Category: Yaoi, AU, Gundam Wing
Pairings: 1x2, 3x4
Warnings: slight angst, reference to past angst, shonen ai
Complete Archive: www.geocities.com/arigatomina
Heero was the first to notice, but that was natural since he hardly slept anyway. He spent the night in his office, speaking with the guards still stationed within the manor, tightening security for obvious reasons. While they'd found the boy in an unpopulated area, it was on the Winner land so the violence was taken as an affront to them. Especially since Quatre had been upset by it. His work finished for the night, he decided to check on the boy before getting a few hours of sleep. Opening the door quietly, he took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the darkness; then he glared as he found the bed empty. And the window was open.
* * *
"Do you think someone took him?" Quatre's eyes widened till they filled his pale face and Trowa shook his head quickly. "But how do you know?"
"I didn't post a guard on him," Heero muttered, furious that he hadn't thought to do so, "But no one can get within three miles of the estate without being spotted. Which means it was someone inside the manor."
"Or he left on his own." Looking to Quatre when the boy frowned, Wufei nodded. "We don't know if he was capable of walking. We just assumed he couldn't."
"And assumptions lead to mistakes," Heero said softly.
"I trust my people," Quatre said firmly, no one daring or willing to argue with him. It wasn't often that his judgment was wrong when it came to his people and they all knew his people cared for him a great deal.
"All right. It shouldn't take long to find him." Trowa's seemingly calm voice soothed the blonde boy, as did his confidence. "He couldn't have gotten far."
They split up, rousing the servants and guards as well till lights illuminated the house both inside and out. But that wasn't where the four boys were looking, not inside, since the open window led them to search outdoors. The room was only on the second floor and the drop wasn't that far. Although the fact that the door had also been unlocked made them less than certain, they expected to find him outside somewhere. The outer guards watching the wall surrounding the large courtyard assured them that no one had exited, but they hadn't kept watch over the people moving inside the wall. Servants had to leave to work at night and the guards were not in the habit of questioning them. Quatre's trust in them prevented such actions.
In the end, it was a stable-hand who found the missing boy and the four soon rejoined as they approached the long stable. Dismissing the few men who were standing just inside the far door, Heero moved to where the others had stopped. As the man had said, the boy was in a corner of one of the empty stalls, a blanket from his bed wrapped around him. Without spoken agreement, Quatre was the first to speak to him.
"Are you okay?" Quatre asked, his voice soft. He made no move to approach the boy. Not wanting to frighten him, he didn't know what to do. "You didn't have to hide, no one here will hurt you."
It was no use. Looking at how the boy's wide eyes stared at Quatre made Heero want to growl with impatience. It was obvious the boy couldn't understand a word of what was being said. He'd almost certainly received multiple blows to the head and while Heero was no surgeon, he'd seen his share of wounds and head trauma was the worst. Most likely, the boy was as mindless as the odd-looking child that had been born in the neighboring village a few years ago. Remembering how simple the girl was now, Heero straightened suddenly as he thought of something that might get a response from the boy. Turning, he paused when Wufei caught his hand.
"Where are you going?" the black-haired boy asked, his voice very quiet. He'd seen the flicker in those cobalt eyes and he knew his friend had an idea.
"Keep him here."
The boy's eyes moved away from him, and Quatre turned a bit so he could see Heero leaving. Sighing, he only hoped the boy had some sort of plan that didn't involve forcibly dragging the boy inside. While he wasn't sure how to help, he wanted to go easy and he was loath to scare him. Although, the boy didn't seem the least bit frightened. It was more like he was waiting to see what they'd do. Trowa had warned him that the boy might never recover, but he didn't believe it himself. Those eyes seemed empty, but he'd never been the sort to give up hope. Smiling kindly at the boy, he gasped when a smile suddenly appeared on that bruised face and he almost fell over when the boy reached a dark hand out in his direction.
Catching his lover, Trowa gently moved him to the side as his eyes ran over Heero's face. His friend wasn't scowling, but he didn't look as if he were comfortable with what he was doing and he held the squirming ball of fur as if it would break if he so much as squeezed it the wrong way. Looking down at Quatre, the tall boy gave a slight smile at how happy he seemed as Heero crouched down a few feet from the longhaired boy.
Making sure he was out of the boy's reach, Heero lifted the kitten away from his chest, ignoring its frightened attempts at freedom, as he made certain the boy could see it. The girl in the village had adored the small animals and while she had never actually made an intelligent response, the sight of a kitten never failed to leave her smiling. "Do you want to hold her?" As surprising as it was, Heero gave no response when the boy nodded, long, matted hair falling forward. It was more than he'd expected, yet he wasn't going to do as Quatre did and get his hopes up. "Tell me your name and you can hold her." He didn't expect a response from this, either, and he knew it was cruel to tease him, but he did it anyway. As it was, the boy frowned for a minute; then held out both hands rather than just one.
"Heero..." Quatre scowled, gritting his teeth when Trowa shook his head. It was inhumane to torment the boy when they'd finally gotten a response from him. That simple smile was enough to warm his heart and he wanted to rip the kitten from Heero's hands and give it to the boy. Instead, he forced himself to stay still as he let his friend do what he felt he should.
Heero ignored the outstretched hands and held the kitten to him again as he made as if he would leave. "Too bad, she's sweet." He was turning slowly when the boy took his hands back, folding his bandaged arms loosely over his chest before making a whispery sound. Heero leaned forward quickly and his eyes watched the boy, missing nothing. He made the sound again, his voice very rough and scratchy, then the boy bent forward suddenly as he coughed. The grating sounds were painful to hear, but Heero had already heard enough. "Duo? Is that your name?"
Still coughing, the boy nodded, violet eyes wet from the effort. Heero turned to the boys behind him and was satisfied with the relief evident in Quatre's pale eyes. His theory was obviously shot and he realized the boy must have lost his voice rather than not remembering how to talk. When he turned back to the boy, Heero nearly flinched and he raised an eyebrow as he found bright violet eyes glaring at him. The boy held out his hands again and Heero handed the kitten over slowly, a smirk crossing his face when he saw how carefully it was held. "You do understand, then," Heero said, irritation surging in him when the boy didn't pay his words any attention.
Duo didn't even look up as he held the black and white kitten high on his chest, his head ducked as he breathed against the soft fur. He was in no hurry to move as his entire body hurt. It had taken forever to get up the nerve to jump from the window and while the bushes had broken his fall, his legs felt as if he'd broken them. But then, they'd hurt before he'd gotten out of the bed. Not looking up at the four boys who were no doubt watching him, he continued to fuss over the kitten. It wasn't that he was shy; at least he didn't think he was, but they were strangers to him and he didn't know why they were being kind to him.
His memories of the day were a blur, but he had a hazy memory of the four speaking to him. At least, he thought they were the ones. It wasn't until he'd woken in the dark that he'd been able to think clearly, and even then, all he knew was his name and pain. He hurt everywhere, and he didn't have to touch his face to know it was swollen as any statement hurt. Everything confused him, but he'd woken with an undeniable urge to run and hide, generally, it had been a need to escape. Looking at the young men who continued to watch him silently, he wondered if they had been the ones he'd run from. Somehow, he didn't think so. The fact that they didn't know his name made it obvious that he was as much of a stranger to them as they were to him.
The boy still hadn't spoken, and Quatre had tried to smile at him the few times Duo glanced up. It was a huge relief to know that the boy understood them, and he'd given them his name. It may have only been because Heero bribed him, but it was still a start. Minutes passed, but Quatre smiled widely when the boy let out a whisper-light sigh and looked at him. "I'm Quatre," he said softly, very relieved that the boy gave a tiny nod. "And this is Trowa, Heero, and Wufei." The boy's eyes followed him, pausing on each before returning to Quatre. The blonde couldn't help but smile when Duo suddenly lifted the kitten. "She doesn't have a name," he glanced at Heero, but the dark- haired boy shook his head. "Where did you find her?" he asked, not bothering to lower his voice. He didn't want Duo to worry about what they might be whispering.
"A cat had kittens in the hay loft," Heero said, scowling when Wufei smirked at him.
"And you immediately thought of them," the black-haired boy said smoothly. "You never cease to amaze me."
Heero didn't respond as Quatre moved forward, kneeling in front of the boy. The blonde was petting the kitten lightly and Heero glared, not sure why he was angry, though he wondered if he should have offered one of them to Quatre when he'd first heard of them. The boy had a fondness for animals.
"She's cute," Quatre commented, his smile barely contained. Duo gave a sharp nod but didn't offer anything more as his eyes were on the soft fur. "You could take her inside with you, if you like." The boy looked at him, and Quatre met his gaze, noticing that he had very expressive eyes, even if his face made the blonde want to wince. "Duo, you really have nothing to fear from us. Come inside? It's late, and it is going to get colder before dawn."
Large and pale blue-green eyes stared at him, and Duo sighed. He couldn't see anything but honest compassion in that kind gaze. His arms ached when he moved them, and it was as if his body had fallen asleep; the pain waking sharply. Closing his teeth together, he dropped his gaze, handing the kitten over to the blonde who knelt before him.
Quatre wasn't sure what to do, and he held the small cat absentmindedly. He hadn't meant for the boy to get up, and he blinked when Duo's hands touched the straw-littered floor as he braced himself. He hadn't looked at them, and he stood without thinking, almost taking a step back. His fingernails were dull and jagged, the tips brown from dried blood, but that wasn't what made Quatre stare. The boy's fingers were bruised beneath the nails, the grayish black color dark against his pale skin and Quatre couldn't think what would do such a thing. Then Duo hissed an indrawn breath and he shook himself, looking over his shoulder at Trowa.
"You shouldn't be walking," the tall boy said, mindful of Quatre's concern.
"I'll carry him." Heero scowled when he was met by two surprised, and one mocking gaze. Then Duo looked up, and he nodded at the boy's doubtful and wary eyes. "Your legs are probably a mess, and you jumped out that window, didn't you." It wasn't a question, but Duo nodded, looking guilty. The doctor hadn't said anything about his legs being broken, but Heero could imagine they would be in bad shape now. He'd either been a fool to jump out the window, or desperate.
Since Duo's statement wasn't as wary now, Heero stepped forward. It was awkward, lifting the boy when he was wrapped in the blanket, and the tiny sound of pain made his jaw tighten. Duo didn't offer to hold on to him, and the boy's hands lay limp in his lap. But they weren't clasped, and the boy didn't seem frightened at all by the contact. Although, Heero found that those violet eyes were glued to his face as if looking for something. "Don't run off again," Heero said as he stepped out of the stall, his friends making room for them.
"Heero," Quatre admonished, giving the dark-haired boy a reproachful look. "He's going to think he's a prisoner or something."
"No," Heero answered, not pausing as he strode to the door. "There's just no point in his hurting himself more." He glanced down and raised an eyebrow at Duo's soft snort. The boy seemed to be smirking at him, but he couldn't be sure as his face was too distorted. And he was filthy. It was obvious to him that the doctor had done very little besides bandaging him. "You need a bath."
He wanted to laugh. Here he was, no memories; with strangers, and he suddenly felt like grinning. Unfortunately, it would be too painful. Still, he didn't have to get a second opinion to know the boy was right. While he'd woken to find himself almost completely covered in bandages, the sight of his matted hair had brought a pang to his chest and something told him that he didn't let it get dirty often. Besides, he was sure he smelled, and he felt as if he were covered in filth.
Heero wasn't looking at him, and Duo glanced at the man who stood beside the door they were approaching. The place seemed to be well guarded, and it hadn't been easy making it to the stables unquestioned. This spoke to him of wealth, and he wondered who the people were. They were all so young, but they seemed to have superiority in the place, as the man half-bowed when he opened the door for them. The interior was also nice, but he stopped paying attention as he closed his eyes. He didn't know why, but his body suddenly felt as if it were caving in on him, and dull pain pulsed in beat with his heart.
Heero stopped, looking down when Duo abruptly went limp, his head falling back. For a brief instant, he was convinced the boy had just died from some unknown internal injury, but he was still breathing. Obviously, he'd just passed out. The others had been following, and he shook his head at Quatre's wide eyes. "He probably needs sleep."
* * *
"Someone should stay in there with him," Wufei said, pulling the door shut quietly. "He may panic again."
Before Quatre could volunteer, Trowa laid a hand on the boy's shoulder, his statement reproachful. "One of them can stay, or a servant. If you did it, you'd be up all night and you know you planned to meet with the merchants tomorrow."
"This is much more important," Quatre said quickly, but he wasn't really arguing. His mind was still frozen on the image of the boy's dark nails, and he was almost glad Duo had fallen asleep. "Trowa, did you see his hands?" The tall boy frowned, but Quatre turned, catching Heero's dark glower. As he'd thought, the dark-haired boy had noticed.
"It takes hours to do that," Heero said. His voice was low, and he looked away from Quatre, his eyes moving from the other two as well. "Constant but shifting pressure bruises the skin beneath the nails. I've seen something like that before, but never on fingernails."
"Whoever did that obviously has some interesting techniques, unique. It shouldn't he hard to find the evidence if Duo can tell us who did this to him."
Frowning at Wufei, Quatre shook his head. "Why wouldn't he be able to say who did it? We know he can talk, he told us his name."
"Barely. His throat is too rough to be the result of just screaming. I wouldn't count on his being able to say much for a week or two at least. Until then, we can do our own research." It was in his nature to move quickly, and Heero turned to Wufei, nodding sharply at the black-haired boy. "We need to find out if anyone is missing. He didn't run to that river, someone had to leave him there, someone who isn't too far away."
"I'll look in to that," Wufei nodded. "Then you're volunteering to watch him?"
The boy nodded again, glaring darkly. "The doctor told us nothing about his condition. We don't even know if he has any broken bones or deep cuts. Since he's said he won't help any more, I'm going to have to look into it myself."
It was difficult to keep from asking his friend to be gentle, but Quatre managed. He knew Heero had plenty of experience with injuries; it was his manner that needed work. But he didn't want to question him. Sighing, he leaned back, grateful to the arm Trowa slipped around him. "I still can't believe he'd tell us to let him die. That has to be the most heartless thing I've ever heard from him." Thinking of the doctor who'd been close to his family for as long as he could remember, Quatre shook his head. "He left. And he said not to call him again."
"It's reprehensible for a doctor to refuse to help a patient," Wufei said coldly. "There isn't an excuse for his behavior." He let his eyes soften a bit as he looked at the blonde. "Don't worry, though, Quatre. Heero and I both know how to care for most wounds. So long as he doesn't have any internal injuries, he should live."
The boy nodded slowly, and Wufei almost smirked at the way Trowa turned him. They were so subtle in their relationship, but the tall boy was the only one who could manipulate Quatre. They could spend hours explaining why the best thing for him to do would be to put his worries aside for the night, but all Trowa had to do was turn him toward their room and the blonde boy wouldn't argue. Quatre glanced back at them once, and he nodded to him, then the two moved down the hall. His statement hardened the moment they were out of sight, and he turned to Heero, noting that the boy was staring at the door. "Are you going to do it now, while he's asleep?"
He didn't have to ask what the black-haired boy was talking about, and Heero frowned. "He might wake up. It would be better if he were drugged first; I can't have him struggling while I check him. His injuries would just be complicated."
"You don't need my help." The boy shook his head, and Wufei straightened slowly. "I'll send one of the servants up with supplies. Then, I'm going to send a message to Rashid. If anyone has news of a disappearance, he'll find it."
"Fine." Heero watched as his friend turned away. They understood each other. While the offense had not been to one of their people, retaliation was still in order.
* * *