No Time For Secrets
"Doctor! Look over here, on the posterior of the left ventricle! Did you *see* this?" Dr. Fuuma was shocked by what he'd discovered.
Duo Maxwell's body lay frighteningly exposed on the steel operating table. It had been cooled below normal body temperature and
drained of most of its blood via bypass tubing inserted into and out of the groin area and connected to a bypass machine. A heart-lung
machine kept him alive as powerful drugs kept him completely unconscious. The steps that had been taken were standard procedure,
first insert a tube down the throat to the lungs for the artificial respiration. Next, cut through the layers of the epidermis as well as through
the toughened bands of muscle. A handheld circular saw was used to saw through the ribcage. Metal retractors, like large metal jaws,
then spread the detached ribs open. Lastly, the medical staff prepared to take the most important muscle in the body into human hands
for repair. His chest was held wide-open by the retractors, various clamps and things necessary for what was supposed to have been
fairly routine surgery.
If his friends had observed this hideously obscene image, they would have seen something the horrors of war never prepared them for;
the total exposure of what kept this young man alive---his naked, fully exposed heart.
The surgery had been planned to deal with what appeared to be a fairly straight forward congenital defect. A fairly routine procedure for
this set of highly trained surgeons. A "cake walk" operation, they'd called it hours earlier before the first incision was made. While
scrubbing for surgery, several of the doctors had even wondered aloud if they'd be done in time for a round of golf before dark.
Unfortunately, Duo Maxwell's heart was in much worse condition than expected.
"Dr. Fuuma, I see what you mean," Dr. Limone remarked as if the hideous deformity that had been uncovered was something he saw on
a frequent basis, when in fact he'd never seen it on anyone who had lived past the age of five.
"But, how could he have lived to be 17 with damage like that? I was expecting the defect we repaired on the right atrium, since it was
what had been shown in the MRA scan, but this is totally unexpected. Why didn't something this significant show on the scan, too?" Dr.
Fuuma was baffled over the technical improbability, neglecting momentarily the more profound implications of its presence, which he
suddenly recalled. "This boy shouldn't even be *alive* with this advanced degree of RPAI, causing the outer wall to be thinned and
distended!" he added, awestruck.
Dr. Limone chuckled at the younger surgeon, " Fuuma, you're showing your youth a bit there, my friend. Remember the patient's
subconscious is recording the words spoken in here, you need to avoid such blatant remarks. Besides, I think you are frightening the
interns and younger nurses. Keep your remarks casual in tone and remain professional. You know, I'd have a hard time explaining this
to the chief of surgery if I wasn't it; and even then I'd probably be fairly displeased with it."
"Gomen, Limone-sama. I got carried away there; it wont happen again." Dr. Fuuma looked embarrassed now that the error was pointed
out in front of the entire surgical squad.
"Not to worry, Fuuma, and drop the 'sama' stuff. It makes me feel old and homesick for Osaka," Dr. Limone chuckled even more and
encouraged the nurse next to him to laugh a bit. This would seem odd to anyone not familiar with the theory of "positive atmosphere"
during surgery. This theory accounted for the rather odd music selections now playing, the patient had a penchant for old rock and roll
music so it had replaced the usual classical pieces played earlier when the surgery had seemed so straight forward and routine. Further,
the theory claimed that laughter and happy sounding voices would encourage more rapid recovery for patients following any form of
However in a horrible turn of events, this surgical procedure was no longer anywhere near "routine" any longer.
"Dr. Fuuma, keep a close watch over Mr. Maxwell while I go and consult with his friends and let them know what we've found. I'm
going to contact a specialist in New Geneva first, though, and see what they suggest before I speak with them. We may be stuck
between a rock and a hard place here." Dr. Limone's voice retained its pleasant tones, but the words were as close to a death decree as
anyone there had heard before. Clearly, he didn't expect this patient to survive very long without something radical changing and soon!
"His death, Quatre?" Wufei tried to conceal his fear at the sudden pronouncement, but failed miserably. The Chinese youth, usually so
reserved, had been on-edge since he had been forced to admit the horrible secrets he knew about Duo earlier. His self-flagellation
regarding his silence about the American's terrible sexual abuse at the hands of OZ soldiers, the rapes, the beatings, the unthinkable
savagery which resulted in two suicide attempts continued in his mind. "But, I thought they had told us they'd identified the region of the
defect and that it would be relatively easy to repair. Granted, the recovery time initially sounded extreme, but I had no idea how much
damage they had to do simply to access the heart in the first place."
"Oh, the Scholar never studied human anatomy?" Sally gently teased the young man beside her. She wished they could be more than
partners, but she had never tried to suggest anything more than friendship knowing his cultural heritage expected the man to initiate a
romance. Sally was hoping to get his mind back on more positive thoughts. She knew him well enough to see he was still in agony over
Heero Yuy's collapse hours earlier.
"Onna," he mumbled gruffly trying to sound annoyed, but gave her a tiny sickly smile as he realized what she was doing. "Of course I
studied it, but that was when I was six years old and it seemed an entirely different thing then. Now, Quatre, what exactly did you
Eyes red from the tears that would not stop, Quatre looked up at the group. He seemed to have already begun mourning the death of a
friend which hadn't happened; at least they hadn't been told anything so it was assumed it hadn't happened.
"I really wish I knew more, Wufei, but this feeling wont leave me. Somehow, I can feel that even though there is no physical pain, Duo's
body knows it is dying. It's that strange acceptance of impending death that I am experiencing. Oh, it hurts, it hurts so very, very much!"
He nearly screamed in agony as he buried his face in his hands and began crying even harder.
"Shhh, Little One," Trowa soothed, running a hand up and down Quatre's back trying to calm his blond love as his other arm continued
to encircle his waist. "We would have been told if there was something wrong. It will be all right, you'll see."
"It's possible someone in the operating room said something which Duo's subconscious picked up on as being bad news," Sally
commented thoughtfully. "If they did and it's simply been misinterpreted by his subconscious, his body might still react strongly enough
for you to have this feeling."
"Excuse me, Sally? I don't understand," Quatre looked up wonderingly, a touch of hope warring with fear in his eyes.
"Quatre, there's evidence that the subconscious can 'hear' so to speak everything that is said throughout surgery even though the
conscious mind is suppressed through anesthesia. One viewpoint that many surgeons share is that the subconscious frequently
misinterprets what is going on during the procedure but these misgivings are erased when positive messages are more clearly perceived."
Sally stopped for a moment, looking pensive. "I had a colleague once who scored fairly high for empathic ability and she sat through
almost 50 different surgical procedures tracking the body's reactions to stimuli throughout. She published a paper on her findings, one of
which was that there was a low but detectable rate of such 'misunderstandings' during surgery," Sally paused, seeming to not wish to
finish her discussion of the work.
"Why does it sound like there's a 'however' attached to that?" Quatre asked fearfully.
"Well, don't go taking this wrong, guys," Sally clearly didn't want to finish now, but felt duty-bound to do so. "But she found that there
was a higher correlation with the subconscious being right about problems the surgeons missed or errors made in patients that didn't
survive or recover nearly as well as what was expected. Quite a few members of the profession think that it was all hocus-pocus on her
part; maybe they're right, but I think she knew what she experienced was indeed the truth."
"Hn." Trowa stared at nothing in particular as though trying to make a painful decision. "Based on that, I think we need to have Heero
awakened. We may be facing something serious here and he should be present if we have to deal with it."
"No, Trowa," Quatre pleaded. "If I'm wrong, and I pray that I am, we will only add to his distress. Remember it took twice as much
sedative to keep him down than anyone expected. Let him rest unless we know something for certain."
"Little One, you are such a gentle soul, worrying over everyone and neglecting yourself. But can you look me in the eye and tell me that
you feel anything different in your uchuu no kokoro now than before?" Trowa seemed to hold his breath waiting for the answer.
"Iie, Trowa, no I can't," shaking his head remorsefully, Quatre's voice hitched a bit over a sob. "I still feel a sensation that Duo is
preparing to die."
"Then we must wake Heero. Your uchuu no kokoro has always been right before, trust it now, but hope we can change the situation
somehow. Sally, do you agree?"
"Unfortunately, Trowa, I do. Dear God, how I wish I didn't, but I do." Sally Po looked as miserable now as she had earlier when Duo's
second cardiac arrest occurred in the ER, knowing the chances for survival much less full recovery were become slimmer. "I'll contact
Dr. Asakura and tell him you have invoked your legal right of medical power of attorney for this."
"Arigatou, Sally. I always hoped I'd never have to use the privilege Heero entrusted me with by putting me second after Duo, but I
believe it's the only thing to do."
Trowa looked defeated and his eyes seemed hollow as he stared inwards at things only he could see. Pain flitted across his face before
he buried it in Quatre's silken hair. This entire situation had started because of secrets, terrible, almost deadly secrets; now, however,
there was no time for secrets, especially any secrets kept from Heero.
Dreaming. Heero Yuy was dreaming and he knew it. Since the war ended, his nightmares had become more rare; but when one struck,
Duo was always beside him to comfort his tortured soul. But even in a drug-induced sleep, he knew that his lover was not beside him
now. And the nightmares seemed to know it, too, and had returned with a vengeance.
Blood. Everywhere he looked there was blood. His hands were in front of his eyes, dripping red gore on everything he touched.
Nearby, he heard the screams of women and children; death screams his mind was certain of it. He looked around helplessly knowing
this was a dream, yet desperate to change what was happening but unable to do so.
As he turned his head, a ruddy glint of red metal caught his eye; turning to face it he saw a terrifying image---Wing Zero drenched in
blood with broken bodies hanging from it's now jagged gundanium body. The horror grew within him as he started to recognize the
people whose broken bodies were strewn around and upon it like broken toys. Acrobatic Trowa sprawled in an ungainly manner across
the face of the shield laying on the ground at Wing Zero's feet. Gentle Quatre was spread across one beam cannon. Brave Wufei hung
upside down, his body pierced by the end of a beam saber. But most horrifying of all, his beloved Duo hung from the once-golden crest;
his braid, that glorious, beautiful braid, held his body in midair from the point of the crest looking like a corpse on a hangman's noose.
And there, in the center of his chest glinting in the dull rays of the sun, was Duo's beloved golden crucifix, even to Heero this seemed like
sacrilege of the most heinous form.
"DUO! NOOO!! DUOOOO!!!" He screamed, falling to his knees retching dry heaves as tears flooded his eyes. He fell forward onto
hands and knees, blood splashing up into his face, the scent filling his nostrils and the foul metallic taste entering his gaping mouth.
Struggling, he rose to his feet once more and staggered towards the ominous figure of his Gundam. His only thought was to somehow
free the bodies of his comrades from such an ignominious final resting place. Yet his eyes were locked onto Duo's broken remains
dangling high in the air like a child's broken kite in a tree. Suddenly his ears were filled with the hideous wailing of warning claxons as the
Gundam began to glow, the light heralding its own final destruction as well. How many times had he hit the self-destruct button on
different vehicles anticipating death? It had never frightened him before, but it shook him to his very core now. He knew that to stand
this close to a self-destructing Gundam was suicide, but that didn't bother him; what terrified him was that he wouldn't be able to hold
Duo's body one last time before they were gone in a limned-out flash.
He broke into a run reaching the Gundam as the claxons rang faster and faster, the end was coming within seconds. But he wouldn't
stop. He had one last mission, he had to reach Duo before the explosion, yet it was impossible. Suddenly, Wing Zero glowed white hot
and the out-rush of air from the explosion wrapped around him, slamming his body back onto the bloody ground, yet refusing to grant
him death with his comrades. Somehow, he still lived even though everyone who had ever meant anything to him had just been
"No! Wing Zero, take me with you! Wing... Wing... don't leave me here alone! You've taken Duo, take me, too! I don't want to live
without him," Heero dropped, exhausted, face first onto the ground salty tears mixing with the blood that coated the landscape. "Wing,
you know I can't live without him. Please, just let me die right now."
Heero had never felt lost the way he did in this horrible intangible drama. Yes, he knew it was a dream, a hideous horrifying nightmare,
but where was Duo to wake him? Where was Duo to comfort him?
And in that moment of total bereavement, he realized the dream had started to replay--- there were his hands dripping blood--- there
were the screams once more--- there was the metallic glint in the corner of his eye---