"*Damn* him!!!" Duo growled as Heero restrained him forcibly.
The Japanese pilot well knew that Shinigami was not about to let this insult go by and unconscious or not, Duo wanted his own pound of flesh from the Arab. "Where the *hell* does *he* get off saying anything like that anyway?!?"
"Calm down!" Heero snarled, angry that he, too, was not able to confront Quatre at that point but willing to let it go until this made some sense later. "We won't get any answers beating him while he's passed out!"
"That didn't stop *him* when he assaulted Wu! Why should it stop *me*?!?" Duo struggled against the powerful arms holding him in place to no avail. "Let me go, Heero!!"
"No," the Wing pilot answered, regret clear in his tone, not regretting the injuries the blond now suffered, but regret that it hadn't been his own fist that caused them.
Silent and lost in fury, Trowa stood looking away from the others.
Suddenly, pain etched across his features as he realized he had been baited into the attack. In the crystalline clarity that often comes after the heat of battle, he realized Quatre had somehow felt a need for this retribution and he had given it to him all too easily.
"That little bastard," Trowa cursed. "He tricked me."
Heero released Duo who immediately calmed and went to the taller teen and put a comforting hand on his arm. "Huh? What do ya' mean, Tro? Quatre's just an idiot and you put him in his place, that's all."
"No, Duo," Trowa snarled, glaring at the body on the floor, "he *wanted* me to do that and I did! Damn him to *hell*!!!"
Duo shook his head, "No, that can't be right, he's not that smart."
As he threw the blond over his shoulder carelessly, Heero remarked angrily, "Oh yes he is, Duo. 'Little bastard' is right, Trowa, and to think I saw him as a candidate for leadership among us."
The Wing pilot stalked to the front door, human cargo across his shoulder as he grabbed the car keys, planning to take the apparent traitor back to Iria with instructions to keep him away from the rest of the team for awhile.
"Don't take him anywhere, Heero," Trowa finally said quietly. "This isn't over yet. I can't let him get off this easily after what he's done. Wufei might not agree, but this has gone beyond tolerable. Manipulation like this can't be allowed."
"You're right," the Japanese boy sighed, dropping the keys and turning around to face the other two pilots, the blond still negligently over his shoulder. "So, recommendations?"
"Lock him in a closet," Duo snarled. "Then throw away the key. When he figures out how to get free on his own, he can come out."
"No," Heero rejected this idea since it was only Duo being vindictive. He looked meaningfully at Trowa but got only silence as Trowa frowned, unsure he could even make a reasonable contribution to the discussion. He was livid not only with being tricked but by the fact that the blond had to believe what he had said, at least in part, to have pulled Trowa into violence so easily.
"Just dump him in his room then," Duo remarked angrily. "It's making me sick to see him on your shoulder, Heero."
"Ryoukai," Heero agreed and did just that. He pulled the door shut behind himself and then wedged a chair under the knob with a smirk. There was no need to make it easy for the blond to escape when he woke up.
Sighing as a little of the anger cooled off, Duo looked at Trowa and felt as well as saw the regret in the tightly bunched muscles under the green turtleneck. "Hey, Tro, it's not your fault, man. Relax, okay?"
"It *is* my fault, Duo," he answered softly. "I let him get to me way too easily. Fei is *not* going to appreciate this." The tall teen startled a bit as he felt himself embraced from behind by the braided boy.
"To hell with all that, Tro. Wu's gonna understand and you didn't pull any shit like Q-Ball did on him, so take it easy." Duo released his friend and stood back to regard him more closely. "Quatre suckered us *all* there and if you hadn't punched him, then *I* would have!"
"So would I," Heero added quietly, a trace of his earlier restrained fury returning as he assessed the further damage to the team the blond had wrecked. "I still might." He added sullenly.
"Still..." Trowa muttered darkly then let it trail away as he moved to pick up a jacket and head for the door. "I'll be back later. Someone check on Fei for me, okay?"
Shoulders slumped, Duo answered quietly, "Sure thing, Tro, anything you need, just ask."
A single hand raised in thanks was all Duo got as the other headed out the door for a long walk. Trowa suddenly had a lot to think about and he needed space and motion to do it.
As the front door slid shut, Duo turned to his lover and remarked, "Well, this *bites*! The whole damned team is going to hell and it's all Quatre's fault! If we had a replacement pilot or didn't need Sandrock, I'd gladly kill that little blond fucker right about now!"
Heero just shook his head in anger and then tried to defuse the situation the best way he could under the circumstances. If he couldn't let Duo work his tension off in bed with him, he would re-direct it somehow. "Didn't you tell Trowa you'd check on Wufei?"
"Oh, right. Better go do that, huh?" Violet eyes flashed him a look of thanks as Duo pressed a quick grateful kiss to Heero's lips and then he vanished back down the hallway again.
Heero, however, was less than thrilled with this whole arrangement. He stood looking out a window at the gathering storm clouds and commented to no one in particular, "Quatre, you'd damn well better straighten up soon or it won't be Trowa who takes you out of action next time. And you can bet that neither Duo nor myself will be anywhere near as gentle about it as he was!"
Disgusted, the Wing pilot returned to code breaking and tried desperately to think of a way to salvage the situation before it really was a team of only four Gundam pilots facing whatever new force was about to turn the war upside down.
Duo Maxwell was *not* a happy person as he stared at the clock on the kitchen wall a few hours after the teen from L-3 had left the safehouse.
"Trowa's been gone an awfully long time, Heero," the braided boy groused to hide his worry as he walked back into the living room.
"I know," Heero muttered darkly. He had given up entirely on code breaking due to distraction and was now sitting cleaning one of his guns, the scent of gunpowder hanging in the air as he did.
Now staring out the window, Duo rambled on, "It's gonna start raining any minute now and Wu's gonna wake up and want to know what happened, andů"
"And you want to go look for Trowa, right?" Heero asked, adding, "I know you're worried. Go ahead."
"Thanks, koi," Duo kissed him briefly and then headed out the door, keys in hand and a look of determination on his face. Heero had no idea where Duo planned to look, the tall teen had been gone long enough to be almost anywhere within a five to ten-mile radius, but if it gave Duo a chance to ease his mind, then so be it.
Heero stood up as he realized it had been a bit longer than usual since anyone had checked on the Chinese pilot as Trowa had asked them to and it occurred to him that Wufei had been asleep far longer than he might have expected.
As he walked past the room he had dumped Quatre into so unceremoniously, he heard the doorknob rattle and he growled, "Sit down and shut up, blondie! We don't have time for you right now!"
A soft whimper was the only answer as Heero kept moving, not really slowing down at all. His patience, what little there was of it at the moment, was at an end and he found himself cursing fate as he walked into the bedroom that had become uncomfortably familiar to him without being his own. With a sigh, the Wing pilot gave in to an unusual desire to sit down next to the injured teen and just close his eyes for a moment.
//Wufei, why did all this have to happen now? I thought we might be able to integrate you into the team, not have you divide it further.//
Heero sighed again and he leaned back against Trowa's pillow and left his eyes closed as he added, //No, this isn't your fault, is it? Damned Winner brat just can't think straight, can he?//
Without even considering it, the Japanese boy actually began to drift off to sleep.
As his body uncurled from the tension he had felt, he rolled onto his side and instinctively reached out to embrace the body beside him as his subconscious assured him the only one he'd be in bed with was Duo. There was, however, no answering motion and this startled his systems enough that he woke up to discover he was holding a black haired boy closely instead of a chestnut haired one.
With a soft snort at himself for being an idiot, Heero was about to get up and leave the room when he froze.
//He's sweating? It's not hot in here, so why's Wufei sweating?//
As this newest observation hit him he heard the loud crash of thunder outside and the unmistakable hiss of rain slamming against the roof.
While the skies opened up and washed away the last of the day's hope of staying dry, Heero discovered that the Chinese boy was running a fever and he grimaced. Duo had mentioned he was having trouble with an infection that just wouldn't clear up and it had apparently now escaped control enough to cause a greater problem.
Heero was not the one to handle a change in medical needs, so he did what he could to make the silent boy comfortable. This accomplished, Heero did something unusually compassionate and he simply stayed put, sitting on the edge of the bed watching over the other teen, worry on his face.
The Perfect Soldier had become the Perfect Guardian until the two people who could handle this returned to the safehouse. He just hoped that Duo would find Trowa and they would both walk in the door soon.