2-2-2003

TITLE: I Love You, I Need You
BY: Dev-Aki Basaa
Part Four (and final part) of the 'I Love You' series

PAIRING: 1x2
RATING: PG
CATEGORY: yaoi, sap <-- LOOK!
WARNING: none (finally >_<;; )
SUMMARY: Duo deals with a now awake Heero and Heero introspects about what it is to love.
NOTES: Alternating Heero & Duo POV, takes place post EW. Direct sequel to 'I Love You, But If You Leave Me..." which can be found at either GWAddiction [www.gwaddiction.com] or Shinigami and Wing [www.1x2x1.org]
AUTHOR NOTES: This was just supposed to be a Heero POV ending, but Duo couldn't be quieted. This series has really brought out my muses O_o;; I do apologize for the cliffhanger - not my usual thing >_<;; Thank you, Spinfrog and Sakti, for the beta!

~~~*~*~~~

I don't know why I ran. Not really. I suppose it was fear, yet I don't recall ever fearing anything in my life. Not pain, not death.

Not my own, anyway.

I don't know what I thought I'd gain by leaving. I knew in my heart that I'd desperately miss Duo while I was gone. And I did. It was a constant ache deep in my chest that never waned, never subsided.

I thought that once I had figured things out, I could rush back to him, pull him into my arms again and never let go. I wanted that so badly, searching desperately for the peace that could send me back to him. But I didn't make any headway; nothing more of my emotions made sense to me. I'd considered dialing him too many times to count, but stopped with my finger on the connect button, anticipating the questions I knew I couldn't answer.

When are you coming home? Have you sorted things out? Why did you leave?

If he'd asked me if I loved him, I could have answered him that with an emphatic yes. And, perhaps, I should have just called to say that much, but under the circumstances, I didn't think he would have wanted to hear it. What good are all the declarations of love in the world when I'd *chosen* to leave his side?

He surely would have asked where I was, but I couldn't have answered him that either. Only because I knew he'd come looking for me. Hell, I knew he was looking for me from the start - I know my Duo - but I didn't think that's what I wanted. I thought I wanted the space and distance. I thought that constant ache in my chest could somehow bring me clarity, help me sort through the intense emotions I felt deluged with: the grief from Relena's death, my fear of Duo's. Yes, I suppose it was indeed fear that sent me running. However, by no means a reflection of my love for Duo.

It is imperative to me that I make him understand that.

Ironically, it was Duo I thought of when I followed that woman into her burning home looking for missing children. It was something I imagined he would do.

My recollection of that day is disjointed, at best. Mostly flashes of sensory memory. For example, I know I will never forget the extreme blackness or the stifling, intense heat. I do remember catching up with the woman in the hallway, seeing her stumble as she coughed. I'd sent her back outside to wait with the other children already out of harm's way. She'd given me a few directions - a room in the back, two rooms upstairs. I'd gotten out fine with the children she had sent me after, all of us unharmed, just as the fire engines roared up the street. I had been more than ready to slip away from the now collected crowd and find some solitude to rest and cough my brains out. Yet, as I had turned my back from the ensuing drama, I heard her wail.

There was still a child unaccounted for. Yes, the fire personnel were there, unloading hoses. They could have gone in after the child.

But I was closer.

I'd shot back into the house, my mind's eye capturing a vivid image of a door I'd passed as I'd headed towards the back room previously. However, before I was able to reach it, I met a wall of fire, as blinding as the sun and even hotter than the searing air I'd already gulped down into my lungs. I'd hesitated before it too long and I swear I could feel the skin of my arms char right off.

Then I'd bolted - the old mission-bent soldier of the past kicking in. After that, the only distinct memory I have is of the heat and the strangled way I'd coughed. I don't even really remember finding the child. Instead, I recall trying to rush back out and almost falling with the child cradled in my arms. Only, I was grabbed and the child lifted from my arms. A fireman then hefted me up and carried me from the house.

I remember thinking how bright the outdoors suddenly seemed and then, settled in the back of the ambulance, I noted the strange tang of the oxygen they pumped into me through the mask over my face. I know I finally passed out because I don't remember much after that. Not even sensory memory. Later on, if I woke, there was pain or discomfort, so I would just close my eyes and drift away again.

I dreamt of Duo a lot. Of Relena and Dr. J. I don't really recall much of the dreams, just the knowledge that they were there. I think Trowa, Quatre and Wufei drifted into my unconsciousness a time or two as well. Oddly, I even saw Zechs Marquise. But mostly, it was Duo in my dreams.

When I woke that one time, to find him there, I really thought I was still dreaming. When I woke again and he was still there, I realized it wasn't a dream. He was really there with me.

And I felt such horrible guilt.

Though it was hard to keep my eyes open, I was probably awake far more than they realized. I swear I heard every conversation that went on in my room. I heard Sally speak at length to Duo about my recovery and what it would entail. The extended hospital stay, the skin grafts, the infection risk, the immune deficiency. She was trying to prepare him, I know, but I never really heard him acknowledge her. It was as if she were merely talking at him. To drive home that impression, these talks often ended with her exhaling loudly before she left the room. Duo wasn't listening, and that's when I knew. The moment I could speak; the moment I was able, I would tell him.

I'd tell him that he could leave me too.

~~*~~~

I could have strangled him, if I hadn't been so damn worried about his throat. Those words, barely spoken but rasped out sent my stomach dropping to my knees.

"Duo, there's something I need to tell you."

It was everything I could do to keep holding his hand and not drop it in horror and back out of the room before he could even finish what he was going to say.

But then he continued and I realized what this was all about.

"I don't want you to feel obligated to take care of me."

Oh, Heero.

He coughed, wincing, before he went on. I should have stopped him, let him save his voice, but my own was trapped in my chest, blocked by the knot forming in my gullet.

"I'm sorry that I've done nothing but cause you trouble for....too long. Please don't think you have to be here on my account." He looked away from me. "You certainly don't owe me anything after what I've done to you."

Frankly, I couldn't take it anymore.

"Heero Yuy!" I pretty much spat out his name. "Do you love me?"

He turned back to face me, his eyes wide, almost looking panicked. However, there was no mistaking the intensity in his, albeit weak, voice. "Yes. Yes, I do. More than...anything."

I sighed, deeply. I know there was a huge part of me that thought he'd say, "yes, but like a friend," or, "no, not as much as I once thought," or something of the like. The relief was almost overwhelming.

"Well, then stop being a bastard and let me hold you."

He inhaled sharply, wincing again and I almost apologized for being so damn blunt. But then he pulled his arm in, bringing me near him and I shifted to sit on the edge of his bed. It was awkward, but I leaned down and gently drew him into my arms. He rose up a little to meet me and pressed his face against my neck.

Christ, it felt so good to hold him. Even for as careful and gentle I was trying to be. His hold on me was as clumsy anyway, what with his bandaged hands. But still, with all that, it felt so...wonderful.

He tried talking again but only coughed, gagging a little. I whispered that it could wait - whatever else he had to say, but he shook his head. He rasped out an "I'm sorry," and I could tell he'd already used up what little voice he had. I could also tell he wasn't ready to be silenced yet.

"Duo..." he tried again, croaking even more.

"It can wait," I told him and laid him back down on his bed even as he shook his head again. I was back to pointlessly shushing him.

"Don't worry about it," I said, brushing my fingers through his bangs. "I'm not going anywhere, I already promised you that."

"That's why I have to talk!" he managed with some volume and a glare.

I paused for a moment, looking down at him and taking in his oxygen tubing, his IV lines, and the heart monitor telemetry. Then I told him to scoot towards me. He gave me a strange look, but did as I bid. I walked around to the other side of his bed - the side with the fewest lines - and laid down next to him. I thought I might fall right back out, but I curled towards him as best I could, bringing my center of gravity safely onto the bed. I tugged aside his oxygen tubing and placed my head on his pillow, our faces almost touching.

"Tell me now, whisper, I'll hear you." Then I turned so my ear was near his mouth. I felt his sigh against my neck and shuddered in response. It felt familiar and oh, so welcome.

While I stared at the stark white ceiling, Heero whispered so soft that even with him this close, I could just barely hear him. He filled my head with enough sentiments of love and devotion and begged forgiveness to assuage every doubt or fear I ever had. I'd known he loved me. Dammit, I *knew* it. I'd just let my fears run away with my mind.

"What if something had happened," he was saying at one point. "What if I'd died without telling you how much you mean to me? What if I never got another chance to say how much I love you?" He leaned his head closer, pressing his forehead to the side of my head and I could feel the rhythm of his breath against my ear, in time with his whispered words. It sent constant shivers down my spine.

"But then," he continued, "when I saw you here, I thought you might only be here out of some sense of obligation and I didn't want to burden you anymore than I already have. I did to you what I feared you'd do to me. I left you, and you have every right to leave me too. Why should you have to take care of me when I walked out on you?"

I'd had enough of this. His worries were futile and I would not let him dwell on them.

"Stop," I said, before he even had paused for a breath, turning my head to face his, my forehead brushing in place against his. "Just stop," I added with a sigh. "I'm here because there's no other place I want to be than by your side - healthy or hurt."

Heero shook his head against me. "My recovery," he gasped out. "I could hire a nurse or assistance of some kind, you don't have to..."

This time I drew back, propping myself up on my bent arm and resting my head against my fist to look down at him.

"What did I just say? You're mine, Heero. I'm not letting you go, ever again." I shook my head for emphasis. "Forget the visiting nurse idea, okay? We're going to get through this. Together."

He began as if to speak again, but I raised my free hand to press a finger against his lips and won myself a scowl for the effort.

"Now you really do need to rest your voice," I told him.

He closed his eyes and turned his head away from me. I couldn't help but sigh and smile. My stubborn little asshole. But then he sighed too and I read his lips, not hearing his voice actually engage.

"Okay," he said.

I shimmied back out of his bed, speaking as I stood. "I love you, Heero Yuy. Don't you ever think otherwise." I turned around expecting to find his eyes on me, but I realized he was already asleep and I wondered if he heard me.

It didn't matter. I'd tell him again when he woke and every day after that for the rest of our lives.

I'd never doubt my place by his side again.

~~*~~

The one distinct thing I recall of the dreams was a sense of frustration because though I could see Duo, he was always out of my reach. I could never touch him and I wanted to so badly.

When I woke that one time, to find him there, I really thought I was still dreaming, but I'd reached him! I could finally touch him as I'd wanted to so desperately. There was such an overwhelming sense of relief and joy, just to be able to reach out and touch him. When I woke again and he was still there, I realized it wasn't a dream. He was really there with me.

I didn't feel worthy.

He's so beautiful to me in so many ways and it pains me to know how much I've hurt him, the doubts I brought to his mind.

I realize now that he is my source of all things: friendship, support, understanding, comfort, desire, and, most of all, love. It is through him that I will find my balance. It is with him that I will continue to sort through my emotions.

I have a long way to go still.

My recovery will continue soon at a hospital close to our home, but I know now that this is something that we as partners must work through together. Not that I won't take my solitude when I need it, but that's a far cry from running away from him.

I often withheld the words from him before, but I won't let that happen ever again. I will hold him and kiss him and tell him, everyday, what he means to me.

"I love you too, Duo Maxwell. Don't you ever think otherwise."

 

 

The End, completely