dotmoon.net
Directory

Work in Progress by Covenmouse

previous  Bad ideas are usually contagious…  next

CHAPTER FIVE

It wasnt that Wufei snoredthough he didnor was it the strange environment he was in; it wasnt even the way that the air conditioner coughed and wheezed and sounded like it was going to explode every five or so minutes before it settled back into a faint, mechanical whine. Duo lay on his back in the middle of the queen-sized motel room bed and counted the dots on the ceiling, trying to keep himself from thinking about what was really bothering him.

In all honesty, he was used to this by now. Eventually he moved one hand blindly to the nightstand beside him and retrieved his phone. The LCD screen cast a blue hue upon his face and chest, the light gleaming off of a simple golden cross hung about his neck, and Duo scrolled through the various features the phone had to offer. In the other bed, Wufei grumbled something incoherent, snorted and rolled over. Duo flipped the phone shut.

When it seemed like Wufei had settled back into sleep, the braided boy sat up and stretched his arms above his head. There was no real point in lying around like he was except that he didnt want to disturb Wufei. The other boy was hard enough to deal with in the morning without his being sleep deprived to boot. Duo made a mental note to make certain that there was coffee in the rooms two-cup coffeemaker ready and waiting before Wufei got up.

Utilizing every precaution against unwanted noise, Duo slipped from his bed and took his phone with him to the bathroom. Along the way he paused briefly at the side table where theyd put the case files the night before and selected one. He shut the door behind him and latched it before he switched on the lights. Though blind for a moment or two, Duo once more flipped the phone open and pulled up his world-time converter. He waited until the spots had cleared from his vision before choosing the right colony and glanced at their current time. When the information loaded, he nodded, cleared the screen and pressed his speed dial.

Once the phone began to ring, Duo plopped down upon the floor and folded his legs in front of him. The phone went between his ear and shoulder as he opened the case file and started to rifle once more through information hed already memorized.

One ring. Two rings. Three rings. FouHello, Duo, a tired, though happy, female voice crooned through the speaker. She yawned a little.

Did I wake you? He asked, carefully pitching his voice so that it wouldnt echo too much.

Nah. Its only four-in-the-morning, she chuckled airly.

Duo winced, Ah, shit. Sorry, I thought it said P.M.

Despite the hour, Hilde didnt seem to mindbut she never did. There was something about that sheer amount of loyalty from his oldest, dearest friend which made Duos heart warm and his fears ebb a little. Im sure you did, the girl growled and followed it with a chuckle that belied her anger. A masculine voice behind her grumbled something, to which she responded, Duo. You met him. My last birthday? With the braid.

Is that Fredriko? Duo asked, unable to help himself. A fair amount of giggling and the rustle of covers followed his question; the voices were too distant for him to understand the conversation. He felt his cheeks warm a little and rolled his eyes, turning the page of the file he was reading. A picture of the stains on that carpet was presented to him in slightly enhanced black and white contrast. Theyd learned earlier that the stains were from a single plate of food that had been carelessly dumped onto the carpet. Everything else from the cart was still missing.

S-sorry about that, Duo, Hildes voice came back, breathless and giggling.

I called you at a bad time

No! Hidle cut him off sharply and then laughed, No, Duo Freddy has to take a shower anyway, dont you Fred?

Once more the voice in the background said something which Duo couldnt quite get and Hilde giggled wickedly into the receiver. Duo fought back a sudden pang of jealousythough over what, he wasnt sure. I really dont want to know why Freddy needs a shower do, I?

Pervert! He has to go to work.

At four A.M.?

At five thirty, but we get up early, Hilde clarified and Duo could imagine her patient smile. You have a pretty good sense of timing.

Heh, Duo shook his head and he picked up another of the photographsone of the mysterious waitress they had yet to identify. I guess so.

Cant sleep again, huh? Duo frowned at the voice she used and found himself sighing. That seemed to be all the confirmation she needed, Whats up? The pills Sally gave you not working

I

Or youre just not taking them, Hilde scoffed and once again, Duo could imagine the way that her eyes rolled and the annoyed look she would now be leveling at her phone in place of him. He really missed her.

I hate medication, Duo sulked. He began to flip through the various shots theyd gathered of the woman, or anything suspicious that they thought to be the woman in question. Whomever she was, she was good; the only few traces theyd managed to get her of her were only bits and portions of her body, and never her face. Too good.

Duo, Hilde sighed, You cant go on like this.

Why not? He laughed and then remembered himselfhe cut the noise short and glanced at the door. The air conditioner coughed again but no other sounds came from the room beyond. More quietly, he continued over whatever Hilde had begun to say, Why not? It doesnt happen that often.

Id call two to three times a month fairly often, Duo, his friend replied quietly. Theyd had this argument more times than he could remember; it had begun during the war, when hed been hidden away in her home and shed first encountered sleep-deprived-Duo, and had lasted until this current day. He felt bad for always dragging her into this, but whom else could he talk to? He hadnt even told Sally why he couldnt sleepjust that he couldnt. Even then, he amended, hed only done it under pressure from Hilde.

Im getting better, he argued, This is the first time this month. Besides, I have a good reason. Re Once again, he had to cut himself off. The other end of the line went silent as Hilde patiently waited for him to make his excuses for this months good reason for insomnia. Or rather, for not doing anything about his insomnia. I just have a good a reason.

Look, I just called because II needed to hear a friendly voice, OK? Duo continued before she could object. It was pathetic and manipulative but it would probably work; Duo really didnt want to argue with her right then. He dropped the pictures back on the open folder and leaned back against the wall.

You know you can always call me, she replied faintly. Yes, he did know that; Duo stared at himself in the bathroom mirrorthe glass pane butted against the counter top and continued all the way up the ceiling to create a rather unusual perspective for anyone looking up into it. Tired eyes, muscle stretched over a too-thin frame, the multitude of silver scars that ran all over his arms and bare chest. There were more on his legs and back and everywhere. Usually he covered them up with as much clothing as possible, but in front of Wufei and the other pilots there wasnt any need to. Other than his few favorites, Duo didnt even know where most of them had come from, they were just there.

Hilde was probably the only person not in their teenager terrorist club (or a doctor) who knew about those scars, just like she was the only one who knew about his trouble sleeping. Duo felt kind of sorry for her, in a way; her loyalty to him had kept a lot of men out of her life. Ever since the end of the war theyd been in contact more by phone than anything else. Yet, whenever he needed her, she was always right there for himeven if it meant interrupting a date. Most of the men couldnt handle the fact that she had a guy in her life who was more important to her than they wereuntil Fredriko. Hed appeared on the scene three months ago and he hadnt been intimidated by her little brother.

It was funny. Until Fredriko had called him that, Duo had never known what to think of his relationship with Hilde. Somehow the stranger had put it into context for him. He was only glad that Fredriko seemed to be treating Hilde alright, because otherwise Duo would have felt incredibly guilty over how unfair the situation was to her. At least this way he could tell himself he had done her a favor by character screening her boyfriends.

It was a stupid lie, but it helped his conscience.

How are things working out with Flintstone? Duo asked, following his own train of thought. Thankfully Hilde didnt question the non-sequitur and seemed only too delighted to answer.

Wonderful! She gushed and then added in a whisper, Hes been staying with me a lot lately. I know its only been three months but I mean, hes really good to me, Duo. You should come stay with us a few days. You didnt get to spend too much time at the party and I really think youd like him

Heh maybe after we finish this assignment, huh? I have a feeling Im going to need it.

Oh! Where are yall at this time?

L4, he shook his head, Youll probably hear why soon enough. I cant say much more than that.

Right, Hilde was probably nodding. He heard the voice behind her again and once more she took her mouth from the receiver to say something. Duo tuned them out and shook his head at the pictures in front of him. Suddenly something clicked. Time. He began to lay the pictures out in chronological order, based upon the time count in the bottom corner of the camera feed.

Though unsure what he was looking for, other than once again noticing with growing frustration that they had no discernable features on the woman, Duo sighed. It had seemed like something important. So, how long do you think youll be there? It sounds big. Hilde had returned to the phone.

It is, Duo muttered, teeth worrying his bottom lip. He hated that there was something obvious here which they were missing; that feeling of impatience with himself was only growing stronger by the minute.

Ahha, the girl said after a minute. She was worried again; Duo mentally cursed himself. Why had he called her? It had seemed like a great idea at the time, but now he just felt like a selfish twat. So, are you still running around with Quatre Winner?

It took Duo a minute to realize that Hilde and Quatre had never really had much opportunity to speak even if it was mostly Quatres doing that had gotten Duo to save her life back in the warnot that he hadnt wanted to, he reminded himself as the guilt tugged at him, hed just frozen. He shook his mind free, Yeah, I am, why?

Just curious. I was wondering if theyd set the date yet? There was a plastic rustle and then faint chewing could be heard over the receiver. Duo rearranged two of the pictures hed gotten out of order and something about the last one drew his eye. He picked it up and frowned at it with the distinct impression that he was playing Wheres Waldo, only there was no helpful side-illustration to indicate what Waldo looked like.

The date for what? He muttered and corner the maid was turning around; more specifically, he frowned at the top of her head. Duo grabbed the picture that went directly before that one and flipped back and forth between them, one on top the other.

The wedding, of course.

The exDuos brain stopped. He hit rewind, stopped again, and then pressed play to hear that again. His dark eyebrows nestled together a moment as he considered what he remembered of their conversation. Quatre, he began slowly, is getting married?

They didnt tell you? Hilde garbled her surprise around a mouthful of whatever she was eatingit sounded crunchy.

Uh, no. No thats a first. The photos he had been staring at hit the pile in front of him and Duos eyes returned to the mirror above him. Why had Quatre neglected to tell him something like that? He tried to replay the last time hed seen the boy, the night of the circusDuo had chalked Quatres nervousness up to seeing Trowa again. It had been clear as day that there was something between the two of them back during the war, even if no one had stopped to speculate what. It was also obvious that the two had been avoiding each other ever since then; Duo had firsthand experience with that avoidance since he had played go-between for them for the first few months after that Christmas.

The chewing managed to sound thoughtful. Duo didnt interrupt it as he knew how important thoughtful chewing could be to ones mental processes and eventually Hilde reached her conclusion. Well it has been all over the media since yesterday. Seems like every news story has some angle on it; of course neither Relena nor Quatre have confirmed it. No one seems able to find them, so people are kind of assuming that theyre together somewhere. Theres even this rumor that they eloped.

Youve gotta be shitting me, Duo muttered, looking down at the files spread before him on the tile. That part was obviously untrue. Well, maybe. Duo frowned, Hilde can I call you back?

Yeah, sure. Ill be in the studio all day.

Kay. And thanks.

Any time. Duo hung up and cast one last look at the photos hed been messing with. Then it clicked: the exit sign.


++//\\++


A sudden noise jarred him out of his sleep. Wufeis hand reached automatically for the pistol he kept under his pillow; as his fingers touched the luke-warm metal he realized that all he was hearing was the TV. The Chinese boy groaned faintly and scrubbed at his eyes with one fist as he sat up. The sound on the TV was garbled with the speed that his partner was flipping through the stations and when Wufei opened his eyes he found the braided boy sitting upon his respective mattress staring at the TV with such an intensity one might have thought the device had suddenly grown legs and danced a hula. The smell of almond roasted coffee hit his nose just as the coffee pot on the side table gave a gurgle and Duo found whatever station hed been looking for.

Duo, what the hell? Wufei sighed and flopped backwards onto his pillow. He put his hands over his eyes and wondered if there were anywhere on this colony to successfully hide a body.

Shh! Duo hissed, Listen.

Though he was close to reaching for his gun a second time, Wufei was tired enough to actually heed the boys command for once. It was some news report, if you could call it that. Wufei found himself scowling as what had seemed at first to be a very professional sounding woman revealed herself to be nothing more than a gossip monger. Between the cartoons and this trash it was no wonder that Duo had so few brains rattling about in that pretty little head of his.

Neither Relena Darlian or Quatre Winner has been available for comment about this recently discovered development, but the executives of the Winner Corporation, including two of Quatres sisters, are very excited. The woman was saying. Wufeis scowl turned into a frownthat part didnt sound like the gossip shed been spewing moments before. He took his hands away and peeked his eyes open at the indecently bright television monitor.

The newsroom switched suddenly to a recorded interview with one of the Winner sisters. Wufei didnt recognize her, but considering the sheer amount of siblings Quatre claimed there was little surprise in that. She seemed bubble headed was a little too nice a word. Well it wasnt as if we werent sort of expecting this, the womanshe had to be in her late twenties, though she was dressed in bubblegum pink and stylishly teenager clothinggiggled, Hes always seemed to be really interested in what Relena does and shes the only girl friend he ever brings home. They hadnt been able to see each other too much since that conference in. what was it? Baghdad?

The woman paused to twirl her blonde hair around one finger, smacking her chewing gum noisily into the microphone, Yeah, but anyway, he was rather depressed. Thats why he and Rashidthats his personal assistant, you knowsnuck out of here last Friday.

So you believe that wherever he and Minister Darlian are, theyre definitely together? The all-too-toothy reporter asked. The bubble-head bobbed her head profusely.

Oh yeah, definitely, she confirmed, I wouldnt really worry about them, yknow? Quatres real good about his work and he really cares. Hell be back to deal with the merger, Im sure of it.

The station switched back to a in-station shot of their gossip monger, as Wufei now thought of her, and she grinned her extra-bleached grin, And there you have it, folks! Confirmation of the affair from within the Winner household! Well, I think it puts a lot of minds to ease, especially after last nights sight of Preventers at the Ministers hotel on L4.

The red letters M-U-T-E flashed up on the screen as the sound cut out. Wufei looked to Duo, who was already staring at him with an unusually somber expression. Wufei growled and surged to his feet to pour himself a cup of coffee. Whatever this was about, he didnt think he was going to like it.


++//\\++


The birds twittered outside the open double doors of the hotel kitchen. Heero had propped them both open with cinder blocks earlier that morning, once the light of dawn had broken over the mountain ridge and dispelled some of the mist. Even now there was still enough dew upon the ground to send up a sparkle from the fresh spring grass and leave a small wet stain on the hem of his pajama pants. He didnt mind that or the bits of soil and grass sticking to his bare feet, and lounged in the patio chair hed drug out there and set up a reasonable distance from the bird bath and feeder.

The colourful little swallows were certainly pleasant to watch and utterly unafraid of him to boot. They dipped and dived and pecked and chased one another about, oblivious to the human watching them. Heero smiled, just faintly, and took another drought of tea from his mug. Theres a pot of earl gray on the stove, fresh. I put the honey on the counter next to it, and some sugar cubes, he said evenly when something in white entered his peripheral vision; the birds didnt care and the white spot startled.

Relena moved past the wall so that she was clearly visible in the doorway. Heero didnt so much as turn his head, but he watched her. Though hed forgotten to grab either of her suitcasesand, he admitted, hed been a little worried there would be some sort of homing device planted in one of them. Certainly thats what he would have done, anywayshe hadnt seemed to mind the boys clothing hed provided her with. It would be comfortable, at least.

She probably didnt even realize that she the faded, black-and-white plaid button-up she was wearing was his. The underwear and pajama pants were brand new, but he hadnt seen any reason to buy an excessive amount of shirts.

Relena pressed her lips together, eyes flickering between him and the display the swallows were putting on for them. Eventually she settled on the birds and he didnt blame her, they were beautiful. Just as he was beginning to wonder if they were in for another day of the silent treatment, she opened her mouth. Why did you bring me here?

Unlike her accusations the day before, her voice was quiet and reasonable this time. There was something underlying it which spoke of the power shed always seemed to extrude. This, Heero thought, was the Relena he liked to see. I told you.

Heero, Relena let her voice trail off and sighed. Shaking her head, the girl turned and faded back into the relative darkness of the kitchen. A moment later he heard the faint clack of porcelain and metal and knew that she was making herself some tea. He set his cup aside and moved to drag up another of the patio chairs. When she rejoined him he had already resettled into his chair; she took the new one without comment and drew her knees to her in the seat.

The sun rose a little higher as they continued to watch the frivolity of the swallows, their radiant colours flashing adding just a little more of the spring to the air. Heero thought he caught Relena smiling and couldnt help but smile just a little himself. You got an e-mail from Quatre, by the way, he heard himself say and her smile disappeared.

Youre checking my e-mail? The girls eyes cut like a knife and Heero raised an eyebrow. Was that really so hard to believe? He didnt think the question even deserved an answer, so he didnt give it one. Relena groaned when she realized this and slapped the hand not holding her tea mug to her forehead. Heero! Do you do you even realize how insane this is?

Yet another question he didnt seem fair or valid. Some would perceive it as stalking, yes, he didnt appreciate being treated like a moron. Her face fell, mouth gaping at the cold reply shed received.

Thats would because it is stalking, Heero! She placed her mug upon the table between their chairs and let her forehead fall to her knees. Her arms wrapped around her legs and one hand shoved it into the uncombed mess of blonde hair now tumbling about her shoulders. I have work to doimportant worka job and and a life

He snorted.

and exactly what was that supposed to mean?

You might have a job, but you dont have a life, Heero replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Which, by his way of thinking it, it was. Relena turned her head enough to glare at him. Before she could launch into yet another rant, he shook his head and looked her in the eye, Youre living your life for everyone else. It might be living, but that isnt the same thing as having a life. You had to give up a lot during the war and took on a lot of responsibility, but that doesnt mean you should be required to give up your own happiness.

My work is my happiness, she replied miserably.

The look in her eyes bothered him and he didnt know why. Suddenly Heero was uncomfortable sitting there with her. He got up and took his mug of tea and went inside to make breakfast. Relena remained behind him, watching his birds in silence.


++//\\++


Trowa was busy staring at the decidedly tasteless eggs on hisit wasnt their fault, really, hed left the salt and pepper on the other side of the kitchen and couldnt be moved to get themwhen a newspaper was dropped on the table in front of him; he hadnt even heard Catherine come in. Trowa glanced up at his sister expecting her normal, mischievous smile and instead found a worried frown marring her face. He let his eyes fall back down to the paper and he picked it up to read the headline. Winner Merges With More than Telecorp. He read aloud, frowning at a rather old picture of Relena and Quatre. For a long moment it didnt click and then his stomach dropped out of his body and the eggs didnt seem all that important anymore.

Catherine sat down on the seat opposite from him and leaned forward on her elbows. He felt her hand close over the one of his that was still holding the paper and her blue eyes met his over the top of the print. You okay? She asked faintly.

Why wouldnt I be okay? He asked and shrugged. It was then that he remembered his eggs and shoved up a forkful of them only to drop the entire mess back on his plate when his stomach returned and threatened to rebel. A flash of anger followed it, directed at the printed face of the girl who had been a very close and personal friend to him. How could she?

As if sensing his feelings, Catherine withdrew her hand and her expression became more worried than ever. Didnt he visit you yesterday? Of course she would have found out about itmost of the circus knew by now. Trowa offered her a glare and got up. He started for the door, then turned around and went back to the table, picking it up again. Trowa dropped down into the seat and unfolded the paper, dragging his eyes through the text as he searched for the meaning of this.

All the while, his sister watched him, one knuckle retreating between her lips so that she could worry on it. Catherine always did that when she was at her most upset, and by the time he had finished the article he thought that she had a right to bebut not for the reason she thought. He laughed.

Trowa? Catherine frowned, the knuckle popping out of her mouth.

The teen shook his head and threw the paper back on the table top. Their fact checkers need to get their heads out of the clouds, he stated. Judging by the look on her face, his sister clearly thought him crazy. That didnt matter. I need to make a phone call, he announced and got up, heading for the door.

Dont you want your eggs? Catherine called after him.

Not hungry!


++//\\++


Rashid sighed and gave up trying to explain, once again, that No, Mr. Winner is not engaged to the Vice Foreign Minister. No, we would not like to consider your establishment to do the catering or anything else along that line. By this point he wasnt sure how many such calls hed been handed by the over-worked secretary, but he was losing count. Nor could he wake Quatre to deal with it after the state the boy had been in the night before.

This entire rumor was spiraling out of hand and quickthat, at least, Rashid was sure of. He managed to get the woman he was currently speaking with off of the phone, hardly certain of what he was saying anymore, when his phone rang again. With an aggravated sigh, the man punched the speak button ready to tell Stacy that he couldnt field any more calls for them and needed to wake Quatre when the speaker on the other end surprised him by being male.

It isnt true is it, Rashid?

Master Trowa? Rashid was more than a little surprised. It had been months since Trowa had contacted himnot since the last time hed asked Rashid to pass on a message to Quatre and Rashid had refused. There was little surprise when his question wasnt confirmed and Rashid shook his head. No, it isnt.

The man walked over to one of the floor length windows an looked down at the street beyond. Thankfully no one at this hotel had sold their information out to the paparazzi yetor it didnt seem so, anyway. Regardless, Quatres privacy wasnt going to be safe here very long and the boy did need a rest. The years pressed down on Rashids shoulders and he sighed wearily.

Good, Trowa stated distantly. I had to be sure.

Rashids lips tightened. He frowned a little at the innocent window. Trowa, I dont know what it is that you and Quatre have been playing at this past year, but I do wish youd get over it. He could use a friend right nowif you had seen him yesterday

He was here yesterday, the boy cut him off.

Well that certainly explains a lot, Rashid thought. Instead of saying as much, Rashid rubbed the bridge of his nose. His phone beeped to tell him that he had a call waiting and he let it. There was a lot to do, a lot to cover and contend with, and Rashid feared that Quatre wasnt in a state of mind to deal with it. Hes a strong lad, he found himself saying quietly into the phone, But theyve pushed him and pushed him I wont see him break.

There was silence on the other end. Just when Rashid thought that the call might have been dropped, Trowa responded. Go deal with as much as you can. Ill take care of Quatre.


++//\\++


I called the security office when I noticed it and got them to track down the surveillance tapes from that area. This girl is pretty smart, but we might just be able to get something. Duo was saying as they walked back to the hotel later that morning. It had been a fairly stressing morning for the both of them. Duo had gone over what hed seen in the photographs and Wufei had to give the other boy some credit: it was feasible. If the woman had used that door and no one had caught it, then no one might have thought to check any outdoor surveillance they had. Or perhaps the building next to the hotel had managed to catch something. The pessimist in him said they were barking up the wrong tree but Duo seemed to be certain of it.

Then there was the other problem

Are you sure that Quatre and Relena arent Wufei cut himself off as they passed a couple of people. Rather than finish his sentence, he favoured his partner with a significant look. Duo shook his head.

Fluff-ball would have told me, he repeated for the umpteenth time, And I dont think Rena would have kept it from me, either.

Fluff-ball and Rena, Wufei repeated with a snort. Sometimes Maxwell was simply unbelievable.

Yeah! The boy grinned, then held up a hand to tick his fingers off as he recited, Fei, Fluff-ball, Rena, Uni-banger, Butcher, Glasses, Love Potion, Sexy Zechsy, and Hee-chan.

Suddenly Wufei felt thankful to have gotten off so lightly. He shook his head and fingered the hard glasses case in his jacket pocket. Uni-banger?

Trowa, Duo explained. When Wufei favored him with another long look, he seemed to feel compelled to elaborate. Duo pointed to his bangs, Because hes got that one, really dangerous bang for hair. And if youve ever seen him drunk and dancing, youll get the second part of the pun. Now the third Duo made a wide gesture with his hands, laughing faintly.

The third?

There was a moment of blessed silence before Duo frowned. Yknow. Fluff-ball.

Wufei didnt know, but he wasnt really sure he wanted to. This was sounding perilously close to gossip and he shook his head. In order to change the topic, he heard himself asking, What is a Hee-chan.

He-man sans steroids, Duo came back shortly enough. When Wufei didnt seem to get that, either, the boy deflated and shook his head. He grumbled, I really need to get you to watch more TV. Youre missing out.

That thing rots your brains, Wufei shrugged. He stopped to wait for the traffic light and Duo stopped with him which was a blessingfor a moment it looked as if the braided idiot was going to run out into traffic.

Chan I dont know. Its some Japanese thing. All I really know is that it makes Heero twitch.

At the mention of the Japanese boys name, Wufei couldnt help but frown. He glanced at the boy beside him who, as always, was seemingly unaware of how serious everything going on around him really was. The light turned red, and the display on the opposite street corner switched from a hand to a man. They began to walk.

On the other side, Wufei made up his mind and caught Duo by the elbow. Wait. They stopped together, Wufei holding his tongue until another group of pedestrians had passed, and then leaned a little closer to query, Have you been seeing Heero?

Uh define seeing.

Yes, he definitely did not want to know what that meant. Wufei shook his head and fought to keep from scowling up at the larger boy, Have you spoken to him at all recently?

No, Duo shook his head, No more than any of us have. When Wufei remained silent and didnt let him go, Duo frowned in turn, Hes always popping up every so often. He checks in on us you havent noticed?

The Chinese boy frowned and let go of Duos elbow. No, I hadnt. Are you certain it isnt just you?

Nah, Duo shook his head, Quatres seen him before, if not recently, and I know Ive seen him around Relena. Hes hard to spotalways in the background, always half hidden from view. But he leaves clues if you know how to spot them. Its kind of like playing Wheres Waldo Duos face suddenly went still.

What? Wufei frowned. He didnt know who or what this waldo character was, but considering the rest of the crap that had been spewing out of Duos mouth he wasnt really sure he wanted to know. After a moment, Duo shook his head and shrugged easily.

Its just a stupid kids game. Anyway, I havent seen him in a few months. Not since I joined up.

That fit the profile, definitely. A little chill rand down Wufeis back and he shook his head to clear it. Come on, we need to get to the hotel. Duo nodded beside him and the two continued on their way. If Duo was a little quieter from that point on, Wufei was too lost in his own thoughts to notice it.


++//\\++


A hot shower and warm bed didnt make him feel any better himself but they did do wonders for his body. Quatre remained nestled in the bundle of soft downy quilts and feather pillows long after sunrise. He had enough presence of mind to be somewhat baffled that Rashid hadnt been in to check on him or otherwise flip the mattress over yet, but beyond that Quatre was quite happy being a pile of brainless sludge. The cat had other ideas.

Rattrap, world-acclaimed-success at waking up over-sleeping humans, stalked into the bedroom a quarter past noon and decided that the way to approach waking up this human was in the most direct way possible. He had learned his lesson from the last bed-sheet fiasco and this time jumped upon the bed itself and began to poke his nose into whatever holes the blanket offered. Eventually a somewhat moist, furred face found its way against sensitive human skin and the blankets giggled. The cat wormed his way into the hole, a process that resulted in his being tucked against Quatres bare chest, and a giggling teenage boy. Two windy arms found their way around the cat and Qautre scratched behind the animals ears lovingly. I can see why Duo kept you, Quatre muttered and yawned. Rattrap sneezed and then mewled up at his temporary keeper.

After a long moment, Quatre sighed and nodded. Okay, Im up, he really couldnt argue with those eyes and so he wormed his way out of the blankets, made sure the cat was okay, and then stumbled his way across the room to the shower. Though hed taken one when hed gotten in the night before the hot water helped him to wake up and it felt nice to be extra-clean.

When he was clean and feeling more awake than before, the boy wrapped a towel around his waist and scrubbed another against his hair. It fluffed up like a poof ballhe could just hear Duos sing-song voice in his head, oh fluff-ball~!and he laughed at it without bothering to comb it out. Quatre ran a hand over the golden red bristles on his jaw and cheeks, and after a moment decided to leave them. The small shimmer of bristle upon his face made him almost look his age.

He gave himself a long stare in the mirror, wondering what it was that kept the people around him treating him so so He sighed as his vocabulary failed him. Whatever it was, Quatre wasnt entirely sure he liked iteven if he was grateful.

Maybe it was the bags under his eyes, he decided after a long while. Or the three kilos hed dropped since Christmas. He eyed the fading scar that ran along his chest, the largest one he had which was mirrored on his back. Quatre lifted two fingers to it, tracing along the length and shivered just faintly as the cold of the bathroom finally registered. The door cracked and he startled, but it was just the cat. Chuckling faintly, Quatre looked down at the spindly figure now rubbing itself against his bare ankles and purring like a vacuum cleaner.

A creak sounded, Quatre looked up and yelped in surprise at the boy standing in the doorway. The cat gave a similar cry, but it was more for the boy that had just tripped over him. Quatres butt landed with a dull thud on the tile and barely saved his head from cracking on the floor as wellhis elbows screamed in pane. Above him Trowas eyes widened.

T-Trowa?

Sorry I the other boy managed before he leaned down and offered Quatre a hand up. You werent answering my calls

After a moments consideration, Quatre took the offered hand and let himself be helped off the ground. His free hand clutched at the towel which threatened to slip from his waist. I was in the shower, he replied needlessly. Once on his feet, Quatre turned his back to Trowa in order to resettle the towel. When he faced him, again, he realized that Trowa had had the decency to put his own back to him. What are you doing here?

Trowas back stiffened a little and the boy turned his head just enough to acknowledge Quatre. I spoke with Rashid. Something came up that he needed to deal with so I thought we might spend some time together in the city.

I really need to be getting back to the office, Quatre replied with a frown. He moved around Trowa and through the open door into the master bedroom. Trowa followed.

No, you dont, the clown argued in more stern a voice than hed ever heard Trowa useat least with him. Youre on vacation, remember?

I dont get vacations. That much is fairly obvious. Quatre jerked open the wardrobe door and began to thumb through a collection of semi-causal shirts hung there. Hed have to remember to pack for himself the next time he went anywhere, the maid that had done this had sent way too much

Behind him, Trowa made a rather rude noise. The mattress rustled and Quatre assumed that Trowa had sat upon it. For some reason the thought of Trowa on the bed in his bedroom made his cheeks heat and he was very glad that his back was to the other boy. He hated these feelings. Is this really what you want? Trowa asked patiently, A life dictated by what others perceive of you? Dealing with a bunch of gossips poking their nose into every ounce of your business?

It doesnt matter if I want it or not, Quatre shook his head and selected a shirt. He hung it on a dresser knob and began to riffle through the pants. There was a set of faded denims somewhere, he was certain of it. My father dealt with this kind of stuff all the time before he married mom. I looked it up when they started in on me last year.

Before he married your mother? Trowa quoted as if that were somehow significant. After he thought it over, Quatre guessed that it was.

Yeah, he replied with a shrug. We dont allow divorce in our culture, unless theres been a proven infidelity. So until Im married Im apparently one of the most eligible bachelors in the sphereat least, according to those magazines. Theyll probably quit after I settle down but

So this entitles them to leveling accusations at you and invading your privacy.

Freedom of speech, Quatre threw a sad smile over his shoulder which quickly dissolved under the heat of Trowas eyes. A hot wave of anger washed over him but Quatre tried not to give into it. I dont like it any more than you do, OK? But complaining about it isnt going to solve anything! Im not going to run away from this.

What can you do? You cant actively deny the engagement without Relena to back you up. The bed rustled again as Trowa stood up. Quatre found a pair of suitable pants and wriggled his way into them without dropping the towel. He didnt like going commando but there was something strange about changing his clothes in front of Trowa which he couldnt quite put a finger on. When hed carefully zipped the pants up he let the towel fall to the floor around him and reached for his shirt.

What do you mean without Relena, Quatre asked and grabbed his shirt off the hangar. He could hear Trowa walking up behind him, Im sure she

Trowas arm slid around his arms, pinning them to his side and pulling him back against the other boys broad chest. Fabric clapped over his mouth and nose and he only managed a moments struggle before the darkness claimed him.


++//\\++


Trowa, are you sure about this? Catherine pressed the plastic against her ear a little more firmly as her free arm wound about her waist. She sighed, looking out the trailer window at the practicing performers and busy circus life. They had another performance coming up that nightit was going to be difficult to do without one of their major stars.

Yes, Catherine. Randy has been practicing as my backup for months. Its about time you tested him out anyway.

How long will you be gone? She couldnt help but ask as she sat down on at the kitchen table. This felt just like all those times before only this time, he was actually warning her.

I dont know. No longer than a week or two. I know what the schedule is and Ill give you a call as soon as I can.

Catherine nodded just faintly and stared down at her hand. After a moment her eyes closed, Alright, Trowa.

And I have a favour to ask. He sounded sincerely apologetic, which only sent Catherines alarms into higher gear. Without waiting for her to ask, he continued, Theres this cat



previous  Back to Summary Page  next

The dotmoon.net community was founded in 2005. It is currently a static archive.
The current design and source code were created by Dejana Talis.
All works in the archive are copyrighted to their respective creators.