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

Warnings: angst

//used instead of quotation mark denoting the characters speaking telepathically.

Heero's Fourth
Part 12
by Dyna Dee

That day proved to be a difficult one for all of them as Duo grieved for his friend. Yet as the next day began, he felt a little better, enough to bring up the subject of the upcoming hunt again as they sat in Heero's chambers before a blazing fire. Heero shook his head. "I don't think you're strong enough for me to feel comfortable about going away for a week."

"But I'm better, Heero, really I am." the braided boy argued with a reassuring smile.

The Prince sat with his arms folded, studying his Heart who sat next to him. The other three listened to the conversation with interest.

"How about this..." Duo looked up , his eyes sparkling. "If, by the day of the hunt, I can walk down to the Great Hall by myself for breakfast, then you'll go on the hunt."

"And sing." Heero added.


"If you can walk by yourself to the hall and sing me a song, I'll go."

Duo chewed on his inner cheek for a moment in contemplation, then brightened. "Agreed!" he smiled broadly and looked at the others. "You're my witnesses." he told them.

So it was the day before the scheduled departure for the hunt, a slightly breathless and flushed boy happily and proudly entered the Great Hall under his own power, Wufei close behind ready to help.

Heero stood from his seat and warmly embraced his Heart as he came to the table, feeling his rapidly beating heart. "Come, sit." he directed Duo to the table, but the braided boy shook his head and pulled away.

"Wait. I've got to sing first."

Heero was about to dismiss it, when Wufei spoke up. "It was part of the agreement." he reminded him.

"Go sit down." Duo pushed Heero towards the table and smiled as he complied. Pausing to catch his breath, the singer stood straight and sang a short child's song about hunting a clever fox. His voice wasn't strong, cut it was clear and most importantly, no coughing occurred during the course of the song. As the song finished, Duo's smile became dazzling as he graciously and shyly received the applause. He moved to the table and gratefully sat down, feeling quite spent. "So, are you going to go?" he asked the Prince sitting next to him.

Taking his hand, Heero nodded. "I gave you my word. But you must promise me that you'll listen to Trowa.

Duo blinked in surprise and looked at the taller boy. "Trowa's not going?"

"No." Heero answered. "He'll stay here to take care of you and keep you company."

The braided boy turned with an apologetic look to Heero's Second. "I'm sorry Trowa." he said sincerely.

The green eyed boy smiled warmly, displaying his sincerity. "Don't be, Duo. I'm happy to be staying with you." he replied.

The day proceeded with the usual flurry of activity in gathering and preparing supplies for those going on the annual hunt and for those few who would be left behind with a minimal staff in attendance. It was customary that, when the men of the castle went to hunt for the winter stores, the Queen and her attendants also vacated the castle to visit her family in a country to the South of Bronwyn before the cold snows of winter prohibited any travel. Many of the castle workers were given this time away from the castle to prepare their homes for the coming winter or to do as they wished that week. Because the Prince's Heart was recovering and still mostly confined to their rooms, a few guards, kitchen workers and one house keeper had volunteered to stay and watch over the two young men being left behind. The year previous, Duo, ever fearful of the horses, had stayed at the cottage of his friend Netta, which he most likely would have done again, had he not taken so ill. As it was, her mother and she would stay to cook for the guards and the two boys.

The next morning brought an unusual bout of movement as the royal family, their companions, and sufficient guards for their safety prepared to leave. Duo once again accomplished the task of walking to the Great Hall for breakfast with the others. It was there, after the meal was finished, that he bid them farewell, promising each of them in turn that he would stay safe and warm and not exhaust Trowa too much. Heero followed his Heart out of the room as he was instructed to return to his chamber, still forbidden to go outside, especially since the early morning air was cool and damp. Once away from the others, Heero scooped him up into his arms and carried him up the stairway and to his chamber.

"I can walk, Heero, contrary to what everyone around here thinks." Duo pouted unhappily as his arms encircled the Prince's neck. "Every time I turn around, someone is trying to carry me. I'll never get my strength back at this rate." he complained half heartedly. Inwardly he was happy that the others cared about him so much as to worry for his health and strength, but on the other hand, it was definitely frustrating and embarrassing to carried around like a little child.

"I just want you to conserve your energy." the Prince smiled as he approached the door leading to Duo's room.

"For what?" the braided boy asked, his voice raised petulantly. "You told Trowa I'm not to go outside and that I hav'ta stay in your chambers or my own. What should I be saving my energy for?"

Heero's eyes caught his own and his smile looked like a smirk. "For saying goodbye." his voice was low followed by an ominous chuckle.

Duo's mouth formed a perfect, puckered "O" that Heero couldn't resist. He quickly lifted the latch of the door now in front of him and pushed his way in. Closing it with his foot, he gently released his Fourth's legs and turned the boy to face him, holding him within the circumference of his arms.

"I'll miss you, Heero." Duo whispered, his eyes softened with his longing for the prince surfacing.

"I'll miss you, too." Heero replied, his lips brushing those beneath him. Just a taste of his Heart's sweet lips was never enough for the Bronwyn Prince. His kiss quickly deepened as he molded the smaller boy's body to his own. Duo's pliant lips readily accepted the deepening intimacy of their mouths.

Raising one hand, the Prince deftly released the clasp on Duo's fur lined cloak and let that article of clothing drop to the floor. His hand then began to roam his Heart's body, still too thin from his illness, yet so solid and reassuring to his touch. Both hands moved to cup the curve of the slender bottom and pressed the narrow hips up against his own for a moment before releasing them again, momentarily letting Duo know of his passion for him. Their bodies separated slightly allowing the Prince to move his right hand around his braided love's hip to the front of his pants where he quickly found his prize. Taking the clothed rigid member in his hand, he began to stroke it, being rewarded immediately by Duo arching into him and eliciting the most delicious moan. The singer's head fell back as pleasure overtook his body, his eyes half lidded in growing bliss.

"Umm, you're gonna make me messy again, aren't you?" he murmured in a voice husky with growing passion.

"Yes." Heero admitted, a smile in his voice and on his face. He watched Duo's face intently. He loved the way his Heart responded so easily to his touch. Duo moaned again and Heero captured his lips while quickening the pace of his hand. Duo's hips began to respond of their own volition.

"That's it, love." Heero whispered against his lips. "Come for me." A moment later, Duo's body stiffened and the melodious quiet sound of his voice calling his name as he was overtaken by their passion was as beautiful to Heero as his Heart's singing voice.

The boy in his arms slumped against his chest, his energy spent, his body seeming boneless. Heero quickly lifted him and put him on the bed.

"I'm all messy." Duo complained weakly as Heero covered him with his blanket to ward off any chill.

"That's part of it, I'm afraid." he replied mildly sympathetic and with a smirking grin, just before Duo grabbed hold of him and pulled him down for a moment, bringing him close to his face, studying his eyes. Then the prince became aware of a smaller hand snaking its way down his body towards his present discomfort. He moved quickly to stop its progress.

"Oh no you don't." he smiled in warning, placing the questing hand back under the cover gently but firmly. "I don't have time to change my clothing. You, on the other hand, have all day."

"But...., Trowa could come in." Duo said a bit nervously and looked towards his door. He sensed that he and Heero were over stepping the bounds for bonding. Heero's attention should be on Quatre, not him. If Trowa should see his dampened pants, he would know what they had been doing. His face flushed with embarrassment at the idea.

The prince saw the blush and gently pushed back some of the hair from Duo's eyes. "I'll tell him you're resting, which you will be, won't you?"

The braided boy yawned at the suggestion. "Yes. I'm suddenly very tired."

"Bonding does that to you." Heero warned with a smile. He reached for a town nest to the basin on the table next to Duo's bed, dampened it and held it out to his Heart.

The braided boy took the towel in his hand, but then paused as if to rest. The sleepy eyes forced themselves open again to look into the concerned ones above him. Giving a reassuring smile that all would be well, Duo reached his other hand up to place it on the darker cheek above him. "Be safe." he whispered.

Heero nodded and turning his head, kissed the hand. "Be well." With one last brief kiss, the Prince of Bronwyn reluctantly left the room, the boy in the bed already asleep. With mixed feelings he made his way down to the courtyard to join his father, his Four, and his own companions and guards for a different kind of male bonding.

Without the hustle and bustle of daily activities and people, the days passed slowly in the castle of Bronwyn. With such a quiet companion, it didn't take long for the recovering boy to suggest a visit to the stables to see his colt. A request that was immediately denied, his continuing pleas, unheeded.

The Prince's Second saw to it that Duo ate the food he brought up to their room at each meal, and that he drank all of the medicinal tea Wufei instructed he was to have three times a day. He also made sure Duo stayed within their chambers where the hearths were always ablaze to keep the boy as warm as possible. Still in all, it was quiet and Duo became churlish with the inactivity. His health was returning now, but it was with caution that they all kept a constant vigil with regards to his well being. Trowa took it upon himself to entertain the closeted boy by telling him tales of his days traveling with a group of entertainers. He told him of far off cities and strange customs, odd accents and foods. He juggled apples and pillows for him, much to Duo's delight, and walked across the room on his hands, then back flipped to his original spot.

Despite being unhappy about being so thoroughly confined and being forced to drink that bitter tea so often, Duo's mood lightened considerably by his companions attempts to entertain him. He was awed by his friend's talents, and they spent many hours happy in their companionship. When Trowa tired, he sometimes just sat before a fire and held him on his lap and they napped together. Duo sighed contentedly in Trowa's embrace, feeling warm and safe.

At the end of the fourth day marking the departure of the hunting party, Trowa banked the fire in Duo's hearth and added an extra blanket to his bed as the day had turned decidedly cold. Duo watched him move about his room with sleep-heavy eyes. He was so tired tonight. Trowa had washed, brushed and braided his hair, and it had relaxed him enough that he was nearly asleep sitting up.

Trowa approached the bed with a steaming mug of tea. "Now just drink this and you can go to sleep." he reassured him.

Duo moaned as he forced himself to sit up. "I hate this stuff, it's bitter." he complained.

"I know, but it's making you well." Trowa replied sympathetically. Duo had refused to drink it one day until he took a taste to see just how vile the brew was. The Prince's second had to agree, it tasted like dirt mixed with maybe something vile like horse dung, and it smelled like it too, regardless of the added peppermint leaves used, ineffectively to mask the taste and smell. Nevertheless, he insisted Duo drink it, as it had saved his life and was continuing to make him better.

The braided boy looked up though his bangs at Trowa. He knew better than to argue. Trowa was like Wufei in that he was very exacting in following out Heero's orders. Deep down, he was once again grateful for such caring friends.

He dutifully swallowed the vile liquid, scrunching up his nose and face as he did so. He was grateful it was all over as he handed the empty mug back to Trowa and sank back down onto his pillow and pulled his covers up. "It's cold tonight." he mumbled.

"Yes," Trowa agreed indulgently. "but you're nice and warm, aren't you?" His voice softened as he tenderly pulled the covers up higher and then brushed the hair away from Duo's eyes. Bending over, he kissed each closed eye. "Sleep now. Tomorrow will be one more day closer to their return." he gently whispered to the nearly sleeping boy.

"You'll teach me to juggle?" Duo mumbled sleepily, his eyes closed.

"Yes. I'll teach you tomorrow."

Satisfied his charge was settled in for the night, Trowa blew out the three candles in their brass holders and quietly closed the door behind him.

The night was nearly half spent when Trowa bolted up in his bed, alarmed. He heard his name called out in fear and desperation, he was almost certain it wasn't a dream, though his ears, straining for the sound to repeat, could hear nothing further. Jumping from his bed, he grabbed his sword and ran out into the corridor in his nightshirt and bare feet. What he found chilled his heart. In the dim flickering torchlight just outside Duo's door, stood Treize and his First, Zechs, who was holding Duo's body, limp and unconscious against his chest.

on to part 13

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