As Heero was going to insist that he and Trowa go ahead and leave for their assignment, a chime interrupted them and for once the laptop's announcement of an in-coming message was appreciated.
"Maybe they cancelled the mission?" Duo asked hopefully, following his lover who was currently dressed as an OZ field technician over to the small black machine. The braided teen usually hated the device, but right now he felt like he could kiss it for the hope the simple sound inspired.
"Doubt it," Heero groused and opened the communiquť from his mentor.
Wufei had stood silently through the last few minutes, uncomfortable with Trowa's and Duo's open stares. He looked at the boy he loved with a small smile and the other moved to wrap a long arm around him.
"Donít worry, koi," Trowa murmured, "Quatre's not going to make any mistakes now." He automatically fell into the endearment the pair traded in quiet moments which had confused the issue with the blond even further.
These two were still discovering how to define their relationship and while they were not lovers in the physical sense, they did recognize that love was the emotion at the heart of their connection.
Duo had wondered if they had even gotten around to confessing their love fully, but the answer to that question was "no". As lost in difficulty as the recent events had left them, the time seemed inappropriate for such statements, but it might have made things easier for them both.
Trowa had diligently watched over Wufei throughout the days and nights of unconsciousness following Quatre's unprovoked attack and he had not left the other boy's bed after Wufei began to recover. Both youths craved the physical warmth and reassurance of simply holding the one they loved through the night.
Neither had asked nor even hinted at trying to take it past this point and both were pleased to keep it as close to platonic as it was. Trowa, a true innocent, hadn't even considered wanting more and Wufei was secretly pleased to avoid the issue of sexual involvement between them entirely. Their kisses were perhaps not exactly "chaste" but neither were they the sort to stir the blood and they were happy.
Wufei had taken time to consider what had been said along with the implications of it before he looked up and answered in all seriousness, "It is not Quatre that I am worried about at this point, Tro." A sad frown overtook the bronze features as he watched Duo and Heero retrieving the message from Dr. J. "I am worried about Duo. He seems unable to get past what Quatre did to me and it is hurting him, I think."
Trowa shook his head sadly. The boy he loved had been considered emotionless or at least, not well-attuned to the needs of others, but he was discovering this, like so much else the pilots thought they knew about Chang Wufei, was totally wrong.
The Chinese boy had spent much of his life alone and lonely but given a chance, Wufei had quickly risen to the challenges of life within their unique group. He had even watched Trowa extensively before either admitted to their desire for a relationship and now that he had the opportunity, he was watching the others just as closely.
"I wish I could say you're wrong, Fei," Trowa sighed, "but that would be either a lie or stupidity on my part. I almost wish we could just ignore this set of orders anyway. You're not healthy yet and I'd really rather stay here with you until you are."
"Trowa Barton!" Wufei snorted angrily, keeping his voice down yet clearly displeased. "I am *not* a child who is incapable of caring for myself!"
Dark eyes flashed as he added more softly, "Besides, you took such excellent care of me already, do you not think I shall be just fine?" He brushed his fingertips against the other boy's cheek lovingly as he added, "Really, koi, everything will be okay now, you worry too much."
"Perhaps," the taller teen smiled as he nodded. Trowa knew he was being over-protective, this was a trained killer he was in love with, not some dewy-eyed young maiden after all. He glanced to one side to make sure no one was looking and snuck a kiss then straightened quickly as the smaller boy flushed a bit and looked around nervously.
"What was *that* for?" Wufei demanded in a soft hiss.
Trowa just smiled and looked at him sweetly before whispering, "You know what that was for, Fei-kun."
As Wufei tried desperately to find a come-back for this apparent teasing, Duo straightened with a frown on his face saying, "New orders, guys. Listen up!"
Heero looked up from where he was seated and stated calmly, "It's not that big a deal, baka."
When the Wing pilot was certain he had their attention he announced simply. "This location may have been compromised. We have orders to relocate to an apartment on the far side of the city. Trowa? Our orders for infiltrating the OZ base have been shifted. We get an extra 24 hours to help these guys move and then we go in. Acceptable?"
Duo stood with his arms crossed angrily and he refused to say anything as the taller teen simply shrugged his shoulders.
"Sure," Trowa said, then added in concern, "What's the problem, Duo?"
A grimace of disgust crossed the American's face as Duo stated flatly, "It's a damned *two* bedroom apartment! That's what's the matter!" He snarled angrily, "And *I* have no intention of making either Wu or me share a room with Winner!"
"Is that all, Duo?" Wufei chuckled, "What difference does such a minor detail like that make?"
The angry teen snorted. "It makes a world of difference, Wu! You've never shared a room with anyone but Tro! You have no clue how having the wrong roommate can screw up your life!"
"Ah, well, then," the Chinese boy answered with a reassuring smile cast at the suddenly woebegone Arabian teen. Even he knew that Quatre couldnít sleep well on a couch and he was skittish of the blond enough to insure that he got all the sleep he needed, "Then you and I can share a room and Quatre can have a bit of privacy, ne?"
Duo brightened considerably at this suggestion while both Heero and Trowa grimaced. "Hell yeah! That works for me!"
"Oh gods!" Heero muttered. "Trowa, donít kill me for whatever that baka tells Wufei while weíre gone."
"Heero," Trowa answered with a frown, "I am *not* going to make *any* promises!"
And while a rousing discussion of how to make certain that they had packed their meager belongings and vacated the current safehouse was being held, a certain blond felt the pain of rejection yet again.
As Duo dictated which things went with them and which things were to be destroyed, Quatre became even more certain that the situation he faced could not go on much longer. He had grown up in a large family and thrived on the closeness of that unit. Being excluded by any of the others hurt and the pointed insult from Duo had cut him to the quick.
Sadly, Quatre had been so wrapped up in his own pain that he had missed the act of kindness which Wufei had shown. The tension would remain unabated for some time to come at this rate.
"Well, that's the last of it," Duo remarked with a smile as he glanced over the contents of the boxes and carrysacks the group had packed and loaded into the car.
"Not much here, ne?" Wufei commented as he noticed that the coffee pot of all things had been carefully packed on top of one box.
"Nope, donít need to take much if that apartment is still in good shape!" Duo grinned.
Quatre frowned slightly and asked, "Say, Duo? Is this the one we stayed in about five months ago? The one where you and HeeroÖ" The rest of what he had thought to say was cut off as the braided boy clamped a hand over his mouth with an embarrassed grin across his face.
Heero chuckled and removed Duo's hand saying simply, "Yes, Quatre, it *is* that one. And I don't believe Duo wants you to fill Wufei in on any details of that particular card game, okay?"
"Ah, right!" The blond had the courtesy to look flustered at even thinking about the infamous night.
No, the reserved Chinese boy didn't need details on the strip poker game that got more than a little out of hand especially since just hinting at it had Trowa blushing and looking as if he'd rather be fighting a half-dozen OZ mobile suits than discussing it.
"Well, never mind that," Quatre mentioned, changing the subject, "you're right, Duo, it's very well-equipped as I recall. Plenty of linens, right?"
"Um, why is *that* important, if I may ask?" Wufei looked at the others and was surprised when Heero just laughed.
"Wufei, I thought you were the one that was so big on observation."
As he moved to get into the driver's seat of the car, Heero stopped to flip his lover's braid with one hand, bringing a grin to both Duo's face and Quatre's, too. "It takes a lot of towels to deal with all this hair on a regular basis or did you miss the fact that Duo was doing laundry almost every afternoon here?"
Wufei looked annoyed that he had missed something so obvious, and he nodded, sliding into the back seat of the car making room on one side for Quatre and Trowa on the other. The brunette regarded both boys and noticed that Quatre was sitting as far as possible from Wufei without actually getting out of the car even as they pulled onto the highway headed for their new temporary residence.
Just as Trowa was going to try to make some conciliatory remarks, though, Duo leaned over the seat in front of them and asked, "Yo, guys, anyone want to pick up a movie on the way over there? This place has a DVD player!"
"Not me, Duo," Wufei remarked casually, "I think I would prefer a quiet evening."
"Same here," Trowa added with an affectionate smile aimed at the boy beside him.
Quatre felt himself sinking deeper into the sense of being truly alone until Heero glanced at him in the rearview mirror. "Quatre? Want a movie tonight? After Trowa and I leave, Duo might not let you pick one out again, you remember how possessive he was of that player!"
"Um, sure, Heero," Quatre sighed unhappily, "I'll be on the couch tonight anyway, might as well pick up a couple of titles in case I canít sleep."
"Ryoukai," Heero grinned at Duo who had a decidedly hentai smirk on his face. "Why donít you plan to pick out a few different ones then, Quatre, otherwise it might get pretty boring for you later."
The Sandrock pilot just sighed and glanced out the window unhappily, as he said very quietly, "Oh, I donít know about that, Heero. You and Duo are pretty damned vocal even if Wufei and Trowa havenít even figured out yet that they'd enjoy the same activities."
"What was that, Quatre?" Wufei asked innocently.
"Nothing," the blond frowned and slumped down in his seat. Thinking about sex and Trowa often led him to allow his mind to wander back to the old well-worn pathways of unrequited love the blond had floundered down way too often.
As the five teens went about the terribly mundane tasks of picking up food, drinks, assorted supplies as well as the previously discussed movies, Quatre found himself watching Wufei and Trowa as they walked together and he felt his heart ache all over again. At the rate he was going, though, Quatre was only going to make himself more miserable and he tried to put it aside as best he could.
End Notes for Parts 1 and 2:
Dedications: This very first posting run of my newest angst-fest is dedicated to the one and only Ryoko! My adorable koneko has been the truest of friends through the darkness Real Life has thrown my way and for this I shall remain eternally grateful. Thank you, kitten-koi for all that you add to my life, you're the best!
Future dedications will go to the kind folks who send me feedback at my home e-mail address of: SFSDincher@aol.com . Posting all *twenty-eight* parts of this monster is going to take quite a bit of energy and I'm going to need all the encouragement I can get not only for that but also for the painfully dark and depressing Book 3, "Unconditional Gifts", which is currently under construction.