My first attempt at being serious! comments appreciated...
~gideon~

 

Prologue

 

"..... Trowa... Trowa....." thought the beaten Quatre listlessly. He could feel the eerie taste of blood on his tongue and in his throat, and he was barely able to swallow. His tears from the pain had dried and when his cheek twitched he could feel the restrictions of his skin. He tried to look around but could only see darkness. He couldn't move another part of his body if his life depended on it.

[You are *ours* now]

When he heard the sound of a door opening he unsuccessfully tried to shake himself out of the haze his brain was drifting in. When he felt cool, silky fingers touch his lips he stiffened. A not-too-disappointed sigh came from somewhere up above Quatre's brain. Whatever blindfold that had been tied to his head was pulled away and he tried to focus on the person before him. Again, he could only see darkness.

"He's quite a gain, isn't he?" said a low voice. The feel of the voice caused Quatre to stiffen again... there was something very wrong with the way.. the way that the voice said... everything...

A little laugh came in response to his stiffening and the presence came closer, so close that he could feel the lips on his ear. "Don't be afraid little boy..." Then Quatre screamed as something large and sharp plunged into his stomach.

He screamed in pain until he blissfully blacked out.

* * *

 

"Oi, Trowa.. Dinnertime!" Duo's voice, although perfectly clear, did nothing to jar the deadly silent Heavyarms pilot from his thoughts. He stood there, staring at Quatre's bed, a hand unconsciously balled, drawing blood, around the no-longer-neatly-typed note. Eventually, Duo, vaguely annoyed, came upstairs himself and cautiously scanned the room to see if he was intruding. Seeing nothing but Trowa, he plastered another grin on his face and winked. "I made something *extra* tasty this time.. w-well, microwaved something I hope isn't too *char-grilled*, if you know what I mean..." He touched his lip thoughtfully when he looked at Quatre's bed and the items placed carefully on it. "Anyway, this is probably silly of me to ask but where's--"

"Quatre," finished Trowa flatly. Before Duo could begin a new line of questioning he swiftly tossed the note at Duo and crossed his arms, blazing green eyes still fixed on the missing pilot's bed. When Duo realized that Trowa wasn't going to explain, he opened the note. Trowa didn't even notice the three shades of color that abruptly drained from the braided boy's face. He tried to move his lips then stopped and dared to look at Trowa. Meanwhile, Trowa stared fixedly at the clothes, then the thick, black knife imbedded into Quatre's mattress.

Duo began, "I should tell the-"

"You won't tell *anyone*," stated Trowa flatly. For a moment the full and pure hatred in his gaze struck Duo and he blinked and backed up.

"B-but Trowa, we've--" His voice died in his throat and, wisely, he did not finish, but instead nodded and walked quickly out of the room, not knowing what to do *or* say, if anything. Trowa's eyes returned to the knife. After a moment he stood and reached down to finger the familiar clothing on the bed, then deftly pulled out the knife and curled his fingers around the handle and stared at the dark blade.

[He's going to become one of us now.]

He glared through Quatre's clothing and his smile flashed through his eyes. He didn't even notice that he was glaring so hard that tears had begun to well up at the bottoms of his eyes.

[You knew that we would take our payment, and now that we have, you are free. But if you try to come after him we will take the lives of your other friends.

[Then we will take yours.]

[He's going to become one of us now."]

Whatever tears had come to fall immediately evaporated, revealing only emerald eyes that said: "No. I *will* come after him... and if you touch him, you are the *only* one who is going to die." And he stalked out Quatre's room to enclosed himself in his own.

* * *

Duo slipped quickly downstairs, eyes wide and unseeing. At the bottom of the steps he shook his head to clear. "I can't believe it..." he murmured.

"Maxwell, what's wrong with you?" came the tired voice of the awakened Wufei. A slight frown covered his lips at the usual disruption. Duo forced cheerfulness, Trowa's flat words pounding in his head.

'....you won't tell *anyone*....'

"Oh nothin'." He sighed slightly and started to walk back toward the kitchen. "Dinner's ready."

Wufei groaned both inwardly and outwardly. *Another* failed attempt at edible food would mean that he would spend the next couple of days convincing his stomach that he wasn't deliberately feeding it inedible substances; a deliberately missed *meal* would mean that the insulted braided boy wouldn't give him a moment's peace. He sighed and rose to go to the kitchen, but not before he spotted the crumpled, slightly dark note out of the corner of his eye. He hesitated, then bent to pick it up with his index finger and thumb.

At first he thought it was a love note from Duo, highly likely to give him a nosebleed, but when he caught the scent of a coppery smell, he looked more closely at it. One whole side of the note was lightly soaked in blood.

* * *

Heero glared pointedly at the small plate of food before him, the idea of reaching for a fork or spoon not even crossing his mind. Hungry as he was, he did *not* trust his eyes. Meanwhile Duo feasted away on the other side of the table.

"Take a bite, Heero," Duo managed to say between mouthfuls, swallows, and gasps for air, momentarily trying to keep his mind away from possibly terrible situations. His next swallow caught in his throat but he *forced* it down. "It's *good*, really!"

"Hn," was the unwavering reply. He sniffed when he saw Duo's plate empty and glanced at the kitchen door. "Where are Trowa, Quatre, and Wufei?" He thought to himself:

"Probably where I was fifteen minutes ago.. deciding on whether to avoid dinner altogether or find a reason to be somewhere else..." He smiled faintly. "Same difference." He glanced up slowly, arms crossed, when the Chinese pilot's lean body slipped hesitantly through the door. He stared amicably at Wufei and nodded slightly. "Run while you can."

Wufei nodded back and slipped into another chair, undetectably throwing a look at Duo, who had tactfully stuffed his mouth to avoid Heero's question. After a moment he began to eat the food on the plate absently, his mind still on the stray note.

Heero eyed him suspiciously. "You're eating the food?" 'He, least of all, did I assume that he would eat the "food" without running a full analysis ...'

The boy looked at Heero questioningly, disoriented for a moment.

"Duo made it," came the disbelieving response, especially since Wufei was still whole and apparently un poisoned.

"Not everyone's gonna keel over from eating my food, *Heero*," said Duo, oblivious to Wufei's searching stare. He stuck his tongue out and rose to leave.

"I found your note, Duo." he took another bite, suspicions confirmed when Duo froze. He shrugged guardedly "Luckily I only read half of it. You really should take better care to hide your personal things..."

"Baka," mumbled Heero, rising from the table, the full plate left untouched. He grabbed a flashlight from the cabinet and walked away. "Be right back."

Wufei immediately cornered Duo before he could scamper off into the darkness of the resting house. He waved the note in front of the braided boy's face, questioning.

"Duo, what's this note about? Who is it?"

"I *DON'T* know," snapped Duo. "Who am I to stick myself in other people's business? Go figure it out *yourself*." Ignoring Duo's obvious discomfort, Wufei, determined to get to the bottom of it, held him against the wall and stared at him directly.

"Does it have something to do with Trowa or Quatre?" When Duo was silent he pressed harder. "Quatre.. Quatre, it it? He isn't anywhere to be found... it's him, isn't it?"

"I *said* it's *none* of my business," repeated Duo, bowing his head a little. He looked up, a half hard half desperate look on his face. "But you *can't* tell Trowa that you know."

Wufei was puzzled. "Why no--"

"Wu-man, Trowa *told* me, pretty much *ordered* me not to tell-- the look on Trowa's face tonight before dinner was a look I'd *never* seen on him before; not even in *battle*. He.. he looked like he was ready to rip me into itty-bitty Shinigami pieces and at the same time didn't really seem to know or *care* who I was. Trowa was BEYOND pissed... and when I say pissed, I mean Heero Yuy pissed... BEYOND Heero Yuy pissed, I mean p--"

"I get the point," snapped Wufei irritably. He pulled out the note and read it again. "But who *is* this? This doesn't even sound like any enemy I've even heard of before." He eyed Duo.

Duo raised his hands defensively. "Don't look at me--I dunno either. Did... has Trowa ever made any enemies?"

Wufei snorted. "How could he? He blended in so well that I bet no one really noticed him save a few that I know... and this is *not* one of them. The format of this note makes it sound like there was some deal between this person and Trowa. It reminds me much of someone bartering goods or slave--" He stopped short.

Duo's mouth was grim. "I sure hope not."

* * *

*He's mine.*

"Trowa.. Trowa, where are you?"

*I'm right here, Quatre. I'm here. Can't you see me?*

Trowa moaned lightly in his sleep.

"Trowa...?" the voice sounded faint and pained.

*Quatre, I'm coming...*

"Trowa, help...."

*Matte...*

"TROWA!!!!!"

The lithe body sat up in bed quickly, breathing hard, green eyes wide and pained. He slowly released his grip on the sheets, then squeezed his eyes shut.

"Hold on, Quatre, I'm coming.. I'm coming to save you..."

Trowa packed as lightly as he could, gun on hip, and slipped outside. He least expected the voice that rose from outside.

"Stay there, Trowa." Wufei's outline shone on Trowa. "Where are you going?"

"Out," replied he curtly.

"Your head's not clear, Trowa. You can't save him by yourself." Wufei came closer. "You don't even know where he is."

Just the thought of it hit Trowa like a ton of bricks. He knew approximately where Quatre was, but he didn't know if he could successfully get in and out by himself... himself... *yes*, he *would* do it *himself*. He hardened. "Leave me alone, Wufei. I don't need your help."

"I'm sure Quatre does."

"I can get to Quatre on my own," eluded Trowa coldly, glaring strikingly at the darkness of Wufei's form in such a way that it even struck a deep note in the poised Chinese pilot. "you'd only get in the way."

'I've never seen him like this... there's a darkness in his eyes that I should not even venture to mess with...'

Trowa's grip tightened on his backpack but he remained where he was. 'But if only I knew how to get you out, Quatre! I know clearly enough that I can get myself to you with ease but I don't know how to get you away from those monsters without *you* getting hurt...' He fell deeper into silence the more he thought about it.

"Trowa." Suddenly Heero walked up, clicking his flashlight off. Nevertheless, both the Wing pilot and Heavyarms pilot felt each other's strong gazes piercing the darkness. "Trowa, listen to me. I've told you before to act on your emotions, but now it not the time. Look at you... you're hanging half out a window with probably only half an idea about what you're going to do to accomplish your *mission*."

'The man knows how to put things..' thought Wufei absently. he looked back at Trowa, who was glaring hard of into space but not moving an inch from his place. 'Really... I hadn't noticed that he *was* going at this ething like a mission... not telling anyone else or counting on anyone else's help with only a backpack and his emotions... that's all we usually had going into battle anyway, didn't we? Even when both space and Earth hated us and every single odd was against us...?' He shook his head. 'A mission...'

"You know as well as anyone that I *don't* get into other people's business simply because it not my business to deal with. But it's an utter waste to rush into anything with a purpose when you *know* that youwill not attain victory." He sniffed slightly, seemingly a warped version of an empty laugh. "More times than not we have gone into battle with that kind of attitude, where we don't have time to plan how we're going to defeat the enemy so we go headlong into it... but in a battle without a mobile suit around you you don't have but one chance to live. If you're going to save Quatre, you'd better do it with some type of sense in your head because I'm *not* coming after you, and if you're captured, I'm coming to kill you myself."

After a moment of silence:

"OOo, Heero, are you being... affectionate?" Duo grinned the grin he usually did when things felt too tense to him. Everyone was way to serious and it itched at him like a tiny disease from the inside. He had to say *something*.. something to keep him from thinking that Trowa was going out to probably kill himself without another thought... again he shook his head and resumed an unbreakable grin.

Thus began the first in a long succession of catcalls hurled from the braided boy's window.

Trowa snapped out of his world only for a second because of the abrupt intrusion of words and turned his head slightly to watch Duo throw himself back into his room. Heero walked swiftly into the house with a gleam in his eye and a six pound flashlight in his hand, presumably to knock some bloody sense into the baka's brains.

"Duo no baka," muttered Wufei thankfully, still pausing to watch Trowa guardedly. "Trowa...?"

Trowa looked at him distantly, but with the angry fire gone out of his eyes. He just felt the long night of bad dreams catching up with him, and he suddenly just wanted to sleep. Understandingly, Wufei retreated to his room.

"Good night, old friend."

The slender book bag slipped from his arm and he slumped against the windowsill, eyelids heavy.

'You know I can't *bear* to leave you another moment in such a horrible place, Quatre, but...* His thoughts became foggy as he partially allowed sleep to overtake him. *...I'm coming for you....* And he fell easily into sleep for the rest of the starry night.

* * *

'What a way to show indecision!" Duo's bright grin shined up at the sleeping Trowa. He shook his head and contemplated getting the water hose to wake up the troubled teen, but instead arched the cold stream up and into Wufei's open window.

"SHIIIIIIIIIIMATTA!" yelled Wufei. When he head the incessant laughter from outside his window he was overwhelmed with fury and grabbed his kisana, gripping his beloved handle with a plan and a definitely revived vengeance.

* * *

"You guys do this everyday," scolded Heero. He not-too-gently wrapped up Duo's bleeding arm and threw two more blankets at Wufei. "Do you ever get tired of it?"

"Why does he have to be so *grumpy*?" moaned Duo, loosening the wrap. "I didn't know he was actually going to cut me with it!"

And so the day began.

Again.

"What did you think I was going to do, spank you with the flat of the blade?! Of COURSE I wasn't going to *cut* you with it.. I was going to KILL YOU WITH IT!"

"Lighten up!"

"Bite me!" Wufei instantly regretted the words, because it gave Duo more grounds to laugh at him with.

"WUFEI, you're soooooo funny...."

"You're both idiots," said Heero bluntly, then left. After they were left alone, Duo chuckled then until the silence got to him again and he looked a Wufei, a moderately serious look on his face. "I'm.. sorry..."

"Ah." Wufei wrapped the blanket tighter around him and began to study the floor.

When there was a bit of silence, Duo looked curiously at the freezing, disgruntled boy. "Wufei?"

Growl. "What?"

"... Wufei... just... why...?"

He looked up, annoyed. "WHAT?"

Duo frowned a little. "Don't get all uptight, but.. why did you try to stop Trowa?" When he was given a puzzled look, Duo looked down and scratched his head. "Well, you don't exactly seem to be Mr. CareBear..."

Wufei rolled his eyes but took the question seriously. "Well... I guess you can say because of the blood on the note..."

Duo blinked. He hadn't noticed the blood... only the words entwined in it. But he still didn't understand Wufei's vague response...

"I.. at first I thought that the blood was Quatre's, and that he was someone on the premises in serious pain.... then I thought it might have been Trowa's.. maybe he had been in a fight or something and accidently got it on the note, and then I realized that if he got in a fight it was still none of my business. Whatever the case," he added quickly.

"You think too much... but you *still* tried to stop him," said Duo.

"Yes."

"But--"

"You guys... after my colony was destroyed, have become the ones that I have most been in contact with. We've fought together, been jailed together.." He cringed slightly at the thought and looked up again. "And, you're a loudmouthed baka who can't even successfully self destruct, and if Quatre's skillful way of occupying me from beating the crap out of myself for having your moronic advances as a weakness was lost, I wouldn't have a moment's peace... not to mention proper housing..."

Duo shrugged, amused. "Got a point." When Wufei got tired of sitting there he stood and slowly went upstairs, and Duo gazed respectably, for not the first or last time, and smiled. "I knew it.... he loves us."

 

On to Part 1