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fic - slow and steady part 5 [misc] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - slow and steady part 5 [misc]
Title:  Slow and Steady
Part:  5

Slow and Steady
Part 5


"Yes?"  His attention immediately snapped up from the distraction on his phone and zeroed in on the doctor.

"You can come in now."

"Oh!  Thanks."  He shoved his phone in his pocket as he got up and quickstepped through the door Dr. Kessler was holding for him.  "Are you guys done already?"

"Almost."  They passed through an outer room before reaching the exam room where Heero was waiting.  "I'll be right back."

The doctor left, leaving the two to themselves.  Heero was rolling his shoulders, trying to loosen some tension.  His shirt was on, but unbuttoned, just to keep off the chill of the exam room.  "Hey."

"Hey.  Almost done?"

"Yeah.  Scans are done.  Just need to do the actual treatment, and then we can get out of here.  Sorry for making you wait."

"Nah, it's cool.  I dropped in on you unannounced, barged into your PT sessions.  I'm hanging around your apartment every evening.  I'm not about to muscle my way into your doctor appointments, too.  A man needs his space."  But he was going to show up and wait patiently outside and count himself lucky he didn't have any work to do this afternoon.  "Everything doing okay?"

Heero nodded.  "Making good progress."

"What qualifies as 'progress' exactly?  I mean, you're moving, you can stand and all that.  Obviously need to build the muscle back up, but that's just time and exercise, yeah?"

"I have enough nerve regeneration for gross motor control.  It's the fine motor control that hasn't come back online yet.  And, well, even still, everything... doesn't always do what I want it to do."

"Oh.  So what is this treatment, exactly?"

"Do you want a full lecture on nanogel scaffolding?"

Yes, maybe some day, perhaps over a relaxing dinner or something.  "How about the abridged version for now?"

"He's going to inject something into my spine.  He's off preparing it now."

Ugh, lumbar punctures?  Duo had been subjected to a number of medical procedures over the years, but he'd managed to avoid that one.  "The nanogel scaffolding?"

"It will form a nanogel scaffold, yes.  A scaffold to support the new axon growth."

"That stuff grow on its own?"

"In and of itself?  Yes.  Biological conditions typically preclude it, though.  The trick is to counter those conditions and introduce favorable ones instead.  Not too favorable, but-- Well, anyway, that's the gist of it."

"Hm.  Interesting.  Does it hurt?"

Heero shrugged, leading Duo to believe that he should have known Heero would never answer that question affirmatively.  "It aches for a while.  You're going to help get me home, if you don't mind."

"Of course not.  How do you normally get home?"

"There's a shuttle.  It's operated by the hospital."

It was on the tip of Duo's tongue to ask another question, but Dr. Kessler returned just then, a sterile packet and vial in hand.  Heero automatically shrugged out of his shirt and leaned forward for the doctor to begin the routine of wiping the injection site with an antiseptic swab.  "Are you an old pro at this, or do you need someone to hold your hand?" Duo joked, taking the shirt for him.

"No, thank you," Heero responded wryly.  "How about you?"

"I hope you aren't squeamish about needles," Dr. Kessler put in, tearing open the sterile packet.

Duo looked at the needle he pulled out, and looked away.  "Am I squeamish about needles?  No.  Do I like them?  No."

Heero held his hand out dutifully, and Duo took it with an amused snort.

Dr. Kessler continued to speak as he finished his prep.  "I was thinking, Heero, that you're showing healthy growth and minimal scarring.  I'd like to keep things the way they are right now, but next week, I think we can start spacing the treatments out more.  How's this?  Alright, here we go," he warned, putting a hand to Heero's shoulder to push him forward.  "Maybe, say, ten days?  And if that works out well, perhaps even more after that?  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  We don't want to rush things when things are proceeding so well.  What do you think about that?"

"That's good news," Heero replied softly.  Duo squeezed his hand lightly.

"I'll need to study the scans and data a bit more, but it's my hypothesis at this time that the growth may be able to sustain itself very soon.  It's quite exciting.  Now how's that for a Christmas present?"

Duo judged, from Heero's expression, that Heero's attention was focused inward, so he made the proper rejoinder.  "We'll be sure to leave some milk and cookies out for Santa this year."

"And... there we go.  All done."  He disposed of the needle in the proper container and headed toward the door.  "Be right back."

Duo peered around to get a look at Heero's back as Heero straightened up slowly.  "That's it?  What now?"

"That's it.  Now I sit straight and still for a few minutes to let everything settle.  That's the theory, anyway.  Dr. Kessler hasn't confirmed one way or another whether or not it's effective yet.  Then we can get out of here."

"Can I wipe up all this antiseptic stuff?"  Duo found the wipes where Heero gestured and started swabbing gently.  "Oh, uh, is there something I'm not supposed to touch?"

"Just use the usual care around the injection site."

"Okay.  So, good news, he said, eh?"

Heero let out a little hmm that Duo interpreted in the positive.  "Good news."

"You don't sound excited."

"Do I ever sound excited?"

"Good point.  Are you excited?"

"There's still a lot of work to do."

"Hey, I thought you were Mr. Optimistic.  Got your Mr. Realistic hat on today?"  The silence went on long enough for Duo to finish his job and get back to where he could try to read Heero's expression.  He was about to say something random to obviate the need for a response when he got one.

"Krista told me about this study once.  Of the people in the study, it found that the ones that were best at lying to themselves were the top-performing athletes.  The ones that told themselves every day, 'Today, I'm going to beat my personal best.'  'I'm going to come in first place.'  'I can do a few more laps.'  'No one can beat me.'"

"'I can take out that squad of fifty Tauruses, no problem'?"

Heero smiled faintly.  "Exactly."

"That's... Well.  Can't say that's totally outside the realm of possibility, I guess.  But, on the one hand, you do what you gotta do, but on the other hand... that's kinda uncool."


"Huh.  So...."  He could have finished the thought, but he sensed that Heero had probably given him as much as he was willing to offer right now.  He held out Heero's shirt.  "Cold?"

"Doing okay there, buddy?" Duo asked, as he prevented Heero from an inelegant collapse onto the sofa.

Heero eased himself into the cushions with a deep breath.  "Yeah."

Duo watched him trying to consciously relax his muscles.  The exercise did not relieve the tension around his closed eyes.  "That's a pretty badass little 'ache' you got there."

"Is that like my badass little elephant?"

"Nah, your elephant was hot, not badass."

"The two aren't mutually exclusive."

Duo chuckled.  "No, no, they definitely are not.  So.  What do you usually do for the rest of the day?"

"I usually just... lie here for a little while."

He suspected 'a little while' sometimes stretched into 'a long while'.  "Aspirin?  Naproxen?  Jacuzzi?"

"Just where would you get a Jacuzzi?"

"Dunno.  Just wondered if it would help."

He won a shadow of a smile.  "Maybe.  Actually, now that you mention it, that does sound really good."

"Oh.  Sorry I brought it up, then.  Massage?"

Heero shook his head and moved to lie down.  "It's not a muscle thing.  It's excess neuron activity.  They'll settle down in a bit."

Duo helped him get comfortable, then sat down next to him on the coffee table.  "Are they supposed to do that?"

"It's hardly surprising, is it?  Get me my tablet, would you?"

While he doubted the wisdom of, well, doing anything while looking so wiped, Duo did as he was told.

Heero touched a few icons and handed the device back to Duo.  "Here's the research, if you were interested in knowing more."

"Oh.  Thanks."  He tried to dampen his surprise.  It wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable as chatting about it with the man himself, but it'd probably be more informative.  Much more informative.  He doubted Heero had gone through and scrubbed it of anything incriminating.  He glanced at it briefly before setting it reverently down on the table for now.  "So, it's not surprising, but does your doctor know that it happens?  You're not just, oh, I dunno, failing to mention it or something?"

He scored another amused expression.  "Yes, he's aware of it.  I've learned not to hide things from my doctors."

Duo noted that he was not Heero's doctor.  "No point in skewing Kessler's data even worse, eh?"

Heero made a soft sound that resembled a laugh.  "Sally told me once, if I ever get in the way of her ability to do her job, she'd get in the way of my ability to do mine.  Seemed fair enough."

"Heh.  Sounds about right.  Anyway.  I'm going to putter around a little.  Get some reading done.  Just let me know if you need anything, okay?"

"You don't have to do that."

"Blah de dah," he called out, going to the kitchen.  "Not listening."

By the time he came back with a drink in hand, Heero's breathing had settled into a somnolent rhythm.  Duo smiled, watched him for a few seconds, then settled into an armchair.  After a couple of hours, during which Heero barely moved, he snuck back to his own apartment to gather a few things, and then returned.  Heero didn't notice.

The clock was steadily ticking into the evening when Duo seated himself on the coffee table again.  He reached out to wake Heero, but his hand went straight into tousling Heero's hair softly instead of landing on his shoulder.  He sighed, and was about to come around for a second pass when Heero stirred.  He sat back and waited for Heero to show actual signs of consciousness before he spoke.  "Hey.  Heero?"

Heero twitched sleepily a couple of times, and then his eyes snapped open.  "Duo?  What time is it?"

"Dinner time," he answered vaguely.  A little bit later than they'd been eating, actually, but he'd wanted to see if Heero would wake on his own.  "Interested?"

"Oh.  I should..."  It didn't quite sound like Heero had gotten his bearings just yet.

"What do you normally do for dinner?"  He wasn't sure whether or not Heero had been about to come up with an excuse to pass, but he decided not to take the chance and moved to intercept and distract before it could happen.

"Uhh.  Usually just pop a can of soup."

"Yeah.  I figured.  I've got some jazzed up soup keeping warm right now, and some real food besides.  How are you feeling?"

"Better.  I'm not normally out this long."  He sat up.  "Duo, you--"

"--shouldn't have, I know.  But I did.  Because I'm awesome.  So.  There's nothing in your research that indicates a loss of appetite, and you probably need the energy to keep up all that exciting cell growth.  So what do you say?"

Heero blinked at him for a few seconds, then capitulated.  "I need to... freshen up, first."

"Yeah, sure, of course."  He popped out of his seat and dragged the wheelchair over, helped him into it, and then delivered him to the bathroom door.  "You got this covered?"  He'd been in Heero's bathroom before, noted the plastic stool in the shower, the handle bars suctioned to the wall, the other little touches, and left Heero the dignity of not asking after the details.

"Yeah.  Thanks."

Duo left him to it and had the table set and the food dished out by the time he returned.  "So.  What does 'better' mean?  Still achey?"

Heero surveyed the table with the look of a man preparing to eat a meal he had no gustatory motivation to eat.  No offense to Duo's skills; Duo had had the same feeling himself plenty of times before.  "Not so much.  It's that ache you get when you don't really ache anymore, you know?"

"Tired, though, huh?  You look it," he added, cutting off any avenue of denial.  Some freshening up had indeed occurred in the bathroom, but it only fixed up some of the surface characteristics.  Heero's focus still didn't seem quite as sharp as it normally was.

Heero shrugged, busied himself with his food for a minute.  "I'll be back to normal tomorrow.  It just sort of saps my energy for a bit."

"No kidding.  Well, all the more reason to eat up, then."

They munched quietly on their meal for a while, until Heero felt obliged to speak up.  "I appreciate the fussing."

Duo felt warm and fuzzy inside, but answered with a lighter response.  "Just paying it forward, man.  I expect you to do the same for me."

Heero nodded.  And a little bit later, added to his statement.  "And... thank you for not fussing."

Duo smiled.  "Just paying it forward, man."

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5 comments or Leave a comment
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: December 18th, 2012 09:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooooooh... I shall just quietly melt into a puddle of goo. I'll do it in the corner, out of the way.

I want to cuddle Heero so bad... ^___O

turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 19th, 2012 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)
It's the holidays.  I'm allowed to make melty, gooey messes, right?
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: December 19th, 2012 06:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, absolutely! ^___^

Mm.... Gooey Heero.....

sharona1x2 From: sharona1x2 Date: December 18th, 2012 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Of course being hot and badass aren't mutually exclusive. I can name at least two Gundam pilots (in this story) that fit that bill. :-)

I like how Duo knows just how much he should push with Heero. He's giving Heero enough attention without being overwhelming. I shudder to think how this story would be going if Cathy or Quatre were Heero's caregivers.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 19th, 2012 04:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Getting Heero to open up is a marathon, not a sprint. =)
5 comments or Leave a comment