Reunion Chapter 8



( Chapter 8 )

TO: Sally Po < >
FROM: Chang Wufei <>

SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0752hrs
SUBJECT: Duo's medication.
---message begins---

I went through Duo's pills. Is there a good medical reason
for him to get all these sedatives? If you can't come up with
one, I'm going to throw them out. You know perfectly well how
he feels about anything that reduces his control over his own
body and mind. I'm also doubtful about the strength and
dosage of the painkillers you've prescribed. I'll go along with it
for now, but if Duo objects I'll follow his wishes.

You'll probably want to contact me at some point, but I've
turned the ringer of the phone off so it won't disturb Duo. Use
my pager number, or email me back.


---message ends---


Sally's eyebrows rose as she read. *I gave him those pills late yesterday, then he had to get Duo home and settled... he can't have looked them all up last night! Doesn't that boy sleep? He's obviously taking his responsibility for Duo's recovery very seriously. And I see it's now 'Duo' instead of 'Maxwell', that's an interesting development.*

*Loss of control, hm? That would explain Duo's... aversion... to hospitals, all right. Well, then...*


TO: Chang Wufei < >
FROM: Sally Po < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0905hrs
SUBJECT: Re: Duo's medication.
---message begins---

Good morning, Wufei. You're up early!

---at 0752 hours on 10 DEC AC197, Chang Wufei
< > wrote:
> Is there a good medical reason for him to
> get all these sedatives?

They were prescribed to ensure that he got sufficient rest
and sleep, since that's almost as important to his recovery as
the antibiotics and vitamins. However, if you feel he's
getting sufficient without their help, you should certainly go
ahead and leave them out. Don't forget to get some sleep

> I'm also doubtful about the strength and
> dosage of the painkillers you've prescribed.

Again, use your own judgement with Duo's reactions and wishes
as a guide; however, do bear in mind that if he's in pain he
won't rest well. I prescribed a non-sedating form of
painkilling medication that wouldn't interact dangerously with the
sedatives, so you don't need to be concerned about that aspect
of things.

Please keep me informed of his progress.


---message ends---

* * * * *

TO: Lady Une < >
FROM: Chang Wufei < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0758hrs
SUBJECT: While I'm on leave.

---message begins---

Lady Une,

The ringer on my phone will be off while I am on leave. If
you need to contact me before Thursday, please use my pager or


---message ends---


TO: Chang Wufei < >
FROM: Lady Une < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0815hrs
SUBJECT: Re: While I'm on leave.
---message begins---


Thank you for the information.

-Lady Une

P.S. Give Maxwell my best, and tell him I said 'thank you for
the roses'.

---message ends---

* * * * *

Trowa sat in the study and watched Quatre pace. *I thought if I just let him talk it out he'd be okay,* he thought, *but it's not working... how many hours is it now? He's getting hoarse! He just keeps repeating himself, and drinking that damn mud he calls coffee.*

None of the worry he felt showed on his face as Quatre made another abrupt about-face, hands gesturing jerkily for emphasis as he talked.

*He held himself together the whole time we were looking for Duo. At least then he had something to do, and he could hope for a happy ending. Then we found Duo. Instead of making it all better the situation got worse; and there's nothing he can do to help while Duo's so angry at us. He's falling apart...*

"...never gave it a thought," Quatre was saying. His voice cracked and he winced slightly, scooping up his cup and gulping cold coffee before he continued. "Eight months! I should have noticed. I should have gone looking for him. I should have checked to see if there had been any messages, I--"

"You did check," Trowa interrupted. "Quatre, some days you check your messages every hour!"

The blonde boy shook his head, dismissing the offered comfort. "No! I should-- I should have realised something was wrong and checked to see if his calls weren't getting through. No matter what the cause, I should have noticed that I hadn't heard from him in months!"

"Hindsight is always perfect," Trowa said quietly. "You were busy, Quatre. You've been working fourteen- and sixteen-hour days! I had more spare time; if anyone should have realised--"

"You were completely reorganising Winner Corporation's security arm and running around after me to all those public appearances, making sure I didn't get anything shot off while I was helping Relena set up the Preventers," Quatre objected. "Then you joined them!"


"It's still another job!"

"And I still haven't been as busy as you. If you can excuse me from responsibility on grounds of overwork, you have to excuse yourself."

Quatre turned away, shaking his head again, and headed for the coffee service sitting on a tray on his desk.

"Stop that," Trowa ordered, standing up and plucking the cup out of his hand. "If you drink any more coffee you'll give yourself an ulcer. You haven't eaten anything since late yesterday. Besides," he added as Quatre glared at him and reached for a clean cup, "I think the pot's empty."

Quatre slammed the cup back down on the tray and started pacing again, silently this time; Trowa set down the cup he was holding and watched for a minute, then commented, "Your hands are shaking. I told you that was too much coffee."

He was ignored.

After a moment, Trowa sighed and stepped forwards, catching his lover by the shoulders and holding him still. "What's really upsetting you? There's something specific, isn't there? More than I-should-haves and I-could-haves."

There was a long pause; then Quatre seemed to crumple, resting his head against Trowa's shoulder. "He called me 'Winner'," he said in a muffled voice.

"What?" Trowa wasn't sure he'd heard right.

"He called me 'Winner'," Quatre repeated, clearly this time. "Duo's never called me 'Winner'. It was always 'Quatre' or 'Q-man' or 'Quat' or even 'Q-bean'. Once he called me 'Kitty-Quat'."

The taller boy chuckled softly, pulling him into a gentle hug.

"Even when he was mad at me, during the war, he never said 'Winner'. It was 'Damn it, QUAT-re!' And then... when you were talking with Lady Une... he almost fell, and I caught him, and he was so angry because I'd touched him. I swear, if he'd been strong enough to throw me through the wall he would have. And... he said..." Quatre shivered, pulling himself closer to Trowa. "He said, 'Fuck off, Winner'. I ignored that I hadn't heard from him for eight months until my nose was rubbed in it, I left him alone in, in places like that, and he hates me for it..."

"He doesn't hate you," Trowa cut in abruptly, arms tightening around him.

"B-but," Quatre stammered, "I felt..."

"He kept the photos. He kept our clothes," Trowa said seriously. "If he really hated us, don't you think he would have got rid of them? Dumped them, given them away, burned them... but he didn't. He didn't even wear them. He's hurt and upset and angry, yes, and he's got reason to be. Maybe he thinks he hates us all. But there's still hope."

Quatre looked up at him, eyes wide; then a cool, synthesised female voice from the computer said < < One message from Chang Wufei, > > and he tore himself out of Trowa's arms and leapt for the keyboard.

* * * * *

TO: Trowa and Quatre < >
FROM: Chang Wufei < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0814hrs
---message begins---

Quatre, Trowa,

Just a note to let you know I've turned the ringer off on the
phone; if you need to contact me, use my pager or email.
Duo's sleeping right now; he got settled all right, had a bath
and got his hair clean last night. He didn't eat much, but then
we did get in very late. I'm going to let him sleep as long
as possible, then see how much breakfast I can get into him.

I'll keep you posted.


---message ends---


As he hit 'send', Wufei thought he heard a faint sound from the bedroom; he stood up and took a slow step in that direction, listening intently, then hurried for the door as he heard Duo whimper.

Duo was still sound asleep, not even really restless yet; Wufei knelt next to the futon and stroked his hair, smoothing the bangs back from his forehead. To his relief, Duo didn't flinch away this time.

"Shh, Duo... it's all right. Shh..."

Duo frowned, eyes still firmly closed, and muttered something under his breath; then he spoke in a surprisingly clear voice. "Don' wanna get up. Mrs Friedrich hates me... an' I didn't do m' English homework..."

Wufei sputtered with relieved laughter, then got his voice under control and answered. "Go back to sleep, Duo. It's Sunday... we don't have classes today. You can do your homework later. I'll even help you, OK?"

"Mmm... n'kay, 'Fei. G'night."

Wufei stayed at Duo's side, stroking his hair gently, until he was sure he was back in deep, dreamless sleep; then he went back out to his computer, a faint smile on his face. *Okay, it was a nightmare... sort of. But it was a normal nightmare!*

Sitting back down, he noted with interest that Lady Une had replied, and opened her message; then he sat back and blinked at the computer screen, confused. *Roses? When did Duo send Lady Une roses?*

*beep!* < < One new message > >

*Quatre and Trowa replied already? That was fast... what were they doing, hovering over the computer?*


TO: Chang Wufei < >
FROM: Trowa and Quatre < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0822hrs
---message begins---

How is Duo? Is he really all right? Has he been talking? I
still can't believe we let this go for so long. Has he said
anything about what he's been doing? What happened to him? That
cough was bad, is it still bad? Is he kicking up a fuss about
taking his pills? That would be good, actually, because it's
like him. How did he sleep? Did he sleep? Did he have
nightmares? I hope not. Did you sleep? You need to take care of
yourself, too, not like that time you went on that long mission
and forgot to eat.

If there were any sedatives in that bagful Sally gave you,
throw them away. Sedatives make Duo's nightmares much worse.
Quatre and I had the bruises for weeks after the one and only
time we doped him.

-Quatre & Trowa

---message ends---


*Well. I can tell who wrote which paragraph, even without the 'Quatre and I' comment... and Quatre knows perfectly well that I ran out of supplies on that mission!*

Wufei hit 'reply'.


TO: Trowa and Quatre < >
FROM: Chang Wufei < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0831hrs
---message begins---

Quatre: calm down. It's a bit early to tell how things are
going with Duo, especially since he's still asleep! I'll keep
you up to date, once I have something to keep you up to date

Trowa: thanks for the warning.


---message ends---


Wufei leaned back with a sigh and a stifled yawn. *Well, that's everyone except Relena... and Heero.* He scowled. *I should mail her, of course, but... no. I can't just dump the responsibility for keeping him up to date on Relena's shoulders. I will email him.*

*He does deserve to know.*

Sitting up, he reached for the keyboard.

*beep!* < < One new message > >

*Hm? What's-- Quatre and Trowa again?!*


TO: Chang Wufei < >
FROM: Trowa and Quatre < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0833hrs
---message begins---

Is he still mad at us? Has he said anything about us? Can we
come over? What does Heero say? Do you need us to bring
anything with us? We could shop on the way! -Q

You'll have to excuse Quatre. We were up all night and he's
been drinking that Arabic coffee of his. He's a little wired.

---message ends---


"Oh, for..." Wufei gritted his teeth. "Didn't he read the emails?


TO: Trowa and Quatre < >
FROM: Chang Wufei < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0836hrs

---message begins---

Quatre, I told you, he's asleep! And no, I don't need you
to bring anything. There's enough food in the apartment for
breakfast, and I'll go shopping later. Let Duo have a couple of
quiet days to rest and heal before anyone visits.


---message ends---


TO: Trowa (private) < >
FROM: Chang Wufei < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0837hrs
SUBJECT: Quatre!
---message begins---

Trowa, please get Quatre away from the keyboard and off my
back. Tie him to the bed and work some of the caffeine off or
something, I don't care what, just keep him occupied!


---message ends---


Wufei hit the 'send' button with some force, glaring at the screen; then an expression of mingled surprise and embarrassment spread over his face and he slumped, covering his eyes with one hand.

"I don't believe I just sent that. Somebody, please, tell me I didn't just send that..." He snorted softly, torn between embarrassment and laughter.



As the light tapping of keys switched tempo, becoming faster and louder, Duo shifted in his sleep.

"Damnit Heero... get off that stupid thing and go to sleep, why don't ya...?" he muttered, rolling over; then he opened his eyes and stiffened. The room wasn't familiar, the bed wasn't familiar, and when he checked, he was wearing a t-shirt and sweat pants that he couldn't remember ever seeing before. He tensed and took a deep breath, ready to roll silently to his feet, then lost the breath as pain stabbed his side and he coughed.

The typing stopped.


Wufei paused half-way through typing his mail to Relena and raised his head, listening intently, but the cough wasn't repeated and he relaxed.


Duo held himself still, one hand pressed tightly over his mouth and the other arm wrapped around his ribcage as he muffled a string of coughs, eyes watering. Once the immediate urge was gone he relaxed slightly, hand slipping away from his mouth as he forced himself to breathe shallowly and evenly; he relaxed a little more as the sound of typing began again. When he was fairly sure movement wouldn't start the cough, he rolled slowly off the futon, shifting out from underneath the quilts as quietly as possible.

Carefully pulling himself upright, holding onto the pine chest of drawers for support, he glared hatefully towards the door. *I remember now,* he thought viciously. *I remember... they came to get me. And if that's Heero out there...* He slid slowly along the wall, bare feet silent on the carpet, until he could see through the slightly open door; then he leaned forwards, shifting to see the edge of the desk, the computer...

Duo's jaw dropped, lips silently forming a name.


Wufei was sitting in front of the computer, typing, dressed only in a pair of sweat pants. A towel was draped over the back of the chair and his damp hair was falling loose around his shoulders, a little longer than Duo remembered; as he watched, open-mouthed, Wufei pushed a strand back behind his ear and turned slightly, profile visible for a moment as he reached for a steaming mug.

Duo leaned back against the wall, swallowing. The rest of his memories of the day before presented themselves, becoming clear.

*"I told Duo I was taking him home, and I meant it."*

*Oh. Oh wow. He really did...*

*"I'll look after him."*

*'Fei never says anything he doesn't mean. He might avoid a question, or ignore it, or just shut up, but I've never heard him tell an outright lie. This must be his place... and I don't hear anyone else here. He's going to look after me himself.*

*I'm safe.*

Duo leaned forwards again and watched Wufei type, just for a little while; then his legs began to tremble and he reluctantly turned away, making his way back to bed.

* * * * *

TO: Relena < >
FROM: Chang Wufei < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0845hrs
---message begins---


The ringer on my phone is off; email or page me if you need
to get in touch. I got Duo home and settled all right last
night, and he's still sleeping. The cough seems to have eased a
bit. It's too early to really tell how things will go,

I'll keep you up to date.


---message ends---


TO: Heero Yui < >
FROM: Chang Wufei < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0848hrs
---message begins---


The phone ringer is off. Use my pager or email if you have to
call. Duo's still asleep; I'll keep you informed.


---message ends---

* * * * *

Heero wandered aimlessly through the house after breakfast, unable to settle down in one place or to doing one thing. Finally, he ended up in the study, sitting at his desk and staring moodily at the collection of photographs by the computer. Relena; Relena with Heero; Duo with Heero; the five pilots at the start of Quatre's party...

Heero picked that last, largest picture up and looked at it. *I think we all have a copy of this. Relena's got one in her bedroom. Quatre's got a copy in every single one of his houses... even Duo kept it.* He stroked a gentle fingertip over Duo's laughing face; then his eyes slid to the right and settled on Wufei.

*I should be looking after Duo,* he thought angrily. *I didn't walk out and leave him sleeping. I didn't ignore him and drive him away. I didn't...*

The photo in his hands began to shake.

*I didn't worry about him for eight months.*

*I changed all my contact details.*

*"I went away for a month to get my head straight and you just couldn't wait to block me out!"*

*I did drive him away. It wasn't Wufei. It was me.*

*"Don't-- fuckin' touch me-- Yui."*

A drop of water landed on the glass protecting the photo. Then another. Two more...

*"...leave me to rest in peace..."*

*I was supposed to watch his back. I was supposed to be there for him. If I'd paid more attention... if I'd just asked him what was wrong when he said he was leaving, none of this would have happened. He wouldn't be sick. He wouldn't be hurt. He wouldn't hate me...*

Unnoticed by Heero, the study door swung open and Relena stepped in. She stood for a few seconds, watching him; then she backed out as quietly as she'd come in, closing the door behind her.


Outside in the hall, Relena stood with her hand on the door, head down and eyes closed.

*I've never seen him cry before... not really cry. Even when I walked in on him and Duo that time, he looked so vulnerable, but he wasn't crying. I've never seen him shed tears...*

*There has to be some way to fix this. I don't think Heero can be whole without Duo's friendship.*


Some time later, Heero's computer chimed; he looked up blearily, rubbing the back of his hand across sore eyes.

*What...? Oh. I never logged out last night...*

Carefully, he set the photo aside and hit a key to open the new email; after reading it, he swallowed painfully, then slowly reached out and hit 'reply'.


TO: Chang Wufei < >
FROM: Heero Yui < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0852hrs
---message begins---


Please take care of Duo for me.


---message ends---


TO: Heero Yui < >
FROM: Chang Wufei < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0854hrs
---message begins---

Of course I'll take care of Duo. I'm doing it for him.

---message ends---


TO: Chang Wufei < >
FROM: Heero Yui < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 0855hrs
---message begins---

Thank you.

---message ends---

* * * * *

Wufei wasn't pleased with the amount of food Duo ate when he finally woke him for 'breakfast'; but Sally had warned him that it might be some time before Duo could comfortably eat more than a few mouthfuls at a sitting. *A few mouthfuls at a time it is, then,* he thought, watching Duo slump back against the pillows with a half-eaten piece of toast in his hand. *I'll just have to make him a lot of small meals every day. It's not just that he can't get much down; just eating seems to tire him... It's a good thing I gave him the tablets first.*

"Duo, you don't have to finish that if you don't want it," Wufei said gently as the other boy raised the toast for one more reluctant bite; it paused just below Duo's chin as he looked up guiltily.

"But... you cooked, and..."

"That doesn't mean you have to make yourself sick trying to eat it all. I can nag you about eating your meals and proper nutrition later, after you're feeling better."

"Like, 'pizza is not one of the four food groups'?" Duo asked with a ghost of a smile, putting the toast down.

Wufei snorted. "That, or 'half a gallon of ice-cream in one sitting has got to be a bad idea'. I'm still amazed you didn't give yourself hypothermia with that stunt. You didn't even get a headache, and I'm firmly convinced that you're the only person who could pull it off. Are you finished?"

"Um... yeah." Duo looked guilty again; most of what Wufei had served him was still on the plate.

"Not a problem. I'll be back... oh! I nearly forgot, Lady Une put a message for you at the end of an email she sent me this morning. 'P.S. Give Maxwell my best, and tell him I said "thank you for the roses".' When did you ever give her roses?"

"Huh? Um... Townsville Base, I think."

Wufei thought for a moment. "I remember you saying something about 'five hundred pizzas and the Macarena make a great distraction', but..."

Duo shrugged. "I thought she'd like them."

"...Right. I'll be right back."

Out in the kitchen, Wufei dropped the plate on the counter and leaned back against the cupboards. *Okay... I'm still prone to babble, but... maybe that's good? At least he's talking to me. And he smiled! Okay, it wasn't much of a smile, but it was still a smile. He... oh gods, I'm babbling to myself now. I sound like Quatre!*


After making sure Duo was settled and comfortable for a midday nap, Wufei stretched out on the sofa to get a little rest himself.

*I won't actually sleep,* he thought, eyes falling shut. *I need to stay awake so I can hear Duo if he needs me... so I'll just lie here for a while. That's all...*

Three hours later:


TO: Lady Une < >
FROM: Chang Wufei < >
SENT: AC197 DEC 10 1507hrs
SUBJECT: -none-
---message begins---

You're welcome.


---message ends---


The computer beeped softly as Duo hit 'send', and Wufei's eyes flew open.

"What... huh... Duo?" Confused and sleep-fogged, he blinked at the thin figure sitting in the chair, listing to one side as he favoured his ribs. "What are you doing?"


"Um... okay. You shouldn't be up. Why didn't you call me?"


Wufei sat up, scrubbing at his face, then looked at his watch. *Three o'clock?! I slept for three hours? Damn it, what if Duo had needed my help and I didn't hear him?! I didn't hear him come out...* "Did you call me?"


*That's a relief, but still, I shouldn't have gone to sleep!* "Um." He blinked, a little more awake now. "Are you finished? You can stay out here on the couch if you don't want to go back to bed."

Duo nodded; Wufei helped him to the couch, spreading the blanket over his legs, then straightened. "I should get changed; I need to go shopping, but I won't be long."

Duo followed Wufei with his eyes as he walked into the bedroom; then he pulled the blanket to one side and shakily pushed himself to his feet.

Five minutes later, Wufei walked out, hair back in a loose tail, wearing a faded pair of blue jeans and tugging down the hem of a dark sweater. "I just need to get food, so-- Duo, what are you doing?!"

The other boy didn't look up as he stepped carefully into his boots over by the door; he was already wearing his ragged coat. "Going shopping."

"But-- why-- you can't--" Wufei sputtered; then Duo peeked up at him from under his bangs, eyes wide and imploring, and he folded. "...All right. All right, but you're wearing my coat; it's warmer. And I'll get you a pair of socks. Sit down, Duo, please!" He turned and walked back into the bedroom, heading for the chest of drawers, muttering "Sally is going to kill me if she finds out!" as he went.


"Hey look, it's that cute Preventers guy, the Chinese one!"

"Where? ...That can't be him. He's always in uniform. And who's that he's with?"

"I don't know, but it's him all right. Pretty out of character, hey?"

"No kidding!"

The cashiers watched with interest as 'that cute Preventers guy' carefully settled someone on the bench by the customer service desk and hovered for a few minutes, talking with a worried look on his face, before moving into the store.

"Is that a guy or a girl?"

"Hard to say. Nice hair, though."

"Has to be a girl. Did you see the look on the guy's face? I say that's his girlfriend."

"Welllll, I see a basket on the floor over there, so I guess I should go tidy it up..."

Shortly afterwards:

"It's a guy."


"Uh-huh, and you should see the bruise on the other side of his jaw! He's awfully thin, and shivering, but he's got the most gorgeous eyes."

"Think he's on drugs?"

"Get real! You think cute-and-Chinese would stand for that? He looks more like my cousin Karen after she was in an accident and spent two weeks in hospital; she was so weak, if she walked anywhere she got the shakes."

"So is he the boyfriend, then, or just a friend?"

"Boyfriend. Definitely boyfriend."

"What a waste!"

"All the best guys are either dead, gay or taken. You know that."

"Damn. Gay and taken. Guess I won't be asking him out, then..."

"At least he's not dead. We can still look."

end 'Reunion' chapter 8




















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