Don't Let Go
Warning to all: this is NOT a slash. None of my stories are. Thank you.
Duo tried to avoid the hard blow that Heero had aimed at his gut but wound up getting a fist to the left side of his face instead. The young pilot let out a grunt as he fell back.
“But...Quatre needs me,” he murmured. “Your knock-out trick won’t work this time, buddy...”
Gently pressing his hand to his swelling face, Duo rushed out of the room and into the dimly lit hall.
Heero swore under his breath as he watched him go. He knew that Duo would get in the way if they tried to warn Quatre that Dorothy was headed his way. Their psychotic schoolmate was sure to hear Dou’s clumsy steps as he charged after her. This was going to ruin everything.
Panting, Duo reached the room that Quatre was in. Unfortunately, so had Dorothy. Just as Duo pushed the door open, he saw Dorothy about to deal a horrible blow to a cornered, unarmed Quatre.
“Dorothy, you baka!” he spat at her. “What do you think you’re doing?!”
Dorothy didn’t respond. She glanced at him and then ignored him from there. She had other matters to attend.
When he realized that Dorothy wasn’t listening to him, Duo decided that is was time for drastic actions.
As Dorothy’s blade plunged toward Quatre’s stomach, something dark blocked the way. Upon hearing a familiar voice cry out, Dorothy and Quatre realized at the same time just what had happened.
Duo lay on the floor, his head leaning against a piece of furniture. He was panting and holding his side. His eyes were shut tight as he tried to breathe.
“You fool!” Dorothy all but screamed angrily. “You got in the way! Suffer your stupidity!”
Still enraged, Dorothy jabbed the blade into Duo’s right side. Duo let out another holler, louder this time. Dorothy stepped back to admire her handiwork. She stood there smirking, her pale face eerily lit by the dim lights in the room.
“Noble moron,” she hissed. “If you choose the life of a warrior of good, you should die like one.”
Quatre had knelt beside his dying friend, tears welling up in his eyes as he choked back a startled sob.
“Duo...” he murmured, his voice barely above a whisper as he took a hold of his friend’s hand and squeezed it softly. He looked up again when he noticed that the injured one was trying to speak.
“You taught me...” Duo began, his voice low and raspy, “that there’s nothing more...precious than...life in this...universe. Especially yours, Quatre...”
“Say good-bye to Shinigami,” Dorothy mocked, preparing to finish with Duo what she had accidentally started. She stopped, however, when Heero, Trowa, and Wufei entered the room.
Duo blinked and shook his head slightly. The room was reeling, and Quatre’s face had become blurred. He felt an ominous darkness creeping over his mind, gripping him and calling him to surrender to it.
“Good-bye, Master Quatre...” he whispered. Then the wounded warrior because silent.
Quatre sat alone with his thoughts, save for the unconscious Duo in the bed nearby. Although he appeared to be staring into the air in front of him, his large blue eyes were focused on his still sleeping friend.
Duo was lying in a hospital bed with a respirator attached to his face. It was so strange to see him like this: so helpless and pathetic-looking, so pale and sickly. Dorothy had stabbed him deep enough in the first place, but her sword had cost him a great deal of blood as well. He had needed only one blood donation, fortunately, but there were numerous stitches in both of his sides.
Quatre snapped back into reality when he saw Duo stirring. Listening closer, Quatre discovered that his friend was speaking.
“Sister Helen!” he murmured. Who could he have been speaking to? Duo had been an only child, hadn’t he?
At last, Duo opened his eyes and searched the room until he found Quatre.
“Quatre...” he tried to say, his voice muffled by the mask of the respirator. He tried to force a smile as well, but the respirator prevented it. Wordlessly, he managed to remove the respirator mask from his face and let it drop to the floor, cringing as he did so. His sides were sore and very tender. He leaned his head back on the pillow, panting. He hadn’t needed the respirator after waking up, and he had known it.
Quatre sat looking at him, his eyes watering as pity swept his heart. He felt responsible and guilty for what had become of his friend.
“It’s my fault entirely,” he sighed, his blue eyes downcast. “If it wasn’t for me, Dorothy never would have accidentally stabbed you. I’m sorry.”
“Watch it,” Duo replied, his eyes shining with mischief, his grimace becoming a grin. “You might end up blaming yourself for there being no air in space someday.”
Quatre sighed and looked back up at his friend. Duo was grinning still, but his expression changed once again. His countenance was now one of pain. He leaned forward, his body quivering slightly with the pain.
Remembering his ability, Quatre placed a slender hand over his own heart and reached out to touch Duo’s.
“No, Quatre...don’t,” Duo begged, managing to push the hand away. His eyes were so pleading as he looked into his friend’s eyes that Quatre could not help but comply.
The two of them heard footsteps approaching as Heero, Trowa, and Wufei entered the room. Duo sat up to greet them, but Heero rebuked him wordlessly by shaking his head.
“Don’t get up,” Trowa insisted. “You’re not exactly our host.”
Duo grinned again, leaning back against his slightly raised bed.
“Nice of you guys to pop in,” he greeted, his voice still low and tired. He would have said more, but he was still too exhausted. He never would have thought that bleeding could be so tiresome. He looked around the silent room and noticed that Wufei was glaring at him, as usual.
“What’s the matter with you, Wu-man? You’re not the one stitched up like a rag-doll.” Duo voice gave out towards the end of his statement, thus his wise-crack was close to lost.
“How can one be so weak as to weep from pain, Maxwell,” Wufei demanded. It was not a question.
Duo looked him straight in the eye now, a solemn look on his face. Had he been crying after Dorothy stabbed him? Apparently so. The room fell dead silent because this was an expression rarely seen on the countenance of Duo Maxwell.
“Who’s to say I was crying in pain?” he asked, his tone flat and emotionless. “The tears in my eyes were for joy. I was sure that I could die happy because I had saved Quatre’s life. What’s a little pain when you’ve spared a life?”
Wufei was silent.
“A little pain?” Trowa echoed. “I daresay, not too many of us have had injuries that bad for that reason.”
“I agree,” Heero added, speaking for the first time. “That was a noble move on your part, Duo Maxwell. I may or may not regret saying this later, but I’m proud of you.” Heero saluted the injured pilot. Duo, feebly and painfully raising his hand, returned it. Heero nodded again and left the room, trailed by Wufei and Trowa.
“Hilde will be coming in a while,” Trowa called over his shoulder as he stepped back through the doorway.
Duo smiled and gently touched his aching side. Quatre remained where he sat, still looking with eyes of remorse at his friend. How he wished that it was him in the hospital bed with the IV rather than Duo! But he could do nothing about that, now. He was determined to make it up to Duo, somehow.
Quatre stayed in the room by Duo’s side. They chatted a bit, but for the most part Duo lay back against the pillow, breathing heavily. He was tired, but he somehow found that sleep was impossible. He couldn’t get himself into a comfortable position, and the pain was too much for him to really relax.
Finally Hilde came in. She wasn’t smiling warmly, but she wasn’t frowning, either. Her feelings seemed to be neutral at the moment, but they soon changed. She smiled when she got a good look at Duo, but not because she was completely pleased. He was weaker and seemed more fragile than she had first imagined. Her smile was to hide what she really felt.
Duo, however, beamed when he saw her. He was happy to have the company, especially hers.
“How are you feeling?” she asked quietly, pulling up a chair by the bed.
He just kept grinning. He obviously wasn’t going to tell her. He was feeling horrible, but he refused to fib and didn’t want to make her more upset than she already was. She found him out, however, when he tried to move closer to her and upset his injuries. He held his sides and gritted his teeth. He refused to make any sounds indicating pain in her presence. He didn’t want to see her cry.
After taking a long, hesitant look at Duo, Quatre scurried out of the room. Duo, still grimacing, watched him go. Was he going to leave the hospital now? Duo hoped not. He had been enjoying the company, even if he was unnaturally too tired to speak much.
Quatre returned moments later, however, trailed by a young male nurse. Duo was puzzled at first but soon figured it out. Quatre had gone to fetch someone with pain-killers.
“So, you’re gonna make me cheat, are ya?” Duo asked Quatre, a light-hearted smirk splitting his face.
Quatre smiled half-heartedly. He didn’t consider this cheating. His friend was in pain, and he couldn’t stand to see that any longer. It was the least he could do for the one who had saved his life.
The nurse gave Duo the injection and turned to leave. Just before going out the door, he turned and said, “When he falls asleep, visiting time is over.”
Hilde and Quatre both nodded, although Quatre had intentions of spending the night at the hospital, even if it meant sleeping coverless on the floor. He was determined to stay by his friend’s side all the way.
“Hilde?” Duo beckoned. “Would you do me a favor?”
She nodded without knowing what it was.
Duo tenderly moved his arms up to move his long, unruly hair out from under his head. “Would you braid this for me, please? It’s kinda in the way...”
“Sure,” she agreed. Duo turned his head towards Quatre so that she could easily get to all of his thick hair. Almost immediately, she started separating it into three clumps.
Duo was looking at Quatre, but his head felt heavy, as did his eyelids.
“Quatre...” he mumbled dizzily, “what did you have ‘em give me?”
“The pain-killer has a sedative in it, too,” the blonde boy admitted. “I could tell that you were having trouble sleeping.”
“You’re good...” Duo started to mumble, but his voice trailed off as he fell asleep.
Hilde glanced at Quatre and then put the band around the end of Duo’s new braid. She stood up soundlessly and looked at the sleeping warrior. She bent and kissed his forehead and then left the room silently, but not without bidding farewell to Quatre.
Quatre sighed. He didn’t want to go anywhere in case Duo happened to wake up because he had only nodded off. But he had to do something...
In the end, Quatre stood up and went to go find a nurse. He needed to know if Duo’s respirator was necessary again and if he could get a cot brought into the room.
As it turned out, Quatre found a different nurse who seemed far more amiable and helpful than the last one. This nurse not only had a cot but also a pillow and blankets brought into the room. He also informed Quatre that Duo might not need the respirator again, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
Quatre settled comfortably into the blankets on the cot after turning off the light. He lay there looking at Duo’s peaceful face until he fell asleep to the sound of the respirator.