It’s really hard to retreat into sleep once you realize that you’re doing it. Or maybe I’d just slept enough that I was all slept out. I don’t really know. I did manage to doze off after Heero left, but got woke up when the doctor made his rounds a couple of hours later, and after that it was pretty hit or miss.
It’s funny, I had thought my hands were the bigger issue, but the guy had been more interested in my heart. He’d been quite happy to find me awake and apparently alert and even laughed a little at my ‘Mummy’ jokes. But he hadn’t laughed much and I’d gotten a long talk about the affects of hypothermia. Sort of forced me to take a look at that ‘how close it had been’ issue that I hadn’t wanted to think about.
I had a bad feeling that when the guy mentioned therapy… he wasn’t just talking about my hands.
After he left I just laid there staring at the ceiling and tried to imagine what it must have been like for Heero when he came back and found me like that. ‘That’ being a somewhat ambiguous condition that I pondered for a bit before giving it up and just sticking with the ‘like that’ thing.
Heero… confused me. Hell, I confused me. When I thought back over that morning we’d spent together, I couldn’t decide if I should be appalled, or ripping IVs out in order to get back to him. I was a little bit embarrassed by how I had just completely surrendered to him. But for those few hours, when I’d looked up into his eyes, there had been something there that I’d needed more than I’d needed to breathe.
I’d been so numb for so damn long, that having him give me that kind of pleasure had been… hell, like being drowned in a tidal wave. Once I gave in to it, I hadn’t been able to get enough. And there was a bit of embarrassment attached to that too… God, I’d just kept going back for more, just to have his touch. Just to have him looking at me with that fire in his eyes. He must have thought I was utterly insatiable.
And that, of course, just led back around to just what in the hell Heero did think, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. Where did we stand? What were we? Where were we going… or was there even anything ahead of us at all?
I really didn’t know what I’d do if that had been it for Heero. If he packed up and went back to the world and left me alone again. I really just didn’t.
That was pretty much the spiral my thoughts ran in that night, so I suppose it isn’t any wonder that escaping back into sleep hadn’t been much of an option, though God knows I tried. Despite Heero’s over-the top reassurances that he’d be back in the morning… I can’t deny there was a part of me that didn’t believe it.
When I felt someone come into my room the next morning, someone whose step didn’t scream ‘nurse’, it woke me from a light doze with a jolt of anticipation, but when I opened my eyes to find Trowa standing in the doorway, the jolt was sort of… something else.
We stared at each other for a long couple of moments before he quietly asked, ‘Can I come in?’
‘Yeah,’ I replied automatically and watched him make the walk across the room, with my head trying to make sense of this new development. I had sort of assumed, from the way Heero had spoken to Quatre, that nobody knew were I was but Heero. That, obviously, was not the case, and for a horrified moment I looked past Trowa, afraid that the other two were going to come trooping in behind him.
‘Just me,’ he soothed and stopped beside the bed, just staring at me.
‘How…?’ I had to ask when his tone implied that he really wasn’t supposed to be there.
‘Heero was in too much of a hurry to cover his tracks,’ he informed me with the hint of a smug smirk. ‘And once I found out there was a reason to track him… it wasn’t hard.’
‘Oh,’ was all I could manage under his stare and I looked down, but that only left me with my hands to look at.
‘You scared the hell out of me,’ he said then, all in a rush, and it made me slide my hands under the sheet. ‘Not that,’ he sighed, but then immediately retracted it. ‘Yes that too… when Heero let Wufei know you were… here, yeah you scared the hell out of me all over again. But all those months ago… what the hell, Duo?’
I had to stifle a little chuckle when some perverse part of me almost blurted out, ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time’ but I kept the thought to myself and only shrugged. ‘I dunno…’ I just couldn’t quite figure out where to start, and couldn’t meet his gaze while he sighed heavily.
‘I ought to kick your ass,’ he growled and I had the most ridiculous urge to warn him that the day nurse would get pissed at him for disturbing her ward and could probably take him in two falls out of three. He sighed again when I didn’t answer, and reached out to drag the chair over next to my bed, sitting down and leaning with his arms braced on his thighs to stare at me. ‘God Duo,’ he said, exasperation plain in his voice. ‘Give me a clue. What in the hell were you thinking?’
I wanted really badly to rub my hand over my face, but that gesture wasn’t working so well for me lately and I had to content myself with just shifting uncomfortably. ‘I just didn’t see how things were going to work out between you and Quatre as long as I was around to… to keep him all riled up.’
He just sat for a long moment and watched me blush to the roots of my hair. ‘That’s the dumbest damn thing I’ve ever heard you say,’ he finally told me and I couldn’t help frowning at him.
‘What?’ I grumbled, staring at the sheets again. ‘You think anything was ever going to be the same again after that? You think I could have gone anywhere with you? Done anything, without hearing… those awful things that Quatre said? Without him constantly being convinced that we were… were… you know.’
I could feel him glaring at me. ‘I love Quatre Winner, but he does not run my life. He does not tell me who I can care for, or who I can spend time with.’
It made me look up at him and I could tell he was still pretty upset with Quatre. ‘If you freaking love him… why the fuck aren’t you with him?’
‘Because,’ he told me, his voice gentling a little. ‘I can’t be with anybody who doesn’t trust me. Duo, it was never about you… it was about Quatre not being able to believe in me.’
‘You could have fooled me,’ I mumbled, knowing it sounded petulant and not caring. ‘Seemed to have every damn thing to do with me.’
Trowa snorted softly and I had to glance at him to catch the little hint of a smile. ‘I never would have believed that you would let him get to you with that bullshit. I’m as nameless as you are, Duo. More so. If that makes a bad person, then you and I and Heero too, are all in the same boat.’
‘It wasn’t just that,’ I had to tell him, because it really did sound lame when he just up and said it that way. ‘You know damn well I’ve dealt with that kind of shit my whole life. It was… it was the fact that everybody believed him. Heero and Wufei just bought what he was saying without question. Nobody said a word in my defense.’ I hesitated there, glancing over at him through the safe fall of bangs and finally blurted, ‘Not even you.’
He blinked at me for a moment and I wondered if he even remembered how it had gone. ‘There was nothing to defend you from… except Quatre’s right cross.’
It made me snort despite myself, and I shook my head. ‘I guess…’ I began but had to stop and try again. ‘It just hurt… that the guys thought I could do something like that. I just felt like everybody believed him and never even gave me a chance.’
‘Heero never believed that shit for a minute,’ Trowa told me, voice adamant. ‘And even Wufei was sorry later that he let himself get caught up in Quatre’s… emotion.’
‘Yeah,’ I had to grudgingly admit. ‘That’s what Heero told me, but… it sure seemed at the time like the world was squaring off against me.’
He made a sound that was part amusement and part irritation. ‘You know… it takes two for that whole ‘cheating’ thing, asshole. Anything that anybody was believing or not believing about you, they had to be believing about me.’
‘But damn it,’ I blurted, wishing that he’s just fucking get it so we could freaking stop talking about it. ‘What he said about me getting in the way… there was some damn truth to that! I was the stupid third wheel all the way around!’
‘What?’ he asked quietly, and straightened up enough to reach out and touch my arm, forcing me to look up at him. ‘What are you saying? That you… that you really were harboring some sort of feelings? Is that what this is all about?’
‘No!’ I snapped, and then Heero’s face swam up into my memory and I had to admit, ‘Yes. I mean… shit.’ I forgot myself and let my hand lift to my face, but Trowa caught at my arm and stopped me before I could complete the gesture.
‘Tell me what you’re saying here, Duo,’ he told me firmly. ‘Because I’m not getting it.’
‘I followed Quatre into the kitchen that night,’ I confessed. ‘While you guys were messing with the pizza guy. I tried to talk to him and he… he threw it in my face about me being the… about me… I mean…’ I petered out, not sure how to explain something that would require me to admit to some things that I really didn’t want to.
‘Talk to me,’ he said gently, still holding my wrist and I could see him looking at my hands and knew that we’d be getting to that part eventually, because his eyes were so full of questions it was painful. ‘We’ve always told each other everything, Duo… talk to me now.’
I sighed and had to let my head drop back so that I was looking up at the ceiling and not at him. After a moment, he let go of my arm and I slid it back under the sheet. ‘You gotta understand that I thought… that… that Heero and Wufei were together, ok?’
I could almost hear him blinking and he echoed, ‘Heero and Wufei?’
‘Yeah,’ I confirmed. ‘And before you tell me what a dumb-ass I am, Quatre thought they were too. So… I thought I was the only one in the group that didn’t… you know… didn’t have anybody. And when Quatre said what he did… I guess it just hit a little too close to home.’
I hoped he’d leave it at that. I prayed he’d leave it at that, but I suppose I should have known him better. He moved off the chair and I felt him sit on the side of the bed and there was a touch on my chin that demanded I meet his gaze. I really didn’t want to; he’s too damn good at reading me. ‘What did Quatre say, Duo?’
‘Hardly matters now,’ I told him, trying to evade that penetrating gaze.
‘It mattered to you,’ he persisted. ‘And it matters to me… now what did he say?’
‘You don’t need to hear it…’ I tried and his hand left my chin to land on my shoulder and he squeezed tight.
‘Tell me,’ he insisted and there was a quirk of a smile. ‘You know I’ll win. I always do.’
I snorted and looked away again, as much to cover the unfortunate prickle in the backs of my eyes as anything. ‘He just pointed out the mathematics.’
‘So I lost my best friend because Quatre Winner has trouble with basic math?’ he chided, and while the line was teasing, the tone was genuinely hurt. It made me glance at him again, and the son of a bitch snared me with his kicked puppy look.
‘He knew how fucking lonely I was,’ I blurted, before any sort of editor could kick in. ‘And just told me… told me the damn truth.’
‘What?’ he asked gently.
I had to close my eyes to get the last of it out. ‘Isn’t it obvious? That I just didn’t fit anymore. That I was the odd man out and there wasn’t any room for me.’
He sighed then, kind of exasperated and kind of sad and without a word he gathered me up into one of his all encompassing hugs.
‘And he was right, Tro,’ I whispered against his shirt, trying to ignore the sudden sharp pain that made me remember how much I’d missed him. ‘At least… I thought he was. With how I felt about Heero… and thinking that he was with Wufei…’
And all those ugly things that Quatre had been accusing me of… would they have someday come true, only with Heero? Could I have forever lived like that, and never once reached for what I’d wanted more than anything? It had felt like Quatre had been right when he’d told me that it was only a matter of time before I ended up destroying somebody else’s happiness trying to find my own.
‘I love you dearly,’ Trowa murmured against my hair, one hand gently rubbing circles on my back. ‘But you are such a stupid shit, I don’t even know where to start.’ It made me sputter out a laugh that was almost something else and he squeezed tight for a minute. ‘You know now that Heero and Wufei have never been a couple, right?’ he asked and I just nodded. ‘And nobody tells me who I can care for or how I can care for them. You are every bit as important to me as Quatre… just in vastly different ways. The argument was never about you… it was about Quatre’s insecurities and doubts.’
That made me push away from him and he let me, to keep from hurting my hands, I suspect. ‘Damn it, Tro… what the hell happened?’ I had to ask. ‘You two were supposed to work it out after I got out of the way!’
He gave me the look that said he thought I was still just being too stupid for words and shook his head. ‘Have you not been listening to me? I refuse to try to build a relationship with someone who can’t trust me. And do you honestly think you disappearing on us was going to help? Quatre’s damn accusations cost me my brother… my wing man… my best friend; that didn’t exactly endear him to me.’
I had to close my eyes then and if something escaped my tightly squeezed lids, he had the grace not to speak of it. ‘God… how did things get so totally fucked up?’
‘I’ve been asking myself that for the last eight months,’ he scolded gently and then turned things aside for me. ‘You going to tell me what in the hell you did to your hands?’
Unfortunately, the new topic wasn’t much better and I just lay with my face buried in the crook of my elbow and wondered if he’d eventually think I’d dozed off if I just chose not to answer.