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fic - slow and steady part 9 [misc] - the turnip patch
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fic - slow and steady part 9 [misc]
Title:  Slow and Steady
Part:  9

Slow and Steady
Part 9

Re-entry was never going to be smooth as silk, no matter who was at the helm, but Duo tried his best.  Heero merely grunted once it was over and observed that he wasn't as young as he used to be.

They landed at the Preventers air field in the late afternoon.  A ground transport was there to collect the gear Duo had brought with him.  He signed off on the transfer documents and then turned to Heero.  "Well.  You ready for this?"

Heero released a puff of breath, then swiveled his chair toward the exit.  "No point in waiting."

Duo carried their bags.  Heero moved under his own power, with a bag of L1 local goods in his lap.  They had received a message from Quatre as soon as they were within range that he was aware of their arrival and would be waiting for them, and indeed he was.  Trowa was with him, the two waiting outside a side door.

Quatre came at them first.  "Heero.  I'm so glad you could join us."  He knew Heero wasn't the hugging type, so he settled for a shoulder squeeze.  "I'm sorry, I didn't know you were injured.  I might have been able to arrange something else."

"I wouldn't have wanted you to."  He nodded past Quatre's shoulder.  "Trowa."

Trowa nodded back.

Quatre clucked his tongue.  "So Duo tells us you've been up to no good?"

"Well," Duo cut in, in his own defense, and Heero's as well.  "In Heero's case, that means he's just been up to his usual."  He paused for a friendly mutual laugh.  "So, where'd you park?"

"Oh!  I'm not going to make you go all the way out there.  Let me fetch the car."  And so Quatre was put off for a few more minutes.  Trowa stayed behind with them and cast an inquisitive look at Heero, which was returned blandly.  He shrugged philosophically and held his peace.

Quatre returned in short order, and after everyone was tucked away into the car, Heero promised a full accounting of his 'adventure' after they met up with Wufei, who would show up at the house after work.  That gave them just enough time to settle in and refresh themselves, and then they were sitting around the kitchen for an informal dinner and Quatre insisted the tale would be a fine accompaniment to their meal.  "So when did you get injured, Heero?"

"Shortly before my re-assignment."

A collective blink.  "But that was..."

"It's why I was re-assigned, really."

"Why is that?"  Quatre seemed to ask the obvious question only because it was the only question he could figure to ask.

"Because they have a specialist in spinal cord injuries there."

Duo winced.

Heero had made a point of showing off both his strength and his weakness during his grace period, hoping to head off some of the inevitable questioning.  He could have stayed in his chair and played it safe, but instead, he tugged Duo into helping him in and out and about, to the best of his ability.  It seemed wisest to establish within their recent memories that he was still partially mobile, with still more improvements yet to come.

The tactic seemed to be a success, insofar as anything could blunt their concerns for him.  Heero made quick work of the rest of the story, almost reducing the tale to a series of bullet points.

Trowa was the first to laugh quietly.  "A series of low probability events?" he asked, directing the question at Duo.

Duo raised his hands defensively.  "Hey, his words, not mine."

Quatre shot them both an irritated glance before turning back to Heero.  "But you're really going to be okay?"

He resisted the urge to sigh.  "I'm not dying or anything, Quatre.  I took some damage.  I'm on the mend.  The only difference between this and one of my regular misadventures is that the recovery period is a bit longer-term than normal."

Wufei took the first step in steering the discussion toward something slightly more conversational.  "I recall that your work up there is nearly complete?"

"Yes."  The accompanying nod was an acknowledgment of the appreciated shift in focus as much as in response to the question.  "We only have one slot left open.  If you know anyone that would be a good fit, we do pay a referral fee."

"What will you do when you're done?"

"I don't know.  I haven't spoken with management yet.  Would you pass the salad, Duo?"

Duo took the hint and passed the salad, along with a generous helping of conversational distraction.

"You really owned it tonight, Yuy.  I'll give you that much."

They had the excuse of retiring early tonight since they'd had a long day of travel, but Heero refused to rest quite yet.  After spending much of his waking hours on the shuttle exercising his motor control without the burden of gravity, he continued to work now in his bedroom on the ground floor, the weight of his own legs providing the resistance he needed for now.  "That's a compliment, right?"

"Totally.  I mean, you took it and you made it yours.  And you just ripped that damn bandage right the hell off.  I kind of questioned your approach at first, but, well, like I said, you owned it."

"If you say so."

"I mean, you took control of the dialogue," Duo translated for him.  "You were just like, 'nothing to see here, move along,' and then you just willed everyone else into going along with it.  I mean, it totally wouldn't have worked on me, because I have no manners and would have just ignored the hints if I'd felt like it, but you made it work tonight."


Duo caught Heero's leg gently with a hand to an ankle.  "I know Doc K said it was time for a lot of muscle work, but I doubt you'll get it all done tonight."  Message delivered, he released his hold.

Heero continued for another few cycles before coming to a rest position.  "No.  But I can get a good start."

"So you are excited."

He exhaled audibly.  "It's something I can do something about.  In a direct, unambiguous kind of way.  I couldn't rush things before, and I still can't now, but it's not a waiting game anymore.  And this... this is something I'm familiar with.  I've never started this far 'in the red', but I know how to build muscle strength.  It's..."

"Yeah."  Duo smiled faintly in understanding.

Heero exhaled again, and this time, it sounded more like a wistful sigh.  "I miss the endorphin rush.  It's just not the same just doing an upper-body workout."

Duo added another wistful sigh on his behalf.  There were probably another dozen and a half things that Heero missed, too.  "I asked Ari if we could borrow a walker for the week, but he said no.  Said I could serve walker duty just as well.  Which I'm totally glad to do, of course, but, you know, maybe it'd be nice for you to, uh, just sort of take off when you wanted to, have a little alone time."

"It wouldn't have worked as well."

"Yeah, probably.  If it wasn't me, it'd be somebody hovering around you, probably.  Yeah, much as I love hanging out with everyone every year, it's always kind of like, cross your fingers that there's no drama, because there's no getting away from everyone here.  You'll always trip over someone."

"Drama like showing up in a wheelchair?"

"Yeah, that works."  He grinned with an undertone of smirk.  "But showing up in a MS?  Now that would be a dramatic entrance."

"I'll try to arrange it for next year."

"Nuh-uh.  No way.  Not unless I get to come with."

"Come with me in the MS?  Or did you want one of your own?"


Heero chuckled.  "That's not what I meant, anyway.  About the walker not working as well.  It's kind of ironic, actually.  That day you saw me working with it, and I was creeping along so slowly?  I wasn't exactly creeping when I first got on it."

Duo had a surprised look on his face.  "How long were you on it?  Sheesh."

"It wasn't that I got tired.  It was because I was coasting along on upper body strength mostly.  Feet just had to push a little.  I had to work at... at not doing what I was instinctively doing.  It's hard to not automatically compensate for your weaknesses.  Had to start over a couple of times.  Started out letting my legs do most of the supporting, but a few steps later, I'd be leaning on my hands again."

"Oh.  That sucks."

"Ari's going to find something else, or modify the walker, maybe.  Make the handles higher up so I can't use them for support, something like that.  So in the meantime... Yes.  You get to be my walker.  As long as you promise not to carry too much of my weight."

"Oh.  Yeah.  Promise."  He paused.  "Irony's a bit of a bitch sometimes, ain't she?"


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9 comments or Leave a comment
sharona1x2 From: sharona1x2 Date: December 22nd, 2012 11:19 am (UTC) (Link)
That went less painfully for Heero than I expected. Quatre must have worked so hard to hold back his natural tendency to be very protective. I hope Trowa rewarded him for that!

I imagine that Heero must be a great patient to work with. I like that he recognizes that he can't take the easy way with anything if he's going to make significant progress.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 23rd, 2012 04:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I suspect Heero didn't give anyone the opportunity to overreact before sweeping it all under the rug and moving on.  Then again, there's still a whole week left in their vacation together. =) (which actually means, sorry kids, jei's too busy writing heero/duo get-together scenes to write quatre/trowa/wufei fussing scenes. ^^)

Heero's always worked hard to maintain his levels of performance.  This knocked him back quite a bit, but it's still the same old slog to peak performance.
issen4 From: issen4 Date: December 22nd, 2012 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heero's like a model patient - he knows he has to work at it and he doesn't balk at the difficulty. Nice chapter!
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 23rd, 2012 04:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Model patient, in an odd kind of way... Kind of like how, after Heero's appointment, when Dr. Kessler left the room for a moment, he came back and certainly didn't expect the antiseptic to be all cleaned up and Heero with his shirt back on.  That is to say, you take your eyes off him for five minutes, and suddenly he's not quite where you expected him to be. ^^'
corpus_yaoi From: corpus_yaoi Date: December 22nd, 2012 01:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Trowa stayed behind with them and cast an inquisitive look at Heero, which was returned blandly.

You know how in high school, your English teacher always tells you to never use passive voice? I never really thought it sounded 'weak' or 'evasive.' I still don't think it sounds particularly bad here (and, cripes, it's a grammatical feature, not a grammatical error!) Yet as I read that sentence, I thought to myself: Gee, I can't help but think '...which Heero returned blandly' sounds so much better.

"But you're really going to be okay?"

Well, after having spent so much time with Heero and Duo BEFORE this big meet up, it's nice to be sitting here as a reader and think "Quatre, he already IS okay, regardless of whether or not he'll ever get rid of the need for a wheelchair." Yet at the same time, he embodies what I imagine would be a very typical reaction to this situation. Which also throws Duo's subtleness at his being reunited with Heero into finer perspective, too.

Duo seems to be comparing how he would react to how Heero is reacting to events in the story quite often. He points out how he would have pushed himself to get better and thus potentially screw up his recovery, he says he would have ignored conversational hints whereas Heero 'owned it.' I find it interesting that Duo feels this way, like he'd pick the bigger of two evils in a given situation.

And finally, how sweetly awesome is it that Duo gets to be Heero crutch?
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 23rd, 2012 04:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I've never really understood that whole passive voice nonsense.  As you say, it's a grammatical feature.  Sometimes I want a 'weak' or 'evasive' sentence.  In this particular case... I didn't think too hard about it, but if I had to think about it now, I might say that I probably subconsciously chose to make it more passive because I didn't want to switch subjects in the middle of a sentence. (okay, subject of the subordinate clause is probably not equivalent to subject of the sentence, but you get my drift.) Whether because I didn't want to switch for switchiness' sake, or because then I would have had to re-establish my previous subject with a 'Trowa shrugged philosophically' rather than a 'he shrugged philosophically', and I run into enough situations where I have to restate their names to make the sentences clear, that I do like to avoid it sometimes when possible.

Hmm, my brain goes in a whole different direction on the Duo comparing thing.  To me, it's just a conversational trick.  He can tell Heero that he's awesome, without having to wax on and on about it too much, in a way that Heero would look askance at.  By using a comparison to his own probable reaction, it quickly establishes how awesome Heero is by comparison.  The comparison approach can be used to establish relevance as well.  That is, he is thinking about it because he knows it would be different from his own reaction.  It's not just that he's in awe of Heero.  Also, it deflects some of the attention off of Heero and on to himself, since he knows Heero doesn't like being in the spotlight like that.  And, it's a little more like a give and take.  Duo is offering a bit of himself, both exposing his own weakness, and giving Heero a toehold from which to respond more conversationally.  If Duo just sat there praising Heero's awesomeness, Heero would have to shift uncomfortably, tell him that he's weird, and finally just change the subject.  But this way, if Heero is really uncomfortable discussing his own situation, he has a conversational out.

Though to be fair, Duo didn't sit around thinking about all of that before saying anything he said.  It's just an established part of his conversational patterns, but it is also a way for him to work through his own feelings of mild inadequacy. (being with heero is a never-ending exercise in humility. ^^)

And of course, when he said he would have ignored converstional hints, he was really trying to say, I'm awesome and your jedi mind tricks would never work on me. ^^'
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: December 22nd, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Definitely no way of getting away from Quatre, regardless of whether it's his house or not. ^____^ Heero is surely the emperor of 'no drama'.

turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 23rd, 2012 04:54 am (UTC) (Link)
After Heero declares the subject closed after about five minutes, would YOU be brave enough to persist in pestering him about it?
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: December 23rd, 2012 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, *I* certainly wouldn't, but Quatre might. He *is* naturally Zero-systemed, after all. ^____^

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