5-5-2001

LOOK! more find me!!!! ^____________^ aren't y'all proud of me? o.O

lookie, d- wait, i don't wanna give it away. but more stuffs! eeeeerrr, angsty part here. and yes, horsebackriding. i love riding, i just don't get to do it often. and it was either that or them taking a walk to the beach, and i figured i'd add something else from duo's past: his horse. ^_^;;;

eh, i'll stop. ficcie. you want the ficcie, ne?

 

[FiND ME] .24.

 

"Coming?"

"Yeah. We planning anything?"

"No talking over this line."

"I know, I know. Just asking a simple question, Alex."

"Okay. Yeah. Cut." Click.

 

Iria came into the room, flanked by half a dozen girls. Said half dozen girls immediately squealed upon noticing Duo and in moments, he was lost to sight.

"Um..." Heero said, trying not to laugh.

Duo was being patted, hugged, and generally fussed over, even as he spluttered and protested. "Hey, hey!" he yelled. "I'm a boy, not a puppy!" Such an outcry only made the sisters - and Quatre - laugh even harder and pet him even more. Finally, he managed to squirm out of their grasp and comically gasp for air, flopped on the floor.

"You guys!" he protested, when he could speak again. "Honestly. You'd think-"

"We hadn't seen you in years," one, a light-haired, fair-skinned girl finished. "Which is entirely true."

One of her sisters, completely opposite in coloring, being dark haired and tanned, added, "And we miss our other baby brother."

Suddenly it was all a babble of talking as each of the sisters tried to catch Duo up to the things he'd missed and try to extract information from him at the same time. Trowa and Heero deigned to sit primly in their seats and wait out the storm. Quatre, on the other hand, slipped out to request tea.

It was a full 20 minutes later before some semblance of sanity had returned. Duo sat indian-style in front of the coffee table, at Heero's feet. Trowa and Quatre were sharing a love seat and the girls were sprawled across couches, rugs, and pillows. Nearby Duo. Every once in a while a girl would sporadically reach over to hug Duo or pat his hand or turn to smile at him. Eventually Heero actually growled lightly and slipped on to the floor next to Duo, arm around the latter's waist possessively. A couple of the girls noticed and giggled.

"Sara," Quatre said to one of the girls. "Do you know if Rasid is back?"

"He is," Sara said, nodding. "I told him to go to sleep; jet lag is awful when you get older." She smiled.

Quatre laughed. "Yeah." He turned to his guests. "Rasid was out in Arabia for the last week," he said by way of explanation. "Checking out some parts of the company and whatnot."

Duo nodded, stuffing his mouth with some of the fruits that were on the plate on the coffee table. Swallowing, he said easily, "Buran, don't look at me like that." He grinned cheekily. "You know I like to eat."

Buran made a face and threw a grape at Duo who, shifting slightly in Heero's grasp, managed to catch it in his mouth.

"What a wonderful talent to have," another sister said dryly.

Quatre threw Trowa a grape, who caught it easily. "Aminah," he said, smiling. "We're boys. Let it be."

"Boys," Aminah snorted, hiding her own smile. "Definitely."

And then the grapes started flying.

 

"Hello?" Treize looked relaxed, but inside he was incredibly nervous. He wasn't too worried about this upstart organization taking over Operation S; he was worried about Heero and Duo being too far involved to escape some form of hurt.

"You called." The voice was slightly snide, somewhat hushed.

"Yes," Treize answered simply.

"Shall we deal you our terms?" Now the words were definitely mocking. Treize's statement soured slightly, and Zechs shifted uneasily in his seat. Also in the office were Relena, Dorothy, Une, and Tobias.

"You can tell me your terms, and then we can hash them out." He kept his tone clear and neutral.

"Ah." There was a quiet chuckle. "All right. We both want the boy, preferably dead. I'm well aware you know where he is by now." Treize frowned a little at this. "So do we. If either you or I can lure him out tonight, perhaps we can finish what has been going on for many years?" There was a pregnant pause. "We mean no threat to your business. The mon-"

"We're not in this for his money," Treize interjected smoothly. He glanced around, taking a silent deep breath.

"Oh?"

"And I'm sure you're well aware of that, too." Leaning backwards slightly, Treize sighed. "I'd prefer to completely understand your interest in him before I plan to work with you."

The person on the other side was quiet for a moment. "Understandable request," he said, finally. "Simply, revenge."

"Ah." It was Treize's turn to be laconic.

"And yours?"

He spun in the chair to face the window. "We only want him... incapacitated to act against us," was all Treize would reveal. "Therefore his death isn't necessarily the course of action that may be required for us."

"But would you consider following that course of action?"

"Perhaps." Treize didn't hint towards one side or the other.

 

------*
Running.

This insane amount of running, trying to find some place safe. But nowhere was safe. Nowhere was safe - was there someplace safe?

Thinking, but he kept running. He had to get away.

Small feet in small shoes tripped and pattered over the grass and bushes, knees and legs scraped by unrelenting thorns. A braid whipped behind his head, threatening to tangle in the branches.

The screams were echoing in his head, even as he covered his ears in a plaintive attempt to shut them out. His mind didn't comprehend what had happened, and he only knew his sister had commanded him to run.

He was running.

Even in his blind panic, he could think enough to realize that maybe even Solo's house would not be safe. Would he willingly lead the danger to his friend's home? Would his friend's parents let him in? Perhaps they wouldn't believe anything he said, incoherent as he would be, and dismiss him as playing a crude joke.

All he knew, though, was running. Following his sister's last orders, running to the only place where she thought he'd be safe.

Even as he tried to block everything out, things began to seep in. He was beginning to understand, and he didn't want to understand. His brain was numb, but it was beginning to comprehend, and to remember the pooling of red on the floor and the cool calculating statement in the other boy's eyes.

He had only been a boy.

The person with the gun had only been a small child, much like himself.

And even as he told himself that, his heart rejected it, screamed for the real answer. No child would ever create such a horrible blood bath, no child could ever have eyes that cold and uncaring.

No child should ever be that uncaring.

His feet were scraped and bleeding slightly, as he'd run disregarding roots or thorn bushes. The distance between his and Solo's house was long, and it only seemed longer this night.

Longer.

But getting closer, every step by frightened step.

And now he began to cry. His eyes began to flood even as he fiercely told himself that boys didn't cry. The dull aching in his heart had intensified to a clamp that threatened to tighten forever. Suddenly he couldn't breathe very well as he realized exactly how lonely and alone he was now.

He realized exactly what had happened.

This was a boy who had been pampered all his life. He'd been treated to the best foods and clothes and toys, and the only hardship he'd known had been a sort of separation from his best friends, as their parents had had a disagreement.

This was a boy who had never had a reason to cry. He'd been the little boy, the only son, the baby of the family. Attention had been lavished onto him, both from parents as a sister several years older. He had been gushed over, been given announcements that he'd grow to be a very attractive young man.

This was a boy who had simply lived. Smiled, laughed, and demanded. Had loved everyone and had made everyone love him. Gone to an exclusive private school, had his own pony, and had been promised the fanciest car at his 16th birthday.

And now he was alone. Afraid. Feeling the most intense emotions he'd ever felt in his short life; 10 years faded into the shadows as he burst out in his anger.

He tumbled to the ground, crying and screaming. Bitterly protesting the way the day had run, vowing everything painful for the boy who had destroyed his whole life.

But all he really wanted, more than revenge, was somebody to hold him and tell him it would be okay. Even if it wouldn't be okay. Sometimes, the lies were all right. Sometimes, the lies were the best.

And he picked himself up and continued running.
*------

 

Quatre wanted to take his guests out riding. The moment he mentioned it, Duo's eyes lit up so brightly that his friend was glad he'd thought of it.

"Do you still have Li-"

"We have Thunder," Quatre interrupted.

Duo's eyes couldn't get any wider.

"We found him in the stables outside, afterwards," Quatre said gently, as they walked towards the Winner stables. "And Marigold, Tricia, Pixie, Forelock, and the rest of them. Most of them are here; we had to sell a few, because we didn't have enough room."

Heero raised an eyebrow at Trowa, who merely shook his head and shrugged lightly.

Several yards away from the gate, Duo couldn't control himself and he ran forward and tugged open the heavy bolts, letting the musky stable scent roll out. He dashed inside, Quatre, Trowa, and Heero following at a more leisurely pace.

Before Heero could ask, Quatre explained, "Thunder and Lightning were our horses. They were twins, from his mom's Marigold and one of my sisters' Blackfoot. They were born when we were about 6, and we loved them." He was cut off as Duo appeared out of a stall, almost dragging a somewhat bewildered horse behind him.

"He doesn't remember me," Duo said forlornly, stopping before them. "Not really, I don't think. I'm confusing him."

"He hasn't seen you in a while," Trowa reminded him gently. He reached forward and patted the stallion's nose. "He'll remember you. Give him time." Even as he spoke, Thunder tentatively nosed Duo in the back, making the boy almost stumble forward. He whirled around and hugged the horse's neck, whispering nonsensical phrases even as he fished out in his pockets to sugar, out of habit.

Quatre pressed a lump into Duo's hand.

"While Duo gets reacquainted with his horse," Quatre suggested, "let's find you someone." He stopped in front of a stall. "Remember Mussie?"

Heero smiled softly. Mussie had been the first horse he'd ridden, when Quatre had insisted he learn to ride. She was very gentle with newbies, but loved to frisk around with anyone who could hold on. "Yep."

With the help of a few stable hands, they were saddled up and ready, all collected around a post outside.

"Thunder's been waiting for someone to ride him again," Quatre noted.

Heero was surprised. "You haven't had anyone ride him?"

"He probably couldn't," Duo explained, as he edged closer to Heero. "All the girls ride sidesaddle. Silly girls," he added. Heero smirked. Trowa and Quatre snickered. "And everyone on this estate rides English for some reason." He made a face. "And Thunder was trained Western."

"Ah." Heero looked slightly blank. Duo giggled. Heero pretended to scowl as he pointed out, "Ways of riding a horse was never really in any curriculum I had to learn."

They all sobered a little at that, thinking of the curriculum Heero had followed. For a moment they shuffled nervously, the horses pawing. Thunder especially was impatient. He nosed at Quatre's hand, nudged Lightning playfully, and made it clear to Duo he wanted to move, and now.

Duo snickered as Thunder fidgeted, immediately aware of what his horse was telling him. "Let's go, guys," he urged. And then he was flying off in a cloud of dust, headed for the distant shore.

Quatre's horse whinnied softly, before starting off on his own, startling his ride for a moment.

"I think the horses missed riding together," Trowa said, not the least bit of sarcasm in his voice. "People and animals alike, miss things."

 

------*
Suddenly, everything was burning. The ceiling rafters were tumbling down and it was only through sheer luck that he managed to duck and roll out of the way as one particularly large and flaming piece came down, aimed for his head.

All around him, people were crying, screaming, senseless noise that was only enhanced by the roar of flames and things exploding. The tiny, calm part of his mind quickly reasoned that every building had large helpings of things flammable, and this place was no different. He assumed the fire had caught onto some such things. Then he started screaming.

Immediately, the smoke began to fill his eyes and his throat, making it difficult to breathe or see where he was. He knew he'd been near the kitchen... ah. This would be the side of the hallway. Hoping desperately that he was going in the direction of the back door, he dropped to his knees as he vaguely remembered being taught, and wriggled towards the door.

Something else crashed down and there was a particularly loud shriek.

"Sister Helen," he breathed. "Father Maxwell. I have to find them."

But even as he turned to go back, a piece of the wall caved in, blocking his progress. Nearly hysterical, he tore at the wood with his bare hands, ignoring, or simply not feeling, the scorching.

Somebody grabbed him from behind.

"Hey, kid," the man was yelling. Then he was grabbed and hauled aloft, kicking and screaming. "We gotta get you out of here!"

Even though he tried to protest and squirm out of the firefighter's arms - as he realized it was a firefighter carrying him out of the burning church - the grip was firm and he found himself out in the night air, coughing and choking.

"Here, set here." He was dumped gently onto the ground, next to another firefighter was who regulating the water sent through the hoses.

Immediately, he got up and was about to dash back in when the other firefighter grabbed a hold of him. "You can't do anything in there!"

"Yes I can!" he cried out, struggling. "I can! I have to be there!" 'I can't lose my second family', his mind supplied.

He was held down firmly and securely, with no hope of escaping. One firefighter was assigned to watch over him, and prevent him from running back into the crumbling building. "Kid, you can't do anything," the woman tried to reason with him. She tried to be comforting, and he suddenly found himself curled up in a ball and sobbing.

"Shh," she soothed, rubbing his back. "There's nothing you could have done. We're doing all we can. Just sit tight here and let me go back there and help out, okay? Promise me you'll stay here?"

Looking at him, she had her answer. He was in a state of shock, and probably couldn't move if he wanted to. Sharply, she called over a medic to attend to him, also noticing the bad burns at that moment.

He couldn't believe it.

Father Maxwell, Sister Helen, Christine, Juliet, Andy, Topher, Alix... they were all in there. Burning, perhaps burned to death.

Father Maxwell, Sister Helen...

The tears were streaming down his face although he couldn't notice. His mind was in a whirl - it had only been 6 months. Only 6 months since he had lost his first family, and here he was to lose his second.

It was cold.

Even this close to a raging fire that was slowly being subdued, he realized he was cold. The night air was chilly and he was only in thin pajamas. His mind leaked information; his mind told his body to shiver, and his body obeyed. He wasn't conscious, though. He was absolutely detached, from what he was seeing, what he was feeling, what he was thinking, what he was remembering.
*------

 

They ran the horses to the beach, then unsaddled them and let the beauties gallop across the sands as they would.

Duo slowly lay down in the sand, watching the sun low in the horizon.

"I forgot how beautiful it is out here," he said softly.

Heero stood some yards away from him, watching his lover. Watching Duo with such vulnerability made his heart wince. His mind began again supplying millions of reasons he should not stay with the beautiful boy, why he could only bring more pain. Duo's life had been so harsh; even if he wouldn't tell of it, Heero could see the pain steeped in the amber-violet reflected sunlight in his eyes.

Trowa broke the silence. "Shall we make a bonfire and sleep out here?"

Duo twitched visibly. "How about just the sleeping out here part?" he answered, trying to keep his voice cheery. Quatre moved slowly to sit down next to his best friend, hugging his knees, facing the ocean.

Silently, Heero and Trowa sat down next to their respective lovers, nobody touching, nobody moving. The gentle splashing of the water and the far off cry of a bird or two was the only sound for at least 10 minutes.

Almost too soft to hear, Duo said, "I always thought it was pretty cool that in New York, you could see the sun rise over the water, and in California, you could see it setting. And even though it seems like it would make the same picture, it doesn't." He paused. Then others turned their heads slightly to listen to him, eyes still focused on the oranges and reds and purples streaming across the top of the blue.

"Sunrise is... harsher," Duo said quietly. "It wakes people up, it marked the end of our days. The seagulls scream and the city noise doubles. You can hear alarms going off, people yelling, and it only means the beginning of another day." A sigh. "Sunset seems more.. relaxing. Saying good night, guiding most people to bed and to, hopefully, sweet dreams. Time for us to get up, get out, and be who we were. Funny, even if I worked at night, I could never hate it. There was always something soothing about night time. It felt familiar."

He moved his foot in the sand, toeing random designs. "Even if nighttime always brought death."

Heero and Trowa simultaneously drew sharp breaths at the last statement.

Quatre looked at Duo quickly.

Duo's face was serene, though, as he stared straight up at the stars that were beginning to appear. He gave a hint of a smile as he cross his legs at the ankles and closed his eyes. "Don't mind me, I'm taking a nap. Maybe osmosis with the ground can catch me up with the memories laying around," he joked. It rang somewhat hollow.

 

-TBC-