Disclaimers:  I don’t own anything.

Author’s notes: I Don’t really know what to say.  Um . . . Takes place the morning after Duo and Heero shared Heero’s bed.  
Directly after the last part.



Painful Memories
Part 9



Duo opened his eyes, wondering where he was.  This wasn’t his room, he thought.  Then he saw Heero, his arms still draped
around Duo, holding him gently.  Everything came flooding back to him, waking up last night to find Heero standing in his room,
then following Heero back to his own room, only to find Heero crying.

Duo carefully writhed out of Heero’s arms, leaving behind the warmth of Heero’s body for the coldness of the room.  His body
ached terribly since the painkillers had worn off.  He glanced back at Heero and saw that he still slept peacefully, his arms laying
on the bed in front of his great body.  It was so tempting a sight, Heero’s arms seeming to be beckoning him back, making Duo
want to just crawl back into that bed and feel the warmth of Heero’s body against his own once again.  

But he knew he couldn’t.  He had to leave, had to get out before Heero woke up.  Duo wouldn’t be able to stand it if he was
faced with Heero’s beautiful face, knowing that Heero didn’t love him.  He couldn’t bear to look into those eyes and not see love
reflected in them.

He turned away and took a step toward the door.  He nearly fell, as a sharp pain surged through his body.  He clutched his
stomach, as he clenched his teeth, not wanting to awaken the other pilot.  Heero obviously needed the sleep, he had been so
exhausted last night.  So exhausted that he had said something he hadn’t meant.

It was hard to keep from making a sound as his ribs throbbed in pain, but somehow he succeeded in keeping his cries in.  After
a moment, Duo took another step toward the door, but was stopped as a hand grasped his arm.  He closed his eyes, knowing
that Heero was awake, standing beside him.

Duo had to force away the terror that crept into his mind.  He couldn’t let the fear take over.  Duo knew Heero wouldn’t hurt
him, knew that for sure after last night, after how kind Heero had been, letting him stay in his arms all night.

He turned, although he couldn’t get his eyes to look into Heero’s.  He couldn’t bear to see their beauty and know that he didn’t
love him.

“I meant what I said last night.”  Heero said.

At that, Duo did look up into those captivating eyes, hope seeping into his heart once again.  But still the fear lingered.  “What?”  
He asked, holding his breath without knowing he was doing it.

Heero paused.  “I love you, Duo.  I was just too scared to tell you before.”

Duo nearly fell over, hearing that coming from Heero’s lips.  He never thought he would ever hear those words.  But his worry
remained, as Heero broke eye contact and turned away.

“I don’t expect you to forgive me Duo.  I know you can’t possibly love me now.  After all, look at all the pain you went through
because of my cowardice?”  Heero said, letting go of Duo’s arm.

Duo just stood there, his eyes welling up with tears.  Heero blamed himself, just like Trowa had told him he did.  Duo didn’t
want that, couldn’t let Heero continue to blame himself.

He threw his arms around Heero, squeezing as tightly as he could.  The pain from his aching ribs was terrible, but he didn't let
go.  No matter how much it hurt his own body, he had to ease Heero’s pain.  “I never stopped loving you.  Not for one
moment.”  Duo whispered, speaking through the veil of pain, his tears falling from his eyes.

To his relief and happiness, Heero slowly returned the hug, gently wrapping his arms around Duo’s trembling body.  He smiled,
a real smile, for the first time in so long.  He couldn’t remember the last time he had really smiled.  But it didn’t matter now.  He
finally had what he had always wanted.  Heero loved him.

When Heero pulled away, Duo became worried again.  He looked up into Heero’s eyes, and saw love in them.  He smiled again
and Heero smiled back, even if it was only the slightest of smirks.  It was still a wonderful sight to him.

Heero hooked a finger under Duo’s chin, tilting his head to one side ever so slightly.  He leaned forward, tenderly pressing his
lips against Duo’s in a gentle kiss.  Duo’s heart leapt, feeling the warmth of Heero’s lips against his, even if it was only for a
short time.

“I won’t rush you, Duo.  I know you’re not ready yet, but I’ll wait for you.”  Heero said as he pulled away from Duo.  “I'll wait
an eternity if I have to.”

Heero once again, wrapped his arms around Duo, holding him against his warm body.  Duo was happy, finally he was happy.  
Maybe now he could let go of the pain, let go of the fear.  But he would need help, and he knew Heero would always be there
for him.  Now he knew, and all doubts of Heero’s feelings were gone from his mind.

Duo pulled away, hearing a strange grumbling sound.  He looked at Heero, lifting an eyebrow.  “How long has it been since you’
ve eaten?”  He asked.

“It doesn’t matter.”  Heero replied.

Duo didn’t like that answer.  “Yes it does matter.  How long?”

Heero sighed, then answered.  “A couple days, I guess.”

“Well then, we’ll just have to get something for you to eat.”  Duo said, grabbing Heero’s hand and pulling him toward the door.

“You want to go downstairs?”  Heero raised an eyebrow, looking at Duo with a confused expression on his face.

“It is a shock, isn’t it?  But I guess it’s time I start doing things again.  Can’t spend the rest of my life in bed, staring at a wall.”

As Duo turned, intending to leave the room, his legs gave out from underneath him.  He would have fallen, but Heero caught him
in his arms.  It hurt, Heero’s arms pressing against his sore body, but he didn’t let himself cry out.  He clenched his teeth shut
against it, even though it hurt so much.

“You okay?”  Heero asked, as he pulled Duo back up, keeping his arms around him.

“I’m fine.”  Duo groaned, trying to keep the pain out of his voice.

“Yeah, right.”  Heero replied.  “Maybe I’ll just help you anyway.”

Duo appreciated the offer, but didn’t let it show on his face.  He let Heero help him, as they went downstairs.  It hurt, just
moving, but he wanted to make sure that Heero ate something.

Duo could hear something from the kitchen, as they walked into the dining room.  It was the sound of metal hitting metal, as a
pot was put on the stove.  Someone was already up, and making breakfast by the sound of it.

As Heero helped Duo over to one of the chairs, Sally walked out of the kitchen.  When she saw Duo and Heero, she dropped the
bowl she had been carrying.  It hit the ground, and broke.

“What are you doing here?”  She asked, her face showing her surprise to see the both of them there.

“I thought I could use some breakfast.”  Duo replied, as he sat.  “And I’m sure Heero could.”

Heero sat beside him.  “I guess I could eat something.”  Heero grumbled.

“What?”  Sally gasped, as she was picking up the broken pieces of the bowl.  “You both actually want to eat?”

Duo nodded.  “Yeah, why not.  So, what’s for breakfast?”

Sally didn’t answer right away, she still looked to be in total shock.  Of course she had good reason to be.  It had been so long
since Duo had even left his bed, let alone his room, and obviously Heero hadn’t been eating properly.

Then, Sally smiled.  “Oatmeal for the both of you.  It’s been so long since either of you have had anything substantial, I don’t
want you starting with something unhealthy.”

Duo grinned, slightly.  He liked oatmeal, although he didn’t know if he’d be able to eat much.  Guess he’d find out soon.


*****


Wufei walked down the hallway, wiping the sleep from his eyes.  It was his turn to watch over Duo.  He didn’t know why he
had to have the earliest shift.  Actually, he did know.  Now that Quatre was ill, he and Trowa had to spilt the shift the blonde
used to take.  So now Wufei had the morning and some of the afternoon, and Trowa had the rest of afternoon and evening.  
They both knew that Heero watched over Duo at night.  Though, neither of them actually saw him either leave or enter Duo’s
room.  

Wufei opened the door and walked into the room, pausing in the doorway to stifle a yawn.  When he looked at the bed, his eyes
widened.  Duo was gone.  Wufei looked around, wondering where the American had gone to.  But he didn’t see any signs of
him.  Just a stuffed bear laying on the bed and nothing else.

He turned and crossed the hall.  He opened Heero’s door and walked in, intending to ask if he knew anything.  The room was a
total mess.  Papers, some crumpled others just tossed, covered the floor.  An overturned chair lay on the floor, and a broken
laptop was against the wall.  But Wufei didn’t see Heero.

What the hell was going on, he wondered.  What had happened here?  Maybe Heero had taken Duo somewhere.  But why?  He
couldn’t even be in the same room with Duo when the American was conscious.  And Duo wouldn’t take Heero anywhere.  He
was still too afraid to get out of bed, the last time Wufei had seen him.  What had Trowa said to Duo yesterday?  Maybe that had
something to do with where Duo and Heero were.

He went back into the hallway.  Wufei started going to Trowa and Quatre’s room, but stopped himself.  Quatre wasn’t in good
health.  He didn’t want to risk making Quatre’s condition worse with his negative emotions.  There was enough of that going
around already.  He didn’t want to contribute to Quatre’s suffering.

Instead, Wufei walked down the stairs.  He should tell Sally that Duo and Heero were gone.  She always woke up before dawn,
and was more than likely to be downstairs in the kitchen making breakfast for the pilots.  Even though she wasn’t a great cook,
she insisted that they each eat something every morning.

Wufei heard sounds coming from the dining room.  He pulled his gun out, and took a deep breath exhaling slowly, thinking that
whoever had taken Heero and Duo might be in there.  He rushed into the room, his gun drawn, aiming at the first person he
saw.  To his surprise it was Sally, holding a pot of oatmeal in her hand and dishing some of it into a bowl in front of Heero.  The
distinct aroma of apples and cinnamon filled his nostrils.

Duo, who had been sitting beside Heero looked up at Wufei.  He cracked a small grin.  “Her cooking isn’t that bad, is it?”  Duo
asked, glancing back at the oatmeal in his own bowl.

Wufei was in total shock.  Had he missed something?  How long had he been asleep?  He hadn’t seen Heero eat anything for
days, and Duo just never left his bed.  When had both of them decided to start eating again?

Even though Wufei struggled against it, he couldn’t help but smile as he lowered his weapon.  “I’ve tasted better.”  Wufei replied.

“Hey!”  Sally retorted.  “I take that personally.”

Wufei ignored her and walked over to the table.  He sat across from Duo, watching as the long-haired pilot picked up the spoon
and poked at his food.  “I hate to admit it, but I am glad to see you up and around once again.”  Wufei said.

Duo looked up at him, apparently shocked.  “Did you just say something nice to me?”  He asked, over dramatically.  “What’s
next, actual compliments?”

“Don’t push your luck, Duo.”  Wufei replied, successfully stopping the grin that had threatened to spread across his face.


*****


Trowa rolled over on the bed, the sheets twisting around his body as he moved.  He wasn’t ready to awaken just yet.  The bed
was just too comfortable, too warm a nest to leave.

His hand slid across the bed, searching out the body of the man he loved.  But he felt nothing but the sheets beneath his hand.  
He snapped his eyes open, feeling suddenly worried about his love.  

Quatre wasn’t there.  Trowa sat up, and looked around the room, his heart racing with fear.  He had never felt so scared in his
life.  Quatre was sick.  Where could he be?

To his relief, Trowa saw Quatre standing in front of one of the windows, gazing out at the scenery.  There was something
different about him, but Trowa couldn’t put his finger on just what it was.

He stood, and walked to Quatre’s side.  He laid his hand on the young blonde’s shoulder.  “Quatre?”  He asked.

Quatre sighed, as he continued to stare out the window.  “Isn’t it beautiful, Trowa?  Isn’t the sky beautiful today?”  He asked.

Trowa glanced out the window, looking up at the cloudless blue sky.  “Yeah, Quatre.  It’s lovely.”

“I haven’t looked at the sky for so long.”  Quatre said.

Trowa’s brow furrowed.  Quatre was acting strange.  “Are you sure you should be out of bed?”  Trowa asked.

Quatre finally turned to him.  And now Trowa could see that his skin had gotten some of its color back.  He looked a little
better.  “I feel much better.”

“But how?”  Trowa gasped, laying his palm against Quatre’s warm cheek.

“Duo is better.  I can feel it.  His pain is not gone, but it has been lessened.  And Heero doesn’t feel as much hate for himself.  It’
s a great relief to me, to feel things have gotten better.”  He answered, laying his own hand against the one Trowa had placed on
his cheek.

Trowa smiled, “You sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine.”  Quatre whispered.

Trowa didn’t know if he truly believed him.  He seemed better, but still, Quatre sounded as if he were out of breath.  He looked
tired.

Quatre smiled.  He looked as if he were about to say something, but before he could utter a sound, he slumped forward.  Trowa
caught him in his arms, holding him upright.

“Maybe you should go back to bed.”  Trowa commented.

“No, I want to go downstairs.”  Quatre replied, trying to pull away from Trowa’s grasp.

“But Quatre . . .”

“No.  I want to go downstairs.” Quatre repeated.  “I can sense happiness coming from down there.  I want to see.”

Trowa gave in, not wanting to deny Quatre anything.  “All right.  But can we get dressed first?  Or at least put on some robes or
something?”

Quatre nodded.  Trowa helped Quatre over to a chair and left him to sit there, while he went to get dressed.  He came back over
to him, carrying a robe in his hand.  There would be no point in getting Quatre completely dressed.  He was only going to be
downstairs for a few minutes, then he would be coming right back up and going back to bed.

Trowa kept his arm wrapped around Quatre as they made their way down the stairs.    As they neared the dining room, Trowa
could hear the sounds of conversation.  And if he wasn’t mistaken, he heard Duo’s voice.

“I hate to admit it, but I am glad to see you up and around once again.”  Trowa heard Wufei say.

“Did you just say something nice to me?”  Duo asked, over dramatically.  “What’s next, actual compliments?”

“Don’t push your luck, Duo.”  Wufei replied.

Trowa walked into the room at that moment, helping Quatre along the way.  “Good morning.”  They both said, almost
synchronized.

“Quatre, should you really be walking around?”  Sally asked, placing the pot of oatmeal on the table and walking over to pull out
a chair for Quatre.

“That’s what I said.  But he wouldn’t listen.”  Trowa replied, as he helped Quatre over to the chair.  He then sat beside him.

“I feel fine.”  Quatre said, sounding out of breath.

“Yes.  I believe we can all see that.”  Wufei said, sarcastically.

Trowa watched as a smile appeared on Quatre face’s.  But, he was still worried, fearing that maybe Quatre shouldn't have come
downstairs.  He still looked so tired.

Sally set bowls in front of Quatre and Trowa, then dished up some oatmeal.  Trowa looked down at it, smelling the apples and
cinnamon.  As he picked up his own spoon, he kept an eye on Quatre, watching as the blonde slowly ate.  Well at least he was
eating, Trowa thought, and that was good.

He glanced down at the other end of the table.  Both Sally and Wufei were eating normally.  And why shouldn’t they?  They
were both perfectly healthy.  But Heero seemed distracted as he ate, watching Duo the entire time.  Trowa looked at Duo,
watching as he slowly lifted the spoon to his mouth, as if it weighed a ton.  Eventually, he stopped eating and began stirring the
remainder of his oatmeal around in its bowl.  It was obvious he was done eating.

Trowa turned his attention back to Quatre.  The young blonde looked completely exhausted, his eyes halfway closed.  He could
just collapse at any moment.  Trowa stood, knowing Quatre had to get back to bed.

The others looked up at him, as he stepped over to Quatre’s chair.  He just picked Quatre up, not caring what they thought.  He
knew Quatre wouldn’t be able to make it up all those stairs.  He was still too weak.

No one said anything as he left the dining room, cradling Quatre’s body in his arms.  He wouldn’t have cared even if they had
said something.  His concern was only for Quatre at the moment.


*****


Duo was done eating.  He couldn’t force any more oatmeal down his throat.  He looked over at Heero.  But it didn’t look as if he
even needed to say anything.

The moment that Duo’s eyes locked on Heero’s, the other pilot stood and walked to Duo’s side, helping him from the chair.  
“Guess you’re done.”  Heero commented.

Duo didn’t reply.  He just let Heero help him up the stairs.  But when Heero reached out to open the door to his room, Duo
stopped him.

“I want to see Quatre.”  Duo said.  

He had to apologize, had to ask Quatre for forgiveness.  When Quatre had walked into the dining room, he had seen how tired he
looked, the paleness of his skin.  He had seen how sick Quatre was, and it was all his fault.  If he hadn’t kept his emotions
bottled up for so long, the Arabian wouldn’t be so sick.

“Why.”  Heero asked, his eyes narrowing in confusion.

“I just have to talk to him.”  He looked over at Heero.  “Please?”

Heero nodded, and wrapped his arm around Duo’s waist for support.  Duo was tired, so tired.  He had only been awake a short
time, but it had been so long since he had done anything.  The slightest amount of exercise exhausted him.  His body ached,
especially his ribs, and he just wanted to lie down.  But he knew he had to apologize now or he would lose his nerve.

Heero knocked on the door to Trowa and Quatre’s room.  Only moments later, Trowa answered, opening the door a crack.  
“What do you want?”

“I need to talk to him.”  Duo replied, finding it hard to breathe.

Trowa didn’t reply.  He just opened the door wider and stepped aside, letting Duo and Heero enter the room.  Duo immediately
walked over to Quatre’s bedside, leaving Heero and Trowa standing near the door.  He sat on the edge of the bed, eliciting a
groan as a fresh wave of pain washed over him.

“Duo, what are you doing here?”  Quatre asked, his tired eyes gazing at Duo with confusion.

“I’m sorry I caused you to get sick.  I guess I shouldn’t have kept everything bottled up.”  Duo replied, averting his gaze.

“No, you were hurting.  You have nothing to be sorry about.  I’m just glad your pain has lessened.”  Quatre said.

Duo turned back to him, and saw the Arabian smile.  He couldn’t help but smile back, although his smirk was tiny when
compared to Quatre’s.

A pair of strong arms wrapped around him, and Duo could feel himself being lifted off the bed.  “You’ve said what you came to
say.  Now you need rest.”  Heero said, carrying Duo over to the door.  Trowa held it open as Heero passed through.

“But I’m not tired.”  Duo lied, although he was completely exhausted.  He didn’t want to go back to sleep.  Those nightmares
would come back, and he didn’t want that.

“Don’t lie.”  Heero replied.   He opened the door to Duo’s room and kicked it shut behind him.  He carried Duo over to the bed
and laid him down.  “Why don’t you want to go to sleep?”

Duo felt embarrassed, and avoided meeting Heero’s gaze.  He unknowingly picked up the stuffed bear that Relena had given to
him, and clutched it tightly against his chest.  “Nightmares.”  He replied in a whisper, as if the very mention of the word would
hurt him.  “I’m afraid they’ll come back when you’re not here.”

“Who said I’m going anywhere?”  Heero replied, climbing into the bed.  He took the bear from Duo and placed it on the bedside
table, then turned back to Duo, opening his arms.

There wasn’t much room, but that was okay.  It only meant that they had to sleep closer together, and Duo didn’t mind that.  
Heero was the only one he wasn’t afraid of, the only one he was sure wouldn’t hurt him.  Even the other pilots scared him,
although he couldn’t really explain why.

Duo wrapped his arms around Heero as he did the same to him.  Maybe the dreams wouldn’t come.  They hadn’t last night
when he had slept in Heero’s arms.  He closed his eyes, hoping that Heero’s presence would chase the nightmares away.


*****


Duo slowly opened his eyes, his arms empty.  A strange, but familiar sound echoed through the room.  He sat up, holding his
arm against his stomach in an attempt to alleviate the pain.  He wondered what it was that he heard and where Heero had gone.

His eyes focused, locking on a form sitting at a desk that was against one of the walls.  Heero was typing on his laptop.  Duo
was confused.  Hadn’t that thing been completely smashed?  He had thought he was free of that incessant typing sound.  But
now it was back.

Duo smiled, remembering all the nights he had lain awake listening to the sounds of Heero typing.  It had constantly annoyed him
that Heero always seemed to be typing when he was trying to sleep.  The clicking of the keys as Heero moved his fingers over
the keyboard always irritated him.  Those nights had usually ended in an argument between the two of them about which was
more important, the missions or sleep.

Duo reached behind him and grabbed one of his pillows.  As hard as he could, he threw it at Heero, successfully stopping him
from typing.  It didn’t hit Heero.  Of course, Duo hadn’t expected that it would.  As it was flying through the air, Heero spun in
his seat and caught it, seemingly without the least bit of effort.  Duo was always amazed that Heero could do something like
that.  

Another smile spread across his face as Heero turned to him, glaring.  “I see you’re feeling better.”  Heero said, his tone never
changing.

“I thought you smashed that thing against a wall.”  Duo said, pointing to the now beat-up laptop that sat on the desk.

“I did.  And then I fixed it.”  Heero replied, as he stood.  

He walked over to Duo’s bed, fluffing the pillow as he crossed the room.  He put the pillow right back on the bed behind Duo,
not saying a word.  Then he turned and walked back to the desk.

“Hey, are you here to keep me company or to keep your laptop company?”  Duo said as he climbed out of bed and crossed the
room to stand behind Heero.

Heero mumbled something in reply, but Duo didn’t hear it.  He had looked over Heero’s shoulder, wondering what the other pilot
found so interesting.  His eyes locked on the name at the top of the screen.  Seeing that name, Carl, filled him with fear again.  
Duo reached over and gently closed the laptop.  

“What?  Duo?”  Heero replied.

“Heero, let it go.”  Duo said.

Heero looked up at him.  “But I can’t just . . .”

Duo interrupted, not needing to hear anymore.  “Heero, please!”  He blurted out.  Then he lowered voice back to normal.  
“Because if you don’t let it go, then I won’t be able to  . . . And I want to let it go, Heero.”

“But he can’t get away with what he did to you.  He has to be punished.”  Heero said as he stood, still arguing.

Duo’s body was shaking again, trembling like a leaf on a windy day.  He couldn’t stop it, couldn’t control the tears that fell from
his eyes.  He just lost control of his body, remembering what Carl had done to his body, to his mind.

“Heero  . . . please  . . . let it go.”  Duo begged, crumbling to his knees.  In an instant Heero was beside him, his arms wrapped
around Duo’s quivering body.  Duo continued to speak, talking as he sobbed onto Heero’s shirt.  “I’m asking you to please let it
go.  You love me  . . . That’s all I need.”

“All right, Duo.  All right.  I'll do whatever you want.  I'll let it go if you want me to.”  Heero replied, not releasing his hold on
Duo as he soothingly stroked his back, his fingers running through his loose hair.  “But only under one condition.”

“What?”  Duo asked, his voice shaky.

“Tell me about your past.  Let me know your secrets.”  Heero whispered quietly into his ear.

Duo pulled away, looking into Heero’s eyes, searching for any sign of deception.  But all he saw was love, compassion.  
“Heero?”  He gasped, not sure if he could tell him.  

Heero placed his hands on either side of Duo’s head, framing his face.  He was so close, Duo could feel his warm breath
brushing against his skin.  He looked straight into his eyes, piercing Duo’s very soul with his gaze.  “Duo, no matter what you
tell me, I won’t think any differently of you.  I love you.  Nothing you say will ever change that.”

Duo let out a shuddered breath as Heero took his hands away, knowing that Heero spoke the truth.  He opened his mouth and let
the words fall out, telling Heero about everything.  He told Heero about being an orphan on the streets, the virus that swept
through the colony killing his friend Solo, about Sister Helen and the Reverend, and the destruction of the Maxwell Church.  He
spoke of meeting Carl, and what the older man had done to his young body, of all the people that had used and abused him.  

He couldn’t stop the words, as he spoke of the terror that had overwhelmed him when he was caught by Carl again.  Duo told
of how he had fought, how he had tried to resist, but in the end gave up, letting Carl control him again and get him addicted to
drugs.  And last he spoke of Jack, and how the little punk had been jealous of Duo’s status as Carl’s favorite and tried to kill him
to get back into Carl’s good graces.

Duo was a shivering wreck by the time he had finished speaking, his words almost incoherent.  Tears flowed freely down his
cheeks.  He looked up at Heero, who had never spoken once through all of it.  He hoped that Heero hadn’t been lying, that he
still loved him even after what had happened to him.

“Oh, God Duo.  I’m so sorry.”  Heero gasped.  “But it changes nothing.  I still love you more than anything.”

At the sight of the few tears on Heero’s cheeks, he was positive of the truth.  Heero still loved him, didn’t think any differently
of him.  He could still see the love in Heero’s eyes, but behind that love, he could see the rage that burned like a white-hot
flame.  He knew that if Heero had the chance, he would kill both Carl and Jack in an instant.

Heero opened his arms and Duo fell into his embrace, not bothering to stop the flow of emotions within him.  He just wanted to
put Carl behind him, to get on with his life with Heero.  


*****


Heero looked at the laptop in front of him. He had stopped running searches for Carl, just like he had promised Duo a couple
days ago.  This was something different.  Heero had just received a message, telling him that he had a new mission.

He looked over his shoulder as the door opened and Duo walked into the room, wearing nothing but a towel around his waist,
the cast around his left arm wrapped in a plastic bag to keep it dry.   He held a second towel in his hand and was trying to dry
off his long chestnut hair as he closed the door behind him.

Heero frowned, seeing the still healing surgery incision on Duo’s abdomen, the fading bruises that covered his sleek body.  He
wanted to kill that little punk Jack for ever hurting Duo, and that bastard Carl for all the physical and emotional pain he had put
Duo through.

As he watched, Duo tore that plastic bag from around his arm.  Duo walked over to his bed.  That hospital bed was gone, had
been for two days.  The bed, that had originally been in the room, was once again in its place against one of the walls.  Duo didn’
t need the hospital bed anymore.  His health had continued to improve and he hadn’t shown any signs of a relapse.

Duo dropped the towel he had been using to dry his hair, and picked up his hairbrush from the bedside table.  He began to run
the brush through his hair, while Heero continued to watch him.

“You’re staring.”  Duo said, not looking at Heero, as he sat on the bed.

“So?”  Heero replied, rising from his seat.

A small smile appeared on Duo’s face.  Heero missed those large grins Duo used to have on his face, the way he could brighten
up a room with his laugh.  But he knew it would take time for Duo to recover from what he had been through, so Heero was
just happy that Duo was smiling at all.

Duo continued brushing his hair, but he seemed to be having difficulty.  His cast kept getting in his way.  Finally, he just got
frustrated.  “Damn cast!”  He yelled, throwing the hairbrush to the floor.

Heero retrieved the brush, then sat beside Duo on the bed.  “Turn.”  He said.

Duo didn’t argue, he just turned his back to him as Heero had requested.  Heero pulled the long chestnut strands from over Duo’
s shoulder, laying it against his bare back.  Then he ran the brush through his hair.

His only thoughts were of Duo.  How would he tell him that he was leaving, that he had to go on a mission?  He didn’t want to
leave Duo, not when he was still recovering.  What if Duo needed him and he wasn’t there?

“Ow.”  Duo exclaimed.  “Careful.”

“Sorry.”  Heero replied.  He should have been watching what he was doing, not worrying about how Duo would react to the
mission.

Soon, Heero finished brushing Duo’s hair then braided it.  Duo turned back to him, grabbing the braid and pulling it around so
that he could look at it.  “Nice job.”  Duo commented.

Heero looked up at him, knowing that he had to tell Duo now.  “Duo, I have to go.”

“Where?”  Duo asked, a hint of fear seeping into his voice.  “Why?”

“I have a mission.  There’s a military base that needs to be destroyed.”  Heero replied.

“I’m coming with you.”  Duo tried to get up, but Heero didn’t let him.  He grabbed his wrist, pulling him back down to the bed.

“No.  You’re in no condition for battle.  You'd only be putting yourself at risk  I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if anything
happened to you.”

Duo stared at him, a tear falling from his eye, as he spoke.  “But you can’t go alone.”

Heero brushed that tear away.  “I won’t be.  Wufei and Trowa will be going with me.  Quatre isn’t strong enough yet, so he’ll
be staying here.”

“But I need you.  What if I need to talk to you?”  Duo said, lowering his head as if in shame.  

“If you need to talk to anyone, talk to Quatre.  You know he’ll listen.”  Heero replied.

Duo wrapped his arms around Heero’s waist, laying his head against his chest.  “I’m afraid of being alone again.”  He whispered.

Heero didn’t like seeing Duo in pain.  He stroked the back of his head.  But no matter how much Heero wished he could stay, it
just wasn’t an option.  The missions were too important.  He had to go.

“You’re not alone.  Not anymore.  Even when I’m not physically here, I’ll be with you.”  Heero replied.  “Because I love you,
and you know it.”

“I love you too.”  Duo replied.

“And I won’t be gone long.  A day, maybe less.”  Heero said.

Duo didn’t say anything, so Heero just held him.  They stayed there like that, Heero not wanting to let go until Duo was ready.  
Once this mission was over, he’d return, as quickly as possible.  Duo still needed him


*****


Duo sat at the dining room table, picking at the food on the plate in front of him.  It wasn’t that he couldn’t eat it, he just wasn’t
hungry.  That morning, Heero and the other pilots had left on a mission.  Duo and Quatre hadn’t gone.  Quatre was still too
weak, and Duo’s health was still too poor.  

Duo wished he had been able to go on the mission with them.  But Heero hadn’t wanted him to get hurt, saying that he wouldn’t
be able to forgive himself if anything happened to Duo on the mission.  So Duo had stayed, not wanting Heero to get upset.

“I take it you’re done eating?”  Sally said, from her seat across the table.  Quatre sat beside her, also picking at the food on his
plate.

“Yeah.”  Duo replied, pushing the plate away from him.

He pulled his braid over his shoulder from behind him, and started playing with the ends of his hair.  He was nervous, wondering
if everything had gone as planned.  But at least he knew he wouldn’t have to wait much longer to find out how Heero was.  
They should be getting back in a few hours, at least that’s the way it had been planned.  Just a quick mission to destroy a
military base.  

Of course, something could always go wrong.  Heero could be killed in battle or he could just not want to come back.  But Duo
didn’t want to think like that.  He was trying to keep his spirits high, not letting himself fret about every little thing.

“Don’t worry, Duo.  I’m sure they’re fine.”  Quatre said.

Duo just nodded, not wanting to get into this conversation.  He wished he didn’t feel so afraid, that the nagging fear would just
leave him alone.  It was silly.  Heero loved him.  He wouldn’t abandon him.  He’d come back.

There was a knock at the front door, thankfully taking Quatre’s attention away from Duo.  “I’ll get it.”  The Arabian said as he
stood, groaning as he moved.

“You sure?”  Sally asked.

“I can make it.  Besides, I could probably use the exercise.”  Quatre replied, smiling.  

Duo watched as Quatre moved slowly out of the dining room, heading for the front door.  The blonde was still quite weak, but
at least he could walk around on his own once again.  Duo was glad to see him getting better.  He still blamed himself for
causing Quatre’s unhealthy state, even if Quatre had told him he had no need to feel sorry.

There was a loud commotion, the sound of struggling, and both Duo and Sally rushed into the other room.  Duo didn’t move as
fast, so Sally was able to get there ahead of him.

The sight that met Duo, filled him with renewed terror.  Carl was standing inside the house, right in front of the door.  His hand
was wrapped around Quatre’s throat, while with his other hand he held a gun to the blonde’s temple.  

Duo’s heart raced in panic as he gasped, “Carl.”

He saw Quatre’s eyes, filled with fear.  If Quatre had been stronger, he might not have been in this situation.  He could have
gone on the mission, or fought Carl off.  This was all Duo’s fault.  If he hadn’t bottled up his emotions, Quatre wouldn’t be so
sick.

Carl smiled, venomously.  “Glad to see you’re still alive, Duo.”  Carl said.

“No thanks to you.”  Duo spat out, fighting the fear inside of him.

“I know I was a little hasty, just turning you away like that when Jack hurt you the way he did.  You always did earn me the
most money.  So many clients have been complaining about your absence.”  

“Like I care.”  Duo retorted.  

“What do you want?”  Sally said, stepping forward.

Carl simply aimed his gun at her, and fired.  She fell to the floor, clutching the fresh bleeding wound in her leg.  Duo knelt beside
her, and pushed her hand away from her leg.  The wound didn’t look too bad.  She wouldn’t die from it.  But she also wouldn’t
be walking any time soon.  Duo tore off one of his sleeves, and wrapped it tightly around her leg, trying to stop the bleeding.

“Please.  This is of no concern of yours.  Stay out of it.”  Carl glared at Sally, once again aiming the muzzle of the gun at Quatre’
s head.  Sally just groaned, keeping her mouth shut.

Duo stood and turned back to face Carl again.  “What do you want?”  He asked, repeating Sally’s question.

“You, of course.  Like I said, so many clients are anxious to see you again.”  He smiled again, and Duo shuddered at the thought
of all those people touching him again, at all the pain that would come if he went back with Carl.

“No.”  Duo said, his voice barely coming out as a whisper.  

Carl turned his attention to Quatre.  He took his hand away from Quatre’s throat, but kept the gun aimed at him.  As Duo
watched, Carl ran his fingers along the Arabian’s cheek.  Quatre closed his eyes tightly, his body shaking.  Quatre looked so
scared, as if he were afraid to even move.  He just stood there, clenching his fists at his sides.

“Well then.”  Carl said, moving his hand along Quatre’s body, stopping at his hips.  “Maybe I’ll just take your friend here.  
Lovely.  Soft skin, adorable looks.”

“Stop!”  Duo yelled.  The pained expression on Quatre’s face, the way it was tightened with fear, only reminded him of his own
pain, of all Carl had done to him.

But Carl continued.  “He could earn a lot of money for me.”  Carl leaned forward, and slid his tongue along one of Quatre’s
cheeks.  “Just as I thought, tastes so sweet.  I’ve got so many clients that would enjoy savoring something as delicious as him.”

“Stop it!”  Duo repeated.

Carl slid his hand around Quatre’s waist, slipping his fingers underneath the waistband of his pants and causing a gasp to escape
the blonde’s lips.  “Maybe I'll be the first to sample his body.”  He pulled Quatre’s body back toward him, and Duo could see the
panic on Quatre's face.  

Carl looked up at Duo, an evil gleam in his eye.  “You remember your first time don’t you, Duo.  Picture that happening to this
friend of yours.  He looks too delicate to be able to survive like you have.”

Duo remembered.  He couldn’t forget.  He was just a child, and the pain had been horrible.  He had felt as if he were being torn
in two with each thrust, and with each thrust Carl made it had only gotten worse.  Duo couldn’t let Quatre feel that pain,
experience the agony of thinking you had become something disgusting.  He wouldn’t let Quatre be afraid of being touched by
another human being like Duo had been, like he still was.

Duo shook the memories off.  “Leave him alone.”

“Only if you come with me.”  Carl replied.  “Of course, your friend will have to come along.  Wouldn’t want you to get any
ideas of escape.”

“Duo, no.”  Quatre said, opening his eyes, and finally speaking out for the first time.

Obviously, that had been a mistake.  Carl hit Quatre in the side of the head with the gun, knocking him unconscious.  A trickle
of blood seeped from the fresh wound in his head as he slumped forward.  Carl caught him with his one arm, not taking his eyes
from Duo.

“How do I know you won’t hurt him?”  Duo asked, only concerned for his friend.  Duo couldn’t allow Quatre to suffer as he
had.  He wouldn’t let him suffer like that, even if that meant going back to that hell he was terrified of.  Carl could do all he
wanted with Duo, as long as Quatre was safe.

“You have my word.  You just have to trust me.”  Carl smiled.

“I don’t.”  Duo replied.

Carl’s smile only widened.  “You have no choice.”

Duo closed his eyes a moment.  But his mind was already made up.  There was no other way to save Quatre from the torment
he knew so well.  Duo couldn’t fight Carl one on one.  Carl was a stronger man than him, and Duo was still too weak.

He walked over to Carl’s side.  “I have no choice.”  He whispered, bowing his head as he walked out of the safe house.  Once
outside, he noticed that Carl hadn’t come alone.  Several of his boys were there, one of them holding a syringe in his hands.

Before Duo could ask, the young dark-haired boy, stuck the needle into his arm, injecting the liquid into him.  The boy pulled the
needle out, tossing it to the side.  Duo’s world quickly became fuzzy, and he fell into the arms of the dark-haired boy.  
Somewhere far off, as if it were miles away, he heard Carl laughing.  And then there was nothing but darkness.



To Be Continued . . .