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Broken Memories

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Duo Maxwell woke up and groaned. He was tired and hungry and felt like a ton of Gundanium bricks had landed on top of him. His head ached, throbbing in time with his slow, but thankfully steady heartbeat, and it felt fuzzy as though he had a cold. To be honest, his whole freaking body hurt, but his head was the center of his pain at the moment. Images of what had happened before he woke flashed through his mind, and he groaned again as he recalled them.

Man, that mission had NOT gone according to plan. By all rights, he should have died back there when the hanger collapsed. An OZ soldier had discovered one of the many bombs he’d planted around the mobile suit production facility and had accidentally triggered it, setting it off out of Duo’s carefully planned sequence. The Gundam pilot was a demolitions expert—as long as everyone left his shit alone. Because of the soldier’s interference, a bomb closer to the exit had gone off, thus trapping Duo in the hanger while the rest exploded randomly, set off by their counterparts.

The last thing Duo remembered was running desperately in the other direction, hoping and praying that he would make it to an inner exit before the whole building went up in flames. He hadn’t really expected to make it, especially when the ceiling gave way and huge cinderblocks and steel reinforcements had started to rain down from above. Something had hit Duo hard across the shoulder, smashing bones before something else hit the back of his head and he passed out. Yup, by all rights he should be dead. Seeing as he was not, Duo had to wonder what had happened after he fell into unconsciousness. Perhaps he had been seen by another OZ soldier? But really, if the place was collapsing, why would the solider bother to save him? It would have been more in character for him to leave the “curséd Gundam pilot” for dead or shoot him before rushing for an exit.

Duo opened his violet eyes and looked up and was a little startled to see the Perfect Soldier leaning over his bed. Heero Yuy’s face was blurry and with his head all fuzzy, Duo had a hard time focusing on the other boy’s expression. “Hey, buddy, glad to see you made it out alive,” he croaked, voice gravelly with sleep (and probably inhaled dust and smoke). “Status?”

Heero, relieved to see Duo finally awake, blinked at the other boy’s odd statement, wondering at his choice of words to inquire about his condition. He answered anyways, rattling off what he had read on the doctor’s chart. “Concussion and multiple bruises, especially on your left hip. A fractured ankle, but it should be mostly healed by now.” He paused, and his eyes narrowed a little in anger. “You fell off the ladder while trying to fix the roof. I told you to leave it until I had time to help you, but you went out anyways. You must have slipped in the rain, because when I came home I found you on the ground under the ladder.” He took a deep breath, reaching out to squeeze Duo’s left hand tightly; the one that wasn’t attached to the IV by his side. “When I saw you, I thought you were dead. You scared the hell out of me, koi.”

Duo gasped at the name (a shortened version of ‘koibito’, the Japanese word for ‘lover’—he’d heard Heero curse before in Japanese, but never use terms of endearment, especially for him), inhaled spit down his dry throat, and choked. “What did you call me?” he wheezed as Heero quickly offered him a glass of water with a straw. He sucked at the straw frantically as Heero answered, canting his head in confusion at Duo’s question.

“I said ‘koi’. Everyone here at the hospital knows. I had to tell them we were married so they would let me in to see you.”

Duo blinked and looked around, latching on to the words ‘everyone’ and ‘hospital,” immediately forgetting everything else Heero told him. At first, he had assumed he was in some sort of safe house where the five Gundam pilots usually sojourned between missions, but now he could clearly see that he was in a hospital. His room was a sterile white square with pale green furnishings. A heart monitor beeped softly in the background, sounding farther away than it really was thanks to Duo’s hazy hearing. Fear suddenly curled in his stomach.

“What were you thinking, Heero? How could you risk taking me to a hospital?!” Duo whisper-shrieked, keeping his voice down in case they were overheard. “You’ll endanger us all; you know warrants are out for our arrest! I wasn’t hurt that bad—you could have let Trowa take care of me in the safe house.” He tried to get up, ready to escape before OZ came looking for him. It was a wonder they hadn’t been detected yet, especially since he and Heero were the most conspicuous Gundam pilots, having been caught and documented a few times by OZ in the past. His own movements made him dizzy and a little sick, but he fought it away in his desperation to leave.

Heero also experienced a feeling of gut-wrenching fear. “Duo, relax,” he said, reaching out to restrain the other boy before he could pull out any of his IVs, “You’re safe here. It’s—it’s…the war is over,” he stated helplessly, not knowing what else to say. Duo clearly had been dreaming that they were still Gundam pilots during the war when they had met. Back then, it had been necessary for them to avoid hospitals and conventional health care facilities in case they were found there by the enemy. They had been forced to tend each others’ medical needs in the safe houses, using their basic knowledge to help one another. Trowa was usually deferred to on such matters, as he had the most military experience. They all knew what a risk it was—Quatre had nearly died of pneumonia once while his lover, tears in his eyes, had steadfastly refused to take him to a doctor—but it was necessary for the war. Duo had a right to be angry with him if he thought that was what had happened.

What Duo didn’t understand, however, was why in the world Heero would risk blowing their cover to admit him. Heero was the most stoic and focused of all of them, so what on Earth had he been thinking, allowing Duo to be treated in a hospital? Unless… Oh God!! Duo thought, suddenly reaching around behind him to feel for his braid—what if Heero had cut if off so that he wouldn’t be recognized? But, no, his searching hand found a long hank of braided hair, just as he had left it. So, if not that then…? His mind raced, trying to come up with an answer. That’s when he remembered Heero’s earlier reply.

“What do you mean, ‘the war is over’?” he demanded angrily. He surely hadn’t been out that long. If this was some kind of joke to get him to lie still—

Heero reached up to pull his hand back down, seeing the strain in the IV lines. He looked intently into Duo’s violet eyes, trying to gauge his reaction, wondering if his gut had been right, that Duo really did believe he had just been on a mission. “The war is over,” he repeated. “It has been for two years. Duo…it’s After Colony 198.”

Duo froze, stunned. What was Heero saying? If he hadn’t known better, he’d say Heero was joking or something, but Heero never joked. “…What?” Duo whispered, narrowing his eyes in confusion. “But…no. I was…the ceiling…”

“Tell me what you remember,” Heero urged, taking Duo’s hand again. It was a motion he made without thinking about it, being so used to their common touch in the two years since the war.

Duo looked down at their joined hands, feeling more afraid than ever now, upset by Heero’s attentiveness and familiarity. Not that he didn’t care for Heero touching him, but it wasn’t normal and that scared Duo even more than the fact that it seemed more and more likely that he had lost his memory. Shaken, he quickly related all that he remembered of the failed mission, ending at the part when he blacked out after being hit by the falling ceiling debris.

Heero, too, looked eloquently stunned. He swallowed and said carefully, “I remember that mission. I heard the bombs go off before schedule. I ran to the hanger and managed to pull you out of the rubble before the whole ceiling came down. I did take you back to the safe house and Trowa set your arm—you’d broken your collarbone and had a serious concussion. You still have the scar from where the beam hit your shoulder…” Heero reached up to touch it lightly, the jagged line clearly visible where Duo’s loose hospital gown gaped around his throat.

Duo frowned, trying to recall the situation despite the distraction of Heero’s warm fingers still tracing his collarbone. “But, you were on the other side of the base. You were closer to the Gundams than the hanger...” Duo suddenly turned paler than he already was and his head throbbed angrily. “You didn’t try to rescue me, did you? You idiot! You endangered the mission—AND yourself! You should have just left me!”

To his surprise, Heero cracked a bitter smile. “That’s just what you said when you woke up in the safe house.”

Duo glared at him, pushing away his hand from his shoulder. “Yeah? And what did you say then?” he asked severely.

“I told you that you still had the data disk that you downloaded before setting the bombs. I went back for it and rather than search you, I just carried you out and brought you to the rendezvous point where the others were waiting. We put you in Deathscythe and carried you both back to the safe house.”

Duo relaxed a little, seeing that Heero had gone back for the good of the mission rather than for him. “Well, that’s something. I still don’t see why you rescued me rather than just take the disk. I was a liability; you should have just let the ceiling take me.” “I couldn’t be sure that OZ wouldn’t find you and try to get information out of you,” Heero intoned, now sounding more like his normal Perfect Soldier self. He was getting upset and when he did, he usually reverted back to his cold soldier persona as though somehow that would keep him from becoming over-emotional.

“You should have put a bullet in me then! Put me out of my misery!” argued Duo, tears of frustration welling up in his eyes. They had all agreed, all promised that the missions came first and their lives came second. How dare Heero go against all that and save him at the expense of—of everything?!

“Stop, Duo!” Heero shouted, standing fast, hands clenched at his sides. He couldn’t take it anymore. Even the thought of doing such a thing to Duo was unbearable, especially after the fall he’d just had. He had to leave before he upset Duo even more. “Don’t ever say that!” With that, he turned and rushed out of the room, leaving the door to slam behind him.

The braided boy was surprised out of his anger. What the hell had gotten into him? He had never seen Heero get so worked up. Or, at least, not that he remembered…

Duo jumped and reached automatically for his non-existent gun when the door opened again. He relaxed when a blonde head popped in and he caught Quatre’s worried aqua eyes.

“Duo?” he asked quietly. Obviously, he’d been waiting outside and had witnessed Heero’s shouting and sudden departure.

“Hey, Q-man. C’mon in,” Duo said, suddenly tired. He fell back into the pillows and groaned again as his sore head hit the bound feathers.

Quatre came in and sat in Heero’s vacated chair, leaning over to speak to Duo. “I’m glad to see you’re alright, but perhaps you and Heero should save your fights until you’re well enough to run out after him?” the Winner advised jokingly, trying to lighten the mood. His space heart told him that something had just gone terribly wrong between the two and he was trying now to smooth it out.

Duo scoffed. “Why would I want to run after that anal-retentive jerk?” Why indeed? As he said it, Duo had a sudden wild urge to do just that, to run after Heero and somehow make him not angry anymore. The thought disturbed him and he tried to push it away. He became serious again as he added to his Arabian friend, “How could you let him risk the mission, Quatre?”

Quatre gave him the same funny look Heero had given him earlier. “Mission? I didn’t know you were on Preventer’s business; I thought you fell off a ladder.”

Well, that settled it, then. Duo really wasn’t in the year he thought he was. Quatre had never been a very good actor and if Heero had been making some kind of sick joke, Quatre ruined it by his honest expression of puzzlement at Duo’s statement. As it was, Duo was now forced to believe what Heero had told him, no matter how insane it seemed to him. He tried to sound frivolous as he filled Quatre in, but his voice wavered with a hint of the fear that was creeping up from deep in his stomach.

“Uh, I hate to break it to ya, Q-man, but according to Heero, I’ve lost my memory. The last thing I remember is being on a mission in the war in A.C. 195. Heero said it’s A.C. 198.”

Quatre didn’t even have the decency to hide his horrified look. “He-he’s right, Duo. It’s finally a time of peace.” He paused, looking thoughtful. “The doctor did say you’d hit your head pretty hard. Maybe, when you did, your memory reverted back to the last time you’d taken a similar injury?” He gave Duo a concerned look, wondering how the boy could be so flippant about his condition.

“Can it do that?” Duo asked incredulously.

Quatre sighed. “I think it just did,” he pointed out. “It’s the only explanation. I’ll have to ask the doctor about it.” He seemed to pull himself together. “Well, at least we know you’re alright. You’ve been asleep for almost five days. You gave Heero quite a scare.”

Memory flashed at the mention of the other boy’s name and Duo heard Heero’s voice from moments ago echo inside his head again: “I said ‘lover’. Everyone here knows. I had to tell them we were married so they would let me in to see you…” Feeling as though he’d just been doused with a bucket of ice-cold water, Duo looked over at his left hand to see a strangely familiar golden band around his fourth finger. “Quatre…” he whispered, dreading the answer he knew was coming, “Where did I fall off that ladder?”

At that moment, Quatre seemed to reach the same conclusion Duo suddenly had and his aqua eyes widened in shock. He answered brokenly, knowing it had to be said and guessing now why Heero had burst out of the room with tears in his deep blue eyes. “You were at your and Heero’s house, in the yard. Duo…you’ve been married for almost two years…”

Chapter Text

 Shock flooded Duo’s system and for the first time, he was glad of the pain killers in his IV because they blunted the strongest of his emotions. Still, Quatre’s news hit him like a freight train at full speed and his already aching head reeled with the implications of his current situation. The war was over, he had lost two years of his memory, and he was married—to none other than Heero Yuy. Any one of those facts alone was enough to make a normal person pass out with the stress, but with all combined Duo still managed to remain conscious. Shocked beyond belief, but conscious, and then only through sheer force of will.

Quatre remained silent, letting his friend process the bombs he had just dropped. He could see many of the emotions flitting across the braided boy’s face, but more, he could feel them rattle around inside his own stricken heart. His space heart, so long connected to Duo’s, recognized his pain and confusion and twinged in sympathy. Quatre’s hand rose to settle over his breast, feeling his heart contract. He wished there were some way to spare Duo his current anguish, but this time his wounds were something only time and patience could heal. He didn’t know much about memory loss in the case of concussions, but he made a mental note to ask the doctors about the possibility of Duo regaining his memory as soon as he could corner one.

Eventually, Duo seemed to calm a little, his ringed hand loosening its frigid grasp of the bedclothes and his features smoothing out. He let loose a long sigh, relaxing his tired body back into the mattress and pile of pillows behind him, reveling in their softness. The last thing he remembered sleeping on was a damp floor in a run-down utility building, but his body seemed to be used to having more appropriate places to rest. “I don’t remember hospital beds being this comfy,” he remarked, turning his head to look at the Winner.

Quatre grinned, relieved to see that he was back to joking, even if he knew it was a way for the other boy to hide his fear and uneasiness. “Probably because we tended to avoid them. But, for your information, you’re at Heritage Memorial, one of the best hospitals in the area. Heero was adamant that you have a sufficient amount of pillows and the young female nurses were only too happy to comply,” the boy added with a wink.

Duo smiled briefly at the mental image this statement produced, but he was serious again when he asked, “Where am I? That name doesn’t sound familiar.” Last he remembered, he had been in Europe on the Earth, but he vaguely wondered where he and Heero would settle now that they were presumably married. They had both grown up on colonies and Duo knew that’s where he felt comfortable, even if L2 had been a first-class disaster area. Would Heero want to stay in space or move to the Earth that they had both waited so long to see after their many exhaustive years of training?

Quatre bit his lip, clearly not wanting to overload Duo with too much information at once, in case it made his condition worse. After a moment, he decided that denying the stubborn boy information would probably not go too well either. “You’re on Earth, in the North American region. After the war, you said you were tired of space and wanted some fresh air and land. Heero wanted to stay and live on the Earth that he had given nearly his last breath to save—“

Quatre cut himself off as Duo went stark white, realizing that in reminiscing about the end of the war, he had said too much. It was hard to remember that Duo didn’t know how things had turned out or how all but he had thought that Heero had died when he destroyed the last hunk of Libra that had gone hurtling towards the beautiful Earth. The other pilots had watched in horror as they saw Wing Zero breaking apart with the intense heat of the atmosphere as it tried to get far enough beneath the falling space station to hit it with the crumbling beam cannon. Duo had simply held his breath, hearing Heero speak his resolute words over the static of the comm unit: “I will, I will…I will survive!!” He had feared for Heero, certainly, but, as he confided later, there had been no doubt in his mind that Heero would do just as he had said. Heero had never broken a promise or failed a mission, and Duo believed he never would. And he had been right.

“H-his last breath..?” Duo whispered, face reflecting the horror the three other pilots had felt while watching Heero’s sure demise among the flames. His violet eyes were wide with fear, his already pale skin a sickly milk white. What had happened back then? Had something gone wrong? Where had he been when Heero was supposedly on the verge of death?

Quatre hastened to reassure his friend, standing and placing a calming hand on his arm. “Everything’s fine now, Duo. Don’t worry about what happened in the past. Heero’s alive and you’re going to recover, so please just rest.”

“But I need to know—“ Duo started to protest. Surely Quatre didn’t expect him to just lie there and not try to figure out what the Winner had almost told him?

“I promise I’ll tell you whatever you want to know as soon as you’re better,” Quatre cut him off. “Anything. But right now, you need to relax. It’s been five days since you fell and we were beginning to worry that you wouldn’t wake up. Now that you have, you’re out of the dark, but you’re still in critical condition. Don’t make it worse, or Heero will never forgive you.”

Duo sighed and sank back into the pillows again…pillows Heero had specially requested for him. He shook his head, feeling his limp bangs rustle over the gauze around his forehead. He knew that it was no good to press Quatre for more details—the blonde boy was almost as stubborn as he was. Besides, the Winner was right—there was no point in collecting information about the past now. And he was so tired again…

“K, Q-man. You win this time. But when I get out of here, I’m gonna drill you so hard…” he yawned and closed his eyes.

Quatre giggled without thinking at the double entendre. “Better not let Heero hear you say that; he’ll get jealous.”

Duo heard him, but merely smiled before drifting off to sleep again.

45 minutes later (according to the digital clock readout on his heart monitor), Duo awoke again to something cool and soothing touching his forehead. His head still ached dully, a mixture of pain from his concussion and the drugs that attempted to keep it at bay. He had never responded well to pain medication and the sick, drowsy feelings it gave him were nearly worse than the pain would be by itself—or so he was convinced. Opening his eyes, he was greeted by a sight that was quickly becoming familiar: Heero, leaning over him.

The dark-haired boy was sitting up in a chair by his bedside, mopping his brow with a damp cloth. Noticing that Duo was awake, he paused, and then withdrew his hand, taking with it the soothing coolness. Duo sighed at its loss and blinked at the other boy. As much as it had weirded him out the first time he woke to find Heero by his side, sitting vigil like a faithful retriever, Duo also found that having the other pilot close gave him a sense of relief. Heero was strong and solid and his presence made Duo feel at ease, knowing that nothing could hurt him so long as Heero was nearby. Hospitals made him nervous on principle, as well as his being incapacitated, but with his partner around, he didn’t need to worry.

Heero looked at him, an indefinable emotion in his hard blue eyes. He spoke, voice soft and anguished. “I’m sorry I yelled at you, Duo,” he said, not breaking his gaze. “I shouldn’t have gotten upset and I never should have left you.” He sighed, looking deep into his eyes, searching for a response. “Even if you can’t remember anything, do you understand that I just couldn’t bear to hear those words from you?”

Duo glanced down, a little ashamed of himself. He knew what he said had been harsh, and—to Heero as he was now—completely out of context. If they had been together for two years in a time of peace, and put their bad memories of the war (and the sacrifices they might have had to make) behind them, it was no wonder that Heero had gotten upset, hearing those words from him after all they had been though. Looking at it from that perspective, Duo didn’t blame him for yelling. “I get it, Heero. I’m sorry too. I was just…confused. I don’t blame you for leaving when I was shouting at you like that.”

Heero shook his head. “I still should have known better. It won’t happen again.”

Duo smiled at that—he believed him. The adamant tone in his partner’s voice was absolute. Sensing that the ice had been broken between them, Heero reached up again to bathe Duo’s forehead with the cool, damp towel. Duo’s eyes fluttered shut at the amazing feeling, letting it relieve his insistent headache. Heero frowned at the creases in his lover’s forehead, which were clear signs of pain.

“Do you want me to call a nurse to up your drip?” he asked pointedly, telling Duo he wouldn’t fool him if he tried to act brave and ignore the pain when there was an easy way to take care of it “You know I don’t,” Duo replied shortly, eyes still closed, soaking in the towel’s coolness. He heard Heero sigh, probably in annoyance, but since he remained silent after that, Duo assumed he had won that round.

“Don’t go to sleep,” the other boy warned after a moment’s quiet, sensing that Duo was drifting off again. “The doctor wants to check on you and they should be bringing the evening meal around any minute.”

“Mmm, but that feels good,” Duo complained, “And I’m tired.” Behind his eyes, he saw the shadow of Heero moving in to lean ominously over him, and he quickly opened his eyes again. Heero sat back with a satisfied grin, still dabbing his forehead. Duo continued to stare at him as Heero switched the cloth to the other side and moved it to his temple and gradually down to stroke his hot cheek. Duo’s heart monitor slowly began to beep increasingly faster, but they both ignored it as Heero ran the cloth lightly across his face, over his chin and down his neck.

The cloth was abandoned over his throat and Heero’s warm hand alone delved into the dip of his loose hospital gown to trace his collarbone again. A ringing began to grow in Duo’s ears and the monitor beeped ever more loudly as his breathing picked up and his heart pounded in his chest. He suddenly found it difficult to draw in air and his skin tingled where Heero was touching him so softly but with a frightening familiarity…

Duo jumped in surprise when his door abruptly clicked open and a tall male doctor walked in, addressing him loudly.

“So, Duo, how are you feeling this evening…?” he said as he strode up to the bed, nose buried in his chart as he looked over it.

Heero pulled away with calmness but celerity and moved imperceptibly to stop Duo’s good hand from again going for his non-existent gun. “I believe Duo is still experiencing some pain in his head,” Heero said promptly, in answer to the man’s inquiry.

“Not as much as the pain in my ass…” Duo muttered quietly, knowing that Heero could hear him, as close as he still was. He shifted rebelliously away from him, but there wasn’t very far to go and his left hip stung in pain as he bumped it.

“I see,” said the doctor, making a note on his chart. “Would you like me to increase his morphine dose? We’ve tried to limit it, but a little more wouldn’t hurt if he needs it.”

“I don’t,” Duo declared defiantly, tired of having the two of them talk as though he wasn’t capable of answering for himself. “I’m feeling fine. In fact, I’d rather not have any medication at all.” The doctor gave him a kindly look, like he thought Duo obviously didn’t know what he was talking about. “I’m not so sure that would be a good idea right now. You don’t know how much pain you’re really in.”

Duo continued to glare at him, so he changed the subject. “So, Mr. Winner tells me that your memory seems to have reverted back to one of your experiences during the war. Is that all you can remember?”

Duo sighed and told him everything he had Heero and Quatre, leaving out any unnecessary details about what part of the war he remembered.

The doctor took quick, messy notes on his clipboard as he spoke and read over them for a few minutes after Duo had finished speaking. “Well, from what you say, it seems that you have lost all memories of the last two years.”

Duo resisted the strong urge to smack his forehead with his hand and utter a loud ‘DUH’.

Heero saw his shoulder muscles twitch with the arrested action and grinned, guessing what Duo was thinking about the doctor, who went on without having noticed Duo’s reaction.

“Now, this occurrence is actually rather common in patients that have suffered a severe concussion. Most of them begin to get their memories back after a while, when the swelling goes down and they are more comfortable and rested. As I’m sure you’ve been told, you’re out of the woods as far as your injuries are concerned, so right now I would just concentrate on getting sufficient amounts of rest and nourishment.” With that bit of sage advice, the doctor quickly jotted down the readings from Duo’s various monitors and left the room with a cheery wave.

Duo groaned, rolling his eyes. “Man, what a load of crap. I don’t think he had any idea about this memory stuff at all. Whatta ditz.”

Heero, who secretly shared Duo’s opinion of the man, sat up again to remove the cloth that had been left lying over Duo’s throat during his interview. “You can’t really blame him, though. I don’t think the results of the research concerning patients with loss of memory due to concussions have been conclusive. It seems that some people get their memories back right away, some after a while, and…”

He trailed off, and Duo voiced what he was thinking. “And some never get them back. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping for door Number One or Two,” he said, trying to keep things light.

Heero’s reply was cut off by an orderly who came in to deliver Duo’s dinner on a plastic tray. Someone (probably Quatre) had seen to it that there was double of everything, enough so that Heero had something to eat as well, since he was obviously not willing to leave Duo alone again, even long enough to make a run to the cafeteria.

“Well,” said Duo cheerfully as Heero helped to pull the tray table over to rest above his lap, “Let’s see what’s on the menu for tonight. I hope hospital food isn’t as bad as I remember it being.” He hadn’t noticed how hungry he’d been, what with the pain and the drowsiness, but as soon as he saw the food, Duo realized he was famished. He supposed that’s what he got for not eating anything solid in 5 days.

“It looks edible,” Heero commented lightly, but as Duo remembered, the boy had a stomach made of rock, so he couldn’t go by Heero’s judgment alone. He was about to move the tray close to the edge so that Heero could reach it from where he sat on the chair by his bed, but before he could, Heero stood and moved closer. When Duo stiffened in surprise, Heero stopped and looked down at him. “May I sit on the bed with you?” he asked softly after a moment.

Duo blinked, thinking quickly. Normally, he wouldn’t have minded having Heero close—it made sense, after all, if they were going to share the tray, and how many times had they had to be close, even sleep in the same space during the war?—but now that he was beginning to understand how close they were in the present (future?), he couldn’t help but feel apprehensive about Heero’s insistent proximity. He had never initiated such a thing during the war, and this new version of Heero made Duo uneasy. Plus, what with his strange touching earlier and now the prospect of the two of them on the bed together, Duo was trying to come to terms with just what else they might have shared while being married. What kind of intimacies had been exchanged in the dark…on their wedding night…?

Duo gulped and shut down that line of thought completely, not willing yet to deal with it. He nodded at Heero’s request and moved over, resolutely trying not to let Heero know how awkward he felt about it.

Heero carefully eased himself onto the high bed, making sure not to actually touch Duo. He didn’t want to make his lover uncomfortable, but he also didn’t want to encourage his supposed fear of proximity. Heero could only imagine how Duo was feeling now, how strange it must be to go from being friends with someone to being instantly married to them, where by now Duo had to have guessed that at some point they had consummated their relationship. He was loath to upset Duo, but after nearly two years of near constant intimacy, it was hard to remember not to be so familiar—and he didn’t want to stop. Duo had changed him since the war, taught him how to express his feelings and show his love. He had learned—the work of two long, hard, wonderful years—and now he didn’t want to have to revert back to the emotionless way he had acted during the war.

He didn’t even want to think of it, but he couldn’t help wondering what would happen if Duo didn’t regain his memory. Would they have to start all over? Or would Duo feel trapped by his strange new life and want out? Heero knew he wouldn’t stop him if that was the case, for he couldn’t deny Duo anything. But he also wouldn’t deny his own feelings. Duo had taught him that his feelings mattered to him and always tried to consider them when they argued or had to decide something together. He didn’t think Duo as he was now would want him to put aside those feelings either. With a sudden revelation, Heero smiled a little to himself with a new determination. If Duo didn’t regain his memories, then Heero would just have to take his place; this time it would he him teaching Duo to love.

“Well, let’s dig in,” Duo said, his loud voice breaking through Heero’s thoughts.

The former Wing pilot smiled over at his lover and watched as he predictably went right for the dish of cubed green Jell-O topped with whipped cream and began to eat it daintily with his fingers. He, himself, pulled the plate of double chicken-fried steak and gravy-drowned mashed potatoes closer. Without consulting Duo, he peppered his own meal and added salt to both before replacing the cardboard shakers in the corner of the tray. They ate in silence, Heero surreptitiously consuming all the peas (which Duo loathed) and leaving both servings of green beans for his lover, who probably needed them.

Underneath the hospital gown, Duo had lost weight—weight he couldn’t really afford to lose. He had always been slight, but 6 days with only an IV was beginning to tell on him (Heero had insisted on the doctors waiting to put in the feeding tube, knowing that if Duo did wake, he would be extremely upset about it and that was one battle better left unfought). Heero was almost glad that Duo was incapacitated, because he knew that the boy would soon be demanding to be let loose so he could hit the gym and keep up his exercises to stay in shape—something his injuries wouldn’t allow for at least another few weeks.

When they were finished, Heero pushed the tray table away and watched as Duo reclined back into the mountain of pillows he had accumulated. With a look from Duo, Heero lay back with him, long legs still hanging off the side of the bed. Duo smiled over at him, lazy and sated with a stomach full of Jell-O and potatoes. After a moment, he blinked and sat up a little, reaching over Heero’s head. Unable to see what he was doing, Heero held still and waited until Duo pulled his arm back. In his hand was a single flower, plucked from a blue glass vase Heero had left on his bedside table. Duo sniffed it, running the soft yellow petals over the tip of his nose and his lips. “Daffodils,” he said reverently. “Did you bring them?” he asked with a glance at Heero.

The other boy nodded, enjoying having Duo so close. They shared a pillow, and it was comfortable, clearly not outside of Duo’s tolerance of intimacy—although he hadn’t seemed to mind Heero’s wandering hand earlier… “They’re from your garden. They bloomed the day after you fell, after the rain. I’m sorry you didn’t get to see them—you were so excited when the bulbs came up in March…”

One of the first things that Duo had done when they moved into their new home had been to plant a long, square garden that ran around the outside of the house. He had filled it with every daffodil bulb he could find, cleaning three whole lawn stores out of his favorite flower. To Duo, daffodils held a certain sentimental as well as aesthetic value. At a safehouse once in the woods, Duo had shown Heero his love of daffodils, saying that the flower represented to him the new beginnings they could look forward to after the war, just as they always heralded a new spring each year. They were always the first flowers to bloom and Duo wanted some of his own, surrounding and protecting their new post-war home. After all that work, Heero felt sad that his lover hadn’t been there to watch his flowers finally bloom, so he had had Quatre cut the best ones he could find, and bring them in to watch over Duo. Surprisingly, five days later, they still looked as fresh as when they had first been cut.

Chapter Text

Heero watched Duo as he slept, worn out from mental trauma (and from eating two helpings of green Jell-O in the time it took normal humans to eat one). He had always found it endearing how Duo ate like every meal might be his last, savoring each item as if he were afraid that he might never taste it again so he had to commit the taste to memory now. Heero knew it was a lasting facet of his life as a street orphan—the children on L2 had lived like a pack of wild dogs, devouring whatever food they happened to find quickly in case someone larger came around and tried to take it from them. They had scrapped over bits of food like animals and Duo remembered breaking another boy’s finger in a fight over a rotten apple he had gone to great lengths to steal from a street vendor. Even now, though Duo had ample time to eat his meals, he still did so with a surprising celerity.

The former Wing pilot reached up to brush part of his lover’s long bangs away from his forehead, wondering if he was dreaming. When Duo slept now, did he have dreams of the past as though it were his present, or did he perhaps dream of his recent life even if he couldn’t remember it upon waking? Heero wished that there was some way he could infiltrate Duo’s dreams, as they had infiltrated so many OZ bases, and rewire things so that he could bring back his memory, or at least make it so he dreamt of things that had happened since that fateful nearly-failed mission.

Duo moved a little in his sleep as he felt Heero’s fingers touch his skin, his eyebrows twitching cutely. He rolled his head over to the side, closer to Heero, and murmured very distinctly, “I told you not to get the Whirlpool. I wanted the Maytag…”

Heero froze, hand still suspended over his lover’s head. “What, Duo?” he asked softly, heart in his mouth. Two days before Duo had fallen off the roof, they had fought companionably over which new refrigerator to buy, to replace the old one that had come with the house and had finally breathed its last lukewarm breath on the first day of their dual vacation from work. Heero had wanted the Whirlpool because it was more energy-efficient, but Duo had argued for the Maytag, because it had the attached water and ice dispenser, which he had liked. If Duo remembered that now, then maybe he had gotten his memories back after all, or at least retained them within his subconscious.

“Fuck saving the planet—we’ve already done that…I want fresh ice,” Duo told him clearly, wrinkling his nose at the thought of the inferior fridge his partner wanted to buy. Heero leaned over the bed, listening carefully. Duo had developed a tendency to talk in his sleep over the two years that they had lived together; he had never done so on missions, but after the first few nights of sleeping peacefully beside Heero after the war, he had started carrying on one-sided conversations with him while asleep.

If Heero woke, he sometimes answered the other boy or asked questions to amuse himself, but Duo rarely woke up and hardly ever remembered what he had said in the mornings—leading to a few very embarrassing stories from Heero over the breakfast table. Heero had always taken the sleep-talking as a sign of Duo’s comfort with him—that he trusted Heero enough as he slept beside him to be able to revert back to a childhood tick that could have gotten him killed as a Gundam pilot. Even when they went on the occasional Preventers missions together, Duo never spoke until they were at home again in their own bed.

Now though, Heero’s heart was racing at the thought that Duo was recalling something so recent. He was sorely tempted to wake the boy and find out if he truly remembered anything or was just dreaming, but he knew better than to bother him when he was so deeply asleep, especially when he very much needed all the rest he could get. He tried one last time, knowing that Duo was pretty reliable about talking back if asked a direct question.

“Duo, do you remember who I am?” he whispered, speaking above Duo’s exposed ear.

The other boy smiled in his sleep. “You’re the man who won’t let me get my fridge…but I still love you, so shut up and let’s go get something before my chopped Yuy goes bad…”

Heero smiled at the boy’s willful mispronunciation of the food’s name—he’d always called it that whenever he insisted on making it for dinner as a joke about his last name. Heero was also in charge of the family budget and could become something of a tyrant when his lover tried to buy something too extravagant, so Duo’s cursing at him now was nothing out of the ordinary. They weren’t pressed for money by any means, but Heero preferred living simply and planning for all possible contingencies. And he simply liked to deny his lover things sometimes, just to annoy Duo who always ranted at first and forgave him later, usually in mutually entertaining ways.

Well, he decided, sitting back in his chair by Duo’s bedside, even if Duo didn’t remember anything in the morning, at least Heero could be assured that he hadn’t lost his memories completely. If they were there, he would find them.

Duo woke again when the same woman brought him and Heero breakfast the next morning. “Mmm, French toast…” he said happily around a yawn. Heero, who was already up, nodded in thanks to the woman who set the meal on Duo’s tray table and scurried back out the door. Duo stretched as far as his IV would allow (which wasn’t far) and struggled to sit up. Heero automatically jumped up to help him, rearranging the mountain of pillows comfortably.

Duo yawned again, then smacked his mouth distastefully. “Ick, morning breath. I feel so messy. I don’t suppose you’ll let me get up to take a shower or anything? And…speaking of which, why don’t I need to go to the bathroom yet…?” the boy wondered out loud, his mind walking him through his usual morning routine on auto-pilot and his body feeling strange because he wasn’t able to physically carry it out.

Heero sat beside Duo again, this time not asking for permission. He wanted to inquire about Duo’s dreams, but he answered his lover’s questions first as he again pulled the tray table closer and began to stick straws in the foil tops of the plastic juice containers— apple for Duo and orange for him.

“I brought your toothpaste and brush to the hospital, so you can clean your teeth right here. No, I’m not going to let you up until the doctor says it’s ok, and even then it’s debatable. I can give you a sponge bath if you need one. And as for going to the bathroom, you’re wearing a catheter. I’m surprised you had to ask.” He reported everything calmly, but he was already bracing himself for Duo’s blowup. It came without delay.

“A what?! How could you let them do that, you bastard? You know how much I hate those things! Of course I didn’t notice—I’ve been a little too busy worrying about that fucking pain medication and my head and oh, my loss of memories to spare thoughts for other parts of my body!!” he fumed, gathering steam as he went on.

The doctor had come in early before his shift ended and reduced Duo’s drip—clearly without him noticing—, so Duo was much more able to argue today than he had been yesterday. Heero thought he would probably be happy to discover this fact when he stopped to think. He still went on though, his cheeks reddening.

“Ugh, I don’t even want to think about other people touching me like that—at least tell me you didn’t watch…” Heero took a sip of juice, deciding silence was best until Duo finished his rant. He started surreptitiously cutting up Duo’s toast for him into manageable bites and opened the little packet of syrup.

“And don’t think you’re in charge of my recovery. As soon as the doctor says I’m free, I’m out of here and you can just deal with it. I’m not staying in here any longer than I have too—I’d leave now if I wasn’t poked full of fucking needles and tubes.” Duo paused to take a breath and only just then seemed to notice that his French toast had magically split up into perfectly edible squares. Automatically, he poured the opened syrup over them and took a quick bite before continuing (Heero hid his satisfied smile behind the sausage link he was nibbling).

“And, if you try to give me a sponge bath, I’ll break your fucking arm, Yuy. Don’t think I won’t, just because we’re friends. No one gets that close.” He took another bite to indicate that he was finished lecturing and followed it with a sip of the miraculously opened juice.

“Anything you say, Duo,” Heero replied solemnly, not wanting to argue with Duo this early in the morning. He was just happy to see the other boy so lively again after so long watching him lying almost lifeless on the hospital bed. He was clearly feeling better and healing well, even if he didn’t notice it yet himself. It really wouldn’t be long until the doctor signed his release and as much as Heero also wanted to get him out of the hospital and into his own care, he also knew that Duo would be a lot harder to control if he wasn’t hooked up to multiple IVs and monitors, where just the added drip of a sedative would knock him out again. Heero knew from experience that Duo was a danger to himself while healing, always wanting to push himself to become active again before his body was ready, and inevitably making things worse rather than better.

“That’s more like it,” Duo approved, liking Heero’s easy acquiescence. He didn’t remember Heero always being this easy to get along with, but he wasn’t about to complain about it at the moment. Right now he was too busy downing bites of sausage and toast to care.
After breakfast, Heero, as promised, brought Duo his toothbrush and paste along with a cup of rinse water and another to spit it in when he was done. Duo felt much better with clean teeth and with his stomach full again, his mood improved greatly. He still felt dirty after who-knew-how-many days without a shower and whenever he moved he could now feel the catheter firmly embedded deep within his dick, which made him wince, but he could tell he was getting better and that alone was enough to make him cheerful.

Heero had pulled back the thick curtains over his bedside window to reveal a sunny spring day and a view of the cityscape from their 10th floor room in the intensive care unit. Duo was technically supposed to be moved to a lesser priority ward for recovering patients, but as the ICU wasn’t particularly full, the doctor said to just leave him where he was, rather than risking injury in moving him around just yet. Duo was perfectly happy with that plan, as it secured him his window and superior view.

Quatre came in to visit again after breakfast and Heero took the opportunity to use Duo’s bathroom shower to freshen up. Duo shot him a dirty look as he retreated into the tiny room with his bag of toiletries—compliments of Quatre, who had stopped by their house for them—but the Winner easily distracted him with polite conversation.
As he had promised, Quatre filled Duo in on the larger things he had forgotten in the last few years. He started, of course, with the end of the war and the disarmament and went up through the establishment of the Preventers. He told Duo where the other pilots were now and what their other friends were up to. Wufei, Sally, and Lady Une were part of the Preventers, Relena had taken her late foster father’s position as a vice foreign minister, and Noin and Zechs were currently on Mars working on her terraforming project. Hilde had married a former member of the Treize faction and had joined a charity organization that helped rebuild the colonies after the war—especially L2, which had been hit the hardest. Trowa was an executive at Winner Enterprises, specializing in arts and entertainment among the colonies.

The Winner skirted around the issues that were more personal to Duo himself, knowing that it was Heero’s job to fill him in on those types of things. He wouldn’t tell Duo where he worked or lived or what he had been doing in the past two years, but only mentioned vague details that didn’t help much. It annoyed Duo, but he was still too happy about his eminent recovery to get worked up about it yet.

They were deep in conversation about Hilde’s work with the new home for orphaned children on L2 when Heero emerged from the bathroom amid a cloud of steam. Duo’s violet eyes were drawn to the other boy and they widened when he saw that Heero was only wearing a small, hospital-issue towel tied snugly around his slim waist. He trailed off in whatever he was saying to the Winner, watching Heero instead.

The other boy casually walked by the bed on his way to the overnight bag Quatre had brought him and bent to rummage through it for some clean clothes to change into. Quatre caught Duo staring at Heero’s butt and hid a smile behind his hand. Duo may not remember the feelings he had for Heero now or even during the latter part of the war, but the evidence of his attraction was plain on his blushing face.

Duo tried to cover up his obvious lapse in conversation. He crossed his arms as best he could with the IV lines still in and said, blunt as ever, “Geeze, Heero, put some clothes on, will you? This isn’t a swimsuit competition.”

Heero looked up, a variety of garments in his hands. “I know better than to compete with you, Duo,” he stated clearly as he made his way back towards the bathroom. He was feeling rebellious with the pent-up sexual frustration of being denied for over a week, and he couldn’t help snapping back breezily with, “Nothing I put on could ever compare to that little black Speedo you wore for me.” He shut the door quickly before he could see Duo’s reaction, but he could hear it though the thin door.

“What?!” Duo cried in outrage as Quatre instantly tried to shush him. “There is no way I would EVER be caught DEAD wearing a Speedo! That’s just so…so…” he trailed off again, flustered, both by the fact that he apparently had gotten a lot more cavalier in his dress and that Heero was well-acquainted with his personal wardrobe.

“Gay?” Quatre supplied, giggling. “I know I probably shouldn’t share this, but I’ve seen you in it too—when you and Heero came with the rest of us pilots on a vacation last year to the beach resort on the west coast…”

“Aagghhh…” Duo groaned, fading back into the pillows and covering his eyes dramatically with his arm. “Go ahead and shoot me now. Put me out of my misery,” he begged.

“Now,” the Winner said gently, “Don’t let Heero hear you say that. As you know, he’s been very touchy about that sort of thing lately.”

Duo’s outrage immediately dissipated as he remembered Heero’s last reaction to the mention of his death. “I know, Quat,” he said more quietly.

Without thinking, he toyed with the marriage band around his left ring finger—a habit he had built over the years. Noticing a slight roughness on the underside, he lifted his arm from over his face and curiously removed the ring to examine it more closely. Up until now, he’d been trying to ignore its presence, but he felt a sudden urgency to know more about it if he could, hoping maybe the small metal object could provide some answers.

He held it up to the light, going nearly cross-eyed as he tried to decipher the delicate inscription carved around the inside. It read: Heero & Duo June 21, A.C. 196.
“The first day of summer,” Duo said softly, staring at the date and the pair of names before it.

“You wanted it to be outside,” Quatre told him. “So you could—“

“See the Earth,” Duo finished with him, not taking his eyes off of the tiny gold band.

Quatre gasped, his aqua eyes going wide. “Do you remember it, Duo?” he asked, suddenly excited.

Duo shook his head, breaking his contact with the ring, and said glumly, “No. It just seems like something I would say if we really won the war like that. I would want to be outside, like having all of the world witnessing it,” he added, almost too low for Quatre to hear, “I wish I could remember it…”

Heero came back out of the bathroom then and Duo quickly jammed the ring back onto his finger and hid his hand impulsively under the sheets. His husband, looking happy in his fresh clothes as he carried the old ones over to drop beside his bag, didn’t notice. “Thanks again,” he told Quatre, grateful that the other boy had offered to stop by their house for him. Like Duo, he hadn’t showered in a week and was fairly certain that his state of uncleanness wouldn’t help matters in the hospital.

“It’s no problem, Heero,” the Winner assured him warmly. “If you two need anything else, please just ask me. I should probably be going now, but call me if you need something and me or Trowa will get it to you. I’ll try to stop by again tomorrow.”

“How about a couple of syringes and a fake disguise so I can sneak out?” Duo asked plaintively.

“There will be no sneaking,” Heero informed him firmly. Duo stuck his tongue out at the boy from behind his back and Quatre smiled.

“Sorry, Duo, but Heero’s right. The only way you leave is with one of us and a clean bill of health.”

“But that could take another week!” the boy protested.

“Good!” Quatre and Heero said in unison. Duo could clearly see he wasn’t going to win any arguments against the both of them. He huffed in annoyance but held back any additional comments, trying to convince himself that his friends were just looking out for his well-being. Quatre said good-bye and exited the room, leaving Heero and Duo alone again.

As though Quatre’s departure had suddenly left Duo feeling tried, the boy yawned and snuggled back into his pillow mountain. “Mmm, looks like it’s naptime,” he said with his mouth wide open. Heero smiled and went to reclaim his bedside chair. Duo watched as he opened a case and pulled out the ubiquitous laptop that he remembered so well from their various missions.

“In two years, haven’t I cured you of carrying that thing around?” he asked playfully as he wriggled from side to side, trying to find a comfortable spot to sleep in.

Heero laughed as he booted it up. “Not yet. Although you’ll be happy to learn that I don’t usually carry it around—I’m just a little behind on some reports, so I’ll type them while you sleep.”

“Reports of what?” Duo weaseled, still not aware of what exactly their jobs were.

“Later,” Heero said and Duo wanted to protest, but his eyelids drooped and a minute later, he was asleep.

Heero woke him again so they could share a lunch of macaroni and cheese and they watched a Pay-Per-View movie on Heero’s laptop afterwards. The doctor visited again before dinner to check Duo’s progress but left without giving any indication of his possible date of freedom. After dinner, Heero continued to fill out his mysterious reports and Duo contented himself with doing a crossword in the paper—Heero wouldn’t let him read the rest of it.

When he began to yawn again, Heero looked up from his typing. “You should get some sleep, Duo,” he said.

Duo looked at him, still sitting upright in his chair, exhibiting perfect posture. “What about you? You have to sleep sometime too, Mr. Perfect Soldier.”

Heero shrugged. “I’ll sleep here when I’m finished. I’ve slept here every night.”

Duo was momentarily distracted by that announcement. “You mean in that chair? But don’t they kick you out after visiting hours?” he wondered.

Heero grinned. “Not after the first time they tried,” he said proudly.

Duo paled. “Tell me you didn’t pull a gun on some poor orderly!”

“No guns, but I was pretty frantic. Once Quatre informed the staff of what our previous ‘jobs’ were, however, and how ‘unstable’ we could become if antagonized, they were more than happy to let me stay with you.”

Duo groaned, embarrassed but also a little amused as he tried to picture the scene. “I see. Well, you can’t keep sleeping in that chair—you’ll break your back. You can at least go find a couch in the waiting room.”

“Out of the question. I’m not leaving this room until we leave it together.”

Duo heaved a sigh, knowing there was no point in trying to convince Heero otherwise tonight. “Fine…” he grumbled and started scooting over inch-by-inch, as far as his drips would allow.

Thinking that Duo was making a sorry bid for escape, Heero stood quickly. “What are you doing now?” he demanded—he had thought Duo was ready for bed!
“I’m making room for you, baka,” Duo said irritably, as though it should be perfectly obvious. He loved annoying Heero by using random Japanese words. “If you won’t leave, then you’re going to have to sleep in the bed with me. I’m not going to be responsible for you getting shit for sleep in that damn chair.”

Heero blinked, surprised by Duo’s adamant offer. He knew that Duo had reverted back to a time before they had been used to sharing intimacies and he had resigned himself to that, but now here Duo was demanding they sleep in the same bed. It seemed that if Duo initiated the contact, he didn’t seem to be upset over it, whereas any extraneous touching on Heero’s part startled him.

Perhaps, thought Heero, he just saw this as a time like any other mission where they had been forced to sleep together for warmth or lack of space. He had never seemed uncomfortable then, when necessity called for their proximity, and had, of course, touched him at other times in purely friendly ways, like an arm around his shoulders. Heero wished he knew what was going on in his lover’s head, but he was so desperate for anything Duo was willing to give him, that he couldn’t protest now.
“If you insist…” he said, leaning back over to shut down his laptop.

“Just get in, Yuy. I’m not going to tell you again,” Duo said sleepily. Heero couldn’t help but smile as he quickly closed the curtains around the room and removed his shoes. He already wore comfortable sweat pants and a t-shirt, so he didn’t bother changing for bed. After he shut off the light, leaving the small bulb glowing in the outlet by the floor, he approached the bed. As there were wires and tubes on both sides of Duo, he deftly wriggled under the ones on his right and lay beside his lover, pulling the sheets up over the both of them.

Duo, unable to turn on either side comfortably, moved his arm to lie over his belly so Heero could get closer and away from the edge of the small bed. Heero carefully slid his arm under Duo’s neck and the other boy instinctively rolled into him, resting his head on Heero’s shoulder, too sleepy to protest the more-than-friendly gesture. Heero smiled to himself and waited until he was sure Duo was asleep before drifting off himself to the sounds of the drips and beeps of the various pieces of equipment in their room.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Scattered in the Wind

Duo woke again in the early morning, brought from his deep sleep by a coldness attacking his left side. He winced immediately as he also felt just how dirty he was after another night without the benefit of a shower. His skin felt clammy, his hair greasy, and his face filthy. At first, he had spurned Heero’s offer of a sponge bath, and at the time would have rather died than have his partner do that to him in this situation, but now he was seriously considering taking Heero up on it. No matter how embarrassing it would be, anything would be better than feeling so disgusting, especially this early in the morning where all he wanted was to get a few more cozy hours of sleep.

The boy sighed and tried to shift into a more comfortable position, away from the cold that had woken him. He came up short, though, and realized that his right arm was trapped under something, and was asleep. He tried to extricate it with little luck. His other arm was freezing and he could now feel that it was because it was rudely exposed to the frigid air around him.

Turning his head to see what the deal was, he was momentarily shocked to find Heero lying next to him, asleep, breathing so softly it was almost imperceptible. Duo then remembered that he had insisted last night that Heero share his bed rather than sleep again in the stupid hospital chair, but it was still startling waking up next to him.
Even more surprising was the fact that once he got over the initial shock, Duo found that he wasn’t at all upset by the other boy’s proximity. Sure, they had slept close before when the situation called for it, but knowing now that they had probably done this every night should have made things different…only it didn’t at the moment. Duo actually realized that he liked to feel Heero close to him, their sides touching and sharing warmth under the thin hospital-issue sheet. Like the day he had woken up from his concussion-induced coma, he felt safe with Heero nearby and it eased his general fear of hospitals and of being helpless and weak.

As much as he would have liked to just lie there and puzzle out his confused feelings for the boy next to him, Duo had more important things to do. He understood now that it was Heero that had trapped his arm, lying on it in what seemed like oblivious comfort. Duo also noticed that the reason his other side was cold was because the sheet had fallen all over Heero’s side of the bed, tugged to the floor by the irritating force of gravity. Loath to wake Heero when he looked so peaceful, Duo tried to carefully slide his arm out from under him, but the moment he moved, Heero’s dark blue eyes flew open and he looked over at him.

“You’re awake,” he said, instantly knowing that it was too early for his lover to be up yet. “Is something wrong?”

Duo couldn’t help but smile at his concern. “Just the fact that I can’t feel my right arm and my left one is a block of ice. And I smell like a junkyard. Other than that, I’m good.” Heero blinked at him, trying to comprehend Duo’s cryptic remark.

“You’re lying on my arm and half the sheet is on the floor,” Duo pointed out bluntly, still grinning a little. Heero looked cute when he had just woken up, his brown hair more ruffled than ever, eyes warm with sleep.

“Oh, sorry,” Heero said, sitting up so Dup could have his arm back. His movement away from the other boy caused him to cry out though, as the cold air invaded the side that Heero’s body had been protecting. Duo reached up with his numb hand and tried to pull Heero back down beside him.

“Come back. You be my blanket. At least I can have one warm side.” Heero frowned though, only just now feeling how cold it really was away from Duo’s warmth.
“Let me turn the thermostat down first. They must have turned the air up when it got warm out yesterday,” Heero replied. He gently removed Duo’s fingers from his arm and got up, padding over to the little box on the far wall. He turned the dial up a little and was on his way back when he spotted the duffle bag Quatre had brought him the day before. Remembering something he’d seen in there yesterday when looking for fresh clothes after his shower, he went over to it and rummaged around, coming back up with a battered old brown blanket.

“What’s that?” Duo asked as Heero returned to him and got up into the bed. Heero spread the blanket out over their knees, revealing a pattern of yellow, orange, and sepia in the middle that formed a tiger’s head.

“It’s your favorite blanket. I saw yesterday that Quatre brought it from the house—he must have thought it might help you remember.”

Duo reached out to trace of the tiger’s brown stripes, keeping his eyes down. “Nope, sorry. It’s nice though…soft,” he added, trying to make up for his lack of recall.
Heero put his hand over Duo’s comfortingly. “Don’t feel bad. We’re not trying to force you to remember. Quatre said, though, that the doctor thought that we should show you familiar things and maybe something would jog your memory. I don’t expect it to work for just anything, though. It’s just a hunch.”

Duo laughed disparagingly, unconsciously turning his hand up to twine his fingers with Heero’s. “The doctor, who thought the blue on the map was land?” he asked, quoting an old Earth TV show. It was Heero’s turn to look confused, but he got the general idea of Duo’s statement.

“Well, it’s worth a try, anyways. But don’t worry about it now. Try to get some more sleep.” He lay back down and waited until Duo had done the same before he pulled the blanket up over them. Duo didn’t notice, but Heero smiled to see that their hands were still linked together between them.

“By the way,” said Duo, a yawn in his voice, “I might take you up on the sponge bath after all. I feel disgusting.”

Heero chuckled and turned to tuck the other boy’s head under his chin. “Anything, Duo…koi…”

Duo was up before Heero again later in the morning, this time because he could smell the sweet pancake syrup and melted butter wafting down the hall and under his room door. His stomach growled in greeting at the wonderful aroma and he struggled to sit up in anticipation of his breakfast. His stirring again roused Heero, who sat up next to him, looking wide awake in an instant.

“How are you feeling?” he asked. He lifted a hand automatically to Duo’s face, but he hesitated before touching him, remembering that Duo wasn’t used to it anymore. Duo stilled and sucked in a breath rather than flinching away, allowing Heero to complete his motion and touch his cheek gently. Heero, emboldened by Duo’s acceptance, slid his fingers up into the other boy’s chestnut hair, thumb caressing his cheekbone for a moment before letting his hand drop. Duo stared at him dazedly, forgetting to let out his breath until his lungs painfully reminded him.

“Uh…what was the question?” he asked, distracted.

Heero smiled. “I asked how you were feeling.”

“Oh.” Duo thought about that for a minute, taking account of his injuries and mentally checking his body for unusual aches or pains. His head felt a million times better and only hurt a little when he moved it. The bruises he had felt before on his arms and legs weren’t as tender and the large one on his hip was no longer a stabbing pain whenever he breathed. He still felt a little woozy—which he attributed to the pain medication—, but other than that he was almost fully recovered as far as he was concerned. “Great!” he said, finally answering Heero’s question. “Much better than yesterday. I think I’m just about ready to—“

“Have some breakfast,” Heero interjected sternly, not even giving Duo the chance to mention leaving. Duo tried to protest, but at that moment the orderly walked in again with their breakfast tray. Duo’s nose hadn’t lied: there was a plate stacked high with pancakes, liberal containers of syrup, fresh cut fruit, and an assortment of juices and a thermos of hot water for along with little packets of flavored tea and sugar. He eyed it all greedily as the woman set the tray on the table and wheeled it over before exiting again. They ate breakfast silently, Duo devouring his share of pancakes with a single-minded tenacity and Heero calmly sipping his tea and letting Duo have what he wanted, taking occasional bites of the honeydew melon, which he knew his lover hated.

After their leftovers had been cleared away when the nurse returned, Heero decided to broach the subject of giving Duo a bath. He remembered the boy saying something about it earlier that morning, but he wanted to be sure Duo had been serious and not just being his usual frivolous self. Of course, Heero was hoping his answer was ‘yes’, because it would give him a chance to look over Duo’s injuries without having to hold the other boy down and force him to submit. Heero trusted the doctors, really, but he wanted to see for himself how well Duo was progressing towards wellness.

Also, if he was being honest with himself, he also just wanted to see Duo naked. He missed his husband greatly and wanted to at least be able to look at him and touch him closely. They had been so happy to finally have a few weeks to actually be together without work and tiredness taking up their time alone and both had been planning to spend much of their vacation in bed, making up for lost time. Now that things were different, Heero knew he would have to give up on that scenario, but giving Duo a sponge bath was the perfect excuse to at least gain a little of it back.

He waited until Duo was relaxed again, lounging back against his pillows and patting his full stomach contentedly. He then turned and looked down at his lover. “Duo? Would you still like me to give you a bath? You’re not able to shower yet, but at least you can be clean. Quatre brought your shampoo from home, so I could wash your hair too, if you want...”

To his surprise, Duo stretched and looked up at him gratefully. “Yeah, that would be amazing. I can’t tell you how gross I feel right now.”

Heero frowned, a little puzzled at how much Duo’s attitude towards him had changed. The Wing pilot seemed to remember that yesterday, when he had offered the same thing, Duo had told him he’d break his arm before he let Heero give him a sponge bath. Perhaps he had just still been mad about his situation?

Duo noticed his partner’s confusion and what he had said the day before came back to him sharply, making him wince. “Uh, yeah, sorry about the threat. I was just upset. I would be really grateful if you’d give me a bath.” He blushed a little. “That is, if you don’t mind…You know I’d do it myself if I—“

“I don’t mind,” Heero cut in smoothly, “I told you I’d do anything—but let you leave before you’re ready,” he added cannily, not wanting to give Duo an out. Duo rolled his eyes at him, but kept any comments to himself. Heero got up then, telling Duo he was going to step outside and find a nurse to bring him a tub for water and some washcloths, as well as materials to redress Duo’s few bandaged injuries. Normally, it was the orderly’s job to bathe patients and such, but after Heero’s first scene in the hospital, they had been happy to leave everything up to the pretty boy’s stoic husband. After a few minutes, Heero attracted another young nurse, who promised he’d bring Heero what he needed shortly.

In the meantime, Heero turned the thermostat up again so Duo wouldn’t get cold when he was wet, and went about preparing him for his bath. First, he folded up their blanket and set it back in his gym bag and then gathered up the sheet that had been on the floor and set it by the door for the nurses to take to the laundry later. Duo lay on the bed then, almost totally exposed in just his cloth gown that reached to the tops of his knees. Heero got a long towel from the bathroom and with much careful shifting and moving, got most of it under Duo in case the bed got wet. He waited until the nurse brought him the other things before he filled a tub and a smaller basin with warm water and returned to help Duo out of his gown.

It was of the design that tied on the sides of a patient’s body, so it was easy to take off without worrying about any IVs or other cords. Heero sat beside Duo where he lay on the bed, propped up on his mountain of pillows. “Are you ready?” he asked, wanting to make absolutely sure that Duo wasn’t going to change his mind and decide that he wasn’t as comfortable about their situation as he had pretended.

Duo was determined though, both to get clean and to let Heero get close to him. He knew it wasn’t his fault he couldn’t remember their relationship (well, it was because he had stupidly fallen off the ladder…) but he still felt bad every time he saw Heero hesitate before touching him after his first little freakout. He wanted them to get back to being as comfortable around one another as they had been as friends during the war, if not afterward as lovers. And if this was the way to show Heero that he wasn’t afraid of him, then Duo would just have to grin and bear it.

“Yup. All green,” he reported with his usual joviality. Heero nodded and reached out to slowly untie the strings that held his gown on. They were both fully aware that Duo was naked underneath, but in order to be clean, Duo was willing to sacrifice a little of his dignity—besides, he had every suspicion that Heero had probably been closer to his dick than even that at some point… He swallowed as he felt Heero pull the gown away from his body, letting the front fall to pool in his lap to leave him his modesty for at least a little while longer.

Heero tried not to stare, but couldn’t help sneaking a peek at his husband before he pulled the tray table over with the warm water. He added a little body wash to it and swirled it around with his fingers, making sure the water had cooled enough to be comfortable. When he was satisfied that it was warm and all the soap had dissolved, he dunked a washcloth and wrung it all the way out before turning back to Duo. He carefully pushed his braid over his right shoulder so it wasn’t in the way, and brought the cloth up to Duo’s face. The other boy scrunched up his face cutely like a toddler getting a bath, but submitted silently to Heero’s gentle cleaning. He couldn’t really complain—Heero’s ministrations felt too good for him to argue with and he was getting clean.

Heero began a pattern of using the soapy cloth on Duo and then rinsing him with fresh water from the basin with a different washcloth. He washed his lover’s face and neck gently but efficiently, and moved on slowly to his chest, scrubbing it thoroughly before rinsing the cloth and moving on to Duo’s back, repeating his earlier pattern.
Heero could feel his lover tense as he brought the cloth down lower to wash his flat belly and sides, running it over smooth skin and a few faded scars. He glanced up to make sure Duo was still doing ok and he saw that Duo was staring down at him, violet eyes intense as he watched Heero’s progress. His thin fingers were laced into the folds of the towel under him, clutching it tightly although he didn’t look like he realized what he was doing. Heero wondered if this was perhaps too much for the other boy at the moment and he paused, thinking that maybe he should stop rather than have Duo get upset if he went any further right now.

Duo saw Heero look up at him and felt him stop with his hand on his belly, the cloth keeping him from feeling Heero’s skin on his. He let out a long breath, one he had not even known he was holding, and his stomach clenched under Heero’s hand. Duo then noticed that his hands were gripping the towel and he let go, stretching out his fingers so they lay flat on the bed. So many feelings and emotions were crowding his head that he wasn’t sure exactly how to take this new situation.

On the one hand, Heero’s ministrations felt good on a purely physical level. Duo liked being clean and Heero was touching him so gently and carefully that he couldn’t help beginning to like what he was feeling. On the other hand, it was strange and unsettling to have Heero so close to his naked body. He enjoyed being pampered by him, but the knowledge that this was Heero touching him, his one-time war buddy and now apparently his husband unsettled him more than he liked to admit. It was hard to reconcile his uncertainly with the pleasurable feeling of Heero’s hand on him, but he found himself wondering why he was trying to hard to do so. Sure, the situation was strange and unusual, but if it felt so good, why couldn’t he just give in and let himself enjoy something for once? He didn’t really have a good answer for that, except that he kept thinking in the back of his mind that he should fight it, that he had more important things to do than let Heero give him a sponge bath. But do I..? he asked himself.

Duo noticed that Heero had ceased moving and he took another breath, gathering his thoughts. He was reluctant to give in to defeat and admit that he liked what Heero was doing to him, but he was too tired and it felt too good for him to really get himself worked up over it. Perhaps later when he had time to fully reflect on all his feelings and what his “new” life held in store, he could get more upset, but right now he decided to just let things go on as they happened.

“Still green, Heero,” he said, letting the other boy know that it was all right for him to continue his bath.

“Mission Accepted,” Heero intoned, giving him a short nod. He could tell that Duo was still unsettled, but his heart swelled with pride at how bravely his lover was handling everything that had happened to him in the last few days. He knew this all must be so strange for Duo, who liked to be in control of everything and know where all his exits were, but he seemed to be doing well, considering. He remembered the first time they had made love together. Duo had been trembling as he was now, breathing deeply to keep himself from giving in to fear. He had never worked well with uncertainty, but they had gotten through it together, their trust in one another going far to allay each other’s fears.

Heero sighed at the distant-seeming memory. He rinsed out the cloth again—which by now had gotten cold—and continued to rinse Duo’s abdomen until there was nowhere to go but down. Trying to act as casual as possible, he reached out and pushed the rest of the gown away from Duo’s thighs, exposing his groin. Duo’s cock lay limply between his legs, long and slim (Duo winced to see the short length of the catheter sticking out from him, attached to a collection bag on the stand beside him, and he wished he had somehow bribed Quatre into getting him a syringe so he could deflate it and take it out on his own).

Heero tried to keep his mouth from watering at the sight. Not that he was obsessed with sex or anything, but his lover was truly beautiful and going without for nearly a week was longer than Heero was used to. Even seeing his lover’s nude body gave his heart a little thrill. Still, he tried to act professional as he slowly moved the cloth down to scrub it through the thick dark curls at the base of Duo’s cock, cleaning him as perfunctorily as he could manage. He heard Duo inhale with a hiss as he moved on to run the cloth down the length of his thighs, neglecting his dick for now. He was pleased at the reaction, hearing a hint a frustration in his lover’s breath. Duo’s brain may not remember having sex with him, but his body certainly did, and seemed to crave it even now.

As he washed Duo’s long, boy-smooth legs, (perhaps with more touching than was strictly necessary) Heero saw with satisfaction that his partner was beginning to get aroused. Duo’s cock responded to his proximity and rose a little despite his trepidation. Heero pretended not to notice, but he couldn’t help cheating a little as he pointedly caressed the backs of Duo’s knees, which he knew were an especially sensitive erogenous zone that rendered his lover almost helpless. Whenever he wanted to get Duo to submit to him—for anything from a new sex position to what to make for dinner—, Heero knew he could always attack the backs of Duo’s knees or the tender space under his arms and he could have the ticklish boy agreeing to whatever he wanted in a matter of seconds. He only used it as a last resort, but right now Heero felt perversely like teasing his lover, as though it was Duo’s fault that he was left sexually unsatisfied.

Duo was surprised to feel a moan escape his lips when Heero started on his thighs, the unconscious sound coming up from deep inside of him. He hated to admit it, but Heero touching him so close to his dick was making him unquestionably aroused. He tried to fight his growing erection, thinking about how he wasn’t gay and that he was feeling decidedly unsexy here in a hospital bed with a tube stuck up his cock, but to no avail.

He very nearly whimpered with Heero’s wandering cloth touched the back of his leg and he tried to jerk it away while at the same time moving it in closer to Heero’s hand. The lack of agreement between his body and his mind frustrated him, but not as much as the fact that Heero was now moving back up his legs and again leaving his dick untouched. His mind was growing hazy again—this time with something much more pleasurable than the drugs—and he had a hard time trying to convince himself to tell Heero off for clearly teasing him in his weakened state. All he could get out, however, was his tormentor’s name, and it came out in more of a groan than the growl he was hoping for. “Heerooo…”

Heero’s own cock hardened as he heard his name moaned in his lover’s low, raspy voice. “Yes, Duo?” he asked casually, not stopping.

Duo narrowed his violet eyes dangerously, but his unspoken threat was rather diminished as he panted, “I think…you’re forgetting… something.”

“Am I?” Heero asked, feigning ignorance. He tried to hide how happy he was that Duo was actually responding somewhat positively to his teasing rather than breaking his arm or some other non-vital body part, but a slow grin crept onto his face despite his efforts.

Duo couldn’t believe how sexy he found Heero’s grin and didn’t even have the strength of will anymore to question why he thought Heero was sexy at all. He was too far lost in his body’s unbidden reactions to care anymore. Fuck it, he thought, giving up on fighting against something he knew he wanted, as impossible as it seemed, Let Heero do it…He obviously wants to. “Yeah, down here,” he said, and with that reached out with his right arm and grabbed Heero’s hand, pushing it forcibly down over his groin.

Heero willingly let Duo move his arm and he let go of the washcloth so he could grope his lover, cupping his cock and balls generously in his warm hand. He watched for Duo’s reaction and saw the other boy tense and his mouth open to let out little panting breaths. His violet eyes closed and his thin eyebrows knit together as he took in the (to his memory) new sensation. Heero squeezed a little and Duo dropped his head, hunching over and bringing his knees up in reaction to the feeling. He again took great handfuls of the towel underneath him and held on in a death grip as Heero began to stroke him slowly.

“Here, Duo?” Heero asked impishly. Over the years, his lover’s devilishly witty personality had rubbed off on him and he had uncovered his own sarcastic, teasing personality that had been long buried beneath the façade of the Perfect Soldier.

“Ugh—yeah! There! Heero!” Duo gasped. He was cringing, his delicate face breaking out into a light sweat as he continued to breathe quickly, reluctantly giving himself over to the pleasurable sensations that his partner was eliciting.

Heero, emboldened by his lover’s response, leaned up over him eagerly, still rubbing his slight erection in perfect time. “Duo?” he said softly, almost pleading. His own arousal was pulsing in his trousers, but he tried to ignore it as he pleasured his lover.

Hearing the careful way Heero said his name, Duo opened his eyes again to see the other boy’s face close to his. “Huh?” he asked unintelligibly, wondering at the tone in his partner’s voice and staggered by his proximity.

“Can I kiss you?” Heero asked, his lips already hovering over Duo’s, their breath mingling between them as they panted. “Please?” he added, not caring if he sounded desperate now. He moved the tiniest bit closer, hopefully.

Duo sucked in a breath, pausing a beat before he whispered ‘Yes’ and stretched up to meet Heero’s waiting lips. Their mouths joined and the braided boy moaned at how amazing it felt. The second Heero’s lips crushed against his, he felt all thoughts of resistance leave him and his body instantly relaxed, sinking back into the pillows as he allowed Heero to kiss him. His skin burned where Heero touched him, from his hand still on his cock, to his bare arm pressed against the length of his chest as he leaned over him.

Heero felt it the moment Duo gave in to him, his soft lips going pliant, and all the tension leaking out of his body in one long breath. The feeling of Duo submitting to him was overwhelmingly arousing, and Heero couldn’t help pressing closer. Duo unconsciously opened his mouth to him, and Heero slid his tongue in, tasting his lover deeply.

Duo couldn’t believe how incredible the sensations Heero was causing were, and he didn’t even consider stopping at his point. He kissed Heero back hungrily, not remembering having any skill at this particular activity, but clearly able to keep up with the other boy as long as he didn’t think too hard about it. They kissed with open mouths, the wet, hot sucking noises making his stomach clench in excitement. Without even forming the thought for the action, his hand wandered up into Heero’s chocolate-brown hair, clutching it possessively, reveling at the feeling of the other boy’s warm skin under his fingertips. When Heero squeezed his sac again, Duo cried out into his mouth and arched up, craving more of the intense feeling. He was so close, he felt his orgasm growing. He didn’t care though; he was too busy kissing his best friend.

The boys’ impromptu make-out session was rudely interrupted a moment later by the sudden droning alarm that announced a Code Blue in Duo’s ward. They broke apart in surprise and jerked back from each other with identical guilty expressions—Duo for giving in and actually kissing Heero and Heero for molesting his invalid, memory-challenged husband. Duo made a grab for the front of his hospital gown and used it to hastily cover his lap and Heero retrieved the washcloth and turned, pretending to wring it out over the basin of cold water. They were both breathing fast and now could hear the insistent beeping of the heart monitor in the background, responding to Duo’s increased cardiac and respiratory activity. Thankfully, most of the nurses were distracted by the Code-ing patient to notice.

After the alarm was reset and the sounds of the ward went back to normal, Heero got up and fetched Duo’s tiger blanket, draping it over his love both for modesty and because he didn’t want the other boy to catch a cold. He quickly retrieved the bandages and sterile dressing to rebind Duo’s injuries, doing so carefully with as little touching as possible.

Heero sat then and cleared his throat before asking delicately if Duo would still like him to wash his hair. Duo replied just as charily that he would and Heero went to get more warm water while Duo distracted himself by turning on the TV and flipping to an old Earth cartoon he recognized (he had promised Quatre that he would refrain from watching the news until Heero could fill him in on more current events, even though he was dying to know what was going on). Heero came back and proceeded to carefully wet and clean Duo’s hair, taking his time to prevent spilling, while Duo watched TV. Duo fell asleep as Heero was slowly combing out his hair to untangle and dry it, lulled into sleep by the gentle, repetitive motions and the relaxed sound of Heero’s breathing.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: Fragile Moments

Heero was still sitting an hour later, combing Duo’s long hair dry as the other boy napped, when a nurse slipped quietly into the room. Heero looked up at her and put down his brush. “Yes?” he asked, wondering if the doctor had sent her for some reason.

“Well,” she said quietly, looking with apprehension at the slumbering patient, “I was told that I could come in and remove his catheter since you would be here to see that he would be taken care of without it, but I don’t think we should wake him just for that.”

Heero smirked, setting the brush aside. “I think it would be far worse not to wake him for that. He’s been wanting it out for a while now.”

The nurse smiled a little too. “I don’t blame him. Well, you can wake him, then, and I’ll get things ready to remove it.”

Heero agreed and the nurse left briefly to gather the necessary supplies. Hoping that he wasn’t about to open a can of worms, he leaned in and spoke softly into Duo’s ear—knowing better than to touch him to try to wake him in case his hair-trigger response had returned as his memories had reverted back to the war. “Duo? Wake up. The nurse is coming to remove your catheter.”

Duo awoke almost instantly, latching onto those promising words even in sleep. He smiled and sat up in anticipation, bouncing gleefully like a child on the eve of his birthday with tons of presents in store for him. Heero rolled his eyes at his lover’s excitement, but dutifully got up and cleaned away the bathing equipment so the nurse would have room to work. Thankfully, removing the thing was much easier than inserting it, although he knew Duo would probably still be giving him grief about it for a long time to come. He didn’t care though, as long as his lover was happy.

The nurse returned a moment later, carrying a sterile-wrapped syringe, some disinfectant, and a container in which to deposit the used equipment. This time, Duo was only too delighted to let Heero lift the blanket and expose him to the nurse. Heero noticed that she didn’t comment on his lover’s current state of undress, but he guessed that she was used to seeing so many naked men, that one more wasn’t something to blink at—even if, in Heero’s opinion, Duo was the handsomest naked man in the hospital.

Duo obligingly spread his legs to give the nurse room to work and she quickly and efficiently used a long Q-tip to spread iodine over the head of his penis before removing the syringe from its plastic-and-paper wrapper. She inserted it into the free end of the catheter and slowly deflated the tiny balloon, carefully making sure that she got all the saline solution before tossing the syringe in the nearby sharps box affixed to the wall. She then told Duo to relax (he winced, knowing what was coming, but tried to do as she said) and firmly gripped the long end of the tube, beginning to pull it out gently.

Duo gritted his teeth at the stinging feeling and his hands clenched in the bedsheets. When he felt Heero’s tentative touch on the back of one of his hands, he automatically flipped it over, twining his fingers with Heero’s and gripping his hand instead of the abused blanket. As the looped tip of the catheter finally cleared his penis, Duo simultaneously let out a long, relieved breath, laying his head back onto his pillows. His chestnut hair, still loose from Heero’s combing, fanned out around his head like a golden-brown halo, hanging over the sides of the bed and brushing the other boy’s knees. Heero grabbed a hank of it before it could touch the floor and brought it back up to set on the bed next to Duo.

The nurse praised Duo for being brave and disposed of the catheter and the hanging collection bag before coming back over with another syringe, plus a small glass bottle of clear liquid. Duo groaned as she explained that she would be giving him a shot of antibiotic in case the catheter might have started an infection. As she measured out a dose and then squirted it into his IV, she also explained (to Duo’s mild consternation) that the doctor had ordered her to leave the IV line in. It was mainly for hydrating and antibiotics and to keep a line open for anything they want to get into his veins fast, so they wouldn’t have to keep starting a new one or poking holes into him.

Duo held back his complaining until she had left the room after briefing Heero on how to help Duo relieve himself using the bottles in the bathroom cabinet. She had also assisted Heero in carrying Duo (and his accompanying medical equipment) to the bathroom so he could relieve himself. It was embarrassing how excited he was to be able to use the toilet on his own. “Ugh, that sucks,” he said to Heero, who was making himself comfortable in his chair once more, “They should just let me go now. I’m as healed as I’m gonna get in here. I wanna go home; wherever that is, I’m sure it’s better than here.”

Heero quietly assured him that it was, distracted as he booted up his laptop to check his messages. Duo leaned over curiously, trying to sneak a look at the screen, but Heero deftly moved it out of his line of sight without looking up. Duo watched as his partner’s eyes roved quickly over something on the screen, noticing how Heero’s brow puckered in a display of increasing annoyance. He finally let out a huffy breath and shut down the computer.

“What’s up?” Duo asked, wanting to be included in whatever Heero was doing. Cabin fever was beginning to set in again as Duo regained his strength and his curiosity about his supposed future life was overwhelming.

Heero glanced over at him, down at his laptop, then back up, looking agitated. “I need to call into the office and fax them some paperwork…the—my manager needs these documents today and I’m supposed to be in a conference that starts in 5 minutes.” He frowned, obviously upset that his work was interfering with his personal life. Duo almost had to laugh at that—two years ago, things had been completely the other way around for Heero who had never let anything personal affect his work performance in his missions. As much as he liked the change, Duo knew that Heero was being a little over-protective and he didn’t see the problem with him leaving to call in and fax his papers.

Duo shrugged and adjusted his blanket to cover his bare chest—he still hadn’t bothered to put his hospital gown back on. “So, go do it, then. I’m pretty sure I won’t relapse in the next half hour. After that, though, I make no promises,” he joked. He hoped his flippant mood would help Heero to see that he was well enough to be left alone long enough for the other boy to run his errands without worrying.

“That’s not funny,” Heero said, but he paused afterwards, clearly trying to access the situation fully before making any concrete decisions.

“Go on, Heero,” Duo goaded. He truly appreciated his partner’s protectiveness, but he also didn’t like feeling that he was keeping Heero contained and stopping him from doing what he needed to do. “I promise not to make any escape attempts while you’re gone. At least not until after lunch.”

Heero sighed and finally smirked a little at his husband’s humor. He was glad that Duo was feeling well enough to joke and in all honesty, he had been right in saying that he was probably healed enough to be released. Still, Heero wasn’t taking any chances and he would wait to hear what the doctor said before making any kind of conversation on the issue of Duo’s escape—er, release. Considering Duo’s improved health, he had no reason other than his own insecurities to neglect his Preventers duties.

Their joint, two-week vacation had only been secured on the promise that they would both keep up-to-date on things and fulfill their duties even if they wouldn’t be coming into the office or going on missions. Of course, now that contract was becoming increasingly difficult to adhere to. Heero’s cell phone had to be turned off in accordance with the hospital rules and Commander Une—who hadn’t been able to contact him on it—had just sent him a rather snippy e-mail that stated in no uncertain terms that if he absolutely couldn’t make it to the HQ, he had to at least conference in via webcam and submit his paperwork that was due at the end of the day. However, to do both required that he leave Duo’s floor and he had a hard time accepting that. But, after considering everything, accept it he did.

He stood upon reaching his decision, gathering up his laptop and briefcase to organize his things. “I’ll be gone 15 minutes—20 minutes tops. I’ll be in the ground floor lobby where cell phones are allowed and there is a fax machine. I’m going to leave you my number and I want you to call it if anything happens or you need anything.” Heero printed his number on a scrap of paper and put it directly into Duo’s hand. “Do not, under any circumstances, leave this room. If I find that you have moved from his bed, so help me Duo Maxwell…” he added, leaving his threat hanging as he growled menacingly.

Duo rolled his eyes. “Not like there’s anywhere for me to go without you,” Duo reminded him. “I’ll be fine. I promise to contact you if I need you, ok?” he said, trying to make this easier for Heero, who was clearly finding it difficult to leave him alone. He reminded Duo of a mother hen, watching defensively over her youngling.

“Ok,” Heero agreed. He snapped his briefcase shut and turned to face Duo. Duo gasped when he saw what Heero held in his hand, arm down straight so it was hidden by the bedrail: a small Glock. Heero clicked on the safety and, without a word, slid it under Duo’s mountain of pillows. As he pulled his hand back, he brushed the back of it across his lover’s cool cheek. “I love you,” he said, and then was gone, swinging silently out the room door.

Duo blinked at his partner’s abrupt departure, still a little surprised about his “gift”. He waited until he was sure Heero was gone before sitting up and reaching for the gun. He slid it out from under his pillow and cradled it in his lap, running his fingertips over it lightly. The gun was black with a flat matte finish—a weapon he was familiar with due to his missions that required absolute stealth. He had painted all his guns with this type of paint, covering up the glossy finish that had the potential of giving him away at night or in dark places.

Curious about the gun’s similarity to his own weapons, Duo automatically popped out the magazine and turned the clip over to inspect the bottom. Sure enough, there was his sign: his initials intertwined with the number 02. He carved the same symbol into all his guns—a little good luck bit of superstition that he had carried around as a soldier; a weapon with someone’s sign couldn’t be used against its owner. Surprisingly, so far the trick had worked, so Duo wasn’t surprised that he was still using it at this day and age. Of course, that begged the question about why he still had at least one gun, but what made him wonder more was why Heero was carrying around one of his guns. Did he have it in case he thought Duo might want it? Was it some strange bit of sentimentality he had developed, carrying around his lover’s gun? Or was it simply that these days they shared weapons? Maybe they had a stash of them at home, and Heero had just picked the one on top? If that was so, did their new jobs require weapons or were they both just paranoid?

Duo sighed and replaced the clip, snapping it back up into the Glock with practiced hands. He supposed idle conjecture would do him no good at the moment. He was just about to reach for his crossword again to try to tackle the “Across” column when a knock at his door had him reaching automatically for his gun. He cocked it without thinking and aimed it carefully at a silhouette showing through the frosted window pane.

Quatre heard the familiar sound of a gun being cocked and quickly spoke to assure Duo of who he was. Duo sighed in relief and replaced the gun under his pillow before telling the Winner he could come in. Quatre did so, making sure the door was firmly closed behind him when he said, “Did Heero give that to you? I told him not to arm you. Obviously, since your memory has reverted back to the time of war, so have your reflexes. Your hair-trigger is just as quick as ever.”

“Give me some credit, Quatre. I didn’t shoot ‘cha did I?” Duo protested, relaxing back onto the bed. “Speaking of the Perfect Soldier, I guess he called you in as reinforcements. You responded pretty quick—he only left a few minutes ago.”

Quatre grinned reluctantly as he took a seat. “He did message me, but I was already on my way here to visit you.”

“I guess that was lucky, or else he probably never would have left me alone to do what he needed to do. But, since you’re here, you may as well stay and keep me company.” Duo proceeded to chat with Quatre about his day, mentioning the over joyous removal of his catheter and the reduction of his meds while conveniently leaving out any allusion to his sponge bath or what came after it.

Heero returned well within the 20 minute parameter had he set and brought with him lunch in the form of food delivered from a local Italian diner that he said was one of Duo’s favorite places. Duo didn’t remember that, but as he bit into his meatball grinder, he decided that it would be from now on, as the food was amazing. Quatre stayed for lunch, but shortly afterwards he excused himself, saying he had an important meeting that evening with some investors. That left Heero and Duo alone again with the rest of the day to occupy themselves.

All throughout lunch, Duo had caught Heero shooting him sidelong glances despite Quatre’s presence. He himself was still a little shaken about their encounter earlier, but thanks to the nurse and his nap, he hadn’t had the time to properly process what had happened. What he had let Heero do to him…

Now it all seemed a little surreal, like he had dreamed it, but even in his nightmares his dreams had never been so vivid, and if he let his mind drift, he could instantly feel Heero’s hands and lips on him again as though it were real in that moment as well as a memory of what had happened before. He was determined not to bring it up, however, until he had had the proper time to process it all—preferably out of Heero’s sight.

Of course, Duo’s silence on the subject was torture to Heero. He knew that his lover had enjoyed their actions in the moment, but afterwards things had been decidedly awkward and he hoped like hell he hadn’t ruined anything between them. Had he pushed Duo too far out of his present comfort zone that now he wanted nothing to do with him, or did he just need time to process it? Heero knew that at the time Duo had been knocked out in that explosion, he had had limited sexual contact with either sex and certainly not with him, so letting Heero almost jerk him off had to have been a huge step forward in his current condition. Heero vacillated between wanting to bring it up and talk about it to letting Duo have his time if he needed it, but the interim was slowly driving him mad.

Not that much had changed. During lunch they had chatted companionably, both with each other as well as with Quatre, and the Winner hadn’t seemed to notice anything amiss in their relationship. But now that he was gone, there was a definite note of tension in the air. As Heero cleared the remains of their lunch and disposed of it, Duo lay on his bed, idly picking at a strip of tape that held the IV needle under his skin. He longed to pull it out, but he knew better than to try with Heero around.

After he had finished cleaning up, Heero returned to his chair and sat down with his hands in his lap. The only sound in the room was the soft incessant beep of the heart monitor and the low whoosh of the air conditioning. Duo finally left the tape alone and started fiddling with his hair, which was still loose from Heero’s brushing earlier. Seeing Duo start to play with his hair and how some of the strands were coming dangerously close to getting tangled in the IV lines, Heero finally decided to break the quiet.

“Would you like me to braid your hair?” he asked. Duo dropped his hands and looked up at him in surprise.

“Um…sure,” he murmured, and then added quickly, “That would be nice.” Heero gave him a friendly, almost relieved smile and stood up, going over to rummage in their toiletry bag for a ponytail elastic. He found one and snapped it over his wrist before returning to Duo’s side. Duo sat up and turned as much as he could so he presented his back to Heero, making it easier for him to get to his hair. Taking the brush from the side table, Heero gently ran it through Duo’s hair a few times, making sure all the tangles were out before he separated it into three long sections. He braided it deftly, having had plenty of practice.

It had taken Duo a while to trust Heero enough to let him touch his hair, even though he loved him. The braid was a symbol of all his lost loved ones and he guarded it protectively, paranoid about it being cut. The first time they had made love, Heero had known better than to ask him to take it down, even though he would have liked to see it loose. It was only after they had slept together long enough to feel comfortable about each other that Heero had asked. His lover had hesitated only a moment before nodding and reaching behind him, handing Heero the end of it to untie. Heero had taken the offer for what it was, a symbolic giving of Duo’s trust as well as love to him, and he had treasured that night almost as much as their first time together.

“You’re good at that,” Duo commented. Despite his reticence, he couldn’t deny that he liked the feel of Heero running his fingers through his hair, tugging it lightly as he plaited it. Duo had his eyes closed and he realized that out of context, the feeling of Heero behind him, playing with his hair, was almost…erotic.

As soon as he thought that, something popped into his head. Whether it was a random vision or a latent memory, he wasn’t sure, but the pressure on the roots of his hair brought about a string of feelings and sensations that left him reeling when they finished. He could suddenly feel a warm body close behind him, a flat, bare chest pressed up against his equally naked back, slick with what he assumed was sweat. His hair was everywhere, flowing as he moved to an unknown rhythm, rocked forward and back by the person behind him. Long arms were around him, anchoring him to the other body firmly but gently and his own arms were thrust back, gripping hard flesh behind him to keep himself steady as they moved together. His throat contracted, something about to be said on the tip of his tongue, but at that moment Heero snapped the band loudly around the end of his braid and shattered the vision behind his eyes.

Duo gasped and his violet eyes flew open in shock. His daydream had been so vivid that he could only assume it was a memory dredged up from somewhere in the past two years. He started to turn in order to share his vision with Heero, but he arrested his own movement almost as soon as he made it, thinking quickly. He didn’t know much about it, but he was almost certain that in his dream, he had been having sex with someone. What else could account for the apparent nudity and fluidity of motion with another person locked around him?

As much as he wanted to let his partner know that he may have just come close to a medical breakthrough, he didn’t want to have to tell Heero what he thought he had remembered. Besides the fact that it was exceedingly embarrassing to have had that type of vision with Heero so close while braiding his hair, what was even worse was what he had been doing in the dream itself—and most importantly of all, with whom. Despite his reluctance to think about their relationship, Duo would have liked to assume that it had been Heero behind him in the vision as well, but what if it hadn’t been? What if he had turned into some kind of slut? If he would have sex with Heero now, who else might he have slept with in the past two years?

Heero noticed Duo’s sudden motion and wondered for a moment if he had somehow hurt himself. “Is something wrong?” he asked worriedly, putting a careful hand on his lover’s bare shoulder. Duo flinched and gasped a little at the touch and Heero immediately pulled his hand back, his heart stopping in his chest. Duo’s movement had just confirmed his suspicions that their earlier activities had shaken him up too much, and now they were back to square one where he was afraid of any touch from Heero at all. Heero stood up and backed away, returning to his chair on the other side of the bed.

Duo could tell right away that he had hurt Heero and he instantly regretted it. He just hadn’t been expecting the sudden contact so soon after his disturbing vision—he hadn’t even been thinking about his almost-handjob that morning. Wanting to clear up the misunderstanding he knew had just occurred, he twisted around to look at Heero, reaching out to him as far as his IV would allow. “Wait, Heero. I’m sorry! I was just surprised—I was daydreaming and lost track of what was going on…”

Heero gave him a thin smile. “It’s fine Duo. I know I went too far this morning. I’m the one who should be apologizing.” He felt terrible, knowing that he had just undone everything he’d worked for in the past two days. He had hoped that things were getting more normal between them, but clearly his expectations had been too high from the beginning.

Duo let loose a stubborn growl, gripping the bedsheets menacingly—he was not going to let Heero punish himself for something that had clearly been consensual even if he wasn’t sure why he had consented. “Stop it, Heero. I can see right through you, buddy, and I don’t want you beating yourself up. I may not be totally comfortable with how things are going right now, but I asked for it anyway and you were only doing what I wanted. You’re not at fault.”

“What I wanted,” Heero corrected, regret heavy in his voice. His dark blue eyes were tortured and his smile was now completely rueful—he had always harboured a sort of gallows humour that surfaced when he was stressed or excited. “I forced you before you were ready.”

Duo snorted. “I forced you, if you can remember that far back. And, as you may also recall, I was perfectly ‘ready’.” He may not have been able to recall the last two years, but that morning came back to him with perfect clarity. He had practically commanded Heero to touch his dick, taking his friend’s hand and moving it down between his open legs. He said everything was ‘green’ when Heero paused, he had whispered ‘yes’ when Heero asked to kiss him and had responded with equal vigor. There had been no mistaking his part in their actions, even if he hadn’t been entirely sure why he was participating.

Heero didn’t answer but he looked up sharply when Duo started to move towards him, scooting over on the bed. Duo still held out his hand, twitching his fingers at him impatiently. “Come on, get back up here, Yuy. I want to take a nap and since you did such a good job at keeping me warm last night, you can reprise your role as a blanket.” When Heero gave him no response but widened eyes, Duo added with a threatening voice, “Don’t make me tell you twice…”

The other boy finally gave him a small grin and got up again. He didn’t completely believe that Duo was ok with what they had done, but he trusted that his friend wouldn’t lie just to keep him from feeling bad. Maybe he had just misunderstood Duo’s reaction—he did have a tendency to blow things out of proportion when he expected them to go wrong.

He moved back over to sit beside Duo on the bed. Duo was about to lean over against him, but Heero stopped him with a gentle touch on his arm. The other boy looked at him in confusion, but Heero was already moving, bracing his hands on Duo’s hips and holding him in place as he maneuvered himself behind Duo, with one leg on either side, warm chest flush up against his lover’s naked back. He pulled the sheet up over the both of them, trapping the dual heat of their bodies beneath it.

Duo tensed in surprise at their new position, but when Heero put his arms carefully around him and lay back a little, Duo forced his body to relax and let himself fall against the boy behind him. He was amazed to find that resting his back against Heero was actually quite comfortable and he relished the contact that made him feel warm and secure. He couldn’t deny that whatever else happened between then—whether they really were lovers or just good friends—he would always feel safe and at ease next to Heero. The arms that could bend steel were gentle around him; Heero’s hard, muscled body soft when he was peaceful.

Duo sighed and let his eyes close, focusing on the light rise and fall of Heero’s chest as he breathed. He didn’t even move this time when he felt Heero’s hands start to touch his sides under the sheet, caressing his skin with feathery touches of rough fingers. He drifted off to sleep with Heero gently rubbing his abdomen and didn’t wake again until Heero roused him for dinner.