Part 9 [FiND ME]


'"Trust me".'

He could hear the words echoing in his mind. '"Trust me," he said. And I did. Damn fool I was, to trust them all. He said God loved me, he said they loved me... and what happened? They all died. All of them. Everyone I cared about, everyone I let into my life after my family died. God, is everyone I meet supposed to die? Is everyone I love supposed to die?'

Duo turned his attention to the battered bookshelf. Stacked neatly in rows were old and torn apart books he'd rescued from the street or alleyways. His most previous book and possible one of his precious belongings, the Bible, sat primly alone on the top shelf. Slowly, Duo walked over to the bookshelf and pulled down the well-loved and worn Bible and held it tenderly, for a moment, remembering.

Always remembering.

And he opened it to the book of Revelations, to immerse himself in the Lord's decree for mankind; to assure himself he wasn't the only one being punished in this lifetime and, in the end, the faithful would be allowed in the gates of Heaven. To lighten his heart and restore his faith in the Lord. To try and believe in life again. Which would be difficult, since Duo had given up his belief in humankind long ago.

"Mission, Heero. Commander wants you in his office now."

Heero nodded at Relena's message and saved his work, then got up. He stretched - he hadn't gotten out of the chair for some hours now.

"Bench butt?" A snicker escaped Trowa's lips as he gave the query.

Replying with his own snicker, Heero stretched again and walked down the hallway to Commander Treize's office.

In the office already were Wufei and Tobias. Heero was slightly startled to see Tobias - they hadn't worked together since Heero's first mission. Masking his emotions, Heero soundlessly slid into a chair and awaited mission details.

"Simple infiltration of a school," Trieze tossed off casually. "Go see Une for funds; Heero, you're there for hacking. I want you to firstly clear you three for admissions, then put yourselves in classes together with a list of a few girls - it's in the portfolio. Wufei, you're going to be a decoy of sorts. Tobias, you're wing man. Back them both up." A pause to see that it all sank in. "Dismissed." He waved them out with their folders.

"Hn." Heero riffled through the folder. "Leaving in 2 hours?"

"Sure," was Tobias' breezy, cheerful answer. Wufei nodded.

As Wufei walked away, Heero watched him for a moment. They hadn't really interacted since that first day; his gaze was critical and purely ascertaining pros and cons. Hn. His gait was steady, which led Heero to the conclusion that his walk could be stealthy. Heero had seen Wufei in practice rooms and knew that the Chinese liked knife-fighting. In fact, Wufei was generally an in-your-face type of person, whereas Heero liked to blend into the background. He remembered Wufei's first mission, which they'd been together on, and remembered and Wufei was quick, efficient, but oftentimes flashy.

Heero stored his thoughts in the back of his head and returned to his office.

"Mission?" It wasn't really a query, but Heero nodded at Trowa nevertheless. "Damn." Heero looked at Trowa quizzically. "I get the impression it'll take a while and Quatre wanted me to invite you for dinner."

Nodding his thanks, Heero said, "I'm sure you two would much prefer being alone for dinner."

Trowa, predictably, blushed slightly. Heero snickered.

"How is your sex life, anyways?"

Trowa's jaw dropped completely, and he was more speechless than he'd ever been in his life. Firstly, because Heero was being social - at least, for Heero it could be considered being social - and secondly because of the *question*! "I - ah... um..." he flustered, turning completely red in the face. Heero began to laugh.

"Words can't tell it?" he teased. Trowa only gaped the more and gave up all attempts to speak. Heero's eyes actually twinkled in a friendly fashion.

Finally, "Heero!"

"What?" Innocently.

"You don't ask things like that!"

"Nani?" Heero subdued slightly. "Gomen, Trowa. I... I thought it was something friends do. We are friends, ne?"

At this quiet admission of uncertainty, Trowa blinked. "Of course, Heero," he said softly. "We are friends. Indeed, you are the best friend I've ever had."

Heero's spirits lightened slightly.

'Gomen, Trowa. I've never had friends before - not real friends, at least. And I never know where the boundaries are, and what friends are supposed to do. I suppose that makes you the guinea pig, ne? Someone I can learn from. Will you... will you teach me how to be a friend?'

Someone came up behind Duo and hugged him lightly from behind. Duo froze for a moment, before realizing it was Bella.

"Hey, Koi," she said softly. She pulled herself around to sit down next to him. "You okay?" Duo glanced down at the open Bible in his hands, which Bella was pointedly not looking at. He silently shook his head 'no'. "Thought so." She wrapped her arms comfortingly around him once again, then released him. "Want to talk about it?"

Duo sat pensively for a moment. "Some of it," he finally said. He glanced up at her anxious face. She really cared, he noted. And it scared him. Everyone he cared about always died...

"I was just thinking about my family," he finally said, back to looking blankly at the black smeary ink on the old and faded pages. Gently, he ran a finger down the soft binding. "How - how I still miss them." The words caught slightly in his throat and he swallowed, blinking twice.

Bella rubbed his hand reassuringly. "Koi," she sighed. "Your family... they sound wonderful. And I'm so sorry that you had to be dumped out of an amazing life. Life sucks, you know. But I don't think you deserve this kind of shit." She squeezed the hand slightly, then let go.

Duo looked at Bella earnestly. "Neither do you, Bella. You're great, do you know that?" He reached over and hugged her tightly. She hugged him back just as fiercely.

"You, Koi, are an amazing person and I hope you never forget that, no matter what situation you're in," she said seriously. "And you know I don't believe in your God, but if he exists, I'm sure he loves you with his whole heart and he'll make sure you get everything you deserve to have."

At Bella's words, Duo would feel his eyes start to water slightly. "Thanks," he said gruffly, untangling himself. Bella smiled faintly. 'Boys. Can't admit they have emotions or feelings.' Glancing at a clock told her it was nearing 7 o'clock.

"Koi, better go grab yourself dinner or something; it's almost 7."

Duo hastily wiped away at his eyes and Bella pretended not to have noticed. "Oh, okay," he said with his normal enthusiasm. His normal mask. "Want to come eat out with me?"

"No more good food for a while," Bella warned, getting up and stretching slightly. "It's not good for my stomach."

He playfully made a face at her and picked himself up. "McDonald's, then? Nice and salty, greasy, gross?"

"Yuck." Bella made a face. "I know I'm not in a position to ever have much of a choice, but please, that's disgusting, Koi."

Beginning to laugh, Duo smirked, "All right. Let's go take out Chinese."

"Cool." Her statement turned softer. "Thanks for treating me again. Next time I get a good mark, I'll pay."

With a wink, Duo slung an arm over Bella's shoulders. "No problem," he drawled. "Let's go find the take-out menus from my kitchen."

Bella made a face. "Find?"


"I'm... not going out tonight," Duo finally decided, telling Bella. She didn't even give him a curious look - she nodded.

"Want me to take him if he comes?" she asked, instead.

There was a moment of quiet as Duo thought. "Sure," he finally said. "But I don't think he's coming," he added.

Bella glanced at Duo, who's eyes were focused somewhere far off. "All right," she merely replied, then took off for her room to change. "Have a nice night off," she called over her shoulder as she disappeared into her room.

Duo plodded slowly back into his room and locked the door behind him. The Bible awaited him, and he wanted to take a night off and study the Holy Book. He'd long ago promised the Father he would read the Book nightly, or at least on Sundays, but he'd never found the time. Between his nights and sleeping off the exhaustion and trying to find enough food to survive, there had been no time. There was time now.

But he wanted to pray again, first.

"Father," he whispered, kneeling on the floor. And he was at a loss for words. "Father, I -"

'As the rain falls.'

Pensive thoughts ran through his head as a few errant raindrops splattered to the ground, outside the window.

'As the rain falls... I remember.'

A light wind swirled the rain around and Duo's eyes flicked to the window. He smirked slightly, remembering.

'As the rain falls... let your prayers be my guide. Father, father; Daddy. Do you remember me? Mommy, do you remember me? Do you look down on me now and turn away because of who I am? Damn it, Mom and Dad, I never asked to spend my teens selling my body on the streets. I never wanted to be at the mercy of a passerby who might or might think he wants me. But that's my life right now.'

The wind died down and the rain fell away, revealing a cool autumn evening.

'Mom, Dad, please take me away. He told me you are with God; does God have any mercy? Can't he take me too? All these years of pain... where am I going, Mom? What life do I have ahead of me, Dad? This is crazy: I can't live like this. God, I know I'm selfish but I don't want a life like this. Lord, you gave me life, can't you take it away?'

The sun had just set, and the moon was beginning to light up. The catcalls were beginning; the night was sweet.

'This is my life.' The thoughts held to trace of sadness or bitterness; it was contemplative, acceptive. He tore his gaze away from the window.


The vidphone rang and Heero nearly jumped. He'd been sitting on the edge of the bed, immersed in several veins of thought, and had completely not been expecting the call. Sighing, he walked over to the phone and flicked it on. "Yuy here."

"I sent you about 90,000 credits," came the familiar voice. Trowa grinned and winked. "I'm hoping that should be enough. How much do you pay him a night?"

Heero sneered elegantly. "I paid him 8,000."

Trowa's statement was thoughtful. "Hmm, he's somewhat classy, ne?"

"His going price was less; I just wanted to pay him a little more."

"Still." A silence for a few seconds. "Then the money should last you about a week and a half." The mischievous grin was back. "And Quatre wants a picture, if possible."

A snicker from Heero. "...Why?"

A shrug and a laugh from Trowa. "Damned if I know." His statement turned less mocking. "They say you can tell a personality from the way they look. We want to see if he's okay?"

"You sound like I'm making a permanent relationship out of this, Trowa!" Heero yelled, nearly outraged, but feeling the amusement. Laughter permeated from the vidphone. "I had him for *one* night, and I'm not going back tonight!"

"Why not?"

Heero glowered. "I don't plan on taking a prostitute every night while I'm here."

"Then why did you request extended time and more money?"

Opening his mouth to say something, Heero realized he had nothing to say. He flumped. "Anou..."

"Right," Trowa said briskly, with a smile. "Why not going back tonight?"

Heero sighed. "I don't know. Exhausted?" he offered with a wan smile.

Snickering. "You? Exhausted?"

"Ahhh, shut up," Heero retorted without rancor. He leaned back in his seat and the chair obligingly bent. Startled, he pulled himself back up until he realized this chair was made to bend in various positions.

"And put your gun back together." Trowa nodded in the direction of the broken down gun, the pieces still littering the table next to and in front of the vidphone.

"I didn't clean it yet. I was meaning to, but I forgot to." Heero reached behind the pieces and grabbed a rag. Slowly and industriously, he began wiping away grime and splotches that were probably sweat and blood.

"I see." Another comradely silence. Conversation between the two had a tendency to be filled with rich silences. "Relena says hello."

Low laughter came from Heero. "Tell her I say hello back, then," he replied, not looking up from the gun.

"Will do." Silence again. Trowa began to smile slightly. "Are you ever planning on telling her she has no chance with you?"

Heero gave a wry chuckle. "Even if I told her that in those exact words, she wouldn't believe me. And I'd rather not hurt her feelings." His eyes were on the gun piece in his hands, but Trowa could partially see his statement nevertheless. Heero valued Relena... as a friend.

With a hum of agreement, Trowa also lapsed into companionable silence. He reached out of pickup range, his hand coming back with a carving knife and an already partially shaped piece of wood. His newest hobby had been using his knifing talents to a more peaceful cause, and Quatre had suggested woodworking. Trowa had found it remarkably relaxed - except that his beginning attempts had included several slices of the thumb, making Quatre run for bandages and spending some time 'comforting' Trowa.

Now he was gently peeling away layers of the brownish-red wood, humming almost imperceptibly to himself.

"What is it?" Heero broke into the silence.

Trowa didn't bother looking up. "Oh, a sleeping wolf." And it was, or at least the rough form of one. Admiringly, Heero could make out the haunches, the face buried in paws, the fluffy tail. "It's well-done," he said, giving one of his highest accolades. Trowa smiled his thanks.

"Remember that time we had to clear the wolves out of a certain area because they had been hunting men?" Trowa reminisced out loud.

Heero gave a short bark of laughter. "Aa, how could I forget?"

Trowa nodded. "I was thinking of that when I started making this." He laugh came, soft and light. "Although certainly I never saw one of *those* beasts lying peacefully asleep."

Smirking, Heero agreed. He rubbed away at the barrel of the gun, then began snapping it back together, deftly, swiftly, accurately.

Suddenly, Trowa raised his emerald eyes and caught Heero's gaze. "Commander Treize wants to know if you've been... feeling any better."

"Isn't it too soon to ask?" Heero answered slightly sharply. "I will call Treize-sama in a day or two, you may tell him that."


Heero gave him a mock glare. "You're stealing my words."

Beginning to giggle, Trowa had to put down the woodwork for fear of injuring himself. "Aa, Heero. I know. Amusing, isn't it?"

In response, Heero rolled his eyes. And then, rethinking his actions, also stuck out his tongue.

Trowa began to laugh heartily, nearly falling off the chair he'd been perched on. "Hee- Heero," he giggled. "I never thought I'd seen you d- do something li- like THAT!" He giggled again, this time falling out of the chair. Heero heard a 'thump' and tried to peer into the vidphone, obviously not succeeding.

"Trowa?" he asked, beginning to snicker himself. "Trowa? Daijoubu desu ka?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. I *think* that's what you asked, anyway," came a muffled voice from somewhere in the down direction.


From the same downward place came muffled curses in Arabic, English, and Japanese. Then, "HEERO!"

Heero nearly jumped. "What?!"


"You cursed at me in Japanese," Heero noted calmly. Trowa didn't answer. Instead, he pulled himself back into the chair with what dignity he could still muster and glared at Heero again. Heero smiled serenely.


"He loves you, you know."

"...Nani?!" Heero actually managed to look shocked.

To his credit, Trowa's statement was absolutely calm. "And I know you watch him. With more fervor that necessary to see if he's good for the team. Your eyes... follow him around."

"Just because you're in love doesn't mean the rest of the world is," Heero grumbled, slumping himself back into his office chair. "And I don't know who you're talking about, either," he added, pointedly trying to end the subject.

A snicker. Heero ignored his friend and glared at the computer screen hard enough to make it into molten globules. "You know."

Heero didn't respond. Trowa sighed, rolling his eyes.

"Why deny it?" Trowa asked gently, coming over to sit on the desk next to Heero's computer. "It happens. You happen to be in love with him, and, luckily, he loves you too."

"I still don't know who you're talking about," Heero insisted.


The name alone made Heero freeze and glower at the keyboard. "I don't know what you're talking about. I am not in love and certainly not with him."

"Okay." Trowa put up his hands in a form of surrender. "Maybe you're not in love. But I know you... see something in him. Maybe you should just become friends and get to know each other better. At least request a few more missions together."

"His tactics do not well complement mine, unless we have a third or fourth person and he serves as decoy." Heero might as well have been reciting computer data, for all his voice said. Trowa wanted to wring his neck and frustration.

If it wasn't obvious to Heero, it was certainly obvious to Trowa. Wufei always slid covert glances at Heero, then seemed to berate himself for it. At one point Trowa had seen Wufei so angry at himself for, perhaps, thinking about Heero, that he'd stormed out of the room. By chance it had coincided with Heero sliding in a snide remark about Wufei's "loud" fighting tactics. For all anyone knew, Wufei had just been offended. At least, that was what Heero had thought.

Then again, Heero understood emotions about as much as a brick understood breathing.

And yet there were times that Trowa would watch Heero gazing through the computer, not doing any work at all. And sometimes Heero's gaze would wander, too. And everything Heero said about Wufei was precisely derogatory.

Maybe he was jumping to conclusions, but Trowa was fairly certain what all the signs meant. Now only to get the two of them to realize it.

Thinking of an idea, Trowa slipped off the desk and went to his office, pressing the button for auto-dial to Quatre's personal line.

It connected immediately. "Quatre h-oh hi Trowa!"

Trowa grinned. "Hey, love. Can I come over? I've got a few things to discuss?"


"Most don't require words, I believe."

Quatre giggled lightly. "But there's something else, is there not?"

Trowa throw a shaded glance at Heero, who was typing furiously at his computer. Probably writing absolutely nothing. "Yes, that there is."

Quatre was not blind. He had seen the glance and understood; in fact, Trowa had been keeping him up to date on the two and their consistency in refusing to believe they felt something for someone else. "Of course you can come over. Coming now?"

"Certainly, if that's all right with you."

Quatre's face glowed with a faint blush. "Yes, please, Trowa. It's definitely all right with me."

Overhearing the last few words, Heero could hardly hold back a fond chuckle.

'I'm so glad for you, Trowa; you can't possible understand.'

Duo watched out the window as various men as well as a few women came and picked up the children of joy. Watched as his friends seduced strangers, as they had done for years now. Felt the prick in his heart he always felt when he let himself think about it.

'This is so wrong...'

Bella had found someone for the night, and he looked about 20-ish, not bad-looking, and rich. As in R-I-C-H. If those weren't diamond and white gold cufflinks, which he'd tried to obscure with slightly frayed cuffs, then Duo had been struck blind and gone to Heaven. Duo hoped the first wasn't true and was damned certain the second never would be.

Bella saw him peeking out the window and winked at him.

He smiled at her and she grinned back.


end of part? O_O;;; woah, that stupid thing took a week? i know, i know, it's getting shabby. my problem is i have this whole cool plot lined up... but i'm screwed as to what's going to happen before i hit the peak, y'know? :::sighs:::


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