DISCLAIMER: (Borrowed in part from Jay, with her permission) The Gundam Universe of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is Sotsu Agency, Sunrise, ANB, and Bandai America, Inc. Characters, places, timeline and other elements of the Gundam Wing series are the property of said organizations, and I do not profess to own them. The original material herein is the author and not considered public domain. Please don't sue or plagiarize. I'm in a perpetually non-prosperous state and all spare change usually goes into coffee or bags of oats.

WARNINGS: Angst, sap, implied yaoi, physical/emotional abuse, suicide attempts, blood.

SUMMARY: Duo winds up in an institution due to severe depression, and Heero helps him face not only his own demons, but also the ones working at the facility who are trying to make his life a living hell.

Part Four
by Shira

When Heero arrived the next day, Sunday, Duo was not in his room. Nurse Laura was back, and with her sympathetic little smile, she offered for Heero to wait in the room for him to return - he was "getting his breakfast", she'd mentioned to him. So, sitting himself down on the foot of the bed to wait, Heero was taken by surprise when Duo was lead into the room by the elbow by none other than 'the thug'. He was bleeding from the right nostril and there were drops of blood on his shirt and smeared on his hands.

Heero bolted off the bed. "What the..?" He jumped to Duo's side and pulled him away from the 'thug's' grasp, making him sit down on the end of the bed. Duo, aware but unresponsive, was wiping the droplets with a handful of coarse industrial grade tissues as if nothing was wrong. It was a part of his everyday life these days, so he was used to it.

"When he don't eat for three days, he has to get tubed. And when he don't stay still, that's what happens." The tall orderly turned and left after that announcement. To Heero, it almost seemed as if the guy enjoyed seeing Duo struggle, because that would be yet another excuse causing some kind of harm to him for "being difficult." Yes, Duo was probably a very difficult patient to deal with - he could be really difficult even before he became "unstable", but that was still no excuse for him to be treated the way that he was. It was apparent that whoever was managing this facility was not in control of his or her staff members if behavior like this went on repeatedly. He didn't even want to think of what kinds of incidents might be going on with some of the less-able patients there.

Heero went to the bed and helped Duo clean the blood off his face. His nose bled for a few minutes more, and the tissues were soaked by the time it slowed and started to crust up in his nostril. Raising his eyes, Duo looked straight into Heero's, and in spite of how silent he was on the outside, there was much emotion evident on the inside. Heated anger. Fear. Pain. The deep sorrow that shone through him transfixed Heero, who had to stare endlessly into the clouded pools that had become the windows to Duo's black tormented soul. Not knowing what to do or say to comfort his sick friend, Heero simply hugged him, his arms wrapped tightly around the shoulders of the stiff young man. Duo fumbled for a minute, awkwardly constrained by the hug, and then let his arms find their way around Heero's waist, where they held tight. He buried his face in Heero's neck and breathed in his scent. Then, for the first time in two years, Duo Maxwell spoke.

"Heero...please help me." It came out as a hoarse, barely audible whisper. That was all he said, and his deadpan composure remained the same.

Heero was holding back tears now. Tears of frustration, tears of sympathy, tears of not knowing what he could do to help poor Duo. He was a very different man than the one Duo knew when he first left, that was for sure. The old Heero would have told Duo to get over it, that as a soldier he shouldn't be so emotional or let things bother him. Squeezing him tighter he whispered "I'm going to get you out of here, Duo. I'm not going to stop until I do. Because whatever this is that's holding you down...I want to help you through it." Although he couldn't see it, Heero knew that Duo was crying, because warm tears were dripping onto his shirt collar and wetting his neck.

Monday morning Heero was at the Institution early, just as regular working hours started. He'd scheduled a consultation with the physician on staff at the facility, Dr. Westin. He was the resident who oversaw the mental needs of the patients there, and prescribed their medications. He was also one of the hospital administrators, so Heero thought it best to talk to him before contacting Quatre again.

Upon his arrival, he was led to a comfortable second-floor office where the Doctor was already waiting for him, the familiar manila folder with Duo's records placed neatly on his desk. There was a white sticker over the old words, and the name Duo Maxwell was now neatly written on the file tab. Standing and offering his hand, the Doctor waved for Heero to have a seat, and they talked. He was a kind-looking man, maybe fifty, and he had an air of honesty about him that was comforting.

The man was actually very nice and seemed genuinely concerned for Duo's well being. Dr. Westin had been caring for Duo since his arrival at the facility, and he agreed that his psychiatric needs were definitely not being met there, but with him being in the custody of the colony, he was basically just another number in a long list of numbers that didn't always get what they needed. The fact that he was in a facility, fed daily, medicated and not harming himself or anyone else was all that was required, and those needs were being met. He did, however, go on to say that he knew Duo's emotional problems were very deeply rooted, and that unless his therapy changed, it was doubtful that he'd improve.

Heero questioned him about that, about getting better help for him, and Westin responded, essentially stating that his own hands were tied. The therapy was there if he wanted to utilize it to his benefit - Duo was refusing to accept the help. One of the main reasons why, he said, explaining his theory about Duo, was because his self-image was so bad that he wanted to die. Then the Doctor really stuck his neck out and alluded to something that confirmed Heero's suspicions.

"He is a bright, capable young man who is very well able to overcome this depression, Mr. Yuy, but before that happens, I think you need to try to place him somewhere else."

Confused, Heero questioned this reply, wondering why the psychiatrist would be discrediting his own abilities this way. "I don't completely understand..."

"What I'm trying to tell you is that the atmosphere here is not conducive for him to heal himself, with my help or anyone else's. He's difficult to handle...," he paused, a serious look on his face. Letting his eyes drop to the desk, Westin continued, wringing his hands on the desk. "If there is anything that you can do to get him removed from here, I think that would be your best bet. I'm very limited on what I can do as far as the people here...the workers. If I start firing people, I don't get replacements, and then the good people here are forced to do too much. Then they quit. If I blow the whistle, they'll close us down. It nearly happened before. There are a lot of good people here who depend on this job, including myself."

"I see." Heero's expression was non-existent. He adjusted himself in the tacky leather chair, it's edges adorned with black metal studs applied all around its seams. They were standard issue for doctor's offices and the like. He always hated those chairs.

"Duo tests the patience of the employees. Some of them can handle it. Some of the others, well..." he trailed off, shaking his head. "Some of the others are just here for a paycheck, and they probably shouldn't be here, I realize. It's just become a lot easier for everyone to keep Duo sedated, and even then he acts up. I'm not condoning what's happening here. And yes, I do see it. I just can't do anything about it. I hope you understand."

Heero was silent for a few seconds. "Actually, Dr. Westin, I am in the process of retaining a lawyer about getting him released from Colonial custody so I can take him out of here." The Doctor nodded sympathetically.

"Any discretion that you could exercise would be appreciated. I'll assist you any way I can if we can keep this quiet."

Standing to leave the room, Heero concluded his conversation with the Doctor. "I do see your dilemma, Dr. Westin, but I have to tell you this right now. My interest, first and foremost, is with Duo. If what I do ultimately causes a bureaucratic mess here for you and this hospital, my apologies ahead of time, but I really can't be concerned with that."

"I understand." Westin answered quietly, watching Heero go. The Japanese man walked confidently out of the office.

"OK Quatre... what do you have for me?" Heero was once again trying to finish his dinner during his videoconference with the other former pilot, but tonight dinner didn't taste good enough to keep his interest. He pushed the plate aside and concentrated on what the blonde was saying.

"Sophia has agreed to help. I called her over the weekend, and she said she'd get right on it, considering the urgency. And because I'm her little brother." Quatre smiled a sheepish little smile.

"Good. Anything else?"

"Well... she's already filed a petition with the L2 Colony to have Duo released from government custody, but since he needs psychiatric care and can't be released on his own accord, she needs to assure them that he will remain in some kind of care. Either that, or be admitted into another facility."

"What do we do about that?" Heero asked. He put his feet up on the desk and leaned back in the chair.

"One other thing too... since he's "unstable", as classified by the colony, he can't be released unless he's in someone's custody."

"What about me?"

"You're not old enough. Neither am I." Quatre explained. "Neither of us is twenty-one yet."

Heero grimaced. "So what do we do?"

"Well, I had an idea, if we find it to be necessary."

"Go on."

"Lets just say that having a big family has its benefits at times." Quatre smiled. "And having lots of business-minded sisters helps too. Anja is willing to act as "custodian" for him for all the legalities, and would be able to see to his therapy as well. She's very good you know. I've always enjoyed talking to her when I've had things on my mind."

Thinking he recalled hearing the name of Quatre's sister before (but then again, there were so many sisters, who knew all the names, except Quatre?), Heero seemed pleased with that plan. 'Can she do that? Gain legal custody of a patient?"

Quatre's expression waned a little. "Well... it will take some doing, but Sophia thinks that under the circumstances, it can be done. It's going to take a while though - a few weeks at the least, maybe even a month or two of red tape, and there will probably be investigations and what have you. She said that, since we will be asking them to bend the rules, they are going to want a good reason why they should allow it. If we use Duo's mistreatment as that reason, well...they're going to need to see for themselves. Or at least be fairly well convinced. It could get a little ugly before it's over."

"Hn." Heero responded. "So in other words, people are probably going to find out about all of this. People meaning, the employees and administrators."

"I would think. Why?"

"I'm going to have to have a talk with Duo about this."

on to part five

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