Drums of Heaven

Part Fourteen: And What Art...

And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?
--- William Blake

Following Duo, Heero's entire body was primed for impact. He scanned the crowds nervously, ready to pull his gun again at the slightest provocation. Heero narrowly avoided three schoolboys running to see the explosions still reverberating down the asteroid city's main avenue, clenching his teeth when Trowa moaned softly at the abrupt movement. He jumped when two Arab men barreled into him, backing away at his glare with deprecating gestures and fast chatter in a foreign tongue. The brunette with the infant in her arms was wise enough to get out of his way.

Trowa managed to hang on, through it all, but kept his head down. The bruises on his face were turning purple-green, fortunately covered by the thick sheaf of brown hair. Heero figured the worst people would think was that Trowa was the victim of too much alcohol. Duo, limping ahead of them, turned at regular intervals. He spun in place as he trotted, checking on them, but never saying a word.

The three pushed through the crowds in the station, heading for the outward lanes. Their ship was third in line. Outside of the docking station, the ship's rear door was six feet off the ground, its engine underbelly exposed as the bay tugs navigated the ship into its place in line.

Duo clambered up onto the back ledge, hitting the keypad and leaping off again as the cargo door retracted up into the overhead cargo area. To Heero's eyes the longhaired man simply bounced down and back up, although he was only taking advantage of the station's lower gravity. Duo got his footing on the cargo floor and turned, holding out a hand.

"Give me Trey," he commanded.

Heero undid Trowa's arm from around his shoulder, and set his hands around Trowa's slim waist, lifting the taller man up easily. Duo got a hold of Trowa just as the ship lurched forward in line. To Heero's surprise, Duo immediately turned and put his hand back down.

"Come on," Duo urged. "Enough sight-seeing for today."

Duo's hand was firm, his grasp warm, his strength greater than Heero expected. Heero launched himself upwards at the same time and the combined force threw him into the cargo space right at Duo. Unable to catch himself, Heero found himself grinning suddenly at the sight of Duo pinwheeling his arms to keep from landing on Trowa. Without thinking, Heero grabbed Duo's wrists, yanking him close as the wide-eyed pilot blinked in surprise.

"Idiot," Heero said affectionately, then froze as Duo's face shuttered coldly. The shorter man twisted away, breaking Heero's hold, and glanced down at Trowa, who was trying to get to his feet. They could hear yelling coming from the cockpit.

"Shit," Duo said, and the awkward moment was past. The pilot's braid whipped past Heero as Duo turned, hitting the interior keypad with the combination. "Take care of Trey, and hold on tight. We're vacating the premises."


Heero was settling Trowa into the lower bunk when the ship's engines kicked into life. The Wing Zero pilot stood up, about to get the medical supplies, when he was sent violently to his knees as the ship rose. He cursed at the sharp pain as his hands and knees hit the metal floor. The ship had lifted out of line and was propelling its way sluggishly forward; the oxygen in the enclosed station bay made it difficult for the fuel to reach the proper mixture.

In the cockpit, Duo was yelling something to Hilde, who was yelling back at the same volume. Between the two of them, Heero couldn't make out a word. The ship lurched backwards, and Heero was thrown against the wall, scrambling immediately to his feet with a second fluent curse.

Heero threw himself across the short space and latched onto the edge of the lower bunk, holding on tightly as the ship heaved a third time and jumped forward. The engines thrummed underneath. They were entering the airlock chamber, its red warning lights visible through the porthole. There was a scraping sound, screaming metal, and Heero realized whomever was piloting was trying to squeeze the ship into an area only big enough for one ship when another ship already occupied the space.

Gritting his teeth, Heero debated offering his help in the cockpit or staying and making sure Trowa was okay. No, that small voice told him, no one can beat Duo when it comes to crazy piloting. Stay here and take care of Trowa.

Almost as though able to hear his thoughts, the taller man stirred on the bed, his catlike eyes fluttering open. "What... " he started, hoarse. Trowa licked his lips, turning his head to the side to see Heero's face only inches from his.

"We're leaving," Heero said flatly, as the ship jumped in place and he was pushed down with the force. A second later, the ship swayed to one side. It dropped with the shriek of metal slamming against metal.

"It's normally a smoother ride," Trowa said, and Heero was amazed to see the other man's lips quirking into a slight smile. Before Heero could reply, Trowa's eyes had closed again as he slipped back into unconsciousness.

Heero could see the lights blinking through the porthole, indicating the station's interior airlock doors were closing, and he took advantage of the momentary lull to get to his feet and head for the kitchen. He was pretty sure there had been a medical kit in one of the lower cabinets. Clutching the doorjambs in case Duo decided to make the ship dance some more, he realized the shouting was resolving itself into coherency.

"Goddamn it, Hel, don't do that again," Duo was yelling.

"Shut up and get those doors open," Hilde snapped. "They're breaking the lockout."

"I'm on it, I'm on it," Duo said, his voice lower. "Get ready. Doors opening... NOW!"

The ship shot forward, and Heero was glad of the warning, barely able to keep his feet in the hallway as he clung to the kitchen doorway. Biting back a yell of his own, he pulled himself upright against the drag and managed to get into the kitchen. The gravity field kicked in as they left the asteroid behind them.

"Jamming all frequencies," Duo said.

"Wipe the records while you're at it," Hilde ordered.

The ship tilted, and Heero was thrown across the kitchen into the wall. Scowling at the inevitable bruises, Heero allowed himself a moment of regret for not insisting on piloting if Duo was going to be busy hacking the station systems. Women pilots.

"Hel, let me do my job. I don't tell you how to pilot. Which, by the way, you're doing badly!"

"I'm doing the best I can! It's like a minefield. Where did all these ships come from?"

"Asteroid go boom. Everyone go home." From the tone, Duo was clearly grinning like a maniac.

"Stupid lemmings."

It sounded like Hilde was finding the situation equally funny. Heero rolled his eyes. They're not friends, he thought, they're frickin' twins separated at birth.

The ship lurched again, swinging violently to the right and upwards as Hilde slammed the boosters. Heero spared a thought to hope Trowa was okay, then went back to dividing his attention between holding onto the kitchen cabinet bars and contemplating breaking Hilde's fingers, one by one.

"Two ships on our tail," Duo reported.

"Don't shoot them," Hilde warned. "I don't want to be chased all the way home."

"Shit, give me some credit," Duo replied, his laughter suddenly echoing down the corridor. "Stealth mode, on."

There was a pause, and Hilde started laughing as well as the ship settled down, the steady engine sound indicating their speed away from the asteroid.

Heero straightened up, sighing as he flexed his muscles. He could feel the ache in his legs and shoulders as he knelt to open the lower cabinet, searching for the medical kit. His fingers froze in place when he heard the two pilots' conversation start up again.

"You mad at me?" Hilde sounded a little worried.

"I don't know." Duo's fingers were still at the keyboard. Heero could make out the sound of rapid tapping when Duo paused.

"I'm still sorry."

There was a long silence before Duo spoke. "I don't know what's going on."

"That's because you're stupid," the girl teased.

"Yeah, but I wasn't the one wearing three-inch heels."


Heero didn't need to hear it to know Duo must've given Hilde one of his patented innocent looks. Hilde's chuckle, floating down the hallway, told him everything. It occurred to Heero that Duo only used that look when he was actually guilty, and he paused for a minute to wonder what Duo was jealous about. Forgetting what he was doing for a minute, Heero's fingers bumped the medical kit, and he frowned as it fell from the cabinet onto the floor. The loud clatter resounded through the ship. Hilde's shout floated back to him.

"Hito! You back there?"

"Yeah," he replied, raising his voice so she could hear him. "Getting the medical kit for Trey."

"How's he doing?"

"Concussion, bruising, damaged shoulder," Heero reported, coming into the hallway with his arms full of the large box. "I don't know what else, yet."

"Keep me informed," she said, her head appearing in the doorway as she turned, leaning over to see down the passageway. The girl winked at him, quickly, before her head disappeared.

Heero grinned, and headed back for the bunk. Halfway down the hall, he stopped, half-turning so she could hear him.

"When I'm done, I'll be relieving you," he informed the ship. "You still owe me that eighteen hours."

"Aye, aye, Hito," came the drawled response.


Trowa's damage was worse than he'd thought. Heero had started undressing the man when Trowa awoke long enough to inform him of an injured knee. Being stubborn must be a prerequisite for Gundam pilots, Heero thought, irritated as he carefully pulled off Trowa's dark pants to reveal a garish bruise spreading across the man's right knee. Someone had done a number on it, kicking the side of Trowa's leg hard enough to nearly pop out the kneecap. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it wasn't going to be able to take any weight for a few days.

Taking a few minutes to dig around in the cargo bay, Heero came up with a two-foot piece of long scrap metal. Just like Duo, he thought, pleased. Always scraps; always keeping things just in case. For a thief who spent his adolescence traveling light, he always had an unbelievable store of spare parts on hand.

Improvising, Heero wrapped Trowa's leg in a towel for padding and attached the splint, binding it in place with a bandage. Trowa was coming around again, and Heero took advantage of it to get Trowa to sit up so he could pull off the man's shirt. Settling Trowa against his shoulder, he did his best to wrap the taller man's chest and shoulder. Last, he returned the kit to the kitchen, returning shortly with an ice packet wrapped in a towel, which he placed against Trowa's face.

"Here," he whispered. "You'll need this."

Green eyes opened slowly, and Trowa smiled tightly. "Goes around, comes around," he replied softly. "Water?"

"Coming around," Heero told him. Remembering how Quatre had held him so he could drink -- as a part of his mind recalled it was just after Trowa had saved his life by blocking Quatre's attack -- Heero settled in next to Trowa, supporting the man's neck and head with his arm as he helped Heavyarms' pilot drink the cool water. Several times Trowa paused, seeming to fade away, before he came to and motioned for the water again. When it was gone, Heero carefully laid the man back down again.

"Rest," Heero said. "One of us will be back to check on you." He was at the door before he heard Trowa's whisper.

"Hito... thanks for coming after me."

Heero answered without turning around, uncertain what Trowa would think were he to see the fearful intensity in Heero's eyes. "You would have done the same."

A heartbeat's pause, and Heero waited anxiously for the denial he was expecting.

"Always... " came the soft reply.


Heero had just returned the water glass to the kitchen when he heard Hilde's desperate shout.


Heero was in the cockpit almost instantly. Hilde was leaning over the thief, who was facedown on the control panel, his arms hanging down, his fingers lax. The blood from the bullet wound was pooling on the floor to his left.

"He passed out," she exclaimed, looking up at Heero with anxious blue eyes. "Was he shot? Why is there blood everywhere?" Her expression darkened, and she slapped Duo's shoulder as she shouted at him. "Why the hell didn't you say anything? Damn you, you blistering idiot!"

Duo shook himself, mumbling something as he tried to sit up. Heero stepped forward, pulling Duo's arm over his shoulder and bringing him to his feet swiftly.

"Hel, you pilot," Heero told the distraught girl. "I'll deal with this. Then I'm coming back and then you will finally get some sleep." A second later he'd thought of something else. "You could clean up the blood while you're waiting."

"Damn both of you!" Hilde shouted, her hands on her hips as she watched the dark-haired man half-drag her best friend down the main passageway. "I told you to be careful!"

Heero ignored her frustrated cry, too intent on Duo's inaudible mumbling. He got the thief into the bunkroom and set him down on the edge of the lower bunk, steadying Duo as the young man swayed in place. Duo blinked, then groaned as Heero prodded the blood-soaked black jeans.

The Wing Zero pilot sat back on his heels, relieved to find the exit wound. At least he wouldn't be digging a bullet out of muscle. There was no way he wanted to be doing that, not while Trowa was out cold and Hilde was needed to keep an eye on any irate asteroid residents still hunting them. He didn't want to drug Duo after losing so much blood, but he couldn't have held him down and dug into his thigh at the same time. Heero ran his hands through his hair as he considered the situation.

"Stay here," Heero told the long-haired man.

"Like I'm moving much," Duo muttered, then shrugged. "Yeah, whatever. Just shoot me and get it over with."

"Shut up, idiot," Heero said. A minute later he'd returned with the medical kit again, popping the top open as he sat on the bed next to Duo. "If I'd shot you, I wouldn't have missed."

"Neither would the other guy," Duo retorted dully. "But you had to go and shoot him, didn't you."

"Habit," Heero replied, hiding the twitch of his lips by keeping his head down. Pulling out a pair of scissors, he paused over the hole with an almost apologetic glance at the other man. "Hope these aren't your favorite jeans."

"I can always steal another pair," Duo said softly. His blue-purple eyes were glazed, and his fingers were clenching the bed sheets, prepared for the worst.

"The bullet went through," Heero reported, relieved to see Duo's hands relax slightly. "Seems pretty clean, so I'll just wash it up and bandage it."

"Gotcha... Hito."

Heero paused, trying to remember if that was the first time Duo had actually used his name. Or, at least, he thought, what was passing for a name these days.

Gingerly he took the jeans by the edge of the bullet hole and began cutting, up a few inches and then around Duo's thigh. He had to bend awkwardly at a few points to get the inseam, and then crouch down to cut underneath, but in a few minutes he was able to pull the separated jeans down far enough to get a better look at the wound.

Setting down the scissors, he knelt at Duo's feet and removed the young man's boots and socks – one of which was thoroughly blood-stained – and then gently pulled the cut fabric down and off Duo's leg. Blood had soaked through the jeans and all the way down the leg. Heero paused for a second, the smell washing over him as memories flooded his system. His fingers were shaking, and he glanced up to see Duo staring at a point on the wall over his head.

Ten minutes later Heero was done. He'd washed off the blood and bandaged the wound. Duo hadn't said another word except to grunt when the peroxide stung as Heero cleaned the wound. At several points he'd moved slightly under Heero's touch, and the dark-haired man had braced himself, ready to leave if Duo insisted he could take care of himself from there on. He certainly could have, Heero reminded himself. Hell, they'd all gotten proficient at dealing with injuries during the war. They'd certainly each gotten enough of them.

But Duo didn't protest again, and Heero took advantage of the chance to be as gentle as possible, treating Duo's wounds with the same care he once gave printing negatives. No pushing, no prodding, just slowly and lightly setting the bandage in place without pressure.

Heero sat back on his heels and studied the other man's bandage, satisfied to see no blood was seeping through. Now if only I can get him to keep from moving, it'll stay that way, he thought. He wasn't sure that was likely, but it was worth trying.

"Day," he began, startled when Duo opened his eyes and trained that strange blue-purple gaze on him. "You lost a lot of blood. Lie down for awhile."

"No," Duo said, tensing his arms as he slid his good leg under him. "Hel's exhausted. She should sleep. I'll sit with you."

"Which part of 'lie down' did you not get?" Heero replied quietly, pushing Duo back down. It took little effort to overpower the already weak pilot, and he shifted Duo easily in place, swinging the pilot's legs up on the bed.

"Stop," Duo protested. "I've got to... "

"Was it the lie, or the down?" Heero continued as if Duo hadn't spoken. "Now, shut up and stay there or I will shoot you."

"Yeah, you've been saying that for years... " Duo's voice was whisper-soft as Heero pushed his shoulder down onto the pillow.

"When I do shoot you, I won't miss," Heero informed him. Carefully he lifted the other man's legs long enough to pull the blankets out from under him, and draped them just as carefully over the half-awake man.

"Promises, promises," Duo sighed, his eyes closing again. Heero waited for a minute, listening to the even breathing. His fingers were clenching, and he was pushing Duo's long bangs off a sweat-drenched forehead before he realized what he was doing. Heero snatched his fingers back as though they'd burned. He was puzzled to find he wanted to lean over and kiss Duo on the forehead.

Where did that thought come from? Stupidly he stared at his fingers, wondering if they had suddenly taken on a life of their own. Relieved that Duo seemed to be asleep and unaware of his action, he quietly backed away, dimming the light as he left.

Back in the cockpit, he grinned ruefully at Hilde. "I think he'll live," the dark-haired man told the girl, who smiled.

"Thanks for cleaning him up," she said. "Blood. Gross." Hilde shuddered. "You're going to be washing a lot of towels when we get back," she added.

"That's fine. Get some sleep," he said, sliding into the seat Duo had so recently vacated. It was still damp from Hilde's cleaning.

"What about--"

"Enough already," he snapped. "I let you stay awake a lot longer than I should have."

"It's an eighteen hour flight, and it looks like it's just you and me."

"Fine," Heero said, and relented, giving her a crooked smile as he reviewed the flight plan on the control panel. "I'll wake you in six hours."




Heero sighed, deeply, as though infinitely patient, and Hilde giggled. "Four," he told her. "Now get."

"Pushy, pushy," she said, her voice trailing down the corridor as she headed for her bunk. "If you don't wake me up, I'll kick your ass."

"You're welcome to try," he called over his shoulder, and was gratified to hear her laugh.


On to Chapter fifteen

Back to chapter thirteen

Fiction : GW :

This page last updated: