davroskr (davroskr) wrote,

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Once Burned

So, so, sorry flist - my life has been really, truly insane recently.  Family illness, full-time work + school, and drama, drama, drama!  I love you all, and I'm sorry I've been AWOL!
And some days, you just end up writing hurt/comfort.  What can I say?  Angst, mention of torture, comfort.  13x6x5.  Probably part 1 of 2.

Wufei stumbled against the door.  The porch light was on.  Treize was good about leaving the porch light on for him.  A wave of gratitude washed through him, and for the first time tonight, Wufei felt tears prickle at the back of his eyes.  He managed to get his key in the lock on the fourth or fifth try, and turned the deadbolt back.  The door opened with a faint creak.  He stepped into the house, and nudged the door closed behind him. 
Wufei dropped his bag by the door, not bothering to put it in the closet.  All he wanted was to curl up between his lovers.  He’d showered three times at the base, trying to get the scents of the mission off his skin, but they seemed to linger.  It was probably psychosomatic.  Certainly the orderly had looked at him strangely when he suggested he smelled something burning.  The odor still seemed to cling to his skin, though, more than gun-powder or blood.  He shuddered.  Even the cloyingly sweet rose-scented soap that Treize kept getting from Une would be better.
Inside, the house was dark and still.  That wasn't unexpected - it was after two am, and even Zechs was usually asleep by now.  Still, it made him a little uneasy.  He'd grown used to finding his lovers waiting for him - sometimes curled on the couch, sometimes in the kitchen with the kettle steaming on the stove.  They either had a sixth sense about when he would be coming home, or a contact in the department, since Wufei rarely called ahead.  They must have gone to bed already. 
He mounted the stairs slowly, not bothering to try to move quietly.  Zechs was a light sleeper and an excellent shot – and he kept a loaded pistol nearby almost all the time.  Wufei didn’t need to add getting shot to this evening’s list of activities.  He’d already spent two hours getting poked and prodded and drugged, and if the nurses had their way, he’d still be there.  But after hours of debriefing interspersed with being poked and prodded and bandaged and injected, only to answer more questions, all he wanted was Treize, and Zechs, and clean cotton sheets with a wickedly high thread count, and at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep.  And maybe one of Treize's cheese omelets.  And Zechs' deep tissue massage.  Wufei smiled faintly as he pushed the bedroom door open.  He was spoiled.  Not so long ago, home had been a euphemism for a place to stay between the missions that made up his life; now, the word actually had meaning.
“It’s just me,” he said, slipping in through the open door.  Silence greeted him; he couldn’t hear the shift of bodies or breathing either.  His heart sped up a little.  Wufei turned on the overhead light, just in case he was wrong, but he wasn’t.  The bed was empty.  There was no sign of Treize or Zechs.  The room looked untouched.  Wufei shivered.  He was so tired . . . but he couldn’t bring himself to lie down on that empty expanse of blankets. 
Now, he could sense the emptiness in the rest of the house, but he walked through it anyway, hoping that they'd left him a note or sign.  No messages on the answering machine, or notes in the kitchen.  No sign of dinner.  But no sign of trouble, either, he reminded himself. 
Wufei trudged back upstairs to stare at the pristine bedroom again, then went to the bathroom.  He avoided his reflection, splashing his face with cool water.  He ought to go to bed; the sedatives they’d given him at the hospital were finally doing something, and he knew he wasn’t thinking well.  He caught a whiff of burnt flesh again, and his stomach turned over unhappily.  He took a few deep breaths, trying to calm the nausea, and smelled it again - that combination of burning flesh and fabric and hair.  It was definitely coming from his skin.  Resigned, he began to strip.  There was no way he'd be able to sleep with even the slightest smell of burning clinging to him.  And it was a good distraction from the empty bed. 
Still avoiding the mirror, Wufei glanced down at his body.  He'd fared remarkably well, all things considered.  He'd gone in as a negotiator, for one thing, trading his own presence for a half-dozen hostages.  It was all very civilized - at least until he'd been recognized as not merely a Preventor negotiator, but an ex-Gundam pilot.  After that, things had gotten much worse. 
The interrogator knew what he'd been doing; Wufei looked much better than he felt.  The worst of the torture had been inflicted on one of the other hostages, in an attempt to leverage him to talk.  They'd wanted his Gundam, codes to meta-nuclear devices, shuttle port access - things he couldn't give them, one way or another, and their lie detector was accurate enough that he hadn't been able to buy himself any time, to stop the escalation before real damage was done.  Of course, the real damage had been done to the hostage; Wufei had got away with little more than a few scrapes and blows and a needleful of psychotropics.  The Preventors had been lucky that the rebel group hadn't been able to get their hands on any real interrogation drugs, the sort not even Wufei had much resistance to.  The rebels, desperate, had joined in on the interrogation, and things had turned ugly.  The interrogator hadn't meant to burn the woman alive - he just hadn't realized that she'd been wearing highly flammable synthetics.  Wufei closed his eyes, forcing down the flashback.  If he remembered again now, he'd crack, and he couldn't afford that.  He stepped into the shower stall instead, and cranked up the hot water to full blast.  Maybe he was better off thinking about his lovers, after all.
Wufei stood under the shower head, eyes open, rubbing the fine lather over his skin.  He was grateful for Treize's strongly scented soaps, now - all he could smell was eucalyptus and sandalwood.  The steam blurred his vision, and he leaned against the side of the shower for support.  God, but he wanted Treize.  There was a good explanation for this.  Most things had good explanations.  Logical, rational, sane explanations.  Most likely, Treize had gone to space, to join Zechs on his way back from Mars.  Sure.  And they’d gotten delayed, because wasn’t Zechs supposed to be back three days ago?  It was true, shuttles were hardly ever delayed by that much, but they could have taken the opportunity to see the sights on one of the bases. 
Or someone had asked Treize to consult on a case.  That happened, although Wufei couldn’t remember the last time his lover had accepted. 
Maybe Relena had called.  It was a stretch, but . . . someone could be hurt.  Duo, or Noin.  Or Zechs or Treize.  “Stop it,” he whispered fiercely to himself, clenching his fists.  “Just stop it.”
Of course, that would explain why Sally had ordered him to stay in the hospital, instead of sending him home the way she always did.  Maybe she’d known.  Not the particulars – Sally wouldn’t keep it from him if she'd known one of his lovers was hurt or dead – but enough to try to keep him?  Relena could have told her any number of things. 
Wufei cranked up the water until it pounded against his skin.  It was growing cold, but he barely noticed.  He was not going to panic himself just because his lovers weren’t home.  There were a hundred innocuous possibilities, and a thousand minor problems that could have drawn them both away – there was no reason to jump to assumptions.
Except . . .
Except.  Sometimes he was right.  Sometimes bad things happened, and sometimes they happened to people he loved.  Wufei sank to the floor of the bath.  There was, of course, another possibility.  He pushed it away, but it came back.  In the holding cells, they’d drugged him.  He’d hallucinated.  Even before then, before Zechs had found him on a scummy satellite, he’d been half-crazy.  Perhaps . . . surely . . .  Dizzy, he pressed his palms against his eyes.  No Zechs, no Treize, clean sheets on their bed.  The made bed.  Where could they be?  He shook his head to clear it of the thought, and reached for the soap again.  At least while he was washing, he could pretend to ignore the doubts welling up inside him.  Surely he couldn’t have imagined – no.  He wasn’t crazy.  He scrubbed his skin with renewed vigor, compensating for the cold water. 
The shower curtain was pulled aside suddenly.  Wufei jumped, scrambling backwards, his mind leaping to the small tile room and the striking of the match -
"Wufei, Wufei, it's me!"  Hands outstretched, and slowly, Wufei looked up into Treize's eyes.  So blue.  The man looked down at him for a long minute.  Wufei felt a peculiar mixture of relief and embarrassment as his heart began to slow down, but relief won out by far.  Treize existed, he was here, and his expression was full of loving concern.
Wufei felt the tightening band around his heart ease.  “Treize?”
“Thank God.”  Treize dropped to his knees, and embraced Wufei, despite the awkward posture required, and the water beginning to puddle on the floor.  Wufei got an arm around Treize’s neck, and they clung to each other for a few long seconds.  Then Treize drew back, brushing Wufei’s hair back from his face. 
Treize didn’t scold him.  He didn’t comment on the fact that Wufei was crouched in freezing cold water, and had rubbed his skin raw.  He didn’t even ask about the mission.  Instead, he turned off the water, methodically dried Wufei with a spare towel, and then steered him toward the bed. 
Wufei was cold, but it was a very distant feeling.  It was a little like hypothermia, which he'd experienced a few times during the war.  Not true numbness, but a kind of barrier between him and the rest of the world.  He could feel himself shaking, but it was only a dim sensation.  “Treize,” he said.  “I . . . I can’t . . .”  His knees gave out a moment later; Treize caught him about the waist and carried him the last two steps to the bed.
Wufei sank onto the mattress, watching dazedly as his lover stripped off his damp sweater and changed into loose pajamas, then returned to him.  Treize knelt before him, cupping his hands around Wufei's.  Treize’s hands were warm, almost hot, and Wufei stared at the long fingers rubbing his knuckles.  Treize was talking to him, but Wufei couldn't make sense of the words.  The ringing in his ears was so loud.  He closed his eyes for a moment, and Treize stood up, pulling away, and it was as though all Wufei's remaining warmth went with him. 
Treize fetched a pair of long sleep pants from the dresser, and dressed Wufei as though he was a doll.  Wufei knew he should help, should bat away Treize's hands, but he couldn't bring himself to move.  He felt dreadfully dizzy, and he was shaking uncontrollably.  Treize's hands were his point of reality.  The hands pulled a T-shirt over his head, and then eased Wufei back, down onto the bed.  Treize begin to pull back, and Wufei lunged for him, clutching the man's shoulders, knowing he had to be hurting him, but unable to loosen his grip. 
He buried his face in Treize's shirt, inhaling the smells of clean cloth and clean skin.  The dizziness subsided as Treize's arms went around him, pulling him gently to lie on the mattress, against Treize's chest.  Fingers wound into his hair.  It seemed Wufei could feel every strand they touched.  Treize's scent and warmth enveloped him, and gradually, the shivers slowed, and the roaring in his ears faded enough for him to hear Treize's murmurs.  "Shhh, Wufei, it's all right, I've got you, sweet, shhhh, I've got you, I'm here, don't fight anymore, just hold onto me . . . " Continuous, meaningless, but it helped, too.
"You were gone," he whispered, and Treize stilled.  "I got home, and you were gone, and I thought - I thought - I thought."  He shut his mouth, neither wanting nor able to verbalize the horror that had arisen from the empty, made bed, and his half-formed belief that he'd had a psychotic break, that Treize really had died, and he'd somehow hallucinated their life after.  He'd thought he was over that insecurity, and it was nightmarish to rediscover it.  Treize's arms tightened around him. 
"I’m so sorry, Wufei.  I never thought you'd try to make it home by yourself.  Zechs and I were at the hospital."
"The hospital?"  He tried to make sense of this, and suddenly the void at his back seemed ominous.  Where was Zechs?  Wufei tried to sit up, fighting the feeling he was going to pass out.  For an awful moment, everything went gray and tingly, and when it wasn't, they were both standing, only Treize was supporting him.  "Zechs?" he managed.  "Is Zechs hurt?"
"No, sweet.  Zechs is fine.  We went to pick you up."
“At the hospital?  But . . . I came home.”
"Yes," Treize said dryly.  "I'm afraid we only discovered that after we got there, and there was an empty bed where the nurses swore they'd put you.  Come, lie back down."
Wufei let Treize guide them back onto the mattress.  It was that or faint, or possibly throw up.  “Zechs is fine?” he asked, knowing he was repeating himself, but unable to help it.  Treize didn’t seem to mind, though.
“Zechs is having a discussion with the hospital staff even as we speak.  Which reminds me, I should call him.  I’m just going to reach over and get the phone, sweeting.  I’m not even going to let go of you.”
Wufei sighed.  He wasn’t stupid, just . . . well, perhaps he was right now, because as soon as Treize loosened his grip, Wufei's heart lurched. 
Treize stroked his hair with one hand and dialed with the other.  A moment, and then, “He’s here.”  Wufei could hear Zechs’ voice, but couldn’t make out any words.  “Yes, all things considered . . . No.  Did you have a chance to speak with the staff? . . . No, I think you should come home, as long as the doctor – what?”  Treize’s voice softened even further.  “Yes.  Yes, of course . . . See you soon, then.”
"I told the nurses I was going home," Wufei mumbled, as Treize dropped the phone back in the cradle. 
"I'm afraid they didn't believe you."  Treize began caressing him again.  "You can imagine how concerned we were when we turned up and you were nowhere to be found and your bike was gone."
Wufei sighed.  "Stupid.  I couldn't have been much clearer.  I told them I was going home."
It was his lover's turn to shudder, but the voice that answered him was level.  "To be fair, you were supposed to be unconscious."
"Told them their stupid drugs weren't going to work, either."  Wufei found a grim sort of satisfaction in that.
"I know."  Treize's hands were soothing, his voice moreso.  "You were very good about warning them.  But you scared Zechs and me terribly.  When you weren't there, I thought my heart was going to stop."
Wufei hugged him a little tighter.  Poor Treize.  "I didn't think you were coming."
"Why would you think that?"  Treize's voice was unhappy. 
"'s Preventor rules for classified missions.  We're not supposed to contact anyone when they end."  Especially when they went as wrong as this one had. 
"I understand.  But it's not worth risking your life to get home to us."
Wufei nodded.  It was easy to agree now that he was warm and secure, tucked under Treize's chin.  In truth, he thought he’d agree to anything just to be here.  Treize sighed.
"Why don't you get some rest? Try to sleep off the drugs."  Treize pulled the comforter about them. 
Wufei shook his head.  "In a few minutes."  He just needed a little more time to soak up Treize's presence, and with any luck Zechs would show up soon.  Being injured meant he got to sleep in the middle - a spot Treize usually won by default.  If he went to sleep now, he'd probably be out until after they'd risen the next morning.  Besides, there was the lurking fear that he really was crazy.  He was certain he could hallucinate Treize, but Zechs . . . Zechs was too enigmatic, too sharp, too unpredictable to imagine.  Wufei didn't understand the other man very well.  In some sense, that made him more trustworthy.  Or else Wufei was completely hallucinating, because that didn't even make complete sense to him. 
Treize was doing that thing with the tips of his fingers, working the little knots out of Wufei's neck.  Wufei focused on his breathing, letting himself melt against Treize.  It was only a few minutes until he heard the front door open and close, and Zechs' footsteps on the stairs.
He turned over to face the bedroom door, wincing at the pull of stiffening muscles. 
Zechs swept in.  Somehow he managed to look glamorous, even in the wee hours of the morning.  "Well, aren't the two of you adorable."  His eyes rested on Wufei for an uncomfortable moment, then softened.  "You look like shit."
Wufei extended a leaden hand.  "You're late."
"I'm sorry.  I wanted to make sure I got all the medications correct."  He smiled wolfishly.  "And I had to talk to a few staff members about watching their patients a little more closely."
"Hmm?" Wufei asked.  Things were beginning to blur again.  He was desperately tired.  "Come to bed."
"He wouldn't go to sleep until you showed up."
Zechs frowned at him.  "Silly boy."  But he changed quickly.  Treize helped Wufei move to a better position.  Wufei wasn't even sure which way was up anymore. 
"I think we might need to take him back to the hospital," Treize whispered.
"No," Wufei said, half by reflex.  Then he thought about the hospital, and said, "No."  Both men ignored him.
"I don't think that's a good idea.  Whatever the group gave their prisoners, it's not hurting them.  It seems to disorient, and Sally said Wufei would probably do much better in familiar surroundings."
"He's not just disoriented, Zechs, he's-"  Treize sighed, shifting, and Wufei froze, seizing Treize's hand.
"I know."  Zechs’ fingers joined Treize's, and he arranged himself carefully against Wufei.  He smelled like frost and evergreens, his hair cool and silky against Wufei's bare arm.  “The nurses gave him Neuremil to try to sedate him.  He was supposed to be fast asleep in the clinic bed, but of course our Chang wouldn’t follow expectations, even for a night."  This last was uttered fondly, as though drug resistance was an absolutely charming attribute.  "This should be the worst of it."  But cool fingers slid along Wufei's jaw, checking his pulse.
"How long?"
Zechs shrugged.  "Ten hours for the sedative; most of the other prisoners are snapping out of the disorientation in twelve to twenty-four, depending on when the last dose was."  He gave a low chuckle.  "Why the face?  I thought you liked him all clingy and semi-conscious."
"At some point soon, I'm going to have to use the facilities.  I'm not used to doing so with someone wrapped around me."
"Not interested in branching out into watersports?"  Zechs was smiling, Wufei knew.  "All right, pretty boy, how about we set Treize loose for a moment?"
Wufei was swiftly resettled against Zechs as Treize slithered out of bed.  The blonde waited until the bathroom door shut to do a spot exam, sliding his fingers gently over Wufei's bruises, checking the cuts for signs of infection.  There weren't many cuts and bruises.  Zechs found the site above his kidneys where they'd applied the electric prod repeatedly, and murmured over the network of burst blood vessels.  The cold air against his skin left him shivering, but Zechs was quick and exceedingly gentle. 
He must have been pleased enough with what he found, because he rearranged Wufei's clothes and took him back into his arms.  "How are you feeling?"
Wufei wrapped his arms around the larger body, reminding himself that Treize would be back soon.  "Tired.  Dizzy.  Stupid." 
"Any pain?"
"Not much.  The . . ."  Wufei hesitated.  "The drugs are worse.  I can't . . . think properly.  Everything's too . . ."  He couldn't find the right word, but Zechs made a soft, affirming noise. 
"I know.  Is there anything we can do to make you feel better?"  The concern in Zechs' voice made Wufei's throat tighten.  The drugs, surely, were making him emotionally unstable.
"Stay with me."  There was a brief silence, and Wufei swallowed hard.  He needed this.  “Please, Zechs.  Don't go.”
Zechs' mouth covered Wufei's gently, less a kiss than an acknowledgement.  "Of course I'm not going to leave."  His lips moved to Wufei's cheek, then his eyebrow.  "For one thing, Sally says you’re supposed to be under close observation for the next week.  And I’m also to keep you in bed.  I’m not sure she understands what kind of exciting mental pictures that gives me.”
Wufei tried a smile, but it felt pasted on his face.  “Sorry to disappoint, but I think I’m too tired for anything that would make an interesting mental picture, much less an exciting one.”
"Then you should sleep." 
"I will.  Where's Treize?"
"Here."  The mattress dipped, and Treize wound his limbs about them, laying Wufei's head on one shoulder, wrapping the other arm over his waist.  It was nearly perfect.  "We're here."
He wanted to thank them, to apologize, to try be awake a little longer and savor their embrace, but it wasn't going to happen.  He was asleep almost as soon as they both wrapped their arms around him.
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