The Way It Came To Be
Part 2: Another Problem
“You’re late,” my sister greeted from the kitchen.
“By only twenty minutes,” I responded as I let myself in. “That’s a record for me.”
“True.” She came into the living room and kissed my cheek. “Tea?”
“Tea it is.”
I rolled my eyes as she went back to the kitchen, the kettle whistling. Once comfortable on the couch, I closed my eyes and tried to empty my head of everything. The rest of my day went well enough, but mentally I still hadn’t recovered from this morning’s shock. I was now firmly of the belief that all life crises should happen after three in the afternoon.
I opened my eyes and accepted my cup of not-scotch. Settling next to me, Iria sipped her drink and listened to me breathe. It was a good twenty minutes before either of us moved, but it was peaceful, comfortable, and exactly what I needed.
“How do you feel about the Will?” she asked at last.
“Infuriated,” I told her, remembering that was the same answer I gave Wufei. “I just... can’t believe he would do something like this. What’s the purpose? Was he afraid I’d get killed somehow, before I had an heir of my own? Did he want me to provide for all of you above all else? Put me in his shoes? That’s what I can’t figure out.”
“Neither can we,” Iria admitted. “Me and a couple of our sisters looked it over several times this morning. Not only couldn’t we find the point, we couldn’t find a way out either.” She paused. “I’m sorry, Quatre.”
“Don’t apologize,” I told her, staring into her eyes. “The fact that you all are supporting me in this is... everything.”
“Pfft,” she, well, pfft. “Quatre, please. If we supported you as a Gundam terrorist, what makes you think we won’t now? You steered us to victory before. We’re sure you’ll do so again.”
Calmly, she rose and took our cups to the kitchen. As she did so I thought about what she said, and felt infinitely better. I was still mad, but the consequences didn’t feel so dire anymore. I was going to have support. I was going to have help. I wasn’t going to be on my own. That calmed me down a great deal.
“Have you made an appointment with our attorneys?”
I snapped out of my thoughts. “Yes. It’s set for tomorrow at nine. Wufei and Duo will accompany me, as well as Heero if Relena and the Secretary of Defense finish with the Prime Minister in time.”
“Ha! I’m sure he will,” Iria said with a smile. “Relena is great at her job, but Heero’s people skills leave much to be desired. People will agree to anything just to avoid being in the same room as him!”
I laughed as Iria sat across from me. “No kidding,” I said. “I bet if the politicians didn’t know that that was just Heero’s way, they would claim he intimidates them into agreements.”
“They probably do, just not within hearing range.” She sighed. “I know I can’t make it tomorrow, and I don’t think any of the others can either. It’s too short of a notice.” She frowned.
“It’s okay Iria, really! Between Wufei and Duo, it’ll be more than enough.”
She smiled. “Alright.” She frowned again, switching subjects. “Quat, are you sure about this?”
It was my turn to frown. “Yes, I’m sure! Sheesh, you, Wufei and Duo with this!”
She held up her hands in surrender. “Alright! Alright! I’m just checking!”
“You don’t think this is a good idea?” I crossed my arms defensively.
“In all honesty, no! But I’m not your mother. If this is what you want, I’ll do my best to accomplish it. You’re just lucky I have a colleague who showed me how to go about this.” She stood and collected the items she had on the coffee table. “Now get in the recliner.”
“Okay.” I did as she instructed. I reclined as far as I could, shoving the pillow comfortably under my neck. When I was situated, she draped a washcloth across my eyes, and a blanket across me. I could hear her puttering around with some things, and worried that if she didn’t start soon, I would fall asleep. “I heard that only a small percentage of the population is susceptible to hypnosis,” I started, to keep myself awake. “I’m very strong-willed. What makes your colleague think this will work?”
“Because you are very determined for it to work,” she answered. “You’ll be using your strong-will to open your mind and accept suggestions.”
I heard her putter around some more, then her take a seat. “Okay. Ready?”
I smiled grimly at the ceiling. “Ready.”
The meeting with my attorneys was being held in one of my Father’s office buildings with a name so long I never bothered to remember it. Anyway, at eight forty five Wufei, Duo and I entered the conference room. As always, a continental breakfast for rich boys awaited us.
“Oh! Crepes!” Duo attacked the table. Considering that he only got up twenty minutes ago, I wasn’t surprised he missed breakfast. Hell, I missed breakfast too. I was so worn out yesterday, that last night’s hypnosis session didn’t go well. Iria let me sleep over, too afraid I’d nod off while driving home. I slept hard, but I didn’t feel rested. Then she woke me up with only enough time to run home, shower, and dress.
“Quatre, get a plate before Duo eats it all,” Wufei snapped. “Heaven forbid your stomach growls during the meeting. They’ll think you’re starving, and will flog themselves for letting you reach such a state.”
Snorting, I did grab a plate of crepes and some fruit. We settled down and ate like men on a mission. During this time my attorneys arrived. They attacked the table as well, but managed to do so with much more dignity than Duo. But they ate with as much gusto as we did. It seemed all of us were cutting it close this morning.
Right before we were to start, we sorted out drinks. My attorneys got water, Duo got coffee, and I sat there wool-gathering. Wufei, when he rose, asked me, “Quatre, what do you want to drink?”
“Quatre, it’s nine in the morning.”
Wufei returned with a cup of tea for me. Yay.
As we settled, Wufei leaned forward to ask something from one of the attorneys. As he did so, Duo snatched a spare teacup and held it in his lap. I watched in confusion as he dug around in his coat, until he retrieved a flask. Hidden by the table, he poured a generous amount, then switched it with my cup of tea. Quickly draining it, he put the empty teacup upside down on the table as if it hadn’t been used. I leaned forward as inconspicuously as I could, and sniffed the switched teacup. Oh my goodness. It was bourbon.
I turned to my best friend. “Duo, I could tongue you right now.”
He winked. “Promises, promises.”
Hearing it suddenly get quiet, I figured it was time to start. “Gentlemen.” I nodded to the men across from me. “Thank you for coming on such short notice. I’m sorry to inconvenience you--”
“Nonsense,” said Mr. Stallins. “That’s what we’re here for.” Mr. Stallins was an older man in his late sixties. His hair was gray and curly, his eyes blue, and he wore aviator glasses men his age seemed to like. He also had a physique that screamed ‘grandfather.’ He was one of my Father’s favorites, and mine also. “I’m just sorry this has come about the way it has,” he continued in true regret. “I wrote this with your Father, Mr. Winner. I can’t tell you his motives, because I don’t know those myself. But he specifically worded it this way to ensure--”
Without warning Wufei took my teacup and tossed its contents over his shoulder, into the potted plant behind us. He then switched my empty teacup for his full one. My eyes widened in surprise and pain. It took everything I had not to throw myself on the floor in a tantrum. Instead, I sighed.
Duo reacted as well. Taking the cup of tea, he pointedly tossed it over his shoulder (onto the wall), poured from the flask in sight of everyone, and set it back in front of me. I quickly reached for it but Wufei beat me to it. Snatching the cup away, he tossed this cup out as well, and left it empty. This continued until Wufei collected all of the teacups. The other two attorneys had watched us in complete bewilderment, but Mr. Stallins continued on, oblivious.
This was going to be a long morning.
“You guys can’t be taken anywhere.”
“It wasn’t me!” I said indignantly. “I wasn’t the one tossing tea and bourbon all over the place!”
“Yeah, but the only reason Duo had it there was because he knew you would want some,” Heero said with a smirk. “I see what Wufei meant when he said he would be ‘babysitting’ today.”
“Oh shut up,” I snapped, chomping into my sandwich.
Heero chuckled, and did the same with his.
The meeting had lasted all morning. Once the wording of the Will was dissected to death, we went through the pros and cons of me having an heir versus letting the government take control of WEI. It broke my heart to find that having an heir was the best course of action. The government taking over would just be bad, for several reasons. Many charities and whatnot that WEI funded was because I or one of my siblings did so of our own accord. By losing the company, I would no longer have the financial power to continue to do so. The benefits for our employees would be decreased dramatically, because it would no longer be a private institution where we did as we saw fit. The government would decide that. My worst fear was downsizing. I was terrified of how many people would lose their jobs due to ‘restructuring.’
Heero had arrived at lunchtime, a few minutes after we finished. He entered the conference room to the sight of Duo and Wufei having a screaming match, while I stared wistfully at a leaning (and drunk) plant. The various splash marks on the wall only added to his confusion, as well as the huge stain on the tablecloth from where Duo tried to pour the flask down my throat.
Since Duo and Wufei were not speaking to each other, Heero and I decided to have lunch at a popular outdoor café down the street from Headquarters. That was probably for the best. When Duo and Wufei were at ends, it was dangerous for anyone to be caught in the middle.
“So what’s going to happen now?” Heero asked after swallowing.
“I’m going to ask Iria to look into how to go about this, provided I do decide to have an heir.”
His eyebrows jumped to his hairline. “You’re still deciding?”
“Not really,” I said. “I think I’m going to do it, I just need to mentally accept the idea. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.” I frowned at my sandwich. “I’m only seventeen. That’s too young to have a child.”
Heero shook his head. “I forgot about that. We’re still teenagers, yet I keep thinking of us as being in our forties.”
“Yeah, me too,” I said with a smile. “It’s not until I walk pass a mirror that I’m jolted back to reality.”
Heero chuckled. “Does Trowa know about this?”
I smacked myself in the forehead. “Ugh! No, I haven’t told him yet. But I’m flying to L3 this weekend. I can tell him then.”
“Good. You could use a break, and another point of view.” He balled up the wax paper from his sandwich. “Tell him I said hi, and to give me a call sometime.”
I balled up my wax paper too. “You bet.” As one we stood and started our walk back to HQ. The warm breeze was comfortable and the traffic light, making the walk brisk. It wasn’t until we were a block away that I started to feel bad. My chest began to feel tight, and it felt as if I couldn’t clear my throat. I started to sweat just a tad, and I felt a little bit dizzy. Heero was keeping an eye on me, but it wasn’t until I stopped to take a breath that he brought up an old argument.
“You should be taking medication for that.”
“I don’t want to,” I growled. My chest was starting to feel on fire! “I refuse to be chained to a bottle.”
“Quit being an ass,” he snapped. “If you need it, you need it. There’s no shame in that.”
“But I don’t need it. It comes and it goes.”
“Which is why you do need it. The symptoms are unpredictable, and it’ll only get worse.”
I wanted to make a retort, but at that moment I felt so short of breath I was afraid of passing out.
“Fuck this.” In the blink of an eye Heero had me in a fireman’s carry, and was hauling ass to HQ.
In record time we were in the building. Security spotted us, and was making way so that Heero could take me directly to the infirmary. Sally barely had time to turn around before Heero stormed through the door, dumped me on the first empty bed he saw, and had a nasal cannula up my nose. He slapped on a blood pressure cuff and pressed the knob for it to start.
Sally ran over to us. “What the hell?!”
“We had turkey sandwiches and tea for lunch. We were walking back when he started experiencing chest pain, SOB, and mild diaphoresis,” Heero rattled off. He stuck a thermometer in my ear. It beeped with a temp. “Temperature’s ninety eight even. Respirations are twenty five per minute, blood pressure one seventy nine over one hundred, pulse is... one hundred nine. I have the oxygen on at two liters.” He turned to Sally. “Do something.”
She rolled her eyes. “Quatre, does the chest pain feel like pressure or burning?”
“Pressure, but now it’s getting better.”
“Okay. For some reason your heart is not getting enough oxygen. I’m going to do an EKG to see what your heart rhythm is. In the meantime I can give you nitro.”
“Fine.” Sally didn’t hesitate getting someone over to do the EKG. When it was done the only thing Sally noted was that my heart was beating fast, which we already knew since my pulse was high. After a few minutes my vitals were taken again, except this time everything was normal.
“Keep him on oxygen,” Sally was telling the nurse. “We’re going to keep him for observation.”
“I’m not saying overnight,” I told her.
Sally gave me an ugly look, but sighed. “Fine. How about until nine?”
“Nine it is. I will not give you clearance to return to work, so you better not be here tomorrow. I will examine you next Monday and we’ll see from there.”
“Next Monday?!” I shrieked. “But Sally, it’s only Tuesday!”
“I can make it two weeks.” She glared.
I slouched back in the bed, crossing my arms and pouting. Heero covered his face. I heard something that sounded suspiciously like a snicker.
“Good. I’ll let your sister know.” She turned away without another word.
I muttered something uncomplimentary under my breath. This made Heero snicker harder.
“Finding something funny Odin?”
“Yes, actually,” he said, smirking.
I stuck my nose up at him.
“Snob.” He sighed. “Quatre,” he started, snagging a stool with his foot and sitting. “You really need to consider taking medication. At first it was only once in a while--”
“It still is!”
“It’s not as infrequent as it used to be!” he snapped. “And it wouldn’t be so bad if it had a pattern. If you were jogging or lifting heavy objects when this happened, then I’d understand. But it doesn’t. It occurs without warning. Hell, a couple of times this happened when you were just sitting on the couch watching TV! There’s no reason for that.”
I closed my eyes and released a deep breath. I really did feel better, but not as good as I did this morning. “And the pain is becoming more intense,” I admitted.
“All the more reason...” He let the sentence hang.
I thought about it for a minute. Adding the stress of the Will and the stress from failing with the hypnosis last night, I might be having this attacks often. Darn. “Fine. I’ll think about it.”
I could tell Heero wanted to bash me over the head, but he refrained. Instead he called the other pilots, including Trowa. He wasn’t there, but Heero left a message with Catherine.
It wasn’t too long after that when Wufei arrived, bringing paperwork for Heero and myself. I also knew it was hopeless for them to go back to their offices and work, so they made makeshift desks on my bed. Duo joined us when he finished with Relena, and he and I spent the rest of our shifts playing poker and napping. It was during one of these naps that Trowa called back. He told me via Heero that he would check up on me tomorrow, and to not worry about coming to see him this weekend if I didn’t feel up to it. Yeah right. I was going even if I had to fly through an asteroid storm.
The guys stayed with me until Sally released me right at nine. It was then that I was told by my warden that she was instructed to tell me that I was to spend the night at my sister’s, or else there Will Be Consequences. Since none of us want to be on Iria’s bad side, the guys quickly wrapped me up and drove me to my sister’s. Despite how much I wasn’t an invalid, they insisted on helping me to the recliner. Duo thought it especially funny to sing ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ in his best gospel voice, as I kicked up a fuss about being tucked in by Wufei. Wufei had about as much patience with this as he did with everything else. Heero found all of this incredibly entertaining, and let me know as much. I punched him in his thigh to avenge myself, and seriously thought for a moment that I broke my hand doing so. Dear Allah. That man has a body of steel.
When everyone was finally gone, Iria buckled down on the couch and fell asleep. I stayed awake into the early hours of the morning, staring at the ceiling. My brain felt so full of information that it buzzed. I didn’t know what direction to go in, because I felt like I was being pulled everywhere at once. And it was always in this frame of mind that the memory of Krahe would surface. I couldn’t believe that after all that I have accomplished, with all of the money I have, this one, small thing was proving to be out of my grasp. I’ve dreamt about the people I’ve killed. I see their faces and hear their screams. I’ve moved on from that. They didn’t haunt me anymore. But he did. I have too many reminders of him, even now. I have to forget them, or else he’ll always be in my mind. The hypnosis has to work.
For my sake.
SOB = Shortness Of Breath. You don’t say it like ‘sob.’ You say each letter. S. O. B.
diaphoresis = sweating
Normal respirations (breath in and out) are 16 to 20. Normal blood pressure is 110-140 systolic (top number) and 60-90 diastolic (bottom number). Normal pulse is 60 to 100.
When I have a patient with chest pain, one of the first things I do is put them on oxygen. Oxygen is measured in liters. The standard a patient receives is two liters. What can also be done is give them nitro (nitroglycerin) which is a powerful vasodilator (it makes your blood vessels dilate). That allows oxygen to get to your heart, which makes the chest pain stop.
If a patient has chest pain and it burns, it’s indigestion. If it’s pressure, it’s the heart. It’s not always true, but that’s the gist of it.