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 Eight
by Shira

Heero was getting nervous, and was exchanging worried glances with Quatre while trying to keep his calm look for Duo' sake. Sophia was calm, but it was obvious that she too was becoming uncomfortable with the direction that the hearing was headed in. Seated with Heero on one side of her and Quatre on the other, she whispered to them what they already knew - that things were not looking good. There was one last wild card yet to play in this game. If the truth were told, it could have the effect of freeing Duo from his colonial custody. But then, how many people here were already lying under oath anyway? Her hopes were dwindling.

Beginning with the Head Nurse, Sophia's interrogation started, asking for recounts of many of the previously discussed incidents relating to Duo's past at the Institution. When she asked the nurse if she was lying, because she was afraid of losing her job in the event that the institution be closed, she was actually able to elicit a response of discomfort from the woman, which the judge did take note of. Score one for Sophia.

She next questioned John who, as predicted, maintained his cool attitude, passing himself off as a great employee and the victim in this case. He made sure to display the bite mark that was still evident in his arm, a souvenir from their last tussle that ended with Duo's bloody nose and his time in the rubber room. Sophia asked him if he were retaliating for the probability that his livelihood were in jeopardy by making attacks on Duo, and he said, naturally, that the violence was all because Duo could not be controlled. When she suggested to him that he was the person who left a bottle of Diazepam accessible in Duo's room for him to overdose with, she caused a small uproar as the two defending lawyers stood, the scrape of their chairs sliding on the floor echoing through the vast, half-empty courtroom. They yelled out their objection, calling her question "unfounded and slanderous." Miraculously though, her question was allowed by the judge, to the displeasure of the other lawyers.

Rubbing his shoulders, Heero tried to relax Duo the best he could. Duo had been nearly silent through the examination and the cross-examination as well, listening contently as his fate was decided. The look of worry on his face saddened Heero greatly, and the resignation in his eyes that he was not going to be released was beginning to take hold. Leaning close to Heero, he whispered "You know Heero...I blame none of this on you. But if we fail today, I'm going to do it, so I don't have to live with them or myself anymore. This time 'I' wont fail." Understanding what Duo's intentions were, Heero pushed the thought out of his mind and tried to pay closer attention to what was going on in front of them.

The last one to be questioned was Dr. Westin. The wild card. His examination by the defending lawyers had gone well for them - they asked the right questions to get the right answers from him. They asked what his reasons were for medicating Duo, and whether he'd ever noticed any life-threatening injuries to the young man, and how it was that the Institution handled patients who were constantly causing trouble. He was asked point blank whether he "thought Duo's emotional difficulties were because of the treatment he was receiving at the facility," to which he had to answer honestly "No." They were shrewd. Lawyers are paid to be shrewd, and here was another example of shrewdness causing distorted views of what was truth and what was 'truth in need of clarification.'

Westin took the stand looking uncomfortable. He knew what was coming, and that this case depended on what he said. Once Sophia started with him it would be only a matter of time before she too asked all "the right questions", and then suddenly there would be another view of exactly what was happening behind the doors of the L2 Institution for the Mentally Disabled. The place that he'd overseen for close to ten years. The place that he'd never been able to clean up, despite his efforts to do just that. The place that narrowly escaped being closed down a year earlier for similar reasons, although no one in that room but him knew it. Readying for the barrage of questions, he decided that it was time to come clean.

After the normal questions about his employment at the Institution, his medical background and his history with Duo over the past three years, Sophia finally got into the nitty-gritty of why they were all there. "Dr. Westin," the attractive Arabic woman began, her stride confident as she paced before him and the judge. "From speaking with Mr. Yuy, he has explained to me that the two of you have met to discuss Mr. Maxwell's 'progress' in his therapy while in your care?

"We have." Westin answered, stone faced.

"Mr. Yuy also has informed me that you explained to him that you are aware of certain behaviors going on at the Institution in which some of the staff members might be displaying acts of aggression or violence against some of the patients?"

This time Westin hesitated. Looking down at his lap, he replied, "I am."

Sophia stopped immediately in front of the Doctor, looking him directly in the eyes. "Dr. Westin, could you please tell me if Duo Maxwell is one of those patients who has received this aggressive and violent treatment from these staff members?"

With the judge looking down at him accusingly from his podium, Westin answered, to the delight of the prosecution, "Yes."

on to part nine

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