A Picture is worth a Thousand Words,
But the Memories are Priceless.
Everything hurt. His head, his chest, everything. A pain filled moan escaped as he blinked open heavy eyelids. All he could see was a blurry wall, the same wall he had seen for months or was it years? He didn’t know.
He heard a door open before two pairs of shoes entered his sight. Then a torso entered his sight as someone bent.
“Duo? Can you hear me?”
Duo? Who was Duo?
“He’s out of it Yuy. We need to get him out of here.”
Who was Yuy?
“Duo I’m going to pick you up and carry you out of here.”
“I doubt he understands what you’re saying. According to the report his brain is fried.”
“This is Duo we’re talking about. He’s still in there.”
He felt himself being rolled over and lifted into strong arms. His head rolled back as he stared blankly at the person who hadn’t picked him up.
As he was carried out of the room and out of the building. The two who had found him continued to talk softly with each other, though he couldn’t understand what they were saying. His eyes soon slid closed as the comforting darkness of unconsciousness embraced him.
What was that annoying beeping? An annoyed groan escaped him as he opened his eyes. A white ceiling came into view. He was confused. Where was the graying brick wall of his room?
“He’s awake. Duo you’re in the hospital.”
Who was Duo? Where was he? This wasn’t his room.
“It’s okay Duo. They can’t hurt you anymore.”
His eyes darted to the person speaking. He took in the blond hair and blue eyes and the raised hands.
He flinched as he tried to get away from the hands.
“We’re not going to hurt you Duo. You’re safe.”
“Duo calm down please. If you don’t the nurse will come in and sedate you.”
Sedate? No! He had to get away.
“You’re just making it worse! Move!”
The voices started to morph together as they talked to him. He flinched as they touched him. He saw the nurse come in and prepare the needle. He lashed out causing the voices to grow louder.
The voice was calm. Green eyes entered his sight. Their eyes locked and a name rose to the surface before it disappeared. He felt the pinch of a needle and tried to jerk his arm away only to realize that it was being held still.
“Rest Duo. You’re safe. I promise.”
As the sedative took effect his eyes grew heavy. He felt fingers in his hair as he fell into the darkness and turned his head into it.
They sat anxiously in the private waiting room. It had been hours since Duo had been admitted and there had been little news from the doctors.
“He’ll be okay.” Quatre said, “We found him. He’ll be okay.”
Heero pulled Quatre close and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. Quatre laid his head on Heero’s shoulder and stared at the door.
Heero’s thoughts were on how Duo had looked when they had found him in that cinderblock cell. His hair chopped off to the base of his neck, the left side of his body burned, and a vacant look in his eyes. It had scared him to see Duo like that.
“The report said that his mind was fried.” Wufei said causing Heero to glare at him.
“He’s still there.” Quatre said, “I can feel him. He’s there.”
“It’s been five years.” Wufei pointed out, “There’s no telling what was done to him during that time.”
Five years ago, Duo had been sent on a mission with a fresh out of training agent. It was a simple reconnaissance mission that had turned south when the greenhorn had gotten them caught. When they missed their check in Heero and Wufei had been sent out to investigate only to find the place cleared out and a dead newbie.
They’d had no idea where to start looking for Duo and had hit dead end after dead end, until they’d received an anonymous tip that Duo was being held prisoner in an old pre-colony prison.
A search and rescue mission had immediately been launched and to their relief and happiness they’d found Duo. Though his health left much to be desired.
The door to the waiting room opened and Sally walked in. She gave them a tired smile as they all sat up straighter. She sat down across from them and they waited.
“It’s not as bad as we first thought.” She said after several longs seconds had passed, “The burns are relatively new, we’re starting treatment for them. The scans show several head injuries, we won’t know the damage until he wakes up. From what you told me, I suspect memory loss, possibly the loss of his motor skills. He’s malnourished, dehydrated, and has pneumonia.”
“What else?” Heero asked.
“There are several incorrectly healed broken bones. I had to rebreak and set them.” Sally paused, “I suspect they kept him sedated most of the time, waking him up only when attempting to extract information or to torture him. I don’t know the extent of the mental damage that he has sustained, and we won’t know until he wakes up.”
“Can we see him?” Quatre asked.
“Yes, though he won’t wake up until we take him off the sedatives.” Sally said, “We thought it better to have him out while we deal with his injuries as we’re not sure how he’d react to everything.”
“But he’ll be all right?” Quatre asked.
“With time.” Sally said, “I’ll show you to his room.”
They stood and followed her. Heero squeezed Quatre’s shoulder in comfort before falling back to talk with Trowa.
“Are you okay?” Heero asked.
“My husband might not remember me.” Trowa said quietly, “Of course I’m not fine.”
“He’ll be okay.” Heero tried to reassure him, “This is Duo. He’s strong and stubborn, so very stubborn. He’s never down for long.”
“It’s been five years, Heero.” Trowa said, “We have no idea what kind of mental torture he was under during that time, he could be brainwashed to hate or fear us.”
“I doubt Duo would have let that happen.” Heero said.
“We don’t know anything.” Trowa said, “Stop acting like everything is going to be okay!”
Since Duo’s disappearance Trowa had quick to snap at people in his fear that he had lost his husband.
Heero grabbed Trowa’s arm and pulled him to a stop.
“You’re scared and angry. I get that. But Duo is back.” Heero said.
“We won’t know if he’s back until he wakes up.” Trowa said as he pulled his arm out of Heero’s grasp. He caught up with the rest of their group as they entered a room.
Trowa stopped in the doorway and stared at the person on the bed. He heard Quatre’s gasp and he couldn’t stop his eyes from widening.
Heero and Wufei had told them that Duo’s left side had been burned, but they hadn’t said how bad it was.
Even through the medicine that had been lathered onto the second degree burns, you could see how bad it was. From his neck all the way down to his thigh.
“You didn’t say it was this bad!” Quatre whispered.
“He’d been dressed in clothes, ratty as they had been.” Wufei said, “We didn’t think it was this bad.”
“The burns were treated before.” Sally said, “Poorly treated, most likely his captors didn’t want him to die from an infection.”
Trowa walked to the foot of Duo’s bed and stared at him. Aside from the burn, he could tell that it was Duo on the bed. There was just one thing that was off.
“His hair. It’s been cut.” Trowa said.
“It was like that when we found him.” Heero said.
“He’ll be pissed when he wakes up and finds it like that.” Quatre said, “When will you take him off the sedatives?”
“Within the next few days.” Sally said, “I want to give his burns a chance to heal somewhat. Trowa, as his next of kin, I need you to sign some papers.”
Trowa ignored her as he continued to stare at his husbands still form.
“I’ll sign them.” Heero said following Sally from the room.
Heero returned several minutes later and forced Trowa into a chair before he dropped something into his lap. Trowa looked down at it before looking up at Heero.
“Duo’s chart.” Heero said, “Look through it so you can see that Duo will be fine.”
“Why are you so convinced that he’ll be fine?” Trowa asked catching Quatre and Wufei’s attention.
“Why are you convinced that he won’t be?” Heero asked in return, “I know you two had a fight before he left but what happened during that mission was not your fault!”
Trowa looked away. He had been furious with Duo for leaving on that mission, they had still been on their honeymoon when Une had contacted Duo about the mission. He had agreed to go in. He had apologized to Trowa and had promised to make it up to him, but Trowa had been furious. They hadn’t been scheduled to return for another week, but Duo insisted on going on the mission anyway.
Duo had left right away, leaving Trowa to pack the rest of their things. And by the time he had gotten back, Duo had been missing. He had been furious, furious at himself for letting Duo go, furious at Duo for leaving and for being missing, and furious at Une for calling him in.
And now… now Duo was back but was he back?
The next three days passed slowly in Trowa’s opinion. He watched as Sally took Duo off the sedatives and watched the monitors that were beeping steadily with Duo’s heartbeat.
“Thanks to the medicine and our new technology, his burns are healed, but the discoloration will remain.” Sally said, “I’ve stopped the sedatives, he’ll wake up, but it may take some time.”
Trowa leaned against the wall as the others crowded around Duo’s bed. He wanted Duo to wake up but was he ready to find out if his husband remembered who he was? He didn’t know if he could handle it.
A groan came from the bed and Trowa blinked.
“He’s awake. Duo you’re in the hospital.” Quatre said softly.
Trowa glanced at the clock, two hours had passed.
“It’s okay Duo. They can’t hurt you anymore.” Quatre said.
Even from his position in the back of the room, Trowa could see that Duo was panicking.
“We’re not going to hurt you Duo. You’re safe.” Heero said.
“He’s panicking.” Wufei interjected.
“Duo calm down please. If you don’t the nurse will come in and sedate you.” Quatre said hoping to calm Duo.
“You’re just making it worse! Move!” Wufei pushed Quatre to the side.
A nurse came in ready to tell them to be quiet or to get out when she saw Duo was awake. It didn’t take more than a few seconds for Duo to lash out as he tried to find a way to escape. The hand touching him certainly weren’t helping matters. He knew without a doubt that Duo didn’t recognize them.
“Wait.” Trowa said as he finally moved.
He made his way to the bed as the others stopped fighting and leaned over his husband.
Their eyes locked and for a spilt second, Trowa saw recognition in Duo’s eyes before it was gone. His heart swelled, Duo was in there.
“Rest Duo. You’re safe. I promise.” Trowa said softly as the nurse injected Duo with a sedative.
As the sedative took effect, Duo’s eyes slid closed and Trowa reached up to run his fingers through Duo’s short hair. Heero had been right, Duo would be okay.
“You were right.” Heero said, “He’s not okay.”
“But he will be.” Trowa said, not removing his eyes from Duo’s face, “He’s still in there. It was brief, gone just as fast as it appeared, but I saw recognition in his eyes. For that spilt second, he knew who I was.”
Trowa looked up at them, “He knew who I was.”