Disclaimers:  I do not own Gundam Wing or any of its characters.

Notes:  A new day in the Maxwell-Yuy house.



Valentine Blues



Part Seventeen



Quatre awoke with an ache in his back and shoulders.  He groaned as he opened his eyes and looked around as best as he
could, feeling a foreign weight on his chest and stomach.  He remembered falling asleep on Duo's sofa last night.  Looking
down, he spotted the little girl Duo had adopted and smiled.  "What are you doing here, Laurel?" he asked, stroking a hand
along Laurel's arm.

She had managed to get under the blankets and was laying on top of him.  Her eyes were just beginning to flutter open.  
Yawning, she smiled sleepily at him.  "Solo kicks in his sleep.  You don't."  She snuggled up to him while being mindful of her
arm.  "I like you.  You're nice."

He rubbed a hand up and down along the little girl's back.  "Thank you.  I think you're nice as well."  He took in as deep a
breath as he could with her weight on top of him.  "Why didn't you go sleep with Heero and Duo?"

Laurel bit her lip nervously.  "Well, Daddy Duo wasn't feeling well not too long ago and it kept him from seeing me.  And
Daddy Heero dun sleep too well neither.  Daddy Duo has to bully him into it.  I didn't wanna bother them or get in the way.  I
don't want Daddy Heero getting sicker."

Seeing the distress in the child's eyes, Quatre tried to smile in a comforting way.  "Don't worry.  I'm sure Duo will help Heero
through whatever is bothering him.  That's what people who love each other do."

"Like you and Uncle Trowa?  Even though he made you sad?"

Quatre was struck by how observant the outgoing little girl was.  "He didn't make me sad, Laurel.  We're just having a
difference of opinion."  Then he sat up, bringing Laurel with him.  "Are you hungry?  I'm sure there's something I can fix for
you."  He wasn't a gourmet chef by any standards, but he also wasn't a stranger to the kitchen.

"What about Solo and my Daddies?"

It was an honest question and it showed how considerate the child was.  "Why don't we see if they're all awake?  If they are,
I'll make breakfast for everyone."

Laurel wrapped her good arm around Quatre's shoulders as he carried her to the kitchen.  "What if they aren't?"

He had to think about that for a moment.  "If they aren't, then I'll have to make something that can be reheated."

That seemed to satisfy the little girl and Quatre went in search of the rest of the family.  He was surprised when Heero was the
first person that he found.  Not only was he out of bed, but it looked as if he had been up for quite some time.  An entire wall
of what had to be Laurel's room was already painted and he was well into working on the second wall.  A beach extended up
along the finished wall and moving inward it slowly turned into a rocky cliff side.  The cliff continued into the unfinished wall
and Quatre could see that a castle sat atop that cliff, far into the distance but still close enough to see the beauty of its
structure.  The detail was remarkable.  Quatre felt like he could step right through and expect to feel an ocean breeze caress his
face or taste the salt in the air.

"Heero?"  In his arms, Laurel made a sound of awe as she also took in the partially completed work.

"Hm?"  Heero turned around and smiled wanly.  His eyes looked near to blackened.  "Good morning, Quatre.  Laurel, what do
you think?  It's not done yet, but it's coming along nicely."

Laurel was pouting as she looked at him.  "It's very pretty, Daddy Heero.  But you should be sleeping.  Daddy Duo won't be
happy to see you awake."

"Darn right I'm not happy!"  Duo was standing in the doorway, looking less that pleased.  But he managed a smile and took
Laurel out of Quatre's arms.  "Good morning, Laurel.  How did you sleep?"

"Solo kicks!  Uncle Quatre was much more comfortable."

Duo chuckled.  "All right.  Why don't you go into the living room and turn on the television to channel two?  I think there's
some kids shows on right about now."  Actually, he knew quite well there were.  He sometimes watched them himself.

Once Laurel was gone, Duo rounded on Heero with a stern expression.  "Heero, I thought we had an understanding that you
would stay in bed at least until I woke up."

Looking sheepish, Heero gestured around the room.  "I wanted to get this room done as quickly as possible."  Duo looked far
from convinced.

"I'll accept that explanation for now, but you and I will talk later about this.  Again!"  He then nodded to Quatre.  "I heard
something about you making breakfast?"

"Yes, you did.  I'll start it and you can get Solo out of bed."


*****


Solo was sound asleep.  Duo could see that and wished he had a camera right then to take a picture.  The boy had been under
his roof for a little while now, but this was the first morning they'd eating together as a real family.  Seeing a child from the
streets sleeping so peacefully almost made him forget that he was a little upset with Heero.  He knocked on the door frame and
smiled as the boy roused himself.

"Time to wake up, sleepyhead.  Everyone else is up and your uncle Quatre is making breakfast."

"Hm?"  The boy blinked sleepily, his arms sliding around on the bed before he shot up.  "Laurel!  Where's Laurel?"

Duo was across the room in an instant, wrapping an arm around his son to keep him from leaping out of bed and running
around in search of his missing sibling.  Inwardly, he was pleased that Solo was already protective of her.  "She's already up
and watching TV."  He ran a hand over Solo's head.  "I think she's looking forward to getting her own room.  She adores you,
but says you kick in your sleep."

"Aww, man ... I didn't mean to."

Duo smiled affectionately.  "I know you didn't and so does Laurel.  Come on, out of bed.  If nothing else, Quatre makes a killer
omelets."

Solo scratched his head as he looked up at Duo.  "What's an omelet?"

Duo sat on the bed next to his son.  He reached over and grabbed up the brush from the night table.  Then he began the task of
brushing his son's hair.  It relaxed him, he didn't know why.  "Well, the main ingredient is eggs.  Then you put other stuff on
top of them, like cheese and meat or pretty much whatever you want and the eggs are folded over."

"Like a taco?"

"Something like that."  He smiled, pulling the boy's hair into a tidy ponytail.  "Let's go.  You can tell Quatre what you want in
yours.  I'm sure he'll make it just the way you want it."  With that, he took Solo's hand and headed for the kitchen.


"...ham and bacon and sausage and cheese and eggs."  Laurel was sitting in her chair at the table, coloring a picture in her
coloring book.

Quatre chuckled where he was standing, cracking eggs into a bowl.  "Eggs are an essential ingredient to omelets, Laurel.  What
about a vegetable?  Would you like peppers?  How about celery or onions?  I know you don't like tomatoes since you took all
of them off your plate last night at dinner."

"Yuck!"  Laurel stuck her tongue out in disgust at the very mention of the fruit.  "Do I gotta have vegebles in my eggs?  Can I
just have an apple on the side?"

Duo relinquished his hold on Solo's hand to watch the boy climb up into a chair.  He, himself, walked to the fridge, smiling the
entire way.  He had been the same way as a child.  "No, you don't have to have vegetables in your eggs, Laurel."  He pulled an
apple out of the bowl on top of the appliance and a knife out of the knife block.  "And you may have an apple on the side."  He
was quite versed with street talk, but he felt it wasn't too early to start teaching his children proper grammar.  He proceeded to
peel the apple.

"I'd like tomatoes."  Solo sat there, watching as Duo deftly used the knife so the peel came off in one even strip.  "Cool!  I
wanna learn how to do that."

Duo smiled a little wider at Solo's enthusiasm.  "Maybe, when you're older, I'll teach you how to use a knife if it's okay with
Heero."

Solo frowned at that and looked over to Heero who had just shuffled into the room.  "How much older?"

It was a moment before Heero responded.  "Ten?  It could be sooner or later depending upon how you behave."  He took a sip
out of the glass of water he had near to him.  "We have to be sure you are mature enough to handle sharp implements.  It
would be a shame if you turned out to be less than ready to handle a knife.  Someone could get hurt if you're careless.  
Yourself, or even Laurel by accident."

Chewing on his bottom lip, Solo looked as if he was considering the condition.  Then he nodded.  "Okay."

Feeling pleased with Heero's handling of the situation, Duo smiled and began to cut the apple into wedges as Quatre beat a little
milk into the eggs.  "You remember how Heero and I like ours, right?"

Quatre nodded absently and poured some of the eggs into the waiting pan.  "Do you want anything else beside tomatoes in your
omelet, Solo?"

"Some ham and cheese if that's all right, please."  Solo turned his attention to Laurel.  "You're really good at coloring."

Laurel beamed in delight at her brother's praise.  "Really?  You think so?"  When Solo nodded, Laurel bounced.  "Goody!  I
wanna draw like Daddy Heero does when I grow up!"  She took a wedge of apple once Duo set the plate between her and
Solo.  "Thank you!"

Duo, for his part, stole a glance at Heero and fought a chuckle at the dumbfounded expression on his lover's face.  Quatre also
looked pleased as he added some bacon to the eggs that were cooking in the pan.

"You can make Laurel's first, Uncle Quatre."  Solo reached over and tucked a stray hair behind Laurel's ear.

Quatre shook his head.  "I have a pan in the oven and the oven is warm.  We'll eat together."

Duo sat down and ran a hand through Laurel's hair.  It was a bit tangled, but still beautifully soft.  "After breakfast, we're going
to get you and Solo registered for school."

"Isn't Laurel too little for school?"  Solo's question was an honest one.  "And what about me?  I can't even read all that much.  I
don't wanna be laughed at by the other kids."

"There are preschools that teach the basic fundamentals that Laurel will need when she goes to regular school.  And you can
get a tutor to bring you up to the level you need to be."  Duo smiled and tapped Laurel on her cute button nose.  "Not that either
of you are going to school until autumn.  It's too late in the school year to start attending now."

Laurel munched on another apple slice.  "Then why reg ... reg-is-ter us?"

Heero answered that one.  "So that you're in the system.  It's better to do this as soon as possible so we can deal with any
problems now and not at the last minute."  He took another sip of his water.  "It will also be best so any progress you make
with your tutor can be noted."

Duo ruffled Solo's hair affectionately.  "Don't you two worry.  Just do your best.  Everything will work out."

"Okay, Daddy."  Laurel brightly smiled, kicking her feet in the air under her chair.  Solo seemed less than enthused though, his
smile frail at best.  Quatre diverted everyone's attention by serving the omelets.

They all dug in eagerly with the exception of Heero who only ate about half of his own meal, alternating small bites and poking
his food around on his plate.  Duo didn't say anything, even though it worried him.  He didn't understand why Heero wouldn't
talk to him.  Obviously something was bothering him.  He wasn't eating.  He wasn't sleeping.  Something was very wrong.  
And it hurt to know that Heero just didn't trust him enough to share his worries or fears or whatever the hell it was that kept
him from sleeping at night.

Duo looked over at Quatre, letting his worries drop for the time being.  "Great omelet," he said, forcing a smile.  He really was
enjoying the food.  But his concern was a constant nag at his heart.  He could see an echo of it in Quatre's eyes and his worry
nearly doubled.  He didn't want Quatre suffering from being around them.  Would it be a strain on him?  He remembered
Christmas and how sick Quatre had gotten from just being around him.

"Thanks, Duo," Quatre replied, smiling.  Duo had a feeling it was more than just a thanks for the compliment on his culinary
skills.

Breakfast was almost too quiet.  It was odd really.  The kids seemed happy enough.  But the adults were all sharing brief
glances.  Well, not Heero.  He was staring down at his plate as if Quatre and Duo weren't giving him furtive glances with every
few bites of their food.

When he was done, Duo kept his eye on the kids.  As soon as he was sure they were done, he pushed up from his seat.  
"Okay."  He gently lifted Laurel out of her seat.  "Come on, kids.  Let's get dressed and ready for the day."

Heero was up in an instant, holding his arms out.  "I'll help the kids.  I don't want you pushing yourself."  He gave Duo a small
smile.  "Sit and drink something that isn't coffee."

Duo chuckled and handed Laurel over, pleased that Heero was taking an active role as a parent.  It pleased him even more that
Laurel latched onto his lover like a burr on wool.  He thought it ironic that Heero didn't want him pushing himself when he was
the one who looked like he was about to collapse.  But he didn't say a word, not wanting to worry the kids.

As Solo walked out after them, Duo pulled a jug and poured himself a glass of juice.  He was about to talk to Quatre to try and
help his distressed friend when the phone started ringing.  "Huh!  Who could that be at this time of day?"  He headed for the
phone and sipped at his juice before answering.  "Hello!  Maxwell-Yuy residence.  If you're not looking for someone by the
name of Maxwell and/or Yuy, then either you've dialed the wrong number or I've answered the wrong phone."

"Duo."

He spared a glance at Quatre.  "Uh, yeah.  That's me.  What's up, Trowa?"  Duo didn't miss the stiffening of the blonde's
shoulders and fought the urge to sigh.  "Whatcha need?"

"Is Quatre there?"  He sounded truly worried.

Before Trowa could go into an uncharacteristic long-winded speech, Duo answered.  "Yeah, he's here."

There was a whisper that Duo couldn't decipher from the other end, but the tone was relieved.  "May I please speak with him?"

"That's up to him, Trowa."  He held the phone out to Quatre as the blonde set some dishes into the sink.

Quatre wiped off his hands on a towel before taking the phone.  "Are the children out of earshot?"

Duo nodded.  "Yeah."  He sat down.

The blonde's voice was deceptively calm as he brought the phone to his ear.  "Trowa?"  There was a pause before Quatre
spoke again.  "You can kiss my ass."  With that, he hung up the phone and went back to his task.

"Woah, what did he do?"

Quatre gripped his hands on the edge of the sink.  His shoulders were set.  He looked the epitome of tense and angry.  Maybe it
wasn't a great idea to broach this subject now.

"He has an apartment on the colony," the blonde hissed.

Duo opened his mouth.  He remembered Trowa mentioning it the previous night at dinner.  "AND?  That's not it, is it?"

Quatre turned, stepping over to the table.  He sank into a chair and shook his head.  "No, but sometimes he acts like what we
have between us isn't something permanent.  Just the mention of marriage had him quaking in his shoes."

Duo fought it, but he couldn't stop the snicker that escaped him.  That one sound earned Duo a glare.

"It's not funny, Duo!"

"You're right.  It's not funny.  It's hilarious."  He laughed then, shaking his hand in front of him as he tried to control his
breath.  When he regained his composure he tried again.  "Trowa's a guy.  Of COURSE he's scared of marriage.  All guys are
scared of marriage.  Hell, I'M scared of marriage.  To be committed to someone on that level would terrify any sane man."  He
shook his head.  "Because of that, you made the poor guy worry all night about you?"

Quatre looked surprised.  "You're afraid of marriage, Duo?  But you and Heero ..."

"I said it was scary.  I never said it wasn't fun, too."  He tried to think of a good example.  "It's kind of like piloting, I guess.  
There are times when you're scared out of your wits, but then there are times when nothing can beat the feeling of being with
the one you love."  

Duo looked at the doorway Heero had disappeared through with the kids.  "Me?  I wouldn't trade what I have for anything in
the world, but maybe Trowa's not ready for everything yet.  You need to remember that he was raised differently than you."  
He shrugged a little.  "That might be a part of your problem, I don't know.  Heero and I are both orphans who don't know who
we really are or where we really come from.  Trowa was also raised with no idea as to who he was, but you've always known
who you are even though you weren't too happy about the circumstances of your birth."  Duo smiled gently at his friend.  
"Give him time to get used to the idea of being with you before pushing for the next step in your relationship.  Better yet, don't
push him at all."

Quatre folded his arms on the table and dropped his head.  After a moment, he shifted, propping his chin on his arms so he
could look at Duo.  "How did you and Heero get to this point?  I mean, the two of you came a long way since Christmas."

"Lots of talks while I was recovering."  Duo smiled at the memory of those gentle conversations.  "Granted, there were only a
few days between Christmas and New Years, but those days will remain with me forever.  Nothing I ever felt before compared
with the feeling of relaxing against Heero and sipping at some soup while we spoke about everything and nothing at all."

He reached across the table and grabbed his friend's shoulder.  "Give Trowa some time, Quatre.  You mean everything to the
guy.  I mean, come on!  He would die for you."  He saw Quatre flinch at that and he felt a little sorry for his choice of words,
but he pressed on.  "Well, he would and you know it.  Just think about it, okay?"

When Quatre nodded, Duo got up and left in search of his family.  They had a long day ahead of them.  He mentally reminded
himself to talk to Heero later.  Maybe he could return the favor of holding his lover while Heero sipped at some soup.  The last
thing he wanted was for Heero to suffer needlessly.



To Be Continued ...