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19 April 2006 @ 11:04 pm
Hold Your Light- Chapter 17 part 2  

Boy is that the biggest understatement of the year. But it’s the truth.  My breakup with Hilde was nothing like this.  She was looking for a different type of relationship than I was.  It wasn’t like she was trying to force me into marriage or anything, but she wanted something out of me that I just couldn’t, or wouldn’t, give.  So, after we had the same fight a thousand times about my issues, I decided it was best if I sold her my half of the salvage business and moved on.  But seeing her now isn’t the same anymore, and that makes me a little sad.  She was a really good friend, but when she looks at me now it’s with different eyes.   


“I see,” Wufei comments blandly and shifts in his seat a bit.   “But doesn’t that make you bisexual?” 


“I guess it does,” I say through a dry laugh.


He pauses for a moment, seemingly thinking hard about something.  I can tell the subject matter is making him very uncomfortable.  Though, if I were in his shoes I suppose it would be a kick in the head to find out that your teammates were sleeping with each other.  I watch as he brings his hand up to his face and presses his thumb and middle finger into either side of his temple.  It’s the first time I notice just how exhausted he looks.


“You just get back from that Europa 3 mission?” I ask.


He shakes his head slowly.  “No, got back from that the day before yesterday,” he answers, letting his hand drop away from his face. 


“What time?”


Wufei gives me a confused look.  “I delivered my report to Une at 14:30 hours, why?”


“I’m just curious about why you didn’t bother to check on us.  The search and rescue team was back at HQ by 12:00.”


He takes a second to process that statement before narrowing those obsidian eyes at me.  “What exactly are you trying to imply, Maxwell?”


I shrug.  “Nothing…just thought you would’ve gone to see them by now.”


Bingo.  He makes this quick, choking noise in an aborted attempt give an excuse, but I know the real reason.  I jam my hand into the pocket of my jeans and pull out the pack of cigarettes. 


“Duo, it’s not what you think,” he tells me as he watches me light up.  “I thought you were quitting.” 


I take a long drag and then blow the smoke out the open window because I’m a considerate guy.  It takes a concerted effort to not let that last remark rile me, but I swear to god, the next person that makes a comment about me smoking is going to get smacked in the mouth.   


“I did,” I tell him blandly, “but I’ve come to the conclusion that if I quit now I might go ape-shit and think that drinking a bottle of ammonia is a good idea.  So, for now, I’m on the fast-track to lung cancer.”  I bring the cigarette up to my mouth with dramatic flair and take a drag to punctuate that statement.


“You’re not going to kill yourself.”


The confidence in Wufei’s voice makes me throw my head back in laughter.  “Oh?  And you’re so certain of this?”  This time I purposely blow the smoke in his direction.  He coughs a few times and glowers at me through the haze. 


“Yes, I am.  You may ‘run and hide’ but you’ll never leave a friend in need.”  I stare at him in disbelief.  Wufei fidgets uncomfortably for a moment before adding, “And put that disgusting thing out.  Unlike you, I enjoy my lungs very much.”


“Alright, alright,” I acquiesce and take a final drag before tossing the butt out the window.  I’m feeling this irrational anger boiling in my stomach.  You know the kind I’m talking about.  It’s the kind that makes you do and say stupid things without putting too much thought behind it. 


“So what’s the reason why you’ve been avoiding us?  I can pretty much guess why everyone else is, but I want to hear your reason.”  It’s after the words leave my lips that I realize that I’m pissed off at the man sitting next to me and I’m not entirely sure I know the reason why.


Wufei clicks his tongue loudly.  “God, you’re dense sometimes,” he retorts to my semi-insult.  “Is that what you think of me?  Do you really think I would do that?” 


I give him another shrug.  “Didn’t see you around guess I figured you weren’t there.  But now you tell me that you were.  So, I guess I’m wondering why I was alone with Trowa the whole time. Why I was the one keeping him calm so that he could be sedated and didn’t try to kill the doctors that were attempting to put him back together.”


Oh, he looks pissed.  His jaw is clenched and his fingers are fisted onto the hem of his Preventer-issue khaki pants.   I can’t wait to hear the condescending lecture I’ve just brought on myself. 


“Duo,” he begins calmly, but very restrained.  “I told you, it’s not what you think.  If I could have been there, I would’ve been.”


“Fuck that!  If you really wanted to be there then you would have been…if not for Trowa, then for me.  I could have used some support.”  The last part comes out as a breathy whisper and the sheer desperation in it embarrasses me.  I scrub the heels of my palms into my eyes as the tears begin to burn their way to the surface once again.  Not here.  I can’t lose it in front of Wufei.  But what the fuck could have been more important than coming to see his two friends who had just been put through twenty-four hours of hell?


“I’m sorry, Duo,” he says softly.  I look over at him.  He has his head down, staring at his hands.  “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you…or them, but…” He drifts off for a moment and then sighs tiredly.  “When I got back to HQ, Une was waiting for me.  She filled me in on what happened and then asked me for a favor.”


I watch as his face contorts into a grimace.  It’s not his usual, or should I say, familiar scowl.  No, this look speaks of pain, and I’m not talking about the physical kind. What the hell did that crazy bitch ask him to do?  And for him to be this tight-lipped about it, it must be bad.  The butterflies are slam-dancing inside my stomach. 


“She asked me to review the footage taken from the surveillance cameras.  All fourteen hours of it.  I had to extract any part that might further the investigation.”


He looks up at me then, eyes watering, and I can do nothing but stare back.  Wufei saw it all.  He knows what really happened in that room.  And I’d be lying if I said that didn’t bother me, but sitting here, looking at the toll it’s obviously taken on the man next to me, makes me a little scared.


“Duo, we’ve seen a lot in our short lives, haven’t we?”  I nod slowly.  “Never in my life have I seen such…such despicable cruelty.”  He stops speaking, shaking his head in refusal.   


I want to ask.  The logical part of me is agreeing with my more morbid side and they both want to know what happened down to every last, gruesome detail. 


“Don’t ask because I’m not going to tell you,” he says just as I was about to open my mouth.  When did he become psychic? 


“Why?” I ask him, indignant that he would only tell me enough to pique my curiosity.  He should know me better than that. “You read Heero’s statement, and now having seen everything yourself, you know the wall of bullshit I’m up against.  So, why won’t you tell me what really happened?  Tell me why Trowa can barely look Heero in the eye?  And when he does…boy, you would think he had heat-vision.  But all that aside, I think I deserve to know.”


“Then you’ll have to break into Une’s office and steal it yourself, because I’m not going to tell you.  That was the reason she picked me; she knew I would be discrete.  And because I care about Heero and Trowa, I will not dishonor them by divulging what I’ve seen.  If they want you to know, then they will have to be the ones to tell you.”


Great, just fucking great.  Is the whole world conspiring to keep me out of the loop?


“What was left out of Heero’s report, Wufei?”  I demand. 


He narrows his eyes at me.  “Like I said, I’m telling you that.  But I will say this,” he quickly adds before I can respond.   “What happened in that room is something that altered both of them, probably for good.  Whatever may have been between them before is…damaged now.”


“No shit, Sherlock.  Of course this is going to affect them for the rest of their lives.  You don’t get raped and wake up a few months later and find that everything is miraculously all better.  And you don’t watch your best friend get raped in front of you and not carry that with you forever.” 



Wufei slouches into the seat a little more.  “I know that.”



“Then you should also know that Trowa was tortured by those same fucks when he was just a kid.”  It’s funny, I hear myself use the word kid, like I’m some old man, and like what happened to Trowa was so long ago.  I’m barely an adult myself, but there are days where I feel positively ancient.  Today is definitely one of those days.


“Yeah, I know that too.”


“So, then what the fuck am I supposed to do?!”  Okay, so I’m yelling now.  I’m also itching for another cigarette in the worst way.   Why won’t anyone tell me what happened?    


Wufei starts a bit at the volume of my voice.  He wants to get angry with me in the worst way.  I can tell, but he’s obviously holding back.  “I don’t know.  I’m sorry that this has all been dumped in your lap, Duo.”


Do my ears deceive me?  Was that an apology?  He fidgeting in his seat again and I bite my tongue against making a joke at his expense. 


“After seeing what happened to them,” he continues. “Une thought it was best that the situation be handled as discretely as possible.  As soon as Trowa was given medical clearance, we had him discharged without the formal deposition and psych evaluation.  I didn’t agree with that decision, but she insisted that she wanted him to have a few days before the inquisition showed up.  Remember those papers you signed at the hospital?”


I have to stop and backtrack my thoughts.  Papers…yeah, I remember signing Trowa’s discharge papers.  There was a shit-load of them and I was completely exhausted.  Thanks to all the immunizations and endurance boosters we Gundam pilots were given, Trowa was burning through the sedatives at a rate the doctors couldn’t keep up with.  He would wake every two hours, disoriented and violent.  After he punched a nurse in the face and nearly broke all the fingers on the doctor’s left hand, it was decided that he should be restrained.  It almost killed me to see him tied to the bed like that, but it was best for everyone.   I sat up with him the entire night trying to soothe him while he whimpered and moaned in fevered, restless sleep.  By the next morning, I was barely functioning. 


“Yeah, I remember. Why?” I answer cautiously.  


“I guess you didn’t look at them too closely.”


Of course I didn’t look at them closely.  I was lucky I could still write my name at that point.   I had the doctor in my ear going over Trowa’s medication, warning signs I should watch for from the concussion.  After ten minutes of don’t let him lie flat on his back, make sure not to get the sutures wet, change the dressing twice a day, watch for inflammation, infection, dizziness, nausea, fever, confusion, try to keep him immobile, don’t let him lay all his body weight on his broken ribs, and so on, my head was spinning by the end of it.  I could have signed my soul over to the devil and wouldn’t have known it. 


Wufei pauses a moment to rub at his tired eyes before continuing.  “You signed a MP-008.”  When I stare at him dumbly, he adds, “Military Protocol…section 008?  Seriously, how did you graduate the academy?”


“My charming wit and dashing looks,” I say dryly.


Wufei rolls his eyes.  “You agreed to take full responsibility for Trowa pending his deposition and until Internal Affairs finish their investigation.”


“I did what? 


The Chinese man exhales loudly in frustration.  “The only reason he was allowed to leave the hospital without a formal debriefing and psychiatric evaluation was to place him under house arrest and into your custody with the stipulation that you would monitor him for any suspicious activity.”


“Suspicious activity?  I’m not spying on my friends, Wufei.  If this is Une’s idea of helping, then you can tell her to shove it.  I’ll resign before I turn snitch.”


“No, no, that’s not what she means,” he quickly corrects.  “Basically, all you have to do is keep tabs on where he is which, given his injuries, won’t be hard to do and make sure he shows up for his official debriefing Monday morning.  Think you can handle that?”


It’s not a question of whether or not I can handle it.  It’s a question of why the hell am I the one who has to bear this all by myself?  Despite my lingering anger, I still tell Wufei that it’s not a problem.  I’ll make sure Trowa’s gets there.  If I didn’t do it, then who would?  I’m sure Une could appoint one of the cadets for this duty, but that’s not an option.  We’re a family, and this situation will be handled without any outsiders. 


“Look, ‘Fei, it’s getting late.  Why don’t you head home?”


He gives me an assessing look before inquiring, “You sure you’re okay now?”


“Yeah, it’s just that this is a lot to handle, ya know?”  He gives me a nod and I know that he isn’t just humoring me.  This is a tough pill for everyone to swallow.


The passenger side door opens with a creak and Wufei slips from the seat.  My eyes follow him as he walks around the front of my tuck and over to my window.  “I know I’m not the easiest person to talk to, but if you need anything…anything at all, please call on me.”


I respond with the conditioned I will, but I’m not sure how comfortable I feel about it.  I don’t know about Trowa, but Heero and Wufei get along well.  Perhaps getting the two of them to spend some time together and out of the house might be good.  I’ll have to feel Heero out about that later.  And as much as I know I can’t possibly deal with all this on my own, the thought of asking for help makes my stomach tighten.  Guess it’s a pride thing.  I give a slight dip of my head to acknowledge Wufei’s offer and watch as he walks over to his car.


“Oh, I almost forgot this,” the black-haired man says suddenly.   He reaches into his pocket to retrieve my switchblade and casually tosses it over to me.  I catch it one-handed. 


I roll the blade in-between my fingers, so familiar with its weight and feel.  I flick it open and then snap it closed.  Man, I’ve had this knife forever.  I bring up to my face for closer inspection.  Most of the black lacquer has chipped off and it has its share of scratches, but the blade is still razor-sharp.  I make sure to keep it like that…always.  It was Solo’s.  He gave it to me a few months before he died.  Guess he felt I was old enough.  I remember the way he pulled it out of thin air, like a magician.  I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.  Well, at least until I learned all about slight-of-hand. 


//Here, kid, I want you to have this.  Remember what I’ve taught you.  Always run away if you can.  But if there ever comes a time where you can’t, then you’ll have this.  Only use it as a last resort when there is no other way.  You got that, kid?  Don’t just go pulling a knife on someone because you think you’re hot shit. I’ll show you how to use it and then, maybe…if you’re lucky, you’ll be hot shit like me.//      


I still remember that cocky grin of his.  He was a good friend to me long before I could truly appreciate what that meant exactly.  I hear Wufei’s engine cut on and I look down at the knife and then back over to my comrade.


“Hey, Wufei!” I call out to him.  He looks over at me, a little startled.  “That engine sounds like it’s idling a little rough.  When was the last time you had a tune-up?” 


“It’s been a while.  I’ve been too busy,” he answers and I can see the inquiry as to why written on his face.  But then it dawns on him.  “What time should I bring it over tomorrow?”


I smile.  That’s my boy.  “Anytime in the afternoon, my friend. We’ll be there.” 


He gives me a wave and then pulls out of the parking spot.  I wait until the car is out of sight before starting up my truck.  I can’t say coming down here made me feel any better, but I did manage to sort things out a little.  Maybe in time Trowa or Heero will feel comfortable telling me everything about what happened to them.  And if not, maybe I’ll figure out a way to deal with that.  With a last breath of salty ocean air, I point my truck home.  




Franfranwi on April 21st, 2006 06:46 pm (UTC)
ow, wow, wow. I finally started reading this fic yesterday. Even though I've never seen the anime before, the way you write this doesn't throw me off at all. You do such a great job weaving in the necessary information. I love how you depict the characters in a way that shows the toll this is taking on them, but also reveals how strong they usually are. It's such an amazing, emotional tale. I'm grateful that you're able to express their personal struggles in such a hard-hitting way. It puts me in that quiet, pensive, somber, teary-eyed state. I love reading stories like that from time to time. Perhaps I'm slightly masochistic. And yet in some parts you have me laughing out loud at a little quirky moment or funny lines. I really like how you write this from Duo's POV, though I loved the chapters where you portrayed it from Heero and Trowa's views. I'm wondering what else had happened between Heero and Trowa, what piece of the puzzle Duo's still missing, that makes Trowa bristle in Heero's presence, and made Heero consider moving out. I have do have a guess, but anxiously await the true reveal. I'll be thinking about this tale for a while, it's haunting and makes my mind linger over everything. *sending offerings to your muses in hopes of seeing more from you soon* Now I can look forward to both P&C and HYL!

(I originally responded with a longer, probably more coherent, praising reply, but unfortunately lost my ramblings when I mistyped my log in! Oops. So sorry for the shorter revision of what you can only imagine was a wonderfully eloquent appraisal! LOL)
evilkat_meowevilkat_meow on April 22nd, 2006 12:21 am (UTC)
Aw shucks...thanks^^ My muses accept your offerings, but make no promises...they're fickle like that.

In my need to think outside the box, I wanted to write a story about rape, but not tell it from the victim's perspective. Since rape is so often used as a fandom device to bring characters together or create drama, I wanted to take a more realistic approach. However, unlike "P&C" I didn't want the rape itself to be the main focus, so I set the story after the fact. I wanted to show how tedious and frustrating, and scary, and painful recovery can be...for everyone. I wonder sometimes if I'm masochist for writing two incredibly heavy stories, but a part of me feels the need to. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts which were very coherent ^__^