Disclaimers: We do not own Gundam Wing or any of its characters.
Notes: No note really. Duo gets taken inside and the guys get a look around he house.
Trowa wasn't shocked when Duo promptly passed out upon looking at a statue of one of his ancestors. Quite frankly, Trowa
had been amazed that Duo had held together as well as he had. Trowa had no doubt that if Duo had been well, he would have
handled the shock a little better.
As soon as Duo slumped, Heero had run forward to catch the braided ... well Trowa supposed Duo couldn't be considered
American anymore. He hadn't been born in America, nor had his parents. Still ... it was difficult thinking of Duo as an
Englishman. While everyone as fussing a little, Trowa cleared his throat. "Maybe it would be best if we got him inside ... and
comfortable." Then he shook his head, thinking to break the tension surrounding him. "Also, I don't know about the rest of
you, but I'm a little hungry after our trip."
There was a round of muted agreements and the others moved in a sluggish line toward the front doors of the estate, following
the butler, Hillary. Trowa stood behind as the others walked away. He paused only to get a second look at the statue. It was
impressive to say the least, and it was obvious that someone had put a great deal of care into carving it. He silently saluted the
figure before going in. Even if the woman was only a figment in Duo's dreams, Trowa had no doubt that those dreams were
put to practical use. She deserved his respect for crafting Duo into the man he was today, whether she was real or imagined.
Once finished with his quiet admiration, he turned and entered the house just in time to see a plump housekeeper fussing over
"Oh, the poor little lamb! Wore himself out, did he? And look at him! Less meat on him than a quail! Well, we'll fix that up
soon enough. Let's get him tucked onto a sofa in the lounge for now. Closer to the kitchens and all and I don't want him
waking up and getting lost like he had a habit of doing as a youngster." She chuckled as she ushered the group into a large
room with floor to ceiling windows and several comfortable seats settled around a cozy fireplace.
There, Duo was promptly settled onto one of the deep-seated sofas with a throw pillow under his head and a lovely afghan as a
blanket. Heero looked more than a little reluctant to release his hold on Duo. Even Trowa wasn't blind to the affection his two
friends shared for each other, though he doubted either of them truly knew what they felt for each other themselves.
"There," the Housekeeper said with a satisfied nod. "He should be comfortable here for a while." Then she turned to the other
four youths and spoke with that same motherly tone. "Now, let's get you lot taken care of. You must be half-starved traveling
so far. Come with me to the family dining room and we'll get you something to eat. It's not as large as the formal one, so the
four of you won't have to shout across the room to talk to each other."
Trowa felt his lips quirking, even as Quatre chuckled. The woman practically screamed 'grandmother.' He glanced back at his
long-haired friend as he and the others were bustled out of the room and was pleased to note that Duo did, indeed, look
comfortable. He turned his attention back to the housekeeper. "You seem to know a lot about Duo. Were you his nanny?"
The housekeeper tilted her head. "Duo? Oh! Is that what he's been calling himself? Poor dear couldn't remember his own
name, hmm? I'll have to remember his new one. Better for him to have some familiarity here." She clucked her tongue with
an affectionate expression. "As to your question, no. No, he never had a nanny. The Master and Mistress would never hear
of someone else raising their little boy. Lovely people, they were," she said, sniffing and dabbing at her eyes with a well-worn
handkerchief. "Bless their dear departed souls. They loved him so very much, and it breaks my heart to see that dear boy
looking so thin and sickly." She paused in her lamenting taking a closer look at Quatre. "My stars! This can't be little Quatre!"
The scowl that crossed Quatre's features left Trowa smirking. He knew how sensitive Quatre was to his slight frame. The
blonde might be petite, but he was anything but small in Trowa's eyes. His spirit and strength were sizable enough to make up
for his slight stature.
"I'm not so little anymore, Miss Annalise," Quatre said, smiling once more. "Might I remind you, Duo was smaller than me.
Still, it is good to see you stayed on."
Annalise chuckled. "Yes, well. You were small to me, and had a penchant for your own sort of mischief, always getting the
little lord in such trouble. Oh well, never mind all that now." She opened a door and guided them inside. The room looked like
a small dining area, just big enough for maybe eight or ten people. "Ah, here we are. It's not too far from the lounge, so I can
keep an eye on the dear boy while helping the rest of you lads settle in. You will be staying a few days, won't you?"
Heero was the one who answered this time. "Yes." There was no hesitation or doubt in his voice. In fact, Trowa noticed that
Heero looked around to the rest of them as if to dare them to contradict him. Wufei snorted, but said nothing and Quatre
nodded in confirmation.
Trowa simply shrugged. Leaving Duo at this point seemed like a foolish thought. "Of course we will. Duo is our friend, and
he's understandably shocked about the discovery that he comes from a wealthy family."
The housekeeper sighed sadly. "Yes ... yes, I can understand that." She sniffed and dabbed at her eyes with that handkerchief
again. "It's just so good to know that he's safe, and to know that he's finally home. We will handle anything else as it comes
up." She sniffed again and put the handkerchief away. "When I heard you were coming, I had the cook prepare some food. I
was uncertain on what to have made, so there is only some chicken soup ready."
Trowa nodded. He sat down in a chair and smiled at how comfortable it was. "Make sure to keep some warm for Duo."
Annalise worried at her lower lip. "Well, of course I'll keep something warm for him. But what if he hates things he once
loved? I've no idea what foods he eats now."
Quatre spoke up. "He still likes chicken noodle soup. I don't know many people who dislike it, but I have seen him eat it many
The smile that lit up Annalise's face was brilliant. She rushed off to get their dinner a moment later.
When she came back, she didn't linger around long. She had a lot to do now that Duo was home again and she was left with
four houseguests to tend to. She and Hillary went about their duties. Being two of only a handful of servants still employed,
they alone prepared the rooms the four former pilots would be using during their stay.
Heero stirred the remainders of his soup around, not really willing to try and force it down his throat. Not that it wasn't good.
He just couldn't quell his rampant worries over Duo's health. He wanted to go back to the lounge and sit with his friend. He
didn't see any reason why he shouldn’t do just that. With that thought firmly set in mind, he pushed his barely touched bowl of
soup away and stood up.
"I'm going to check on Duo," he stated, giving no further explanation for his hasty departure. He simply didn't feel comfortable
leaving Duo alone. What if he woke up and thought they'd abandoned him. His health was fragile and Heero was certain his
emotional state was in turmoil as well.
He turned as he heard the sound of chairs scraping across the floor and frowned at the others who were getting up.
Quatre smiled sheepishly. "I was just ... worried about Duo as well."
"It would be a wise idea for us to stay together for the time being," Wufei added.
Trowa said nothing. He stepped past Heero and led the way back to the lounge. He opened the door and was about to take a
step inside when he stopped suddenly.
"What? What's wrong?" Heero asked impatiently, wondering at the abrupt halt.
"Duo's gone," the tall youth said, stepping aside as Heero pushed past him.
Sure enough, the couch that Duo had only just recently occupied was now empty. The afghan was strewn across the floor.
There was no sign of Duo anywhere.
"Where do you think he went?" Wufei asked.
"He could be anywhere," Trowa frowned.
Quatre bit his lip. "We'd better start looking. In his state, there's no telling what he might do."
Heero didn't wait around for any plans to be made. He picked a random path and headed down the hall, not really caring when
the others followed right behind him.
"Wait," Quatre argued. "It's not really a good idea to just wander off. We should split up and do a proper search."
"Then pick another direction and go," Heero snapped. He was impatient and worried. He wanted to find Duo.
Quatre made a sound, perhaps about to argue his point as they were stepping into the main hall. He suddenly stopped and
grabbed Heero's shoulder, his voice in a panic as he pointed up. "Duo! What are you doing up there?" he cried out.
High above them, at the very least three stories above them, was Duo. He was precariously balanced on the railing, his arms
stretched wide to either side of him. A wave of panic swept through ever fiber of Heero's body and soul. He saw all his hopes
shattering, his every dream bursting into flame and he couldn't think of a damned thing he could do. No words would come to
his mind, no sound to his throat. He wanted to scream and cry out for Duo to get down, but he was frozen in his fears. What
if Duo jumped? What if he fell? Neither were options that appealed to Heero. He wanted more than a few moments of Duo's
life ... he wanted more of Duo. He wanted Duo.
"Please," his word was a pale whisper, probably not even heard by the three people around him.
To his horror, Duo smiled at them, a serene expression as his eyes closed. And then, he leaned forward, allowing gravity to
pull him down.
Heero could swear he felt his heart shatter.
To Be Continued …