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Title: The Bone Gate
Authors: Nix Winter and LunarGeography (Amy the Evitable)
Pairings: 1x2, 3x4
Rating: Mature adults only
Warnings: Angst, spooky occult stuff, and boys who are not what they seemed to be. Post EW
Archive:,, all others please ask
No infringement of the copyright of Gundam Wing is intended. This story is purely for entertainment purposes.
Date: Posted 10 February 2008

Summary: After Endless Waltz, the pilots are separated by the fears of the new government. But all is not well with the G-boys. Old enemies may be pulling strings from somewhere unimaginably far behind the scenes, and old friends may not be what they seem.

*xxx*: Thoughts
[xxx]: Text on screen

Chapter 9


Once they were alone, Quatre sank into the chair, and Trowa knelt down beside him. Pulling Trowa's head into his lap, Quatre slowly stroked the thick, soft hair, willing the rest of the world away. This was what he'd needed for so long, been soul-starved without. Only with Trowa could he craft a little bubble to keep the rest of the world, with the strain and stress and worries. They'd first found it when they'd played music together, this safe space in which to breathe and heal before returning to the responsibilities of the war. Then they'd found the same peace from touching each other -- it didn't have to be sex, though sex was wonderful -- they just needed to touch, and to concentrate fully on the other. Even his empathy was blocked.... Quatre had always thought it was so busy with Trowa's contentment at those times that nothing else could get through.

How could he ever have thought he could live in peace without Trowa by his side? Quatre had never been more certain of anything. The rest of his life might be in the process of explosive decompression, but Trowa was his still, stable center.

"Husband-mine..." Just addressing Trowa by his new title brought a silly smile to his face. "You didn't say... would you like to hyphenate our names? Or should I take yours? You're welcome to mine, if you think you can put up with all the baggage, and the fits Amihan will be throwing. We could even pick a new one... I'd like to link our names somehow, if you don't mind."

"I'd like to share your name. I wish I had a new first name too. Will you give me a name, Quatre?" Trowa smiled, head tilted slightly, and Quatre could feel how vulnerable, how completely open and comfortable Trowa felt with him. Though there was an undercurrent of fear and tension that was all the more worrying for the degree to which it was subterranean – was it being deliberately repressed, or was it something Trowa didn't ven know he was feeling?

"I'd love to share Winner with you. That way everyone who hears it knows you're my family, now. Forever." Quatre wriggled his hands under Trowa's shirt. "A new first name? You really want one? I..." He blinked, and then began to rub his forehead in circles against Trowa's shoulder. "I don't think I've ever named anything but a hamster in my life. I may not be very good at it. We certainly don't want to name you Fluffy Winner."

"You can name me Fluffy if you want. It's better than Noname."

Unsure of how to answer such a serious response to his teasing comment, Quatre found his reply derailed by a sharp double rap at the door. "Is that the doctor, do you think?"

A mask fell over Trowa's face as he rose. "Let me get the door."

It was the doctor, a very prim woman, carrying a black bag. "Hello.  I am Doctor Tam. Which of you is feeling unwell?"

Trowa closed the door behind her.

"Ah, I'm afraid I've had some trouble with headaches lately. We appreciate your --"

"I see. All right." The doctor turned and strode to Quatre, dismissing Trowa entirely. Round-lensed glasses perched on her nose, her hair was pulled into a tight, tight bun, and every pleat and fold of her lab coat, buttoned-up blouse and trousers was crisp. "Tell me your name, please."

"Quatre Raberba Winner. Thank you for --"

"Keep your head still and follow my finger with your eyes only. Can you tell me the date?"

"Ah, it's --"

"Keep your head still while you are answering, please."

She continued her brusque examination, checking his vital signs and running through a standard neurological checkup, adeptly cutting off all of Quatre's attempts at pleasantries as she interrogated him about the headaches. She also performed some unfamiliar checks, comparing the pulses in each wrist, looking carefully at his gums, palpating spots along his spine.

When she removed a needle and several empty vials from her pocket, Quatre caught a glimpse of fur-lined handcuffs in there, too. Hmm. Perhaps this casino offered some... err, special facilities in addition to the usual games of chance.

After taking several samples of blood, she waved Trowa over next to Quatre. "You're the husband who wanted him looked over? Good. All right. His symptoms don't point to any underlying serious neurological condition, such as brain tumors. I would like him to undergo some brain imaging and neural conduction tests to completely rule out the possibility, but I doubt we'll find anything. All right? That's the good news.

"The bad news is that he is not a healthy man, and I cannot pinpoint the reason. I've taken several vials of blood, because I want to do a thorough toxicological workup. I'd like a urine sample as well, before I leave. There seems to be a slowly progressing degradation of performance in multiple systems, possibly tied into excessive autonomic system activity." She frowned. "In traditional medicine terms, he has a notable excess of yin energy in all of his systems. I'll contact you with a time and lab location for the tests I'd like to have run, and I'll let you know the results of the blood analysis. I'm assuming that you want..." Her mouth twisted. "...Discretion here, so it will take a little time to arrange."

Quatre was getting a bit tired of having her address her conclusions exclusively to Trowa, but he'd been a bit tired of everything lately.

"For immediate treatment -- appropriate aromatherapy remedies would include rosemary and chamomile. Possibly lemon. Not roses. I'm going to prescribe a painkiller that's a little less likely to abrade the stomach lining away. Stop the ibuprofen altogether, unless the concept of a stomach ulcer appeals to you. There's a reason for the dosing instructions, you know. I will also include a narcotic painkiller prescription if the pain continues to interfere with sleep, but use it sparingly, please. With the excess of yin energy, the last thing we need to be doing is further sedating him."

She paused until Trowa nodded. "Good. All right. If you are interested, I can show you some acupressure manipulations that you can perform on him as well, both to manage the pain and to help restore the yang energies."

Trowa looked at Quatre, as if seeking his approval. "We would like any help. Are there behaviors that can increase yang energy?"

"I'm certain you can find a way to infuse your husband with your yang energy." Her tone was dry, but not unkind. She pulled a sample cup and a paper bag out of her her black bag and handed them to Quatre. "Give me a sample, please, and I will show your husband some acupressure points."

Quatre took the items and walked towards the facilities door. In his peripheral vision, he saw the doctor take Trowa's palm in her hand and heard her instruct him on how to locate a point. He was surprised by the strength of his urge to go back and wrap his arms around his husband, to show this doctor that Trowa was his. It was stupid; Trowa wouldn't ever cheat on him. He just didn't want her touching his Trowa. But he wouldn't embarrass Trowa by making a fuss.


Trowa listened carefully as Doctor Tam explained and demonstrated the pressure points on his hands. He liked this doctor very much. He didn't know much about pressure points, but the idea was fascinating. He would learn more. At that, he realized the idea of healing fascinated him. He had a new name now, Fluffy Winner, and suddenly he was grinning, which made the doctor's eyes narrow. There was a whole world of possibility open to him.

After the door shut behind Quatre, the doctor paused her instructions. "I have no talent at psychiatry. But I am disturbed that he did not list depression and feelings of sadness in his list of symptoms. I would expect them, given the rest of the constellation of findings. Perhaps he has not had any difficulties. If I were you, however, I would not leave him alone for a time. To be unwilling to admit to these symptoms is a symptom itself."

Trowa had deeply hoped that Quatre was just stressed and depressive. The news that Quatre was actually sick tipped the scales towards Duo actually being dead. If Quatre was being poisoned – he knew what toxicological workups implied -- then Duo could have been too. If Duo had suffered from  the same lack of yang, and been isolated, he might really have killed himself.

And by doing so, saved Quatre's life. Duo was a very good friend. 

"I will stay with him."

"Good. All right."

"Thank you very much for seeing him. He is everything to me," Trowa said, feeling exposed, yet daring and free at the same time. "Isn't he the most beautiful person in all the Earth Sphere?"

"Perhaps to you, and that is the way it should be," she said.

Trowa shivered, drawing his hand back from her, as she seemed done with the demonstration.

The doctor went on to show him acupressure points on the back of the neck, at the base of the spine, and other locations. She was demonstrating a few on the feet when Quatre emerged. He held the paper bag in one hand and in the other a small phone, and his eyes were red and damp. He made his way to Trowa, and leaned against him.

"Aisha called. Apparently Duo left a note, and Heero gave it to a reporter. She sent it to me so that I wouldn't be caught unawares by reporters asking about it. And there are reports that the Preventers are looking for Heero. He's apparently missing. There's a photo of him from the morgue -- it doesn't look good, Trowa."

Heero gave Duo's note to reporters. Heero went to the morgue... and now he was missing. Heero came to a conclusion at the morgue and he acted on it. Trowa didn't want to see the photo, but he needed to. He needed to support Quatre. He needed to validate Duo. Alive or dead, he needed to respect him.

Trowa gave the doctor a polite but curt bow, and then wrapped his arm around Quatre's shoulders. "May I see?" he asked, hand out for the phone. "Dr. Tam, will you please have the prescriptions sent to our room?"

"Certainly," replied the doctor, who took the paper bag from Quatre's unresisting hands. At the door, she paused a moment. "Two things. First, congratulations. Second, Mister Maxwell had a good reputation on this colony. People said he was incorruptible. He will be missed badly."

She left.

Quatre handed over the phone, and wrapped himself around Trowa, again burying his face in Trowa's neck. On the screen were three tabs. The first was Quatre's e-mail, which contained an e-mail from Aisha with a subject line of "You need to see these" and an unsent draft from Quatre to Trowa's secured account with a subject line of "I'm sorry." The second was an image of Duo's suicide note. The third was a badly focused picture of Heero on his knees in a gray room, clutching something to his chest, with his head thrown back and mouth open in what looked like a scream.

Trowa's mouth went dry when he looked at the photo of Heero. Heero's conclusion was that Duo was dead. Heero wasn't always right, but Trowa's estimated probability that Duo was dead jumped to about 95%.  He scanned the suicide note and the probability that Duo was dead dropped back to maybe 85%. That was not a suicide note. That was propaganda, even with a jab at Wufei. He knew Duo. He had a mental file on him that would have been inches thick if were on paper. Depressive Duo was silent, pensive, apologetic, and this letter was almost confrontational.

The draft email with the subject line 'I'm sorry' was scanned, noted, and considered stale data, but relevant to Quatre's depression.

Still holding Quatre, Trowa felt  truly grateful to Aisha. "You should tell them we've married before they see it in the news. If they picked up this pic of Heero, Quatre, the media has to be watching the judicial wires. They'll have our marriage in the news in minutes."

Quatre was trembling against Trowa as he answered. "Heero thinks he's dead. I don't know what Heero will do. Would he kill someone? Or would he kill himself? He was so strange on the vidphone earlier..." Then Quatre took a deep breath. "First things first. You're right; I'll call them. Tell them they have to treat you like family now. Not that it will be that much of an improvement, I'm afraid. And I think we'll need to have a press conference, love, especially if we can't find Heero. I know you hate those."

Quatre took the phone back and hit a speed-dial number. "Aisha...? Good. Ah, I have some glad news... No, I don't know where he is, and you can tell the Preventers that as auxiliary agents reporting to Commander Une, Trowa and I will handle all questioning of Winner personnel and family members. ...If it makes you feel better, you can. He might hit you back, though... Listen, I just married Trowa. You need to know that. And Amihan needs to be kept away from the press... No, I don't think you're an idiot. He's taking the Winner name. I'll talk to Rae about scheduling a press conference, and have her send out a written statement... "

His arm never lost the death-grip around Trowa's neck.

It was unpleasant hearing only half the conversation and the rise in Quatre's stress level was notable. Distantly, Trowa observed that his own stress was reaching the upper limits of his tolerance. He didn't think he'd 'switch' as long as Quatre was with him. Quatre would always be able to call him back to himself. He wasn't worried. Not at all.

"Aisha, we can argue about it later.... Thank you. And I'll pass your congratulations on to him. Who's at the door? Oh, for.... No, Agent Chang is expected. Yes, he's that Chang.

"Ah, excuse me? What? Wufei, did Aisha give you the phone? ...I'm not pleased to hear that. No, I don't know where he is... Yes, I'd tell you if I did. What? Ahhh... But... That's not... Well, frankly, we've been getting married. Yes! It did in fact seem to be the right time... I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that, and you're going to congratulate us now."

Something that sounded suspiciously like an apology from Chang Wufei emerged from the phone.

"Thank you. We're very happy about it. You think he's going to kill Une? Why...? Oh. I suppose I can see that... Well, it's Heero and she should have known better..."

Something in Trowa stopped. He didn't care that Wufei didn't like the idea that they were getting married, that he had to be guilted into a congratulations. Heero was out there somewhere. Trowa didn't know what to do. Duo wouldn't have left them. Something very bad happened to Duo, was happening to Quatre. Quatre's voice sounded so distant, as if he were someone else altogether, someone very polite, slightly familar.

Trowa blinked slowly,then was gone.

Noname felt thin as dry ice fog, his mind a dark hole that nothing reached into. Noname felt nothing as he scrambled to sort out a strategy for saving everyone.

Quatre turned to stare at Noname, eyes wide. "Wufei, I need to go now. Wait for us there. And apologize to Aisha for grabbing the phone from her."


Quatre snapped the phone closed, and let it fall to the floor. He needed both hands now, and wasn't going to waste the time to put it away. Quatre wanted to curse. Trowa had started to go rigid beside him even before Wufei had wrenched the phone away from Aisha, and his emotions now had  that echoing hollowness to them that signaled Trowa was beginning to dissociate. They'd never gotten around to getting Trowa the food he needed, and both of them needed rest, he suspected.

And now... he wasn't feeling anything from Trowa at all now, and Trowa was no longer leaning in to his touch. Trowa was frozen, as though Quatre was a poisonous snake wrapped around him which Trowa wanted to throw off, but didn't dare touch.

Quatre told the headache to fuck off for the moment. If he could get Trowa back here, back with him, then it could come rushing back with all the vengeance it liked in a minute, and have him running to the bathroom again in agonized nausea if it damned will pleased. He just needed a moment where he could think!

It didn't listen, but that couldn't be allowed to be important.

"Trowa?" He kept his voice soft, without a trace of command or stress in it. "Trowa, can you hear me? Love? Think about who I am. Who you are. Trowa Winner? My new husband? My Fluffy Winner?"

He moved his hands slowly to Trowa's face, keeping them in Trowa's direct line of sight, attentive to any sign of a flinch or flashback. The headache throb was darkening the corners of his vision again, but he could see Trowa perfectly well, the center of his vision, the center of his world.

It wasn't really Trowa's voice that answered. It was colder, younger-sounding despite that, all logic and ruthless potential. "We should check messages. What if what is making you sick was making Duo sick? Trowa can't stand to lose you."

When Quatre's fingers touched Trowa's cheeks, gliding over a day's worth of stubble, Trowa blinked, eyes fluttering. When his eyes opened again, they were a clear emerald green, "I'm sorry, Quatre. I just -- I didn't think I was that tired. Tell me what you just said again, please?"

Quatre kept the same smile on his face, the same soft, regular stroking of Trowa's cheeks even as his thoughts raced. Trowa hadn't realized he'd dissociated. Trowa was already sufficiently overwhelmed. How to reduce the stress? The not-Trowa had offered a good suggestion. He'd follow through on it, and not let Trowa know he's dissociated. He didn't think Trowa would react well to the news, and he worried that Trowa would leave rather than risk having Quatre see his other selves.

As the Doctor Tam would have said: Good. All right.

"Nothing important, husband mine. Aisha -- and even Wufei -- offered their congratulations. Let's check the secure mail to see if Heero's sent us a message that way. He might have information we don't have, or at least let us know where he is." There were flashes of darkness on the periphery of his vision, replacing the slow encroaching darkness with flashing lights. Didn't matter. "I think I dropped my phone. Could you pick it up for me? Don't tell Heero, he'd be upset by the lapse in security, but I did set it up on the shuttle trip so I could check that account on my phone."

Then Quatre's phone began to ring, and the screen indicated the caller's identity was blocked.


Either Duo had taken them back to the Sweeper ship by a ludicrously convoluted route of service corridors and access tunnels -- which was a security measure Heero thoroughly approved of -- or Heero's earlier blind dash had taken him to the most ridiculously remote end point that a middling-sized colony could possess. Possibly both.

He couldn't say he minded having his body pressed to Duo's like this in the least, though he thought it would be more romantic if Duo wasn't supporting a significant share of his weight and providing most of the vertical stabilization. But he was the first to admit his understanding of 'romance' was rudimentary at best, and Duo seemed to be happy with the arrangement. It was strange, that he was making Duo happy. He'd realized intellectually on his journey here that Duo required the presence of some subset of supportive individuals around him, and that he was a possible member of the subset. An influential member, as both Duo and most of the other possible set members would usually obey his orders.

If he understood Duo correctly, though, he was more than that. He was necessary and possibly sufficient to create a greater level of happiness in Duo. It was a... mysterious thing. Frightening and inspiring. Perhaps it was akin to his own greater need to have Duo close by his side than the rest of his pack. Whatever it was, he hoped that Duo would still be of that opinion after spending a longer period of time in his company than had been possible during the war.

As they made their way through the Sweeper ship, he was pleased to note the double-takes that Duo's shorn and dyed hair induced in much of the crew. They were all pleased to see Duo, however, and Heero found that he wanted to snarl at several of them who seemed excessively pleased. He managed to refrain. It helped that Duo brushed them off as quickly as possible -- he seemed to be in a hurry to get to the medical bay.

In front of the medical station doors, Duo asked, "How are you, Heero? You're not still mad, are you?" 

Heero grit his teeth. He would be damned if he'd make Duo carry him the last few feet "Mad?" Keeping up with Duo conversationally was difficult even when he wasn't so tired. Duo had often complained in the past that he did not make even an attempt, so he did his best to answer the question fully. "Do you mean mad as in mentally unstable? I am much more stable, knowing you are alive and knowing that I will be taking care of you. I admit to a continued level of concern about the other pilots, but I am unlikely at the moment to run off in another temporary loss of reason.

"Or do you mean angry? I am very angry at Une and your therapist at the moment. I will be taking action about that. I am irritated by people in the halls giving you lustful attentions, but not mad enough to take action."

"Nah, I meant.. are you angry at me still? And I think they were giving you lustful looks. You're pretty hot, Heero. I still can't quite believe you threw a gear over me like that, but Heero -- god, I need you. So don't you fight with the doc, just get well, okay?"

"Hn. No, I am not mad. I had failed to communicate to you the necessity of maintaining your well-being and providing me with regular status reports thereof. We have resolved the problem and you have given me your word." Duo still seemed to doubt his importance to Heero. Given their history, it was a reasonable doubt. Perhaps providing him with further information would assist. "Contact with you is also soothing. Healing, perhaps. I am beginning to feel better, although I will still seek medical evaluation."

Heero glared at the floor. "I am quite certain that you were the target of desire. Especially of that girl with the bright purple pigtails."

"I feel better being with you too, Heero." Duo smiled, then pressed the button to open the door to the med station. "Honey, I'm home," he called.

Home? Was the Sweepers medical center what Duo considered home? It was a more colorful, vibrant place than Duo's apartment had been. It had more -- was personality the word? He was so nervous about creating further miscommunication with Duo that he was reverting to the formal speech J had trained him in, and losing whatever grasp of slang he'd possessed. It was embarrassing.

"Duo! Oh my god, what did you do to your hair!?" the woman in the lab coat complained, then she saw Heero and her face went all business. "Known injuries?"

"Superficial contusions and abrasions, primarily in the extremities. No other wounds. Primary symptoms are fatigue, mildly-impaired cognition, irritability, and poor balance."

"Got it. I'm Doctor Kadowski, and I'll give you a looking over, if that's okay with you." She bustled around him, seemingly amused by his refusal to relinquish physical contact with Duo. He distracted himself from the unpleasant memories that medical equipment and the burning scent of antiseptic evoked in him by noting the jury-rigging on all of the equipment. The Sweepers had turned salvage into something like an aesthetic, and did their best to make every machine look patched-together and on the verge of falling apart -- though he doubted one could buy more reliable equipment new.

He was pretty sure some of the duct tape was purely there for show.

"And he wants to be deloused, don'cha Heero? Or you wanna get in touch with the office and let them know you're gonna give back that evidence and see a shrink?" The question seemed to remind him of an earlier thread of conversation, and Duo flinched slightly, and looked away as he asked, "Why are you angry at my therapist?"

Duo's flinch was like a slap to his face. Heero tried not to let his grip on Duo's hand tighten to the point of causing pain as he replied. "Yes, please remove any tracking chips. I will be speaking to Une, but if I remain working for her in any capacity, it will be under my terms. No chips. No secrets. No separations of my pa... the pilots. And if she cannot provide acceptable reasons for her actions with regards to you -- if I do not get a full disclosure of her intentions and full reparations --" Heero paused, suspecting it was inappropriate to utter death threats in the middle of the Sweeper's medical bay. He needed to obtain a better understanding of etiquette someday soon. "She will learn not to damage what is mine to protect. And I will not hand over your braid to her."

That flinch, refusing to meet his eyes... this reaction was wrong, not like his Duo at all, and he wanted to pull Duo behind him and snarl away anyone who approached until he was convinced Duo's self was no longer wounded.

Hn. That reaction could be approximated in a slightly more rational way. Pressing Duo to his side, he pulled his face down and rubbed their cheeks together. Encouraging Duo to rest his head on Heero's shoulder, Heero addressed the doctor.

"Please do a full toxicological workup on Duo as well, with particular attention to the psychoactives. Look for anything that would leave him more susceptible to suggestion or vulnerable to depression. A neurochemical workup might be wise as well..." He scowled. "A full physical is called for. He has not been eating properly and not sleeping well. He will need nutritional supplements."

Heero was breathing hard, trying to contain his rage at what had been done to his Duo. On the positive side, he wasn't having any of the sensory surges that he'd had for weeks now whenever he was angry. Probably because he was too exhausted – too drained.

He placed a kiss on Duo's neck to soften the words he was about to say. "No therapist should have tried to convince you that you were a danger to me and others. No therapist should have left you feeling unworthy. No responsible therapist would have let you go on dangerous missions in this state! And you should not be frightened by my criticism of him! You were never frightened of me!"


It was too much. The first thought that came to mind was, 'I died today, give me a break,' but it hadn't been today. It was at least a day ago and Heero was here and he knew just about everything that Duo had told his therapist and if Heero were angry at the man... Then the man had likely betrayed him in ways Duo couldn't get his mind around. With Heero holding him, a rush of emotions collapsed down on Duo and he wrapped both arms around Heero, face tucked against Heero's chest.

"Heero," Duo clenched his eyes shut. He wasn't going to cry. Nope. Not going to. "You think Quat and Trowa are gonna be real mad at me? I had to do it. I had to get somewhere where I could think."

Heero shook and took a deep breath before he spoke. "No. I talked to Quatre as soon as the news report came out. He was very worried. I told him to gather the rest of the pilots on L4 while I found out what had really happened here. May I let them know you are alive?"

"Yeah, meant to tell them. I'll see about giving them a call while you're getting looked at? Ahh... Doc's already got my blood cooking and all that junk. I wasn't taking anything though, just some anti-depressants that made me crazy. I'm not a drug addict, Heero. So, I'll be here. I'll use the Doc's computer. Okay?" His thoughts were starting to move faster; he had a better idea! "Oh, and Doc, I got an idea. We'll get Doc to make the call and make sure they're alone, then you can talk to them? I know, I'm kinda all over the place. Are you sure you're feeling okay? We can make the call first? Just to let them know? I don't want either of them to worry. I mean, which should we call first?"

Duo smiled, nervous energy making it hard to be still no matter how much he wanted to stay cuddled with Heero.

Heero let Duo talk until he wound down. When Duo stopped talking, he bracketed Duo's face with his hands. "Duo. They won't be angry for long, if at all. They are your friends and will be relieved to hear that you are alive. You are not the only one to suffer during our separation. I did not do well, and I've seen Quatre look better after 72 hours with no sleep and no food than he looked on the vidphone earlier. That is part of the reason I did not wish him to come to L2 with me. I wanted him home and safe, and Trowa and Wufei to go and look after him and one another.

"If Kadowski-sensei is willing to call Quatre, he comes closest to having adequate security on his phones. I do not trust Preventer security at the moment, so calling Wufei is out of the question." Another shaky deep breath, and Heero's grip tightened just a tiny bit more. "I do not share your conviction that the antidepressants were harmless. I could not find any samples  in your apartment, or evidence that such a prescription ever existed. That makes me suspicious. Will you authorize your physician to discuss your health with me?"

"Yeah, well, I doubt Wu's stressing over my death. Probably just telling Une that he told her so, or something. And yeah, Doc can tell you anything you want to know about my health. The prescription is in my bunk here. I took them with me. Let's call Quatre now?" A tiredness crept around him, heavy on his shoulders and he laid a hand over Heero's, rubbing his cheek against Heero's palm. "If you do better with me, knowing that's such a wonderful feeling, Heero."

Kadowski had been quiet until now, respecting Duo's need to speak, as it were, but now she spoke up. "Okay, I'll make a call, and then we check out Mr. Yuy here. Duo's results are back on his blood work and other tissue tests. I haven't really had a chance to go through them yet, but he seems healthy. Given your concerns, I would like to replace the antidepressants with stock from our pharmacy and slowly start lowering the dosage."

Heero looked at Duo, and didn't speak. Duo was just... too tired to answer. After a few seconds of Duo failing to respond, Heero frowned, and started stroking Duo's cheek. "I don't mind if you're doing evaluations while I talk on the phone. I don't think the current prescription is doing much for Duo's depression. Perhaps you will consider another medication. And I would like you to look carefully at the test results when you can."

"I'll be happy to have a closer look at Duo's results, and I'll make an antidepressant recommendation based on that." Dr. Kadowski began poking and prodding and pinching.

Heero offered an arm for a cuff and finger clip, but kept the other hand against Duo's cheek. "I am thirsty. Can we remedy that?"

"I imagine you are thirsty! You seem to be quite dehydrated. Your hands are shaking, and I suspect --" There was a beeping from the finger clip, and she looked down at the display. "Make that I know that your blood sugar levels are totally crashing. I'm betting your electrolyte levels are wacky, too."

She instructed her assistant, a dark-skinned young man with a scarred face but a beautiful shy smile, to fetch several sports drinks for Heero and a nutritional supplement shake for Duo. There were a few moments of amusing bobble while Heero tried to figure out how to simultaneously drink, offer the Doc an arm, and continue to pet Duo.

Duo smiled, feeling a little better at Heero's obvious concern.

Doc Kadowski took a blood sample from Heero, "While we're waiting for the results, let me make your call. I'm going to be talking to Quatre Winner, right? The industrial tycoon? Are there codewords I should use?" She really seemed excited about the idea of codewords.

Duo grinned against Heero's hand, nuzzling for a moment, then turned that grin on the Doc. He knew it held maybe a touch of mania, but that had always been pretty normal for him. "Tell him the Atlantic is warm and Hell is frozen over, but say it with a straight face,"

Duo ran a hand through short blue-tinted hair and shivered at the sensation of short hair moving, of his hand against his scalp. The reference was to a long-ago day that Duo and Quatre had spent on a beach on the North Atlantic. That water was cold enough to make Duo think space might be warm. At least if you were out in space you wouldn't live long enough for your brain to fully register the cold. That day  they'd both acted like reckless boys, running in and out of the surf, throwing sand, dancing around like there wasn't a war hanging over their heads. Quatre had confessed his love for Trowa, and Duo had hedgingly confessed his love for Heero. He thought the ocean, with the sun on it, was so beautiful, so blue, like Heero's eyes and just as cold.

He'd known, absolutely known, that Quatre would get Trowa. That was like saying Trowa was the tide and Quatre the sand, they were always touching somewhere, two interlocking pieces. Duo had said that the Atlantic would have to get warm and Hell freeze over before Heero would have anything to do with him. After all, he was Shinigami and a denizen of Hell, and Heero... Heero was the great blue sky, the vast spread of ocean, the entire fucking blue spinning world. What did Hell have to say to the beautiful Earth...? Well, Quatre had said stranger things had happened and maybe...

Maybe Duo was more like twilight to Heero's sky. Yeah.. Well... There must be a lot of unhappy whales because the Atlantic had gotten damn warm.

Duo's gesture was enough to fixate Heero's attention on his hair, and he stroked it absently as Duo gave Dr. Kadowski Quatre's private comm code. Duo leaned into Heero's touch, closing his eyes, and if he could have purred, he would have.

She punched it in with a grin like a kid in a candy shop. "Good afternoon. Is this Mister Winner? This is Doctor Kadowski, calling with some surprising test results..."

Staying out of the vidphone's camera kept the screen out of sight, but Duo heard the familiar polite tones. "Ah... I beg your pardon? I'm not familiar with..." Quatre's voice got colder, slightly hostile. "How did you get this number?"

Fainter, Trowa's baritone, clipped and terse. "Quatre?"

"No, no. At ease, soldier, this is perfectly legit. Are you in a suitably private environment?"

"You have 10 seconds to convince me I want to talk to you before I disconnect."

Quatre was angry. At the sound of his voice, so uncharacteristically tense, Duo began hedging his way behind Heero. Duo very much wanted Heero to move in front of the video feed so Heero could talk to Quatre and Duo could get a better assessment of how angry they were at him. At least they were on L4.... Maybe the call was interrupting them or something.

"I've been reliably informed that the Atlantic is warm and Hell is frozen over."

One second... two seconds... three... And then, "Duo? Duo's ok? Is Heero there, too? I guess he'd have to be!"

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