip felt like it was about to split open again.
"So, what are we gonna do, lying in this bed for a couple of days?"
"There's not much we can do." Sometimes Heero's lack of imagination surprised him.
"We can't have sex, that's for sure, but there's gotta be something else we can do? We could watch T.V. Maybe have Quatre get us a couple of movies? And we can eat."
"I'm not very hungry?"
Duo recalled that his mouth and even teeth hurt. "Me neither. At least not right now. Maybe we could manage milkshakes and ice cream."
"There is little to no nutritional value in either of them."
"We can get the natural kind of ice cream with only milk, sugar, vanilla. Maybe add some chocolate to it" Very few people knew that Heero was a closet chocoholic.
"Maybe," Heero replied thoughtfully. "Perhaps if we add a banana and some protein powder it would meet minimal nutritional needs. That might do, least until we're able to chew solid foods."
Duo mentally scored himself a point for that round. "So, what do you think about the eyepatch? Pretty sexy, huh?"
"I'd rather see both of your eyes," his new husband answered. "But maybe you can keep the patch until we're both feeling a bit better."
One corner of the long-haired man's mouth twitched. "Wanna make love to a pirate? That one of your fantasies?"
Heero's hand reached towards his face, but it began shaking and faltered before reaching its goal. He abruptly lowered it to the bed, an apology written on his face.
"I'd love to touch you, too," Duo whispered. "Guess I'll have to settle for drinking you in with my eye."
A snort, followed by a chuckle and an "ouch" came from Heero before he said, "That was funny, but don't make me laugh."
A knock on the door sounded before it eased open. "Everyone awake?"
Three eyes turned to the door in time to see Quatre step inside, a tray of drinks in his hands. "Oh good, Duo's awake. How are you feeling?"
"As good as I look," he answered dryly.
"That bad, huh?"
He rolled his eye.
"I brought some protein and vitamin drinks. Sally said it might be a couple of days before you can eat anything solid so I sent Trowa to the store to pick up some more yogurt and ice cream for later."
"How much later?" Duo asked.
"Whenever you feel up to it."
And so it was that instead of toasting their union with champagne, the two injured men delicately sipped their chocolate protein drinks from a straw, chasing down a couple of pain pills, which Duo was doubly grateful for when the urge to visit the bathroom came. By the time Quatre helped him from the bed and back again, he was more than ready to be put out of his misery.
He dozed off while Heero took his turn in the bathroom, and came partially awake again when the mattress dipped upon his return. Quatre helped to settle Heero back into bed and gently placed the blanket over the top of his battered body.
"Tomorrow is Christmas," the blond said as he straightened. "I was just wondering, seeing that you two are going to be bed bound for a while, is there anything we can do to make the day nice for you?"
"My gifts!" Duo said, suddenly more alert. "Can one of you guys go by the apartment and get Heero's gifts and bring them here? They're in the trunk of my car."
"We drove your car to work," Heero reminded his lover.
"Damn, that's right."
Quatre had a solution. "I'll ask Wufei to pick them up."
"Ah... I don't know where my keys are. They were in the pocket of my jacket, the one I wore the day we were injured."
"I'm sure he'll figure something out," the blond assured him with a grin.
"What about you?" Duo said, looking at Heero. "Where did you stash my presents? I didn't see any under the tree."
"I knew you wouldn't be able to resist looking."
"So where'd you hide them?"
A long pause followed before Heero replied so quietly that the other two had to strain to hear. "What was that?" Duo asked, though by the tone of his voice, Quatre could tell the man heard his new husband loud and clear.
"I said I don't exactly have any?"
The room went completely still. With a voice as frosty as the North pole, Duo said, "Care to explain why you didn't buy me any presents."
With his good hand, Heero reached out and tried to find some part of his lover to touch, but when he found his damaged body couldn't reach far enough to touch him, he made a move to roll to his side.
"That's not a good idea," said Quatre, rushing to his side and carefully holding Heero's shoulder in an attempt to keep him still. "Sally said to avoid being on your side."
"Duo, listen to me. I had every intention of getting you a gift for Christmas, but not until the last moment. You always try to figure out whatever I purchase, just like last year. I was going to pick up your gifts on Christmas Eve in an attempt to surprise you. I hadn't planned on either one of us getting injured."
"That's just stupid," the eye-patch wearing man pouted. After yawning again, he said in a fading voice, "Every one knows that the good stuff is gone if you wait until the last minute to buy presents. What were you going to get me, a shovel?"
"Give me a little credit," Heero replied, though by the sound of his voice, the conversation was wearing him out also.
Quatre thought he should probably step in and stop the argument, but he knew from experience that getting in between Heero and Duo, whether it was work, play, or in a personal matter, was usually a very bad idea.
Heero must have sensed his dilemma, because he raised a finger, signaling him to butt out, which the blond was quite happy to do.
Yet after several long and uncomfortable moments passed, and neither injured man spoke, Quatre felt the need to say something. "I didn't have the chance to say this before, but congratulation on your marriage. Trowa and I wish you a lifetime of happiness together."
Duo mumbled something, but suddenly seemed to run out of energy. The trip to the bathroom and brief conversation with Heero had worn him out. His body went lax and he mumbled something unintelligible. He then went very still, having fallen asleep.
Heero looked from his new husband back to their friend. "He'll probably sleep for a while, but his being amenable will quickly come to an end once he gets bored. Can we have a television brought in here?"
"I didn't want to disturb your rest earlier, but seeing as he's been sleeping so sound, I'll have one installed immediately." Then walking over to make sure Duo was truly asleep, he said, "What can I do to help you get a gift for him?"
A look of relief flashed in Heero's eyes. "If you wouldn't mind making a call for me, I need to know if my offer was accepted before I say anything to him."
"Of course not. What are you buying him?" Quatre whispered, leaning forward to make sure their conversation couldn't be overheard.
"What he's always wanted."
"Quatre waited for Heero to elaborate, but after a moment his eyes widened, realizing what he meant. Duo had been talking to him for nearly a year about his dreams for he and Heero. "A house?"
Heero nodded in reply, a small smile twitching at the corners of his lips.
Quatre clasped his hands over his chest as Heero's emotions flowed into him. All the joy and hope the bed bound man felt for himself and Duo touched him deeply. Duo was going to be supremely happy with his gift.
"But that's not all. I'm taking a new job, quitting field work."
After a surprised gasp, Quatre asked, "And Duo?"
"He's wanted to quit for some time, as you probably know, but he refused to leave as long as I remained. I wasn't ready to leave field work, at least not until this last incident." Moisture appeared in Heero's bloodshot eyes, but the man's self control prohibited any leakage. "I almost lost him," he said, his voice husky with emotion. "When I realized that building was about to collapse, I envisioned my world without him in it, and it's not a place I never want to be."
Knowing Duo's views about their jobs, how he hated the constant risks and the frequent visits to the hospital, Quatre breathed a sigh of relief on behalf of both his friends. "He's going to be so happy, Heero, maybe even more about your stepping down from field work than over the house."
"Shh," Heero warned, glancing at Duo.
The blond nodded and lowered his voice. "I'll make the call now, if you'll give me the number and the name of who to ask for."
Several minutes later, Quatre Winner walked out of the room where his friends were recuperating, the name of a real estate agent in his hand. With the changes in their lives, he was feeling quite hopeful about their future. He couldn't wait to tell Trowa and Wufei. Believing the two currently drugged troublemakers wouldn't be getting into trouble anytime soon, his step became a skip and out of his smiling mouth burst the tune, "We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year."