"Now, sit still."
Slouching slightly forward, Duo didn't have to be pushed to obey. Other than cradling the bruise on his right elbow, he was content at idling while Heero wrapped the strip of gauze tight around his head. Heero had already mopped up the worst of the blood and cleaned out the wound along his left temple.
"Still don't remember what happened?"
Duo's jaw went lax as he thought it over. He barely stopped himself from shaking his head. "No. My mind's still all fuzzy."
"What's your name?"
"Duo Maxwell, Deathscythe pilot, age fifteen or thereabout. Pestilence never gave me a serial number. Happy?"
Heero paused his work and brought the freed hand before Duo. "How many fingers?"
He scowled at the fingers, then at Heero. "Three," he said, swiping the hand aside with the back of his own palm. "I didn't go stupid or blind, Heero. Got a few gaps in my memory, that's all. Trowa said they'd come back, didn't he?"
Tentatively, Heero resumed wrapping up Duo's head. "He does have the most first aid experience of all of us... Doesn't mean he's always right, though."
"Never said he was. Never said you were, either."
Not quite so involuntarily, Heero tightened the gauze on the next encirclement, then caught himself, backtracking. "What did you have for breakfast?"
"...I don't remember. Don't think I had breakfast this morning. No time."
Heero nodded. Trust Duo to recall his meals, if nothing else. "What can you tell me about Hilde?"
Duo's brows closed while he thought. "Nice girl. Bit headstrong, bit stupid, plenty foolhardy."
"Bit like you."
For a moment, Duo considered fighting back, but he didn't feel up to it. "Whatever, Evel Knievel."
"You were in Deathscythe. Remember that?"
"I... we were on a mission, weren't we? Some Virgo dolls gunning for Peacemillion, and we went out to stop 'em."
Heero nodded, content with that. "Right. What happened after that?"
He struggled to recall, but his mind came up with a great, grey blank. "Sorry, can't say."
"Okay..." Heero started, studying the bandage work so far. A few more rounds to be sure, then the safety pin, he judged. "It was during the final phase of mop-up. You got hit by a double barrage of enemy fire. It shook one of Deathscythe's interior panels loose, and the big chunk of metal aimed straight for your head." His narrow smile went crooked. "If you hadn't worn a helmet, it would have cracked your skull open like a boiled egg."
Duo snorted, forming a wry grin. "Guess that shows why it's always important to wear protection..."
Other than a grunt, Heero didn't see a need to reply.
"Heero? Can I ask you something?"
"I... Well, there are some things that are just all hazy in my head, know what I'm saying? Things that don't quite seem right, but sorta feel right..." He frowned and gestured with his arms while talking, growing frustrated at his own shortcomings. "Well, something like that."
"Okay..." Heero answered tentatively.
"Quatre - he likes pink shirts, right? That's not something I imagined?"
Heero shrugged it off. "I've seen him wear a pink shirt once or twice. You'd have to ask him if it's his preferred style of fashion."
"I'll take your word for it. Uh, and what suit are you flying now? I know something happened to Wing, but I can't remember just what it was. When you brought me in - that looked like Wing, but it... couldn't be, could it? Something happened to Wing, right?"
With some hesitation, Heero shook his head. "I self-destructed in Wing months ago. I barely survived. OZ collected what was left of Wing and tried reassembling it. I haven't seen the suit since. The one I'm flying now is Wing Zero - the one Quatre built."
"Blondie built a suit?" He smirked. "Damn, I don't give the guy enough credit..."
"You're not the only one," Heero murmured. At one time, he'd had doubts about Quatre - just as he had experienced doubts of the other three pilots as well, present company most certainly included. They'd all made his concerns vanish, in time.
"Sally Po... is she and Wufei dating?"
The question surprised him, but Heero hid it well. "Not that I know of - I could ask Wufei."
"Nah... It's probably just my imagination playing tricks with me. It's like I know something's there, and it's pretending to be a memory. Can't tell the difference right now."
"It'll clear up soon, I'm sure."
"Yeah..." He took his lower lip between his teeth and slipped it out slowly. "What about Trowa and Quatre? They're together, aren't they? Got this really powerful image of them making out on the lounge couch burned on my retina."
Heero struggled not to laugh, managing to restrain himself to a tilted smile. "You wouldn't be the only one. They've been... urged... to seek more private venues, once things heat up."
"Oh... And Howard - does he have a blue parrot that swears at everyone?"
He huffed at the image. "To the best of my knowledge, Howard doesn't have any pets aboard ship."
"Guess that's something I dreamt once, then," Duo surmised, shrugging the thought away, another quick to substitute it. "Another thing..."
"Have we ever kissed?"
At that, Heero stopped, raising a brow. "I think... I would have remembered..." he finally drawled, resuming working the gauze. Only one or two more should do plenty. Perhaps he had applied a bit too much, but better safe than sorry. The scratch hadn't been pretty. Not deep either, thankfully.
Duo nodded at Heero's answer, disturbing the work in progress. "So, we're not lovers, then."
Again, work came to a halt. This was not a topic Heero felt comfortable with. Duo's mind seemed content mixing up reality and memories with dreams, daydreams, random associations and so on. At least he was far more lucid now than he'd been an hour ago. This had to be a brief setback. "No, Duo. We're not," he answered as a-matter-a-fact-ly as he could, encircling Duo's head for the last time.
"I have this stupid idea that we are, see. It's like this throbbing pain at the back of my head."
Heero shrugged as he administered the safety pin, finally securing the thick ring of bandages around Duo's head. It would have to do for now. Trowa could probably do a better job at it, once he got back from picket duty. There was no way Heero would entrust a pilot to the medical care of Peacemillion's engineer crew. Suits, they could fix. People, they were not so good at. Typical of Duo to get injured while Sally Po was away on a resupply mission. "It must have been a dream you've had sometime. And you're done."
Duo grabbed Heero's wrist and clasped it briefly before releasing it. "Thanks, man." Then, he shook his head. "...nah, it's too clear in my head to have been a dream, I think. Maybe a daydream."
Heero froze up, willed himself calm. "Maybe," he eventually managed to offer. He watched as Duo studied his battered elbow, then the other fresh scraps and bruises along his arms and down his bare torso. The flight suit still covered his legs, but from the waist down there were no gashes in the cloth. Heero hadn't thought as far to check yet, but he presumed Duo's legs to be unharmed. He'd walked out of Deathscythe on his own two feet, after all, and there'd been no indication of pain in that region.
The matter of Duo's mind concerned him far more than the state of his body. First, Heero wanted to ignore their whole exchange, thinking it a side-effect of Duo's mind getting rattled. He suspected a concussion, but would have to get a second opinion on that. Still, he wanted to make things clear before Duo repeated any of this to the others. "Duo - do you have something you want to tell me?"
"Like what, Heero?"
"Are you gay?"
Again, Duo closed his eyes, brows coming closer as he appeared to do some hard thinking. "I... don't remember..." he finally said, looking at Heero with frustration.
Heero rolled his eyes. "You just said you thought we were lovers! Correct me if I'm wrong, Duo - but we're both guys, so if we were to have had some sort of sex life together, wouldn't that mean-"
Duo snapped his fingers in the midst of Heero's tirade, staring at him part with a look of sudden, startled enlightenment. "Damn, you're right!"
Frowning back, Heero's fingers curled up and spasmed as he eyed the ceiling and let go a stressed groan. Duo usually found some way of getting on his nerves, though it had been a long time since Deathscythe's pilot had affected him as much as this. He turned to walk away, wanting to cool off before inflicting Duo physical harm.
Duo stopped him by grabbing his arm. "Wait."
Scowling first at Duo's hand, then at Duo's face, Heero refrained from talking, afraid to say the wrong thing, which at this point could mean anything. The best thing to do would probably be to wait until Duo was fully recovered.
"Help me jog my memory?"
Heero merely looked at him.
And suddenly wished he hadn't. Briefly, he suspected Duo would even start pouting at him if he didn't go along with whatever idea the pilot had gotten in his rattled head - and the current pleading expression was bad enough. "Sure," he managed to breathe out, glad Duo let go of him. He straightened out the wrinkles Duo had made in his flightsuit. "Don't know how I can help you, though. We should get in touch with the scientists, or see if Wufei can bring Sally Po back sooner, or-"
Heero froze up instantly. "What did you say?"
Frustrated, Duo glanced towards the door, his fingers digging into the edge of the medial bench he was sitting at. "you think this is easy for me to ask?" At length, he met Heero's eyes again. "Come on - just kiss me. Maybe that'll fix things."
He pinched the bridge of his nose for a second. "Duo, I'm not going to kiss you!"
"Because-!" He bit at his lip. "Look, this is stupid. There's nothing between us other than an at present very shaky friendship, Duo. What makes you think... that... could possibly change anything?"
"I don't know!" Duo snapped back. "But I won't know unless we've at least tried would I? And it's just a kiss, for Pete's sake! It's not like I'm asking for the world here. Just... put your lips to mine, and that'll be it. No strings, no nothing. Just a kiss."
Still feeling decidedly grumpy, Heero took a step closer, another. "Fine - but you asked for this."
Duo nodded as he straightened up. Heero reached out to cup his cheek, the palm oddly cool against his skin. Duo tilted his head as Heero made his final approach. He parted his lips a fraction just before first impact; a soft touch that lingered, a tentative kiss at best, barely the slightest of pressure. The feeling of warmth spread from his face and throughout his body, and his fingers attempted to dig into the plasmetal of the bench - and still, the kiss lasted, though it never grew more intense, just as Duo intended, afraid of pushing Heero too far.
And still, he could almost sense Heero being more into the kiss than he was.
As they finally parted, Duo found himself taking deep breaths, having temporarily forgotten to. Heero didn't seem to fare much better, his face hovering at a slight distance, also making short gasps for air.
What Duo latched onto was the faint look of hurt in Heero's eyes. It dawned on him then that he was perhaps not the only one with dreams. At the very least, he strongly suspected so.
"How's that? Did it do anything?" Heero asked testily.
Duo opened his mouth to speak, but words failed him at the first go. He made a second attempt, but shook his head. "No... My memory is still all fuzzy."
He caught the twitch around Heero's eye.
"But I think... I think I found something else."
"Yeah?" Heero asked, the implied question laced more with nervousness than curiosity.
Duo put his arms around Heero's neck and coaxed him closer, smiling. "Kiss me again."
And Heero did.