Disclaimer: Gundam Wing and all characters belong to Bandai, Sunrise, Sotsu, etc--not me.

Pairing: 2+1, 3+4, eventual 1x2
Rating: R
Timeline: some nebulous point during the first war ^^; No spoilers.
Warnings: angst, denial, my brand of humor, fluff and sap, eventual lemon

Kagi's notes: I owe a huge, huge thank you to everyone who reviewed to let me know that people are still actually reading this. Previous chapters are available at the various archives, and also on my livejournal. ( www.livejournal.com/users/soracia ) I know it's been forever since I updated, and I am SO sorry about that. My life has not cooperated with my writing time at all, and this chapter has given me hell for months on end. I'm very grateful that you've all been so encouraging--you are the reason I've finally managed to finish it. I apologize that it's not better--I wish I could say it was longer than usual or really really good, but I'm afraid it's just average. There is, however, a great deal of Trowa. *smiles at Moonraven* Just for you, lovely.
Also, major thanks to Tyria, Nenya, Ashes and Ringa for a long and rather crazy chat one day and listening to me ramble at many other times. You guys are the best. *hugs lots* Now I will shut up and let you read... I'm not entirely happy with this chapter, but I'd love to know what you think of it!

Summary: Thievery, sneakiness, shampoo, a little angst and a lot of shouting... but this is a fluffy 1x2 get-together fic. Really. I swear.

=== indicates scene change and/or passage of time

Stealing Sweet Dreams
Chapter 6
by Kagemihari

Wufei congratulated himself on the fact that when Barton had suggested they ensure that Maxwell and Yuy were not sharing a room, he had managed to avoid ending up with Maxwell as his roommate. He and Yuy might not always get along, but they understood each other in a way that he would never understand the pilot of Deathscythe if he had a hundred years. Wufei was certain that Maxwell was at least half crazy, and he tended to make anyone else that way who spent much time with him. So he had volunteered to share a room with Yuy, leaving the crazy one for Winner or Barton; either of whom seemed to have a great deal more patience for Maxwell's quirks than Wufei did.

Unlike Winner, he had not been concerned by the other pilots' delayed return. Maxwell and Yuy were formidable enough each on their own, and together he had no doubt they were a match for whatever they had run into. So he had remained sitting calmly on his bed, reading, and looked up with only a mild curiosity when Yuy finally walked into the room.

Yuy went straight to the desk, and dropped everything except his laptop case on the floor beside it. He took the laptop out, his hands lingering almost caressingly on the smooth outer casing as he set it carefully on the desk. When he had raised the lid and powered it on, he relaxed almost imperceptibly as soon as it was up and connected to the nets again. There was an air almost of reverence about his movements, and if Wufei had been a more expressive individual, he might have rolled his eyes, or shaken his head.

Instead he merely watched as Yuy, having taken care of the really important things, turned to survey the empty bed. He contemplated it for a moment, almost wearily, as if debating whether or not to just crash and leave the rest till morning. Discipline won out, however, and he bent to retrieve his belongings, methodically going about his minimal unpacking.

"Trouble on the mission?" Wufei asked him, simply to make an opening if Yuy wished to elaborate.

"Maxwell," was stated curtly by way of an answer. Apparently, he did *not* wish to elaborate.

"Ah..." Wufei really needed no more explanation than that; but he was curious. "What happened?"

Yuy snorted. "Idiot almost got himself caught; soldiers picked him up outside the base on a recon."

Wufei raised an eyebrow. "Almost?"

Yuy shrugged, a mere twitch of his shoulders as they slumped in weariness. He was kneeling on the floor, sorting through the contents of his duffle for the items he needed tonight. Brushing his messy hair out of his eyes, he threw a glance up at Wufei. "Talked his way out of it, as usual."

Wufei considered that. He was sure that Maxwell *could* talk his way out of such a situation; it would have been interesting to watch. Then he frowned. "How did he get caught?"

"Fell asleep, he said," Yuy answered absently. He began to change his clothes for the night with the carefully precise, mechanical motions of controlled exhaustion. Which was not so very different from his usual careful precision in everything he did--but looking closely, Wufei could observe the signs of tired abstraction. He seemed to have something on his mind.

Thoughtfully, Wufei replaced his bookmark and followed suit, changing for bed and then heading to the bathroom to brush his teeth. He would have asked another question or two, since that explanation struck him as being rather odd, but he had a feeling he wouldn't get much of an answer.

When he re-entered the room, Yuy was sitting on the edge of his bed, outstretched arms supporting him as he sat with his head bent, staring intently at the floor. Wufei was a bit surprised; he had expected to find the other boy in bed, perhaps half-asleep already. But Yuy was biting his lip, as if debating whether or not to say something. Wufei watched him warily for a moment, wondering what the problem might be. He waited, but Yuy said nothing, so after a minute he shut off the light and crawled into bed.

Closing his eyes, he felt himself sink into the mattress, gradually relaxing all over, gravity pulling him into sleep as he cleared his mind and centered himself. He was startled then, half a minute later, when Yuy's voice suddenly brought him fully back to wakefulness.

"Chang... could you do me a favor?" The question was quiet, rather hesitant, almost embarrassed -- 'what? embarrassed?' Wufei thought, puzzled. He couldn't imagine what could fluster Heero Yuy. He didn't ever remember seeing him like that. Peering across the near total darkness of the room, he could see that the other pilot was still sitting on the edge of his bed.

"What is it?" he asked, trying not to sound too surprised or curious, or anything else that might further discomfit his roommate.

Wufei got the distinct impression that Yuy was gnawing on his lip again as he weighed his reply. When he spoke it was stiff, stilted, the words halting as if he was unsure what he wanted to say, or even if he wanted to say anything. "I... have not slept well the past few nights. I would like for you to... leave me alone, if you -- if I should happen to wake you tonight."

To say that Wufei was shocked would be an exaggeration, or perhaps an understatement. He simply stared blankly across the room in the darkness, not knowing what kind of response to make to that. Fortunately, Yuy went on before he had to come up with one. His tone was stiff, hesitant, trying to cover that sense of embarrassment; or maybe it was shame. "I might disturb you. If I do, please ignore it. It's nothing I can't handle." He stopped, rather abruptly, as if he had simply run out of words.

Wufei nodded slowly, forgetting that Yuy couldn't see him. "Of course," he said solemnly, "I will leave you be." He could allow the man that much dignity, at least. When one lost control of one's reactions to the degree the request implied, one preferred not to be aware -- or at least, not forcibly reminded -- of any witnesses.

Yuy grunted in relief, unable or unwilling to voice his thanks, but knowing that Wufei had understood. There was a rustling sound as he finally climbed under the covers and settled down to sleep.

Wufei, on the other hand, stared at the ceiling for some time, wondering what exactly had happened on that mission to make Yuy so wary of the strength of his nightmares.

= - = - =

Heero awoke for the last time, finally, the next morning, and for awhile he didn't move. It was still far too early to be up, and yet late enough that it would be pointless to try and return to sleep before he truly had to be up. He just lay there in the pre-dawn dimness, thinking, trying to make some sense out of this somnial turmoil that afflicted him. He was thoroughly frustrated, confused, and rather disgusted with himself. He didn't understand it.

It was like the previous occasion when his nightmares had returned, though not quite as severe, since there had been only one night's respite this time. But for the last few nights again, he had been awakened repeatedly in the grips of terror, unaware at first of his surroundings, and had to force himself to calm down enough to fall asleep again. He was very grateful that tonight Chang had kept his word, and had not made so much as a sign that he had been disturbed as well.

He had gotten a resounding answer the question of how many free nights he would get. Exactly one. Just that one night he had sat up waiting for Maxwell. But why? It was so unpredictable, there seemed to be no pattern to it. He had always had terrible dreams nightly, for as long as he could remember. It was highly illogical for that pattern to suddenly become erratic. There must be a reason, some factor affecting the change.

He was suddenly, insistently reminded of his earlier odd thoughts about the lavender scent which had followed him around on that morning he had waited for Maxwell to return. It was ridiculous to think that had anything whatsoever to do with the problem... but the fact remained, that the nights when he had been nightmare free had one thing in common, and so far as he could tell, one thing only. And that was the direct influence of Maxwell's shampoo.

Heero snorted aloud to himself, amazed that he was even thinking this; it was absurd! He raised one hand to rub his eyes without lifting his head, and blinked several times as if to clear his thoughts. Yet his analytical mind persisted in the opinion that this was, apparently, the determining factor. It was logical--if silly. Yes, indeed, he thought, it was extremely foolish to think that the scent of someone's shampoo could have an effect on their sleep.

Wait. That actually was a reasonable assumption... maybe... a little...

"No way," he muttered to himself. He rose up on his elbows and ran his fingers through his sleep-mussed hair, unable to believe that he was actually considering this theory. But it *was* a theory. At the moment, it was his only theory. And evidently, as theories went, it was sound enough, although it was as yet untested.

Heero blinked. Test it? Was he actually thinking of.... Frowning, he folded his arms beneath his chin as he pondered that. How *could* such a theory be tested? He supposed he would have to experiment with shampoo and see if it consistently affected his dreams. And even then...he tried to decide if it was, indeed, worth testing.

'Yes!' his mind shot back with very little deliberation. It was an odd theory, maybe, and foolish -- hell, it was *weird*--but if there was a chance that this was the key to sleeping better than he ever had in his life, it had to be tested. For a soldier, dreamless sleep was rare, and a thing to be envied.

And if nothing else... a tiny wicked smirk appeared on his face, an expression that would have startled his teammates if they had seen it. There was the fact that in order to test it, he would have to continue borrowing from Maxwell without telling him -- for there was no way he was going to tell him, and what would he say, anyway? Maxwell would laugh at him. No, Heero would not tell him, and there was no reason to tell him; not when the other pilot never thought of asking *him* when he wanted to borrow or use things. It was time for a little payback.

Even if he ended up, as he supposed, disproving the ludicrous idea, it would be worth it to have a further excuse to return the annoyance Maxwell so often frustrated him with. Whether the theory proved sound or not, it would be a satisfactory result. It was a good enough excuse. A good enough reason.

Very well, he decided with a grim smile, he would at least test it.

= - = - =

Having Duo Maxwell for a roommate was an experience, to say the least. Trowa was not a talkative person, but he didn't mind Maxwell's chatter much. He found it amusing to just sit and listen sometimes as Maxwell rambled on about things. His sense of humor was odd, but consistent, and Trowa found himself chuckling now and then at some of his observations.

He realized quickly that while Maxwell talked a lot, it was often about inconsequential things. He had an easy, friendly way about him that made you feel as if you knew him well, inviting confidence while in actuality saying little about himself. He was in some ways, a very private person, and Trowa reflected that Maxwell was not as simple to understand as it would seem at first glance.

Another thing that surprised him perhaps more than it should have, was Maxwell's inveterate curiosity about everything. When he encountered a new situation or idea, he seemed to fill up with questions, analyzing and testing it. He was also the kind of person who liked to take things apart to see how they worked, and then put them back together again.

Trowa had watched in some bemusement as this process was applied to various things, often repeatedly, and had concluded that Maxwell seemed to be making a game out of how fast he could completely dismantle and then reassemble them in working condition. Occasionally these were things that genuinely needed fixing--more often, it appeared that they simply presented a challenge or an interesting puzzle.

The latest victim of this particular amusement was a radio, currently spread out on the desk in their room, and Maxwell was leaning over it with a tiny frown of concentration that belied the gleam in his eye as he systematically disintegrated it. It appeared to have been taken from his Gundam, which Trowa thought was rather optimistic of him, to assume that he would not be needing it for as long as it took him to put it back in working order.

Lying on his bunk, partially absorbed in a thick book, Trowa observed the progress of the operation with occasional sideways glances. Whatever Maxwell was doing to it, seemed to be a little more complicated than simply taking it apart and putting it back together. There were frequent mutterings under his breath interspersed with his usual practice of humming, whistling, or singing while he worked.

After the most recent bout of this, Trowa put down his book to watch with idle interest. If this were a contest of sorts between Maxwell and the machine, he appeared to be losing. "Maxwell, what *are* you doing to your radio?" he asked finally.

Maxwell looked up in slight surprise, as if he had forgotten there was someone else in the room, or had assumed that he was being ignored. "It's not my radio, it's Kat's," he explained.

This only added to unusualness of the project -- Maxwell often played mechanic on his own things, but rarely those of others. Trowa raised his eyebrows. "Winner let you take the radio out of his Gundam, and take it apart. What the hell for?" he asked in mild curiosity.

Looking slightly embarrassed behind his grin, Maxwell shrugged, rubbing the back of his neck as he stretched a bit. "He wants me to rig it to perform automatic triangulation on the location of any incoming signal using the navigational system." He waved at the parts on the desk. "Not all of that is from the radio -- I have to tie it into the nav system, and set it to display the location with zoom capabilities from satellite images."

Trowa digested this. That sounded rather useful, actually. "You can do that?"

"If I have the right parts, yeah. That's where Kat went, to find me some of the stuff I need."

Interesting. Trowa shook his head. "Where did he get this idea?"

The grin Maxwell gave him was pure mischief. "Saw what I did to mine. I rigged the one in Deathscythe the same way, and I use it all the time."

Trowa thought belatedly that he really ought to have known that, and he shook his head again. He refrained--at least for the time being--from asking Maxwell to do the same to his own. He could possibly figure it out for himself anyway, and it would be interesting to try, albeit not very practical.

He considered the problem for a moment, his mind noting the systems and parts that would be affected or offline if he did so, estimating that the Gundam's readiness would be at roughly 60 percent while he worked on it. Maybe less. A risk, but it could be done. He could always ask Maxwell to help him with it if it looked like it would take him too long.

A brief silence fell between them as Trowa returned to his book, then a few minutes later Maxwell spoke again, sounding a bit guarded, and almost diffident.

"Say, um... you, make good coffee."

Trowa blinked, and raised an eyebrow. "Is that a subtle way of asking will I make some?"

"Well... see, I suck at it," Maxwell admitted with a sheepish grin. "And Kat will be back soon, and..." his voice trailed off, and he looked hopeful.

Thoughtfully, Trowa nodded, replacing his book on the bed beside him as he rose and left the room on silent feet. Now that was one thing that did not surprise him at all. He had noticed that while Maxwell was reasonably friendly and helpful to everyone, he would really only go out of his way for Quatre. That extended to doing things he found disagreeable or uncomfortable, or simply annoying and would not normally have bothered with, such as making dinner when it was his turn, doing dishes when it wasn't, or picking things up and putting them away instead of leaving them where he dropped them. And apparently, admitting his ineptitude at making coffee even if it caused him some embarrassment.

Trowa pondered this phenomenon as he moved about the kitchen, making Quatre's coffee. Quatre was the one person Maxwell seemed to be truly close to, and whom he invariably referred to as 'Cat'. Trowa had wondered about the reasons for that particular nickname, other than the obvious similar sound, but he had to admit the name seemed to suit the blonde boy rather well. The sly mischief and careful thoughtfulness, the sense of being at peace and yet watchful, the air of refined elegance he never seemed to completely lose even in combat were all rather reminiscent of his namesake. It seemed in some way very fitting.

It was also indicative of the bond between them that he was the only one, thus far, who had been given such a nickname; it was the sort of thing friends did, implying a level of comfortable affection Trowa wasn't sure he understood. They had just seemed to hit it off well, and it was amusing to watch them together. It was as if they had been brothers in another life, and were just picking up where they left off. Trowa had never had a friend like that, himself; as he waited for the coffee to finish brewing, he wondered what it was like.

When he returned to their room, he handed Maxwell the cup he'd brought back, then picked up his heavy book and settled himself comfortably on his bunk.

Maxwell took an appreciative sip from the steaming mug, and set it down in one of the few clear spaces on the desk, throwing him a curious glance as he went back to work. "Whatcha reading?"

Trowa looked up at him, considering. "T is a fault to Heaven, a fault against the dead, a fault to nature, to reason most absurd," he said solemnly.

"Ahh..." A sharp glance from the corner of his eye was the only indication that Maxwell was startled by the response. "Shakespeare," he identified the quote, nodding to himself and frowning a little as he pulled on a wire. His hands stilled then and he tilted his head, looking not at Trowa, but past him as his forehead wrinkled in thought. "Hamlet," he announced momentarily, and Trowa nodded in slight surprise.

Maxwell grinned at him. "The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind, a savageness in unreclaimed blood."

Further surprised and intrigued, Trowa leaned back on his elbows and gave him a level glance. "It is not nor it cannot come to good," he asserted, watching Maxwell expectantly.

Maxwell shrugged philosophically. "All that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity." He shot Trowa a sideways look, his eyes glinting with amusement. "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

Trowa allowed his smile to show. This could be fun. "Our wills and fates do so contrary run, that our devices still are overthrown," he countered, pointing out, "Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own."

Maxwell shrugged again. "If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come the readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows what is't to leave betimes, let be." His rough-accented voice blended strangely, yet rhythmically into the elegant cadence of the lines; he sounded as if he were repeating an old familiar verse, one that he had read and recited many times.

It made his point with simple, final grace; Trowa could not think of single appropriate retort. He opened his mouth, and closed it again, shaking his head. "Though this be madness, yet there is method in t," he conceded.

The answering laughter was bordering on gleeful, and Trowa mock-scowled at him. "O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain! My tables--meet it is I set it down, that one may smile, and smile, and be a villain."

Maxwell grinned unrepentantly. "Season your admiration for a while," he teased. "Every man has business and desire, such as it is."

Trowa nodded judiciously. He was curious now, wondering what it was that Maxwell found to interest him in the text of the old play; he clearly knew it rather well. "Come, give us a taste of your quality," he challenged, raising an eyebrow. "What's your favorite line?"

"To thine own self be true; and it must follow, as the night the day, thou can'st not then be false to any man," Maxwell answered promptly, not having to think about it.

Trowa was surprised, and somewhat impressed, in spite of himself; his other eyebrow rose to join the first near his hairline. Whatever he'd been expecting, that was not it. Perhaps it should have been, he reflected, remembering that Maxwell followed his own code of honor. Trowa eyed him with interest, seeing him in a new light. He'd never really considered before that Maxwell might have that kind of depth to him. After this conversation, he would have to rethink his opinion. "To be honest as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand," he agreed, nodding in a faint salute.

Maxwell looked faintly embarrassed. "It's a good way to live," he shrugged. "What's yours?" he asked, turning the subject around.

Trowa thought for a minute, looking down at the book in his hand. A tiny smile quirked the corner of his mouth, and he shot a glance at Duo from underneath the fall of his hair. "Brevity," he said in a solemn voice, "is the soul of wit." The glint in his green eyes was barely visible behind his hair, and for a minute, Maxwell took him seriously.

He started to nod, looking as if he had expected that--then he paused and looked at Trowa sharply, perhaps hearing the subtle note of humor in his tone. "Yeah? Let it be tenable in your silence still..." he noted, and let the sentence trail off, considering.

"Give thy thoughts no tongue," Trowa continued, straight faced now. "They have a plentiful lack of wit."

A moments silence, and then a rapid series of expressions flashed across Maxwell's face -- shock, outrage, chagrin, and finally grudging amusement. "Got me," he admitted with a rueful laugh. "So what is it really?"

Trowa smiled briefly, then sobered as he contemplated the question. "Find out the cause of this effect, or rather say, the cause of this defect, for this effect defective comes by cause," he said at length.

Maxwell whistled softly to himself. "Nice," he nodded. "This time I believe you." He grinned cheerfully, the kind of grin that accepted defeat with grace--and the promise of friendly retribution to follow at a later date, of course. Trowa found himself looking forward to it.


Comfortable silence had fallen for a stretch of time, as Trowa returned to his book and Maxwell went back to his radio. He had set his coffee down on the corner of the desk, near his elbow--the only clear spot. Trowa eyed it dubiously, thinking that it looked precarious, but he said nothing.

Maxwell appeared to know what he was doing, and indeed, the heavy mug escaped several close calls without incident as pilot-mechanic moved deftly among the pieces he was altering--snipping wires, swapping connections, rearranging and tightening screws. He seemed to have a sixth sense of where things were, and his elbow repeatedly just missed catching the top of his mug as he reached across the small desk.

After a while, Trowa stopped watching out of the corner of his eye for the impending collision. Which is why he was taken by surprise when the clatter, splash, and cursing from the other boy confirmed that he had, indeed, knocked it over and spilled coffee on the desk, and far too near his sensitive electronics.

"Ah, shit!" he exclaimed, hastily moving parts out of the way of the rapidly spreading brown puddle of hot liquid.

Trowa smirked. "You need a bigger desk," he commented.

Maxwell shot him a dirty look. "No shit, Sherlock?" he snapped as he hurriedly moved more pieces of electronics out of the way.

Trowa continued smirking silently and went to get him a towel. By the time the mess was cleaned up, Maxwell's good humor had been restored, and he was--after some subtle prompting -- cheerfully explaining the finer details of what he was doing as Trowa helped him carry all the bits and pieces out to the kitchen table.

"And I need an additional transceiver with a stronger range that can pick up and intercept landbased transmissions from space, even when they aren't specifically directed at the Gundam."

"Is that what Winner is looking for?"

Maxwell nodded without looking up as he rearranged his new working space. "He said he knows someone around here who can find parts. I told him what I needed, so hopefully he won't have trouble getting the right one."

"It's an interesting idea," Trowa decided. "Very useful." He definitely needed to see about modifying his own.

Cocking his head to one side, Maxwell nodded to himself as he began to work again. "I could do yours too, if you want," he offered absently.

Trowa raised an eyebrow at the unexpected offer. He wouldn't mind allowing Maxwell to do it for him, but then there was the question of what he would want in return. He would probably do it for nothing for Winner, since they were friends; but Trowa himself had no such claim on him.

"I don't know... what do you want for it?" he asked, warily.

Maxwell looked surprised, then calculating. "Hadn't really thought about it... guess we can say you owe me one." Then he grinned. "If you want, but really, I was just going to do it. You don't have to owe me anything."

Trowa refrained from pointing out that he would feel like he owed him whether Maxwell considered it a debt or not. He was still talking though, and his next words were even more unexpected.

"We're friends, it's not a big deal."

"Are we?" Trowa asked in some surprise.

"Sure!" Maxwell replied immediately. "Kat likes you, that's good enough for me."

Trowa blinked. He was sure he'd heard Maxwell perfectly fine, but the words weren't making sense. "Cat.... likes me?" he asked, bemused. Likes as in...*likes*?

Maxwell shrugged. "He thinks you're cool. And he really appreciated you making the room arrangments the way you did." He paused, a bit awkwardly. "So did I," he admitted, ducking his head and fixing his eyes on his work again.

Ah. No, of course not *likes*, like that. Just... likes. But that was surprising enough in itself, and Trowa wondered why he had even considered that it might mean anything more. Why he found himself... slightly disappointed. He lifted one shoulder in a faint shrug as he settled back into his chair.

"It's nothing; just makes it a little easier on all of us."

Maxwell nodded, looking wry and a bit discouraged. "You're right," he agreed, "we fight too much." He remained bent over the pieces of the radio he was tinkering with.

Studying him thoughtfully, Trowa wondered if he could get Maxwell to talk about it. They could always keep fixing the sleeping arrangements, but the ideal thing would be to eliminate the problem in the first place. "Maxwell... Duo," he corrected himself--if they were friends, well, he supposed they were on first name basis. "Why is it that you two fight the way you do?" he asked.

A short, sharp laugh sounded, and Maxwell shook his head. "Hell if I know.... guess we're just too different. Seems like everything I do makes him mad. I talk too much, I'm not neat enough, I bother him when he's tryin' to concentrate... I dunno. He just doesn't like me at all."

"Hmm," Trowa replied noncommittally. He doubted that the fault was all on one side; Maxwell was annoying, sometimes, no question about that, but not so much that he made people explode at him just from being in the same room. Which was how Yuy always ended up reacting to him. There was more to it than the surface personality clashes. He would have to watch them both more closely, and see if he could figure out what was going on. Maxwell didn't appear to have any idea of where the problem was; perhaps if he kept an eye on Yuy for awhile, he would pick up some clues.

He might talk to Cat as well; the blonde boy was rather perceptive, particularly when it came to Duo. He would probably have some ideas about the problem. Trowa changed the subject. "You're very close, aren't you?"

"Huh?" Duo looked up, startled by the sudden question; apparently he had been thinking hard about the previous topic. It likely bothered him more than anyone else that he didn't know what it was about him that irritated Yuy to the point of violence more often than not.

"You and Cat, you seem very close."

"I suppose so," he answered with a shrug. "He's m'friend, yeah... We haven't really known each other that long, but he's a good guy, Kat is."

Trowa nodded, a trifle wistfully. He would have to talk to Cat about... things. Maxwell and Yuy, of course. Yes. That was it.

= - = - =

When Quatre returned, several hours later, the house was quiet, and Trowa had returned to his room and his book. In the kitchen Duo was still up to his elbows in wires and electronics and pieces of circuit board spread out all over the table. A fresh cup of coffee was safely ensconced to one side, in a clear patch which he didn't have to reach around or over.

Kat surveyed the damage with raised eyebrows, wondering how Duo thought he was going to get all of those pieces back in their proper places in a reasonable amount of time. It gave him a headache just thinking about it, and he was tired; he decided he would worry about it later.

Looking around, he sorted through the available food in the house in his head, trying to decide if he felt like bothering to make much of anything. And what was that... it smelled good... surely he didn't... but who else would...

"There's coffee?" Kat looked surprised, then doubtful. "Duo... I appreciate the thought, but--"

"Trowa made it," Duo interrupted without looking up.

"Oh." Kat tried not to sound relieved, and went to find a mug without further comment. He tossed the small package on the table as he went by, and Duo pounced on it eagerly.

Tearing the wrapping off, Duo held it up for inspection, turning it over, nodding to himself--then he stopped, and a frown began to creep over his face. He turned the small piece of electronics over a few more times, the frown growing more pronounced as he did so.

Kat took a sip of his coffee--it *was* really good coffee--and turned to see why Duo was so quiet. At the expression on Duo's face, his brow creased quizzically and he came over to stand beside him. Duo looked up, still frowning.

"Kat...where did you get this?"

Kat regarded him, a little puzzled and a little wary; when Duo said 'Kat...' in that tone of voice--it was never a good thing. "From our underground supply contact for this area--he's a WEI affiliate, and I've worked with him before. Why?"

"This isn't what I asked you for," Duo said, suspiciously.

"Yes it is," Kat took the piece from his hand and pointed to the fittings on the back. "See? Just like you said."

"No." Duo shook his head. "It does the same thing, kind of, but it isn't... it's not -- this is Alliance make."

Kat's eyes widened. "Alliance..." He shook his head in confusion. "But how?"

Duo tossed the part back at him. "I don't know, but it doesn't matter now." He started gathering up the electronics scattered over the table, hurriedly putting the radio back into at least basic working order. "Whoever it is obviously has some contacts you don't know about. This place isn't safe anymore...we need to split. You have assignments for our next missions?"

Kat nodded slowly as his mind shifted gears, to planning an emergency evac of this locale. "Yes, I can send them to you...but my nav systems are only semi operational now." He frowned at the mess of his radio in Duo's hands.

"I'll send you the coordinates once we get moving, let's just go, now, before that sneaking bastard rats us out."

"What do I do with this? Can you use it?"

Duo shook his head. "I don't know. I'd have to mess with it some more. Maybe, later. Give it to Yuy for now, he might be able to track where it came from and who your guy is working for."

Kat was slightly disturbed by the 'your' and the associated implications, but now was not the time for placing blame, so he simply nodded and went to grab his own things.

Once again, it was time to run.

to be continued

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