Rasid was decidedly displeased.
Sadeema had been quite upset over the many recent turns of events and when it approached the hour of ten in the morning with no sign
of Masters Quatre or Trowa and no indicator of Duo awakening anytime soon, the poor woman was beside herself.
"Well, Rasid?" She demanded. "What are you going to do about this?"
The large man sighed in frustration. He had taken over for Trowa around 3am and had been disturbed by the information he'd been
presented with at the time. As of 9am, the entire Maganac Corps had been put on alert regarding the emergency developing within the
Virtually every member had offered their aid, many of them had left their homes and were either en route to the estate or already there.
Each volunteer had been assigned watch over Duo when his friends couldn't be there. Quatre certainly hadn't asked for this service, but
Rasid's men had fought side-by-side with Duo and the other Gundam pilots during the war and he certainly wasn't going to let anything
happen that he and the Maganacs could prevent. "Sadeema, you know very well I am not about to go and break into Master Quatre's
room looking for him like a mother hen!"
A loud yawn interrupted them as an unusual sight greeted their eyes, Quatre, in a silk robe instead of dressed for the office, stepped past
both of them going straight to the refrigerator for some milk to soothe his ulcer. "Morning," he mumbled.
"Master Quatre," Sadeema began, clearly agitated, but was stopped by Rasid.
"Good morning, sir. We were quite concerned about you, are you all right?" Rasid tried to keep the urgency out of his voice as he
noticed the dark circles under Quatre's eyes and the obvious signs of pain as the boy tilted his head back to swallow two of the
painkillers, doubling the dosage without consulting Dr. Akheem.
"No, Rasid, I'm *not* all right. In fact, I'm pretty damned awful. But I'm the 'responsible one', aren't I? I have to hold everything
together one way or another, don't I?" He added bitterly. Rasid, expecting almost anything but this biting self-hatred, was at a loss, but
Quatre continued. "My friends are in trouble, I can't even function any more, and I feel like throwing the whole damned mess down the
toilet and leaving it behind me!"
"But, sir," Rasid sat next to him at the kitchen table. "None of this is your fault and you have done far more to assist all of them than
anyone could have wished for."
"Hmph." Quatre snorted in disgust. "Not good enough."
Before this self-destructive conversation could continue, the phone rang once again sending Quatre into a spasm of pain. Sadeema
picked it up and handed the phone to her employer with an uncertain look. "Master Quatre, it's that Ryuzouji man you've mentioned."
"The cop?" Quatre's pain temporarily forgotten, he considered the thousand and one things that could have gone wrong now since the
only other time the man had called was after he and Trowa were already in flight to the prison when the rape occurred. Keeping his
voice as neutral as possible, he answered, "Quatre Raberba Winner here."
"Mr. Winner!" Jack's voice sounded oddly pleased. "I have some good news for you sir, and thought you might like to get it right away
instead of waiting for these idiots to go through channels!"
Suspiciously, Quatre responded, "Well? What is this news, Mr. Ryuzouji?"
"Aw hell," the man laughed, "Call me 'Jack', even Heero does, ya' know! I'm calling about our blue-eyed boy."
//What? Since when is Heero any friend of *that* beast's?// Quatre thought in confusion. "What is your news, 'Jack'? Has something
else gone wrong for Heero?"
"Shit, no! He woke up last night, finally!" The man seemed utterly delighted confusing Quatre further. "He's asleep again now, but the
doctors say he is more likely to have a full recovery now since he finally decided to rejoin the world of the living. He and I talked about
some stuff and I wanted you to know about it."
"Hold on, Jack!" Quatre answered, excitement building up. He paged Trowa and the other young man appeared within moments.
Quatre transferred the call to a speaker phone then said, "Go ahead, Jack. Tell Trowa and me what Heero told you."
Trowa looked stunned. Heero had finally awakened after a week of being in a strange state of almost suspended animation? He'd
confided in Jack Ryuzouji of all people? What was going on here?
"Well, let's see. The first word he said was 'Gundam' which was pretty damned funny since I was working on a crossword puzzle and
had been talking to myself trying to find a six-letter word for a 'weapon of mass destruction'!" The man's rumbling chuckle came through
loud and clear.
"His first word was a *joke*?" Incredulous, Quatre just couldn't believe it.
"Yeah! Pretty funny, huh? Anyway, he's very concerned about Duo and I took the liberty of telling him that Duo wasn't doing too good.
Now, before you get too mad at me for that, I did it because all he wanted at the time was to find a way to just die flat out. I figured, if
he felt he owed it to somebody else to stay alive, it would work better and it did." Jack drew in a breath then continued since no one
spoke from the other end. "He's still one helluva wreck physically, but I think he's going to pull it together emotionally as long as he stays
focused on that lover of his. Unfortunately, he can't have any visitors in the infirmary and he's going to stay here quite awhile based on his
injuries, could you send me some photos of the two of them or anything? I ain't no doctor, but I think it'll keep him focused and he might
"Jack, why are you doing all this for just an 'ordinary criminal' as you once referred to him?" Trowa was cautious about accepting this
surprisingly good news so easily.
"That's easy, because what happened to the kid was my own damned fault! I let him down and he almost got killed. Damn it, when I
said what I did to that Judge, I meant every word. Heero has been more cooperative than anyone could have imagined and it's just
fucking not fair!" Jack's tone turned angry as he amended, "Besides, they're trying to crucify a guy who should be heralded as a savior
for what he did during the war, as well as everything else. My preference would be to go get his stuff and get him the Hell out of here
right now, but even I know better than to mess with medical shit."
Quatre, surprised, pleased, and relieved, could barely speak. "Jack, this is the best news we've had for what seems like an eternity.
How Heero ended up with you of all people as a personal bodyguard is beyond me, and I really don't care. As for photos, no problem,
we can get some over there today if you want, but how do we direct them to him?"
"Don't bother, it'll take too long, just send them addressed to me and they won't go through so much red tape." Jack truly despised any
adhesive of that color any more. "And while you're at it, send over some of his favorite music and a player. If he's going to be laid up for
awhile he would probably prefer to listen to something other than me. Granted, I'm staying with him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until
I can get him out of this rat infested pit, just to make damned sure nothing *else* goes wrong! So any time you want me to get
something to him, just send it care of yours truly and it will be delivered!"
Jack sounded so very pleased with his new role of "Guardian Angel", Quatre thought he'd test it a bit. "So, Jack, any chance of getting a
photo of him in return to prove to Duo he's still alive?"
"Hmm," Jack paused. "Well, Mr. Winner, to be blunt, right now he looks like Hell. But, if you'll send an instant camera with those
photos, I'll see if I can get something half-way decent to send back. I'm sure that would help, wouldn't it?" Now it was Jack's turn to
push things a bit. "By the way, how's the kid doing? I heard about the suicide watch and was concerned. Anything I can send from this
end to convince him to hang-on for Heero's sake?"
This surprised Quatre who looked helplessly at Trowa. "I have an idea," Trowa offered. "Why don't you see if he can at least write a
note or something for Duo? Duo can spot his handwriting anywhere and will know it's not a fake."
"Okay, Mr. Barton, I'll ask him if he thinks he can when he wakes up again. I'll look forward to getting those photos." The line went
Sighing and looking greatly relieved, Quatre's only comment was, "This damned well better work. Even Dr. Tsukishiro indicated Duo's
pretty messed-up. Let's get him to send a written message to Heero as well as the photos and hope for the best."
The results of this call were spectacularly successful. Trowa personally delivered the photos and note to Jack who came back with a
few pictures of Heero and the note so Trowa could take them with him when he left.
For the first time in all of the Hellish nightmare of pain following the rape, Heero and Duo could almost feel each others arms around
them. It was wonderful.
A voice Wufei would recognize anywhere came through the phone when he tried to contact the others at the estate. "Hi! This is Quatre!
If you even have this number, then you know what to do! And if it's Heero, don't you *dare* leave one of those stupid two-word
messages that make no sense unless you explain them later! "
Even the usually stoic Chang Wufei had to chuckle at the hidden message within a message, left in brighter days when life was filled with
promise as peace returned to a land torn by war. He cleared his throat and in his best imitation of Heero replied, "Ninmu who-cares."
He sighed deeply. "Gods, we can't even joke any more, it's gotten bad, hasn't it? I finally got in touch with Sally and after the onna
chewed me out for being out of touch, she filled me in on what happened."
"To say I am incensed would be to put it too mildly but I'm unable to take action on these changes beyond what I am attempting
already. Heero is strong enough to have pulled out of this already, I don't understand why he hasn't, but he should. I am, however, far
more concerned regarding Maxwell. Regardless of Heero's horrible mistreatment, Maxwell seems at greater risk now and though I wish
I could be there to aid him, there is little I could accomplish that you can't handle better, both of you. He is lucky to have staunch allies
surrounding him. Regarding the news about Laurel, I frankly do not know what to offer but my sympathies. The child is indeed special,
but perhaps things were never meant to be totally as she had predicted."
His voice was interrupted by a murmur from a speaker in the background.
"My shuttle is about to depart. I will send a new e-mail drop address as soon as I can get one set up. Keep me informed. Chang out."
Upon his return, Trowa was amazed to find a message waiting on the private line.
Quatre had taken the opportunity to go back to bed due to his headache while Trowa went to see Jack and had completely failed to
notice the private line ringing in his own bedroom. Failing to hear a sound so close to him, even in a drug-enhanced sleep was a bad sign
for the young man's health, but it never occurred to him to think of it that way. Instead he simply blamed himself for stupidly missing an
opportunity to talk to Wufei.
Angry with himself for missing Wufei's call, Quatre was even more depressed than usual. Heero's return to awareness was certainly a
positive thing and they felt hopeful about Duo's response to the note from Heero, the photo had indeed been a bad idea as Jack had
pointed out. Heero was recovering from not only the assault but also the hours of surgery that had followed and didn't look very good in
any of the photos Jack had sent. In all honesty, Duo didn't look good these days either, so they had sent an older one of Duo with
Laurel and Heero had appreciated it.
Trowa wrapped an arm around the blond and reassured him as best he could. "Quatre, we're doing all we can to help them. You must
believe in this."
Sighing, Quatre's head drooped down as he rested it against Trowa's chest. The warmth of the man holding him and the sound of his
heartbeat reassured him more than words could ever express. He leaned up and kissed Trowa lovingly. "You're right, Trowa. We are
doing everything we can *together*! I'm lucky to have you, koibito, I'd never survive this alone."
Quatre meant all of this as a show of his love for him, yet Trowa felt ill at ease hearing such words. The very idea of losing Quatre at all
had frightened him to the core weeks ago and it still did. Tightening his arms protectively, he simply said, "You'll never be alone, koi, not
as long as I live."
Quatre happily snuggled closer and didn't even wonder why Trowa was so vehement in his statement.