12-30-2000

 

-----FiND ME (18/almost 30, i think)-----

 

In half an hour, they were cozily congregating in Quatre's private sitting room. He'd sent for food, remembering Duo's insatiable appetite, and now they were talking over a tray of tea, fruit, and sandwiches.

"Peanut butter!" Duo yelped, having bitten into a sandwich. "Damn, Solo. You remember everything."

Quatre laughed. "That's something I can't forget," he said. "Remember? We used to raid my house for peanut butter."

"And your cooks would throw us out of the kitchen," Duo snickered, remembering. "Yep. Couldn't forget it." He gave a somewhat sad smile. "Some things, you can never forget."

Quatre reached over and hugged Duo solemnly. Duo, hands sticky with peanut butter, resorted to awkwardly putting his non-sandwich-holding arm around Quatre, who giggled at Duo's predicament. "Eat your sandwich."

Duo swallowed, then saluted. "Aye, aye, sir." He licked stray peanut butter off his lips.

Heero promptly looked away. He looked at his own peanut butter sandwich thoughtfully before taking a bite.

"You look like you've never tasted peanut butter before," Trowa noted.

Heero smirked at him. "I haven't."

Trowa blinked. Then he looked up at Quatre. "Quatre, has Heero really never had peanut butter before?"

While Quatre was racking his brain for an answer, Duo's jaw dropped. "Are you serious! Man, that's crazy. Peanut butter's the best!"

Heero made a face at a piece of peanut-buttered bread was caught in a tooth. He flicked his tongue over the tooth, meanwhile chomping down the remains of the sandwich. "It's... interesting," he ventured. "Sticky."

Duo and Quatre giggled. "It's supposed to be sticky," Quatre explained patiently.

"That's what makes it good," Duo piped up.

Heero stared at the pile of sandwiches for a moment.

"Quatre, do you have any other kinds of sandwiches?" he finally asked quietly.

Quatre sighed and picked out a ham sandwich for Heero, who accepted it gratefully. "Really, Heero," Quatre said with a hint of a smile. "You're incorrigible. You never like new foods."

"At least I try them," Heero pointed out after a mouthful of his sandwich of choice.

"You've got to give him that," Trowa agreed.

"Yeah," Quatre sighed, throwing himself back onto the couch. "Really, Heero. You're impossible. Absolutely impossible."

Heero's lips twitched into a small smile. "You wouldn't like me as much if I wasn't the way I am," he finally said.

Shyly, Duo scooted over to sit next to Heero. "I wouldn't," he said softly.

Touched, Heero curled an arm around Duo's waist.

-----*
"Relena, stop it."

"Stop what?"

"You know what. Stop it, you're embarrassing me."

"How am I embarrassing you? I'm not doing anything!"

"Relena." An exasperated sigh. "You're peeping. That's embarrassing. And that's doing something."

Sulkily. "Not really."

"Yes really. Relena, you're never going to give up, are you?"

"I'm not ruining his relationship, am I?"

"No, but you're stalking them. That ranks pretty close."

"Does not. They've never seen me, either. I'm not that bad at keeping under cover."

"I know you're not. You're just being crazy."

"Am not."

"Are too."

"Am not."

"Are too."

"Am not, am not, am not."

A pause. "Relena?"

"Yeah?"

"How old are we?"

"Uh, 17?"

"And how immature was that?"

A sigh. "Honestly, Dorothy. We can be immature sometimes, you know. Won't kill you."

"But stalking them might, if you startle them and they don't take the time to notice who you are."

A sulky silence. "Whatever." Conceding.

Another voice interrupted them. "Hello Relena, Dorothy. I didn't know this was your type of movie."

A whispered, "Hey Heero," and the two of them bolted.

"Funny women," Wufei grumbled. Heero kissed him placatingly.
*-----

"They're gone."

"What?"

"They're gone. We didn't get them."

Silence. "Mueller was a fucking idiot, anyways. We don't want to kill the kid yet."

"All right. Now what?"

"Can you trace him?"

"We're working on it."

"All right. Be a love and find out where Heero lives; he'll probably be there."

"We're trying. Remember: he's in Op S."

"Fuck."

"Yeah."

"Fuck, fuck fuck."

"Shit, Alex, stop it!"

Light laughter.

"Honestly, you're such a potty mouth."

"Potty mouth? How old are we now, 7?"

"Yeah, yeah, shut up."

Quiet for a moment. "We gotta get this."

"I know, Alex!"

"Just reminding you. No games."

"Yeah." A small, wistful sigh.

"What?"

"Just thinking."

"About what?"

"Him."

"What about him?" Restless shifting.

"Nothing. Just that-" A pause.

"Just what?"

"In another life time, he could've been the king of the world. You don't know him Alex; if it wasn't for this shit and-"

"Your own life is at stake here, Eryn. Don't go soft on me."

Snappish. "I'm not. I'll follow through, you know I will. I put too much of my life on this not to."

"Remember your father."

"Shut up, Alex. I don't want to remember him."

Light breathing.

A soft sigh. "He's a sweet kid. He's only fucking 17 and he's seen both sides of the world."

"Yeah, well, your life wasn't exactly beautiful when you were 17, Er."

"That was only 4 years ago."

"Just get rid of him, okay? Stop thinking about him as a kid; he's a mission, you hear?"

"I know. Shut the fuck up, Alex, I know."

Click.

Eryn turned the phone over lightly in her hand.

"Eryn? You okay?" her sister called from the kitchen.

"I'm fine," she answered back. "Alex was just being a dick."

"So what else is new?"

Eryn didn't answer. Instead, she pensively put the phone on the small table in front of her and leaned back on the raggedy couch. "Maybe staying with him for 4 years wasn't the greatest idea," she murmured to herself. "Pretending to be a hooker, seeing the people around him. He's just a sweet kid who got thrown in the dumps and now we're going to kill him."

"Alex talk about Duo?" Jess's voice came from above her head and Eryn nearly jumped. Settling back down, she shrugged nonchalantly and nodded.

Jess threw herself on the couch next to Eryn. "Just remember Nicky. His father killed Nicky."

"But he didn't do anything," Eryn shot back. "He was only 8 or 9 when Mordaux had our parents and little sister killed."

Her twin gave her a wry smile. "I know. I don't like this any more than you do, you know. But we promised."

"Yeah." Eryn stared absently out the window. "To avenge our family, huh? It's always been blood for blood; one of these days God is going to kill us all."

"And Amen to that," Jess murmured, leaving the living room.

 

'My Lord, my Savior... thank you. For throwing my spirit away, for dragging me through the bottom of the world, for letting me be found by Heero. I never thought I would be so grateful ever again, but I'm so glad you heard my prayers, and I know you always had a path for me, even when you wouldn't make it clear. I don't know why I deserve this happiness; I've never done anything to make me worthy of it.'

The wind gently whipped around Duo's braid as he stood alone on one of Quatre's balconies. Quatre, Trowa, and Heero were inside, discussing the benefits of them going shopping or sending Quatre's sister's out shopping. Turning his head slightly, out of the corner of his eye Duo could see several of said sisters joining in the conversation. He smiled.

Facing out again, he could see the water some 150 yards out, the sun glistening off the waves. It was exactly as he remembered it - the view from the balcony hadn't changed in 6 years. It was almost as if nothing had changed and he'd been there these past years, instead of on the streets of New York.

'Thank you for bringing me back to my friends, who are now my family. Thank you for giving me someone to love, and who loves me in return. I know I'm being hasty in saying I love him because I barely know him and I've just met him but, Lord, I think you've just sent me my soul-mate. Thank you.'

"Our Father," Duo began to whisper the time-honored prayer he loved so much. "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever." He picked up the cross that was tucked under his clothing and held it tightly. "Amen."

"Duo."

Duo turned around at the unfamiliar sound of Trowa's voice. "Hey," he said cheerily, covering up anything he might have been feeling.

Trowa looked at him understandingly. Then the look disappeared and was replaced with a mischievous one. "Quatre wants to take you out shopping."

Before Duo could say anything, objection or otherwise, Quatre came out with a handful of the younger sisters. "Duo, they want to take you shopping," he said, with an air of helplessness, but his eyes twinkled.

Duo began to laugh. "Oh God. How long is this going to take?"

"Only a few hours," one of the sisters, Dalilah, assured him.

Behind them all, Heero was trying not to laugh, hiding his statement in a cup of tea.

"Couple hours," Duo repeated. "Damnit, Solo; I still don't understand why it takes girls forever to shop."

Quatre came forward and began dragging Duo off the balcony, through the living room, and in the general direction of the front door. While dragging, Quatre smiled and said, "We need to get you a whole new wardrobe anyways."

When Duo began to walk willingly, Quatre let go. They were flanked by Dalilah, Heero, Trowa, Fatima, and Iria. "Besides," Fatima teased. "You know you'll have fun."

"Of all the things to remember, they have to remember I hate clothes shopping," Duo muttered darkly under his breath, eliciting a giggle from Quatre. Duo scowled.

All 6 of his companions smiled benevolently at him.

 

Four hours found them still in the nearest mall, the girls squealing at and dragging the boys into every store. Duo was frazzled beyond belief, Heero and Trowa were about to kill the next store attendant that approached them, and even Quatre was worn out.

"Remind me about this the next time I volunteer to go shopping with Quatre," Trowa murmured to Heero under his breath.

"The next time you volunteer me to go shopping with Quatre, I will kill you with my bare hands," Heero returned.

"Thanks," Trowa said wryly. "Glad to know I have true friends."

Heero smirked. "Of course."

Between the 7 of them, each were carrying at least one bag, some two. Most of them were things for Duo, although the girls took the opportunity to do a little shopping for themselves.

"I think I have enough clothes to last me until Judgment Day," Duo announced, finally. "Just get me out of here!"

Laughing, Iria finally directed them all out to the van. "Let's see if all this stuff will fit in the trunk."

Quatre eyed the trunk skeptically. "Iria, I know it's a big trunk but I think we bought out half the mall."

"Nonsense." Iria began securing each of the bags, shoving, poking, and making use of every square centimeter. "There." True to her word, every bag was in the trunk. There was probably some space to spare, even. Quatre raised an eyebrow and deigned to say nothing. Instead, he dragged Trowa into the back of the van.

"So," Iria said, settling into the driver's seat. "We're going to drop Heero off?"

"All right," Heero said before Quatre could object. "Let's go to my apartment."

Iria nodded, turning the ignition.

"And don't drive fast!" Quatre managed to squeak out before the van proved it could go from 0 to 60 in 7 seconds.

Quatre 'meeped' and clung on to Trowa, who took it stoically, keeping an eye out the window to avoid car-sickness. He didn't usually get carsick, but with Iria driving, anything was possible.

"Damnit, Iria; how'd I know you'd grow up to be a speed-driver?" Duo muttered, in a position similar to Quatre, except clinging on to Heero. Heero wasn't minding it in the least.

"I don't know," Iria called back cheerily, grinning.

"Could it have anything to do with her childhood obsessions with skiing at breakneck speed, setting the motorboat as fast as it could go without breaking down, and love for race cars?" Dalilah teased.

"Really, Iria, couldn't you've been a normal girl?" Duo moaned, burying his face into Heero's chest.

"I don't know," Iria answered, glancing back at him for a split second. "Heero seems to be enjoying the effects of my driving. Trowa, too."

Heero and Trowa flushed.

Duo and Quatre giggled.

-----*
"Dalilah!" Quatre squealed as he was unceremoniously thrown into the ocean. "Dali-glug." His next shout was closed off by the water. Still protesting, he swum to the surface.

Before Quatre could demand an explanation, Dalilah coolly replied, "You weren't wet yet."

"So?" Quatre spluttered.

Dalilah opened her mouth to explain but was cut off by a servant who came running down the steps to the private beach. "Miss Winner! Mr. Winner, sir!"

"Amin, what's wrong?" Quatre asked anxiously, still bobbing in the water. The other 9 Winner girls that were scattered on the beach and in the water also stopped whatever they were doing to look at the man.

Amin was immensely distressed and couldn't speak for a few moments. "It's Master Winner, sir," he finally croaked out. "He - He's taken a turn for the worse. Always been a bit on the weak side, but the flu really got him."

"He was getting better, though!" Alexandria cried out. "He said he'd come with us on our camping trip in two weeks."

With a sad nod, Amin replied, "Yes, lady, but he's been struck down again. And on top of it, the doctor thinks he has bronchitis. If the Master is to come with you, you may have to delay that trip."

Alexandria nodded mutely.

Quatre thrashed to the shore, then ran past Amin and up the steps to the house. His sisters silently watched his progress, then began to follow him.
*-----

Heero opened the door and flicked on the switch. "Here." He grabbed some of the bags and threw them on a couch. Awkwardly, he stood to the side and let Duo survey the apartment. "It's not very big and not at all like Quatre's house," he said softly.

Duo stepped through the doorway, letting Trowa, Quatre, and the girls throw the bags in. Then they stood behind him, in the hallway.

Quizzically, Heero looked to Duo for his verdict. "You'd probably want to stay with Quatre," Heero said uncertainly.

Shaking his head, Duo sidled up to Heero and took his lover's hand in his. "No way," he murmured, leaning in slightly. "I mean, if you don't have enough room or anything, I could go with Solo..."

"No, that's fine," Heero said hurriedly. "But I figured after now you'd want to catch up with your friend and your... 'nephews' and 'nieces'..."

"I'd like to stay with you." Duo leaned in and kissed Heero softly. "Please?"

With a small smile, Heero brought up his other hand to caress Duo's cheek. "I was hoping you would."

"Are you going to let us in?" Quatre said, mock-crossly, from behind Duo.

Smirking, Duo stepped aside and let their friends in the apartment. Immediately Iria and Dalilah threw themselves onto couches. Fatima decided to go poke around in Heero's kitchen.

"Heero?"

"Yeah?"

"You need to go food shopping, you know."

Heero threw a couch cushion at Fatima. "No more shopping today!"

 

Back to Part 17

On to Part 19