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fic - slow and steady part 1 [misc] - the turnip patch
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fic - slow and steady part 1 [misc]
Title:  Slow and Steady
Part:  1
Summary:  Slow and steady wins all kinds of races.
Notes:  This year's holiday countdown brought to you by one trigger-happy bird.

Slow and Steady
Part 1

All Preventers offices were the same.  Duo wasn't sure if that was because he'd been to so many of them, they were starting to blur together, or if it was because they really were all the same.  Well, it made it easier for him to get where he wanted to go, and that was all that mattered.  He arrived at the tech forensics office and made his inquiry.

"Yuy?  That's his desk over there," the agent closest to the door answered, indicating a nearby cube with a wave of his hand.  "He comes in after lunch."

Duo blinked.  "Yuy half-days it?"  Not exactly a term he ever thought to apply to someone as hard-working as Heero Yuy.  Then again, he wasn't entirely certain what Heero's status was here.  Maybe the work was winding down and he'd be re-assigned back to HQ soon.

"You wanna leave a message?"

"Nah, it's cool.  I'll track him down again later."  There went his plan to corner Heero into some lunch.  Guess that's what he got for not calling first, but he'd felt like trying to get the drop on Heero.  They stayed in touch, all five of them, but Heero hadn't actually been dirtside since coming out here half a year ago.

Seemed he'd have to find some grub on his own, then.  There were always some decent places that sprang up around a large office building.  Maybe he'd grab a sandwich or something and go eat it at that park across the street.

And speaking of that park... did he spy, with his little eye, one errant Gundam pilot?  He moved closer to confirm, because who really expected to find Heero Yuy parked at a table playing go with an old dude?  But yes, there he was, in the flesh, interacting familiarly with the guy and his friend.  Duo studied the situation a moment longer and decided to plant himself two tables away, directly in Heero's line of sight.

Right on cue, as Heero finished taking his turn, he leaned back, looked up, and saw him.  His expression started out with I-definitely-did-not-expect-to-see-you-here, but it turned to a smile soon enough.  He waved his old friend over.  "Duo.  What are you... This is a pleasant surprise."

Duo ambled one table closer, close enough to chat but not really intrude on the game.  "Hey.  I was in town, thought I'd drop by."

"Oh.  You should have let me know."  The words were mild with rebuke, but amiable.

He shrugged.  "Thought I'd surprise you.  Have any lunch plans?"

"I do now.  Duo, this is Reggie, Darryl.  If you don't mind hanging--"

His opponent, Reggie as indicated, interrupted.  "No, you've got me cornered, kid.  I don't need to fight on to the bitter end."  He started packing up the board in surrender.  "You go on with your friend, and I guess we oughta get on going, too."

"Are you sure?"

The two men waved off his concerns and promised to let him beat them again next time as they left.

Duo was amused by the whole exchange, but turned his attention back to Heero before they were out of sight.  "So," he started, looking at Heero, who looked back at him with an odd expression that Duo couldn't quite read.  He was about to make a joke about Heero not even bothering to stand and greet an old friend properly when Heero made his move.  His hands set down on something beside him on either side, and then he was sliding back from the table and the movement seemed a bit off to Duo, and then Heero swiveled in place, which was odd because he was still seated, but then he rolled his seat around the corner of the park table and everything was clear, except totally not.

Heero smiled at him, with a hint of tightness around the eyes.  "Want anything in particular for lunch?  Have to be anywhere any time soon?  Okay," he continued agreeably after two automatic shakes of Duo's head.  "This way."

Wow.  Way to make a guy feel like a dick.  How the hell did Heero get injured?  In the line of duty?  He was here to build the tech forensics office up, not do field work.  Then again, he had been known to get himself into some odd situations.  Duo's mind continued to conjure up little scenarios, but his eyes kept catching little details.  No obvious injuries.  Heero seemed pretty comfortable maneuvering the wheelchair around the obstacles in his path.  It didn't look like any old standard model, either.  It was slick and streamlined and not at all like those clunky things hospitals insisted a guy be discharged in and that was why he hadn't noticed it behind the park table.

"So," Heero started casually.  "How long are you in town?"

"Couple of weeks," Duo answered, turning his eyes on his surroundings and definitely not casting sidelong glances at his companion.  Heero wouldn't be avoiding the obvious without good reason.  "Got drafted into doing one of those seminar things."

"I thought you already did one this year."

"Yeah, but I was a last-minute replacement for the guy who's supposed to be here.  His kid caught some sort of contagious bug at school, so he got grounded."  Hmm, there hadn't been any changes in their communication pattern recently, nothing that might have hinted at anything significant happening.

"If he'd just waited a few more weeks, we'd have rolled over to January and you'd be in the clear for another year."

"Yeah, well, things are slow this time of year anyway."  They walked -- or otherwise moved -- down the rest of the block in silence before Duo kicked the conversation back into gear.  "So... wanna introduce me to that hot little elephant I've seen you hanging around with lately?"

It took a moment for Heero to figure it out, but when he did, he laughed quietly.  "Yeah.... Yes, of course."

"Seem to be getting on with her pretty well," Duo remarked, when the introduction was slow in coming.  "Known her long?"

"Long enough."  He stopped in the middle of the sidewalk.  Duo stopped along with him and watched as Heero raised one of his feet from its rest and wiggled it a bit before setting it back down.  "I'm not in the chair all the time.  It's just easier to get around this way right now."

Understatement.  Duo could tell by the way that simple act apparently took enough effort and concentration that Heero couldn't keep wheeling himself forward at the same time.  The demonstration had been slow and shaky, and Heero seemed to think it was something to be impressed by.  Disturbing.

They continued along on their way.  Duo took some time to soak in the fine control the L1 cluster generally exercised over its environmental systems.  Cool, as befit December, but not nippy enough to disturb colonist sensibilities.  He ran out of interesting things to think about it after another half block or so.  "Sorry I dropped by?"

"No."  Heero gave him a brief glance before settling his eyes back on the sidewalk in front of them.  "I'm glad you came."

"Yeah?  Coulda dropped by any time you wanted.  Just a phone call away and all that."

"I know."  He sighed.  "So... guess we'll start at the beginning.  Remember back in July, when I got shot?"

Heero had actually been doing field work that time.  Damn weapons dealers always had the nastiest toys.  The body armor had blocked the bullets from what would otherwise have been a pretty messy death from behind, but the force of impact had left a pretty spectacular mess in its wake.  "Yeah.  But you recovered."

"From that, yes.  But... then there was a series of... low-probability events."

"You've always been good at beating the odds."

He appreciated the matter-of-fact way Duo was responding.  He could see a bit of tension in Duo's walk, proving things weren't as casual as he was trying to make them, but it meant a lot that the effort was being made.  "There's a virus.  It's not uncommon.  It's pretty harmless, but the immune system isn't always the best at cleaning it out.  It often goes latent in the nervous system, until something triggers it.  In my case, I was somewhat immuno-compromised from the injuries I had received."

"And it comes back, bigger and badder-ass than ever?"

He nodded.  "Unusually so, in my case.  It usually causes some painful inflammation, and then it goes away.  Mine... was worse.  I didn't notice it right away since I was still feeling the effects of my injuries.  But then... it just didn't feel right.  I've healed up from contusions and fractured ribs and such before.  Something just felt off.  I went in to see the doctor.  They ran tests.  They thought... they started looking for causes that might be related to the injuries, but... that wasn't it.  Luckily, I was around when I started presenting with additional symptoms.  They figured it out, rushed to stabilize things..."

"Bit too late?"

"Stopped it from spreading.  Started at the base of my spine and was working its way up, but they stopped it from spreading.  But the inflammation in my nerve cells, the build-up in pressure... it left some damage behind."

"Where were we at the time?" Duo asked mildly.  Then a tilt of his head implied he was thinking about it.  "Oh, wait.  Woulda been around August, right?  Okay, I get that it maybe wasn't the greatest time, and was I even out of town at the time?  Maybe, but a phone call wouldn't have been unappreciated.  Any one of us woulda done."

"Things happened so fast.  It's not a good answer.  I know.  But it wasn't clear just what was happening at first, and then it just... snowballed."

"Alright."  It was an acknowledgment of the point more than it was an acceptance of the reasoning.  "How did you end up here?"

"The Preventers sponsor a lot of medical R&D in fields that might help their injured agents.  There's a doctor here on this colony.  He's an expert in damage to the nervous system.  He is developing a treatment for repairing and regrowing nerve cells.  It works best with recent damage, before the glial scarring gets too bad, so I had a limited window of time to get out here.  HQ made the arrangements, and off I went."

"They consulted you first, I assume."

"Of course.  I read up on all of his data before accepting.  He had success with animal subjects.  And he'd tested on a few humans at that point.  The results he achieved with them were limited, but promising."

"And now your results?"

"I've gotten farther than the others so far.  I intend to get farther still."

That was pleasant vagueness layered on top of pleasant vagueness.  "So it's, uh, on-going?"

"Yes.  Once a week, I... we do what we have to do to promote cell growth.  The rest of the week, I'm in physical therapy, putting all those nerve cells to good use."

"And your 'job'?"

"I insisted they find me something to do."

"And that phone call you never made to any of us?"

"I e-mailed."

"You told us you'd been temporarily transferred up here to work on building up the team.  You failed to mention... your hot little elephant."

"It's not nice to judge her by her appearance."


"Feel like hot and spicy today?"

He allowed the subject change only because there were people around now.  He'd be here for a couple of weeks.  He'd have plenty of chances to poke Yuy for some more answers later.

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9 comments or Leave a comment
sharona1x2 From: sharona1x2 Date: December 14th, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm liking the start of this story. It's always interesting to see how Heero deals with an injury. I'm not terribly surprised that he kept it a secret. I like the way that Duo brought up the subject. Hot little elephant, indeed. I'd have been freaking out. It actually says a lot about Duo's maturity that he didn't show a strong reaction.

I'm so looking forward to more of this story!
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 15th, 2012 12:40 am (UTC) (Link)
It's hard to freak out when you know Heero would just throw you a disgusted look and ditch you somewhere, wheelchair or no. ^o^
issen4 From: issen4 Date: December 14th, 2012 03:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Somehow I'd have expected Heero to be as stoic even with something as serious as this. And I like that Duo didn't have a huge reaction - as some parts of fandom would have you believe he habitually does - at least, not to Heero's face. 's good first chapter; I really want to know what happens next.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 15th, 2012 12:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Some parts of the fandom would have me believe that Heero would roll himself off the nearest cliff if he found himself in a wheelchair. -_- That's just one of those things inspiring me to write this.
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: December 14th, 2012 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mmmmm... That hot little elephant is pretty quiet. Good thing Duo's up to the challenge. ^___~
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 15th, 2012 12:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Quiet, indeed.  This whole story is filled with quiet. ^^'
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: December 15th, 2012 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Considering the amount of screaming going on at the malls and stores right now, quiet is good. ^___^

Heero's pretty damn slick, too. ^_o

thekittywolf From: thekittywolf Date: January 3rd, 2013 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

you made me sniffle

As always, thanks for a lovely story. Just read the whole thing today (missed it over xmas), and it left me almost in tears.

I love how your Duo and Heero have a tangible connection. You didn't re-tell a lot of their history with each other, but the way you wrote the pilots makes it clear that theirs is a deep and abiding friendship, tempered over time with fire and sheer stubborness. :) I think it was the scene just before they left for xmas, where Duo and the PT were talking about how holidays with "friends" after serious injury often make things more difficult because a person can feel defensive and shut others out. And Duo's reply was that Heero could try, but wouldn't succeed. Every scene after reinforced the idea that they had all been with one another long enough and closely enough to know how to handle it, to know how to be themselves and still be together, to know how best to show acceptance and support.

Not too coherent right now, but I was eager to read each part, and left with a sense of hope and warmth. Perfect for christmas and pretty much any time. I think this'll be one of those fics I return to when I need a pick me up.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: January 4th, 2013 08:29 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: you made me sniffle

Glad you enjoyed it!  The 'slow and steady' refers to a lot of things here, but I really was talking more about their relationship(s) than Heero's recovery.  And of course not just the development of the romantic relationship, but the long and steady and really steadfast platonic relationship that had developed over their time together.  It'd take a lot more than this to rock that boat.
9 comments or Leave a comment