Ninmu shippai (Mission Failure)
The evening was spent in solitary thoughts by Chang Wufei. His destruction of Dr. J, once a brilliant tactician and
scientist who had changed into a man of petty concerns bent on the destruction of Duo Maxwell, was bothering
//He was a threat.//
Wufei thought as he contemplated the bottom of his cup of tea. He had sat thinking for so long the cup had long
since gone completely cold.
//How could he have planned to kill Duo in such a cold calculating fashion? He was once such an important force for
the entire Project Meteor, how did this happen? Was it truly because of jealousy over Heero's closeness with Duo
as G believes, and if so why?//
//Why would the man find that relationship so threatening that he sought Maxwell's destruction?//
While ruthless in battle against OZ, Wufei was actually hesitant to kill in cold blood and while J's death had been
necessary, the level of premeditation made it a little too close to murder for his tastes.
As doubts continued to assail him, G walked into the room; he looked decidedly disturbed.
"What is wrong now, doctor?" Wufei asked, concerned by the strange look in the other's face. "Is it Maxwell?"
"Yes, I'm afraid so," G was unusually succinct. When he didn't elaborate, Wufei sat openly regarding the man with
concern of his own.
"Well?" He finally asked after five minutes of silence.
"Hmm? Oh, Wufei, so sorry, I'm afraid I was trying to think of options," G sighed heavily. "You deserve to know
these things, after all, you saved Heero's life and no doubt that alone will help Duo deal with what has happened."
"You are speaking in riddles. Kindly cease and spell out the problem, doctor." Wufei was irritated and didn't bother
to conceal it.
"Yes, well, it is not good," Shaking his head as if he could eliminate the truth through simple denial, G was reticent
then let all of the information flow freely. "I just spent the last two hours examining Duo and I'm afraid that the
fear we would be unable to successfully reconstruct his shoulder was entirely warranted. It was damaged so badly
that even the artificial replacement joint had little chance of success. It has, indeed failed. There was so little left
after the entire natural construct was blown apart, there was very little hope for it. I'm afraid that Heero will find
himself facing a life without Duo when Duo realizes he is no longer able to use his right arm. In fact, we will be
lucky to avoid an amputation at this rate."
Wufei was shocked. This news was unexpected for him and he had no idea how to deal with it. "Tell me more." He
"There's not much more to tell," G remarked ruefully, "without a drastic change, he has little chance of regaining
use of the arm. Even cybernetics are not an option now, the nerve endings are dead and can not be saved, so
even the most advanced electro-stimulation methods would fail to respond. A full replacement *might* work, but
there's little chance there either."
"So, do we have any options?"
"I see," Wufei seemed to come to a conclusion. "I shall go and see for myself, then wake Yuy and explain it to
"No, Wufei," G negated his intentions, "he needs sleep and there is nothing more to be done tonight. Heero will
deal with this better if he has two things first. One, more sleep. Two, a chance to speak to Duo if the lad
reawakens. Perhaps simple survival of his lover will satisfy Heero."
"Very well then," nodding, the Chinese pilot agreed. "Tomorrow then. Goodnight, doctor. Thank you again for your
assistance in the unpleasant task we faced today." He bowed formally as he thanked the man then left the room.
Alone, G sighed, "This is bad news and it can keep. If we are to lose Duo let's see if we can find a way to avoid
losing Heero as well."
During the night, something changed in the medical room where two pilots slept.
Heero, after leaving the others, had returned to rest in the bed near Duo still feeling disquieted by having
abandoned his post guarding his fragile lover previously. He had checked Duo in his own way, holding his left hand
gently and whispering into his ear in hopes of getting a response as before. He was frustrated by the lack of
motion until one of the physicians had approached him to explain that Duo had been sedated to insure rest while
possible. Heero accepted this and with a yawn had crawled into his own bed to sleep. He wanted very badly to
sleep beside Duo, but the heavy cast on his own foot posed too great a danger to the gravely injured Deathscythe
pilot and he forced himself to be content just sharing a room with his love.
The quiet hum of monitoring devices and the soft exhalations of sleep by Heero was broken by a soft voice.
"heero… ?" Still unable to open his eyes, Duo wasn't certain Heero was even there, but he was the only one he
wanted to know about at that point. Getting no response, he raised his voice a notch louder, "Heero?"
Startled into wakefulness, it took several moments until the disorientation left Heero's mind enough to respond.
When he did, however, he was out of the bed he had laid upon and had rushed over to stand beside the
American's delicate figure.
"Duo? Are you awake?" He asked whispering into the darkness, holding the hand which had inspired such hope
"Heero?" Duo spoke again, uncertain the voice he'd dreamed of was truly there. "Are you real? Or is this another
dream?" The voice, though tired and ragged, was clear and lucid.
Heero barely overcame the desire to grab Duo and pull him into a tight embrace with no intention of ever releasing
him. "I'm here, Duo." He spoke softly and kissed the ear he had spoken into never dropping the hand he held as if
his life depended on it.
A small smile graced the lips beneath him as Duo tried to be brave for Heero's sake.
"Heero, are you all right?" He asked.
"I'm okay, but how are you doing? Can you open your eyes yet?" For reasons he had failed to question, gazing
once more into those violet depths was extremely important to Heero Yuy just then. With labored breathing, Duo
tried but couldn't. It hurt both young men, but it was too much to ask for just then. "Easy, that's okay, Duo.
Don't hurt yourself trying, I just wanted to know."
Sighing heavily, Duo gave up the struggle and leaned heavily against his pillows allowing his recalcitrant eyelids to
lay easily covering his eyes. "Sorry, Heero, don't know why I'm having trouble with that, but… " Heero silenced him
with a gentle kiss. The talking had dislodged the breathing tube and Heero took the opportunity the lack of the
obstruction presented. They both leaned into the kiss and felt better because of it.
"Tell me how you feel, Duo," Heero asked softly, hoping to get some impression of Duo's status.
"Feel like shit, Heero," Duo smiled sadly. "I don't know how it happened or even what is wrong, but it feels like I
was hit by a truck."
Heero hung his head in shame. Was this the time to tell him the truth? That he alone was responsible for Duo's
condition? His guilt told him yes, yet his mind told him no, to let Duo gain strength before confronting him with the
truth. It would be hard to tell the young man he loved that he had shot him and in all honesty he was in no hurry
to do so. Finally, he took a deep breath and forged ahead. "Duo, I need to tell you something, but it isn't easy. Do
you have any idea what happened to you? Anything at all?"
"No, not really, Heero." Duo yawned as the effort of speaking was proving too much. "I remember being captured
by OZ, but not much past that. They drugged me or something, I think."
"No, Duo, you were shot," Heero swallowed convulsively.
"Really? Hmm, should've known," Duo yawned again then added, "Well, if I'm not dying right this second, I think I'll
sleep instead. I feel really tired."
"Certainly, just rest now," he leaned over and kissed him on the mouth tenderly one last time. "Let me get the
doctor to check you, your breathing tube is out, but it's not my decision whether it can stay out."
"Ugh, I thought I recognized that feeling. I hate those, Heero. Convince 'em that I don't need it, 'kay?" He yawned
and the tension eased out of his body, "For now, I'll sleep. They can wake me up if they have to. G'night, koi."
"Goodnight, love," Heero murmured as the boy fell deeply asleep once more. He wondered if Duo had even heard
the soft addition of the endearment which had sprung to his lips so easily. Hesitantly, he pressed the button that
would call the medical personnel back into the room.
When the doctor arrived, they discussed the facts as Heero saw them and it was agreed that if Duo was strong
enough to wake and speak the way he had, the breathing tube could be removed. However, they hooked up an
oxygen tube to ease any breathing problems he might still be experiencing. In the morning they'd do a further
exam to check the lung to see if it had expanded properly. Until his lung function was restored, supplemental
oxygen would be absolutely required.
Heero, pleased he could help Duo with even such a simple thing, fell back to sleep himself. Welcoming the blanket
of slumber, he felt happy to know there was hope more certainly than what had been seen earlier. However,
neither he nor Duo knew the bad news about Duo's shoulder, but G was right. It could wait, sleep couldn't and
the pair slept well into the next morning.
Quatre paced as the neurologist reexamined Duo's arm.
It had been three days since the death of the traitorous Dr. J, and Duo had been growing stronger slowly but
surely each day. He had been finally able to open his eyes the second day to Heero's great relief, and late that day,
Duo had discovered the fact that he could no longer feel his fingers on his right hand. Heero had yet to explain to
him how he'd been injured, but after the initial questions the first night, he hadn't asked again. Simply knowing
he'd been shot seemed enough and the physician attending him felt further bad news that could be avoided
should be left alone.
"So, doc, what's wrong?" Duo asked worry tingeing his voice. All the times he'd been shot before there was pain
and he could deal with that; the lack of sensation, however, was terrifying.
The woman had finished the exam and was jotting down notes as Quatre stepped forward, looking at Duo
sympathetically which bothered the braided youth even more than the doctor's silence.
"Mr. Maxwell," she started, "the results are conclusive, I'm afraid. The damage to your shoulder was so extensive
that you have lost all feeling in your arm permanently. There is no longer any hope of reactivating the nerves in
your arm and there is little we can do about it. There is a possibility that we can avoid amputation, but that is the
best we can hope for at this point."
Duo looked pale as Heero and Quatre both watched over him closely.
"Well," Duo finally found his voice once more, "how do we 'avoid amputation', then? I really am kinda' used to
having two arms, no da." Heero smiled sadly at his love and ran a gentle finger through his hair, hoping to calm
"For right now, the best thing I can recommend is physical therapy and training in VSE to prevent unknown
injuries from causing new problems later." She was cool yet also disappointed. The neurologist had hoped to do
something more for the teenager, he seemed so full of life, the idea of losing a limb so young was always
distasteful, but in his case it seemed worse than usual and she didn't even know he was a Gundam pilot.
"What is 'VSE'?" Quatre asked.
"It stands for 'Visual Scan of Extremities', Mr. Winner," professional to a fault, she would leave no options out.
"It's the same method that people with leprosy used to avoid cuts that could become gangrenous and result in
amputation there as well. Now, he wont have much control over the limb, so it may be best to keep it permanently
in a sling or other restraint, but at least it will still be there. Technology changes so quickly, there's always a
chance something new will be developed within his lifetime that may restore some function, however I would not
"Fine," Duo interrupted, looking away tears in his eyes, "just leave the instructions for whatever the Hell you want
me to learn and let me think this through. I may not want to keep a useless arm, but right now I need to think."
He glanced at his two nervous friends. "Guys, mind if I was alone for awhile? I, well, this is a lot to absorb. Let me
just be by myself for awhile, okay?"
"Are you sure, Duo?" Quatre had seen the defeated look in his eyes. He feared his friend might do something truly
foolish if he was left alone. "Why don't you let Heero stay? I think this is hard on him, too."
"No," Heero disagreed, squeezing Duo's hand gently. "If Duo wants to be alone, we should respect that."
"Um, Heero?" Duo asked cautiously. "Come to think of it, why don't you stay after all? Maybe some company will
Inwardly, Heero groaned knowing the time for the truth was past due, yet agreed.