Disclaimers: I don't own any of the Gundam Wing Universe. I'm not making any money off this story. It's written out of love, so please don't sue me.

Written: March-May, 2001
Overall Rating: R
Pairings: (3+5) (1x2x1)
Category: Angst Yaoi Shonen ai Friendship Sap WAFF Lime AU {Beware: Darkness Descending!}
Enigma Story Category: G-Boys High Adventure!
Warnings: Angst, yaoi, shonen ai, language, friendship, sap, WAFF, limey hints, dark themes taking control, plus "AU-OOC" for those who canít cope

Notes: The priceless gifts of love and friendship that were exchanged by the Gundam pilots brought them closer together, but two of the team will soon be "hidden" as Trowa and Heero must infiltrate an OZ base. Wufei, Duo, and Quatre must share an apartment while the others are gone, creating a potentially explosive mixture. Are these new bonds strong enough to unite the circle in the face of the unexpected crises which arise as well as the approaching darkness?

//someone's thoughts//

<<flashback>>


Hidden Gifts
Part 20


By mid-day, Zechs Merquise had finally dragged himself out of his room after taking another dose of pain killers. The drugs were getting to be a habit that he didn't much care for.

//Since when do these damned headaches bother me so much?//

The tall pilot wondered about his current misery while staring into the mirror.

//It seems as if everything's gotten harder lately. Treize's strange behavior haunts me and I seem unable to focus. Perhaps if Lucrezia was with me this would make more sense, she always did have a good eye for things like this.//

He sighed to himself as he prepared to face another tedious day. Placing the helmet-like mask onto his head and feeling the unpleasant pressure that it added to his pounding skull, Zechs Merquise left his suite of rooms hoping for the best but not expecting much.

As the tall man walked through the base wishing for the unattainable anonymity the mask and his luxurious hair would never allow him to have, he became as irritated by the frequent need to return salutes from lower ranking officers and staff as the two Gundam pilots had. He sighed in annoyance as he ducked into an out of the way hallway only to find to his delight that he had stumbled upon the base's non-technical library.

Taking the time to stop and chat with the friendly young woman who oversaw the facility, Zechs felt himself relax since she was totally unaware of who he was or what his position was within OZ, a refreshing change.

Time passed easily for the pair as they discussed the relative nuances of Jane Austen's views of life in nineteenth century England as shown in "Pride and Prejudice", a text that both had read and found fault with for various reasons. By the time they had laughingly taken apart the male stereotypes in the novel to their mutual merriment, Zechs was more at ease about resuming his "inspection" duties as well as simply feeling better once more. [1]

After bidding the young redhead farewell, Zechs headed for the base commander's office.

Upon arrival, Zechs unwittingly found himself caught up in the woman's angry reactions to the car theft earlier in the day. Luckily for the lieutenant, though, she decided to cancel her meeting with him and he returned to his suite of rooms to avoid further harassment from the staff.

So far, he had seen relatively little of the base and for an inspection, Merquise had remarkably little to show for his time. He frankly didn't care, though, since he knew he had been sent there strictly to keep him out of Treize's sight for awhile.

The blond sat down to compose a message requesting that the inspection tour be considered complete and that he be allowed to return to headquarters in Berlin. He had no idea if his request would be honored or not, but the situation with his commanding officer still concerned him.

To his credit, the former prince of the Sanq kingdom had made an effort to stop thinking of the ginger-haired general as a potential love interest. He knew better than to set himself up for more pain in that area of his life but felt that until he returned to a more permanent base of operations he'd never find someone new.

Also in his thoughts was the mystery of the Chinese pilot, the one Treize was apparently obsessed with. While Zechs had no idea what strange things might have been going through the older man's mind pertaining the boy, he did know that when Khushrenada focused on one area too much other areas tended to suffer. And while it might make little difference for his personal life, Zechs at least wanted to help his commanding officer get his thoughts focused on the war before it was too late and someone or something took control of the conflict from his usually capable hands.

Merquise wondered again how to locate Heero or Trowa in the hopes of arranging a meeting with Wufei.

If he had been more conscientious about the inspection, though, he would have done just that. As it was, he spent most of his time at the base avoiding his assignment and had thus far not even been in the same wing of the facility as the Gundam pilots at any point in the first place. Terribly removed from his mind, though, was the simple thought that he might have accomplished more at the base and frankly he simply didn't care any more.

Between wondering why Treize was so angry with him along with thoughts of how to make peace with the man, Zechs was miserable and he didn't think he could tolerate it much longer.

*****

As evening arrived at the OZ base, Trowa Barton was also nearing the end of his ability to put up with things and he was far from his usual relatively serene self.

//DAMN it all!!!//

Even silently, his curses were gaining volume and the unusual level of profanity conveyed his frustration and anger at the current situation. The slender teen's emotions had built to the point that he was even unconsciously referring to himself by the name the mercenaries had given him as a child, something he did only when he was truly livid.

//How the *hell* did you get yourself stuck like this, Nanashi?!?//

His thoughts calmed for a microsecond before the internal rant that might have done his beloved proud continued.

//And what the *fuck* is Merquise doing here? That asshole knows what I look like and I just do NOT have the patience to put up with being captured right now! Damn. Damn! *Damn*!! DAMN!!!//

Trowa was in full fury as he considered that until Zechs Merquise left the base, he had little or no chance of making good an escape on his own. For once, Heero's choice of getaway car had been a poor one since he'd unwittingly taken the base commander's husband's Volvo when he left and now the woman had increased security to the parking lot of all things.

//Heero, you usually chose a nice boring car for this stuff and I agree that's a good way to keep a low profile, but this time why didn't you pick out a god damned cherry red *Corvette* instead?!?//

After forcing himself to take a few deep breaths, Trowa glanced at his watch. It was nearly 9:30pm and unless he missed his guess, not too far away a young Chinese man was probably pacing around angry with him or worried about him, but either way, Trowa felt guilty about missing the rendezvous with Heero.

He bit back a desire to impetuously sneak out under the questionable protection of the cover of darkness and try to return to the boy he loved. However, after being a soldier almost all of his life, Trowa knew this was a poor substitute for being patient and proceeding along the lines of his training.

To a casual observer, the HeavyArms pilot seemed to be completely calm as he went to the shared terminal in the junior officers' quarters. As he quietly checked to see if the message he had discretely left on the in-house computer bulletin board was ever picked-up by Heero, Trowa sent his thoughts beyond the base's confines.

//Fei?//

The one word nickname for the dark-eyed bishounen brought soothing images to his mind and then, a tiny smile in place, Trowa's thoughts resumed.

//Love? Oh, dragon, please forgive me for disappointing you this way. I know I said I'd be back sooner than this, but it just isn't working out here and I'm so very sorry!//

The computer suddenly chimed and he glanced down, eyes searching the screen eagerly. With a groan, he realized that Heero had never responded to the message that he'd been delayed and it just made him feel that much worse.

//Aw, crap! Heero never even picked this up! Damn him!!//

Trowa's earlier anger flared once more.

//They won't have a clue what happened and I just *know* that Fei is going to assume the worst and then what?//

A variety of scenarios flashed into Trowa's mind, not a one of which he particularly liked yet one of which sent a shiver through him as he realized it was all too possible.

//Oh, god, no! If he thinks I'm in real trouble, he just might do something *really* foolish like try to come in here after me!//

He mentally wrung his hands as he deleted the message from the computer and shut down the terminal. Trowa had already attempted to get an internet connection to send the pilots in the apartment a message, but the server was down and that just frustrated him all the more. As he moved to his assigned bunk, he didn't even bother to kick off his shoes, much less strip down before he threw himself down to glare at the ceiling as if it was at fault for the situation.

Several hours, and quite a few more angry silent tirades later, Trowa fell asleep and was disturbed by nightmares of the long lonely days and nights he had spent holding the unconscious body of the boy he loved immediately after Quatre's attack on the Chinese youth.









Author's Note:

[1] A salute to my daughter Amanda and that (curses like Trowa did) report on "Pride and Prejudice". I hated that novel when I had to read it for school back in the 70's and it's not one tiny bit easier to tolerate now than it was then. Thank the gods school is almost over and my kid can go back to reading Edgar Allan Poe for fun! Quoth the Llama -- Jane Austen nevermore!

Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.

on to part 21

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