Deprivation #1 - Food
Deprivation #1 - Food by Enigma
+++++ excerpt from "Ninmu shippai" +++++
But at this moment he needed to allow his body to repair. Exhaustion exacts a terrible price even on the most
highly trained young soldiers and he now faced the signs of sleep deprivation as well as simple hunger.
//I have *got* to remember to carry something to eat in Wing like Duo always does on Deathscythe!//
He shook his head, remembering the time he'd given his partner a hard time for such a trivial matter only to learn
the hard way that it wasn't trivial at all. +++++
"That is a pointless waste of space." Heero had pronounced when he discovered that Duo routinely stocked a supply of snack foods on board his Gundam.
"Yeah, right!" His partner laughed and smacked him in the stomach. "Sorry, Heero, old pal, but some of us lowly humans gotta eat, ya' know!" His infuriating grin had somehow infiltrated the soldier's defenses and had made itself more endearing than annoying.
"Hn." He refused to be baited into a fight and had walked away.
Two days later, the pair sat beside their Gundams, both damaged beyond flight capability as well as overland self-transport. Heero was trying to ignore the growling of his stomach while his companion happily munched away on yet another strange snack food item.
"C'mon, Heero, it wont kill ya' to eat a little something ya' know!" Duo had held out a substance of questionable nutritional value. The items appeared to Heero to be nothing more than long stickers of some sort covered in frosting, not very appetizing to the perfect soldier. "And it doesn't mean you're any less tough. I wont even tell the guys if you choose chocolate or strawberry!" He grinned again and winked. (1)
"Don't need it." Heero replied curtly. His stomach, however, loudly disagreed with him.
"Oi! Man, Heero," Duo started to laugh, "What do you have under that shirt today? A lion? Hey, c'mon, eat something! We don't know when the others are going to get out here to pick us up."
"No." Heero had stood intending to walk off a cramp. "I'll do a little surveillance before it gets dark. Besides," he smirked, "if we really are going to be stuck here for awhile don't you think you might want to conserve what you have?"
"Hmm, good point, Heero. I guess I will. But you've gone at least two days without food by my best guess; so when you get hungry, you eat something, got it?" He'd been insistent.
Upon waking the following day, Heero felt a little weak. Trying to cover it, he'd again gone off to do "surveillance" but failed to reappear in a reasonable amount of time.
"Oh, man," Duo moaned seeing the sun sinking towards the horizon. "Where the Hell did he go off to? All the way to the closest town?" Shaking his head, the braided boy had gotten to his feet to go looking. "It's going to be damned cold tonight. Better bring a jacket in case this takes too long. I'll take Heero his out of Wing, too."
Nimble as a mountain goat, he'd climbed off of Deathscythe where he'd been keeping look-out as well as listening for incoming messages and scrambled up the side of Wing Gundam. What he found inside didn't please or surprise him. "Damn you, Yuy!" He exclaimed finding the subject of his intended search unconscious in the cockpit. The way the other pilot's body laid sprawled it looked like he'd been simply trying to get back out and had fallen, gashing his forehead and apparently suffering from a concussion.
Jumping down to retrieve his own medi-kit from Deathscythe, he stopped to radio for help. His narrow band relay got him a response from fellow pilot Trowa Barton.
"Maxwell here. Hey, Trowa, I've got a problem out here."
Sighing, the other boy asked, "What is it this time, Duo?"
"Give me a break, this is serious!"
"It always is, Maxwell. Do you wish to report or not?"
"Trust me, I'd rather not report this, but I need medical back-up out here. Heero's hurt."
"What? How did that happen?" The other pilot's voice held surprise then biting sarcasm. "He's usually careful enough not to get hurt stuck in the middle of nowhere without a battle going on, unlike some people I know."
"Yeah, yeah, save it, Trowa. I'm serious! Heero apparently fell while he was, um, working on Wing, yeah, that's it, and he's got a bad concussion from the looks of things and a head wound to match." Duo sighed, he really did not want to explain why he thought his partner had actually gotten injured.
"All right," Trowa didn't pushed for details, thankfully. "I'll see what can be done. I'll get back to you on this band length in an hour. Barton out."
"An hour? Oh, man!" Duo wasn't pleased. The delay wasn't good for Heero and it meant no help was readily available or Trowa would have come on his own.
Climbing back into Wing, Duo decided the most important thing to do first was move his injured friend over to Deathscythe. He felt certain he could get at least a small amount of heat out of the already low batteries if it got too cold during the night.
The chill had already crept into the air as he finally got himself and Heero tightly packed into the black Gundam. As the last light faded from the sky, he closed the hatch in the hopes of trapping the heat in and the cold out; it was stuffy, tight, and definitely not intended for overnight use, but it would have to do. He'd tried unsuccessfully to awaken his friend, but judging by how the cut looked and how thoroughly dried the blood was, he'd lain unattended inside Wing for the better half of the day making it that much harder to bring him back to consciousness.
"C'mon, Heero, do me a favor here and wake up," he talked to the silent figure as he cleaned the blood away and then bandaged the wound. "Just wake up for a bit so I can see how bad off ya' are, buddy."
His words were greeted only with silence. "Well, there you have it, Maxwell. Fall for the strong silent types and when they are too busy proving they are strong they end up just flat silent." For reasons he didn't understand, these words effected Heero enough that he groaned and tried to open his eyes.
"Wha' hapn'd, baka?" He asked slurring his words. Duo didn't care about the insult, he was angrier about something else.
"Yuy, you damned fool! Wake up! Come on, wake up!" He shook his friend gently trying to get him to open his eyes. He'd checked the pupils before, but with his partner unconscious they'd told him little. Now, however, as Heero appeared about to fade out, he made a desperate move. "Sorry, Heero, but don't you dare go back to dream land until I check your eyes," he used a penlight and found what he'd feared. The pupils remained unevenly dilated no matter how much light he used.
"Itae," Heero tried to swat the offending light away, but was too weak.
"Geez, man, you are not very skilled at simple self-maintenance at times!" He shook his head as he reached past his friend to a high protein drink he'd hoped to get down the Japanese pilot when he woke up. "Heero. Heero! Wake back up, damn you! You need food, you moron, or you'll not make it here. Don't do this to me, Heero!" Duo's pleading was rewarded when the pained eyes struggled to open once more.
"Food?" Heero was weak due to simple lack of nutrition, something Duo had suspected, but when he'd gone to wrap him in an insulated rescue blanket he'd noticed how gaunt the already lean body had become. "Can't eat, Duuu " he trailed off.
"No way, Heero! Stay with me here, I've got something for you to drink and it's going to at least keep you together until Trowa can get us some help. Now, at least try to drink this." He held the can to his friend's lips, propping him up bodily to drink the overly sweet beverage. Duo, in spite of his clowning, was actually quite well versed in first aid and a few advanced medical tricks he'd picked up from helping Sister Helen at the Maxwell Orphanage.
Heero sipped at the drink as best he could. Duo had to keep reminding him to stay awake and finish it; eventually he did.
Before letting Heero fall back asleep fully, Duo checked his eyes once more. They were still unevenly dilated, but Heero's color seemed to have improved. Suddenly the comm channel erupted with a burst of static followed by a familiar voice. "Maxwell, you there?" Duo scrambled to his feet and hit the open link switch.
"Right here, Trowa, what's the good word?"
"I'm afraid I don't have one, Duo." The American felt his heart sink. If Trowa was calling him by his first name it must mean trouble. "There's no way we can get anyone out to your location until tomorrow. Quatre and Wufei are on a mission and I'm not able to arrange transport that will get me there any more quickly. Can you handle the situation overnight? If not, say so, and I'll try to locate a regional hospital or something."
Duo was aghast. "No, Trowa, we can't afford the risk. If we're recognized we could end up worse off than we are now!"
"Don't you think I know that?" Sarcasm dripped from the Heavyarms pilot's words. "So, can you handle it tonight or not? I need to know now."
Sighing, Duo glanced down at Heero's slumbering body. Handling it himself meant no sleep for Duo that night so he could watch over Heero; but he was certain he had the medical training to get the two of them through the night. "Yeah, Trowa, I can handle it. Just make sure there's someone here in the morning, okay?"
"Roger. Barton out."
"Man, Heero, what am I going to do with you, buddy?" Duo shook his head. He knew he had to get Heero through the night and that he would face Trowa's wrath in the morning when the truth was revealed; Duo felt he should've made Heero eat sooner. The body on the floor of the cockpit simply shivered slightly. Duo decided it was getting too cold and kicked on the heater for awhile to take the chill off.
Waking Heero on a frequent basis, Duo stayed busy. He also wrapped his partner in both jackets as well as the rescue blanket, trying to keep him warm. Duo himself, however, was freezing. The temperature outside had indeed plummeted and while Deathscythe was airtight fore space maneuvers, it meant on Earth he had to either open the hatch routinely to let in fresh air or use the little remaining power for the circulation system. He chose to save power for the heater and he'd just face the influx of cold air as needed even if it did chill him to the bone; after all, his patient remained warm and that was all he cared about at the time.
Several times when he had Heero awake he'd get another protein drink down him and he seemed to improve marginally with each passing hour of darkness.
As the hours crept past, Duo found it difficult to stay awake. The cold had seeped throughout his body and he could no longer stop shivering. He wasn't willing to take any of the extra heat away from his partner, but he also had neared exhaustion of Deathscythe's batteries. Running the heater was no longer an option.
As the first rosy fingers of dawn colored the clouds, Duo's eyes grew heavy beyond his ability to ward off the inevitable any longer. Waking Heero one last time, then allowing one last blast of frigid air into the cockpit, he finally gave up and crawled carefully over his friend to drape himself across the pilot's chair expecting to sleep but passed-out instead.
At some point, however, the combination of the protein drinks and his other care worked together and Heero woke up on his own. The headache he was suffering from was overwhelming, but he felt warm and safe. He surveyed the area around him and realized fully for the first time just what had probably happened. He saw the empty drink cans and noticed he didn't feel as hungry any more either. Finally, he checked Duo and discovered his erstwhile personal rescue squad had suffered because of his efforts. The braided boy's lips were an unhealthy shade of blue as he shivered in the sub-freezing temperatures wearing only his usual short-sleeved black priest's outfit.
"Baka," Heero mumbled, gathering what little strength he had and pulling the American off the chair and down into the nest of jackets and blanket where he had slept warmly. Holding his violently shivering friend in an effort to share body warmth, Heero fell back asleep.
Later, Duo roused and was shocked to find the two of them cuddled tightly together sleeping on the floor. He assumed he'd been the one to initiate the compromising position and when he tried to move away, Heero grunted in his sleep and pulled him tightly against him. In all honesty, Duo found that comforting and he relaxed into the embrace falling into a deep sleep. Pressed firmly against Heero's body, he felt safer than he had his entire life yet had no clue why.
When Trowa arrived, he was pleasantly surprised to find both pilots in relatively good condition.
He had arranged to bring a transport carrier to pick up the Gundams as well as the pilots. Heero was much improved especially haven eaten his first solid food in four days prior to Trowa's arrival and the headache from the concussion was receding slowly. The head wound showed signs of infection despite Duo's excessive use of topical antibiotics. Duo, on the other hand, was still miserable from a hard night spent worrying over his friend and shivering in the cold. Once the two damaged Gundams were securely stowed on board the transport and Heero was in the hands of an actual medic, Duo found a corner of
the plane, a blanket, and something hot to drink. He fell asleep before he even finished the drink and when Heero found him, the Wing pilot gently removed the mug from his hands surprised that it hadn't fallen. Then, for reasons he didn't fully understand, he reached out and smoothed the atypically dirty bangs from his forehead. Dropping a gentle kiss on the exhausted pilot's brow, he whispered, "Sleep well, Duo," and left him to rest.
After their safe return, Heero was placed on antibiotics and Duo ended up being treated for mild hypothermia as well. Of the two, Duo suffered longer than Heero, but he said it was worth it; his partner had survived the night and that was all he ever cared about anyway.
When they were alone later, however, Heero finally admitted to pulling Duo under the covers with him which eased Duo's conscientious enormously. He also thanked him for forcing the drinks down his throat during the night. Duo just chuckled ruefully and commented, "Next time, Heero, remember even you have to *eat* something from time to time, no da!"
He agreed and nothing further was said about the long, cold night they had shared so torturously within Deathscythe's cockpit simply because Heero Yuy was too stubborn to admit he was hungry.
However, that night he had indulged himself in a few cans of the same protein drink Duo had given him the night he had possibly saved his life. Despite the overly sweet taste, it brought back fond memories and gave him something to think about when he went to work repairing his Gundam.
(1) That's Pocky (TM), no da! (^_~)!
(2) The Greek Muse of tragedy, Melpomene, takes credit yet again. She also thanks years of time I spent as an
undergraduate and the time without food due to lack of funds as source material. She thinks she's just so funny,