[Backstory to: "Ninmu shippai"]

Written: November, 2000
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: (1+2)
Warnings: Angst, shonen ai
Disclaimers: Not mine, all theirs. No permission. No money. Why sue?

Notes: This short series examines what happens when you go without what you need.



Deprivation #2 - Sleep

+++++ excerpt from "Ninmu shippai" +++++

After staggering back from performing the repairs on Wing as best he could, Heero collapsed, exhausted, onto the bed in the shack and expected to be asleep within minutes. Unfortunately, he wasn't; sleep deprivation had hit too hard and he'd gotten to the point where he couldn't sleep.

//Duo went through this months ago.// He lay in the darkness trying to will himself to sleep, yet his mind could not stop thinking; to distract himself, he thought about his lover.

//It had been a rough mission for us, yet he was worse off than we were. He'd been on assignment for a week previously infiltrating an OZ base. I recall he'd forced himself to stay awake most nights trying to get the data G required. Sleep deprivation and stimulants really messed him up, too.//



Duo Maxwell yawned enormously as he piloted Deathscythe towards the rendezvous point where he and Heero would meet up with Sandrock and Heavyarms for a simple base destruction assignment. It was while a second even larger yawn struck that Heero's face appeared on the comm screen.

"Duo! What's wrong with you?" Heero asked anxiously. "You're veering off course!"

"Hmm? Oh, sorry, Heero," Duo looked embarrassed. "Guess I'm tired. Wish we had better coordinates for this, then I could just go to autopilot and not worry."

Baka!" Heero reprimanded. "If you aren't capable of completing the mission, say so now. You'll only endanger the rest of us if you fade out during battle."

"No, no, Heero, I'll be fine," Duo did *not* want to admit he did indeed believe he couldn't handle the mission. "I'll just try harder to stay awake, that's all. If I veer off course again, you can send me back in shame if you want to." He grinned trying to cover yet another yawn that was forcing it's way out. "Let me go find some loud music or something, Heero. I'll be fine."

"All right, Duo, but I'm taking you at your word. Veer off course again and I will personally see to it that you and that Gundam of yours don't go anywhere for quite some while." The screen winked out just before Duo yawned again.

"He'd do it, too. I'd better find some more stims," Duo mumbled ruefully, searching about for the stimulants he had used throughout the previous week's "spy job", as he jokingly called it, for Dr. G. He hadn't even been at the new safehouse long enough for a nap when the mission orders came in for an immediate four-Gundam attack on the base. Apparently, they were gearing up for production of spare parts for the Taurus mobile suits, and an early strike would be more successful in the long run. Swallowing yet another bitter tablet, Duo did find some loud music to help keep him awake.

By the time they met the other two Gundams at the rendezvous location, Duo was soaring high on the stims and was more than ready for combat or anything else.

"Hey, dudes!" He greeted Quatre and Trowa boisterously over the comm links. "How's it hanging? Ready to go blow some poor OZ bastards to dust?" He was obviously too cheerful and definitely more manic than usual.

"Duo?" Quatre asked concerned. "Are you all right?"

"Sure, Q-man! Never better, no da!" Duo grinned cheekily. "Now, how far from here to that soon-to-be pile of rubble we're going after?"

"About a half-hour, Maxwell," Trowa wasn't feeling too generous. "Think you can rein in your desire to cause trouble until we get there?"

"Sure thing, Trowa! Don't you worry though, Shinigami is here to deliver them to their maker! Ha! What a cornball line!" Duo laughed a strange high pitched laugh that sent shivers down his comrades' spines. "I'll try to save you a piece of the action, but no promises!"

When Duo had closed his link, both Quatre and Trowa contacted Heero on a closed comm line.

"What's wrong with him, Heero?" Quatre asked, concern evident in his tone and eyes.

"Last thing I knew he was falling asleep and veering off course." Heero looked indifferent. "He probably took more stims or something again."

"Stims?!?" Quatre reacted badly to this information. "You know how jagged he gets on those, Heero! How could you let him do that?"

"I have no control over the baka," Heero snarled. "He was about to crash at the rate he was going. I told him to either pull it together or go back, guess he couldn't admit he wasn't able to handle the situation."

"Kuso! You're a damned poor excuse for a friend, Heero Yuy!" Quatre remarked angrily. "You know what stims do to him and according to the mission report of his I read from last week, he's already been on them for awhile. At this rate, when he does come off of them he's going to come down---hard! Who knows how long it's going to take to pull him back after this mission? Remember *that* when you need back-up in the future, you unfeeling bastard! Out."

Heero was angry with himself, too, but he wasn't going to admit it. He hadn't taken into account the Deathscythe pilot's penchant for taking unnecessary risks with his health and didn't even consider the effect stims could have being used day in and day out for an extended period of time.

Soon, however, there was no more time for recriminations as they approached the base only to get a nasty surprise.

Apparently OZ suspected their new parts plant would attract attention and had set up a fairly serious defense perimeter for it. There were numerous Leos and Tauruses waiting to defend the base from any assaults.

Moving into their attack formation, the Gundams were unable to maintain the back-to-back phalanx they'd intended on using and it soon devolved into a pitched battle that raged for over an hour. The pilots were becoming battered and exhausted as additional enemy mobile suits began to arrive from airborne carriers. The only one with energy left to face them was Duo who had spent the battle running rampant shouting in victory whenever he destroyed yet another enemy suit. His armaments, however, were falling short and he never even stopped to considered this. He flew into the enemy suits raging with his thermal scythe and doing a great deal of damage. Shortly, though, the warning claxons began to sound that fuel levels were dropping below what was needed to insure a safe return, also power levels for the scythe were running low. Cursing fluently in several languages, he continued to fight, until he had no choice but to withdraw.

"Damn you all to HELL!!!" He screamed his frustration at the enemy suits still firing on him as he prepared to leave the field. His companions had given up trying to reach him through stim enhanced battle lust and they had already left the area hoping he would notice and get out as well. When he finally caught up to them he was furious with them as well.

"What the FUCK did you guys think you were doing, leaving me to the wolves back there?!?" The American pilot was livid.

"Duo, you weren't responding to our hails, we couldn't get through to you," Quatre sounded apologetic hoping his friend would calm down a little.

"That's ridiculous! My systems were working just fine!" He spat angrily. "If you guys don't want to be team players it's fine by me." He severed the connection and took off for the safehouse fully intending to leave them all behind. His anger clouded his judgement, though, as Wing caught up to him easily.

"Calm down, Duo," Heero warned. "Don't do anything stupid."

"You want me to 'calm down'?!? Shit, Yuy, why didn't you at least stay there and back me up like I obviously needed?" Duo was being totally unreasonable.

"Look, Duo, did you take more stims during the battle?" Heero was distraught, he felt worried yet he couldn't say exactly why. "I was fairly sure you had before we rendezvoused with Quatre and Trowa, but taking those during battle was a damned fool idea!"

"Yeah, I took some, so fucking what?!?" He angrily spat back. "You were the one who told me to just go back if I couldn't handle the mission. Well, I handled it better then you bunch of cowards!" He cut the line and sealed his incoming comm links.

The two Gundams flew back in angry silence. Wing hung back deliberately since Heero knew Duo had expended too much fuel during the battle and could run out before making it back. In desperation, Duo had even cut the cloaking device to free a little more energy. He did get back, barely, but didn't have enough fuel left to even put the Gundam into the hangar correctly. If he'd been able to see it as such, it was rather amusing that Wing was properly stowed, yet Deathscythe just stood in the middle of the hangar, apparently midstep, where the final fuel had burned out.

Fury continued to shake him as he leapt from the cockpit angrily decrying his friends for cowards, his Gundam for being incapable of finishing the job, and the world in general for being a pain in the ass.

Heero, recognizing the symptoms of fatigue, sleep deprivation, and stim overuse, wisely stayed out of Duo's way until he settled down. Several hours after returning from the failed attempt to destroy the base, a more familiar black suited Shinigami came into the room he shared with Heero and collapsed onto the bed.

"I'm sorry, man," Duo moaned. "I was a real jerk back there, wasn't I?"

"Hai." Heero just kept typing up the mission report. Failing this time was not a terrible blow to his or anyone else's egos, the intelligence had been dead wrong about the level of defense. They could still destroy it handily, but it would require someone going in undercover as soon as possible. He intended to make it perfectly clear that Duo was *not* to be chosen for the assignment. There was no way he wanted to see Duo pushed into further drug misuse; stims were habit forming and that made them something Heero avoided whenever possible. He'd already decided to make it a point to see to it that Duo avoided them as well in the future.

"Well, thanks for the rousing vote of support," Duo said sarcastically then flopped over onto his back, kicking his heavy boots off to land with a loud thunk on the floor. "I'm going to get some sleep, Heero. Have fun typing."

"Hn." Heero grunted a reply to avoid saying something more like how glad he was that Duo was finally showing some sense or how worried he had been for him.

As he continued typing, he kept an eye on his partner.

Even though he'd proclaimed his intention of resting, Duo kept flipping over from side to side on the bed as if he couldn't get comfortable. At one point he stood up and angrily pronounced the bed "too damned small," something that struck Heero as patently absurd since it was larger than many of the dorm beds they'd encountered when hiding in various boarding schools.

After almost two hours of trying, Duo gave up on sleep and went to find something to eat instead. As soon as he left, Heero dialed up an internet connection to check the side-effects of the particular brand of stims Duo preferred. As he suspected, the list was long and included possible personality shifts and sleeplessness. It was this last item that disturbed Heero the most. If Duo couldn't get to sleep soon, he was going to hit a point of mental burn-out and possibly become disoriented or worse. Heero had seen this coming in some of his friend's behavior thus far and it worried him.

A loud crash from the kitchen caught Heero's attention and he was out of the room like a shot.

Duo stood there, staring mutely at his bleeding feet and the shattered remains of a cheap glass bowl. Then, disregarding the sharp edges on the glass, he sank to his knees embedding some of the glass in his pant legs as he fell forward, slamming his hands full force into the shards, slicing them open in over a dozen places. Then he started picking up the razor sharp slivers with his bare fingers as if to clean it up but only cutting himself worse. Before he could hurt himself further, Heero gently stopped him and lifted him straight off of the floor where he was kneeling, carrying him into the bathroom to remove the glass and cleanse the cuts.

"Duo? Are you all right?" he asked as he removed an inch long sliver from the other boy's palm. Luckily the thick fabric of the pants had prevented too many pieces from penetrating his knees, but his hands and feet were another matter. Blood dripped onto a towel across Duo's lap and he simply sat there eyes opened but unfocused.

"Duo?" Heero was getting more than a little worried.

"I'm sorry I broke the bowl," Duo finally said contritely. "I'll get another for the kitchen. And I promise I wont steal it, okay, Father?"

This sent Heero back on his heels reeling mentally, Duo didn't even know who his parents were, why did he think Heero was his father? Then he realized Duo was somehow convinced he was back in the orphanage of his childhood and apparently thought Heero was the kindly priest who had taken the homeless child in. This definitely amounted to severe disorientation, but he decided it would be best to go along with it.

"No need to worry, Duo," he spoke softly, uncertain what Father Maxwell would have sounded like and doubting it mattered but trying to keep the phrasing gentle and reassuring. If his friend was delusional, he would have to be careful not to disturb the state or risk further damage to the braided boy who seemed so fragile suddenly. "We have other bowls. Now, how do your hands and feet feel?"

"They hurt, Father," Duo looked confused. "But I didn't mean to do that, either. I'm sorry for making you worry."

"That's all right," Heero soothed, pausing to run a reassuring hand across Duo's hair, something the other pilot had responded to during a time of illness so Heero felt comfortable it would help again here and he was right.

Finishing the glass removal, Heero bound both hands and feet in gauze and antibiotic cream.

"Now, Duo, you look tired," Heero continued to speak softly hoping he could avert any further crises by allowing the calming image of Father Maxwell to dominate Duo's comprehension. "Why don't you let me get you to bed for a rest?"

"But I need to finish cleaning up the mess in the kitchen before one of the little kids gets hurt," Duo's eyes were drifting shut as Heero continued to stroke his hair.

"Don't worry about that now, Duo. I'll take care of it. You need some sleep, okay?"

Yawning and stretching a little, Duo just nodded. Heero helped him to his feet, but he was wobbly and nearly fell. Taking one arm over his shoulder, Heero helped his friend towards the stairs just to have Duo's legs give out under him. Without thinking, Heero lifted the drowsy American into his arms and carried him to bed where he pulled the covers back. Then he paused to ease his partner out of his torn clothes fearing the remaining glass might be a problem. Soon, Duo wore only his boxers and Heero slipped him into the bed, settling him comfortably under the sheet and blankets. He almost laughed at the smiley face boxers Duo had chosen; instead of the usual simple yellow faces, these were angry, sticking their tongues out or apparently yelling. They reminded him too much of Duo himself that day, when the normally happy joker had become a raging beast instead.

Later in the evening, report sent off, dinner prepared and eaten, Heero decided he, too, needed some sleep. He returned to the bedroom and noticed the distinctly peaceful look on Duo's face.

Earlier that day, Heero had seen the effects of sleep deprivation on his friend. The inability to pilot effectively, the personality shifts that were either caused by or enhanced by the stim use, and finally the disorientation of total exhaustion. Sinking down to sit by the boy with the infectious smile, he reached out to once more stroke that soft hair. It occurred to him to wonder when his friend had gotten around to taking a shower, but disregarded it as a pointless thought.

One thought that would not leave him, however, was how much he simply wanted to crawl under the blankets with him and curl up to sleep together as they had that difficult night sealed in Deathscythe's cockpit to avoid freezing to death. He remembered how good it felt waking up to find the violet-eyed pilot in his arms.

Choosing to follow his feelings as Odin Lowe had taught him, he eventually did slide in beside Duo and lay there gently caressing the hair that entranced him. As he fell asleep, he placed a tender kiss on the cheek next to him, it seemed so natural to him to kiss the chestnut haired boy goodnight that way. A smile blossomed across the sleeping lips and Heero felt his heart leap in his chest. He didn't know what it was he wanted to do about these strange feelings for his partner, but he wasn't afraid of them any longer.

The next day, when Duo finally woke up after 14 hours of sleep, he felt miserable. The stims had left a pounding headache behind and the exhaustion still ravaged his system.

What made things worse was that he remembered bits and pieces of the battle and his behavior towards his friends and was ashamed. When he apologized to Heero, however, he got an unexpected surprise. The other teen had an admission of his own to make. He told him about the previous evening and the fact that he had slept beside him throughout the night. There was no apology offered, simply a longing in the cobalt-blue gaze.

Duo, then surprised him in return by simply smiling a warm and genuine smile instead of his usual manic grin and said, "Heero, you're welcome in my bed any night."

Startled by the response, the Japanese pilot hugged his friend fiercely still wondering why such a simple statement could make him feel frightened and joyous at the same time.

After a dinner that neither of them found memorable for the food, they each seemed strangely tired and decided to go to bed early, Duo complaining of the lingering headache and the last bit of the sleep deprivation bothering him. However, soon sleep deprivation became something that bothered neither young man very often, as new sleeping arrangements blossomed out of something much more important.

That was the night everything changed for both of them.

That was the night they became lovers.

<<end flashback>>


Relaxing while he thought of his vivacious lover, Heero's mind finally quieted enough that he fell into a deep but troubled sleep. +++++

Author's Notes:

The Greek Muse of tragedy, Melpomene, had a field day with this subject. Apparently, she thinks it was a riot that this happened to me several times while I was in graduate school; trust me, becoming delusional when you are supposed to be teaching is very seriously weird!


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