Disclaimer: See all the others; status unchanged.

This is a sequel to 'Writing on the Wall'
Pairing: vague 1+2
Rating: R
Contents/Warnings: hints at Shounen Ai, Alcohol abuse, some angst, Duo POV.
Challenge # 25; accents
Word Count: 875

AN: Continuation of the ficlets 'Road to Recovery' and 'Writing on the Wall'. Doesn't make much sense on its own.

Marked Man
by kebzero

At last, Heero stirred. He blinked a few times and squinted, adjusting to the light. With one hand clutching the edge of the patchwork blanket, he scanned his surroundings. When he saw me sitting in the chair next to his couch, he got the oddest grin, and whispered "...thought it was a dream..."

"It wasn't," I replied, if a bit harsh.

Immediately, he clutched his temples, wincing. "Not - Not so loud..."

I could only assume this was the expected hangover. I sat still as I watched him struggle to sit up straight, then stumble onto his feet, and take unsure steps over towards the counter, probably searching for the bottle of aspirin. I got to my feet, and took a few steps away, waiting. As Heero finally froze, I knew we'd reached the final calm before the storm. Another step back was all I got before the volcano erupted.

"What the hell-" Heero winced at his own shout and gave a glare I knew only too well. "You did that," he hissed at me. "You poured out-" He balled up his fists, took a wobbly step closer.

"Heero, calm down," I cautioned, the couch blocking my retreat path.

He didn't listen, and rushed towards me, murder in his eyes. To my surprise, I wasn't really afraid, and I made my stance, prepared to defend myself. I didn't have to, as Heero suddenly veered off from his assault path, and turned to flee towards the bathroom, his hand over his mouth.

Didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why. The sounds that came as soon as he got through the door was another clue. I hesitated for a moment before checking up on him. Sure enough, as I got to the bathroom, I saw Heero worshipping the gods of hangovers, giving his offerings through the porcelain altar. Couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy, even if he'd wanted to kill me seconds earlier. I knelt down beside him, steadied him with one hand, rubbed his back with the other. Between heaves, he glared at me from the corner of his eye.

It sent a mild shiver down my spine. Another hurl released me.

That's when I noticed it. My backrubs had untucked Heero's rumpled T-shirt, and on the expanse of skin showing, there was a big, black smudge of some sort. Curiosity got the better of me, and I pulled the cotton aside for a better look.

Yep, it was a tattoo. I wasn't sure what to make of it; it was an uneven circle, most of one half tattooed black. It was weird - sort of like those funny little markers they put over letters in some loanwords - you know, the tiny slants or little upside-down v's and stuff; kinda cool-looking, but feeling a little out of place.

Focused on that, I didn't notice Heero's stomach had calmed down - not until he spoke up, surprising me out of my contemplation. "It's a yin/yang symbol," he slurred, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "S'posed to be, anyhow..."

"I thought you hated the idea of-"

Slight cringe, nod. "Yeah... but the parlor down the street got a new guy who needed practice, and they offered some cash for canvas, so..."

"Canv-" Pause. "You mean your back? What-"

"I wasn't exactly in a clear state of mind at the time," Heero snarled at me. "They waved cash in my face, so I laid down on the bench and let him have a go at me." He grabbed the hem of his T-shirt and pulled it down to cover the tattoo. "I only have that one - they didn't pay me enough to consider another." His eyes mellowed a little, though I could see the rage lingering in the far back of his gaze. "Besides... it reminded me of you, in a way."


"You know... a pain in my a-" Pause. "Well, back, anyway." A cautious smile crept across his face, and with a whisper, he added "...my missing half..." Then, he winced again and pinched the bridge of his nose.

For a few moments, I waited for him to continue, but no explanation was forthcoming. I got to my feet. "I'll go get the aspirin."

"Thanks," he mumbled, and leaned up against the wall to avoid falling over.

I found the bottle where I'd left it. I was very much looking forward to when Heero's mind cleared up. We really needed to talk. About his promise to come with me, for one. About everything else he'd said, for another.

I wasn't sure he wanted to comment on either, now that he was sobering up.


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