When they arrived at the laboratory that they planned to use to search the
computer systems, Trowa entered first and glanced around to see if there was
anyone else present. There wasn't, so he closed the door behind them so they
could speak freely as Heero got to work breaking into the mainframe in search
of the prototype scanner.
"How are things going for you so far, Heero?" Trowa asked as he watched the
Japanese boy's fingers fly across the keyboard with familiar blinding speed.
"As expected," Heero shrugged then added, "But the food's lousy here. I
would've expected better with so many useless officers strolling about."
Trowa snickered softly, but was a bit surprised when Heero added, "What do
*you* think of the food, Trowa? Are you remembering to eat?"
"What?" Trowa asked, incredulously, "Since when do *you* care, Heero?"
The other boy glanced over his shoulder, cobalt-blue eyes shining with an
undisclosed emotion. "Well, I'm probably supposed to say that I don't, but
the truth is that after it was pointed out by Duo and Wufei that you're too
skinny, I find that I agree with them." He watched and saw the expected
reaction as Trowa looked away nervously.
Heero added in a more understanding tone, "Look, Trowa, I'm not going to get
on your case now since this is a short-term mission, but when we get back to
the others you start eating on your own or I'll see to it that you eat the
hard way if I have to."
Blinking at the implied threat, one Trowa did *not* have any idea how Heero
would even enforce, the apparent OZ officer answered simply, "When we get
back to the others, as you say, I'll make it a point to do just that. After
that incident with the spaghetti I don't want to even *consider* what you
might do to me on a regular basis. I do *not* want to end up being carried
around and forced to eat whatever you have in mind!"
"Oh?" Heero smirked as he broke through a level of encryption that brought
them closer to discovering the location of the scanner, "You don't want me to
carry you around like you were doing to Wufei? Double standard there, Barton?"
"Hell yes!" Trowa remarked with uncharacteristic strength. "He was injured,
I'm not. I may not be eating as much as some of you think I should, but at
least *I* wasn't attacked by that little blond bastard!"
Heero snarled softly and turned away from the computer to glare at him. Trowa
stood with his arms crossed and an angry look on his face as Heero took him
to task for his attitude.
"All right, look," the Wing pilot was trying to keep his temper as he tried
to rebuild some of the bonds of the circle, "Trowa, we have gone over this
too many times. If you can't let it go, then I'm fresh out of ideas. But
Quatre *is* part of the team and he *is* going to remain that way unless he
screws up again. So either get over this or find yourself another place to
stay when we get back."
Heero took a breath as he realized he didn't ever want to face the
possibility that what he'd just threatened might come to pass. In
desperation, he added, "Damn it all, Tro, we have *got* to get organized or
we aren't going to survive the changes we face, don't you see that?"
Trowa looked away and sighed deeply. "I know, Heero, and in all honesty, I'm
not sure if Quatre is even the problem any more."
"Then what is?" Remaining focused on Trowa's reactions, Heero saw the taller
boy's shoulders slump a bit as he answered.
"I'm not sure," Trowa looked at his friend and weighed the risks before
choosing to not even mention the odd behavior Wufei had exhibited in bed that
was still worrying him.
"This is about Wufei then, isn't it?" Heero asked. He didn't really need to,
the Chinese boy was almost the only thing on the HeavyArms pilot's mind
Trowa bit his lip as he hesitated then nodded, saying very quietly, "Yes, it
is." He sighed deeply as he changed his mind and added quietly, "I think
there's something very wrong with him that we don't even know about."
Confusion, anger, and even a touch of fear crossed Heero's eyes as he asked
pointedly, "And this *is* or is *not* connected to Winner?" The last thing
their team could handle would be a final blow to their unity, but if the
blond had committed a further transgression, as leader, Heero was obligated
to find out about it.
"Is *not*," Trowa answered, confidently. "I have no idea what this is really
connected to, but it came up the night before we came here when we were
talking in bed. I said something, I don't even remember exactly what, and he
had a bad reaction to it."
"'Bad reaction'?" Heero asked in confusion. He was relieved this didn't have
anything to do with Quatre, but he was perplexed.
"Yes, like a flight or fight response," Trowa commented thoughtfully. "He
didn't hit me or anything, but I got the distinct feeling he wanted to run."
He paused as he recalled that this preceded the other boy's declaration of
love and that only added to his belief that whatever it was that was
bothering Wufei, it was serious.
Heero turned back to the keyboard and as he entered another code trying to
get past the last security level he said with concern, "Maybe you need to try
harder to remember what exactly you said that brought this on. Sounds like it
could mean trouble for *all* of us. If whatever it was that upset him that
strongly reappears at an inopportune time, the whole team could be at risk.
Any clue at all what touched it off?"
Trowa frowned. He had gone over that discussion in his mind a hundred times
and he never could dredge up the words which caused the problem. With a
defeated sigh he answered, "None at all, Heero. Wish I knew, though. Fei
acted very strangely and it worries me."
A look of determination crossed Heero's face as he remarked, "Then, Trowa?
I'd strongly recommend that you determine what's the problem. Wufei's not
been with us enough for me to read him yet, but consider this an assignment
for yourself now. When we get back, you figure this out and let Duo and me
know. Then maybe the three of us can try to get to the bottom of it together,
A hopeful smile appeared on Trowa's face as he nodded in agreement. He hadn't
dared to even wish for backup from Heero like this, but he was truly grateful
for it, especially the idea that Duo, the closest thing to a best friend
Wufei seemed to have had in the past, was going to assist, too.
As he was about to say so, though, Heero broke through the final security
level and he was soon sending the schematics of the scanner to the scientists
as well as Duo so he could see how to avoid that type of detection if it was
catalogued elsewhere. Heero memorized the location of the prototype with a
glance, he was eternally grateful for his photographic memory at times like
this, and then he began coding in the virus program he would trigger later.
As the last few entries were made, he glanced at Trowa and realized the
taller teen was lost in thought yet again. Heero shook his head.
//You're gonna worry yourself sick over this, Trowa, and there's nothing you
can do about it while we're in here. But if you keep wandering mentally, it
increases the risk of us getting caught. Hmm, what would Duo do to break you
out of this?//
As usual, Heero's imagination provided an easy answer to that question. If it
was an issue relating to an interpersonal situation, Duo had one stock answer
off the top of his head.
The braided teen found that this one word often either brought a chuckle, a
blush, or some other reaction that gave a hint as to how to address things.
So, with a deep breath since he was still unused to joking about anything
much less this, Heero applied the answer offered.
"You know something, Trowa?" Heero remarked casually, "Maybe you and Wufei
shouldn't spend so much time in bed just talking. Maybe you should try
something a bit more physical and then there wouldn't be time for all these
things to worry over, ne?"
True to type, Trowa responded as Heero expected by flushing a deep pink.
"Heero!" Trowa gasped. "*That* is none of your business!" Then the slender
pilot added hopefully, "You really think I should try to seduce Fei when we
Heero chuckled as he rose to head out in search of the labs in the
sub-basement where the prototype was located. "I thought you just said it was
none of my business," he shrugged and kept walking.
Trowa followed him and right before Heero turned the doorknob to exit, the
other boy reached out and stopped him. Heero glanced at his friend and saw
gratitude and a bit of humor in the emerald eyes as Trowa said quietly,
"Thanks, Heero, I needed that bit of a shock. Whether I seduce Fei or not, I
need to get my mind back on the task at hand, don't I?"
"Yeah, you do," Heero nodded. "Besides, we've got less than 24 hours to
complete this if we're going to make it back on schedule and I dare say
there's a couple of guys who are counting on us to do just that."
"Right," Trowa pulled the uniform jacket back in place as he commented, "Good
luck on destroying the prototype. I'll get my end taken care of and meet you
at the guard post tomorrow as planned. I think I owe Duo for the innuendo you
threw in there."
Heero nodded as he adjusted the suddenly too tight technician overalls to
conceal the fact that he was thinking of his own lover a bit too much at the
moment. "We both do. Good luck on your end and use the in-house computer
bulletin board system if something comes up that I need to know about."
As the day passed at the OZ base, Trowa stopped worrying over things he
couldn't change from where he was located and Heero tried to stop thinking of
ways to "thank" Duo for teaching him how to use being hentai to good
advantage during an assignment. The taller boy succeeded, the shorter boy did
not, but both got their work done and things progressed almost too smoothly.
Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.
End Notes for Parts 9 and 10:
Dedications: After last night's storms, I thought I might get a break but
that was just a silly llama thought! It's rained all day and both kids have
more crap for school. Will my life *ever* calm down enough to do regular C&C
thank yous again? [sigh]
Well all that aside, I'll send notes to folks later, now it is time for...
[cues the searchlights and the band rented to perform for the honorees]
The Hall of Fame!! These are the fabulous folks who get the ravest reviews
for helping to keep me encouraged to go forth with more ficcie! Highest on
tonight's list is the one, the only KIMMIE!! She wrote the most kick-ass
(5x3) lemon, "Uchuu no Akume" which will be available to enjoy at GW
Addiction very soon! Second highest is AURELIE, my beloved little French
sweetheart whom I have missed sorely! As for the rest, well, they're all
fabulous and I appreciate every last kind word and phrase and participle! The
providers of this joy include: Nazarri, d_huron ,
Lady Une99 , Mizuno , Lori, Kayo, Ashkara,
bearilou, Liz, Azzie the Magnificent, Dim, Danielle my Favorite Yume, Shea
Maxwell, Eos, Rubious, and SkyLark! As for the "save the best for last" that
honor goes to my beloved kitten-koi, Ryoko, who tolerates me even when I have
a thirst for blood from our bishounen!