Room With a View
She withdrew the thermometer from my ear, checked the data display, nodded once. "Thought so. You still have a fever - you better stay in bed for today." She put the thermometer away, handed me a glass of orange juice.
I accepted the offering, but frowned at her message. "I never get sick."
Hilde smiled faintly. "Well, you are now. You probably caught something Duo brought back."
I sipped from the glass. "I'm just as healthy as Duo."
Her smile shifted, as if amused. "Before, maybe - but not after you began-" She stopped mid-sentence, put her hand on my knee. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean-"
I sighed, shook my head. "No, it's okay. You're right..." Another swig of juice, a glance out the window. My new bedroom - their guest bedroom - faced the backyard. Through the smudged glass and old curtains we could see Duo. He was working on the suit, removing armor plating in a not so subtle manner. We could hear his labors just fine, too - both the screams of metal and the occasional curse when things didn't bend after his will. I took in the room again, studied the bottom of my glass before putting it aside on the battered nightstand. "I'm such a leech..."
She gave me a funny look. "what do you mean?"
"This," I answered, using my hands to indicate everything. "Instead of working for a living, I'm just lying here and-"
"You're sick!" she interjected. "And it doesn't matter what we agreed on. You're still our guest!"
I looked away. I didn't have the strength for a lengthy argument. Hilde can be just as headstrong as Duo and myself. I rubbed my temples with one hand, sensing another headache coming on. I clenched my teeth at the first throb. "It's worse than that... I've latched onto Duo as well - and what I want, he can't give." I fell back towards my pillow, closed my eyes. "And it's futile. I know he doesn't feel the same."
Silence. At length, I felt her take a firm, but gentle hold of my wrist, waiting for me to acknowledge and look at her. I did. "Duo is still your best friend, isn't he?"
I nodded hesitantly, dull pain thumping inside my forehead. "But that's all I can reasonably expect, too."
Wan grin. "Since when has love ever had anything to do with reason?"
I tried to think about it, and smiled. "Thanks..."
Her grip tightened. "It's too soon to give up, Heero. People change, but not over night - and it's not like he's rejected you completely, is it?"
Snort. "He doesn't dare. He thinks that if he really rejects me, that would push me back over the edge." I glanced at the nightstand, reached for the glass of orange juice.
She watched me take a few gulps. "I think both of us should be careful in claiming we know what goes on in Duo's head. You should just... bide your time. He'll come around, one way or another."
Half a smirk, glass away. "Back during the war," I started, "That's pretty much all we did - wait for chances to strike, for that brief window of opportunity when the enemy faltered, showed a weakness. That split second the other mobile suit would be in your crosshairs." I looked her dead in the eye. "That's what I'm doing, I suppose - sniping at Duo's heart. I'm not comfortable with the thought of exploiting Duo's weaknesses - but I will, if I get the chance."
Sadness surfaced on her face. "The outcome justifies the means, huh?"
I looked away, nodded slowly. "It's him or me, Hilde. Eventually, one of us will break - If he does, I'll do everything I can to make it worthwhile for him. But if I do..." I shrugged, dropped back to my pillow. "It doesn't matter."
The grip on my wrist tightened even more. I winced. "You're stronger than that, Heero."
The thunder against my inner ear was really becoming a bother. "Am I? Did Duo ever tell you about when he found me? About when-"
"That's exactly why I know you're stronger than that," she cut in. "Heero, you've been here for almost a month. You managed to quit, cold turkey. Not many can do that."
Including me, I sullenly thought. Just because my two near lapses had gone without witnesses, didn't mean they hadn't happen. I had resisted then, but for how long could I keep on doing that?
She loosened her grip as I didn't answer. Another loud curse came through the slightly ajar window, drawing our attention. She sighed. "I'd better go back out and help him - You stay here and get well, okay?"
Faint smile. "I'll have Duo look in on you soon."
I stared at her back as she slipped out the door before I could reply.
I hoped the headache would fade away soon.