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fic - kdvt 23' - life support - flipside - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - kdvt 23' - life support - flipside
Series:  Kyuuketsuki Duo
Arc:  TV Series
Title:  Life Support - Flipside

Kyuuketsuki Duo
Flipside : Episode 23 - Life Support

If ever there were a time in his life that Duo had wished his power gone, he took it back.

Or maybe he would only make that wish when he was in the middle of nowhere, when there was no one around to look at.

That morning, he had woken up somewhat nauseous, but it passed soon enough.  His power was still fritzing on him, so that was to be expected and he shrugged off the momentary feeling.  And then Heero had walked back into the room from wherever he had been, and Duo let out a mighty choked yelping scream.

The day just went downhill from there.

The instant Heero felt the terror go from zero to sixty in half a thought, and a moment before the outburst actually sounded its way into existence, his presence was with the guardian's, questioning and soothing and on alert.  ::What's wrong?::  He was already more than two-thirds of the way from the door to the bed and reaching out his hand to his partner.

"Stay away from me!" Duo managed to twist that initial yell of alarm into those few words and scuttled quickly away from his approaching lover until he was backed up against the headboard amongst the pillows, violet eyes wide with fright.

Heero froze immediately, feeling like he'd been through this sort of thing before.  ::Duo?:: he extended his thoughts out tentatively, hoping that they wouldn't be rejected as his physical presence had been.  Somewhere in the back of his mind he noted that there was nothing out of the ordinary that he could detect, and if there was nothing wrong out here, then the problem must have been somewhere inside Duo's head, as cold as that sounded.

Eyeing his partner very suspiciously, Duo shivered a bit as the thoughts touched his own, nudging his light shields and asking to be let in.  With a great hesitance, he lowered his inner protections bit by bit, slowly exposing himself to that external presence just enough to scrutinize it carefully himself.  "Heero?" he asked in a small voice.  "Is that you?"

Heero knew better than to answer with the obvious.  It may have been obvious to him, but plainly Duo was having doubts.  With exquisite care, he closed the distance between them until he was sitting on the bed beside the boy, and at the same time he let his own cloaking down and presented himself for inspection.  He felt Duo flicker around his edges for a brief time before he was jumped in both body and spirit, Duo pinning him to the mattress even as he leapt into Heero's thoughts with a relieved half-sob.  Heero merely let him take what he needed from his presence, running reassuring fingers down the guardian's back and over his mind until the boy settled down into a reasonably calm state.  ::Duo?  What's wrong?::  His thoughts didn't have to go very far, since Duo was sitting in his head at the moment.  He tried to withdraw a little, but stopped that when Duo wouldn't let go of the deathgrip he had on him.

::You walked into the room, and I... I couldn't See you!:: Duo cried, traces of panic still tinging his thoughts.  ::I could barely See you at all!::

::Shhh,:: he calmed, the word more of a comforting caress than anything else.  ::What do you mean?::

::And I just *knew* for this horrifying instant that you weren't real, that you were just a reflection or a shadow or a dream or a fake or a puppet or something--!::

::Shhhh,:: he repeated, allowing time for the calming strokes to take effect upon the thoughts that were tripping over themselves in their haste to get out.  ::What do you mean?::

With a few last shuddering breaths, Duo managed to put together a coherent answer.  ::My Sight.  It's... I'd say it's gone, only with the way things have been going lately, it's probably just hiding, but... Gods, Heero.  I couldn't See you, couldn't sense you at all.  All I could see was this body that looked like you, moved like you, but for all I could See, wasn't you at all!  Like an animated corpse or a mobile doll or...  Nothing.  Not until you opened yourself deliberately to me, and I reached out to you.  So my power is still working, I suppose, but...::

Heero twanged the cord that connected their souls and made Duo shudder in a good way this time.  ::See?  Still me.  And no matter how crazy your power is going on you, and no matter what anyone can ever do to you -- to us -- this will always be here.::  He sent another vibration down the thread for emphasis, and Duo's toes curled involuntarily from the sensation.  ::I promise you that.  Even if you are not able to See me with your Sight sometimes, you will always be able to feel me here, and know me here.::  This time Duo sent a reply along that line, and Heero smiled.  ::Remember that.::

Duo decided that he could still go to school, despite his 'condition'.  He knew that it would likely only get worse before it got better, so he figured he probably ought to keep up normal appearances for as long as he still could.  Besides, it was just his second Sight.  He hadn't always had the Sight, so this was just sort of going back to that time.  So long as there wasn't anything there that he had to See to save his life, he would be just fine.  Right?

It wasn't long, however, before being surrounded by all these people whom he could see were breathing, talking, and walking, and yet seemed utterly dead to his othersenses, pushed him close to the edge, and he might have fallen had Heero not been there to fill in the emptiness with colors for him.  For a person to whom reality was often in question, looking around and seeing only flat, cardboard cutouts of people, mockeries of humanity, was more than a little stressing, even with Heero's presence to keep him grounded.

Never before had he realized just how much a part of him his power was.  He normally didn't run his Sight at full power -- he called it the Sight, but it wasn't limited to the visual dimension.  Rather, it encompassed all of the supernatural sensory input he received, from aural impressions to visions from the past to whispers in the wind.  It got distracting, and tended to obscure the things that were actually physically there.  But even with the power turned all the way down, he could sense something, some sort of life force that animated the humans before him.  Even if they were zombies, or simply illusions, or possessed dolls, still he would have had some feeling that there was something holding them together, something driving them, but today he had none of that, and it was disturbing as all hell.

It was around lunchtime when his Sight came back to him, and there was half a moment where he breathed a sigh of relief, right before the power laughed at him and ran towards the other end of the spectrum.  The Sight turned itself on full blast, and refused all of his frantic efforts to dim it.

The halls were fairly clear of students as he hurriedly locked himself inside a utility closet and collapsed against the door, eyes closed against the visions.  Heero was there immediately, and Duo launched himself into his arms at once, fleeing the sensations the door was pressing into him.  Where he had felt a whole history of hands brushing his surface, buckets knocking against him, now he concentrated on the feel of Heero's hands alone resting snugly around him.

"Heero?" he whispered.  The physical contact between the two of them helped Heero to filter out the worst noise.


"Much as I appreciate the fact that you rushed here for me, and that you don't want to disturb me, you can take your foot out of that mop pail, you know."

"Thank you."  Heero removed his foot from the pail with a dignified air and nudged it over to the side, glad that it hadn't been full of water.  He had been a little sloppy in his materialization, his concern for his charge overriding his attention of where exactly he was appearing.

Duo started to laugh.  It began as an embarrassing giggle, transitioned into a more manly chuckle, and then went slightly hysterical before he managed to get it under control.  "Okay.  Okay, I can do this.  I can handle this.  This, too, will pass.  No problem.  No problem at all."  He lifted his head slightly from Heero's shoulder and peered over it cautiously.  "See?  No problem at all.  Just shelves of innocent cleaning fluid.  Nothing to see there.  Nothing at all."  He sensed movement out of the corner of his eye and glanced downwards towards the floor.  "Whoa!" he yelped, averting his eyes hastily from the sight of a couple in a rather intimate full-body embrace.  "I'll never be able to think of the janitor in the same way again, dammit."

"You'll live," Heero responded dryly, patting his back once more before holding him out at arm's length.  "Can you do this?"

Duo looked him in the eye and used the deep blue there to center himself.  "I can do this."

"I'll help you."

"I know you will."  He signaled his readiness with a brief nod, and braced himself for the return of the random noise when Heero released his grip upon his shoulders.  He shuddered slightly, but otherwise adjusted to compensate as best he could.

He made it outside alright and walked as steadily as he could towards the corner of the field where the others were sitting.  Fortunately, if he were absent, they usually didn't ask, because the answer could have been anything from he was getting help on his homework (actually unlikely), to he was taking care of a stray, to he was feeding.  It was lunchtime, after all.  Details like that they really didn't want to know.  However, since he wasn't really spending as much time with them these days outside of school, he needed to check up on them.

There was that girl in their grade that he had heard about.  They said she always got exemplary scores on all of her physics exams.  As he passed her by, he almost stopped to tell her she had a rather large bug on the front of her dress, until Heero notified him that it wasn't real and kept him moving along.  It was his mind processing the guilt from cheating on her tests, and interpreting it as a grotesque spider feeding upon her heart.

Members of the football team were seated on the benches.  The halfback was telling the tale of his latest conquest.  Duo glanced disdainfully at the images flickering in and out around him.  The girl had slapped him for his boorishness, but that little detail wasn't a part of his story.

A girl was breaking up with her boyfriend next to the fence, but that was an echo of memory from the past.  And over there, the leaves on that tree were the wrong color for the season.  An underclassman walked too closely by him, and Duo flinched from the knowledge that the boy's parents were getting divorced.  To his right, a ball from some old basketball game came bouncing towards him --

::No, that one's real.::

Oh.  He focused a bit and managed to catch it before it collided with him, and tossed it back to the players with a cheerful smile.  And finally, he got to their little corner of the field and plopped himself down with a purely internal sigh.  "Hey, guys.  What's up?"

The gang answered according to their natures.  Nothing unexpected was revealed.  Duo managed to look at them long enough to gather that nothing seemed out of the ordinary before he decided that he couldn't take it anymore.  As he continued to contribute to the conversation, he casually lay back upon the grass and closed his eyes, taking a pose of relaxation.  Heero had to repeat a few of the conversational prompts for him, the ones that he hadn't managed to hear over the pounding of all the thoughtnoise around him, but other than that, he got his brief check up done and no one seemed the wiser as to his condition.  He even managed not to flinch with every painful touch as Quatre helpfully brushed the grass off his back when he got up.

It got a little worse after lunch was over and he was back in class, though.  When his Sight had abandoned him, so long as he didn't look at anyone, he wouldn't even know they were there, and so could avoid a good deal of trouble in that way.  Now, he was trapped inside the classroom with two dozen or more teenagers, all bored in class and having nothing better to do than think about themselves and their little problems and frustrations.  The kid sitting diagonally from him during fifth period had the beginnings of a nasty cold, and he could see the progression of the illness as it started to take over him.  The girl in the front row had a crush on the teacher.  Duo involuntarily became a party to the lurid images manifesting in the space around her.  Her best friend next to her was convinced that she was too fat.  She held her self-image so strongly to herself that rather than her usual form, Duo saw an overweight, bloated creature instead.  A dark cloud surrounded the boy that wanted to be an artist, but whose parents were forcing to become a doctor, and Duo watched as dreams were crushed before his eyes.

Duo kept his eyes trained almost exclusively upon his notes.  That limited the images to flitting about the edges of his vision, even if it didn't help with the constant battery of other sensory input.  He had to tune out the teacher's lecture as well, because it was the same lecture that he had given three times already that day, and Duo was hearing them all simultaneously, and for some reason, they sounded like they were all in different languages.

Through it all, Heero kept talking to him, a steadying stream of play-by-play commentary on what was real and what was not, and when there was nothing new to mention, he was simply there, and he gave Duo something to concentrate on besides all the things he never wanted to know about his classmates.  It helped him tremendously when he had to walk the halls between classes and not weave like a drunken man avoiding all the students in the halls that no one else could see.

It was the last hour of the day when Duo decided things had to change.  ::This is getting ridiculous, Heero,:: he complained as the teacher twisted himself into a Picasso during the blue period.  ::I can't expect you to keep talking to me forever.  I can tell you're running out of things to distract me with, anyway.::

::I can keep this up as long as you continue to have such interesting visions.  Look there, love.  You've got the characteristics of the Picasso slightly incorrect.  The head is wrong.  Picasso really favored the shape of the--::

::Oh, stop that.::

::Very well.::  A brief pause, during which the kid next to him sprouted another head that ate the first and took its place.  ::You do know that I'm not trying to mock you or anything...?::

::Of course.  I know you're just trying to help.  You are helping.  But...::


Someone missed lunch in the second row.  Little hunger sprites were cavorting about in a strange little dance around his desk.  ::You know, normally I'm not this psychotic.::  He closed his eyes briefly, willed them away, and quite fortunately they were gone the next time he looked.

::Your brain is just trying to compensate for all the extra data it's receiving.  It's trying its best to translate it all into something comprehensible.::

::You call this comprehensible?!::

A Heero shrug.  ::It's your head.  Don't look to me for answers.  So, I am helping, but...?::

::But....::  A Duo shrug.  ::Would you mind if I tried this on my own for now?  Until I get home, at least.::


::I know that you're willing to help me, Heero.  And I admit that I absolutely adore your help.  But....::

Heero nudged his thoughts until the end of the sentence came falling out, seeing as how Duo was momentarily distracted by a thoughtcloud that went winging across the room and straight through his head, leaving him shuddering lightly in its passing.  ::You'd like to try it on your own before you start depending on others?  A reasonable request.::  Heero resisted the urge to ask whether or not he thought he could handle it.  He knew he could.  He had faith in the guardian.  But that didn't mean that he wouldn't be concerned.  ::I'll... I'll be here if you need me, Duo.  Always.::

::I know.::  Duo sent him a hug on the currently congested otherwinds.  ::Thank you.::  And as Heero withdrew from his thoughts with a gentle kiss of temporary parting, Duo started shutting down what he could to try to contain the effects of his power gone haywire.  He couldn't do it before, not with Heero talking him through it.  That channel between them would had to have been turned off, and he hadn't been ready to take the plunge then.  Besides which, he was feeling a little bit more in control of his faculties than he had when he had been standing inside that utility closet.  At least the power was being harmless, he mused as he closed off as many input and output ports as he could.  Granted, it wasn't doing much for his sanity, but thank the gods that the shadows weren't gathering in a pool beneath his feet without his summons or the like.

The visual anomalies started going away.  This was good.  He had managed to cut off the flow of extraneous information to his physical senses.  It was rather unfortunate, however, that there was still a decent amount of input coming in, and since he wasn't giving it access to those output lines anymore, there was only one place left for it to go -- straight into his mind, unprocessed, undiluted, and completely raw.

The moment the last class bell rang Duo nearly bolted for the door and back into his lover's blessedly calming arms, but it wasn't enough.  He could still feel the dark miasma of emotional baggage that crawled all over his skin from his inadvertent contact with someone in the hall.  The remnants of the noisy babble of jumbled thoughtmass still rang in his head.  The ripples in the ether worked their way into his mind, and inside of that closed environment they bounced off the walls he had set up and were reflected endlessly back into a massive interference field that was throwing him wildly off.  It was hammering him from all sides, and it wouldn't go away, no matter how much grounding Heero was providing, and that left him with only a couple of possible solutions.  The first was to dive beneath it all and retreat to a level inside his head beyond the press of externalities.  That one was already partially undertaken by a slip halfway into his guardian mode, but he wasn't on the job, and he didn't like that.  The other option was to drown out the noise with more noise, but this time, with noise of his own choosing.  He combined the two options, and then there was only one clear path.

He surged out of his resting position and crushed his lips against his partner's, hoping to communicate his need through the burning contact of their skin.  Dimly, he heard Heero's mindvoice pierce the fog in his mind, and clung to it, seeking out more with his body as he traced that singular presence back to its source.  It asked questions, and Duo tried to provide answers, but all he knew at the time was that he needed this.  He needed to drown himself in clean, pure sensation, in another's spirit, anything to chase out the invasive presence of others pressing upon him, and finally he gave up the attempt at articulate communication and opened up the visionscape of his soul to his lover, and things became much more clear as together, they went to a place within themselves where only the two of them existed, and there were no more distractions.

::I'm sorry,:: Duo whispered into his partner's mind.

Heero opened his eyes and peered down at the head of the seemingly youthful boy resting upon his chest.  ::I have no idea what you're apologizing for, but I'm pretty sure it's not your fault.::

::...I shouldn't have...::

::Oh, stop that, Duo,:: he reprimanded fondly, reminding him that his mind was open to him.  Duo shied away a little from the contact, but Heero reached out with a few gentle thoughts and gathered him back in.

::I just keep taking...::

::And I'll just keep giving.  What's the problem here?::

::I should have...::

::What?  Asked permission?  You know you don't have to.  You know that if I didn't want you right here, in my arms, right now, you wouldn't be here.  It's not like you forced my mind open to yours, love, or forced me to love you.::

::I hate arguing with you.::

::This isn't much of an argument.::

::I know.  My point exactly.::  Duo spared the energy to stick his mental tongue out at him.  ::All the same... I just walked in here and... and used you...::

::And I could have stopped you at any time.  You're not going to win this one, Duo.::  He tempered the loss with a soft brush upon the surface of his thoughts, echoed by the movement of his hand across his back.  ::I... want to be here for you.  To support you how ever I can.  Whether in battle or in your emotions, whether I need destroy your enemies or act as safe refuge.  Yours is a heavy burden, guardian, and while it is your responsibility alone to carry out, I have chosen to assist you in whatever little ways I can.  This is all I can do, and I wish I could do more for you.::

::All that you can... against what you can.  You know, I decided something.  Shortly before I fell apart.  I decided that I'm not just going to sit back and take this anymore.  This is my power.  *My* power.  And I've made the lecture to Quatre so many times about controlling the power or being controlled by the power.  It's about time I followed my own advice.::

::So you still feel as if it's testing you?::

::A little.  Maybe more than just a little.  I'm not certain.  I do get this feeling that if I don't do something about it, it's never going to get better, though.  And as much as I love having your support in this, this isn't going to be something you can help me with.::

The hand upon his back latched onto his braid and gave it the slightest of tugs.  ::Wrong.  You're not thinking creatively enough, love.  I cannot assist you in the direct dealing with your power, but I will be there in every other possible way.  You are not alone in this.  I promise.::

::You don't have to do that--::

::I want to.  I choose to.::

::I'm wearing you out here, Heero.  And don't you hem and haw at me, I know you've been supplementing my power and stuff... there's no reason for us both to be out of commission.  Someone on this team ought to be working right, and since it's obviously not going to be me, it's gonna have to be you.::

Heero pondered the issue for a good long while.  ::You know I don't like seeing you in pain.::

::I know, Heero.  I know.  But just like this afternoon....  I don't know what I would do if you weren't standing behind me, ready to catch me if I fall, but just knowing that already gives me so much strength.  Still, I think I should be trying my damnedest not to fall first, don't you?::

Heero could find no fault with the logic.  He had promised long ago to always be there for Duo, for so long as he needed him, but the warrior and hunter and planner in him recognized that the boy should avoid becoming dependent upon him.  He really should have noticed that he was hovering.  Yet this was one of the very reasons why Duo occasionally took these trips into humanity -- to make sure they didn't fall into any comfortable, complacent patterns, which included the two of them being too entirely used to and reliant upon each other's presence.  Still, encouraging independence and standing idly by were two entirely different things.  ::I'm not going to let you wallow in it, you know.::

::I'm not asking you to back off completely.  I'm not that much of a fool.  But maybe we can reach a happy compromise?::

::Hn.  Things will only be happy once this passes,:: Heero grumped, but his mind indicated that he would do his best to follow his lover's wishes, and Duo's thoughts warmed in response.  They only needed a little stroking for Heero to turn that pleasant warmth into something a little sleepy-like.  ::Get some rest, Duo.  You'll probably need your energy.::

::Yes, love....::  There was probably going to be some sort of witty comeback tacked onto the end of that obedient statement, but Duo fell asleep before it could see the light of day.

Heero broke out of his meditative trance the moment Duo woke from his own rest.  Several hours had passed since he had fallen asleep.  Slowly, he managed to rouse himself and mumbled that something was calling him across town, and he needed to go see what it was.  It wasn't Shinma, and it wasn't Quatre.  On the plus side, his head had stopped pounding, but he was still feeling sensitive enough to experience this dull, throbbing pain in his heart that definitely wasn't coming from within himself.  And so they went looking for it and Duo ended up squeezing through a window on the third floor of the hospital.

"Duo," Wufei said with some surprise.  He stood at the bedside of a comatose woman.  "What are you doing here?"

"I think," Duo started, just trying to think through the annoying haze of noise that was filtering through his senses again.  Even on his good days, he tended to avoid hospitals.  There was too much pain and suffering there.  He clamped down on it by nudging his humanity over a little to the left and letting the impassive Guardian through.  It stopped hurting so much after that, and yet there was still this line of pain that called to him, and it came from the boy in front of him.  "I think you called me here."

"What do you mean?" Wufei demanded to know.

What indeed?  Wufei always carried a burden within him, but this was somehow different.  It didn't normally reach out to him like this.  Duo studied what he could of the boy, but could discern no particular reason why he may have been in the boy's thoughts tonight.  "Something inside of you wanted me to come to you here tonight.  Why don't you tell me what this is about?"

As Wufei looked within himself for an answer, Duo studiously ignored the voices in his head telling him that he was a fool for caring, a fool for maintaining these ridiculous ties with these humans.  He would have been better off ignoring the petty concerns of these mortals.  In fact, he had done so this afternoon, when he had turned away from all of the negative emotions displayed to his vision.  He hadn't tried to fix them, which was only right.  Either he should feed on them, or he should ignore them.

Duo flicked the thoughts away as he would a noisome mosquito and focused instead on what he saw in the room.  A major reason he made these periodic sojourns into human life was so that he would be no stranger to modern technology, yet he was not too familiar with hospital equipment.  Nevertheless, the monitors were obviously displaying data on the patient in the bed, and he could see the lifeless energy lines stretching between the woman and the life support machines.  Such energy would never be able to substitute for the real thing, and could they not see that she would never revive to produce her own?

"Your mother," Duo realized aloud, clued in by the flickers of images and ideas popping in and out of existence around Wufei.

"What of her?" the boy asked warily.

"Yes.  What of her?"  Wufei should have been sensitive enough to discern what Duo had of the woman.  She reminded him vividly of the drones he had been seeing all morning.  Alive, yet so definitely not.  At least she had the common decency to lie prone and silent, a corpse in appearance and all but name, and Duo could thankfully See where the power that kept her alive was coming from.  He averted his eyes anyway and instead concentrated on Wufei, trying to figure out what the boy wanted from him.

"There have been things...," Wufei finally started.  "That you've said... about... about... what you can do for humans.  What your... bite can do for humans."

An eyebrow lifted itself slightly of its own accord.  After Wufei had discovered that he had taken Trowa's blood so many years ago, the boy had tried to pry more information about his victims out of him, but Duo hadn't been particularly forthcoming.  Why was he bringing this up?  He couldn't possibly be asking for his 'services', now could he?  Surely he would sooner swallow his own tongue than ask for favors from any supernatural creature, yet the impressions in the ether were hinting to the contrary.

"And I wondered...if there was anything you could do for her."

Duo's eyes flickered to the woman lying in the bed, but there was nothing to be divined from the glance.  "Anything...?" he asked, looking for clarification.  Just what did Wufei believe him capable of?  He was no god, to bring forth life where there was none.  He was just Duo, a tired creature living between worlds with the power of shadows and darkness at his command.  There was nothing there of life, nor death, even.  Just eternity.

"You've said you can... take a person away from this.  Give them peace.  Happiness.  Oblivion.  Something."

The effort those slow words took made itself plain in the air in a dark cloud hovering around the boy, within which flashed painful memories.  Duo watched as he saw the Chang home destroyed through Wufei's eyes.  He caught glimpses of people he never knew, demons he had never faced, but a despair he was very familiar with as the heavy chains of duty settled about his shoulders like a cloak and weighed down every unworthy breath of the survivor that had been left behind by some twisted quirk of fate to carry on amidst the ruins of a life.

"Well?" the boy demanded, his frustration mounting at Duo's non-response, but Duo had no ready, easy answers for him.

"I can do that.  But not this time.  I'm sorry, Wufei."  And he meant the words, too.

"Why not?"

"I can do that," he repeated.  "When there's someone to see off, someone to give such things to.  But your mother is gone now, Wufei.  She's gone now, and there's nothing I can do for her."

Wufei seemed to deflate with the admission, and his image was so different from that Duo was typically familiar with.  Gone was the arrogant, headstrong boy, and in his place was this tired, downtrodden creature.  "I know that.  I know that her spirit has long since passed from this body... but still.  I hoped that something... something could just put an end to this for her."

Sweet oblivion...?  The power whispered to him that there was more than one way to get such a thing.  "I can end this for her, and for you, too, Wufei, if that's what you want," he suggested before he had really given the matter some thought.  Once said, however, he found himself agreeing, despite his typical denial of humans so often seeking oblivion from him, and continued the thought with caution.  "I can give her release.  An honorable end, even if she's not around to appreciate it."

Wufei flinched from the thought.  It seemed to echo his own too clearly, yet to hear it spoken aloud by a being such as Duo increased its potency tenfold.  "I would do it myself, if I could.  As I should have done, when I had the chance, but not the time.  And I would do it now, if I could just figure out some way to do it quietly....  It's horrible, you know.  The doctors think I come here every week to visit her, to hope that she'll somehow come back or something.  What would they think if they knew that I count the many long days until I'm old enough to demand that they end her life?  That every week, I stand here and wonder how I can kill her without them noticing?"

His pain cut straight to Duo's heart, despite the distance granted by the guardian's professional shell.  "You can't kill her, Wufei," Duo soothed, squashing that desire in his head that clamored for doing the deed with or without her son's approval.  What would Wufei think if he knew that the powerful impulse from this morning had returned?  The one that had petitioned loudly for the permission to well and truly destroy all of the seemingly empty vessels before him and put them out of his misery.  "She's already dead.  You just want to give her a decent burial, and there's nothing wrong with that."

As Wufei wrestled with his decision, Duo fought the energy within himself.  It lusted for the taking of life, even if this life was as dim as it could be, and it tried to gather the shadows together in anticipation of the end.  'Stop it,' he commanded irritably.  It complained loudly to him.  'Just because I decided to fight back is no reason to get snippy with me.'

He had just managed to get it back under control again when he heard Wufei's whispered words, "Do it."  The quiet request caused the power to surge up again, and this time, it reached out for the brighter life in the room, but fortunately, Duo kept it restrained until the boy had fled the room.

It pouted at him, and denied the truer treat it pounced towards the woman lying in the bed, but Duo pulled its reins back tightly again.  'No, damn you.  This is Wufei's mother.  We're going to do this right, and we're going to do this with respect.'

Heero slid into the room while his attention was diverted, his presence just shy of solicitious as he positioned himself behind his partner and moved his arms around him.

"I'm glad he didn't stay for this," Duo sighed, the situation under control for the moment.

Heero cocked his head upon Duo's shoulder as he extended his senses a bit to the outside.  "They'll change shifts soon out there.  If we're going to do this, it should be then, while they're distracted."

"Yeah," he acknowledged.  "It would suck if they all ran back in here and brought her back again.  They'll be running back in here with their fancy little machines to try to revive her anyway.  It's good that Wufei won't have to see that."

"You worry too much about him, love."

"Someone's got to look out for him.  I've got you, but he doesn't have anyone.  No one who really understands, anyway.  Not like I do."

"Perhaps now is not the best time to remind you of this, but...."

Duo sighed again.  "I know.  I won't be around here forever.  I know.  But just for now... I'd like to do what I can for him.  Goodness knows he needs all the help he can get."  That having been said, he steeled himself for the matter at hand.  "Come on.  Let's do this before I lose it again."

"Heero?" he murmured tiredly.


"Tell me a bedtime story?"

"What kind of story?"

"Hmmm... well, we live an adventure/fairy tale... there was a horror story this morning... and I might say we had ourselves a romance this afternoon...."

Heero poked around inside the backpack lying next to the bed without displacing the boy in his arms.  Calculus?  Too many equations.  Aeschylus' Oresteia?  No, very bad.  He plucked the only other book available to him, opened to a random page, and started to read.  "In Maxwell's time, light and the adjoining infrared and ultraviolet radiations were the only known types of electromagnetic radiations.  Today, the electromagnetic spectrum includes a broad range of different kinds of radiations from a variety of sources.  From Maxwell's theory we can conclude...."

Duo fell asleep with a smile on his face.

forgive me for putting so much... text into this part.  i initially summarized the whole episode in a couple of long paragraphs at the end of the hospital scene in the flipside of this, but it didn't really seem to convey the depth of duo's troubles at the time.  i need him a little weak and vulnerable right now, but i also need him to be strong, because that's who he is, so i needed excruciating detail to display that all.  whatever.

addendum: ah yes, a note on the oresteia, not that it's particularly important.  greek tragedy by aeschylus, a connected trilogy.  the only surviving connected trilogy, in fact.  anyway, it's named after orestes, who killed his mum clytemnestra after she killed his dad agamemnon.  after killing her, he got chased around by the furies for a while and was generally tortured and miserable, since it's a very very bad thing to kill one's mum, but in the end, he was exonerated in a trial in athens, with athena attending.

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