Part 3


Pain was constant and it took a second before he realized something was touching him.  There was a pressure on his shoulder and Duo flinched, eyes wild with inexplicable fear as he shoved away.  An odd sound met his ears and he cringed more, not sure where the rough croak had come from.  Darkness surrounded him for a second before light burnt his eyes and he threw a hand up, shielding his face.  It was then that he realized he was lying on something soft, surprise making him blink and peek through his parted fingers.  A dark figure was standing near him and he flinched again, his eyes widening when he realized that odd croaking sound was coming from him.

"Calm down," Heero said quickly, frowning as he tried to keep his voice smooth.  The boy looked frightened, but his reaction was belayed too much.  Violet eyes flicked to him again from around that raised hand and he could practically see the second Duo remembered him.  The boy dropped his hand immediately, his face blanking for a moment before he gave a slight nod.  "I want you to drink something."

He didn't know what to think of it, but Duo gave another nod, tilting his head to the side and brushing a hand over his shoulder.  It still ached a little but that was nothing new.  The thought made his eyes drop and he wondered why it was nothing new.  He felt as if he'd always hurt, and even though he didn't remember much, he didn't think he was supposed to feel that way.  A hand entered his line of vision and his head lifted quickly, eyes moving to the cup held near his face.  A glance found Heero waiting with an expression he couldn't read and Duo blinked, a hand lifting to take the cup.  His fingers touched the side of it before he actually looked at the liquid.  Dark fluid filled the mug, a slight sheen glossing the surface and Duo choked, his eyes widening. 

If he'd thought the boy moved slowly, Heero was proven wrong when Duo suddenly shoved back, falling off the bed with a muffled thump.  Surprise nearly froze him but he snapped out of it quickly, setting the cup down and moving to where the boy had landed.  Duo was huddled on the floor, the blanket tangled around him and Heero flinched back from those huge eyes.

His jaw hurt, held open and his tongue moved against cold metal.  Eyes blurred and unable to blink, he stared at the shapes leaning over him, watching helpless as thick liquid was poured into the funnel.  A bit of light glinted on the dark fluid and he choked when it hit the back of his throat.  Cool and thick it slipped down easily for a second.  Then the burn set in and he convulsed.  The metal was jerked away, cutting the roof of his mouth and tears hit his cheeks when he was tilted forward.  His stomach clenched in spasms and it burned his tongue as he coughed, trying to spit it all out.  Comments filtered to his ears, vague and low tones and he was pushed back again, cool, flavorless liquid forced down his throat before he was shoved forward and urged to spit it up again.  Blood coated his mouth and he gave a choked sob, the sound ending in a hot rasping hiss.  His gasped breath burned and he coughed suddenly, arms holding him forward so he didn't choke on the blood.  Numbed sense awoke at the new source of agony and he gave another hissing gasp, dimly confused when his blurry eyes closed.

Only his rigid self-control kept Heero from panicking and he'd knelt quickly, hands closing over Duo's shoulders.  The boy was coughing violently, his entire body shaken by the spasms.  Those wide eyes were unfocused, or at least, they didn't seem to be focused on him at all.  Keeping him from curling on the floor, Heero waited for the fit to pass.  He didn't know what was wrong, but he had an idea it wasn't a current injury.  Those eyes were seeing something, from the way they flew around, locking on unnamed targets before flitting to the side.  "Duo."  The boy obviously didn't hear him and Heero leaned over him, not wanting to raise his voice.  "Duo."  Damp violet eyes closed and he kept quiet, listening to the rough gasps.

The pressure on his shoulders brought him back more than anything and Duo opened his eyes a bit, wincing away from the tight grip.  His throat and chest burned and he could taste a hint of copper in his mouth.  Confusion made him frown and he blinked when a quick breath sounded above his head.  Looking up, he felt a sudden wariness as Heero's dark gaze fell on him.  He didn't know what he'd done, but the boy definitely seemed angry.

Duo's breathing sounded better, but Heero frowned, knowing the coughing fit hadn't helped matters any.  He'd definitely been right about the boy's throat.  "Are you all right?"  The question was a stupid one to ask considering the shape he was in, but Heero knew Duo had understood when the boy blinked again before giving another of those small nods.  It was then that he recognized the wariness in those vivid eyes and he glanced away for a moment.  If he'd thought they were unexpressive before, he'd definitely been mistaken.  "It's okay," he said slowly, a slight frown tugging his lips before he turned back.  "Was it the medicine that scared you?"

At first he didn't understand, but Duo's eyes widened quickly, remembering the dark liquid filling the mug the boy had offered him.  Fear bubbled up and he shifted back without thinking.  He didn't know why he was afraid, but the thought of drinking that fluid made him shudder.  Heero was watching him and he licked his lips, wondering if the boy were going to be angry.  If it was medicine, there was no reason for him to be so scared of it, he knew that.  But he couldn't drink it, no way.

Obviously it *was* the drink that had set him off.  With a quick thought, Heero shrugged.  "You don't have to drink it, then."  It wasn't medicine, but the drug could easily be mixed with something else.  Whatever it was about the liquid that frightened the boy, he doubted Duo would be so wary of food.  "How long since you ate?"

The question made him frown and Duo gave a vague wince at the pull on his face.  He wasn't particularly hungry.  His stomach didn't feel empty, or full for that matter.  In fact, he didn't feel anything from it.  Heero was waiting and he shook his head, eyes flicking to the side when something damp struck his cheek.  His hand lifted and he fingered a lock of hair, distracted by the dark stuff that seemed to be matting it.  Was it dirt?  He didn't know but he had a dark thought that it wasn't just that and he dropped his hand quickly. 

"You don't know?"  Heero frowned again, but he could see how the boy might not know.  After all, if his attack had been drawn out long enough to leave bruises beneath his fingernails, then he could easily have lost sense of time.  "If I bring you some soup, will you eat it?"  Duo tilted his head to the side and Heero blinked, noticing how odd it was.  The boy was silent because of his throat, but he didn't seem to have trouble expressing himself despite that.  Still, the way he spoke with his eyes was a little unnerving, as if he were an animal rather than a person.  "You probably haven't eaten in a while," he said, noting that those eyes were glued to his face, "so soup would probably be best.  Here, let me help you back to the bed."  He moved slowly when he reached an arm toward the boy, but there was no hint of that sudden terror he'd seem moments earlier.  Duo held still when he slipped a hand under the boy's arm and he almost missed the slight twitch to the boy's eyelids.  For some reason, he was certain that was as close to a wince as the boy was going to come. 

He didn't think he needed help, but Duo's hand fell to the arm under his and he let Heero lift him to his feet.  Then he blinked, a bemused sigh leaving his lips when the boy picked him up and carried him to the bed.  He had a feeling he didn't get carried that often.

"Do your legs hurt?"

The question nearly made him smile despite his face and Duo turned sparkling eyes on the boy leaning over him.  Of course they did.  He didn't bother trying to say that and he nodded instead.  He'd woken with the knowledge that he couldn't talk and he didn't bother to think about how he knew that.  Still, he would have liked to be able to answer the question.  Everything hurt, of course his legs hurt.  But not badly, it was like a dark wall at the corner of his sight, the pain that lived on him.  The only time he even registered the separate aches was when one of them increased suddenly.  Heero was frowning at him again, but for some reason he didn't feel as wary this time.  The boy seemed to frown continuously, at least as far as Duo could tell.

"Do they feel broken?" Heero asked, his brows knotting together when the boy shrugged carelessly.  Those wide eyes were either hiding Duo's emotions, or the teen really wasn't bothered by the fact that his legs could be useless.  "Do you have any injuries you think more severe than the others?"  He planned to find out for himself soon enough, but hopefully the boy could give him an idea if there were any internal injuries.  There wasn't much he could do if that were the case, but it was better to know.  The boy shrugged again, not losing the interested gleam in his eyes and Heero barely resisted the urge to sigh in irritation.  He wanted to ask the boy if he even realized what had been done to him, but it was a stupid urge.  Duo had to know.  The only thing he could think of was that the boy had managed to block out the pain somehow.  "I'll be right back," he said sharply, straightening.  "Try to stay awake until I get back, okay?"  The boy nodded again and he turned away.  He was going to be very glad when Duo started talking.  Those small nods were a bit annoying for some reason.

Duo watched the boy leave and his eyes dropped when the door closed softly behind him.  He wasn't tired, and he wondered at that considering he'd been asleep before.  But he didn't feel tired.  He felt...actually, he couldn't find a word for how he felt.  Shifting as he sat on the bed, he lifted an arm, looking at the bandages wrapped around it.  They started at his wrist and he pushed the blanket off his shoulder, plucking at the short white shirt he was wearing.  The bandages ended at the top of his arm and he pushed the shirt back some, his eyes widening at the dark skin covering his shoulder.  His hand was much paler than that, but it didn't look like bruises.  The color was too complete, no individual shadows the way he thought bruises would look.  Licking a fingertip, he rubbed it against his shoulder and his eye twitched in a wince.  It was definitely sore.  The color didn't fade at all.  Yes, he was definitely bruised.  He still didn't think it was supposed to look like that, but he couldn't deny the burst of pain that answered his fingertips. 

Leaving his shoulder alone, Duo looked at the bandages again.  His arms didn't hurt, no more than the rest of him and he couldn't think why they were wrapped like that.  The cloth was white.  Surely if his arm was cut there would be some sort of blood visible through the bandages.  He flexed his arm and sighed.  It definitely didn't hurt like his shoulder had.  For some reason the bandages bothered him and he finally pulled at the tie wrapped around his wrist.  Nearly two minutes passed before he'd unwrapped the first layer of cloth and he was stunned despite himself.  Why would so much cloth be needed? It was no wonder he felt warm.  Dropping the bandages in his lap he started on the second layer.  This one was tied near his shoulder but his wrist was the first thing revealed and he stared at it, stunned.

Heero came in silently, but Duo's eyes snapped to him when he pushed the door shut behind him.  The boy's expression was hard to read, but his eyes told him it was urgent and Heero set the tray he was carrying down on the small table near the bed.  "What is it?"

With wide eyes, Duo lifted his arm, turning it so the boy could see his bare wrist.  He still didn't know what to think of the odd ring circling his wrist, but the sight of it scared him.  The light next to the bed wasn't enough for him to be sure, but it looked like the skin was gone.  Yet it didn't hurt, not really.  Heero moved close and Duo's worry increased when the boy's eyes widened, focused on his wrist.  Maybe he shouldn't have bothered the bandages.  His wrist wasn't bleeding, but still, from Heero's expression he was sure he shouldn't have done it.  But it was his body, he'd just wanted to know what the bandages were for...

Resisting the urge to take hold of the boy's arm and pull it closer to him, Heero stared.  He hadn't noticed before, but Duo's palm was reddish as if it were burned somehow.  Whatever had caused that he didn't know, but he definitely understood the two inch thick ring circling the boy's wrist.  What surprised him was that the wound wasn't wet.  The skin had obviously been rubbed off for the most part and just the sight of that thin, abraded area was painful.  With dark eyes, Heero looked up to meet Duo's bright gaze.  "Does it hurt bad?  There isn't much I can do about it besides giving you something for the pain."

Duo shook his head at the question but didn't drop his eyes.  He didn't understand and he had no idea how to make his confusion known.  Turning his palm, he gestured to it with his other hand, shaking his head again and raising confused eyes to the boy.  Opening his mouth, he mouthed the word, 'what?'


"You don't..."  Heero's eyes snapped down to the wound for a second before returning to Duo.  "You don't know what happened?"  The boy sighed, looking relieved and Heero gritted his teeth with a soft curse. That was just perfect.  He should have known.  "Let me guess," he said slowly, not quite getting rid of his irritation, "you don't remember what happened to you."  Duo shook his head again, more slowly this time.  "Damn."  Those eyes were still questioning and he frowned, glancing at the raw wrist again.  "I can't tell you what happened, either.  We just found you yesterday."

With a slow breath, Duo dropped his gaze and brushed a fingertip over the dark circle, eyes wincing a bit.  There, it did hurt, but it was a hot pain, not the same as his shoulder.  And it was so ugly looking.  He couldn't think what would do that.

"You shouldn't touch it," Heero said quickly.  The boy blinked up at him for a second before offering him the bandages with a guilty expression.  "No, I didn't mean that.  You didn't do anything wrong unwrapping it."  In fact, as far as he could tell the wound shouldn't have been wrapped in the first place.  It was raw, but not seeping.  There was no point covering it and as much bandages as Duo was holding, it had to have been bound so much that no air could reach it.  That was worse for a healing wound than leaving it uncovered.  Duo tugged at the rest of the bandages, eyes catching his and Heero shook his head.  "No, don't unwrap those right now.  I want you to eat something."

Duo watched as Heero turned away and he rubbed his tongue over the top of his mouth.  His mouth felt dry, and he really wasn't hungry.  Although, something to drink would have been nice.  This made him think of the cup the boy had offered him before and he frowned.  He still didn't know why he'd reacted like that.  But Heero probably didn't either so there was no point thinking of it.  The boy turned back and handed him a deep bowl, some sort of thin soup filling it halfway.  Dark blue eyes watched him carefully, as if he expected him to drop it or something.  But his arms were strong enough that he didn't so much as shake the bowl.  He did have a little trouble gripping the spoon at first since his fingers were a bit stiff, but other than that he was fine.  At least, he thought he was until he put a spoonful of the soup in his mouth and his face twisted into a painful grimace.

"What's wrong?" Heero asked, frowning at the boy.  It shouldn't have been too hot, even if the boy's throat was raw, he'd made certain it was at room temperature.  "Duo?"

His cheeks and lips hurt at the face he'd made, but Duo couldn't help himself.  He didn't know what kind of soup Heero had given him, but it had next to no flavor and yet it still managed to leave a bad taste in his mouth.  The boy was leaning close to him and he shook his head quickly, holding the bowl away from him.  Even if he'd been hungry, there was no way he'd ever eat that stuff.

"Does it hurt to eat?"  The boy blinked in evident surprise and Heero's frown darkened.  "Then what's wrong?"  That face was made again and he nearly flinched when Duo suddenly stuck his tongue out at him before shaking his head again.  "What...?"

He hadn't thought Heero was dense, but Duo sighed when the boy seemed even more confused, and maybe a hint insulted.  Shoving the soup into the boy's hands, Duo stuck his tongue out again, ducking his head in a pantomime gagging motion.  Finally the boy blinked, his confusion turning to surprise.

"You don't like it?"  Heero's lips turned downward when the boy shook his head.  That was all he needed.  He wasn't a cook, but he'd thought soup would be easy enough.  Obviously it wasn't.  Touching a fingertip to the liquid, he brought it to his mouth and tasted it quickly.  He would have taken an actual spoon of it, but he'd mixed the medicine in there and didn't want to fall asleep.  It only took a second to know what the boy had been making faces over and he gave his own grimace.  "Oh.  Sorry."  Duo shrugged and he set the bowl aside.  The boy wasn't hungry anyway.  He'd just have to make sure the cook prepared something better tasting in the morning.  Glancing over the tray, he picked up the small porcelain teacup.  He wasn't about to have another episode, but he'd mixed the medicine into some warm tea.  Hopefully Duo wouldn't react the way he had before.  The boy was watching him and he lifted the cup, taking a small sip.  That definitely tasted better than his poor excuse for soup. 

Taking the cup, Duo looked at the pale brown liquid for a second before tilting his head, eyebrows raised.

"It's tea," Heero said quickly.  "It tastes fine."  At least he could make tea.  Years spent near Quatre had taught him that skill.  The boy nodded and he gave a silent sigh when Duo took a sip without cringing or grimacing.  Then his eyes widened when the boy promptly tilted the cup back and drained it in a long drink.  "Uh..."  Bright violet eyes locked on him and he blinked at the cup held out to him.  "Are you thirsty?"  A quick nod answered him and he moved quickly, taking the cup.  "Water would be better," he commented, hiding his glare.  He should have thought of that.  Humans could go for nearly a week without food, but they needed water, liquids.  Luckily he had brought some water with him and he filled the cup, handing it back.  Duo guzzled that, too, and he shook his head.  "You probably shouldn't drink it that quickly.  Don't worry, there's plenty."

Duo slowed down a bit, but it only took a few seconds for him to drain the cup.  The cool water felt wonderful on his throat and it seemed to sit well in his stomach, too.  He still didn't feel hungry, but he had a sense of emptiness that explained his thirst.  It was odd.  He felt as if he weren't used to his own body, as if each feeling had to be thought about before he understood it.  That couldn't be normal.  He was on his fourth cup when his hand faltered a bit and he pulled his arm away, blinking sharply.  His vision shifted without warning and he took a quick breath, shaking his head.  Whether he'd been tired before, he definitely was now. 

The boy was frowning at the half-empty cup and Heero took it slowly, meeting dazed violet eyes.  "Are you tired?" he asked, hiding the glint in his eyes.  He hadn't mixed too much of the drug with the tea, but it must have been enough, especially if the boy's stomach was as empty as he suspected.  Duo gave a slow nod and he waved toward the pillows.  "Go ahead and sleep.  It'll be hours before dawn."  The boy titled his head and Heero could see the question in his face.  "Will it bother you if I sit here," he gestured to the chair near the bed, "while you sleep?"  He could have simply waited outside the door until the boy fell asleep, but he was curious to see if his presence would bother him.  Duo may not have remembered what happened to him, but his reactions earlier proved that his body did.

Was he going to watch over him?  The thought made him want to arch an eyebrow, but Duo merely shook his head, leaning back on the bed.  He didn't mind if Heero wanted to watch him sleep, though he couldn't see why the boy would want to do that.  A few seconds passed before he remembered his first wakening and he sighed, making himself as comfortable as possible.  Heero was probably afraid he'd run off again.  The boy had already told him not to do that, but obviously he didn't think he was going to obey.  Duo didn't feel like running anywhere and he sighed again, a disgruntled twitch passing his face as his dirty hair brushed his cheek.  That still bothered him, but he was much too tired to care.  He seemed to fall asleep immediately.
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