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//


Hidden Gifts
Part 24

Migraine pounding again after the two hour presentation he was forced to sit through, Zechs had pulled off the mask he was now certain either caused or aggravated the headaches he was plagued with and was walking down a corridor in search of coffee.

Merquise was so distracted by the throbbing in his temples that he nearly jumped when a soft alto voice asked him, "Excuse me, but where can I find the junior officers' quarters?"

The tall blond man spun around to face a shorter blond boy who just smiled at him in a heart-meltingly sweet way, one hand clutching a clipboard.

Quatre, more than a little disgusted with his lack of preparation, had decided to go into the facility and brazenly search for Trowa personally. Sometime during the "reconnaissance" portion of the morning, the impetuous youth had decided that the best thing to do for the other pilots, especially Wufei, would be to not come home without the emerald-eyed teen.

Now standing in front of a stunning man who rose almost a foot taller than himself, though, the Sandrock pilot totally forgot to worry over possible danger as he felt himself happily captured in the focused gaze of cool ice-blue eyes.

Months of sexual frustration had been pushed to the back of Zechs' mind while he thought he had a chance with Treize, but the boring days in this virtual wasteland of a facility had allowed some of those thoughts to resurface. The earnest young man standing in front of him, aquamarine eyes glimmering enticingly, triggered a rather complicated welter of feelings inside of him, some of which came straight from those unfulfilled needs.

The former prince of the Sanq kingdom recognized some of the feelings immediately. Attraction, confusion, hope for a break in the tedium, and even some slight desire to protect the boy seemed to be there, but overall it was a welcome change for the TallGeese pilot.

The sexual attraction was easy enough to understand.

This boy looked to be nearly the same age as Heero Yuy was and he never even tried to deny finding *that* boy attractive. He had assumed that the brunette teen accompanying him to Antarctica was lover as well as friend, though, and he had never made any attempt to push their relationship further than one of respected adversaries. A few daydreams to the contrary, though, proved that Zechs had never forgotten his interest in the Wing pilot.

Confusion came from the fact that this boy clearly was not a member of OZ yet none of the personnel seemed the least bit concerned about his presence. He knew that this base was dreadfully remiss in their security but to have someone from the outside apparently walking around unescorted so far into their midst was too much to excuse.

The fact that the boy's presence would allow for a change of pace was obvious and Zechs didn't bother to question that aspect further, he was simply grateful for it.

The Lightning Count was, however, perplexed by the slight feeling that he should protect this boy until he took another look at the openly friendly face and realized that, on some strange level he wished he hadn't even thought of, this teen reminded him of his own sister, Relena. A shiver of revulsion at feeling attracted to anyone that reminded him of his sibling shook the tall man and he snapped out of his thoughts quickly.

"Pardon me?" Zechs asked when he found his voice again. "What did you say you were looking for?"

Quatre was suitably impressed by the taller man but had no idea that this was the infamous Zechs Merquise. Had it ever even occurred to him that he was going to ask for directions from such a powerful enemy, he probably would have turned tail and run from the facility even if it meant not finding Trowa at all.

As it was, though, he was blissfully ignorant that this gorgeous man was actually none other than their greatest enemy short of Treize Khushrenada but he had assumed the infamous helmet would be the most identifiable characteristic and he had failed entirely to notice it in the other man's hand.

Swallowing the lump in his throat, Quatre spoke with a slight tremble that the taller pilot found all too adorable. "Um, well," he glanced down at the clipboard as if he had forgotten the name he was going to be asking for, "I'm supposed to find someone named 'Triton Bloom', and the front desk told me to try the junior officer's quarters."

One eyebrow rose on the taller man's face and he asked, "And just why, exactly, are you looking for one of our soldiers? You mentioned the front desk. Why didn't they assign you a visitor's escort?"

Quatre just shrugged and answered truthfully, "Well, I was surprised, too, about not being given an escort. But the guy working there said some VIP was here and it had messed up all their schedules so there wasn't anyone available to show me around."

Zechs winced internally at this. He knew that his presence had caused some changes in the facility, an unexpected visit from anyone of his rank usually did, but to go so far as to excuse such a flagrant security breach because of him was going too far. With a sigh, he reached out one hand asking, "May I see that name again? Maybe I can access the data on a computer and show you to this person myself?"

Another quiver hit Quatre's system as the tall man's hand brushed his own when he handed him the clipboard. It had felt as if a mild electrical shock had passed between them and he was not the only one effected.

"Oh!" Quatre gasped and then a slight flush crept up his cheeks and he glanced away, long pale lashes resting on one soft cheek catching the other man's eye all too easily.

Zechs blinked in surprise and noticed he no longer cared about the headache he had been trying to get rid of as well as being suddenly more than a little pleased that the security fowl up had allowed him to run into this alluring youth.

"Sorry," Merquise murmured, slightly distractedly. "I guess the carpets around here cause electric shocks?"

Quatre laughed gently as he glanced at the smooth tile-covered floor but didn't correct him.

Clearing his throat, and feeling foolish, Zechs took another look at the paper on the clipboard that had nothing more than a name jotted on it. He frowned and was about to ask again why Quatre was searching for the person listed there when he looked at the boy in front of him once more.

The Arabian teen had reached one hand up to brush his bangs out of his eyes and without knowing it, projected the very image of seducible innocence. In that one moment, Quatre had just saved himself from further questions, as well as protecting Trowa's undercover identity.

During that brief flash, Zechs arrived at the decision that he had spent far too many nights alone lately and he'd take a risk. With a warm smile, he offered, "Won't you come with me? There's a terminal we can use to look up this person's duty station down this hallway?" He motioned towards a series of offices and Quatre's face lit up.

"That'd be great! Thank you!" He smiled winningly.

As the pair walked along side-by-side, Zechs suddenly remembered he had the boy's clipboard and offered it back. Quatre silently accepted it, but as their hands brushed together on purpose, the spark was there again and he gasped quietly, "Oh!"

A chuckle escaped Zechs' lips as he escorted the boy into an office and walked up to an open-use terminal and started trying to locate Trowa. "I really should tell them about that problem with the static electricity, shouldn't I? Might ruin something one of these days."

"Um, well," Quatre stammered as the pink returned to his rounded cheeks. "Don't do that on my account, sir."

"Oh? Then how else might I make it up to you, then?" Zechs asked with a smile. "It's not my usual style to go around shocking people and leaving it at that." The words had barely left his mouth when he realized how inane they sounded and Zechs wished he could call them back, but it was too late.

Quatre, however, found it amusing and rather endearing that someone who seemed so confident and self-assured could make a spoken error like anyone else. He stood behind the man and while he should have been watching to get access codes for the OZ computers, he was more focused on the way the man's white uniform pants seemed to fit him like a second skin.

//What a sexy bastard! And here I thought that *Trowa* looked good in one of their uniforms! Hell, this guys looks *fabulous* in one! Must be the custom tailoring.//

Zechs turned around suddenly and caught the direction of the boy's gaze all too easily. With a sly smile, he finally took a leap of faith and offered, "Since you prefer that I do nothing about those dreadful electrical shocks you suffered, why not let me take you out for dinner tonight? I'm not familiar with the restaurants in the area, but I am positively desperate to get away from the food here for a change."

"Sounds great," Quatre nodded and smiled as Zechs handed him a printout of Trowa's duty roster as well as a business card. "I can pick you up here around 6 or 7 if you like, sir. Well, I guess if we're going out to eat, I need to know your name, um," he glanced at the card and very nearly passed out as he read, "Lt. Merquise. Oh!"

For his part, Zechs took it all wrong and assumed this was another happy gasp and not one of utter fear. "Sounds good, but what's your name? I can leave instructions with the front desk for when you come back. I'm glad you've got a car, they're terribly stingy with them here since one was stolen yesterday."

The TallGeese pilot had blathered away while Quatre got some semblance of control back, but not enough of it in time to stop the automatic, "You can call me 'Quatre'." The boy kicked himself mentally for that. "Quatre" was not a common name, but maybe the other man had missed it?

"'Quatre' is a fine name," Zechs smiled and then bowed slightly as a young woman arrived with a look on her face that told him his absence had been duly noted and it was time to go back to work. "I'll see you tonight then, Quatre!" He finished with a slight nod as he pulled the mask back into place and walked away.

Quatre leaned heavily against a wall and thought he'd fall over if he wasn't careful.

//SHIT!!! I *finally* get a hot date and it just *happens* to be with one of the most powerful officers in OZ?!? Damn it all! First, the guy I've had my sights set on for months ends up in someone else's arms and now *this*!!! Hell and damnation, am I *ever* gonna get a love life?!?//

Silently cursing a blue streak, he walked off in a hurry to find Trowa and to convince whomever he needed to convince to release the slender teen from duty so the two of them could get the hell out of there.

Quatre's minor blunder of talking to the OZ officer in the first place might have been a non-issue, but now that he had brought Trowa's undercover name to the man's attention as well as giving him his own first name there was sure to be trouble. The Sandrock pilot was quite certain that after he stood the man up for their date that night, Zechs would remember his face and eventually match it to the information that OZ had compiled on the Gundam pilots over the long months of conflict.

A quick check of his watch showed that there should be enough time to get Trowa out of the base thanks to Merquise's assistance and then get all of them far from the two bedroom apartment they'd just gotten comfortable in. He kicked himself again for the relocation that they would all need to make, but there was a full afternoon to make good their escape.

Even as Quatre approached the floor where Trowa stood alertly watching for an opportunity to depart, the blond teen let a small smile show. One good thing about relocating, maybe they'd end up somewhere that he didn't get stuck on the couch and that was better than nothing.

Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.

on to part 25

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