ATTN: If you have ever lost a loved one in a hospital setting, this fic might not be for you. Seriously.
PLEASE READ ALL HEADERS!
TITLE: The Hopeless Battle
BY: Dev-Aki Basaa
PAIRING: 1x2, 3x4
CATEGORY: yaoi, angst, drama, deathfic
WARNING: ***MAJOR ANGST***, medical realism, some OC POV
SUMMARY: Everyday in the Intensive Care Unit
NOTES: or this could also be an appropriate summary - Dev works in an ICU and while she loves her job, she needs to bleed out some of the drama she witnesses almost daily. While not strictly based on any one person's story, this is based on some actual events. Fragments of various POVs.
AUTHOR NOTES: This was just one of those ideas that wouldn't leave me alone until it was done. My apologies to Heero and Duo. Thank you to SpinFrog and Sakti for the beta.
Enjoy? *helpless shrug*
I've been waiting for a day like this for six months, I swear! It's sunny, bright, warm - but not hot - the first real sign of a promised Spring. And all I can think about is tearing off the far end of the porch and starting in on the addition. Heero and I have been talking about it all Winter. We've put so many additions on this place, the neighbors must think we're considering starting up some kind of hostel business eventually. Though, The Ex-Gundam Pilots' Bed & Breakfast might be a little too strange, even for us.
If someone had told me this was how my life would end up - I would have laughed them right into space, you know? Owning a house with Heero Yuy in some slightly twisted domestic heaven; waking up next to him - holding him, kissing him - everyday of my life; not worrying about my next meal or the next safe harbor, but living comfortably on an early-retirement pension from Preventers; taking unholy glee - even after all these years - in being able to make Heero's ears turn red when I kiss and/or grope him in public, with my biggest frustration being said doting lover nagging me about taking my blood pressure meds every morning...
I couldn't have asked for something better than this. I wouldn't have hoped for so much.
Quatre and Trowa mentioned maybe visiting this weekend, and they'd be bringing the Kid, Galen (who I can hardly call 'The Kid' anymore considering he's just graduated from the Academy). We could do something special for it. I might even be able to harass Wufei into taking a break from being a Preventers head-honcho long enough to enjoy something from our grill and help me sink posts for the porch extension. Heero can work whatever magic he does on Relena and convince her to visit as well, walking away from the stacks of files that never seem to diminish on her desk. They all need the break.
And we enjoy the company...provided they leave eventually so we can go back to enjoying our privacy.
The air is as fresh as I expected it to be - the birds chirping, the wind rustling the beginnings of little buds on the trees. It's so cliché - and I love every moment of it. The grass is a mix of new green sprouts and dried brown blades, crackling under my step. I'm figuring I could have this section of the porch down by the end of the day, and get started on the base with what wood I already have - save myself a trip to the lumber yard on such a beautiful day.
Heero just yelled for me - I must have a vid-call. It's a silly thing to take such pleasure in walking up our sidewalk to see him waiting impatiently for me at the doorway, a half scowl, half-grin greeting me.
Only, the sight of him wavers.
I take my next step, stumble and suddenly know something is terribly wrong. My head begins pounding, so painful that I wince. My stomach drops and the walkway rushes up to greet me. I don't feel myself hit the ground as much as I hear it - a strange crunch in my shoulder.
Heero's shouting, but all I can see is this blackness creeping into my vision.
I've never gotten a call like this in my life.
"Come to the hospital, it's Duo."
Trowa can be so succinct sometimes, it borders on tedious.
Duo talked of working on that dilapidated porch of his come the first nice day - did he hurt himself? If so, why call me in the middle of a workday?
I suppose a part of me thinks this will turn out to be just another Maxwell blunder and he asked for me for some 'Duo-logic' reason, and Heero only ever humors him, which would explain why Trowa didn't elaborate, just played along. I should just dismiss it and get there when I can.
Yet, the gravity of Trowa's voice had a profound affect on me. I told my secretary to contact Noin's office and see about rescheduling the afternoon meeting. I wonder if she'll even let me do such a thing, considering how important this meeting is. She's more likely to try and compromise a way to keep the meeting intact - perhaps bumping it up or later in the schedule.
However, as I am already managing mid-day traffic, I won't be there to find out.
I don't know if I should grab Heero and make him stop pacing, or stand up and join him myself. I can't say if the illness in my stomach is from a buildup of nervous energy that needs to be exercised, or if the activity will just cause me to puke sooner. A quick glance over Wufei's way tells me he's probably contemplating the same thing.
The waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit was not where any of us expected to spend our afternoon.
I look up when Trowa enters the room. He crosses to me, slowing just enough to let Heero pass, before he sits down next to me and takes my hand.
I give him an expectant look and he knows what I am asking.
"Iria will be at the shuttle port to pick up Galen. She'll just tell him there's been a change in plans and we'll see him soon. No sense in worrying him until we know what there is to worry about."
I couldn't help but notice the slight hitch in Heero's even strides. His hearing never has waned any. Trowa squeezes my hand to bring my attention back to him.
His ever penetrating gaze speaks so well for him - I know the others don't see it as I do. He silently says that everything is going to be all right. I squeeze his hand back.
I love him, but I don't believe him.
He looks...asleep. Peaceful, content, his light lashes lying perfectly against the arch of his cheek. Just like at home, when I've woken in the night to watch him sleep.
There is a woman dressed in light blue scrubs asking us question upon question. Quatre seems to be handling the interrogation and I'm grateful for that. My brain doesn't seem to want to work. The excursion through the ER was a blur, but right now all I can see is him and the shallow rise and fall of his chest.
Every once in a while, there's this pregnant pause and I know they need to me to answer one of the questions, something Quatre, or Wufei - who has interjected a response here and there - can't answer.
I think the question was of medication.
"He takes Lotensin and Lipitor and a multi-vitamin. All just once a day."
The woman - a nurse - nods and moves on to the next question. Quatre must answer it because I can't see, hear or think of anything beyond him again. I take his hand, warm, but limp in mine.
What are you doing, Duo? Please, snap out of this.
I need you.
'Malignant hypertension'. That's what the doctor called Duo's form of high-blood pressure. This particular variety comes with a high risk of cerebral-vascular damage and renal failure. A fancy way to say 'stroke and kidney shut-down'.
By the look on Yuy's face, I'd say he didn't know Duo had anything more than the normal everyday variety of high-blood pressure, easily controlled by drugs and diet. I'm sure Duo never suspected either. I have to wonder if some other doctor has a malpractice suit on his or her hands in the near future.
This doctor added it was probably hereditary and asked about Duo's family history. Seems the man doesn't know who we are - hasn't read one of the numerous "unofficial" biographies that circulated for a time. Heero just told him Duo'd been orphaned and his family history is unknown, leaving it at that.
And, I suppose, that's nothing less than the truth.
Who can make a decision like that? I can't say if I could. The medicine that could protect Duo from another stroke could also kill him with a brain hemorrhage.
By the pained look Quatre is giving me, he's wondering the same thing. Could he risk my life to protect it? What would we decide if it were Galen? Aside from Quatre, he's my life's joy - this amazing gift of a young man that I'm beyond blessed to have call me Father. To lose him; to lose Quatre, over my decision, or lack thereof...
What am I supposed to do, Duo? You always had the right answer; you always knew what to say.
I'm afraid I'm losing my perspective in this. They say "could protect" and that's all I hear, it's all I can stand to hear.
And the others...
They're so afraid to say anything, thinking they may sway me too much with their input, and... And, I think, they're just as lost and confused as I am.
I'm hardly naïve. I knew, of course, that someday you would die. For how many years did we risk our lives daily? It was always a variable.
...it was never supposed to be like this. We have plans, we have a life. This is...too soon. What about your porch, Duo? Who's going to rebuild your porch?
What am I supposed to do? I wish you could somehow let me know.
"I love you; you can't leave me."
I can hear him, but I can't see him.
"I love you; have I ever told you how beautiful you are to me?"
Yes, Heero you have - in your own way, you always have.
I try to say it, but the words don't come. I try to open my eyes, but they don't respond.
But I can feel my hand in his and I can feel my own fingers tighten around his. He answers it with a sob.
Don't cry, Heero. I love you too; I always have. I don't know where this darkness leads, but I will find you.
I pull the blanket up on him higher; he doesn't even shift. He must be so tired. He's not left since they brought his husband in here. The best I could do for him was get the comfortable recliner and set it as up close to the bed as possible. Even asleep, he has his arm stretched out to hold Mr. Maxwell-Yuy's hand.
If it weren't so sad, it'd be the cutest thing I'd ever seen.
Report on this one wasn't good. With the way his SAT  is dropping, he'll be on a vent soon. As of a few hours ago, he's only responding to pain stimuli.
It's not a good sign.
They're playing Brahms' Lullaby again.
It's absurd, but I hold your hand just a little tighter when I hear it. It means life was born somewhere in the hospital - they pipe the music though the halls in announcement.
Sometimes I fear that this new life needs balance, and it calls for your death. I dread those first tinny notes, wondering if it's time for you to be taken from me.
I just can't let you go like that. Not so simply, not without a fight.
Suddenly those wars of our youth seem like nothing compared to this battle.
Something has changed and the nurses know it. Though I suspect they can't say anything until they tell the doctors first. Trowa said he heard them calling for pages to be sent out for various doctors.
They talked of possibly taking Duo down for another head CT. It would be his third this week.
When we arrived today, Heero told us that the nurse had talked to him about whether he wanted everything that could be done for Duo, or have a No CPR, no extraordinary measures, order. I would suspect she knew his answer before she even asked the question. The look in his eyes even relaying the exchanged told all. He also said he wanted Duo to be intubated - put on a breathing machine - if necessary.
None of this bodes well, but what worries me most, is that Heero seems even more determined now as things look worse, than when this first began.
Wufei is right. He's not thinking clearly anymore.
"What's going on in Bed 8?"
The clerk glanced up at her replacement, a little surprised to find her standing there. She then checked the clock and found it was almost time to go home. She gave a little sigh of relief. Thank God - it had been a long one.
She nodded towards the corner room. "He's being intubated."
"Oh, damn. Not doing so good, eh?"
The clerk shook her head. "Yeah, and the family isn't taking it well. Er, the husband, anyway. The rest of them have that 'knowing look', you know what I'm talking about?"
The other clerk nodded as she sat down. "It's never easy. And if it were, I'd really wonder about the family."
What could I tell them? My medical background is all field medicine and military doctoring - not on a comparable level with that of the neurology specialist consulting on Duo's case.
But Heero wanted my opinion, the trust was in his eyes. He even had Wufei contact me, knowing only too well that I couldn't say no to my dear old friend.
So, I told them what they didn't want to hear - that the neurologist was right. There is bleeding in Duo's brain. What's worse, it's left sided, with a shifting in that direction, obliterating all personality traits.
If Duo were even to wake - which is doubtful - he would no longer be Duo.
It's all downhill from here.
I won't... I can't give up on you. You never once gave up on me. You fought through every barrier I tossed in your way. I can't give up on you now.
Just... don't give up on yourself.
I've never felt about anything so strongly.
We tried to talk to Heero about this. The doctors have all approached him about changing Duo's code status to 'No CPR'. Now that he's gone into renal failure, he would have to have hemo-dialysis soon. The doctors admit the prognosis looks hopeless, but if Heero wants everything done, that's what they recommend.
Duo should not have this done.
His body is shutting down, it's a sign. The nurses have commented that Duo's dependency on the vent makes the transfer to another hospital with a dialysis unit very risky, if not impossible.
However, the call is Heero's and he can't let go.
He needs to.
I've never seen anything like it before. The shouting; the utter chaos. The nurses pumping oxygen though Duo's vent tube with a bag, a doctor stiff-armed pushing down on Duo's chest in rhythm, counting his depressions.
"13, 14, 15!"
And the nurse squeezes the bag again. I should be paying more attention to Heero, but... I feel riveted, horrified, fascinated all at once.
I can hear Quatre almost shouting at Heero behind me. Wufei is oddly silent as well - I think he walked away. One minute they were preparing to transfer Duo to the new hospital, the next it was...like this.
"Do you want to let him go through that again, if he even makes it though this one!? Is this how you want him to die?"
It's so violent, so...
"I have a rhythm!"
I turn to look at Heero then, and I see the anger in his eyes.
He wanted them to stop. He wanted them to stop hurting Duo. I clench my teeth and turn away from feeling his pain.
"Where do I sign?"
His voice is so...hollow.
The clerk typed in the message to the Respiratory department. The family of Bed 8 has decided to turn off the vent.
"We have an order for a terminal ween." 
"Bradycardia. Heart Rate 30"
"Bradycardia. Heart Rate 14"
I can't believe he's gone.
He was life itself.
How can he be gone?
...one of my...
...dearest friends. You will be forever missed.
I hadn't visited much. I'm not sure why. Perhaps the feeling of such utter hopelessness. Or helplessness. It's not a feeling I'm used to. My whole life has had a purpose and my actions have made a difference.
I couldn't even find the right words in this.
Wufei told me that Duo didn't survive off the respirator very long. Minutes, only. Heero stayed by his side for a long time after he'd gone.
It's just so sad. If I could take away this pain from him, I would do it in an instant. Through the years, it has been in Heero that I've often found my strength. I want so much to be that for him now.
However, I don't know how to say it that wouldn't come across ill-intentioned. And I would never mean for it to be anything but comforting a friend in need.
He looked so empty, standing there though the eulogy, dressed in a dark suit. He let me hug him for a long time afterward, but there was nothing on the other end of that hug. Not for me; not for anyone.
Is he letting anyone comfort him? Is he even letting himself grieve?
Oh Heero. No one has ever or will ever doubt how much you love Duo. But, please, don't let your world end here.
I didn't know what to say to Uncle Heero. I was too lost in my own grief. I just hugged him for a long time. I think he even squeezed me back, though I may have been the only one by the looks of things.
I had thought that Uncle Duo would be calling me 'Kid' well into my fifties.
What I would give to hear it just one more time.
What any of us would give to hear him laugh just one more time. It's so not fair. To me, to my fathers, Uncle Wufei, to any of us...
...to Uncle Heero.
Goodbye, Uncle Duo, we will all miss you so much.
I'm worried about Heero.
He's been so stoic. Too stoic. Quatre says to give him time and while I appreciate that, I see things that worry me. He's confessed to doing things that are typical when one loses a spouse - calling for them when they think of something they'd meant to tell them, waking up and expecting to see them there in bed beside you, speaking and thinking in 'we' instead of 'me'. It's not those things that worry me, though.
It's this...hollowness about everything he does. A blankness that has seeped into every expression.
I told Relena that I'd wished he'd not left Preventers so soon. At least that would give him some sense of purpose.
And, of this, I don't know if I should be more alarmed, or take it as a sign of improvement...
He's rebuilding that damned porch.
I'm worried about Heero.
I tried to convince him to join Galen and myself for the day, but... He just had this strange look in his eyes.
He said he would be busy.
Gods, I didn't expect to be back to the hospital so soon. I couldn't get a hold of Trowa, but I left messages everywhere I could. Galen was still so broken up; they'd planned on spending the day together and just not thinking too much. He must have turned off his com-phone.
When I arrived and Heero spoke...it was almost not his voice. Too weak and defeated to have been his. But the words... The words told of his devastation greater than any behavior he's exhibited in the past month.
"It's my heart," he says. I nod. The nurse had told me as much. Ventricular Fibrillation, an irregular rhythm. They said he stabilized, which is why they hadn't admitted him to the ICU, just a monitored bed on another floor. I was surprised that Heero even brought himself to the hospital at all. He has a long history of being a self-healer, I wouldn't have guessed this before...well, before Duo died.
"My heart", Heero began again, "I think it's broken for good." He held my gaze for a long moment before he looked away and closed his eyes. I dropped down onto the chair at his bedside and squeezed my eyes tight, they stung so. What could I tell him that could make this better? Nothing.
Though I'd never thought it before, I suddenly wished that Duo and Heero had decided to adopt. At least he'd have a child to live for now. Galen would be the only thing keeping me going if something were to happen to Trowa.
Gods, what were we going to do? What was Heero going to do? He'd not let me offer him a place at our home, but I hardly expected him to leave the house that had meant so much Duo. Maybe after this episode, he will consent to come stay with us, if only for a time. Life goes on; we would find a way - together.
I open my eyes to see if Heero had fallen asleep - would I wake him to discuss this now, or wait until a better time? Was there really a better time?
Only, when I looked, his face was so...slack. Then the alarms were ringing. I almost didn't have a chance to breathe before there were people rushing into the room and pushing me aside. A woman reached a fist up high and brought it crashing down on Heero's chest, all the while a young man tried to rouse him.
"Mr. Maxwell-Yuy! Are you all right?"
The one nurse yelled about calling the code button and soon another person was physically directing me out of the room as another rolled a red crash cart into the room. Overhead, a bell rang.
"CPR, room 3328A, CPR room 3328A, CPR room 3328A."
Nurses and doctors seemed to come out of the woodwork. I couldn't see Heero for the people that crowded around him. I stood in the hall, frozen with shock, watching until the curtain was pulled, then listening to the random too-familiar words caught from the blur of chaos.
They worked on him for thirty minutes or more. I wanted to tell them to stop, to not bother. To stop pounding on his chest as I only could imagine them doing, remembering the sight from Duo's crash. Only I knew, unlike Duo had, Heero wasn't coming back.
Regardless of what the monitors might have told them, Heero Yuy died two weeks ago.
The nurse sighs, walking back to the ICU after she'd been pulled away for the CPR call. She sets down her stethoscope and the unit clerk looks up, an expectant expression on her face.
"Are we getting that one?"
The nurse shakes her head. "Didn't make it," she says. After a moment, she adds, "it was Bed 8's husband."
The clerk's eyes widen. "You're kidding me? Damn."
The nurse sits down hard in one of the computer chairs, stretching her aching arm. Chest compressions always take so much out of her. She looks up to see a slip of paper taped to the clerk's computer. She nods in that direction. "Is that another ER admit?"
"Oh, yeah," the clerk answers, turning to grab the paper and then handing it to the nurse. "Unstable angina, rule out M. I. Never stops."
The nurse glances at the scrawled name, then bumps the computer mouse to activate the screen and look up the new patient.
Overhead, Brahms' Lullaby plays.
 Oxygen Saturation - a measurement of oxygen delivery to the blood, a sign of how well someone is breathing on their own.
 A terminal ween is equivalent to turning off life-support.
 This is an example of nurses notes, kept in military time, noting the heart rhythm. The time begins at 8:34 PM. Brady-cardic is a heart rate that is slower than normal. Asystole is flat line.