Quatre had arranged for an ambulette to take Duo and Heero into town for Duo's checkup. Duo had refused the wheel chair and hobbled up the ramp and into the rear of the van using Heero's shoulder as his crutch, dismissing the ambulette driver. As soon as Heero had buckled both of them into their seatbelts, Duo announced his apprehension at the idea of having his cast replaced.
"Heero, I don't know how much the guys told you about my leg." Duo began.
"I didn't really ask them anything, Duo and they didn't volunteer." Heero told him.
Duo let his eye's drop to the floor.
"The bones in my upper leg were pretty much shattered." Duo stated sullenly
"A few pins and couple of dozen stitches and it should be good as new !" he finished in an out of place upbeat tone.
Heero could hear the tone of Duo's voice, but Duo's face told the real story.
"Duo......" Heero started
Duo cut him off, an angry look crossed his face "It wasn't bad enough they raped me, Heero, robbing me of my dignity and my self-esteem ! NO !!! That wasn't enough !!!!" He screamed
Heero moved toward him.
"They had to leave my body torn and scarred....a constant reminder of their perversions...... every time I look at myself......every time I get dressed.......I am forced to think about it !! Do you understand that, Heero ?!?" his voice softer now, looking into Heero's eyes. "I can move on with the rape.....I've done it before Heero, but......the physical scars." Duo shook his head "I don't expect you to understand, but I just can't, Heero."
Unsure of what to say to comfort his distraught lover, Heero reached for Duo's hand, and holding it in his own, rubbed his thumb gently over the back of it.
Duo wouldn't allow Heero to stay in the room during the cast removal and replacement, he was, however, invited to return afterward to hear what the doctor had to say regarding Duo's condition.
The new cast was considerably smaller, reaching only to Duo's knee and would only remain on for only another two weeks. This outwardly pleased Duo. The stitches in his upper arm were removed and the small red scar was fading nicely. His ribs were healing and no longer needed to be wrapped unless he felt unusual discomfort. The gash in his forehead was the most prominent of the remaining scars, and while he was still unsure, the doctor thought that it could be further reduced in the future by minor plastic surgery. The doctor was pleased with his body's recuperative powers in general and attributed it to Duo's young age.
Leaving the Doctor's office in the company of the ambulette driver, Heero felt a sense of relief at Duo's now more upbeat attitude. He didn't seem to be overly upset having finally being able to see his leg, but Heero knew that Duo was able to hide behind his mask when it served his purpose. Heero was too accustomed to Duo's cunning abilities and knew the mask he now wore wasn't intended for him, but rather the stranger beside them.
Duo was silent and seemed to be lost in thought nearly all the way home. Heero glanced over at Duo occasionally, noting that although his hands were clenched tightly into fists, his face failed to register any emotion at all.
'Perhaps he is just tired.' thought Heero, but he knew better. There was a storm brewing of the worse kind.......the 'Duo' kind.
"Duo ?" Heero questioned, breaking the nearly 45 minute silence. Sliding himself closer to Duo, his spandex gliding effortlessly over the vinyl bench seat, he continued "Is there something you want to talk about ? You seem pretty upset despite the Doctor's good news. Is there anything the Doctor didn't tell me ?"
Duo looked toward him and shook his head "No, Heero, everything is fine."
"Everything is *not* fine, Duo. This is me you are talking to !" Heero replied, slightly annoyed at Duo's attempt to slight him.
"Everything *is* fine, Heero. I'm just tired and I don't want to talk. Ok ?!" Duo's tone more than a little indignant.
The rest of the ride was as silent as the first 45 minutes. Heero stared out the window until they pulled into the driveway. Heero exited the vehicle and made his way around to assist Duo from the van. Heero's heart sank at finding Duo already out of the ambulette. His arm was thrown around the shoulder of the ambulette driver and they were making their way toward the front entrance.
Trowa opened the door, allowing Duo to be assisted inside, Trowa's face showing more than mild disbelief as Heero's very pissed off face entered the house moments later. The driver sat Duo down on the couch in the living room where Trowa has motioned them to go, and promptly left. Heero made his way past the three and headed up the stairs, pausing briefly to turn and watch the exchange.
Duo smiled at Trowa, who was now joined by Quatre in the living room "This cast is a lot smaller than the last one. It's going to be a lot easier for me to get around now. Feels like I've lost 20 pounds !" Duo stated happily.
"Ohh....GOOD !" Quatre smiled "How long till this cast comes off ?"
"Two more weeks ! Doc said I was a fast healer." Duo winked.
Trowa smiled, putting his hand on Duo's shoulder "That's great news Duo. And the ribs ?"
"The Doc said everything is just fine !! Don't have to wrap my ribs anymore and all my stitches are out too. See ?" Duo announced cheerfully, showing them his upper arm, his friends more than welcoming the usual Duo chatter.
Heero turned to continue up the stairs 'It's just a mask' Heero frowned 'Can't they see that it's just a mask.'
Heero made his way into the room and closing the blinds, threw himself face down on the bed and thought. He thought about Duo mostly......okay.....Duo was *all* he thought about. Heero wasn't convinced that he was able to see through all of Duo's masks, as evidenced by the ambulette episode. 'Everything was fine this afternoon when we left......*more* than fine, in fact !!' thought Heero.
Heero wondered momentarily if it were possible that Duo was just going through a small set back. 'He *was* nervous about the doctor visit', perhaps Heero was just making too much out of this. He would wait until he talked to Duo before coming to any conclusions. Satisfied with this temporary solution to the situation, Heero fell asleep.
"Where did Heero go, Duo ?" Quatre asked
"And why wasn't he the one who helped you into the house ?" Trowa continued, still curious about the obvious glitch.
"Ah.....I prolly pissed him off with something I said." Duo replied casually "You know Heero." he winked at the two.
As the three sat chatting, Duo began showing signs of fatigue, eventually almost nodding off.
Trowa and Quatre gently brought his to his feet and helped him up the stairs to his room.
"Thank you both." Duo smiled as they reached the bedroom door. "I think I can manage from here. Don't forget to wake me for dinner !" Duo smiled.
Retracing their footsteps of barely moments ago, Quatre and Trowa made their way back down the hallway, totally oblivious of the sound of shattering glass as Duo opened the bedroom door, his mask crashing to the floor.
Duo closed the door behind him and allowing several seconds for his eye's to get used to the darkness, made his way across the room and turning on the bathroom light, closed the door.
Heero jumped at the sound and sat up hastily. He could see the light peeking from under the bathroom door and laid back down to relax, realizing it was just Duo. He could hear the water running in the sink and Duo was mumbling something.......or mebbe it was singing.
It was neither.
Heero knocked on the door lightly "Duo ?" he called. Hearing no response, Heero, knocked again and opened the door. There seated in the middle of the small white room was Duo, elbows on his knees, his head held in his hands, the water running on full force to muffle the sound of his pain. Duo was crying.
His face never looking up, Duo told him as firmly as he could through his tears, "Please leave, Heero."
Heero bent down and placed his hand gently on Duo's upper back, gently stoking it. "Duo, tell me what is the matter ?" Heero pleaded softly.
"Heero, I asked you to leave.......now will you please just leave !" He practically screamed, putting his hand on Heero's, still rubbing his back, and forcefully removing it. "JUST GO !!"
Heero slowly sank in the padded chair across the bedroom. Sighing heavily, he ran his hands through his hair, pausing to let them grip tightly at the handful he held. 'What the hell is going on Duo ?!? Why are you shutting me out ?' Releasing the hair from his ever-tightening grip, Heero let his hands fall to his sides in frustration. Heero sat motionless for a few more minutes, his head was filled with dozens of fragmented, jumbled and incoherent thoughts. Heero rose quickly and making his way across the still darkened room and grabbing a his black leather jacket, Heero exited, slamming the door behind him.
Making his was quietly down the hallway, turning back to glance several times at the door he had just moments ago abruptly exited, Heero made his way from the house via the servants entrance completely unnoticed.
Duo was quite pleased with himself, having made his way downstairs unassisted. Making his way slowly into the kitchen, Duo was greeting by three smiling faces.
"Hey, Duo" Wufei called "I see you are able to get around pretty well with that little cast'"
"Yeah" said Duo "Makes things much easier."
Sitting in the chair facing Trowa, Duo began serving himself. "Everything looks great as usual, Quatre" he smiled at the blonde.
"Thanks Duo. Enjoy !" Quatre chided.
"Where's Heero ?" Quatre asked moments later "Isn't he going to join us for dinner ?"
"He wasn't in the room. I just figured he was here already." Duo added casually.
"Hmmmmmm.....Wonder where he is then ?" Quatre continued.
"No idea" Duo shrugged, as he continued filling his plate.
Quatre looked toward Trowa, a worried look on his face that only Trowa would recognize.
The balance of the evening was spent in front of the television. Quatre had a wonderful library of old movies and they had a hard time all agreeing on one. Wufei finally suggested "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", and they settled themselves in to watch.
Heero's absence was felt by all of them, save Duo, who was uncharacteristically quiet, never once taking his eyes from the huge screen television. It unnerved Quatre that Heero said nothing to anyone...especially Duo...about his apparent departure.
At 11:30, when the movie was over, Quatre stood to stretch "I wonder where Heero is ? It's not like him to be out this late without calling or something. I'm starting to get worried." Quatre frowned.
Trowa rose and wandered over to Quatre, who was now looking out the huge picture window to the front lawn of the estate, his brow wrinkled in thought. Standing behind him, Trowa put his arms around Quatre's waist and rested his chin on the blonde's shoulder. "I'm sure he's just fine." he started matter of factly. "Heero's a big boy, Quatre, he can take care of himself." he added lightly, reaching his hand up to run his hand through Quatre's hair.
Quatre turned to Duo, who was now almost laying on the large leather couch, his head coming to rest on the arm of the soft sofa. "Duo, Heero must have said *something* to you before he left......or told you he was going……somewhere....maybe you just forgot......try to think, Duo !" Quatre's voice was becoming more urgent.
Duo stood, "Look..... !!" his voice showing annoyance at the inquiry "I have no idea where Heero is....get it ? Why does everyone think I should know his whereabouts every second of the day ?" The expression on Duo's face now shifting into something the other three boys had never witnessed from their normally cheerful friend, Unsure if it was fear or anger....or something else entirely, Quatre apologized "Sorry, Duo....I didn't mean to ....."
"Whatever..." Duo replied snidely, cutting him off and left the room, slowly making his way up the long staircase.
"Well *that* was an interesting display !" said Trowa to Wufei and Quatre after Duo had disappeared well into the upper hallway.
"I have never seen Duo so........so......i dunno......angry, he was so...cold and ......emotionless." stated Quatre , hardly believing he was using those words to describe Duo.
Trowa put his hand on Quatre's knee and rubbed it softly up and down his thigh in consolation.
Wufei rose "I'm going to go talk to him....something is apparently very wrong." and left the room, bounding up the enormous staircase, two steps at a time.
Hearing the knock on the door, Duo responded "Who is it ?"
Wufei could hear the annoyance in his voice. "It's Wufei....Duo, may I come in ?"
"What for ?" Duo asked flatly.
"Duo, just open the door !" Wufei almost yelled.
Duo flung the door open, and looking into Wufei's eye's motioned him inside with his a sweep of his arm, the expression on Duo's face less than pleased at Wufei's interruption.
Crossing the room to sit on the edge of the bed, Wufei still standing near the door, looking in Duo's general direction, Duo started "Well......what is it....you just came to stare at me ?!"
"Duo" Wufei answered, making his way across the room to where Duo sat "What the hell is going on ? And don't try to tell me nothing !"
"I appreciate your concern, Wufei" started Duo, staring straight into Wufei's jet black eyes, his voice dripping with disdain "However, please mind your own damn business.....and while you're at it, please tell the others to do the same."
Slowly standing, Duo made his way across the room, opened the door and gestured for Wufei to leave, closing the door swiftly behind him.
Wufei stood stunned on the other side.
Heero had been walking for the past few hours and was unsure of where he was, although he was relatively sure he had headed due north since leaving the estate. Still not ready to head back home, Heero found a soft grassy patch next to a small pond at sat, his back coming to rest on a huge boulder. Picking up a small stone, Heero tossed it lightly into the pond before him, watching the ripples spread out around it, eventually the whole pond was alive with movement, the light from the moon catching each tiny shimmering wave.
Heero hadn't thought about the situation with Duo for the past hour, as the first several hours of his journey tired him of the endless circles of thought and the subject had now worn itself thin. Duo was in control and Heero was at his miserable mercy. If Duo would just tell him *why* he was behaving like this.....or even tell him he didn't know why.....that he was confused......or in pain......or something...*anything* Heero was sure he could deal with it appropriately, but keeping Heero in the dark was something Duo had obviously reconciled himself to do and there was nothing Heero could do but stay out of the way of his temperamental lover and wait patiently until Duo was ready to talk.
Confident that his logic had once again made sense of nonsense, Heero began tracing his footsteps back toward home.
Reaching the top of the hill that lie just beyond the estate's boundary at nearly sunrise, Heero paused. He lay down amongst the tall grass, and placing his hands behind his head, concentrated his gaze upward and smiling, waited patiently for the huge orange ball to regain it's rightful place in the colorful morning sky.
At breakfast, Wufei recounted his very brief and alarming encounter with Duo the night before to the other two pilots, whose faces looked not to dissimilar to how Wufei had looked the night before.
"Apparently" Wufei surmised, "They had some type of argument, instigated, by the look of things, by Duo"
"Then why would he be angry with all of us ?" Quatre asked
"I dunno, Quatre. I say we just stay out of it." Trowa added "Duo is right, it really isn't any of our business."
Heero woke, and judging by the sun's position in the sky, Heero speculated it was around noontime. Removing his now unneeded leather jacket and tossing it over his shoulder, Heero made his way down the hill and back onto the estate's well-manicured property. Making his was through the pool area, he felt invigorated, pleased with his decision of taking the time to rest. Rapidly approaching the rear entrance, Heero's stomach began to growl and realizing he had missed dinner last night and breakfast this morning, headed straight for the kitchen.
Duo sat alone in the large kitchen. His two hands surrounded a large empty glass. He was oblivious to Heero's entrance into the kitchen, as he sat staring off into nowhere.
Heero headed for the fridge and opening it, searched it contents for something to eat. Finally deciding to have large bowl of cereal, Heero removed the gallon of milk and placed it gently on end the table furthest from Duo. Crossing the large room, Heero got a bowl, a spoon and a box of cereal. Placing them down beside the milk, Heero sat down and poured the cereal and milk into the bowl, glancing over towards Duo every now and then, finding him still locked into his now familiar heavy stare.
It was Quatre's voice that snapped Duo out of his thought "HEERO !" he practically screamed "You're back !" Quatre's eyes showing much delight.
Duo turned with a start to see Heero sitting at the other end of the table, then quickly turned his focus to his now empty glass.
"Where were you Heero ? I was worried sick, we all were !" Quatre continued.
"I went for a walk.....sorry if I worried you." Heero told the obviously very relieved blonde.
Quatre's eyes turned toward Duo, whose lack of emotion prompted him to add "At least *most* of us were worried" his face slightly frowning in Duo's direction. Duo never looking upward, but acknowledged Quatre's nasty words with his somewhat hasty departure from the room.
Turning towards Heero, Quatre's eyes asking the question for him.
"No idea, Quatre.........no idea" Heero simply stated.
Heero eventually made his way upstairs and knocking gently, entered the room.
Duo was sprawled out on the bed, face down.
Heero made his way into the bathroom, and turning on the shower, came back into the bedroom to get some fresh clothes, before turning to re-enter the bathroom, he briefly glancing over toward the bed. Heero watched as Duo stared at him, his body now lying on his side, his elbow bent, his head resting on his hand. There was nothing comforting in Duo's stare and Heero withdrew his eyes and continued into the bathroom.
Exiting the bathroom sometime later, Heero made his way into the large room, depositing his dirty clothes into the small basket beside the closet. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Duo sitting in the large chair, but made a point of not letting Duo know he saw him.
"Heero" Duo said calmly "We need to talk."