by Dyna Dee
The paramedic straightened from where the suffering young man lay stretched out on the now damp, expensive sofa in the living room belonging to the notable Quatre Winner. "He should be all right now," he assured the three concerned young men who stood off to the side. "His blood pressure is still a bit low, but it appears the muscle cramps have eased off."
"What about his throat?" Heero asked. He'd forced himself to stand back and out of the EMT's way after he and his partner rushed into the room to treat Duo. He was then compelled by necessity to stand back and watch from over the paramedic's shoulder while Duo was being examined and treated. "Has the swelling gone done? He seems to be breathing easier."
"The swelling has diminished enough for air to pass through more easily," the blond, mustached man in the green khaki uniform answered, bending to put his box of medical tools away. Snapping the lid shut, he stood and handed the case to the slightly younger man dressed in exactly the same manner. "It should continue to diminish, but I'd have the hospital or a doctor check him out as soon as possible. He'll need to be monitored for a day or so. You say he didn't know he had an allergy to shellfish?"
The three friends exchanged a look, each shaking his head. "He said he'd only eaten tuna from a can and rarely some fish caught in the ocean. He doesn't care for seafood in general because of the smell," Heero informed the man. "He only had a small bite of the abalone and then spit it out." He frowned in recalling the incident and how he'd urged Duo to try something he really didn't want. Guilt assailed him as he realized he'd almost caused Duo's death. If Trowa hadn't been there, hadn't recognized the symptoms and had his medicine on hand.... He inwardly cringed, thinking the results could have had a far different and tragic outcome.
"Sometimes it doesn't take much at all to cause a reaction," the emergency technician said. "A slight taste, or even kissing someone who has just eaten shellfish, could send him into anaphylactic shock."
"If I hadn't pushed it on him, he would never have tried the abalone and gotten so ill." Heero said, his gaze lowering to Duo's pale and puffy face, now slack as he dozed, slowly recovering from the frightful experience and heavy dose of medication.
"Then the blame must be mine," Quatre interjected. Heero looked from Duo to the blond's face to see that their friend was being serious.
The EMT shook his head and explained, "It's no one's fault. His allergy seems to be quite severe, so it really is better that he found out about it when medical help was nearby. He's pretty lucky that Mr. Barton recognized what was going on and had some epinephrine on hand. If he hadn't, Mr. Maxwell could very easily have died from anaphylactic shock."
"I'm allergic to bee stings so I had some medication in the house," Trowa offered quietly, his hand in Quatre's as he stared worriedly at the friend that they'd almost lost in such a ridiculous way. As Preventers they faced a variety of dangerous situations on a regular basis that could end their lives, but to be taken out by a little bit of shellfish seemed beyond their comprehension.
"Thank you for responding so promptly," Quatre said, offering his free hand and a forced smile to both men in gratitude.
"It's our pleasure, Mr. Winner. Don't bother seeing us to the door, we'll see ourselves out. Have a good day," the lead EMT said in parting, then led his partner from the room and out the front door, shutting it quietly behind them.
In unison the three friends returned their gaze to Duo's resting form. "That was incredibly frightening," Quatre said after drawing in a shaky breath, some of his earlier composure slipping now that the EMTs had gone and the emergency appeared to be over. He reached for the knit blanket on the back of the sofa and placed it over Duo's goose pimpled body, clad only in his damp swim trunks.
"Someone should notify Wufei," Trowa said. "He'll want to know what's happened."
"Should we take him to the hospital?"
Heero shook his head in answer to Quatre's question. "I'll take him home with me and watch him over the weekend. Despite what the EMT said, this is my fault. I'll call Sally before we leave here and arrange for her to meet us at my place to take a look at Duo and prescribe any medication he might need."
"I think you had better revisit the changing room first, Heero," Trowa suggested, with a faint grin coming to his face for the first time since the whole traumatic ordeal began. "I thought the younger EMT was going to pass out if you bent over Duo one more time. Nice ass, by the way."
"Shut up," Heero growled, though the corner of his lips twitched upward despite the dire situation they'd just gone through. "Stay with him until I return." He quickly left the room and its three occupants, heading back towards the pool area to retrieve his and Duo's clothing, leaving the sound of snickering behind him.
Amused blue-green eyes met green. "You're right, Trowa. He does have a nice ass, not to mention the sizeable package in front."
Trowa chuckled, having made the same observation while Heero, dressed in his little black Speedo, had fretted and paced in front of Duo while they'd waited for the epinephrine to kick in and the paramedics to arrive. "Lucky Duo."
"Not as lucky as I am, though," Quatre said sincerely, fitting himself snug and neatly into the taller man's side, searching for and receiving the comfort he was looking for. To be honest, he was deeply shaken by the whole experience and he'd tried to hide it from the others. Having Heero call his name with such panic in his voice was something he would not soon forget, nor the sight of him carrying Duo though the house, his eyes wide with fear for the braided man whose swelling face was also turning red from lack of oxygen. They'd almost lost Duo. Unthinkable as that was, it had almost become a reality. He leaned back only to lift his chin and share a brief kiss with his lover, grateful for Trowa's quick and calm response to the dire situation. The kiss ended with a mutual sigh of satisfaction, or was it relief? With their arms around each other's waist, their attention turned back to their resting friend, grateful once again that death had been diverted and that Duo was going to be alright.
"You should eat something."
Heero rolled his eyes at the petulant man wearing his pajama bottoms, T-shirt and resting comfortably on his sofa. He remembered quite well from their time spent together during the wars that Duo was not the most pleasant of patients when he'd been hurt or ill. It was late at night, the same day as their pool date, and the two of them were having a delayed dinner, or at least Heero was. He'd heated a can of soup, thinking it would be easier for Duo to swallow. But after his near-death experience the long-haired man was reluctant to put anything in his mouth.
"I promise you there's no shellfish in vegetable soup," Heero told him with as much patience as he could muster, having argued with Duo about eating or drinking something for most of the evening. He calmly set the prepared tray of food down on the coffee table, which held two bowls of soup, two cups of tea and several pieces of buttered bread.
Duo gave him a look of apology. "Look, I appreciate it. Really, I do. But I'm just not up to eating anything yet. You go ahead, though. I'm sure you must be hungry."
"I'd feel better if you at least tried eating just a little." At the stubborn shake of the braided head Heero gave up trying to coax Duo into eating and sat on the sofa after the other man shifted his legs to the side to make room for him. He picked up his bowl, resting on a plate, and carefully helped himself to the steaming hot vegetable soup.
"Guess that could be considered the worst date ever," Duo said, obviously still sulking over what he considered a ruined afternoon.
Heero looked at him with one raised eyebrow. "It could have been much worse. But all in all, it served its purpose, so don't worry about it."
"Served its purpose?" Duo frowned. "How?"
Heero studied the other man, deciding that most of the swelling on Duo's face had gone down and his coloring had returned to normal. Other than his messed hair, still unbrushed after swimming, he thought Duo looked pretty good. "They, or at least one of our friends, observed us in the water together."
"Don't remind me," Duo groaned, embarrassed that now someone else knew that he couldn't swim.
"I think the scene they intruded on should convince them that we're serious about this dating business. You displayed your trust in me by confiding that you couldn't swim and then allowed me to try to teach you. They'll see that as another sign that we're really..." He paused to think of the correct term, then with a slight grin added, "into each other."
"Damn, Heero," Duo blinked with surprise, then chuckled despite his earlier moodiness. "You're sounding more and more like me every day. â€˜Into each other', heh?"
"Is there a better way to say it?" Heero questioned with a tilt of his head.
The man reclining on several blue and white striped pillows thought a moment, then answered. "No, I guess you're right. We're trying to convince everyone that we're â€˜into each other', otherwise known as seriously dating and exclusive."
Heero nodded. "I think they might have also read something into my carrying you out of the pool room frantically yelling for help." Those deep blue eyes bore into Duo's own as Heero further confessed, "I really was frightened for you."
Duo held his breath. Heero was rarely frightened by anything, so his admitting to having been afraid for his welfare seemed to indicate that he truly did care for him. He was deeply touched by Heero's admission. "I was scared for me too," he admitted softly, his smile a little forced as he recalled again those anxious moments when he struggled to breathe past his swelling throat and tongue. "For a while there I really thought I was going to die."
"But you didn't." Heero smiled, his eyes strangely bright, and Duo couldn't resist smiling back. "No I didn't. I'm still hanging around, defying death and ready to wreak havoc on the world."
Heero laughed. "I thought you left behind those warnings of impending doom once the wars ended."
With a shrug and weak grin, Duo replied, "Some things are just kind of hard to let go of." Like his long-time crush on the Japanese boy in spandex shorts, tank top and more courage than anyone he'd ever met.
Heero appeared to pause in thought for a moment, then nodded, apparently agreeing with his statement. Duo didn't know what Heero was thinking, but thought that perhaps the other man also had something or someone in his past that was hard to let go of. Most likely his gundam, Wing Zero, he thought.
Duo turned his attention to the television and turned up the volume on the late evening news while Heero ate the rest of his meal and then removed the tray from the coffee table, carrying it back into the kitchen. A loud rumbling suddenly erupted from his empty stomach, causing Duo to fold his arms tightly around that complaining area in order to muffle the sound while shooting a quick glance at the kitchen door, hoping Heero didn't hear the evidence of his hunger. He knew it was irrational, his being afraid to eat, but the events of that afternoon had shaken him to the core. One simple bite of shellfish, that he didn't even swallow, had almost killed him. Of course he hadn't known about his allergy, and it had only been fantastic luck on his part that Trowa had recognized that he was going into anaphylactic shock and that he also happened to have the epinephrine in the house for his own allergy to bee stings. Could there be any doubt in anyone's mind that he would have died if not for Trowa's quick response? The reality of how close he came to dying because of something so little, so stupid, weighed heavy on his thoughts. What if he accidentally ate something with clam juice or oyster sauce? Would he die in such an undignified way on some restaurant floor, writhing on the carpet, gasping for his last breath while everybody watched, helpless to save him? He shuddered at the vision his mind provided of such a death and huddled into himself. After surviving all that he had to come to such an ignominious end was unthinkable, and yet events of that day proved it was also possible.
Heero paused in the doorway of the kitchen to casually lean on the doorframe while he dried his hands on a kitchen towel. Seeing the braided man huddled into himself he asked in a concerned voice, "What are you thinking?"
Duo tried to shake off his worries, but found that he couldn't. He told Heero of his fears, of eating something in a restaurant that might trigger another allergic reaction, maybe a deadly one.
"You'll simply have to be a bit more careful now and follow Sally's instructions: read labels, menus, ask about ingredients used as well as obtain and wear a medic alert bracelet and carry epinephrine. Since you don't enjoy seafood, it really shouldn't be much of a problem."
Duo nodded, hoping Heero was right. Heero always sounded so calm and confident, something that he'd tried to emulate, but right now he was having some problems with believing everything was going to be all right.
Still in the kitchen doorway, Heero spoke up again, thankfully changing the subject. "Why don't you take my bed tonight and I'll sleep out here on the sofa," he offered.
"Absolutely not!" Duo replied decisively, though he was grateful for Heero distracting him from his own worried thoughts. "I'm intruding on your space so it's only right that I sleep on the couch."
"You're not intruding, Duo, and I'd really prefer that you to sleep in a bed tonight. In fact," Heero paused as a thoughtful expression crossed his face, "my bed is large enough that we could both sleep comfortably in it, that is if you don't mind sharing."
Just the idea of trying to sleep in a bed with Heero lying so wonderfully close beside him set off warning alarms in his head. His body was saying, Yes, you fool, go for it; but his mind was yelling, Are you a masochist or just crazy? "Um.. Thanks, but I'd really prefer sleeping right where I am." The lifting of his chin told the other man that he was going to be stubborn about this.
Heero sighed, giving in rather than continuing the argument. "All right, but if you need anything, you'll call out for me, right?"
Duo smiled, pleased to have won this round. "Yeah, sure I will."
"Just let me finish up in here and then I'll get you some more blankets." Heero disappeared into the kitchen for several moments and then the light in that room went out for the night. He came out and immediately went down the hall to the bedroom only to return a few moments later carrying two blankets. "This should keep you warm enough," he said as he set them both down on the coffee table. Then one by one he snapped them open and gently placed each on top of Duo's reclining form. All the while, the braided man remained still and stared in disbelief at the other man's actions.
"Are you actually tucking me in?" he asked, somewhat incredulous at this first-time-in-his-adult-life experience.
Heero merely looked up and shrugged his shoulders, "Just being a good host," he explained, and then he smiled in a way that reminded Duo once again that his friend was a hell of a good looking man.
"What, no story, warm milk or a kiss goodnight?" the braided man teased, then batted his eyes, affecting a look of innocence.
Heero, whose face was now very close, looked into his eyes and answered in a low, suggestive voice, "I'll heat the milk if you really want it, and we can consider the movie we watched earlier your story, and this..." He paused to lean forward and momentarily placed his lips on the tip of Duo's pert nose. "... is your kiss." He then straightened and stood in front of the sofa and said, "Unless you can think of anything else you might need, I guess we're set for the night and I'll turn in. Do you want me to turn off the light on my way out?"
"Yeah, that'd be great. And, Heero? Thanks again, I really appreciate this. Sleep well, okay?"
There was a moment of hesitation on Heero's part as he watched Duo pull the blankets up to his chin and curl onto his side. When it appeared there was little more that he could do for the other man that night, he turned and moved to the lamp on the end table and turned it off. After that the room's only light came by way of the television.
Watching Heero leave the room, Duo immediately and keenly felt the other man's absence. He lay in the darkened room, ignoring the television show that was on, and thought about the events of that morning before he finally drifted off to sleep. In his dreams, he re-lived his near disaster all over again, though the dreams were hardly accurate. Unquestionably, the best part of his dream was of Heero, posing by the swimming pool in his little swim trunks, his blue eyes sparkling with some unknown emotion and wearing a mischievous grin on his handsome face. Yet that pleasant part of his dreaming was short lived and replaced by the worst of his nightmares, which featured a large, unappealing blob of shellfish being forced into his mouth. The breaded morsel suddenly morphed from a small, inedible piece of food into a heinous creature, sprouting arms like a lobster with angry, beady eyes that flared red like his gundam used to. The fearsome creature suddenly leapt from Heero's open hand and made a dive for his face, latching onto it and covering his nose and mouth entirely and commenced sucking the breath out of him. He woke up gasping for air and struggling to breathe just as he had that afternoon. He immediately scrambled for the lamp on the table behind him and fumbling, turned it on, glad for the bright light which helped diminish the lingering vision of his nightmare. Needless to say, sleep was very hard to come by for the rest of the night, and the light on the end table as well as the television remained on until Heero rose from his bed the next morning.