Disclaimer – If you recognise it… I don't own it.
This story was inspired and the first few chapters heavily influenced by cHixOr Neko's work, titled "Sunrise, Come Again"
At first Duo tried to fight us. Desperate to stand on his own feet. But considering that his feet couldn't reach the ground due to the height difference between the three of us.
"Stop it!" Duo hissed, "You can't do this."
"Relax." Quatre murmured quietly, "No one who would care can see."
"You can either surrender, or we knock you out." Trowa added, "We won't let any harm come to you. By others or yourself. And you have been hurting yourself."
We bundled Duo into Quatre's limo. All the while surrounded by an almost silent guard. It was slightly unnerving. Especially considering the number of weapons I had spotted on them, but knowing that I would not be able to draw quickly enough, while helping Duo.
Abdul started to drive away, the moment the door shut. We sat in silence for a few moments, just watching Duo.
Duo had claimed a seat, and was leaning backwards. His head resting against the side of the limousine. His eyes closed, although they were directed at the ceiling.
After a few moments, he shifted his legs. Pulling his right leg up to his chest, while tucking his left ankle behind his right one. His left leg was flat on the seat. Then his head almost fell forward to rest his forehead on his right knee.
His hands… His injured and hurting hands were left to fall haphazardly between his legs.
Although I had seen a great deal of Duo so still and so quiet recently, it was still strange to me. But this time it gave me a bizarre feeling of peace, instead of the usual fear.
I suppose it was because Duo was finally safe. He was finally free. He could do as he willed. Go where he wished. And while there was a tiny part of me that feared that he would leave us… I knew that I would rather he were safe and free and away from us, if he were happy, than chained and sad.
Strangely Josiah had been right. If you love something… Let it go. His happiness was more important than mine. And thus I realized that I had found the one thing that had kept Duo going for those long seven years.
Someone else's happiness mattered more than anything else in the world… In the entire Sphere.
None of us really dared to speak. We were waiting for Duo.
But it didn't seem like he had any strength left to speak.
"Stop the car." Duo's voice eventually broke the silence. He was barely whispering, but we could all hear him clearly. He had neither opened his eyes, nor lifted his head.
"Abdul, keep on driving." Quatre countered the order, before the car even slowed down slightly.
I jerked to look at Quatre… But the look in his eyes kept me from protesting. Quatre was smiling, but his eyes were filled with tears.
"Stop the car." Duo repeated again. This time he raised his head and opened his eyes. But he wasn't looking at me. His eyes were fixed on the one person who was figuratively standing in his way… Quatre.
"Abdul," Quatre countered once again, "We're going home."
"Stop the car, please." Duo's eyes were desperate, but his face was unnaturally blank. Like mine and Trowa's Masks during the War. "I need you to stop the car. Please, Cat. Please."
"No, Duo." Quatre moved to kneel in front of Duo, trusting Abdul's driving. Quatre pulled both of Duo's hands into his own. "Not this time. It's not what you need."
"I need to get out the car." Duo had locked eyes with Quatre.
"Why?" Trowa moved to sit next to Duo. He gently reached out and turned Duo's head to face him, "Why do you think you need to get out the car?"
"I can't hold the Mask any longer." Exhaustion had robbed Duo of any ability to skirt around the truth. "I need time to fix it."
"Why can't you let it fall?" Wufei asked. I didn't dare ask.
"Because I don't want you to see what's underneath." Duo replied.
"Why not?" I finally dared to speak.
"Because you'll see how weak I am." Duo breathed, "Cat, Fei, Tro, Hee, why are you doing this to me? Why are you trying to break me?"
"Because you need to heal, Duo." Quatre whispered, brushing away Duo's bangs from his face.
"Then leave me alone." Duo almost sobbed.
"That's not what you need, little brother." Trowa wrapped an arm around Duo's shoulders.
"I need you to leave me alone." Duo begged. I stayed silent, knowing that I wouldn't be able to resist letting him do as he wished. I did not have the strength of the others.
"No," Trowa smiled, "That's what you want. Not what you need."
"When you break a bone," Quatre wasn't pulling Duo into a hug, but I could tell that he wanted to, "And it heals wrong. You have to re-break the bone and set it properly to fix it."
"But I didn't break!" Duo protested, "I bent but I didn't break!"
"You did crack." Trowa countered, "Small cracks… But they all healed wrong. And because there's so many, there's only one way to fix the problem."
"You need to cry." Quatre whispered, "You need to grieve."
"I've fucking cried!" Duo whimpered, "I've grieved. I've mourned. What more do you want from me? Just leave me be! Please. I need to be alone."
"You've cried for those you killed," Quatre started, "You've cried for those you hurt. You've cried for those you harmed. You've cried for those you affected… But there's one person you haven't cried for yet."
"I've cried for everyone!" Duo fired back, "I could cry an ocean and it wouldn't make any difference. Tears don't help!"
"But the mindset does." Quatre countered, "And there is one person you haven't cried for. His name is Duo Maxwell."
"I'm not allowed to cry for myself." Duo murmured, "I'm not allowed. Tears for yourself only get your face wet, kid. You have to stand up and look after yourself.. 'Cause no one else will, kid. Never let them get to you. And there's always a price for everything… If something is free, it just means you can't see the price."
I wondered who had told Duo that. I wondered who had drilled it into his head… Then I realized it was probably the 'Solo' Duo had mentioned.
"What are you so scared of?" Quatre pressed gently. But I knew that he would not be deterred until he got an answer.
"That you'll see how weak I am." Duo stated once again, "That you'll see how much less I am than you."
"Weak?" Trowa laughed. The sound was loud in the almost silent limo. Wufei, Sally and I had not dared to speak, as our blond brother and our green-eyed brother tore away Duo's defences gently, but firmly.
"That is the last thing I would call you." Trowa carried on, "You spent seven years on your own. Doing things that you hated doing. Hiding from everyone and everything. But you survived. You bent. But you didn't break.
"You kept going. You knelt. And you served.
"Yet you still managed to fight back. Little things. Diverting money to a widow. Leaving innocents unharmed… Leaving me alive… Letting me tell Quatre.
"Then you decided you'd had enough. You got mad. You got strong. And you stood up. You got back in the race.
"I would never call you weak." Trowa continued, "Strong?… Yes. Determined?… Of course. Protective?… Always. You are strong. You are caring. You are determined. You are the greatest of us. Not the least. You are what we try to be.
"No one here will judge you. We're here to look after you. It's our turn now."
"You can cry." Quatre mimicked the action I had seen Tanner use on Duo earlier. Only Quatre left his hand on the back of Duo's neck.
Trowa caught mine and Wufei's eyes. We understood the message.
As one we moved closer to Duo.
"It's alright." Quatre stood up, and leant forward, so that his forehead touched Duo's, "You're safe. You're loved. You're free. And now you will heal."
Then Duo cried.
We pulled him into a group hug, and let him cry and sob.
We caught each others eyes, over his head. Duo could heal now. We were over the first hurdle.
It's been one year, two months and nine days since the last day of the trial. There have been good days… And bad days.
Sally got Duo's hands fixed less than a week after the trial. But it took two months for the physical therapy to really start showing improvements in his dexterity. And it took three months before Duo would willingly come out of his room on his own.
Most of that time, I got Duo out of his room, by refusing to let anyone take food to Duo's room. I put that into place two weeks after the surgery. I wasn't going to let my best friend retreat into a shell of himself.
And yes, there have been days where Duo has yelled and cursed at me. But those days are fewer now. He usually comes and apologizes afterwards. There are other days when Duo doesn't talk to anyone. Then there are the days when he is cheerful and happy, but we can tell it is a lie.
But among all of that… In all the hardships and the trials there are the days where Duo is truly happy. When he is himself… The man behind the Mask.
In some ways I think that Meilan and Helen Chang have helped Duo heal more than any of us. Those are Wufei and Sally's twin girls.
They don't have any expectations of Duo. They don't have any prejudices. They don't care about the past. They only care about right here and right now.
I probably should have expected Duo to be good with children. But I hadn't.
We didn't even realize until one night when Wufei and Sally were so tired that they'd fallen asleep on my sofa… The girls didn't cry all night. When Wufei went to get them up for breakfast, he found Duo asleep in the rocking chair, both girls in his lap.
Those girls adore Duo. They can barely talk. And rarely make sense. But they light up when Duo walks into a room.
Wufei was shocked and partially appalled when Helen's first word was Duo. Though Meilan made up for it with Daddy… However considering that she called Duo that, I don't think he was too impressed.
It was after that that Duo slipped away one night. We panicked and worried, and were about to start looking when Doctor Mallard… Ducky phoned. Duo had gone to visit him. Apparently to play chess.
But we knew the real reason. Duo was scared that we would hate him.
He does that now. If Duo thinks we're mad at him… He just disappears. Finds one of the Truckers to hide with for a day or two. They always call us. Or rather… They put it out on the chatter and Howard or one of the others who knows our numbers calls us.
All we can do is send Duo e-mails and leave messages on his answering machine.
He never replies to them. He just turns back up in his room.
He's never stayed with the same person twice in a row… In fact I don't think he's stayed with the same person twice yet at all.
But the running is getting less and less. He stays more often than he goes… At least without warning.
Sometimes he'll just walk up and tell us he's got to go visit someone. And then he goes.
Sometimes he invites us to go as well. But he's always hesitant about that. As if he's scared of being rejected… Or laughed at.
It seems strange, but the one we thought was the most emotionally stable out of all of us now needs us the most.
He's healing. He's not there yet. And I doubt he will ever be. Too much happened to him. He saw too much. He did too much. Trowa says that Duo has at least a mild case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I'm not sure that he's not right.
But we cope. We can't exactly get a psychologist to deal with Duo's problems. Some of those we did approach were advising severe medication and institutionalization. One even suggested electro-shock therapy.
We weren't going to let someone who didn't understand Duo fully to get close to him… Not if they could betray him… Not if they could hurt him.
And… Some people would try to hurt him because he was a Gundam… And he would have to tell them, because it was part of what made him Duo.
So we do the best we can. We listen. We try to get him to talk. And we try not to judge.
Sally's really good at it. I guess she's seen a lot of PTSD before.
We do what we can. And Duo's alright. He can interact with society. He doesn't shy away from going outside anymore. Which he did for a while. He would leave his room, but not the house.
Then there was the time when he refused to come back in the house. Took me three days to realize that he was actually slipping in and grabbing food from the kitchen when no one was looking.
Sometimes I feel like I'm dealing with a child… Then I realize that that's what Duo wants us to think. Somewhere deep inside his mind, he wants us to look down on him… Because if you're beneath notice… You're not noticed.
He's trying to hide, and we won't let him.
And he's getting better. He'll never be normal. But then he never was. And neither were we. And we still aren't.
I think Duo's starting to realize that.
He's writing a book. The others don't know. He only told me, because he wanted to know if I would proof-read it for him. It's going to be an autobiography. But he's disguising it as a children's story. I told him that his life would be too much for a child to understand.
"I understood it." Duo had replied, "And maybe… Just maybe my story can stop anyone else seeking War. If it stops one person… Then it's worth it."
I can see him at the moment. He's lying on the floor playing with Helen and Meilan. Wufei and Sally smiling as they watch them. Trowa's laid out, full length on the sofa. I know he's not asleep… But he's pretending he is.
Heero is watching Duo. He does that a lot. We all did, at first.
I don't know if Heero will ever approach Duo with his feelings. I don't know if Duo will ever reciprocate them.
I know that Heero loves Duo. And that Duo loves Heero, though I'm not sure that it's the same way… The same sort of love.
But that's for the future.
And we all have one now… As a family.
The lost brother came home. We were made complete.
Where we go from here, we don't know. But we'll go together.
Reviews are my candy. I go on a writing spree with each one. Trying to earn them.
Constructive criticism encouraged.
Okay, I get the hint. A lot of people don't want me to take this story down. cHixOr Neko told me that it was my decision to do what I want. So I am posting a Poll on my profile page. What is your opinion? (I may decide to go against the final decision)
Please note, even if I do eventually decide to take the story down, I give permission for anyone to download it onto their hard-drives… And if you don't manage to download it before I remove it, you can contact me for one month afterwards, so that I can try and send you a copy. However you will have to Private Message me with an e-mail address.
Wind dancer1981 – I don't know. Depends on what I was listening to at the time.
BlackRose-FlowerofDeath – I had to. The Saints appealed to me.
AmePiper – I'm glad you like it. And don't worry about not reviewing before. Some people don't review at all. I'm fine with that.
Arialee – You're welcome.
PurpleLeopard – 'Feet of Clay', it's an old saying. Comes from the Bible originally. Basically it means someone much admired and respected, who has a fatal flaw.
Twillightfairy – You can download it if you want.
Illusion-Factory – I had to. I finally found the 'Boondock Saint'. I like it. Now need to find/watch the sequel. (Also have plans for a separate fanfic with the 'Boondock Saints').
Milliefluff – Thank you.
Whitetiger1589 – Hope you liked the ride. And I wasn't sure about the NCIS guys. I think they need a little more work.
dkAdeena – I have a few stories in my head to get out. But that may take a while, as I like to have a good few chapters sorted before I start to post.
Solitaire – I have stories to get out. And hope to have a new one up soonish… Like next year. And that just sounds scary.
Peaceful Angel – Thanks. I'm glad you liked it.
Seithr-Kairy – Nice to hear from you again. I was starting to worry that you'd gotten lost. Anyway, I am working on the SG1GW sequel. Only I'm having a little trouble with the first few chapters. I know where the plot needs to go. I just can't get it there.
Chibi Heishi – The brothers are the 'Boondock Saints'. They were described to me as two fun loving Irish boys, who believe they have a calling from God to destroy evil wherever they find it. In my mind, Duo met them during the War, and while he doesn't condone what they do. He understands why.
Bunch-o-Nuts – Well, here it is. And yes, I did what I set out to do. I have another story in the works, with the same writing style planned. I just don't know when it'll start.
Danni – Thanks for the criticism. You're right. The problem was that my muse ran away to another set of fandoms, and wrote that section and I couldn't work out how to get rid of it. I don't use a Beta. I don't really like someone I don't have a close friendship with seeing my work before I post. So I'm sorry if I disappointed you. In the future I'm planning on working harder to keep extra characters under control.
Zuzanny – Damn! I didn't even think about "Due South" *Wanders off to try and find some 'Due South' DVDs* I loved that show. And the two priests? They're not priests. They're the 'Boondock Saints'. Two highly Catholic boys. Find the film. It's a good one, even if they do swear a lot.
Once again, thanks to all my reviewers.