While the newest unfavorable event played itself out, three miles from the safehouse Duo Maxwell found Trowa Barton walking dejectedly down the road, soaking wet.
"Hey, stranger, want a ride?" The braided boy grinned as he pulled up next to his friend, pushing the car door open by way of invitation.
"Sure, thanks, Duo," Trowa remarked quietly, getting in and staring out the windshield before asking, "How's Fei doing? I'm sorry I was gone longer than I thought I'd be. I hope everything's okay."
Duo just turned and looked at his friend taking a moment to size up the other boy.
The rain had slicked the red-brown hair down to truly cover one eye and Trowa reached up to push it out of the way with annoyance bringing a soft smile to Duo's lips. The emerald-green eyes were hidden way too often for his taste and he barely bit back a compliment he knew would be unwelcome. Instead, he cleared his throat and started the car headed back towards the safehouse.
"Um, Fei should be fine, Tro. I was a bit worried about you and have been out here looking for ya' for awhile. Don't worry, though, Heero's still there."
He smiled at the taller teen and missed the slight grimace before Trowa answered, "Yeah, and that son of a bitch Winner is still there, too, isn't he? I still can't believe he baited me into hitting him so easily. I thought I had better control than that."
Duo snorted in annoyance. "Yeah, the sniveling little creep was still there when I left. Maybe we got lucky and Heero killed him while we were gone, ne?"
"Maybe," Trowa muttered unhappily. "Fei is going to be so disappointed in me. I don't blame him for it, though. If I can infiltrate virtually *any* OZ base they send me to without losing control, why couldn't I handle this any better?"
A sadly knowing smile crossed violet eyes as Duo answered, "Because you aren't in love with OZ, maybe, Tro?"
Duo pulled the car back into place in front of the safehouse, put the parking brake on and turned to face his friend. "You've gotta lighten up, buddy. You're being far too hard on yourself here. Quatre deliberately said something vicious and cruel about a guy you're just barely able to admit you're head over heels for and you reacted just the way he wanted you to. Love makes us all stupid at times, and he knows it as well as I do. Wu won't think you any less of a man because you're human, ya' know."
Trowa smiled a little and it was an interesting contrast to the bolt of lightning that lit up the sky around them. He looked out the window and commented, "Duo, you do know you're going to get soaked the minute you open that door, right?"
"Yeah? And your point is?" Shinigami just grinned and pushed the car door open before making a mad dash for the front door of the safehouse.
Trowa, however, took his time and walked to the door relishing the feeling of the rain as if it might carry away some of the sorrow in his soul. He was afraid to go in to face the boy he loved, fearing the other might reject him now that this bit of truth had been exposed.
If love made you stupid, then just how stupid was he going to become? He didn't like the fact that he had lost control, but it was justified in Duo's eyes so Trowa tried to hold onto this fact and told himself to trust Wufei's sense of justice to come into play on his side in this instance. If the other boy didn't agree, then Trowa could sink back into his pit of self-loathing afterwards, he'd just have to take his chances.
"Heero?" Duo called out as he walked in the door. He grabbed a towel out of a laundry basket and wrapped it around the dripping braid as he moved into the kitchen. "Heero?"
Trowa was instantly on alert. If Heero wasn't waiting for them, something must have gone wrong and that lead him to call out for his own beloved as well. "Fei?" He headed without a thought to a towel straight for the bedroom, Duo following along in concern.
"Fei?" Trowa called again, stepping into his bedroom and seeing Heero lounging on his bed as if it was something he did all the time even if Trowa had never seen it before. He asked in surprise, "Heero?"
"Koi?" Duo demanded, even more shocked than his soaking wet companion. "What the hell are you doing in bed with Wu?"
Heero rose gratefully and walked towards the others, his face a mask of mixed emotions. He was glad they were back, but he was worried for the sick youth in the bed. He embraced Duo briefly and said simply, "Wufei's running a fever. He never came out on his own, so I came in here to check on him and I noticed he was too hot."
"Shit!" Duo cursed as he twisted the towel more tightly around his braid and clambered onto the bed. "Tro, get me the first aid kit. Heero, what did you do for the fever?"
"Nothing yet," Heero remarked as he stepped out of the way of the two who had gone into motion ignoring his physical presence entirely. Trowa handed Duo the first aid kit and then moved to see if he could awaken Wufei by gently shaking him but had no success.
As Duo pulled out a thermometer along with the gauze and disinfectant, he looked back at Heero with undisguised confusion. "He has a *fever* and you did *nothing* about it, Heero? Geez! What were you waiting for? The full moon?"
"No, baka," Heero answered good-naturedly, "I was waiting for the two people who knew what the hell they were doing instead of risking making it worse. If you hadn't been back by an hour after I figured it out, *then* I would have done something about it."
"Well, that makes some kind of warped sense, I guess," Duo conceded and then looked at the other pair with a worried glance. "Tro? Can't you wake him up there?"
"No, not easily."
The HeavyArms pilot frowned and then resumed shaking the smaller boy more vigorously, calling, "Fei? C'mon, wake up, please! Wufei?!"
Slowly dark eyes came open, flinching a little at the tone of voice and the shaking. "tro…?" He asked softly, "wha's wrong?" He paused then added in confusion, "how come you're all wet?"
Both Duo and Heero snickered at this, but Trowa ignored the colloquial expression, "I was outside when the rain started, nothing to worry over, I won't melt."
Wufei nodded slowly and closed his eyes again. If he had been more able to think things through, he might have enjoyed the idea that being wet meant Trowa would have to change his clothes and Wufei would have found that prospect intriguing. As it was, he was glad it was a simple explanation that he could make sense of easily as his usually sharp mind fell victim to the fever.
The worried boy sighed visibly and gathered Wufei into his arms. Trowa had finally made all the admissions of his feelings that he felt he needed to at that point, and he just wanted reassurance that the boy he loved would be well one way or another. "Can you wake up a bit more? Duo needs to check your temperature."
"nani...?" The Chinese boy sighed and tried to move, but was too tired and he just nodded and said, "whatcha' need fr'm me, duo?"
"Put this under your tongue, tough guy," Duo kidded gently to hide his own concern and put the digital thermometer in place.
Within moments, the chime sounded that the job was complete. "102.7. Hmph. Not good, but not as bad as it might be." Duo rummaged through the first aid kit before looking at Heero and asking in an amused voice, "Heero? Where's the ibuprofen? Did you highjack it again?"
Heero had the decency to flush scarlet at this and he nodded before leaving to retrieve the missing pain reliever. Trowa chuckled at this and smiled at Wufei as he asked, "What was *that* all about, Duo?"
"Um," the braided boy smirked and blushed simultaneously, "He takes that when I get to be too much for him. Guess I wore him out last night."
"Hn," Trowa answered with a soft snort, "Apparently it was something he was not too thrilled with admitting."
"tro...?" Wufei asked with a tired sigh, "what's wrong with me this time?" He looked as if he might fall right back to sleep, but Trowa jostled him gently as Heero returned to the room with a bottle of brown pills and some water.
"You have a fever, Fei," Trowa answered tenderly, "But Duo is going to get you all fixed up, so don't worry. Let him change the dressing on the stitches and then I'll see to it that you get something for the fever, okay, koi?"
"nani? 'koi'?" Wufei's eyes went wide, as he digested this bit of information. "did you just call me 'koi'?"
An attractive blush spread up the long neck and out over creamy white flesh as Trowa realized he had done exactly that, and in front of witnesses, too, so he couldn't deny it later even if he wanted to which he didn't. "Yes, I did. Is that okay with you, Fei?"
"'okay'?" He repeated with an unrelated wince as Duo scraped away the greenish puss that had coated the sutures before adding disinfectant that also brought a wince before the numbing antibacterial ointment was added. "'tis more than 'okay', it sounds wonderful to me!" He added with an exhausted bit of enthusiasm.
Listening to this tender exchange, Duo began to smile broadly but forced himself not to comment. What was happening between his two friends was too personal and private for an audience and he simply wished to do what he could to help and then leave them alone once more.
Heero shook the pill bottle to get them to focus on the next steps which he assumed would be a far more intimate gesture than taking medication usually was.
Seeing that Trowa was now glancing his way, Heero gave him a reassuring smile and asked, "Duo? How many do you want Wufei to take of these?"
"Hmm, dunno." The American frowned and then answered, "Better make it three, just to be sure we can get Wu's temperature down quickly. If we don't, then the fever is going to mess up his recovery time for everything else."
"Roger that," Heero responded totally serious.
He had converted the whole situation the five faced into a mission to be handled as best he could and then he hoped for a nice "ninmu kanryou" out of the whole thing. The pills and water were then handed to Trowa as the fresh bandage was applied to the injury. "Here, do what you have to so he takes those. Now see why I hung back, Duo? I'm not the expert on stuff like this."
"Sh'yeah, right!" The braided boy answered, standing and grabbing onto the towel that was trying to slip off his still damp hair. "You just didn't want to have to kiss Wu to help him take his medicine, that's all, you big dope!"
Snickering at both his lover and himself, Duo lead the way out of the room leaving the other two to deal with the three brown tablets in what had become the usual method. As the third pill disappeared and the kiss that delivered it lengthened, Duo remarked to the boy beside him in the hallway, "So, did the Beast awaken or were you needed by the Beauty alone?"
A frown crossed the cobalt blue eyes and then a half-smile as Heero remarked, "What's up with all the fairytale references, baka? You run out of other ideas for what to call people?"
"Dunno, koi," the braided boy grinned then sobered, "and stop avoiding the question. Did the evil little Q-Ball wake up or not?"
Heero growled unhappily, "Yeah, he woke up, but I told him to stay where he was. I did *not* want to have to deal with him yet."
"Yuck! Me neither!" Duo agreed as he walked past the room with the prisoner in it. "He can wait, though, my hair's gonna get knots in it if I don't go take a shower soon."
"Good idea," Heero remarked, running his hand across the long rope of hair and recalling how difficult it could get when it went without enough conditioning. As the pair made their way to the kitchen for Duo to grab a glass of milk before the shower, another pair were finding things a bit less tense.
Trowa did indeed want to get out of his wet clothes and did so without even bothering to try to leave either the bedroom or the Chinese boy. Getting out of them without remark from the other boy surprised Trowa, though, and he turned to see Wufei was laying quietly, eyes closed once more.
As soon as he was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt again, Trowa slid under the covers and gathered the overly warm boy to himself, grateful to feel his physical presence once more.
"Get well soon, please, Wufei," he whispered and kissed the boy tenderly. "I want to tell you how much I care for you when I'm sure you'll remember it. Okay, koi?"
Holding Wufei tightly, he felt more than heard the contented little sigh as the smaller boy drifted back to sleep. Trowa gladly remained where he was knowing that if the others needed him to come help deal with Quatre, they'd be back for him.
At the moment, though, he simply closed his eyes and enjoyed the simple knowledge that he had kept his word about telling Wufei that he loved him, even if the endearment had just slipped out unintentionally. He had hoped for a more romantic way to pledge his heart, but for now he was happy just holding Wufei and waiting for the fever to at least drop a bit before paying much attention to the greater problem that lurked behind another bedroom door.
If Quatre wanted to take his life into his own hands by insulting someone, Trowa was more than certain that Heero and Duo would put him in his place. He was right, of course, but it was not to be and the blond remained locked in his room for the rest of the afternoon.
It's strange to think of a Gundam pilot being sent to his room for misbehavior, but that's what happened and it seemed to fit all too well.