Can Duo help Trowa and Heero in the aftermath of a mission gone wrong? Post EW.
In my life, I'd not soften.
Things that cut and burn so often.
But I sit, think of something.
Scared to face the dying nothing.
"It Ain't Like That"- Alice in Chains
Ever since this whole ordeal started I'm finding that my mind keeps wandering back to my childhood and my time served on L2. I say time served because anyone who has spent even the shortest length of time on that colony knows that it is a prison. So I'm laying here in bed drifting somewhere between deep sleep and wakefulness with an exhausted Trowa sprawled across me like a security blanket. Memories pass before my mind's eye like marchers in a parade. They pull me in; draw me deeper into the swirling chaos. The faces of the people who once cared for me, who I loved with a child's unconditional vigor, come into focus. Solo, Sister Helen, Father Maxwell, Maddie...........Oh, Maddie. I have not let myself think about her in so long.
I miss you, Maddie. I hurts so bad to remember. I've tried my best to move on and live the life we used to dream about. We tried so hard, made so many sacrifices.........
"Duo, wake up."
I open my eyes to find Trowa staring at me with a curious look on his face. He backs off as I sit up into a more reclined position. I wipe a hand across my face trying to chase the fog from my brain.
"Who's Maddie?" Trowa asks.
"Huh? Oh, she was a girl I knew when I was a kid. Why do you ask?"
"You were talking in your sleep. You kept saying her name."
"Really? Did I say anything else?" I'm suddenly frightened that I may have unconsciously let out some details of my life that I'd rather keep hidden. Trowa yawns and shrugs slightly.
"Nothing that I could understand," He says. I have to keep myself from sighing in relief. I cover my discomfort by stretching and yawning rather loudly. I glance over at the clock on Trowa's nightstand, 11:45. Trowa and I have been napping for almost two hours.
"Damn, we must have been tired," I say casually. I look over to Trowa who has lain back down on the pillow. "Are you hungry now?" Trowa slowly pulls himself up into a sitting position and curls one leg underneath him. He leans most of his weight on his good arm.
"Yeah, I guess so. I still feel a little queasy," He replies.
"Then I'll make you something light, like soup," I say and I throw the covers back and get out of the bed.
"That sounds fine. I would like to take a shower afterwards," Trowa says as turns and lets his feet hang off the side of the bed. He runs and hand through his hair to smooth it down.
"Sorry, no can do," I say. He whips his head around sharply to face me. I know what the question is before it can leave his lips. "Not until the stitches come out. The doctor said two more days. After that we can use that liquid skin stuff and then you'll be able to take a shower." He turns away from me again and stares down at the floor.
"Oh," he says a little dismayed. I reach over and lift his face up with a gentle hand under his chin.
"I know it's tough but you just need to stick it out for a few more days. If it will help any I can wash your hair in the sink," I suggest. There is a brief flash of something akin to joy in his eyes but he quickly subdues it.
"That would be great. Thanks, Duo." We hold each other's gaze for a few moments more than one would normally do when speaking. I know that the fact that he has become dependent on others has to bother Trowa something awful. Its not that he is too proud to accept help it's just that he would rather not have to be reduced to a state that requires it. He is the first one to break eye contact.
"I can still smell it," Trowa begins softly. "It's in my nose every time I breathe. That place......it's in my hair, my skin. I just want to be rid of it." He begins to shiver.
"O-okay. Come on. Let's get you cleaned up and then we'll get you something to eat," I say as I offer him my hand to steady himself as he stands. Trowa nods his head solemnly. I'm an idiot for not realizing. I've heard that victims of rape often want to shower immediately afterwards to wash the "taint" of their tormentor from themselves. A spiritual cleansing as well as a physical one.
We again make our way to the bathroom. I suppose Trowa is feeling stronger after our little nap. That or he feels the need to exert some more control over the situation because when I made a move to have him use me as a crutch he refused. Instead he let me take hold of his broken right arm for balance and leaned against the wall with is left. This is fine by me. The sooner he recovers physically the sooner we can put this whole fucking experience behind us. Once inside I sit Trowa on the closed lid of the toilet.
"How are we going to do this?" I ask more to myself that to Trowa. Our bathroom does not have a bathtub just a shower stall. I could try and wash his hair in the sink but I don't think he has the stamina to stand and lean over the basin for a prolonged period of time. I could try having him sit on a chair and lean backwards into the sink. No, I don't think that will work either. He would have to put pressure on his back and that will most likely be painful for his broken ribs. I suppose I could have him sit in the shower since the shower head is detachable and I can control how wet the rest of his body gets.
"Wait here a sec, I'll be right back," I say to Trowa as I bolt out of the room. I just remembered that there is a small stool in the garage. That would be perfect. I could put it in the shower and have Trowa sit on that. I run down the stairs and into the garage and find the little wooden stool next to Heero's workbench. I grab it and run back upstairs.
"Ta da!" I say as I reenter the bathroom and show my acquisition to Trowa. He looks at me with his eyebrows knit in confusion.
"It's for you to sit on in the shower," I say to his unasked question. I see apprehension in his eyes. I guess he just realized what I was planning to do.
"Tro, are you comfortable with me doing this?" I ask. He shrugs his shoulders slightly.
"I suppose it doesn't really matter. It's not like I can do it myself and it's not like you've never seen me naked before," He says bitterly. Despite the truth in that statement I can't help but feel a little embarrassed. I mean the two of us have already been as intimate with each other as two people could possibly be but there is nothing even remotely sexual in what we are about to do.
I feel a sudden surge of anxiety that settles in the pit of my stomach. Trowa doesn't think I'm going to try anything with him does he? The thought that he might misconstrue my actions leaves me feeling dizzy.
"Of course it matters," I say. "If you don't feel comfortable with me being here then I won't be." He stares at me for a moment like he is weighing the validity of my statement. I have to admit that it kind of hurts that he doesn't automatically trust me but then again his trust issues have been thrown for a loop along with everything else.
"No," Trowa says finally, "It's not that. I just feel so fucking helpless right now. I don't want you to feel that you have to wait on me hand and foot. I just-"
"Whoa, stop it right there," I interrupt. "You are my friend and I don't want you to go questioning my motives just accept my help and know that it's always here when you need it."
"No, buts about it. You would do the same for me. I know you would because that's the type of person you are. So, I'm going to help you get cleaned up a little and then I'm going to help you get something to eat," I say matter-of-factly. Trowa looks at me like he is shocked to hear me say these things.
"Duo, I never knew........thank you," he says breathlessly.
"Don't be silly," I counter. "Of course you did. Now, let's get you all prettied up." I smile at him as I help him to his feet and it touches me when he smiles back. It really is a beautiful thing to witness one of Trowa's smiles. The ways his eyes light up you can't help but smile yourself. Some people say that my laugh is contagious but I'd put Trowa's smile up against it any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
I help Trowa pull his T-shirt over his head very carefully. This the first time I have seen all of the gauze and bandages taped to his back. I have to stop a gasp before it sounds. The entire left side of Trowa's rib cage is covered with deep purple bruises and abrasions where his ribs were broken. This is proving to be harder than I initially thought. I take a deep breath to steady myself. While his is still standing, I pull down the sweat pants that he had been sleeping in but leave the boxers on. Trowa leans his weight on my shoulder as I help him step out of them. I put the stool inside the shower and steady Trowa as he sits down on it. I grab a towel from the nearby rack and drape it across his shoulders to help keep his back dry, I'll change the gauze later. Reaching in to the shower I detach the shower head and turn the water on. I figure I'm probably going to end up being the one to get all wet so I stand back and rip my T-shirt over my head. Trowa immediately flinches back and nearly falls off the stool.
"Oh, shit Tro........ I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking. I'll put my shirt back on," I say trying to quickly ease the situation.
"No.....it's alright," Trowa says between breaths. "I should be the one apologizing. It was just an odd reaction, pay it no mind."
"Are you sure you're okay?" He nods but I'm not totally convinced. But I'm not going to force the issue when he is half naked and vulnerable in front of me.
I have Trowa lean forward as far as he can and rest his arms on his knees. I pick up the shower head and carefully wet his hair. Once it is wet enough I pour the shampoo directly onto his head and gently work up a lather. I rinse his hair out and repeat the process for the conditioner. Trowa is silent through this and I find myself humming a random song. Once his hair is clean I remove the towel from his back and dry his head with it.
"Duo?" Trowa's voice interrupts my humming.
"I would like to....I mean would you mind......I'd like to wash the rest of my body," Trowa all but stammers. I believe I know what he's too embarrassed to ask.
"Can you do it or would you like me to help you wash.......down there?" I feel my own cheeks burn with embarrassment.
"I think I need your help." Okay this should be interesting.
"Why don't I help you stand up and that way it will be easier for both of us," I say. I help him to his feet and place the wooden stool outside the shower. I help him turn so the he can lean against the tiled wall. I take a calming breath and carefully pull down his boxers. I immediately notice the small round bruises on his hips and the scrapes on his inner thighs and buttocks. They have a pattern consistent with finger nails. I can almost trace the imprint of each finger that made them. Once I have the boxers off I ball them up and throw them onto the floor. Trowa is now bracing himself against the tiles. I can see that he is shivering. I wet a wash cloth and pour some liquid soap into it.
"Okay Tro, I want you to tell me if you're uncomfortable and I will stop," I say as I come up behind him. He again nods his head. When I reach around to his front and begin to wash his lower torso he gasps.
"It's alright Trowa it's me. No one is here to hurt you. You're safe," I whisper into his ear. Trowa shudders but I keep whispering as many soothing words as I can as I move around to his backside. Trowa whimpers slightly and leans his head against the wall. His eyes are tightly shut. How many times has he done this? Heero said this has happened more than once. How many times did Trowa have to wash another's filth from his body?
Once I am finished I quickly rinse the soap away and pick up the towel and wrap it around his waist. He turns to face me with tears brimming in his eyes. Before I know what hits me he crashes into me and pulls me into a hug. He isn't quite sobbing but his breath is hitching. I almost fall back but quickly catch myself.
"Hey, it's okay. You're alright," I take a step backwards and pull him along with me. Trowa pulls away from me and wipes his face with one hand. I help him move over to the toilet and he sits on it.
"God, I'm so pathetic," Trowa says.
"Hey, no your not," I say adamantly. "You need to stop holding this all in. It's okay to let it go." Trowa does not respond but takes a few deep breaths to calm himself. I pull the wooden stool over and sit down beside him.
"I need you to turn so I can change your bandages," I say gently. He complies and I begin to remove the old dressings. Trowa's back is a complete nightmare. There are long gashes crisscrossed all over the place held together by sutures. There is one particularly nasty one running from his right shoulder down to the lower left side of his back. Completing the atrocities are scores of angry red welts and burn marks the likes of which I have never seen. I have no clue as to what could have caused them. At the base of Trowa's neck right where it meets his shoulder there is a bite mark. That fucking animal bit him. I want to scream my rage.
I pull our first-aid kit from under the sink. Over the years Heero, Trowa, and I have discovered that we all share the same distaste for doctors and hospitals. We would rather treat most of our injuries ourselves. As a result our first-aid kit is about the size of a large toolbox. I pull out the packets of alcohol wipes and rip one open with my teeth and gingerly dab at the stitches. They look red and slightly inflamed but there was no pus evident and none came out when I pressed at the wounds. There might be an infection but it's not a worry at this time. The antibiotics the doctor has Trowa on should help with that. I finish cleaning and inspecting all of Trowa's injuries. He is quiet the whole time and has managed to keep still.
When I begin to tape the new gauze over the wounds Trowa breaks the silence.
"Is it bad?" As much as I want to lie I can't.
"Yeah, it's pretty bad," I say. "Don't worry though. The doctor did a real good job with the stitches; the scars won't be that bad." Trowa gives a sardonic snort.
"What's a few more for the collection," he says. I don't know what to say to that so I opt to say nothing. I finish with my task and I help Trowa into a pair of fresh boxers and sweat pants. I retrieved a button down shirt for him to wear figuring that it would be easier to remove if the need arises.
We make our way down the stairs and into the kitchen with relative ease. I had Trowa sit at the table while I prepared some soup for the two of us. I glanced at the clock, 1:08 P.M. Heero was not back yet.
"I thought you said you were going to quit smoking?" Trowa asks. Shit, I left the pack on the table didn't I?
"Yeah, I did and I will. I just needed one really bad this morning," I say without turning away from the stove. To my surprise Trowa drops the subject. He was the one who kept badgering me to quit in the first place.
We are almost finished with our soup when Heero comes strolling into the kitchen. He stops in the doorway when he sees Trowa sitting at the table calmly eat a bowl of soup.
"Oh, hey everyone," he says as he takes a seat.
"Hey, Heero," I say. "Want some soup?"
"No, thank you. It's good to see you up Trowa. How are you feeling?" Trowa shrugs.
"About as good as can be expected," Trowa answers. For the briefest of seconds I can see the surprise on Heero's face when Trowa speaks to him. He must be thinking the same thing I am, what is going on? What caused the big turn around in Trowa's attitude?
"Well, I have some news for you two," Heero looks expectantly between the two of us. "Une has given us a month of personal leave. Trowa, you're on leave until you feel physically able to return."
I think my jaw just hit the floor. "A month? How the hell did you manage that?" I ask. Heero just gives me a big toothy grin.
"I have my ways," he says. Well, isn't he being all mysterious.
"What's the catch?" Trowa asks.
"Excuse me?" Heero says.
"There is always a catch. What is it?" Heero looks like he clearly wanted to avoid this question. He shifts uncomfortably in his chair.
"Well, before we are approved to be returned to mission status we have to through a psychiatric evaluation," Heero says evenly. I'm not surprised. It makes sense that they would want to be sure we can handle going out on missions again whether as a team or individually. What does surprise me is Trowa's reaction to the news. Trowa abruptly stands up and slams a fist onto the table.
"No, fucking way am I going to let some psychiatrist pick me apart and decide if I am fit to return to work. If that's the case then I'll quit." He moves around the table and heads to the doorway. I stand up instinctively to help him but he thinks I am trying to stop him.
"Get the hell out of my way, Duo," He yells at me.
"Get a grip, Trowa I'm trying to help you not stop you," I say. Trowa bats my hand away.
"I can do this myself. I don't need your help and I certainly don't need any shrink's help." He tries to move past me again and again I make a move to steady him.
"Will you relax? Why are you overreacting?"
"I'm not overreacting. Get out of my way."
"Duo, let him go," Heero says. I move out of Trowa's way and watch him lean heavily on the wall as he makes his way to the staircase. I continue to watch in silence as he carefully and painfully climbs each step until he reaches the top. When I hear his bedroom door slam shut I go back into the kitchen.
"What the hell was that?" I ask Heero.
"I had a feeling he was going to react badly to the news."
"Une and I were in agreement that he would be resistant to any kind of counseling. She suggested we make it mandatory."
"Great, Lady Une and her infinite fucking wisdom." That woman exasperates me sometimes. I know she means well but did she have to go and force this on an already emotionally unstable person. I run a hand through my bangs and resist the urge to rip them out.
"I should go and check on him," I say but when I make a move to do so Heero grabs my arm.
"No, let him cool down for a bit. I want to talk to you. If you're ready to listen that is." This is the moment I have been waiting for. So, why do I suddenly feel scared shitless? Heero motions to the table and we both sit down.
"Before I begin I'm going to ask that you don't interrupt me. This is going to be hard enough on me as it is." I nod my head in agreement and Heero begins.