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

Warnings: Sap is definitely found in this chapter.

Educating Quatre - Part 12
Duo's Friendship Arc 18
by Dyna Dee

Half an hour later, both boys stood fully clothed in a hot shower as they washed the muck from their misadventure in the dumpster. As the clothing was rinsed, they began to strip the offensive but useful dresses off until they stood clad only in their boxers. They took turns being in the direct line of the spray of water to wash their skin and hair with the bars of soap provided by the hotel.

Completely wet and finally clean, Duo looked at his friend with a sparkle in his eye. "Hey Quatre, ever have a poor boy's bath?" he asked with a smile.

The Sandrock pilot pushed the wet hair off his forehead to look at his friend. "Poor boy bath? Never heard of it before."

The wave of Duo's hand brought his attention to the massive and ancient porcelain bathtub they stood in. The old, run-down hotel they were presently housed in had apparently once, obviously many years ago, been a posh metropolis hotel. The bathroom was large and the bathtub looked to be a replica of a very old-style tub, long and wide. "Yeah, I think this is big enough." Duo said absently as the took in the size of it. He then looked up with a mischievous smile to his friend. "I haven't done this since I was a kid, but your still kinda small so I think it will work."

Quatre stood with the spray of the shower at his back to watch his friend with no little amount of curiosity, wondering what the size of the old bathtub and his own size had to do with whatever he was thinking. But the long-haired boy was holding out his hand and gestured for him to take whatever was in it. He reached out and accepted the now soft and well used bar of soap.

"Start rubbing the soap onto the entire surface of the tub." Duo instructed, his eyes gleaming with anticipation. He then shut off the water and began at the back of the tub to rub his own bar of soap against the wet surface. Shrugging, the blonde began to do as instructed on the opposite side.

"Ya see," Duo began to explain as he worked. "L-2 has always had a water circulation problem. Never enough to go around, especially during the years the Federation was in power. At the orphanage the kids couldn't each have a tub full of water for a bath, there just wasn't enough."

Quatre listened to the beginning of Duo's story and was glad that the memory didn't seem to be bringing any pain to Duo as so many stories from his past did, at least it wasn't apparent in his voice as he worked at soaping the sides.

"So," he continued in a lighthearted tone. "Sister Helen said we had to be creative and make due with what we had. At the time I thought it unfortunate that we always has so little water and so much soap which was shipped with other charity contributions from Earth. Che." he snorted with mild disgust. "You think they'd have sent a lot more food, clothing and supplies that would have been a lot more useful and a little less soap." He turned to look at Quatre who was almost finished with the front sides of the white bathtub. "I swear that Sister Helen had a washing fetish." he continued with a slight smile at the memory. "She'd always coo over the scent of the soap saying how wonderful it smelled and that cleanliness was next to godliness." His smiled faded just a bit. "I don't think I knew up until the time I came to the orphanage what clean was or how good it felt." he sighed wistfully. Then after a moment a one sided grin formed. "But damn, I hated it. I was a terror to scrub down, that is until we lit on a new type of bathing."

Now Quatre's curiosity was piqued. "Which was?" he asked with a returning smile. When Duo smiled like that you couldn't help but grin back at the sight of it.

"The poor boy's bath." he replied simply, and turned back to his chore, being very careful to avoid bending his legs or letting the open wounds touch the soap or side of the tub. Finally, Duo gingerly stepped out from the tub and Quatre observed him more closely. His friend was still dripping wet, as he was, but his body was quite a mess, not to mention the obvious damage to his legs, but his upper torso and arms were liberally coated with bruises, old and recent. His friend definitely looked like he needed some serious rest and time to heal.

"Now," Duo addressed him even as he took one of the towels and began to dry himself off. "I obviously can't do this because of my legs, so you'll have to have all the fun for me."

Quatre wondered what he'd gotten himself into.

"Soap your body down with the rest of the soap, especially the backs of your arms and legs and the seat of your boxers. I'll catch your back."


"Just do it, it'll be fun." the less-dripping boy urged as the towel went to his hair.

With trepidation the blonde billionaire followed the direction of his street-wise friend. He felt ridiculous. Duo's approached him, picking up the previously discarded bar of soap. His hands made quick work of smearing the soft soap across his shoulders and back.

Seeing Quatre soaped up to his satisfaction, Duo motioned the blond to the back of the tub. "Now, sit your butt on the top rim."

With a skeptical eyebrow raised, the slick-with-soap boy complied.

"Now pick up your feet and hold onto your knees and slide down the back, as much on your back as possible."

"I don't know about this. It seems pretty silly." Quatre said self-consciously. He didn't know if Duo was trying to make a fool out of him or what.

"Listen," Duo stood with his hands on his hips, in dripping-wet boxers and the towel now wrapped around his head holding up his wet hair. He looked ridiculous in his attempt to be serious, and a smile formed on Quatre's face. Undaunted by his friend's obvious humor, Duo continued on. "you're wet and all soaped up. Just give it a try. If it's no fun, you can rinse off and your done, okay?"

Quatre inhaled a quick breath of air and slowly exhaled it. For some reason this seemed important to his friend. Duo was trying to share something with him that he felt was a good experience from his past, something Quatre knew the boy from L-2 had too little of in his short life. For that reason alone, he complied.

In a determined and quick movement, he lifted his legs and grabbed hold of them, and immediately began to slide wildly down the angled back of the large bathtub. It was stupid and silly, Quatre thought as his body flew down the back and spun about as he hit the bottom of the tub and slid swiftly towards the rounded front where he slid up the side and back down, coming to a rest. Yes it was ridiculous, but he found he couldn't contain the smile on his face.

"I know," Duo grinned like an idiot at him. "dumb waste of time, but ... it's fun, isn't it?"

Quatre chuckled even as his slicked-with-soap hands and legs slipped and slid out from under him as he tried to get a firm hold on the equally slippery sides of the bathtub to pull himself up. "Yeah, it is." he agreed with a laugh.

"Try it again?" Duo asked hopefully with a grim about to split his face.

And so he did, at least twelve times as the laughter of the two boys echoed in the room. When he'd had enough, Quatre turned the water on to rinse the soap off of both himself and the bathtub.

Duo continued his story as he watched his friend step out of the bathtub. "When all the orphaned rug rats had at least a good ten turns or so, the tub was rinsed and refilled, and we were each plopped into the fresh water for a quick rinse off. In the end, we were all clean and had fun doing it."

Quatre looked up smiling at the sweet story, then noticed that Duo's cheerful grin had begun to droop. "I miss them." he said softly wistful, his eyes looking distant as he recalled the memory of all those who were now gone.

Then with a quick intake of air and a huff, the long haired boy turned to his backpack and unzipped it, quickly removing a brush and the change of clothes he'd packed for the two of them that morning, just in case they didn't make it back to the dance/bar.

Throwing Quatre his grey sweat pants and t-shirt along with a fresh pair of boxers, Duo then pulled out a similar outfit for himself. The two quickly stripped off their wet boxers and dressed, not wanting to dress in front of Fred who was lounging in the other room.

But as Duo bent to pull his sweats over his legs, Quatre halted him. "I think you should let your legs stay uncovered Duo, and save your pants for tomorrow." he suggested, then went on to explain. "The air will help them to heal where otherwise the material might stick to your legs and be painful to remove in the morning."

Duo grimaced at the thought of having to peel the material away from his wounded limbs. "Alright," he agreed. "But it's your job to keep Fred away from me."

"Oh yeah, I forgot." Quatre snorted. "Your bloody legs are a real turn on, even for the same gender."

After being zapped on the butt with the flick of a wet towel for that comment, the two boys exited the steamy room. Two twin beds occupied most of the space in the room, plus a dresser and two night stands with old dingy lamps that sat on top of them. Shaggy, rumpled and dirty, Fred lounged on the bed nearest the door exiting to the hallway. He leaned back against the two pillows propped against the headboard. With a remote in his hand, he idly switched the channels.

"You staying?" Duo asked as he stiffly made his way over to the other bed and sat on the far side away from the scruffy bum. Slowly raising his injured legs, he brought them up to rest on the bed, straight out in front of him and on top of the covers.

Fred's hazel, bloodshot eyes turned and gawked at the now un-bandaged and raw skinned appendages, transfixed at the gruesome site. "Damn boy." he swore in disbelief. "How the hell did you get so banged up?"

Duo shrugged. "Scraped them on a metal opening I was crawling through." he answered truthfully.

"Clean tore the skin off, didn't you?"

"That's right Captain Obvious." Duo rolled his eyes at the statement.

Fred frowned at the flippant response. "You got medicine and bandages." he asked.

"Not with us." Quatre answered hoping to stop Duo from making the man, who was currently their benefactor, angry.

"Humm..." Fred brought his dirty hand up to his scraggily beard and stroked it as he thought. "Looks like you need a doctor."

"I'm fine." Duo snapped in response. "No doctor."

Fred put his hands up in surrender. "I get the picture, kid. No need to get nasty."

"I'm not being nasty." Duo lifted his chin defensively. "I'm cranky. You don't want to see me in a nasty mood." he warned icily.

"That's the truth." Quatre muttered, and the old man smiled as he turned off the t.v.

"It's late." Fred stated as he stretched his fully clothed body out onto the bed. "Get some sleep." he told them, then reached up and turned out the light in between the beds, plunging the room into darkness. This sudden act caught Quatre completely by surprise as he stood by the foot of the beds and was the only one without one to rest on.

"Come on, Quatre." Duo's voice called out irritably. The Sandrock pilot made his way to the bed and felt his way up to the top in the total darkness. He pulled back the cover and lay down next to his friend. Duo lay on top of the covers as he had before the light had gone out. His body position hampered the blonde's movement and space.

"Get under the covers, Duo." he gently ordered, acutely aware that Duo's mood had changed drastically since they entered the room from the bath. He wondered if it was Fred's presence that set him off. They'd finally gotten a good look at their benefactor in the light of the hotel room. The older man was dressed in baggy and unkept clothing and was rather pathetic in his dirty, unkept state. His shaggy, salt-and pepper-hair was chin length and stuck out in various places, stiff from the lack of cleaning. He smelled, not as bad as they had when they'd first entered the room, but there was definite a strong body odor. His face sported a matching greying and unkept beard that covered up most of the weathered face. All in all, Fred looked like he'd been on the streets all his life. Quatre wondered if his appearance brought back one too many memories of L-2 to Duo.

"I don't think I should." Duo replied in a quieter voice to his friend. "The sheets might stick to my legs, or you might accidently bump them."

"But you'll be cold." the blond reasoned, knowing Duo chilled easily and that his hair was still heavily damp from the shower.

"Well, I don't know what else to do." Quatre could hear the exasperation in the voice of the unhappy boy.

"Oh for pity's sake!" Fred snorted and a rustling of clothing was heard. The light was clicked back on and it's intensity was painful to the eyes that had just gotten accustomed to the dark. The two boys squinted as they watched Fred get up and move to the closet. Opening it, he pulled out a blanket and turned to approach Duo. Snapping it open, the old man bent and carefully draped it over the undamaged parts of the wounded boy's body, then loosened the covers at the bottom of the bed, pulled them up and over his bare feet. "There!" he declared with satisfaction. "Consider yourself tucked in." He then turned and made his way back to his bed. Sitting down, he looked at the two and added in a forceful voice, "Now, shut the hell up so I can get some sleep."

The two boys had only a moment to exchange a glance at each other before the light went out. Quatre's face had looked confused, Duo's perturbed.

The creak of the mattress springs told them Fred was settling back down on the bed and there followed a few moments of silence. Then through the dark, Duo's clear and ticked-off voice spoke up.

"You shut the hell up!"

Another moment passed before a chuckle was heard and soon escalated into a full belly laugh. Fred spent the next few minutes in total enjoyment of some private joke.

"Ah....." he sighed as he gained control. "Gotta love a kid from L-2 with an attitude. Damn that colony sure knows how to make em."

"Go to sleep old man, or I'll show you attitude." Duo snapped, however, there was now a trace of humor to his voice.

Five minutes later, as the two boys relaxed and settled enough for sleep to overtake them, they were both startled to wakefulness by a loud, unsettling, harsh, and drawn out noise. Quatre groaned and buried his head under his half of the shared pillow.

"He snores." Duo moaned miserably.

on to part 13

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