Disclaimer: I don't own GW nor profit from writing about its characters.

Warnings: light angst, drama

Educating Quatre - Part 9
Duo's Friendship Arc 18
by Dyna Dee

The luxury sedan careened tightly around the corner into the light traffic and wove quickly around slower cars as it rushed to gain some distance from the building that was now probably under a full security alert. Yet despite the older man's efforts, after only two turns sirens could clearly be heard following them.

"Uncle Digger." Quatre loosened his seat belt and leaned forward to give his uncle instructions. "Make a couple of right turns, but make sure anyone following behind us can't see, then slow down and let us out."

"Quatre, I can't do that. I just can't abandon you with soldiers hot on your heels." the older man replied firmly even as his hands gripped tightly to the steering wheel as he made another quick turn.

"You have to uncle. Just tell the authorities we had you at gun point, that you came upon us unexpectedly in your office and had no recourse but to follow our forced demands."

The blond haired man driving the sleek car shook his head sadly. "Your mother, bless her soul, would never forgive me if something happened to you Quatre."

"Nor would she forgive me if you or your family were hurt defending me. What I do is my choice uncle. I must live with the consequences of that choice, but you don't. Please, just let us off and wish us well."

The older man said nothing for a few moments, but concentrated instead on his driving skills and eluding the cars with the sirens and flashing lights that were slowly gaining on him.

"Please Uncle Digger." Quatre pleaded again. "Before it's too late."

Mr. Bellows sighed dejectedly. "Oh, all right. Have it your way. But if you're hurt in doing this, I will never speak to you again."

Quatre turned to look out the back window to see two jeeps with flashing red lights in the distance, they had about one city block on them.

"Alright. Duo." He looked at his friend sitting pensively, holding tightly to the door's armrest for stability. "Get ready to get out quick. I'm sorry, but it's the only way." He was relieved when his friend eyes met his and he nodded his head in agreement.

"Okay, one more right-hand corner" the blond teen in charge ordered. "then slam on the brakes. As soon as we're out, take off as fast as you can." He cast a glance at their pursuers then at Duo, pleased to see the other boy had his hand on the door handle, ready to go.

As they turned tightly around the corner, they readied themselves, and with a screech of the tires and a jolting lurch, the car came to an abrupt and absolute stop. In the same instant, Duo flung open the door and then himself out onto the sidewalk with the Sandrock pilot on his heels, slamming the car door behind him he gratefully watched for a mere second before the sedan sped off.

After only a couple of feet, the Deathscythe pilot stumbled and fell to his knees, a small, strangled cry of pain reflected the agony caused by the impact on his already damaged limbs. Quatre reached down and lifted his friend up to his feet by his elbows, then setting his sights on the doorway of a store, pulled Duo towards it and into the small, sheltered alcove of the doorway. From the shadows of the small corner market, both pilots looked out to see two jeeps with OZ insignias on the side, red lights flashing as they careened around the corner, recklessly chasing after the fleeing sedan.

"I hope he'll be alright." Quatre whispered in a worried tone as he hung onto his trembling friend and watched the pursuing vehicles disappear down the street after his uncle.

Once they were gone, he helped Duo enter the store. The blond pilot looked about the store's interior, getting his bearings. Looking down an aisle, he saw a white haired, elderly Asian man kneeling on the floor and stocking some canned goods on a shelf. Quatre gave a quick nod of his head to Duo indicating he should stay behind, then left his side to approach the older man.

"Excuse me sir?" he said in his best falsetto voice, gaining the man's attention. "My girlfriend over there," He motioned with his hand back towards Duo's direction. "fell on the sidewalk outside and injured her legs. Do you have a restroom we could use to clean her legs up?"

The old man, whose back was bowed from age and years of hard work, slowly turned to observe the girl speaking to him, then bent at his waist to peer beyond her to observe her injured friend a short distance behind her. His eyes wandered in a manner of slow observation from the top of the brown, braided head, down the slender body and partially coat-draped legs to the bloody white stockings. His eyes then slowly moved back up to meet the pain-filled eyes. He came to some inner conclusion and gripping the shelf in front of him, slowly rose to his feet. He waited a moment until his stance was stable, then turned to look once again at the two girls and nodded his head. "Come." he replied with a trace of a heavy accent and motioned with his hand for them to follow, then turned to lead the way.

Quatre moved back quickly and grabbed his friend's arm and pulled the stiff moving boy to follow after the old man who was just now rounding the far end of the aisle's corner. He didn't want to push Duo but the old man seemed incredibly fast despite his age. With a grim of amusement, he watched the severely bent form propel itself through the labyrinth-type aisles of the little-bit-of-everything store and then disappeared between two large swinging doors.

The braided boy's only complaint as he was pulled through the store's maze was an occasional grunt or quiet moan as they raced after the ancient Japanese man.

Once behind the double doors, the temperature of the air dropped considerably as the linoleum floor of the store front gave way to a cold cement slab. The light in the storage area was also more dim than the brightly lit storefront and the walls were lined with layers of stacked boxes of stored inventory. Quatre looked both ways in the dimly lit hallway, narrowing his eyes to search out the direction the old man had disappeared. "Where?" he scratched his head.

"Coming?" The scratchy voice called out from the left side of the corridor. In unison, the boys turned their heads to see the white-haired head pop out from around the corner of the boxes halfway down the narrow aisle. Taking Duo's arm again, the blond boy led him towards the beckoning man.

A click was heard and a light beamed into the darker storage area, indicating a room was hidden between the boxes. Turning the corner, they saw the old man fumbling in a medicine cabinet over an old but clean wash basin. He removed a small first aid kit and set it on the small counter to the left of the sink.

"Here, you use." he indicated the blue metal box.

Quatre gave him a smile of gratitude. "Thank you." he said as he bowed in respect to the ancient one as Wufei had taught them as being proper. He was rewarded by a weathered smile and a bow in return from their benefactor. Then without further word, the man left the room and closed the door behind him.

Moving to the med kit, Quatre opened it and scanned its contents. "Okay Duo, lets see what we can do with this."

The owner of the store paused in his work several times as he heard several loud bursts of a strangled voice coming from the back room. It sounded like muffled cries of pain mingled with words that, even with his limited English, made him blush with embarrassment.

A half hour later the two girls emerged from the back storage area. He watched with his keen sharp eyes as the long haired girl looked even more pale and unsteady on her feet. He took in the white bandage wrapped around her wounded legs, looking like the rags of a mummy, and that the blond girl held onto her friend's elbow to help support her as they approached the counter. They stopped before it and the petite blond spoke.

"Thank you again. You're very kind to help us."

The old man bowed and motioned for the two to follow him to the far end of the counter. Two styrofoam cups sat next to a pot of hot water on a small heating pad. He removed the tea bags from the cups and set them aside, then reached under the counter to pull out a small, sealed plastic bag. He opened it and sprinkled what looked to be a dry herb into one cup, resealed the bag and replaced it, then picked up a plastic spoon and stirred the contents. Once satisfied, he turned and handed a cup to each boy. Duo was the recipient of the cup with the additive.

"What is it?" the American questioned his friend even as Quatre brought his nose close to the cup and sniffed the contents.

"Just tea, I think." he replied and took a careful sip. He nodded his head in approval and looked to his friend. "It's good." he announced with a smile.

"Drink. Good for you." the old man motioned to Duo who looked hesitantly at the steaming cup in his hands.

The Deathscythe sipped at the hot contents, and was pleased at the gentle taste and the comforting warmth of the tea, but silently noted that it really needed some sugar added to it.

It took about five minutes for the boys to drink the hot fluid down and throw the empty cups into the trash receptacle.

"Thank you." Quatre smiled at the man. "That was very good. What kind of tea was that?"

The white haired man smiled, his eyes disappearing into crescent shapes surrounded by wrinkles. "Special blend." he said proudly. "Make you strong." He then pointed to Duo. "Make you relax and feel better. You go home now."

"May I buy some?" Quatre asked, having been a tea drinker all his life, he knew a good tea blend when he tasted one and his people back home could no doubt duplicate the delicious taste the old man had come up with.

The ancient one smiled and reached under the counter. He pulled a tray of jars labeled in Japanese haiku and quickly and efficiently mixed small amounts of dried tea leaves from several jars into two separate bags then stapled them shut. With a black marker, he placed a large X on one of the bags, and handed it to Duo. "For her," he announced then handed the other bag to the blond. "For you."

Quatre fished into his small skirt pocket and pulled out several folded credits. The old man immediately put up both hands and shook his head. "No, no. Gift from me." he insisted in his heavily accented voice.

"You're sure?" Quatre asked surprised by a further show of kindness from the man. "I have money to pay." he added.

The white head nodded and his smile was sure. "Good business, help others."

Both boys bowed with respect to the kind man and gave him their heartfelt thanks.

With Quatre's hand on Duo's elbow, he supported the wounded boy out the store to the sidewalk.

"Okay, where are we?" Duo asked without enthusiasm as he looked all around at the unfamiliar buildings.

"We're a mile or so to the southeast of my Uncle's building. Closer to Sandrock than the bar." he answered then continued. "But you're in no condition to fight if we have to in order to get my Gundam. So," he took a deep breath as he made the decision regarding their course of action. "I suggest we go back and hide out until you're more mobile. A couple of days at most."

Duo nodded his consent. He didn't feel well at the moment. Seeing the skin peeled back off of his legs and enduring the painful antiseptic spray and gel had made him decidedly nauseous. The tea though seemed to ease that upset and he began to feel very agreeable to whatever his friend suggested.

"Can we call a cab?" he asked with a lethargic sigh.

Quatre shook his head as he looked up and down the streets, trying to determine which would be a more practical and cautious route to take. "Sorry." he replied. "But cab rides can be traced and our hide-out integrity might be compromised if my uncle is forced to talk."

Duo groaned and leaned heavily against his friend. "Is it a long walk?" he asked dismally fearing the answer.

"Only about two and a half or three miles." he tried to sound optimistic.

"Well," Duo took in a deep breath of air to buoy up his determination. "let's get started then." he said, knowing the sooner they got started the sooner they would reach their attic room.

Unfortunately for them, OZ soldiers and search vehicles seemed to be everywhere, forcing the two boys to take a longer, roundabout route back to the dance club. This caused their progress to be slow and halting. They had to duck into stores and alleyways to avoid the searching soldiers. Not more than a half hour after leaving the grocery store, they ducked into an alley and hid behind a smelly garbage dumpster to allow the wounded boy to rest. Duo slumped against the side and slid down to the garbage strewn ground. Quatre stood guard, watching down the alleyway to the street beyond, making sure the transport truck that approached had passed.

When he turned to give Duo the all-clear, he found the wounded boy to be sound asleep, his upper body and head were leaning back against the brick wall and tilted to the side, resting on the garbage receptacle.

The blond Arabian wrinkled his nose in disgust. He leaned down to wake his friend up so they could continue on, but to his surprise, Duo couldn't be brought to a conscious state.

Then the words of the old man came back to him with meaning. The tea would help Duo "relax and heal". "By Allah," he whispered in shocked realization. "he's been drugged." he slapped his forehead at not realizing it sooner. The old man had meant well, but now they were stuck. With Duo out cold, and knowing he couldn't possibly carry him as it would cause too much attention, especially in their present state of dress, he knew his options were limited. Giving into his frustration and to the inevitable, he moved to sit next to the slumbering boy dressed in drag and carefully pulled the American's body away from the dumpster and eased him down until his braided head rested on his lap. Shifting Duo slightly so that his injured and bandaged legs weren't touching each other, the pilot of Sandrock mentally prepared himself to wait until the herbal drug wore off and Duo awakened.

on to part 10

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