I AM DUO?
Warnings: May contain mature subject matter.
Feedback is always welcome
Written by: SisterWine
As the two gentlemen approached the admitting desk of the On Base Psychiatric Hospital, they remained oblivious to what was soon to be revealed. Following the first up to the desk, the second glanced about while the first stared forward at the nurse who was amidly talking to her friend on the phone.
"Yea, I know. Isn't he cute? Oh, let me call you back, Shari. People are here." The nurse promptly hung up the phone and looked up into Prussian and Black eyes of her two passive guests. "Hi, may I help you?" She smild at the two emotionless guests.
The Japanese man stepped closer to the desk and said in a low but firm voice, "I am Doctor Hin, and this is my assisstant, Doctor Cort. We are doing research for a new medical funding group. I was wondering if we may have a look around and ask a few doctors their opinions on some new techniques."
"Medical funding group? Oh, yes. I see someone called this morning for the tour. Right this way and I will show you around." At her right was an automatic door with a tiny square window high in the door. She pushed a button on her desk and then ushered the two men through the door. "Right this way, doctors."
Walking down a nearly empty corridor, both men glanced into the room on either side of them. They were stopped, occasionally, and shown several patients' rooms. The nurse gave brief histories of the numerous patients before coming to the end of the hall and stopping in front of a closed and locked door.
Stepping aside and taking a syringe from the cart that sat beside the door, she let the men peer inside briefly, before unlcoking the door and opening it.
The occupant lay on a flat bed with his blanket pushed down to the end of the bed. He stared up at the ceiling and hummed slightly to himself as if he were trying to speak words, but none came out. His hnds played with the end of his long braid that had been pulled around to the front for him to carress. He gave no notice of the three beings who walked inside his room, or what the nurse was about to do. He knew that she was sitting on the side of his bed and had gently pulled an arm from his braid to inject him with something. What, he didn't know. But then again, he didn't care.
She injected the syringe into a bottle of clear liquid and filled the syringe halfway with the contents. "This is Mister Maxwell. He has only been with us for a short time, but it seems he has always been here." She then injected the dazed and limp man with the contents the syringe held.
Cort and Hin looked at each other in satisfaction. He was there. Sally had been right. But, how to get him out of this place was the question. Their gazes fell on the now blanketed and sleeping figure that was their long lost firend.
Parts of his hair was hanging out of his once strong and perfect braid. His eyes, when open, stared aimlessly at the ceiling. His body lie straight and limp on the flat bed, with only a thin blanket to cover him. The only other piece of furniture in the room, was a small, black cushioned chair. The window to his right had bars on the outside of it and was covered by thin white curtains.
"What is wrong with him?" The black-eyed assisstant spoke up, breaking the silence.
The nurse looked at the sleeping patient and then at the two men. "He's been here for a few years. Records show him as being in traumatic shock. No family, no friends, not even acquaintances. Each doctor that has looked at him say that it is something that happened in the war ten years ago. The funny thing is, he checked himself in, and he seemed fine. That was about four years ago. I wish he would come out of this. He is so young to have this much trauma involved."
As they finished their tour and headed back to the entrance, Hin thanked the nurse for her time and then turned to his assisstant and ushered him to the door. Walking past the automatic door, the black-eyed man turned to his friend and said with a low voice, "Are you sure you want him out of there? Sally did say she didn't know how bad he was. That told me all I wanted to know."
The Japanese man stopped and turned to his friend. "It took me 8
years to find Duo. Now that I have found him, I will not let him wither
away in that room when I know he is stronger than those medicines. I looked
closely into his eyes and saw the old Duo waiting to come back. Trowa and
Quatre said they'd help. Will you? If not, I will do this without you."
Turning, he walked briskly to the car, nonchalant of his friend that sighed
The ride back to the safe-house was a quiet one. Neither man mentioned anything to the other about the observations they made of their once vital and energized friend. Instead they stared ahead and braced themselves for the questions that were to be asked of their visit.
As the car came to a halt, Heero and Wufei sighed deeply and undid their seatbelts. They got out of the car and briefly looked at each other before walking to the front door.
Heero entered the magnificent house first, followed by Wufei. They stood in the entry floor and listened for any movement in the large white house.
"Good, you're back. How was the visit? Was Sally's theory right?" A thin, blond young man stood in the doorway to the library and smiled at the two.
"He's there. At least, his body is. His mind is locked in limbo." Heero's monotonous voice spoke up as he shrugged past his companions and headed for the kitchen. He reached for the refrigerator door and opened it. Scanning the contents, he found a half-empty bottle of Sprite and took it out. Setting it on the counter and feeling two pairs of eyes on him, he turned to look from the bottle to the doorway.
Quatre walked into the room and sat down at the kitchen table. "How was he? Is he alright?"
"The nurse said he's been there for four years. If we take him out, it will take awhile for us to bring him back to reality and let him know who we are. When we walked into the room, he didn't seem to notice anyone was there. Or he didn't want to. He is Heero's problem, not the rest of the world's." Wufei stated calmly, as he sat down in a chair opposite Quatre.
Heero looked at Wufei with hard eyes. He didn't want to accept that Wufei didn't care about Duo. In fact, he knew Wufei had come to like the braided twat.
"What we have to do now is figure out a way to get him out of there. I promise we'll have time to settle differences later. Duo comes first, right now. Okay?" Quatre's voice broke the creeping silence that had flooded the kitchen.
With folded hands and focused eyes, Wufei stared at the table and then agreed that "Doctor hin and his assisstant" would make another hospital call. But, this time, it would be to remove a patient.
Heero looked from his Sprite bottle to Wufei in amazement. "Right! I'll make the arrangements. By next week, Duo will be home with us."
Quatre got up from the table and stepped closer to Heero. "You do know, bringing him out of his limbo will confuse and disorient him, don't you? It is possible we may need to restrain him until he calms down."
"He will be fine. I'm sure he won't need to be restrained. But, we will need some of that medicine they keep him on. Just in case." Heero sighed and stiffened before the others caught on to his emotion.
Sally and Trowa were to arrive the next day from L3. It was decided that Quatre would brief them and make sure that when Duo arrived, he would be well cared for. Sally would know the right treatments to keep Duo calm and somewhat sedated, and Trowa would try his best to keep Duo relaxed and entertained.
The next day....
A car pulled up around 1PM and two individuals got out and approached the house. Stepping onto the front porch, they both turned and saw the livingroom curtain brush straight. Someone had been watching them. Just then, that someone was opening the front door and smiling.
Trowa smiled slightly and then steped closer to his blond friend, as did Sally.
The two were briefed as they sat in the library and sipped coffee. As the briefing went on, Sally mentioned that she was stunned at her predictions about Duo being in the hospital.
"I did some checking on his past employment record and personal status. After the war, he was married briefly and had a child. They divorced and then not long after that, he went into the state he is in now." Trowa spoke up. He had been sitting quietly and listened to the information being exchanged.
The rest of the weekend was spent readying a room for Duo and finding some clothes that might fit the thin Shinigami. While Wufei and Trowa were playing chess and working out a plan to bring Duo home, Heero and Quatre were tending to the arrangements and accomidations. Sally, on the other hand, was gathering equipment and supplies needed for the next week.
"Next Monday, we bring him home." Heero said, joining the others in the kitchen for dinner.
"This had better work, Yuy." Wufei said passively as he took a bite of cornbread.
"Oh, hello agin. The doctor is preparing Mister Maxwell's release forms. Right this way, gentlemen." The nurse who had taken them on the tour the previous week, had stood from her desk and greeted them.
Heero and Wufei had followed behind her and were eager to get the hospital obsticle over with. However, neither one of them had any expression at all, until they saw Duo.
He was sitting in a wheelchair, off to one side of the hall, staring at the off-white floor in front of him. Like before, he hadn't noticed anyone coming or going. And he didn't seem to care what was happening. He was clean, however, and his braid restored to perfection.
Wufei let Heero talk to the doctor and fill out the release forms while he carefully looked over Duo. He was careful not to get too close or touch Duo, just in case Duo retracted in fright.
"Everything seems to be in order. Doctor, what do you propose to do to cure him? My staff and I have tried everything and nothing has worked." Doctor Baker asked as he and Hin (Heero) walked out of Baker's office and looked at Duo.
"I intend on working with him. Perhaps make him come back to his senses. Perhaps if I could get him to talk to me or my staff, he might come out of this state by himself. However, it will take time and a lot of patience." Heero turned and shook the doctor's hand before motioning to his assisstant that it was time to go.
A short time and wheelchair switch later, Heero walked along beside Duo while Wufei pushed the wheelchair. Down the hall, through the automatic door and past the front desk.
Heero noted that Duo was still staring at the ground in front of him and that he was now playing with the end of his braid, just as he had always done.
When they reached the car, both noticed that Duo had looked up for a second and saw the car and felt arms lifting him from the chair anhelping him to sit in the back seat. His eyes didn't focus on the Japanese figure that was leaning across him, buckling him up.
Wufei shut the trunk and was tossed the keys by Heero. "You drive. I want to make sure he is ok." Heero said as the keys landed in Wufei's hand.
Heero went around and sat in the seat behind Wufei as he drove back to the safe-house. Both boys were quiet and took turns glancing at Duo. Heero had gingerly reached out and touched Duo's arm and waited to see some sort of reaction. Nothing. Not even a flinch or jerk.
Duo, on the other hand, was left to wonder where he was and where he was going. Were these strangers going to hurt him? And why him? Why pick on him when he had nothing to do with them? Did they know him? Who were they and why couldn't he bring himself to look at their faces?
As the car turned this way and that, Duo stared blankly at the back of the front passenger seat. He would occasionally blink or take a deep breath, but nothing more.
As the car turned into the drive way and came to a stop, Duo saw out of the corner of his eye that this was not a hospital, nor were the people really doctors. But still, he didn't care. Nor did he move or give any implication that he could comprehend anything more than the back of the seat in front of him.
The door to his right opened and two strong but gentle hands were helping out of the car and into a wheelchair that had been pulled from the trunk. The hands were guiding him to sit down and remain calm. To him, they felt familiar, but he couldn't see their owner's face.
"I have his room ready and I'm running a bath for him. How is he? Did he speak at all or do anything?" Another familiar voice spoke up. It was coming from the doorway of this big white building that he was getting dangerously close to.
"No change, " the one pushing him stated, flatly. "I'll give him a bath and then bring him down for something to eat." With that, he was turned around and pulled up a board laying over the stairs to make a ramp.
When they were all in the house, Gentle and thin arms wrapped around him and lifted him from the wheelchair. Each time he inhaled, he took in a scent of a sweet and somewhat musky cologne. Underneath that scent was a clean scent of soap and warmth.
Heero held Duo's legs in one arm and cradled his back in the other. He paused briefly to get accustomed to having Duo so close to him. He liked the feeling he felt as Duo rested his sleepy head on his shoulder. Carrying the limp boy up the steps, he could hear a low moan, almost in pain come from deep inside Duo.
"I have laid out towels and soaps and things for you. I tried not to make the water so hot. Dinner will be ready soon. Oh, and there are some clean clothes for him lying on his bed." Quatre said, his voice just above a whisper. He stepped aside and let Heero carry Duo into the bathroom and set him down on the toilet seat.
Duo was left alone for a moment while the other two went out into the hallway and shut the door so they could talk more privately. As he sat there, flashes of memories came back and attacked him. Pictures of his past and his beloved DeathScythe and the other Gundam Pilots. And most of all, pictures of his wife and child danced briefly in front of his eyes, then vanished. Sensing his tears but not being able to move to wipe them away, he let them trickle down his face and drop onto his limp hands that were resting on his lap.
When the door opened again, Duo fought back a shutter and gasp for air. The hands were on him again, but this time they were more gentle. Wiping away his tears and stroking his soft cheeks. The voice was talking to him, again. Telling him what was going on, and not to be afraid. He was being undressed, slowly, discreetly. He was given time to adjust and take in what was going on.
Heero gingerly lifted Duo off the seat and rested him on his shoulder as he pushed Duo's sweatpants and boxers down to his knees. He noticed that Duo stiffened as Heero moved down and lifted his legs out of the pants and boxers. When he stood up again, he leaned forward and whispered to Duo, "I'm going to remove your shirt now. Just relax." He lifted one of Duo's arms and slipped it out of the short sleeved, white shirt. As he did so with the other one, he felt Duo give way and sit back down on the seat. Catching him, and guiding him down to the seat, Heero slipped the shirt off of Duo and tossed it onto the floor where the gray sweatpants were.
"Are you ready? Before your bath water gets cold, I'll get you clean and fed. Duo? I'm going to pick you up and set you into the bath. But first, I am going to undo your braid. We'll get it back in, I just want to wash your hair for you, ok?" Heero spoke in a soft, cool voice that Duo could just barely make out. As Heero lifted him up and over the side of the tub, he knelt down and set him into the warm water. Propping him up against the cool wall, he felt Duo shutter slightly as his bare skin brushed the cool tile.
"There." Heero sighed and knelt down beside Duo. He grabbed a large, soft sponge and placed it into the water. Then, he grabbed a white squeeze bottle that contained the body soap and poured a small amount onto the sponge.
As he washed Duo off and rinsed him, he glanced into the once vibrant blue eyes and saw only gray blank eyes staring back. Tipping a cup into the water and pouring it over Duo's head, he reached for the shampoo. A strong sent of fresh mango filled the air.
Working it into Duo's hair, he thought about what it would be like if Duo knew what was going on. And how he might react, if he had been coherent. Rinsing and repeating the same thing with the mango conditioner, he asked Duo if he knew what was going on. Getting no response, he rinsed the conditioner out and reached to pull the drainplug.
As Heero put clean underwear and clothes on Duo and carried him down stairs, he smiled as he realized that Duo's head once again rested on his shoulder.
At the dinner table....
Duo was placed at the end of a cushioned booth. To his right, sat Wufei, then Trowa. Quatre sat in a chair across from him and Heero sat in the chair beside him. In front of him, on the table was a bowl filled with a creamy white soup one of them called, nipfla.
Heero fed him and wiped his mouth when he dribbled. Wufei helped him to take a drink of water and Trowa and Quatre cleared the dishes.
"Sally will be here in the morning to check him over. He needs rest. I'm sure a new setting and strange people is taking its toll on him." Trowa stated as he set the dishes into the dishwasher.
"Strange people? We've known him for this long and now we're strangers again? Gah, Baka!" Wufei flared his tone before storming out of the kitchen.
Trowa and Quatre both looked at each other and sighed in unison.
Heero gathered Duo up in his arms again and informed the others that he was taking Duo up to bed and that he would stay with him through the night. With that, he carried Duo up to the bedroom that had been designated for Duo. Setting him on the edge of the bed and pulled back the bulky covers, ready to slip Duo under them.
Tucking him in, and turning to reach for a chair to sit in, Heero felt a tug on his hand. Duo had grabbed it and tugged it to suggest that Heero stay beside him. "Okay, Duo. I'll stay. I'm going to go around to the other side and lie down with you, all right?" He did so, as Duo released him.
Crawling in beside Duo and rolling onto his side so that he could watch Duo, he brushed away the bangs from Duo's forehead and kissed it. Staying like that, they fell asleep.
The next morning, Heero awoke to find Duo not in the bed. Startled, he shot up to a sitting position and looked around. He glanced over the side of the bed and found a sleeping Duo, who was curled in a fetal position with no covers or pillow.
Heero slid closer to him and pulled the blanket over to cover him up. "At least he slept." He said, under his breath as he got out of bed and went to open the door.
Turning around, Heero looked one last time at Duo.
Downstairs, Trowa and Quatre were making pancakes for breakfast. Wufei, on the other hand, was sitting in the cornerbooth reading a book on the "Human Psyche". The ages of the book turned faster and faster, as Wufei searched for a way to bring Duo out of his daze.
"How is he?" Quatre's question surprised Heero for a moment.
"He is still asleep. Somehow, he managed to be on the floor when I woke up. Sally is examining him now." Heero sighed and sat down in the chair across from Wufei. Taking the brown leather wallet from his backpocket, he started to flip through it. "I wonder why or what made Duo close himself up like this."
Wiping his hands on a dish towel, Trowa walked up and stood behind Heero and looked over his shoulder. The pictures he saw, of Duo, made him wonder too. The man in the pictures was not the shell Heero and Wufei had brought home. Trowa looked more closely at Duo's expressions in them. Each one seemed to have his smile shadow something that could have crushed Duo emotionally.
Just then, Sally came in and walked directly to the fridge for a can of soda. Not saying a word or having any expression on her face, she caused the others to take immediate notice. "He spoke." Was all she said, as she opened the can and took a sip.
Heero jumped up. "What did he say? Is he okay?"
"He just said a name. And, I'm guessing, it has something to do with his oblivious condition."
"Who's name did he say?" Quatre turned around from the griddle.
Before she could say the name, Heero ran from the room and darted up the stairs. Trying not to, but did anyway, Heero threw open the door and flung himself to Duo's side. He grabbed Duo's hand and held it gently, stroking the back of it softly.
Duo was sitting up with his back propped up against a long pillow that was wedged between him and the wall. The lamp to his left gave off a dim amount of light; perfect for shining its radiance off of Duo's smooth and clean face.
"Duo? Can you hear me? It's Heero......" He whispered softly, but got no response from the paralyzed man next to him. "Duo, will you repeat the name you told Sally, to me? Please." Again, nothing.
Feeling unwanted, Heero focused on the floor and slowly turned to go back downstairs.
As he reached the door, Heero heard a soft moan come from behind him.
"Alyzabith." Duo had said the name again. "Ohhhhhh sshhhh."
Heero turned to see Duo's face pale and damp with streaming tears. Rushing back to Duo's side, he wrapped his arms around the frail and sobbing man and held him cosely, letting Duo pour himself out onto Heero's shoulder.
After a long few minutes, Duo stopped sobbing and sat back against the wall.
It felt like hours that the two had been sitting there in silence. Duo stared forward and Heero sat on the side of the bed and looked at the floor.
"So, Who is Alyzabith?" Heero somehow found the courage to ask, still staring at the floor.
Duo sniffled and let two tears fall from his eyes and land on his arns that were loosely resting on his thin stomache. "She was my wife. Five years we were together, and then one day...... poof...... they were gone." His voice was soft, emotionless.
"They?" Heero choked out as he looked over his shoulder to a pale Duo.
Duo sat there, weighing the outcome of telling Heero that he had a son. But, he still didn't look anywhere but at the wall in front of him. "M-m-my son, Jonathon. He would be 8 now. I came home one day, and they were gone. Her ring and a note was all that was left in the house. And a box......."
Heero looked puzzled. "What box? What was in the box, Duo?"
Duo turned away from Heero and curled himself into a fetal position. How could he tell Heero that he kept the box of pictures from when he and Heero were together? Duo had been told to destroy the pictures before he left L1.
"Duo,........" Heero grabbed Duo's arm and turned him around to face him. "What box?"
"Heero,....... go away. Please, I don't want to talk about it."
With a look of uncertainty, Heero reluctantly walked back down stairs. Brushing past Quatre and Trowa on the staircase, and bumping shoulders with Wufei, Heero remained quiet and in thought for the rest of the day.
That night, the others gathered around the table and sat down to start eating dinner. Heero was asked by Quatre and Sally if Duo had decided to pass on dinner. Heero shrugged.
"He won't answer me." Was his only reply.
As they took their first bites and chewed them slowly, no one noticed the soft padding down the steps or the fingers brushing lightly on the wall and banister. It was, however, Wufei the first to notice Duo's slight shadow standing in the doorway.
Duo looked hungry, but embarrassed. He didn't meet anyone's gaze at first, but then eventually looked at Quatre and Wufei for guidance.
"Duo, please, come and sit down. Have some food." Quatre spoke in a soft slow voice. At the same momet he said the word "food", Heero turned and sat in silent shock that Duo had pulled himself out of bed and stupor and was now sitting beside him, holding out a shaky plate in hand for some roast beef and potatos.
After dinner, Heero was standing on the porch, staring at the stars and listening to the hum of passing cars. He didn't notice Duo open the door and walk out towards him. A hand brushed his shoulder, and soft lips caressed his cheek.
"I never knew you were married, after......." Heero's sentence trailed off, his sight remained focused forward.
"Well, I figured you would go back to what's-her-name, and forget all about me. So, when I met Alyzabith, I took a chance and fell in love. But, then it came down to the fact that...... first loves are harder to get over. And she couldn't understand that." Duo looked at Heero and then got down on his knees as a tear strolled in hurried fashion down his pale cheek. "Heero, please. I- I went insane after I lost her, and couldn't find you."
Heero turned and looked down at him. His expression changed from angry to hurt to ashamed in a matter of seconds. Stroking Duo's tear-damp cheek, and gazing into heavy blue eyes, he nodded and whispered "ok". Pulling Duo to his feet and hugging him close, they began to simultanaeously cry on each other's shoulders before eventually going back inside and up to bed.
I know, it's not what you thought it would be. But, hey, give a poor
girl a break!