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Sub Rosa: Meaning Of Life
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Sub Rosa

Chapter Twenty

Meaning Of Life

Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is not mine. Duh.

When I woke up, there was no pain.

I was horrified for a brief second, then pleased. So. I'd managed to die after all. I wondered what my death was doing to the others. Heero had looked so horrified, so pained. He'd been hurting.

The regret filled me up then. What had I done?

And what of Quatre and Wufei? Were they all right? How dare I die! What if I wasn't the only one? What if...

Heero. Maybe it was for the best. After all, Heero was worried about Wufei, too. Maybe my death was a trade-off? Maybe Wufei had gotten lucky in return for my death.

Or maybe I was trying to make myself feel better.

I frowned. And shouldn't I be in Hell? I was uncomfortable, but not in any pain. And everything was white.

I tried to shift. Pain lanced through my system, throbbing newly due to my stupidity.

Oh. The hospital.

Damn. I wasn't dead.

I struggled through the haze of my brain and surfaced like I'd been pulled under by a riptide. Dammit, I hurt. Bad. Now that I'd made the mistake of moving, I was in a lot of pain.

I opened my eyes. It felt like a very long and strenuous victory. My stomach felt like it was burning. Because, of course, my guts had been ready to spill out all around me. That's... gross imagery.

There was no one in the room. That shouldn't have been a surprise. As a mercenary, I had found myself ensconced in the hospital before these past three years. And I'd always been alone then, too.

But I'd always wanted someone there... and that hadn't changed.

I closed my eyes and smiled at myself. Yeah. Alone. It was fine to be alone. Heero and Wufei had their thing, Quatre and Trowa theirs. Trowa hated me, too. It was just better to wake up alone. Still... still, I had to admit it hurt to find myself alone, all alone when Heero and Wufei swore they...

Of course, I had to be kinder to them. Wufei... I didn't know if Wufei was all right. And what of Quatre? But maybe this was a good sign. Trowa wasn't waiting to kill me, and Heero wasn't here, either. Which meant that Wufei and Quatre had to at least still be alive.


“Dammit,” I whispered. My throat hurt. Damn. I was thirsty. Insult to injury, like having been shot multiple times wasn't bad enough. I thought about pressing the button for a nurse, but honestly? I didn't feel like it.

There was nothing to enhance the room in any way. No flowers or anything fruity, but no cards or anything, either. I had never thought much of it until one day about two years ago, when I'd released myself from the hospital and saw a man across the hall surrounded by both flowers and cards, along with a teddy bear and what looked to be chocolates. I had left the hospital with nothing more than the bloody clothes I'd entered with.

Nothing big. As a mercenary living alone, it was expected to have nothing and no one. I hadn't expected any more that time, either, or the time after that. But that had never kept me from wanting it. Just as I wanted it now.

Still, it could be worse. Surely the lack of company was good. The injuries alone were enough to topple me over with guilt. I couldn't take anything more. It would crush me.

I looked over to the nightstand beside my bed. A phone sat there, as useless as it could possibly be. Then there was a clock, extremely useful. From it I learned that it was eight o'clock, though AM or PM was beyond me. In any case, it was still visiting hours.

I eyed that button over my head and wondered if I wanted to press it.


I turned my eyes to the door, stunned. Quatre was there in the entryway, beaming. He sat in a wheelchair, practically bouncing in excitement. I frowned; he was in a hospital gown, same as me. Shouldn't he be in bed?

“Duo, you're finally up! Thank goodness! We were all so worried!” Bounce bounce bounce. I thought I saw his brow pucker in pain. He was wheeled in, and only then did I see the person pushing him.


I froze. His eyes were heard, as hard as they'd been before the showdown had begun. He was boring holes into me as if wishing he could sear into my body like Cyclops. I turned guiltily away. “Quatre,” I murmured, but my throat cracked. I swallowed the wince. “You're all right.”

Quatre moved his wheels, leaving Trowa behind. Trowa's frown deepened. “Yes, of course. Trowa got me back to your ship in time. You had the provisions Trowa needed to take care of me until Une and her troops got to us.”

But you wouldn't have been injured at all if it weren't for me. And I bet that's just what Trowa's thinking. By the look in those dark jungle eyes, I knew without doubt that the blame was solely at my feet. As it should have been.

Quatre began to wheel closer when I outright scowled. He stopped. “Duo?”

“Quatre, you got plugged in the gut. You've got to be aggravating your wound.”

Quatre frowned and looked back at Trowa. They started that silent communication thing again. I zoned out and watched my IV sway. Back and forth, back and forth. Boring. I looked back at them, at their eyes. Quatre seemed to be pleading something, and Trowa seemed downright pissed at the idea. I had no doubts that it was about me.

“Qat, you should go back to your room and get some rest. I'm about to call the nurse in, anyway.”

Quatre turned back to me, a firm look on his face. “No. I'm not leaving until I hear what the doctor says about you.” Quatre looked around. “Where's Heero? He's been by your side practically non-stop.”

I felt my heart clench. “What happened to Wufei?” Because something had to have happened to Wufei for Heero to be near me.

Quatre seemed surprised. “Wufei's all right. He's on bed-rest at his house, but it's mostly a precaution. He only had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days. The doctor said he was really lucky.” Quatre beamed. “Right now he's probably grumbling. He's not allowed to do any strenuous exercise.”

Even as I felt the relief flow through me in waves, I also felt my heart be crushed all over again. I had known, dammit. I had known Heero didn't think of me that way. Why didn't my heart just give up and let me be? Why did it constantly make me suffer? “Oh.” The word left me in a pained little gust. “I see. He's all right, then.”

“Yes. Isn't it wonderful? We all made it out all right again.” Quatre's face collapsed then. “But all those working for Harlow... they weren't as lucky. We ended up having to kill all over again. And Heero had never wanted to kill anyone else.”

I winced at that. He was right; Heero had sworn to never kill again after the last uprising by Barton and Maremeia. Another weight settled onto my shoulders. I felt like Atlas, trying to hold up the entire world. “I'm sorry,” I murmured.

Quatre shook his head. “No, no apologies from you. I mean it. This isn't your fault.” Was it just me, or did Quatre's gaze flick over to Trowa? “Oh, Duo, I'm just so glad you're awake. It's been almost two weeks-”

“That long?” Impossible. Well, maybe not. With a hole in my stomach bad enough to show my guts, it really wasn't that much of a surprise. Speaking of... I touched my stomach carefully. “What... happened?” I remembered Harlow and how Heero had taken him out. I grimaced. I had very much wanted that pleasure... and for Heero, it probably wasn't a pleasure at all. Dammit.

“Oh, of course. As far as I know, Une's medical crew made it in time to save you, though it was questionable at first. Wufei gave blood for you, since I couldn't.” (1)

I frowned. “Was that safe?”

“He didn't poison you.” Trowa glared at me.

I cocked an eyebrow. I wanted to glare back, but Quatre seemed about ready to jump in-between us. I looked back to my old friend instead. “What about him? He'd just been electrocuted. Wasn't he still recovering? He shouldn't waste his blood like that.”

Quatre frowned. “It wasn't a waste, Duo. And he's fine. He'd been protected from the worst of the attack. As I said, he's only on bed rest for caution's sake.”

I didn't like it, but I had to wonder why. Was it just for me, or did a certain someone ask? Or maybe... maybe he'd just done it for a certain someone without being asked. But I didn't want to think about all that.

“He's all right, then. Really. Is... is everyone safe?” I wouldn't outright ask about Heero.

“Yes, everyone's fine. Everyone but you.” Quatre sighed. “We were all so worried, Duo.”

I looked at Trowa and doubted that.

“Quatre's face firmed. “Well... anyway, after you, Heero and Wufei were picked up by Une's men, you were taken from the station and brought here. Heero said...”

Quatre paused, and I winced at the name.

“Heero said your heart had almost stopped beating twice. The doctors worked on you round the clock, trying to take care of your wounds. You had so many, just in gunshots alone. And with all that blood loss...” Quatre shook his head. When he spoke again, his voice was low. “Harlow had died, so his group had disbanded. Une sent a team in to retrieve all of his metal ores and round up the worst of his men. There... there weren't many left.”

Thanks to us.

“Heero got out with only a few scrapes and bruises, the worst being his bummed knee. A few days and some special treatment got the thing as good as new. Heero says it only hurts a bit, and the doctor says that will fade after a few more days.”

I sighed in relief. Heero's really all right. Thank God. “And you?”

Quatre sighed. Apparently he'd knon I'd get to him, especially with him as he was, being carted around in a wheelchair. “I took a bullet to the stomach.”

I flinched, clenching my eyes shut. My fault.

“The doctors got the bullet out, but there'd been so much fluid drainage that I was... in critical condition for a while.” Quatre looked carefully up at Trowa. His eyes were hard. “I only woke up a couple days ago. Apparently... the fluid had gotten itself all over the place.”

I made my own little mental image and winced. No wonder Trowa looked ready to barbecue me.

“By the time I'd gotten to the hospital, the doctors were ready to declare me dead.”

This time, Trowa and I both flinched together.

“But I didn't. I'm back now, and I'm recovering fine. Granted I'll have to cancel a few meetings, but that's all right. So neither of you need to worry about me,” Quatre finished for me.

“Yeah, right.” I wanted it to sound more flippant than it did. “Are you crazy? After hearing that, you're going to be learning some lessons about mother-henning people.” But I stopped there. What was I saying? I was going to leave. I wasn't staying; there would be no way for me to mother-hen him. But by Quatre's face, he'd clearly misunderstood. He thought I was staying. I shouldn't have said that – I hadn't been thinking.

Quatre beamed at me, then looked around. “Heero must have finally taken our advice and left,” he said sadly. “We told him to go get something to eat, and to get some rest. He'll be so upset that he wasn't here when you woke up.”

I turned away. I didn't want to think about him. About how he wanted me to stay, about how he'd desperately tried to talk to me again and again, trying to figure me out. I couldn't think of all that, or else...

“Well, we'd better get the nurse in here.” Quatre began to wheel himself closer, but Trowa grabbed his wheelchair and gently pushed him forward himself. Trowa's face gentled as he looked down on Quatre. Trowa wasn't a bad guy, he just didn't like me. Getting on the wrong side of a Gundam pilot was just a bad thing to do. We weren't known to be saints, after all.

When Quatre was close enough to touch, he leaned forward and pressed the button by my head. An annoying buzz sounded, then a man's voice came over the intercom. “Yes?”

“Duo Maxwell has awakened. Please send a doctor down right away.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Thank you.” Quatre returned to sitting back in his seat and smiled at me. “The doctor should be here soon. Then we should know just how well you fare.”

I nodded. Well, whatever the outcome, I would be gone. Tonight.

Because if I saw Heero's face again, I may not be able to leave.


the doctor had been one of those less-than-stellar types who seemed to enjoy telling you all the ways you could die instead of exclaiming over your progress. I was warned about several different infections and viruses I was vulnerable against and how bad my wounds still were. It was as if the bastard knew I was going to take a hike tonight.

It was past dark, past visitor's hours and past time for me to leave. Quatre had been returned to his room by Trowa, and the hospital had shut down for night shift. It was time to go.

It was more than a little difficult to get myself out of the bed. Every muscle, even those I hadn't felt in years, protested. And I was still a little high from the morphine, which I had discreetly taken out a couple hours earlier. The pain was making itself known, too, and it was bad. My stomach felt like it was being roasted, let alone everything else. I was sweating hard by the time I managed to stand on my own two shaking feet.

“Damn,” I muttered. Quatre, after a few careful questions from me, had told me that my Demon's Wing had been put up in a lot about twenty miles from here. I needed a taxi if I was going to make it. In this condition, I would be lucky if I got out the window without harm. But I wasn't going to stay. On that I'd decided.

I worried about the condition of my Wing. What had survived? How many poems had I lost? I didn't want to think about that, either. Though I often swore to myself that I would get rid of them, I never could. They were a part of me. And oddly enough, I didn't want to lost that poem. Heero had stared at that poem almost as much as I had. It... it connected us, somehow, despite how impossible it was. That one poem...

Well, looking at it like that, maybe it was best if I did lose it. Maybe then I would learn.

I clunked over to the window, wincing each time. Good thing this wasn't a military hospital; if it were, those nurses would know something was up. I was shocked by their negligence as it was – but then you always hear yourself louder than others do.

I had to lean against the window for a few minutes, unable to hold my weight anymore. My arm, safely in a cast, made a small bang when it hit the window. I winced at the sound. I didn't wait to see if the stupid nurses were actually starting to pay attention; I guessed they weren't used to having one of their patients sign themselves out.

A picture of Quatre's beaming face entered my mind. This time my flinch wasn't for the noise I made.

Still, I grabbed the sill and began to pull.


I turned almost as if pulled by another force. Heero stood in the dorrway, outlined by the dim hallway light. His eyes glittered. I thought I saw sadness.

I turned completely. He didn't move. “Heero.” It was well past visiting hours, dammit. Which meant he'd cheated his way in.

“I thought you'd do this.” Now he stepped inside, silently closing the door behind him. “As soon as Quatre told me were you awake, I knew you'd try to run out on us.”

I grimaced. “It's time to go.”

“No.” He came even closer, until only half the room separated us. “Don't you see? You don't have to go anywhere.”

I shook my head. “Our worlds don't intersect, Heero.” I wanted to say 'not anymore,' but I honestly didn't think they ever had.

“Of course they do, Duo.”

I had known looking at him would slow me down. I had known it would stop me in my tracks. I had known it would hurt. But this badly... for some reason, I always underestimated the power of the pain. “No, Heero. They don't.”

“Duo.” Frustration, followed immediately by desperation. “Please. Don't make me lose you again.”

That one hurt so much I felt it rip straight through me. In agony I closed my eyes. “You never had me.” You've always had me.

“Duo...” The pain in Heero's voice was impossible to turn away from. “Just one month.” It seemed to be something he blurted out, something he said without thought. It made us both freeze. It was he who moved first, bulldozing forward with odd gesticulations – pleading gesticulations. “Just one month, Duo. Just see what it's like now. See if you don't belong. After one month, if you still wish...” He seemed unable to continue for a moment. “If you still wish to leave, then... then we won't stop you. But give us a chance, Duo, please.”

I closed my eyes. The pain of it – but this had all gone according to plan. Now there was no way they could expect that I had planned to stay all along. If only for them.

I didn't smile as I nodded. “All... all right.”

The relief surged through Heero so quickly he went momentarily limp. “Promise.”

I almost did smile then, but I'd never felt less like moving those particular muscles. “I promise I'll stay. For one month,” I warned.

Heero nodded, a determined look plastered on his face. “Fine.” It was obvious he would work to make me want to stay longer. But I wasn't doing this for me. “Then get in bed, and we'll see if we can't get you released tomorrow.”

“To go where?” I asked. “It's not like I can properly take care of myself in my Wing, no matter how much the technicians fixed.”

Heero frowned, hesitant. Uh-oh. “You'll be staying with me. It's already been decided by us. Wufei's condo is a bit small, and he's taking care of himself right now. Quatre... is going to be busy.” Keeping Trowa away from my throat, I finished for him, wanting to smirk. “So you'll be staying in the house with me.”

So. That was altogether bad news. Though I was surprised to learn that Heero and Wufei weren't living together, I supposed it made sense. They would be assigned different partners if Preventors knew they were a couple. I was certain they wouldn't trust any of the less experienced members to take care of one another. And they'd always managed to communicate with each other better than most people could.

“I can't stay with you,” I argued in token resistance. “You have your own thing.” And Wufei. Who hopefully wasn't pissed that I was taking up Heero's time – and his house.

“I want to.” His voice was so quiet I almost didn't catch his words. I stiffened at them. I couldn't take those words out of context. I couldn't continue to make that kind of mistake if I was going to be staying with these guys. I had to keep myself focused on the truth.

I sighed dejectedly. “I'll deal with it later,” I muttered, moving to the bed. “I'm too tired right now.”

That seemed to snap something in Heero back in place, and he came forward to help me. “No,” I ordered. “I'll do this on my own.” Just as I always have.

Heero hesitated, seeming to war with himself. Whatever decision he made, it was too late. I had carefully climbed back onto the extremely high-up mattress (and why are their beds so tall?) and positioned myself under the covers. I hated the immediate vulnerable feeling that spread over me.

Heero watched, his eyes half-closed and considering. “Put in the morphine,” Heero ordered distractedly. I glared petulantly until he removed himself from that particular thought-processing. The man may have seen something in my body language that I hadn't hidden well enough. I had to be sure he never learned. I had to be sure no one ever learned. “Duo,” he warned.

I scowled.

“Now, or I'll do it for you.”

Knowing the threat was real, I let myself fold and snatched the needle with nothing more than a growl.

Heero sighed. “I'll see you in the morning.” Another threat.

I scowled again. “I promised, didn't I?”

Heero smiled, though it was a bit weary. I was sorry for it, but I couldn't let myself give in gracefully. The real me, the me who wasn't the Jester or Shinigami, didn't want to be around them. I didn't want to feel the pain again, but here I was, setting myself up for it. Heero didn't think I would hurt, but then again, he didn't know the truth. And he never would. “Yes. You did.”

Ah-ha. I had promised too quickly. Oops. I turned away. “ Only one month.”

He frowned, then turned away and shrugged. “Fine,” he said again.

I was hurting him. I wanted to apologize, but dammit, he was going to get what he wanted. If I played my cards right, I could make it seem as if I was slowly opening up to the idea of staying, one month longer, then another. Until finally we just stopped talking about it. And then that hurting droop to his shoulders would go away.

I would do it. For him.

“Good night, Duo.” His voice was a mere whisper.

“Yeah,” I grumbled, then added conciliatorily, “'night.”

I thought I saw his lips quirk sadly before he left the room.

I stared at the hospital door far after it clicked shut. For him, I reminded myself. So he would never cry again.

I took a careful breath. For him. For him, I would continue walking in this hell. Because of those words I'd banned from my existence.


(1) Wufei and Duo both have Type B blood. Quatre has O blood, the ultimate donor. Trowa has AB blood, Heero A. I looked this up to be sure, but if I'm wrong, please let me know.

Well, the end of the Disturbed Saga has arrived. I have some ideas for the Pink Saga (lame name), but they haven't formed completely yet. It may be a small while before I get it out, but worry not! I am working on it, and it's highest in my priorities.

Late Note: Dammit, I returned from my cousin's wedding to find, OMG! THE INTERNET'S OUT!!! DAMMIT!!!!! Why?! WHY DOES THIS ALWAYS HAPPEN TO ME?!?!?!?!?! So yeah, sorry about the wait. BUT IT'S NOT MY FAULT I SWEAR!!! ><

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Every story unless otherwise claimed is Kayura's, and is copyrighted 2006 under her name.