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

Notes:  Quatre keeps Duo company while waiting for Heero's return.



Valentine Blues



Part Twenty



Quatre looked out the window, frowning in worry as the snow fell gently in delicate flakes.  Heero had left late in the afternoon
and it was well past dark now.  Duo had pretended that everything was all right, but Quatre wasn't fooled.  Duo was hurting.  
he kept a brave face on though, going through the routines.  He'd cooked dinner, and laughed along with a pleasant
conversation.  Afterward, he and the kids had sat and watched television.

Quatre had joined them as well, but couldn't find the will to focus.  It was difficult to block everything.  Duo and his children
were worried about Heero.  Quatre was, too.  In the back of his mind, Heero was a soft buzz of guilt and fear.  There was
anger aimed at himself, and Quatre was reluctant to shut him out completely.  Quatre would rather suffer the ache along with
Heero, than to ignore him.  At least if he kept a link open, he would be aware if Heero was okay or not.

Idly, the blonde pressed a hand to his chest, chasing away the ache in his heart.

“You okay, buddy?”  Duo was looking over at him with concern.

Quatre gave him a sickly smile.  “I'll be fine.  I was just worried about Heero, so I decided to tune in on his emotions.  They're
in turmoil, but he's physically all right as far as I know.”

Duo looked at the front door wistfully before nudging his dozing son gently.  “Come on, kids.  Time to get to bed.”

Laurel looked up in alarm.  She grabbed Duo's sleeve and tugged on it lightly.  “Can I sleep with you, Daddy?  Please?”

Solo nodded in agreement with his sister's request.  “Yeah, can we?  It's been a long day.  Laurel's upset, and I'm worried
about Dad myself.”

Duo smiled warmly at the kids.  “Yeah.”  He ruffled Solo's hair.  “I don't want to be alone tonight either.  What about you,
Quatre?  You want to bunk in with us?”

Quatre didn't need to think about it.  “In a bit.  I want to make a call first.”

With a smile, Duo nodded and walked toward the bedrooms with the kids.  Laurel was in his arms, Solo walking along beside
him.  Quatre waited until they were out of the room to go to the phone.  He picked it up and dialed the number he needed to
call.  A few rings sounded and he held his breath at the sound of the line being picked up.

“Hello?”

Quatre let out the breath and swallowed.  “Trowa?”  He had purposely left the video feed off.  He didn't think he could handle
seeing Trowa right now.  It was too soon.  His anger and confusion still needed to be sorted through before they could have a
meaningful discussion.

There was a pause before the brunette responded.  “Quatre!  What's wrong?”

Quatre made a slightly annoyed sound.  “I call you and you automatically assume something is wrong?”  He didn't want to
point out that Trowa was technically correct.

Trowa's tone sounded as if he were wording his answer carefully.  “You know me and that I'm almost always in bed at this
time.  You wouldn't call me unless something was wrong.”

He glanced at the clock and noted the time.  Inwardly, Quatre scolded himself.  Trowa was right about that.  It was getting to
be late.  Quatre hadn't realized it.  Heero had been gone for hours now.  Duo probably would have put the kids to bed earlier if
not for his worry over his missing lover.  Quatre rubbed at his chest absently, frowning.  “Sorry, it's just ... Heero left here a
few hours ago and he hasn't come back yet.  He hasn't been sleeping.  I was wondering if you'd seen him.”

“No, Quatre, I haven't.  Duo and the kids must be frantic.”  There was a heavy pause before Trowa spoke again.  “Are you all
right?”

Quatre rolled his eyes.  Yet again, Trowa was proving how little he thought of him.  Didn't he trust Quatre to know his own
limits?  Okay, he'd had a bad episode at Christmas, but he was fully recovered from that.  Quatre wasn't under the stresses he
had been then.  His time at the office was almost nonexistent now and Wufei had been kind enough to teach him a few
techniques to help him relax.  And he had Trowa.  No, he'd had Trowa.  Perhaps he never would again.

“I'm just peachy,” Quatre snapped, unable to keep the bitterness from his voice.  “My boyfriend is afraid of commitment, one
of my best friends is missing, and another is worried sick, and their two kids are scared out of their wits.  How do you expect
me to be doing?”

“I'm sorry.  I've said something to upset you.  I was only concerned.”

Quatre winced.  He hadn't meant to snap like that.  Something was wrong.  Maybe he should block out Heero.  Even as he
thought it, he knew that he couldn't go through with it.  Heero was hurting.  Quatre couldn't ignore that.

"I apologize, Trowa.  I shouldn't have been so rash with my words."

Trowa sighed on the other end of the line.  "There's no need.  If Heero should call here, I'll let you know."  He was silent for a
moment.  "Is there anything you need?"

Desperately, Quatre wanted to say that he wanted Trowa to drop everything and come over.  To have Trowa there, holding
him, it would be the best thing.  Even though he was angry with his lover, he knew that the brunette's presence would be
comforting.  Instead though, he shook his head.  Trowa didn't trust him, didn't want to commit to him.  He couldn't forgive
Trowa so easily.  "Not tonight, Trowa.  Good night."

"Good night, Quatre."

The call was disconnected.

Quatre sighed as he walked toward the master bedroom.  They had all already changed into their pajamas shortly after dinner
when they'd settled in to watch television, and all Quatre had to do was kick off his slippers before joining Duo and the kids in
bed.  He eased in behind Duo.  It wasn't surprising at all when Duo rolled over and threw his arms around Quatre's body.  
Laurel and Solo were cuddled up with each other on the other side of Duo's body.  Seeing Solo take care of his little sister was
sweet, especially the way he was stroking his little fingers against the back of her head, making soft sounds to soothe her into a
restful sleep.

Duo bit his lip against a whimper and Quatre looked down.  His friend was fighting back tears.  Deciding to take inspiration
from the children, Quatre wrapped his arms around Duo and began to run a hand along his friend's back.

"Calm down, Duo.  He'll be okay."  He didn't know if he was lying or not, but he needed to say it either way.  Duo needed the
comfort the words offered.  "He'll come back when he calms down."

Duo's tears spilled out, soaking into the pajama top Quatre had borrowed from him.  It broke the Arabian's heart to see his
friend so distraught.  And to know there was little he could do, pained him as well.  He opened his senses further, reaching out
to Heero, letting his gift drift deeper into the other man's mind.  He pulled back sharply seconds later, wishing that he hadn't
intruded.  It wasn't his place to snoop around in his friend's heart and mind.  He shouldn't, couldn't betray Heero like that.  He
did allow the link to remain open though, if only to keep a watch over his friend.

There wasn't much more that he could do for Duo aside from what he already was doing, and it did seem to be helping him.  
"He'll come back, Duo.  He loves you and the kids too much not to come back."

Duo sniffled and shook his head.  His voice was slight, just barely loud enough for Quatre to hear.  "I don't want him to come
back just because he feels like he's got an obligation now.  I want him here because he wants to be here."

Smiling frailly, Quatre looked over at the kids again.  It was apparent that Laurel had finally cried herself out and Solo was
dozing off, though he was valiantly fighting against his own weariness.  "Of course he wants to be here.  Didn't you say that it
was his idea to adopt Laurel in the first place?  If he didn't want this family, then he wouldn't have chosen it.  I believe he's just
going through a rough spot right now, is all."

Duo let out a sigh that turned into a yawn.  "He does love us.  The look on his face when the kids call him 'dad' is just too
beautiful for words.  I just wish he had talked to me."

"I guess some things are hard to talk about."  He suddenly felt a little petty, but quickly squashed the feeling.  Trying to protect
a love one from worrying was not the same thing as keeping an apartment to run to in case things went sour.  And wasn't that
just what Trowa had done?

Not wanting Duo to pick up on his upset, Quatre continued the soothing motions with his hands, even as his own eyes
drooped.  He usually meditated before sleep, to rid himself of negative emotions, but Duo needed his presence more.  Surely
one night wouldn't hurt much.



*****



The morning sun filtered into the room through the sheer curtains.  Such a bright morning for the winter.  It was a day most
people could enjoy.  However, not the young blonde in the bed.  No, he was struggling in his sleep, his brow furrowing and
straightening out over and over again.  Fingers twitched, his mouth parting in breathless gasps.  He shivered, even as an
unpleasant warmth spread throughout his body.

Abruptly, Quatre shot up in bed, his eyes flying wide open as he was ripped from sleep.  His hand flew to his chest, nails
digging deeply into his skin over his heart.  Something was wrong, horribly and terribly wrong.  A sudden pain had struck him,
only to vanish just as quickly.

Duo was beside him in an instant, his hands gripping Quatre's shoulders.  "What is it?  Quatre?  Buddy?  You okay?"

The kids were behind him, looking on in fear and worry.  Quatre couldn't see any of them.  He couldn't hear Duo's concern.  
No, the blonde's thoughts were turned inward, struggling to comprehend the sensations sweeping throughout him.

All night, he had kept an open link with their missing friend.  Heero had been a tenuous voice, a constant hum in the back of his
mind, blurry echoes of his feelings passing along the connection.  Until now.  There was nothing.  Not a whisper of ache, no
feelings of guilt.  There was nothing at all.  A dead silence greeted Quatre when he reached out his senses.  Something had
happened.  And whatever it was had been swift if he judged by the sudden way everything had cut off.

A sharp, stinging pain to his cheek brought Quatre out of his daze.  He blinked, lifting his fingers to his sore face.  "Sorry," he
uttered, trying to smile.  He raised an unsteady hand to his forehead, a dull ache beginning to spread throughout his skull.  He
didn't know how long he had been out of it.  Judging by the concern on the faces around him, it had been a while.

"Fuck, Quatre, you scared the shit out of me."  Duo's hands froze where they lay on Quatre's chest and he turned to the two
children on the bed.  "I don't want to hear either of you swearing like that, okay?"

"Huh?  Oh, yeah, okay Daddy," Solo's young voice piped up.  Laurel gave a similar response.

Duo let out a short puff of breath and gave Quatre a careful look over.  "What happened?  You jumped up so quick.  And then
you just froze.  I couldn't get a reaction out of you at all."  His fingers drifted up, hand laying across Quatre's cheek.  Duo
frowned then, flipping his hand over and placing the back of it against his skin again, then moving the hand up to lay against his
forehead.  "You've got a fever.  You're not leaving yourself open again, are you?"

Quatre sighed and allowed Duo to push him back down.  "I had to.  I wanted to make sure Heero was all right.  I shouldn't
have, though.  It obviously wore me out a great deal more than my ability normally does."

Duo shook his head.  "You're right.  You shouldn't push yourself so hard.  It's gotta be tough enough as it is dealing with the
stress we're feeling.  Add your own problems to the mix, and you really are looking at trouble."

Solo and Laurel looked confused.  Laurel spoke up.  "Why?  What's wrong with Uncle Quatre?"

Quatre smiled tiredly at the little girl.  "I can sense other people's feelings.  Sometimes it wears me out, like at Christmas.  I was
very sick then.  I can put up a mental barrier that tunes out other people, but I like being able to help my friends."

Duo snorted.  "Except you push yourself to the point of making yourself sick, which can do more harm than good.  You take it
easy, and I'll go get you something to eat.  You want me to call Trowa?"

Quatre sat up in alarm at the thought of Trowa seeing him this vulnerable.  "No!"  He didn't want pity, and he was pretty sure
that was the only thing Trowa would give him at the moment.  "Please, don't bother him.  It's not-"

"You better not be trying to tell me this isn't serious.  We both know better than that."  He cupped his hands around Quatre's
face, his expression sad and pleading.  "Shut us out, Quatre.  Don't let us stress you to the point of exhaustion again.  Trowa
had to carry you around last time, you were so weak.  I don't want to see you that sick again."

"I don't want you to be sick either, Uncle Quatre," Laurel said, looking down at the bed shyly.  "Being sick isn't fun."

Quatre smiled at her, reaching out and running his fingers across her cheek.  "Don't you worry.  It'll take a couple of days, but
I will get better."

Laurel smiled back.  She seemed satisfied with his answer.  Duo and Solo, on the other hand, didn't look quite as convinced.

"You're one stubborn dude, Quatre."  Duo sighed and shook his head.  "Okay.  I won't call Trowa on two conditions."  He held
up a finger.  "One - you shut us all out.  You're not helping us much, and you're only doing yourself harm right now."  He held
up a second finger.  "Two - you take it easy for the next couple of days.  I'm not saying you have to stay in bed, but keep your
activities down right now."  With that said, he folded his arms and regarded Quatre seriously.  "If you're better in a couple of
days, like you say you will be, then I won't call Trowa.  Other than that, all bets are off.  Are we clear?"

"But, Duo, I need to know what's going on."  How could he make his friend understand?

Duo shook his head with a rueful smirk.  "You don't need to know, Quatre.  You just really want to know.  It's not that I don't
appreciate the thought, since your concern for us saved my life, but I really would rather have you healthy and strong in case
something comes up."  He looked at the clock and frowned.  "If Heero isn't back soon, I'll call around at some of his regular
places."

This puzzled Quatre.  "What do you mean by regular places?"

Duo smiled.  "He told me a few bars he goes to to watch people.  There's also a couple of all night diners and a museum.  He
gave me a list of numbers I could call in case he doesn't come home or call before 7 AM."  He motioned to the clock.  "It's
about 10 minutes 'til."

Quatre blinked in confusion.  "Why not just start calling now?  Aren't you worried about him?"

Duo's smile fell and he nodded.  "Of course I am, but I also trust him to not do something stupid.  I was so worried yesterday,
I didn't even remember.  He ran out of here so fast, I kinda freaked."  He looked over as the phone started ringing.  "That might
be him now."  He bounced from the bed and went out into the hall.

When he came back, no more than three minutes later, Duo looked pale and shaken.  He sat on the bed with a slump to his
shoulders.

"Duo, what's wrong?"  Quatre asked, uneasily sitting up.  He was tired, but he was too worried about his friend to consider his
own weakness.

Duo ran a trembling hand down his face.  He didn't turn to face the blonde, instead staring at a space across from him.  "It's
Heero."  He let out a shuddering breath, finally turning toward Quatre.  "There's been an accident."



To Be Continued ...