Wufei was relieved when Heero re-entered the room. Smiling, he rose from the chair, grabbed his book and took his leave. Heero sat in the chair facing the bed. "I'm here Duo." he said softly enough for no one to hear but himself, but he needed to hear it.
Heero spent the next few hours pacing the room, nervous about the upcoming encounter, yet still wanting Duo to awaken. It was close to 1200 and Duo hadn't eaten or taken his medication since Heero had arrived.
Heero heard the faint rustling of bed covers. Glancing over to where Duo lie, Heero watched Duo slowly and painfully lift himself up to a near sitting position. Heero rushed over place several pillows against Duo's back for support. Finishing the task, Heero looked down toward Duo, "Thank you, Heero" he replied softly, his eye's locking deep into cobalt Heero's gaze.
Heero was unable to move, his eye's transfixed by the violet orbs below him, he stared deeply into them looking for .....something. A smile crept across his face, as he backed himself down, coming to sit on the bed beside Duo "Can I get you something to eat, Duo ?"
"MmHm......." said Duo, quickly adding "And something for the pain, Heero, please" Heero could see that Duo was in considerable pain, his face distorted slightly with every word he spoke. Heero grabbed the bottle at the bedside and as per Wufei's instructions, placed two of the white tablets into Duo's hand and waited for him to put them in his mouth, before handing him a small glass of water. Heero's attention shifted to the bottle's label 'Morphine 150 Mg Take two tablets as needed Refills available: 5.'
'Five !' Heero thought, almost aloud, then frowned.
Heero watched as Duo swallowed, immediately coming to rest again on the pillows behind him. "How did the mission go, Heero ?" Duo managed.
"Longer than expected, but successful, Duo." Heero returned.
"I'll be right back with your lunch." Heero informed him and made his way downstairs.
Returning only a short while later, Heero found Duo painfully attempting to scoot himself toward the edge of the bed
"Duo, let me help you !" he called. Making his way over to the bed, Heero could now see the rest of Duo's body as he had managed to totally uncover himself. His right leg was in a huge white plaster cast from his ankle to his upper thigh. Quickly putting the tray he was carrying down on the dresser, Heero gently guided Duo over to the edge of the bed, mindful that there were most likely more bruises that Heero was still unaware of and brought him comfortably to his feet.
Heero enjoyed the feel of his hands gently surrounding Duo. "Bathroom please, Heero" Duo whispered, still breathless from the event. Heero stood by Duo's side, acting as his human crutch. Heero's arm wrapped tightly around Duo's thin waist, they made their way across the room, which Duo now noticed was far larger than it needed to be. The long distance causing him that much more pain, as he practically dragged his fragile body along, his weight leaning strongly against Heero.
Finally reaching their destination, Duo hobbled into the bathroom, leaving Heero outside the door. Heero could hear Duo's heavy breath as he attempted to go about the minutest of daily routines, struggling and cursing at himself when his attempts were, at first, unsuccessful.
Sometime later, Duo appeared in the doorway, looking totally exhausted. Duo stared so innocently into Heero's eyes, moving his head slowly from side to side. Heero bent slightly and gathering Duo up in his arms, made his way across the room, gently setting his fragile lover down on edge of the bed, Duo's leg at a seeming uncomfortable angle. Quickly crossing the room, Heero dragged the large chair over and lifting Duo's leg with one hand, pulled the chair under it with the other and gently placed his foot down to rest in the center of the chair's cushion. Heero made a mental note to ask Quatre's permission to rearrange the bedroom furniture.
Placing the legged tray containing Duo's lunch over his lap, Heero asked him "Need help ?" Duo shook his head and reached for the spoon, filling it and slowly bringing the soup up to his lips.
Crossing the room, Heero found Duo's brush and made his way back to the bed. Climbing gently to a cross-legged position behind Duo on the bed, Heero slid the tangled red rubber band from the end of Duo's braid. Heero stared briefly at the matted mess in front of him, then slowly began the tedious process of unknotting and restoring Duo's braid. Duo was surprised at the gentleness and patience Heero showed throughout the long and arduous process. He enjoyed Heero sitting behind him, running his fingers through his hair. Heero leaned forward and placed a small wet kiss on Duo's neck. Duo learched forward and away from Heero's kiss, lowering his head.
'I'm sorry Duo" Heero apologized. 'Damn....I should have known better.' thought Heero, now feeling guilty.
Finally finished rebraiding his hair, Heero replaced the worn red band at the bottom of the tightly wound braid "There" he said, sitting back admiring his work "That looks much better." Making his way off the bed, Heero looked down at Duo, his mouth slightly up turned in one corner. 'Certainly not one of Duo's best smiles, but a smile nonetheless' Heero thought, pleased 'His first since I've been home.'
Duo looked exhausted, his were eye's half closed and his limbs limp. Heero removed the tray from his lap and gently shifted Duo over to his side of the bed. Duo closed his eyes as Heero covered him with a light blanket and placed a soft kiss on Duo's bandaged forehead. "Sleep well, my Duo."
Allowing his eyes to wash over Duo's form once more, Heero now noticing the absence of Duo's crucifix.
Heero spent the next few hours in front of his laptop, checking messages and emailing Dr J letting him know his mission taped report would be arrived soon, glancing over at Duo every few minutes, pausing to see the rise and fall of Duo's chest, reassuring himself that Duo was still breathing.
Almost exactly four hours after taking his pain meds, Duo woke. Rising slowly to a semi-reclined position, he leaned on one elbow, his eyes searching the room. Across the room, sitting hunched over the desk, his head resting on his folded arm, only inches away from his still glowing laptop, was Heero, fast asleep.
Duo loved watching Heero sleep, his face was so peaceful, every breath visible in the movement of his chest. Duo wanted nothing more than to be close to Heero, to feel Heero's hot breath on his neck, to wrap his arms around him, to lay his head on Heero's chest and fall into slumber surrounded by the faint sound of Heero's heartbeat.
Duo managed a weak smile, watching his lover sleep, in spite of his pain. It was an oddly comforting sight to Duo, so familiar, a hint of how things were before and a peek into what he hoped would still be, as soon as he was ready.
It had been over a week since the.....incident yet, Duo hadn't allowed himself to think about what had happened, instead concentrating on the physical pain, which, as great as it was, paled in comparison to the mental anguish he had suffered.
He realized that in the week since his brutal rape and beating, both here and in the hospital, he had been so drugged, he hadn't been awake long enough to come to terms with his emotions. And even while awake, his thoughts were barely coherent, as he fell in and out of consciousness. He wondered quietly if perhaps this was intentional, perhaps he was better off *not* thinking about it.
He weighed the situation carefully before coming to a self-satisfactory conclusion. He was determined it was time to deal with mental pain and wanted his mind to be free from the drugs that for the past week had not allowed him to feel anything.
Heero woke startled, as his laptop started beeping incessantly only inches from his ear. Sitting up and banging his head on the desk lamp, Heero turned with a wide stare, mouth open, to see Duo propped up in bed, his wide violet eyes focused on Heero, a faint smile on his lips.
There were several pillows between Duo's injured self and the hard plaster wall and despite his visible injuries, Duo looked like an absolute angel. Heero took a moment to admire the view. Duo's braid was hanging loosely around his neck, coming to rest on the bunched up sheets at his lap. His white cotton pajama top was unbuttoned, revealing his smooth, solid chest. His right shoulder was also exposed, the fabric laying loosely over his upper arm. 'God.....You are so beautiful Duo'
Breaking the stare to look down at his watch, Heero gasped "AAhhhhh......It's nearly 9:00, Duo, why didn't you wake me when you got up ?! Geez......Your medication !.....your dinner !" Heero said, his voice showing displeasure at himself for falling asleep and failing to tend to Duo's needs.
"It's okay, Heero" Duo said, a small sparkle in his violet eyes, "I'm fine......you looked too peaceful to disturb, and on top of that...." he continued softly "It's been a long time since I've watched you sleep, Heero. I've .....missed it, Heero. I've really missed *you*, Heero !" Duo's voice now spilling over with emotion.
Heero crossed the room with a desperate urgency, his eye's locked onto Duo's, now glassy with longing. Sitting gently on the edge of their bed, Heero leaned toward Duo, his expression unreadable to Duo. 'A look of......desperation perhaps ?' thought Duo.
When Heero's arms finally came into to contact with his body, Duo was no longer able to feel any of his pain. He shuddered momentarily, Heero's grasp taking over his very soul. His thoughts were only of this angel, whose touch was his breath, his life and his saving grace.
"I love you, Heero." Duo whispered breathlessly, almost crying, into Heero's ear, his arms reaching out to pull Heero tightly to himself.
Heero had waited over a month to hear those words from Duo's lips, but he was unprepared for his own reaction, totally overwhelmed by the simple phrase, wishing he could draw Duo into his very soul. There was nothing now, just him and Duo, and Heero didn't want anything to break the spell.
Duo's voice broke the spell as he pulled back from Heero's tender embrace.....
"I've been sitting here thinking, Heero. I need come to terms with all of this. I'm think I'm ready to. I don't want any more drugs. I need to have a clear head. I need to get on with my life. You'll need to have patience with me. It won't be a pleasant experience, but you already knew that Heero" Duo stated, devoid of any detectable emotion.
Heero silently agreed. He knew of Duo's demons and was prepared to have them unleashed once again.
"I'll be here Duo" Heero reassured him.
"Hungry ?" Heero asked
Heero had promised himself not to become impatient with Duo in the upcoming weeks, but his braided lover was making it increasingly more difficult. Duo refused Heero's help with everything and he did it with such contempt, nearly spitting at Heero's kindest words. His refusal to take anything to alleviate his pain had only served to make matters worse. Duo hated pain and dealt with it poorly, turning this normally cheerful boy into a complaining nuisance with a bad attitude.
Despite the fact that Heero had rearranged the bedroom furniture to allow Duo easier access to the bathroom, Duo still struggled with the journey, his thigh high cast making his walk unsteady and awkward. He had no patience with himself and Heero could hear him muttering a sting of obscenities under his breath.
"Fuck !" Duo screamed as he nearly fell to the floor, his hand reaching toward the nightstand to break his fall. This left him at a seemingly uncomfortable angle, still gripping the table, but unable to bring himself to a standing position. Seeing this, Heero crossed the room and placing his arms under Duo's armpits, hoisted him up to stand.
"Damn it Heero ! I didn't ask for your help !" Duo scolded him, practically screaming, his eyes blazing with anger "I just want you to leave me alone !"
Heero was more angry than hurt, although he couldn't decide which emotion was more appropriate. He did after all interfere where he knew he wasn't wanted.
Seeing it in Heero's eyes, Duo sighed "It's not that I don't appreciate what you're trying to do, but I just want to do this on my own. Got it ?", but his tone was not sympathetic and his words were biting. It wasn't an apology Duo was offering, but merely a reinforcement of his earlier warning.
Heero got it all right, but he didn't like it.
"Since you have everything under control here, I'm going out." he glared and slamming the door behind him, Heero left the room.
Heero took a walk.........a long walk. He wandered slowly through the woods behind the Winner Estate, The evening air was brisk and damp and Heero wrapped his arms around himself, rubbing his upper arms in an effort to rid himself of the sudden chill and wishing he had grabbed a jacket before storming out of the room.
He had to admit it felt good to get out. He was, after all, cooped up in that bedroom for the past few days. Cooped up, albeit understandable, he reminded himself, with a very nasty Duo. While he outwardly tried to hide his frustration and anger, he was certain that at least some of it had seeped into his words and actions. Feeling another one of those tinges of guilt, he scolded himself for being selfish.
Heero had not sought the comfort or companionship of any of the other pilots since arriving back home. They seemed to understand and didn't intrude where they apparently weren't wanted. Heero gave them only short synopses of the situation in answer to their inquires about Duo's condition and they never pressed on. On rare occasions, they exchanged brief pleasantries while Heero was in the kitchen, preparing something for him and Duo to eat. Heero occasionally fought off the urge to let off some steam and complain about the situation, but regarded this as a weakness and let it go.
Returning a few hours later, Heero entered the room to find Duo fast asleep...for the moment.
For the past few nights, when Duo finally let himself sleep, Heero was woken from his light slumber by Duo's cries. They weren't low gentle sobs. Duo let out shrill, panic stricken screams, his body thrashed, his head jerked wildly from side to side, his limbs flailed.......Heero knew that in his dreams.......his nightmares, Duo was being forced to relive the entire terrifying incident over and over ... until his now frail body finally gave out from pure exhaustion, only to begin again when he fell into another almost momentary sleep.
Watching Duo's frantic form, Heero desired nothing more than to gather Duo into his arms, to hold this broken angel to his chest, to lovingly stroke his chestnut hair from his now sweat-drenched face, to look into those pained violet eyes that he treasured so and to reassure Duo that everything would be alright. He could only stand by the bedside, watching in terror. He felt so helpless and it tortured him to see Duo this way.
Heero made his way over to the padded armchair across the room, which had become his bed for the past few nights. It was comfortable enough, not that it really mattered, as he rarely slept. Removing his tank top and tossing it on the floor, he covered himself with a blanket and closed his eyes. 'Good night Duo'
Heero had barely closed his now heavy eyelids when he heard the faint rustling of cover's from Duo's bed. Heero's eye's jutted open, his chest tightening slightly, his limbs grew taut. Gently closing his eyes again, he took a deep breath and prepared for the nightly onslaught.
Heero could hear Duo groaning, the low throaty growls slowly making their way up from deep down inside. The sounds became more distinguishable and Heero was now able make out several of the words, causing him to shiver in fear for Duo.
The sounds from the other side of the room grew louder and more urgent, Heero tensing yet again. Heero didn't need to open his eye's to see what was causing them. Shutting his eyes more tightly, his fingers gripped, knuckles white, at the arms of the chair, at the sound of Duo's voice.
"Please.....please......don't .......no....stop........don't touch me !!! please.......stop !" Duo pleaded "Why are you doing this to me......" he cried "Nooo.....please......no......please......don't..." his voice finally trailing off to a whimper, followed closely by loud uncontrollable sobs.
Somehow resisting the urge to put his hands over his ears to drown out Duo's pained calls, Heero sat, unable to move, waiting for Duo's cries to end. They continued for longer than usual tonight, Duo's voice becoming raspy from the strain and urgency of his unanswered pleas. Bringing his knees up to his chest, Heero surrounded them with his arms lowering his head.
Heero could hear Duo's hard uneven pants from where he sat, despite the large distance. Each one almost echoing across the large room. Heero tried not to think about the images that Duo was seeing, so much pain.......so much angst. Duo's hands grasping at his chest, a feeble attempt to protect himself from the horrors. The screams had finally subsided and Heero slowly allowed himself to breathe again. Duo lay covered with sweat in as much of a fetal position as his injured body could manage. 'It's over for now, Duo.......rest.'
But it wasn't quite over.
"Heero........are you awake, Heero ?" Duo called timidly, his voice still sobbing and raspy.
"Yes, Duo, I'm right here !" Heero immediately replied, quickly making his way to Duo.
Heero saw a change in Duo's facial expression, he looked more at peace, his features softer. The glint in his eye had returned and Heero wondered if Duo's newly abandoned sleep had allowed him to finally exorcise at least some the demons. Sitting down beside Duo, Duo's liquid violet eye's granting him acceptance, Heero leaned toward his lover and gathered every inch of his beautiful Duo to himself, gently cradling and rocking his still trembling wiry frame, his hand lovingly wiping the tears from Duo's face. Gathering Duo further into his passionate embrace, Heero brought his lips to Duo's ear whispering "I love you Duo......I love you so much.", Heero voice so filled with emotion, his tears joining Duo's, warming Heero's naked chest.
"Hold me closer, Heero.......and promise me that you will never let me go."
And Heero did just that. His beloved Duo lay firmly in his arms for the first time in over a month. Duo's soft breath warm in the crook of Heero's neck, his arm laid gently over Heero's chest. Heero pulled him tighter until there was no space between them, nothing that could break their loving embrace. The sensation of holding Duo securely in his arms was one Heero never seemed to grow tired of and he imagined that he never would.
There were no more nightmares for Duo that night. There was no more pain and no more screaming. There was only Heero with his never failing strength and his never ending love, tangled in a now careless embrace that Duo hoped would last forever.