A Moment Aside
Duo stood when his name was called, his form filled out as all the others had been previously. He grinned at the volunteer, joked about vampires awaiting and made his way to the collections bus. An every six to eight week stint, he took the hour or so required; over the years, it’d become expected, and he couldn’t let anyone down.
Sitting through the mini-exam, the iron test, and the questionaire, didn’t bother him any more - it’d become routine. The nurse handed him the decision stickers, left him for the minute it took to apply them and returned only to led him to his couch. He tossed off another joke about taking a nap, as he settled back on the vinyl covered padding. His nurse’s eyes were a light green, she kept looking at his face and back to her work. His arm lay loosely clutched between her elbow and body as she thumped his vein, making it stand out even more rigid.
A short sharp prick, and the blood flowed. Her remark about being a perfect stick washed over him. He watched as the red fluid coursed through the line, and though he couldn’t see his, he knew the bag collecting the plasma was hooked just below his arm. His hand rhythmically squeezed and released the small squishy ball he’d been given, his mind blanking out all thought.
His bag filled in twenty minutes, he rose pressing the cotton gauze to the miniature wound. A cookie and a paper cup with orange juice waited for him. He joined his fellow donators, chatting lightly with them, turned down the invitation to become a platelet giver and made the appointment for the next drive. Waving goodbye to the driver, he exited the bus, ripping off the makeshift bandage as he went and tucking it neatly into his pocket. He dug out the sterile pad and creme he’d been told to use and applied it liberally.
The walk home was short; the center holding the drives close enough to walk and saved him the hassle of finding a place to park. Two flights up the five story brownstone to his apartment, and he was home. Not two hours had passed from when he’d left. Inside, Heero waited.
“Miss me?” he grinned, tossing his keys on the little table by the door.
Heero snorted and turned off the television. “You weren’t gone long enough to miss.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Duo leaned over the back of the couch, kissed the top of his head. “You gonna need some help later? I’ll start lunch now, but thought I’d run over to Doc’s and pick up a new ‘script.”
Duo caught the wince as his lover shifted and resettled. “No, I’ll wait until later for a shower. My hip went numb this morning, though. Could use a rub.”
A hand on the man’s shoulder and another in the once thick hair, Duo nodded. “Let’s get you to bed, then. And I’ll get the lotions.” His voice was steady though he screamed on the inside. The litany from days past still clamored from time to time; acceptance in the face of death was hard to swallow.
Slow and careful steps, he guided the once well-developed muscular body of his long-time friend and life-time partner. The rattled breathing was new, but not wholly unexpected. They’d both been warned all too often of what was to come.
His massage seemed to hurt more than relieve and he left it off sooner than normal. Laying close, he pulled Heero into his arms, holding him from behind. “I love you,” he whispered. Words he wished he could have said before, no matter that he’d felt them.
Heero’s hand stroked his arm. “I know.” He drew another rattled breath. “I don’t think I’ll be able to handle lunch today. A nap might be good.” His hand had found the slick spot from the creme. “You went to donate again, didn’t you?” though not harsh, his tone held censure.
“Ah Heero, it’s safe enough. I always use the right sticker, no one’s going to get my blood.” Duo stirred, but didn’t rise. He couldn’t leave Heero just yet.
“Why?” Heero asked softly, knowing but hoping for a different response.
Duo shrugged slightly. “Appearance? You know how it is, deviation of routine, and talk practically has you gone and buried. The more I do what we’ve always done, the more it keeps the dogs from yapping.”
“They’re going to anyway, and it’s not good for you. Besides, someone can make a mistake. It does happen.”
His arms tightened for a moment. “I know.” His lips brushed over Heero’s temple. “Would a nap give you enough energy, you think?” He let his hand lightly caress his lover’s flesh, offering without expecting.
The chuckle ended in a short bout of coughing. “You like to live dangerously, don’t you?”
“Always,” Duo cracked, resettling Heero against the pillows. His knuckles drew down one cheek, a fingertip grazed lips. “Who wants to live forever?” And he pressed his lips to those he know almost as well as his own. The kiss lasted moments only, but satisfied the need expressed.
Heero’s eyes had closed and Duo pulled the blankets up to his waist, covering bare legs that chilled too often. Heero released a sigh and cracked an eye. “I love you, too, you know. Always have.” His eyes closed again, and Duo knew he’d be asleep in the next minute.
He rested his head on the pillow, still half cradling his lover. Thoughts of running errands, making lunch, fighting the insurance company, and filing yet another claim to the city were pushed aside. For now, there was only this moment and he meant to make it last.