Disclaimer: Not making any money here! This is a fan fic, if I owned Gundam Wing you can bet I wouldn't be here!...or maybe I would, guess we'll never find out!

Ok, So I was going to write more of BtG or of my One X One Shots after I finished the latest HP book, but something in me spoke up when I closed the book and reminded me that I had just one chapter of Scars left to write. Oh, and I got sick for a couple of days… So here we go, the End of Scars…

Scars

Chapter 20: Healing

Wu Fei called ahead and told Trowa and Quatre to meet them at the hospital. Duo felt dizzy as his listened to Wu Fei's words drift back from the front seat.

The hospital, the hospital where Rivee had died. Only a few days ago. No, that was wrong, they were too far away to be headed there. They'd taken a plane to get here, that meant it was going to have to be a local hospital. It was all crashing down, he was so dizzy! It was then that Duo remembered being shot; the bullet had hit his broken leg. He pulled away from Heero long enough to look down at his legs that were sitting on the seat next to them.

Heero's eyes followed him as Duo saw the blood seeping out of the wound in time to his heart beat. "Shit." Was all he had time to say before Heero was yelling at Wu Fei.

"He's been shot, get us there faster!" He was reaching out and clamping his hand down on the wound and Duo let out a yelp as the sharp pain shot up to his hip and his leg was throbbing. The pain meds they'd been giving him were deffinently gone.

"Duo, what happened to your leg!?" Heero was asking as Duo suddenly looked down at his hands in fascination. They were trembling again, which was to say that they hadn't been while he'd been kept by Carigan. He couldn't remember his hands shaking while he'd been typing his false program.

"Duo!" Heero's voice made him jerk and his leg sent that pain through his hip again.

"B-broken. Shin bone." Duo gasped out, his hands making fists as he rode the pain. It wasn't the worst he'd ever felt, but it wasn't the least either.

"Wu Fei…" Heero growled.

"Be calm Yuy, I would rather we get there and not get killed on the way! It would make for a rather sad ending to all of this!" Wu Fei growled back and Ember laughed in the front seat.

Duo held tightly to Heero the whole way to the hospital, trying to leave the image of Carigan's dead body jerking at his feet back with the burning building they were leaving behind fast. But he got no relief, not, to his surprise, did he drift off. At all.

That would have been a small blessing, but he was cursed with a sudden lack of need to sleep. Even the pain wasn't enough to cause him to lose consciousness. So He stayed awake and alert the whole car ride to the hospital. He was awake while Heero argued with Wu Fei over speed limits and hospital signs. He was awake while Ember yelled at them both and took over directing Wu Fei where to go. He was awake when they pulled up and Heero practically carried him into the ER.

Duo remained amazingly calm up until the point where a doctor was about to tell Heero that he could not accompany Duo into the ER. Then Duo got ready to pitch a fit, but all he really had to do was start moving around and yelling at the doctor before someone with more authority happened by and allowed Heero to go with him.

Duo took a hold of Heero's hand then and decided not to let go so that no one else got any funny ideas about him leaving. Heero looked surprised, but walked along side his bed as they pushed Duo into a small room with lots of shiny equipment.

There they gave Heero one of those green gowns and a mask and then removed Duo's pants with scissors so they could get at the wound. Duo got anxious right around then, but the new doctor told him that all this was going to be done while he was awake, and could he handle that?

Duo smiled then and said, "If you give me a local it'll be better than the last time I got a bullet removed!" and got looks from the doctor and the two nurses in the room with him. But the chuckle he got from Heero just made him grin wider.

"Alright then!" The doctor finally broke in, ending the odd moment and went about removing the bullet from Duo's leg and resetting the bone. Afterwards Duo got a cast and finally let go of Heero's hand long enough for him to go out to the waiting room and check on Wu Fei and Ember, while he got his arms treated with salve and bandages for his burnt arms and face.

Out in the waiting room Heero found not only Ember and Wu Fei but Quatre and Trowa. He spoke to them, Ember and Wu Fei had both had burns treated and been released only to settle in the waiting room again for news from Duo and to wait for Quatre and Trowa.

"When they release Duo I have rooms for all of us at Pear Tree Hotel just up the road." Quatre smiled and handed Heero a key. Heero smiled his thanks back and Quatre handed Ember and Wu Fei a key.

"Do you mind sharing?" He asked, his smile a little hesitant.

"Not at all." Ember smiled back, secretly glad for the company. She wasn't sure she could sleep alone, not so soon after…

"It's all right with me." Wu Fei smiled at her and they both regarded Heero.

"I'm so glad you two are safe!" Ember threw her arms around Heero's neck and he held her tightly, trying to convey so much to her that he couldn't find words for.

"Thank you." He finally muttered against her heavy hair. "I'm sorry." He added in a softer voice, pain lacing his heart for the loss of his friend.

"You're welcome, and I know." Ember answered, utter loss and sorrow shooting through her, but damn if she was going to go to tears right then! "Thank you."

Wu Fei nodded to Heero, following Ember out the door where Quatre's rental car waited for them.

"Will you be alright?" Trowa asked Heero, gasping his shoulder as if to take in total how Heero was feeling, knowing the man wouldn't admit to such a thing right now.

"Yeah, they'll release Duo soon; the nurse was talking about release papers right before I left. He's just getting his burns treated." Heero sighed, fatigue building up in his shoulders.

"Don't you dare leave this hospital before you get yours treated too Heero Yuy." Quatre scolded. Heero smiled and nodded.

"We'll see you in the morning. Breakfast at eleven? In the restaurant?" Quatre and Trowa let Heero back away, headed back to where he was sure Duo was done by now.

"Yes." Heero confirmed and gave them a slight wave before turning back into the inner doors of the ER and disappearing in the confusion there.

"Come on." Trowa pulled at Quatre's shoulders, bringing the shorter blonde man into the curve of his hip, where he fit just so.

Duo smiled as Heero came back and held up his arms, knowing his face looked the same wrapped in bandages and crowed, "Look! The return of the mummy!"

Heero snorted, covering his mouth, unable to control the sudden outburst of laughter Duo had won from him.

"Oh, I wouldn't be so quick to laugh," Duo smiled mischievously, "The nurses are looking for you."

And just like that Heero recognized the smiling face watching him at the doorway. The defensive position, the narrowed eyes. This was Shinigamii, Duo's protector when he couldn't deal anymore. These jokes weren't for anyone's sake but his own. Something to focus on instead of everything else.

And Heero knew he had to get Duo out of there. He smiled back, because that was what Duo wanted right then, and said, "Then I guess it'd just be easier to go and face my fate. I'll be back, hopefully with release papers."

Heero didn't want to leave Duo laying there, looking at him like that, but he had little choice if he wanted to get them out of there soon as possible. So he tracked down the nurses looking for him, had his burns treated and returned to Duo's side with release papers in just about half an hour.

They were out of the hospital and in the hotel within the next hour, leaving the prescriptions for pain meds for the next day and found that Quatre, as usual, had kept his head in a crisis and brought them each an overnight bag. Heero took his turn in the bathroom first, letting Duo unwind sitting on the single King sized bed. It wasn't an overly lavish room, the guys had finally gotten Quatre to cut back on spending money like that needlessly, but it was a nice hotel and as Duo sat in the dark looking around he couldn't help the almost violent shiver that wracked his body.

Carigan was dead. He was finally free from those monthly demands. Even while he'd been sheltered from that life these last months, he'd never lost the feeling of belonging to that lifestyle. He was a hacker, that's just what he was, he couldn't really see himself following the rules of the Preventors or finding and office job that would suite his needs. He was a hacker. He broke the rules and the firewalls that protected them.

What was he now?

Duo had a nagging thought that he needed to get out of this room. That it was too nice for him. That he didn't deserve it and that it was wasted on him. That he needed to get back to his apartment and back into the underworld before he lost a potential job to a young upstart who thought they could out hack him.

That thought was quickly followed by one that was just two words. It's over. And Duo had to relive watching Carigan die by his hands again. The jumping body that moved when it didn't breathe.

Duo fell back on the bed and stared at the ceiling in the dim light from the bedside lamp. He really thought about going back now, what it would mean, and what he would be leaving behind. And though he knew he would never go back to that life, a part of him would miss it. The constant that had been his livelihood had filled so much of his time and kept his distracted from what he didn't have. It had been a rut, and though he hadn't been happy, he'd just been. He hadn't needed to struggle towards anything, or fight anything. He'd just been.

The easiness had been something he'd allowed himself to enjoy, in a way. And now that simplicity was gone and everything was just going to get even more complicated from here on out. So Duo allowed himself a brief moment to mourn the loss of that life, and then he was faced with a terrible, terrible question.

What would he do now?

The thought was terrifying. Duo had no idea what was left for him. His skills all seemed to hold strength in the underworld or if there happened to be a war going on. He could go into computer design, but how long before he grew tired of that and grew to hate his job. How long could he last before monotony forced him to run from Heero?

Duo was still laying there when Heero reappeared and pulled at his hands till Duo sat up. "Ready for bed?"

"Ready physically? No. Mentally? Yes." Duo looked down at the shorts and button down shirt he'd gotten out of the hospital with.

Heero smiled and dug into Duo's overnight, producing more comfortable pair of shorts and a long sleeved shirt that was thin, but would offer comfort.

Duo smiled and let Heero help him out of his cloths and then into the makeshift bed cloths. He dutifully brushed his teeth and hair and let Heero redo the braid before he crawled into the strange bed and settled down into Heero's arms.

They lay in silence and Duo could feel the tension in Heero's body and could breathe in the anxiety hanging in the air. Heero was fighting something, wanted to say something or ask something and he wasn't sure how Duo would react.

"What is it?" Duo finally asked, whispering it to the darkness in front of him but knowing that Heero heard him.

"I want to ask you something." Heero's voice was nervous and strained, something it rarely was.

"Ask." Duo said, not knowing what else to say.

"Would…you come with me? I have a condo in New America." Heero tried to feel Duo's answer through his ribs where he was holding him, but Duo gave no indication through breathing or through his muscles, so Heero just plowed on, trying to sell Duo on the idea. "It's new one of Quatre's mansions, and near the Preventor's NA Office."

"You…" Duo kept his breathing steady and forced himself to remain still, but every cell in his body was dancing. "You want me to move in with you?" He could hardly believe it. He was a complete wreck! He was falling apart at the seams and Heero still wanted him. As in forever. The promise was there, palpable in the air and making a part of him squirm in happiness.

"Yes. But only if you want to. If you want to start out on your own, if you want to take it slow I completely under…"

"If you finish that sentence I'm going to turn around and hurt you!" Duo threatened, turning around anyway so he could kiss Heero.

"You…you want to?" Heero asked as Duo kissed him, short and quick over and over.

"Yes you idiot!" Duo kissed him longer and deeper and Heero pulled him as close as they could get without shedding their skins.

"I love you!" Heero moaned into Duo's ear as they held onto one another, unbelieving and blissful at the same time.

"I love you." Duo whispered back, scared shitless but knowing that things couldn't really be all that bad with Heero by his side.

Duo was amazed at how fast the days started to go. It seemed that one minute they were having breakfast and Heero was telling everyone about their new plan to move out of Quatre's lonely, hidden estate and then they were all on a plane back to said estate.

Then Preventor agents were stopping by to take statements about Martin and the explosions at Carigan's 'offices' and that was when Duo found out that Melinda was still alive. Still alive and in treatment at the hospital where they'd taken Rivee. Time slowed down long enough for him to ask to visit her.

Duo let Heero drive him there, but he was glad when Heero let him go into her room alone. He wasn't locked in, though the wards had wanted that, Heero wouldn't allow it. Instead Heero waited just outside the door and Duo walked into Melinda's white spartan room with the promise to 'keep it short'.

"Hey Hun! How ya doin'?" Melinda looked amazingly pasty against the white sheets. Duo had thought such a contrast would make her look positively colorful, but she just looked worse to him. The white making her bruises all the more vivid and the tracks on her arms all the more gruesome.

"Great, how about you? I see Martin cared for you even more than he did me." Duo gestured to the thugs handy work.

"Ain't nothing I new to me cutie, I'm used to men bein' rough." Melinda's easy drawl somehow brought him comfort as he sat on the edge of her bed.

"I heard they finally caught you with drugs and they're going to convict you." Duo gave her a sad smile.

"Yup, looks like the end of the road. No more Dealin' for me." Melinda winked at him. "Can't say I'm all broken up about it tho'"

Duo laughed and smiled at her, finally seeing someone worth noticing in front of him. And she was even prettier without her convertible or shot dresses.

"Is it true that they'll be able to save people wit' what they found?" Melinda asked and Duo also saw for the first time, the caring woman she could have been, if drugs hadn't consumed her life.

"Yeah, it's true." Duo replied in all seriousness. "They even think they'll be able to stop progress of H.G.L.'s across the border." Melinda nodded but didn't say anything.

"Duo?" Heero's voice called tem both back from wherever they'd gone, both surprised to find Heero poking his head in.

"Yeah?" Duo already knew, but asked anyway.

"They say that the time is up." Heero didn't look happy but Duo knew they couldn't bully their way past this one.

"I gotta go." Duo smiled at Melinda and held out his hand.

"All right. I don't imagine I'll be seeing you around, so g'bye." Melinda's smile wasn't sad, as if she were glad she wouldn't ever see Duo again.

But Duo could understand that, and was even as glad of it as she was, getting another good look at the forced track marks up and down her arms. He said goodbye and they left the hospital. Duo couldn't say if he was happy or sad and decided to store it away in his memory and leave it that way.

Time picked up speed again, and more and more often Duo found himself seeking refuge in Quatre's garden/mini rain forest for peace and quiet. He started making trips into town again, and he was almost ready to ditch his sweatshirt, but with Ember's Fast Fix closed down now there was almost no point in going. So he stopped that too and just fiddled with his Rank and watched Heero work on the car the little time he was in the garage now. Mostly Heero was talking with Wu Fei or Quatre about transfers and security papers that needed signing. And he started to flounder again about his prospects. He still couldn't imagine working for the Preventors like Heero, but it seemed the only option left open to him.

So Duo was in the garden, just days before they were finally due to leave when Ember showed up. He'd been fiddling with the Rank until his shaking had gotten too bad from stress and he'd just laid it aside and massaged his hands.

"Hey." Ember poked his shoulder and pulled up a chair so she could sit next to him.

"Hi." Duo still flinched a little whenever she came around, but had gotten to the point where no one noticed anymore.

"What 'cha doing out here? The party's in there." Ember gestured with her head back to the house.

"Party?" Duo quarried

"Yeah, everyone's running around with cake and presents, I think they're throwing you a surprise party." Ember giggled.

"OH! Well way to ruin it!" Duo whined. Ember nearly fell out of her chair laughing.

"I couldn't help it, you're so spacey, I think it'll keep them on their toes if they think you know what's going on when you appear to be out here in your own little world." Ember winked.

Duo folded his arms and grumped. "So, is that why you're here?"

"Actually no, I'm here to proposition you." Ember leered.

"Wh-what!?" Duo felt his eyes twitch at the thought.

"A business proposition, pervert." Ember giggled again, and Duo knew full well she was wording everything awkwardly on purpose.

"Oh, What is it?" Duo rubbed his arms, it was time to go inside anyway, and thoughts of cake enticed him even further.

"I want you to open a bar with me." Ember announced and instantly got all of Duo's attention back on her.

"A bar."

"A bar!"

"With you?"

"With me!" Ember's smile was the brightest he'd seen since…

"Why?" Duo couldn't help asking.

"Because, that's all I know how to do. Run the Fast Fix and mix drinks. It's how I got myself through the three years of college I took. I was a bar tender. And then I met Rivee and well, then it didn't matter so much to get my degree." Ember started to look her, now, usual melancholy self and looked as if she'd just realized it and pulled her smile back on. "So, since we're both kinda jobless, and I figured you for a good business guy, I figure that together we could get a decent bar going!"

"But I don't know how to tend bar!"

"I'll teach you."

"But I don't have any money." A lie.

"Liar, and that why we're in this together." Ember argued back, seeing through his lie.

"I don't want to deal with drunks." Duo cringed.

"So it'll be a bar and grill." Ember compensated. "For spacers, we'll set up near port!"

"My hands shake." Duo finally spit out after thinking about it the last three times he'd tried to derail her.

"No one will notice." Ember said it very slowly and smiled at him very pointedly. And Duo knew he had no reason to say no.

"You're serious."

"Ladies and gentlemen, the light is on and someone finally came home!" Ember announced to the garden dramatically.

Duo smirked at her, but it faded as he actually gave it some serous thought. Learn how to bar tend. Own his own bar. Co-own. People didn't care how messed up the bar tender was as long as he could still pour a good drink. Would his scars and shaking really go unnoticed? What would Heero think? He'd be supportive, as usual. But was this really what he wanted? Could he do this? For a couple of months? For a year? For a couple of years? It sure wouldn't be boring. He already knew he could mange a business if he needed to. They could probably get a lone form Quatre himself! Heero would help them find a place. Wu Fei and Trowa would be there to help them set up, till they got a good staff.

But they'd need licenses to sell liquor. And food. It would be a lot of work, and any money they earned would have to go right back into the bar.

Ember kept looking at him, kept smiling. As if knowing his answer before he knew it. And then she hit the last nail into the coffin. "We can call it Rivee's."

Duo took a moment to look absolutely shocked. Then the corner of his mouth quirked up. Then he was smiling at her and she was grinning madly back.

"Ok. Let's do it!"

Ember let out a battle cry to the cloudy sky and jumped up out of her chair. "All right! This is so going to rock! We'll get waitresses and regular and a grill and we'll have to make up a menu, and we'll need a signature drink, I know just the one! And…"

"Ember! First we need a place!"

"Oh, right. I need an apartment!" Ember suddenly looked stumped. "Where did you say you guys were moving?"

"Heero!" Duo felt elation grab hold of him, he jumped up, grabbed his rank and he and Ember ran back inside, yelling at the top of their lungs, "We're gonna own a Bar!!! We're Gonna Owna BAR!!!!!" scaring the streamers out of Gil's hands and upsetting a tray of sandwiches out of Trowa's hands.

Duo ran to Heero, throwing himself into his lover's arms and cheering. "We're gonna owna bar Heero!" Heero laughed with them and spun Duo around.

Later they would tackle buying an old run down bar and sprucing it up, later they would find out how much an exterminator cost, later they would break nearly all of Quatre's glasses practicing, but for now they had the idea of a bar and the promise of some of the best years of their lives. And for Heero and Duo that promise coupled with their love for each other was enough to get them through any hard times coming ahead!

To Be Continued…