3-29-2001

disclaimer: the boys aren't mine. i just manipulate them for my own personal enjoyment.
title: momentary lapse of reason
rating: *this fic is not yet rated*
author: jana
archive: shinigami & wing
feedback: it's necessary to live...so, yes!
warnings for entire fic: shounen-ai/yaoi, angst, duo/heero torture, language, small lemon-ish spots?, AU (AC 200)
spoilers: none
pairings: odd....can't explain but it involves heero and duo and 3X4 implied.
notes: another one that came to me in dreamscape. yes, i know, i have weird dreams. you should see what happens after i eat pepperoni pizza.

//heero's thoughts//
:: duo's thoughts ::

 

Momentary Lapse of Reason
Part 1

All five of the Gundam pilots had managed to survive the war relatively unscathed.

If one were to be completely honest, I'm certain that one could discern that some benefits had been reaped from their experiences.

It wasn't too difficult to see, the most obvious being the deep friendship they had sustained over the past 4 years.

The fact that they remained working together and living under one roof surprised even them at times.

But their lives were not without trial, no ones ever are.

++++++++

"Duo, if you don't hurry up we're leaving without you." Quatre called up the stairs. "He does this almost every morning." the small blonde noted with annoyance.

Three pairs of eyes rolled up into their respective heads, though no comments were offered in return.

This was Duo...they all knew the deal.

Several minutes later, Duo came flying down the stairs, briefcase in hand, still working his arms in into the sleeves of his Preventer's jacket.

"Gomen...again." he grinned, making his way past the others, stepping outside onto the front porch.

The five settled into the black late model Jeep and Quatre backed it out of the driveway.

Hair still unbound, Duo fumbled with it in the back seat, elbowing Heero in the process. "Sorry, Heero." he offered, shifting closer to the door, continuing to braid his damp hair.

"Why don't you take a shower at night?" Heero asked.

He asked Duo the same question every day as if somehow expecting his answer to change.

"It helps to wake me up if take a shower in the morning." Duo replied, noting the echo as Wufei mocked his standard A.M. response.

Duo moved forward and looked past Heero to where Wufei sat. "Someone get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?"

"At least I got up on time." Wufei replied, not even looking at Duo "One of these mornings we're going to really leave without you, Maxwell."

Duo settled back into his seat "Yeah, yeah, same shit, different day."

"It's very inconsiderate of you to make us all wait, Duo." Trowa commented from the front seat.

"Hn." Heero snorted.

"Could everybody just lighten up a bit here?" Duo asked, "Next time I'm late, you can leave without me. Okay?"

Greeted with only silence, Duo finished braiding his hair, tied the end off and threw the rope over his shoulder.

+++++++

The elevator carried Heero and Duo in silence to their 12th floor office in the main building of the huge complex.

Noting the clock on the far wall, Heero booted his computer and turned toward Duo. "We're 10 minutes late."

Not meeting with what he was sure was one of Heero's more famous, though now less lethal glares, Duo sighed and sat at his desk, flicking the switch to power up his computer as well.

For the past few years, the two former pilots had been working together at Preventer's Headquarters. It seemed a logical progression. Despite the painfully obvious personality clashes, they remained a highly efficient team.

Heero's vast knowledge of computers and Duo's precision stealth capabilities during the war had, several years later, secured them the prestigious positions they currently held.

+++++++

The top floor of the Preventer's Building was where all confidential operations of the huge intelligence organization took place. There were only a handful of spacious offices on it, each housing a pair of highly trained and skilled young agents.

Despite the significance of their job, it was relatively stress free environment and the two spent the good portion of their working hours monitoring Earth and the Colonies for signs of unrest or disturbances. When the need arose, it was Duo who was sent out into the field to investigate any questionable activities they uncovered, more serious matters requiring Heero's assistance as well.

Tasks such as those were fortunately few and far between, Earth and the colonies having settled nicely into the peace the five young boys had risked their lives to achieve.

+++++++

All in all, the arrangement suited them both quite well, though they still struggled with the same daily clashes that had haunted them throughout their partnership during the war.

They were just two very different people, different backgrounds, different ideas on how they chose to live their lives.

Heero had relaxed quite a bit over the past few years, but by Duo's standards, he was still anal, still strove to be a perfectionist and in Duo's opinion still took things way too seriously.

And while Duo had matured considerably, he remained quite talkative and full of energy.

There was also another unresolved issue that remained from AC 196.

Duo Maxwell still harbored romantic feelings for his long-time partner.

++++++++

The feelings Duo had for Heero had diminished from the obsessive adoration he once held for the young cobalt-eyed pilot, but they were still prominent and despite his conscious efforts to squelch them, Heero remained in the forefront in his thoughts.

Duo had never taken a lover, which surprised the former ex-pilots. Only Quatre and Trowa knew the situation, Duo having turned to them for advice and an occasional shoulder to cry on during the past several years.

Heero was just Heero. He claimed to live life by his emotions, but Duo noted that wasn't saying much about his co-worker, as Heero appeared to still be in denial that he even possessed human emotions.

Now, as in the past, Duo rarely let Heero's caustic words affect him, at least not outwardly. He remained steadfast in his unwillingness to give Heero the perverse satisfaction of pissing him off, something that his cobalt eyed partner seemed to more than delight in.

++++++

The one thing the two young men had in common was their stubbornness; it was unrelenting, the two rarely giving in to one another.

Most disagreements they were likely to end in a stalemate, Heero usually throwing out an insult regarding Duo's intelligence or lack thereof, the braided young man never dignifying him with a response.

Heero looked over at his long-time partner.

//Why do I torment him so ?//

The answer came, but Heero chose to bury it, his actions typical when it came to things that involved Duo.

Heero had an inkling, okay; it was more than an inkling that Duo had an interest in him that went far beyond their current platonic relationship. What he didn't understand was his reluctance to accept it and deal with it.

//Old habits die hard.//

Heero had been intrigued by Duo from the moment they'd met. At first, the strange fascination with his fellow Gundam pilot was nothing more than morbid curiosity, something akin to the phenomenon of road kill. You knew that looking at it would nauseate you, yet you are were unable to turn your eyes away.

The more time he spent in the company of the Deathscythe pilot, the more Heero realized that there was more to Duo Maxwell than met the eye.

Loud mouthed and jester-like in nature on the surface, Heero regarded the self-proclaimed God of Death with caution. His cheerful facade may have fooled the others, but Heero was able to see beyond it, silently accessing the young Shinigami, finding him more like himself in that regard than Heero cared to admit.

Several months had gone by before he acknowledged that his interest in the young man was more than casual. There was something about him that Heero could not put his finger on. Something about the young boy that called out to him...... even in his dreams.

The sensations that Duo roused within him were unique. Not only had he never felt them before, but they were something that his extensive training under Doctor J hadn't dealt with. Whatever it was he felt for his partner kept his mind occupied with thoughts of him, sometimes to the point of total distraction, his inability to focus on anything but Duo frustrating him no end.

And so the thoughts were pushed to the back burner where they were kept out of sight, but in no way out of mind. There would hopefully be an after war for them. A time when he could allow the amethyst eyed boy and not the war to hold his full attention and in return give him his, but when that moment came, there was always something else standing in the way of him revealing his feelings to Duo.

The fact that young pilot did not return his emotions was never an issue.

Duo had made his desires for the cobalt-eyed boy known from the very start, at first just small innuendoes, eventually blatant flirting and teasing. Heero enjoyed the attention, amazed at times that someone like Duo could find him attractive in both a physical and mental way.

But there was no doubting it, Duo had made very sure of that and Heero had every intention of claiming his prize.

After the war......

After they found a place to live.....

After they had found jobs......

The adage that good things come to those who wait failed to hold water for Heero.

In the time that Heero had waited for his 'life to fall into place', he had succeeded in damaging his relationship with Duo to the point that he could no longer bring himself to tell Duo that he cared for him.

It was also at this point that Heero noticed that Duo no longer seemed to show any interest in him. It was a painful reality, but Heero had, by his own admission, pushed the boy too far away to ever hope of regaining whatever level of love and trust Duo once had for him.

+++++++++

Heero was curt with his fellow agent, often times his demeanor downright rude, belittling Duo for seemingly no reason. And now, as in the past, his methods failed to discharge his emotions.

Duo still intrigued him; he was Heero's polar opposite.

//Opposites attract.//

Heero closed his eyes momentarily, opening them to find Duo looking at him.

"Everything okay, Heero?" Duo asked, his instincts regarding Heero's
emotions always on target.

//He reads me like a book.//

"Hai." Heero replied, pulling his eyes away from Duo.

//How can he feel anything for me when I treat him like I do ?//

Heero succumbed to a small part of his enormous guilt regarding his braided friend. "Want to go out for lunch today?"

Duo smiled, "Sounds great." looking at his partner only briefly before continuing his work.

Heero nodded before focusing his attention back to his work, more than slightly distracted by his thoughts of Duo.

+++++++

Their typical lunch hour came and went and Duo's stomach growled. "Heero? I'm starved. You ready to take a break?"

Heero shut his open programs, looking at his partner. "Yeah, let's go." he smiled, noting how Duo's eyes lit up being on the receiving end of his rare smile.

+++++++

Eating out was a pleasant break from their standard bag lunch and as was par for the course, there was little conversation exchanged during the meal. Duo nonetheless attempted to draw his friend into some type of discussion.

"Everything has been really quiet lately, eh, Heero? Duo commented, his partner only nodding slightly to acknowledge his comment.

"Things keep up like this and we could find ourselves out of a job." Duo smiled, continuing his lunch.

"Those who monitor and gather electronic information will always be necessary and since we do it well..." Heero replied, "I think our jobs are relatively safe."

Duo smiled.

:: A compliment ::

The two finished lunch and the rest of the workday continued on in its standard silence, Duo occasionally singing loudly to some tune his small headset provided before becoming aware of it and blushing profusely.

4:00 signaled the end of their shift and Duo stood to stretch. While he had never given much thought to his career, this desk job didn't exactly suit him, it did nothing to help release his pent up nervous energy.

"One more day." Duo smiled toward Heero, the two clearing their desks.

There weren't many personal effects left around the large room, as surveillance was a 24-hour a day task, their desks soon to be occupied by a new pair of agents.

"Any plans for the weekend, Heero?" Duo asked, more out of politeness than anything else. Then there was Duo's need for human interaction. Having Heero as a partner less then fulfilled Duo's daily requirements, but he never gave up trying.

"Nothing special." he replied, "You?"

"Gonna finish working on my bike. Last of the parts should be here on Saturday." he smiled.

Heero zipped his bag and looked up at Duo. "You spend a lot of time working on that thing."

"Yeah, well it keeps me busy." Duo smiled as the two exiting the office. "And out of trouble."

 

Momentary Lapse of Reason
Part 2

Duo had bought the remnants of a 1956 Harley Davidson Panhead several months ago and had devoted nearly every weekend since then to restoring the classic bike to mint condition. Finding the necessary parts for the now more than antique cycle was not an easy task, but Duo was resourceful and unrelenting in his search. It was about to pay off.... big time.

The ride home was quiet, the silence, the motion of the vehicle lulling Duo into a light sleep. Waking with a start as the Jeep door slammed shut, Duo sat up straight, blushing as he realized he had been leaning on Heero's shoulder.

"Gomen, Heero." he was quick to apologize.

His partner merely slid across the seat to exit the car, his face slightly flushed.

++++++

"Package for you, Duo!" Quatre called from the front porch, a large brown box in his hands.

Duo smiled widely, hastily joining the others on the porch. "YESSS!!! My parts!" he exclaimed, taking the heavy package from Quatre. "Thanks, see ya later."

+++++++

Duo was notably absent from the dinner table that night.

Despite the fact that they teased their braided friend about his constant chatter, Duo's conversation livened their time spent together. Mealtimes in his absence were unnaturally quiet and the four finished their meal in near silence.

During the war, the amethyst-eyed young pilot had enhanced quality of their lives, and while no longer the precocious youth he once was, he continued to do so. On the surface it might seem that the four took Duo for granted, but nothing could have been further from the truth. He was the magnet that had pulled and continued to hold them together and despite the fact that they frequently lost their tempers with him, they never failed to recognize the importance of the former Deathscythe pilot. There wasn't one among them who would deny that Duo Maxwell was the most highly valued member of their unconventional family.

++++++

Immediately upon their return from the office, Duo hurried up to his room and changed out of his work clothes. Dressing in a pair of black jeans and a blue t-shirt, he stepped into a pair of dark blue work coveralls and disappeared into the garage. No one had seen or heard from him since.

++++++

Duo's stomach barely noticed the late hour as he sat cross-legged on the cool concrete floor of the huge garage. He was about to put the finishing touches on his six month long project.

:: There is nothing more satisfying than obsession. ::

Wiping his greasy hands on a nearby towel as he stood, Duo proudly eyed the labor of his endless hours, a gleam of pure satisfaction in his huge violet eyes.

Carefully removing his blackened coveralls, Duo sat on the bike and inserted the key into the ignition. Turning it one notch, he rotated the handle and the machine gently hummed beneath him. "That's music to my ears." he commented, a grin of self-satisfaction forming on his lips.

Turning off the engine, Duo cleaned up his mess and headed back into the house.

Acknowledging the others with only a small nod as he passed thorough the living room, Duo made his way upstairs, returning several minutes later to stand before them.

Dressed from head to toe in tight black leather, Duo held his helmet under his left arm while he slipped his hands into a pair of soft black leather gloves.

"She's done...I'm gonna take her out for a spin." Duo smiled, immediately turning to leave the room. "Don't wait up." he winked

All eyes were on the sleek leather-clad figure as it retreated.

+++++++

Tucking his braid into his jacket, Duo straddled the bike and slipped his helmet on, fastening it tightly under his chin. Running his hand over the smooth chrome of the thick handlebars, Duo started the engine and smiled as the low vibration made its way through his body. Slowly backing out of the garage, Duo lowered the dark visor of his helmet and hit the gas.

+++++++

It was several hours before he returned home, exhausted and made his way into the kitchen.

Taking off his gloves, Duo laid them on the counter and went to the refrigerator to get himself a beer.

"So, how was it?" an unseen voice asked.

Duo turned, his eyes now adjusting to the darkness of the room.

"It was great, Heero. Runs real smooth." Duo offered, walking to the center of the room to stand beside Heero.

"I can't believe I'm done." he commented, taking another sip of his Killian's. "Need to find a new pastime now."

Heero remained silent as he watched the braided young man unzip and remove his leather jacket, draping it over the back of the chair in front of him.

"Well.... goodnight, Heero. I'm bushed...it's been a long day."

"You eat?" Heero asked.

"Yeah, caught a bite out." Duo smiled back at him. See you in the morning."

++++++

The next morning began like most. It was 7:30a.m. and four of the five ex-pilots were seated at the huge breakfast table. Heero rose and made his way up to Duo's bedroom. Knocking once, he called, "Duo...it's almost time to leave."

Duo opened the door clad in only his khaki work pants, his wet hair lying on a large towel draped over his bare shoulders. "You guys go on ahead. I'm going to take the bike in this morning."

Heero turned to leave "Don't be late." he warned.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Duo smiled, closing the bedroom door.

+++++++

It was 9:12 when Heero looked down at his watch for the third time in the last few minutes. He scowled at the empty desk across from him, silently cursing his missing partner.

Distracted and visibly irritated by Duo's absence, Heero continued his work for only a short time before frustration finally took over and he picked up the phone's receiver.

Dialing home, Heero let the phone ring 5 times before the answering machine picked it up, nervously tapping his fingers on his desk as the recorded message played itself out. Finally hearing the tone, Heero spoke. "Duo...if you're there, pick up the damn phone. It's 10:00."

Remaining silent yet on the line, Heero waited several minutes to see if Duo would answer before slamming the phone down in annoyance.

Logging onto the personnel department, Heero checked the records to see if Duo had called in sick before putting a call in to Quatre.

"Quatre here."

"Duo hasn't show up yet," he told the blonde.

"Maybe he decided to take the day off." Quatre returned.

"He didn't call." Heero replied, Quatre noting his voice held less of an air of indifference than usual.

"Want to go home and check?" he asked, recognizing the worry in Heero's voice. "Stop by and get my keys."

"Hai." Heero returned, quickly hanging up.

Quatre replaced the receiver to its cradle and looked up to find Trowa watching him.

"That was Heero. Duo's not in yet." he offered.

Trowa smiled. "He probably decided to take the day off and spend it on his bike."

Quatre shook his head. "He didn't call."

Trowa's face turned slightly concerned. "Don't worry, little one, I'm sure he's fine."

Heero entered Quatre and Trowa's office on the third floor several minutes later. Hand out in silence; the small blonde dropped the keys into his outstretched palm and Heero looked up.

"You're worried." Quatre commented, Heero only nodding slightly in response before leaving the room.

++++++

Turning into the driveway at 10:40, Heero rushed inside the house, his emotions switching back and forth between anger at Duo's irresponsibility and fear for his friend's safety. He knew one of the two feelings was appropriate, hoping it was the former.

Bounding the steps two by two, he made his way up to the second floor and to Duo's room, Heero knocked. "Duo?" Hearing no reply, he entered the room, hoping to find Duo fast asleep in bed. Scanning the room briefly with no sight of him, Heero closed the door and made his way downstairs and into the garage, the bike was gone too.

Re-entering the house and preparing to leave, Heero paused as the answering machine clicked on.

"This is Center Hill Hospital. If there is anyone there, please pick up the phone. This is an emergency."

Small goose bumps appeared on his skin and Heero's face drained of its color as he stood frozen in the center of the large room..... the message continued.

"Please call 776-1212 as soon as you get this message. We have a... Duo Maxwell here. He was admitted several hours ago following a traffic accident. We need consent to perform surgery and Mr. Maxwell remains unconscious."

[click]

Heero let it sink in for only a second before snapping back into reality and exiting the house, hurrying toward the Jeep.

 

Momentary Lapse of Reason
Part 4

Heero stood for a minute in the center of the now empty hospital room.

There had been too many times in the past he stood as he did now. But this time it was more serious, Duo having sustained more injuries any of them had during the war. With the exception of his own attempt at self-destruction, which he obviously was not witness to, Heero could not recall seeing any of his fellow pilots so gravely wounded.

Heero struggled with the unfamiliarity of his current emotions. Despite his attempts to suppress them, his thoughts took him far beyond where he was willing to go. Looking down at the blood that stained his hand, Heero cringed and collapsed down onto the cool tile floor, reality striking him a brutal blow.

Heero Yuy realized that might very well have been the last time he would ever see Duo Maxwell again.

+++++++

Collecting his scattered thoughts and temporarily tucking his emotions away, Heero made his way down the hall to the nurse's station. Waiting patiently for one of the several women to address him, Heero looked down at his hand, the vision of Duo's limp form flashing before his eyes. Taking his handkerchief from his pocket, he wiped away what he could of Duo's blood from his palm.

"Can I help you with something?"

"Yes, I'm here to give blood."

The nurse smiled and made her way from the behind the desk. "Follow me."

Walking several feet down the hall, she stopped and motioned for Heero to enter the small room. "Someone will be with you shortly. Have a seat."

Heero looked across the room, the several chairs lined up against the far wall reminded him of school, the small tabletop attachments bringing back some fond memories that he hadn't thought about in years. A weak smile made found its way to his lips and he crossed the room to sit.

Unbuttoning the sleeve of his dress shirt, Heero carefully folded the stiff cuff upward, continuing to turn the crisp white fabric up onto itself until the bluish veins of his inner arm were visible beneath his skin. Heero let his fingertips dance over the protruding vessels for a moment. Sometimes it felt that life came down to just this, reducing us to little more than the blood that coursed through our veins. Heero closed his eyes. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

His thoughts interrupted just seconds later, Heero directed his attention to the rooms other occupant.

"I see you're ready." he smiled. Gathering several glass vials, a needle and some tubing the young man crossed the room. Taking a seat beside Heero, the young lab technician touched his fingertip to Heero's vein, pushing down slightly.

"Should be easy. You've got good veins."

Heero rolled his sleeve up higher, allowing the young man to stretch and tie the clear rubber tubing securely around his upper arm.

Heero watched intently as the needle entered his vein, unaware of the small pinch he knew accompanied the steel's entry. His eyes focused on the glass tube, the large vessel slowly with the thick red liquid. Oddly, Heero found the experience to be a pleasant one. While it certainly served to remind him of his youth, there was something entirely different about it that he enjoyed.

+++++++++

Accepting a small glass of orange juice from the lab technician, Heero rolled his sleeve back down and made his way into the waiting room. Digging into the pocket of his pants, he pulled out some coins and crossed the room, pausing before the pay phone on the wall. Fingering the change in his palm, he took a quarter into the other hand and taking a deep breath, removed the receiver from the hook and dialed.

"Preventer's"

"Quatre Winner, please."

"One moment."

Heero returned the remaining change to his pocket, his hand remaining to fidget nervously with the thin coins.

He could hear the phone ringing on the other end, one....... two....... three.......

"Quatre here."

Heero heard Quatre's voice and he felt an overwhelming sense of sorrow. "It's Heero, Quatre." he spoke softly, his voice beginning to show signs of his anguish.

"Did you find Duo? Quatre asked.

Heero nodded into the phone.

"Heero? Did you find Duo? Quatre asked again.

"Hai." Heero choked out.

Quatre could hear Heero's labored breathing on the other end of the line "Is he okay, Heero?" the blonde asked softly, Heero's silence frightening him.

"HEERO? Is Duo okay? He asked again, his tone urgent.

"I'm at the hospital now. Duo is in surgery." Heero explained, "He's in pretty bad shape."

Quatre was silent.

"There's nothing you can do here. I'll call you when I know something more."

Heero hung up the receiver and made his way over to the padded metal chairs. Dropping slowly into the bright orange cushioned plastic, Heero Yuy buried his head in his two hands and cried.

+++++++

It seemed like only seconds had passed when Heero felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Heero?"

Heero looked up to find the concerned faces of Quatre, Trowa and Wufei standing over him. Rising, he wasted no time in relating what little information he had on Duo's condition to very concerned his friends.

"He's still in surgery." Heero looked down at his watch, realizing he had fallen asleep and had remained so for almost three hours. "He should have been out by now." he commented, making his way over to the nurses station, the others following closely behind.

"Excuse me. Is Duo Maxwell out of surgery yet?" he asked.

The older woman looked down at the schedule on her desk, her finger following the line across the length of the paper. "No, He is still in surgery. Someone will let you know when he is out." She replied.

"Dr. Skinert said it would only be two hours. It's been over three." Heero informed her, his tone reflecting his deep concern and agitation.

The elderly nurse could see clearly read the worry on the young man's face. "Would you like me to see if I can find out what's going on?" she asked.

Heero nodded. "Thank you. I would appreciate it."

The nurse smiled warmly at him and exited the waiting room through the two green swinging doors.

++++++++

There wasn't much in the way of good news coming; Heero could see it in the gentle woman's face as she made her way back into the waiting area.

He rose to meet her.

"Mr. Maxwell is still in surgery. There were some complications. He should be through in about an hour."

"What kind of complications?" Heero asked.

"The Doctor will discuss that with you when she is through." she offered "Why don't you go get something to eat in the meantime. You've been sitting here for hours, you must be hungry."

Heero shook his head. "I'll wait."

Returning to the seating area, Heero reclined back into the chair next to Wufei.

"Do you want me to go get you something to eat, Heero?" Quatre asked, "It may help, you look terrible."

Heero sat forward in the chair and looked over to where Quatre sat. "I don't think food will help."

"Try to relax, Heero. I'm sure that everything will be fine." Trowa offered, his arm surrounding Heero's shoulder.

Heero fixed his gaze straight ahead and addressed his friend. "You didn't see him, Trowa.

The tone in Heero's voice relayed more about the gravity of the situation than his words ever could have.

 

Momentary Lapse of Reason
Part 5

It was another two hours before Dr. Skinert made her way into the surgery waiting area. Heero was the first to rise to meet her, his eyes rarely straying far from the swinging doors.

Visibly nervous as they he walked toward her, Heero let out a small sigh as Dr. Skinert smiled at him. "Mr. Maxwell came through the surgery fine, Mr. Yuy." the doctor nodding to acknowledge the others who were now standing by Heero's side.

"There was some bleeding due to the head trauma he suffered. Several small blood vessels are broken between his skull and his brain, it's referred to as a subdural hematoma. We hadn't expected the damage to be so great, but we suceeded in relieving the pressure. He is stable now, but still in critical condition."

Heero and others were extremely relieved by the seemingly good news, their sullen mood lifted somewhat, the young doctor was pleased by their reactions, but was compelled to continue her cautions.

Her face demeanor turned more serious as she turned to the expectant young man beside her. "Mr. Yuy, despite the fact that the surgery went well, I feel it only fair to warn you that your friend is far from being out of danger. His vital signs are strong and Mr. Maxwell is young and otherwise healthy, but there is no telling what the outcome may be with the type of brain injuries he has sustained."

"So it's a wait and see game." Heero commented.

"Yes." she replied. "The next 72 hours will give us a better idea of the permanent damage your friend may have suffered, if any."

"When can we see him?" Heero asked.

"Not for another few hours. He is still in the recovery room. Check back here at 7:00, okay?"

Heero nodded, extending his hand. "Thank you, Dr. Skinert."

The young redhead smiled warmly as she returned his firm handshake.

++++++++

Heero's heart lightened with the news of what he now understood to be many obstacles was lifted. For the moment, the fact that Duo had survived the ordeal was more than comforting enough and he didn't allow his thoughts to go beyond the relief that news had brought.

Quatre's suggestion of going out to get something to eat was met with unanimous agreement and the four young men headed for the elevator. Despite the fact that the doctor had suggested they return in two hours, they hurried through their meal, anxious to get back to the hospital. With at least an hour yet to go before they could see Duo, they relaxed as much as circumstances would allow in the small waiting area.

"I think it might be a good idea if one of us took some time off to spend with Duo." Wufei began. "Maybe not right now, but it will be necessary in the near future.

The others nodded, Quatre looking over at Heero. "Heero? It makes the most sense for you to do it, since you are Duo's partner, if that's okay with you."

Heero looked at the others for a moment. "I don't really think I'd be the best one suited for comforting Duo." he replied, lowering his head.

"While that may be true, Yuy, you are in the best position to get the time off." Wufei told him.

"Think about it. Okay, Heero?" Quatre added, Heero nodding in response.

+++++++

At 6:45, Dr. Skinert made her way into the waiting area. Noticing that all eyes were on her as she entered, she stood in the doorway and beckoned Heero to follow her.

"We've just taken him into Intensive Care." she relayed before turning to look at Heero. "Mr. Yuy, I'm assuming that I don't need to prepare you for what you are about to see." It was almost a question, but Heero understood.

"I'll be fine." he replied, following her into the large room.

Keeping his eyes cast downward, Heero walked closely behind the doctor in silence until she came to a stop. "You can stay for 10 minutes. I'll be nearby if you have any questions."

Heero stood at the foot of the bed and glanced upward at his friend and partner.

Duo looked no worse for the wear than he had this morning when Heero first saw him. With the exception of the addition of several tubes, Heero was pleased with Duo's overall appearance and relaxed enough to move to the side of his bed.

There were more bandages covering Duo's head than before and Heero noticed that his hair had been released, wondering for just a moment how large an area of his head they had to shave.

"You are going to be one unhappy camper when you wake up, Duo." Heero faintly smiled.

Heero jumped slightly as he felt a hand on his shoulder. "It's good to talk to him. Some people believe it helps bring them out of the anesthesia faster."

Heero reached out and let his fingers caress Duo's hair as he looked up at the Doctor. "How much?" he asked.

"As little as possible. Will hardly be noticeable with his head of hair." she smiled.

Heero nodded and released his grasp Duo's hair, somewhat relieved. "When can we expect him to wake up?"

"A few more hours.." she replied, her tone softening. "I'm afraid you'll have to leave now. You may send one of your friends."

Heero nodded and reached out to take Duo's hand in his. "I'll be back in the morning."

+++++++++

Heero took seeing Duo the best of the four, his earlier visit having lightened the shock the others were now experiencing.

Heero quietly accessed the reactions of each of his friends as they exited the Intensive Care Unit, the pain clearly visible on each one of their solemn faces.

It was Wufei's face that revealed the most, the Chinese young man's dark eyes watery as he made his way back into the waiting area. Heero reached out and wrapped his arm around his friend's waist in a show of comfort and they headed for the elevator.

The nearly hour ride home was made in silence, the four reflecting on the days events.

 

tbc.......

 

Note:

(this was inadvertantly left out of part 3 and it still applies so i figured i'd add it here..... i'm not used to having notes *g*)

[1] Dr. Skinert- The name of the lovely redheaded doctor who saved Duo's life is an anagram for the name of a very good friend of mine and fellow otaku. Know who you are?