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Chapter Four: Nobody's Home
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Chapter Four: Nobody's Fool

Disclaimer – Gundam Wing isn't mine. If you thought it was, you need medical assistance.

He never came back.

Duo slowly healed, hoping secretly that Heero would return, that he would get the chance to apologize for what he had done. But he never came back.

The doctor released him, and he had to have one of the nurses drive him home. He was embarrassed as all hell and tried to endure it like a man.

But his heart was crying.

He hadn't seen Heero in a year. And then the man comes back, ruining his job, forcing him to find a new place to work until the restaurant was cleaned. Bringing back emotions long buried. And then he leaves again; mission: protect woman; mission: complete. Why stick around? It wasn't necessary. Allies can replaced, especially these days. They weren't important. Let them handle themselves. Stupid, on their part, to get injured in the first place.

So he found myself on the sidewalk to his house, trapped with a sling and cast, and looked at the building with a groan. He wondered stupidly where Heero lived. Then he wondered what Heero'd do if he saw Duo's "house". If he knew how to laugh, he'd bust a gut laughing at the foolish American. Thank goodness Heero didn't know that he worked at Taco Bell. He probably would've laughed.

So Duo made his way up those blasted steps, trying to be thankful that Heero hadn't stuck around to see just how pathetic lil' old Duo Maxwell had become. He used his left hand to open the door and stepped inside, dropping the shit the doctor had given him, thankful to get it off his poor, abused cast. Then he went straight to his bed and fell gratefully onto the sheets.


He had stayed at the hospital until he was practically all better... at least, except for his arm. He had no one to go home to, and he had wanted to see Heero again.

He found out later that that had been a very wise choice. He had been tired those few days, weak from the loss of blood. And with all of the stupid little things that he had to do, he was tired with most of his normal strength. Cooking was more of a chore than usual, and going to the bathroom was kind of hard with one hand. He got a call from Lady Une, formally thanking him for his hard work under fire, and for assisting her commanders. He said some bullshit about it being old routine and how he didn't want any gratitude. So she paid for the medical bills and left him alone. Duo was eternally thankful that she paid for those bills, because expenses were becoming a huge problem.

He had never had cable, so he didn't have to worry about that. The phone lines were cut a few weeks after the accident, and electricity was turned off a week after that. He hadn't found a job, and the little things he did manage to do were slow and tedious because of his lack of mobility. His therapy sessions, thankfully, would not come until the cast was off, which wouldn't occur for a few more weeks. He didn't know why the hell they had given him a cast, anyway; he hadn't broken any bones. He guessed it was just to make sure he didn't fuck his arm up again.

But he was going stark raving mad in need for money. He didn't dare call on Quatre; that would start him worrying, which would be passed around to everyone the blond knew, and Duo knew damn good and well that Quatre knew all of the other ex-gundam pilots. So Duo struggled with payments, somehow managing to hold on to the house. When he lost the water, he thought he actually screamed. He spent that night tugging out his hair and refusing to think about how damned hungry he was.

The next morning he got up quickly, ready to bolt out and try to get jobs. He was fairly desperate; the jobs he'd been taking were everything from babysitting to pet-sitting to tutoring. It wasn't working. He raced out the door, trying to put on his best smile and ignoring his grumbling stomach. He knew that the only food he owned were a few pieces of bread and things that needed water. He also refused to think about how damned thirsty he was.

By the afternoon, he was ready to knock out the next person who said that a crippled cashier wasn't what they were looking for.

By the evening, he was tired and dirty, haggard and totally fed up. He couldn't find a job, not in the condition he was in. Taco Bell was still under heavy repairs, and he was about to wring his own neck to end the damn torture. He got into his car and drove his sorry ass back to the apartment. He had just parked and gotten out when he heard a familiar voice.


He swiveled around to see Quatre running up to him, worry and pain in his wide blue eyes, and winced. Behind him were Trowa, Heero, and Wufei. Duo looked back at my car longingly. What were the chances of him making it back in?

"Don't even think it," he heard Heero growled, and he sighed defeatedly. Quatre had gotten to Duo then and launched himself at him.

Duo tried to catch him with just his left arm, but it was awkward and they both almost fell. Quatre got off him then and looked at him with those puppy eyes full of pain and sorrow. He looked at that face carefully, then tried a patented Duo grin. "Hey, Qat," he said breezily. "Want to warn me the next time you come around here?" He had tried for a teasing tone, but it seemed he had only hurt Quatre more.

"Duo," he said quietly, and his grin vanished in the face of Quatre's suffering. "Why didn't you tell me you were in such financial straights?"

"Financial straights?" Duo echoed with a light grin. "You're not in financial straights until you don't have any money at all. And you're out on the streets." That brought back memories, but his smile didn't falter.

"Duo. . ." Quatre began again, but was cut off by none other than Mr. Silent-as-a-Tomb.

"Duo Maxwell, you have nothing to your name other than the bed you sleep in," Heero snapped, and Duo looked at him for the first time. "Your job consisted of taking orders and handing out Mexican food. You are in financial instability."

Duo's jaw dropped. Had Heero dug into his files? He must have. He had hidden his identity for the most part, but Heero was a master at that sort of thing. But why would Heero bother to check on him? It's not like the Japanese man had reason to believe he was in trouble.

"Miss Paisley seemed confused as to why you had been in hiding as a Preventer when I had seemed to be so up front," Heero said coldly, and Duo's heart dropped to the floor.

"She was very talkative," Wufei said shortly, glaring at him. Duo glared right back at him, and that seemed to take him by surprise. He got over it, however, and continued. "She seemed to be in awe of you. How calm you'd been, how seemingly oblivious you were of your wound." Wufei looked at his arm with a chagrined expression then, and Duo's glare sort of died at that look. "Then she said, 'and to think that I thought he was just some silly teenager still working at Taco Bell.'"

He thought he gulped.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Quatre asked again, and this time he felt obliged to tell him.

"I didn't want to rely on you." He looked at the others quickly before looking straight into Quatre's eyes. "Believe me when I say that it's not because I didn't think you'd help me, or that I thought you would hold it over my head. It's just. . ." He blew out an agitated breath. "Everyone else has moved on. Everyone else has jobs and money, and they don't need the help. I don't want to be a leech. I want to be able to take care of myself."

"But, Duo!" Quatre cried, "you're injured, and the place you worked at was completely destroyed. You don't have a job! It would make sense if you -"

"Would anyone else here be having trouble right now?" Duo asked abruptly, and didn't even wait for time to pass for an answer to be made. "No, of course not. Heero and Wufei are fucking rich" - He thought he heard a wince in there, and pitied Wufei for his outburst - "and Trowa would just stay out of the circus for a few weeks. You, of course, would be in no trouble at all. I'm the only one who fucked up here. I'm the only one who should pay for it."

Quatre growled then and surprised him by getting up in his face. "We. Are. Friends," he told him. "We work together. I don't give a damn if you somehow messed up on your road out of the war. I want to help you. You were in the war together, fighting side by side. Why can't we still be like that?"

Duo saw the tears on his face for the first time and felt like he had thrown a newborn kitten into a fire. He wanted to run away and beat himself into oblivion. Damn Quatre for his innocent ways. It made it impossible to be mad at the guy.

"I don't want -"

"Forget about what you want!" the blond yelled, and got up into Duo's face a bit more. "I don't care about what you want!"

He thought he imitated a fish at that point. "W-What?" Duo shook his head. "I'm not trying to be -"

"Just shut up, Maxwell," Quatre barked, and Duo's mouth clamped shut. "I paid all of your bills. And I'm going to stay here while you recover."

Duo started to protest, but Quatre shut him up by glaring at him with tears still leaking down his flushed cheeks. Duo tried again. "Quatre, please -"

"Don't you please me!" he yelled, and Duo decided to just keep his damn mouth closed. "The others are going to help, too." He glared at Wufei and Heero as if daring them to do otherwise.

Duo broke his new promise. "Quatre, you can't -"

"I can do what I want," he said haughtily, his politician voice settling over his smooth words. "And we are going to help you through this, Duo Maxwell, whether you like it or not."

Duo wanted to speak once more but caught Trowa's eye, and he was just shaking his head slowly. Then he caught Heero's eye and saw the glare that was being thrown directly at him. Duo hung my head and groaned.

Then they all got into his apartment, and everything got even worse.

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