Disclaimers:  I still own nothing.

Notes:  No notes.  Can’t think of a thing to say.  Enjoy this part.



Christmas Memories
Part 5



Quatre fought against the drowsiness he felt and forced his eyes to open.  He was so tired, but he didn’t want to sleep
anymore, not when one of his friends was in such horrible pain.  He had to find him and help him, had to get everything ready
for the party.

There was a strange weight pressing down on his forehead, and odd damp coolness against his skin.  He raised his hand to see
what it was, only to find a cool, damp cloth across his brow.

“You’re finally awake.”  Trowa’s voice said.

Quatre turned his head, the cloth falling away as he moved.  He saw Trowa sitting in a chair beside his bed, a small smirk
gracing the beautiful features of his face.  However, that one cheek was still reddened, where Rasid had hit him, quickly
turning into an ugly bruise.  It covered more than just his cheek now, as it had begun swelling, now covering most of one side
of his face.

“Trowa, I’m so sorry.”  Quatre said, struggling to get himself to a sitting position.

“For what?”  Trowa asked, laying the book he had been holding on the chair, as he rose from his seat.  He crossed the distance
between him and Quatre, and sat on the edge of the bed.

Quatre reached up to Trowa’s cheek with one hand, brushing his fingers against the small scratch as gently as possible.  “I’m
sorry.”  Quatre mumbled.

Trowa laid his hand on top of Quatre’s, pulling it away from his face.  “It’s nothing, really.”  

“It is NOT nothing.”  Quatre replied, the anger he had felt earlier once again returning.  Rasid had been so pigheaded, thinking
that Quatre couldn’t make decisions about his own love life.  He would love who he wanted to love, and didn’t care if Trowa
met Rasid’s approval or not.

Trowa released his hold on Quatre’s hand, and grabbed his shoulders firmly.  “Quatre, calm down.  You shouldn’t get so
excited right now.  It won’t do your health any good.”

“He had no right to say those things, Trowa.  You are not a nameless nobody.”  He paused, knowing he couldn’t say what was
truly in his heart when he was still unsure of Trowa’s feelings toward him.  “You are my friend.”

Trowa replied hesitantly, as if unsure of the words.  “You’re  . . . my friend too.”

Quatre wrapped his arms around Trowa, pulling him into a hug.  He noticed as Trowa’s body tensed, then slowly relaxed into
the embrace.  He smiled, feeling Trowa’s arms slowly enclose around him, holding him gently.  

“He shouldn’t have said those horrible things to you.”  Quatre mumbled into Trowa’s shoulder, a tear escaping his eye as he
held the stoic pilot as tightly as his weakened body would allow him to.

“It’s okay, Quatre.  I know he was just worried about you.  You don’t have to apologize, really you don’t.”  Trowa replied, still
holding Quatre as if he would break if he held too tightly.

Quatre sighed, just enjoying the warmth of Trowa’s body, the heat from his slender form, even if this was only a hug of
friendship.  It was glorious to Quatre, just basking in the warmth, enjoying the musky scent that was so uniquely Trowa.  He
didn’t want to let go, didn’t want to return to the coldness of being alone, of not being held by Trowa’s gentle arms.

The sound of someone clearing his throat, startled Quatre, and he jumped slightly.  He released his hold on Trowa and looked
over to the door, where he saw Rasid standing.  He couldn’t help but notice the glare on Rasid’s face as the larger man
watched Trowa move away from Quatre.

Quatre glared right back at Rasid, seething a quiet “Rasid,” to get the older man’s attention.

Rasid turned, and bowed his head.  “I apologize for the interruption, Master Quatre.”  

“What is it, Rasid?”  Quatre asked, trying to keep his tone calm.

“One of your guests has arrived, Master Quatre.  Mr. Chang is here.”  Rasid said, bowing respectfully before leaving.

“Wufei?!”  Quatre exclaimed, thrilled to know that one of his friends had arrived.

He threw the covers away from himself, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed.  But before he could get up, Trowa
grasped his shoulders.  “Where do you think you're going?”  Trowa asked, his hold on Quatre’s shoulders firm, yet not too
rough.

“Wufei is here.  I have to greet him.”  He said, shrugging Trowa’s hands off.  He stood, and almost immediately sank to the
floor, his body so drained of energy.

Trowa caught him, and lifted him to his feet, wrapping his arms around Quatre to keep him upright.  “If you insist on doing
this, then I might as well help you.”  Trowa said, as he helped Quatre to walk.

Quatre couldn’t believe how tired he felt.  He had just been walking around not too long ago, and now he couldn’t even stand
on his own.  He couldn’t understand it.

As they walked down the stairs, Quatre saw Wufei standing near the front door.  “Wufei, it is good to see you once again.”  
Quatre said, as he and Trowa stepped off the bottom step.

“Winner, should you really be walking around right now?  You do not look well.”  Wufei replied, stepping forward to take
Quatre’s offered hand and shake it.

“He wanted to greet you personally.”  Trowa commented.

Wufei let go of Quatre’s hand, offering the smallest of smirks to him as he said, “Very well  . . . Winner, you have greeted me
personally.  Now, get back to bed.  I did not come all this way to ensure your recovery only to have you collapse.”

Quatre frowned, realizing that Trowa had probably had to stretch the truth to get the other pilots to come.  They were all most
likely under the assumption that this party was being held for Quatre’s sake, not to find out which of them was in such horrible
pain.

“But the others haven’t arrived yet.”  Quatre replied.

“They might not get here today, Quatre.  You know that Duo and Heero both live on the colonies.  It might take them a while
to get here.”  Trowa replied.

“No, I want to wait.”  Quatre argued.

“Fine, but only for a couple hours.  You're still sick.”  Trowa relented.

Quatre sighed in relief.  He didn’t think he could argue anymore, he was just too tired.  “Thank you.”  He said.

Wufei stepped forward, wrapping his arm around Quatre, to get some of his weight off of Trowa.  “If your mind is so set on
waiting, might I suggest you sit down.”

Quatre let the two of them take him into another room.  They set him down in a chair, then took seats of their own.  Quatre
fought off sleep as he awaited the arrival of his other friends.  If they didn’t get here soon, he knew Trowa and Wufei would
only take him upstairs and put him back into bed.


*****


Duo stood just outside the gates of Quatre’s estate, watching the large house.  Just over an hour ago he had watched Wufei
enter the house.  But Duo still had yet to find the courage to face his old comrades.  He just couldn’t go into that place, and see
the faces of the people he had once thought of as his friends, not when he knew they didn’t really care about him.

But that was only part of the reason he hadn’t taken a step toward that house.  The other reason was that he was so
overwhelmingly tired.  He hadn’t realized how exhausted he would be, just taking the trip to Earth to get to Quatre’s place.  If
he had known, he never would have come.  They were bound to notice that he couldn’t even stand on his own without holding
onto something.  And Quatre was sure to sense the tiredness in him, or the misery he felt.  If was just too risky being here.  
They would all find out if he stayed.

Duo took his hand away from the stone wall he rested against.  But quickly he replaced his hand, as he felt his legs giving out
from underneath him.  Maybe just a few more minutes to rest would help.  Then he could leave.

“Duo?”  A familiar voice called out.

Duo steadied himself, plastering the largest fake smile on his face as he pushed his sunglasses up.  He turned, only to come
face to face with Heero Yuy.

The emotionless ex-pilot looked just as gorgeous as ever.  Duo had to take a moment to gather his senses before speaking.  
“Yo, Heero!  Long time, no see, huh?”  He said, using the same cheerful tone he had used so long ago.  Hopefully, Heero
wouldn’t notice the way Duo was propped up against the wall, trying hard not to pass out.

“Why were you just standing there?”  Heero asked, his voice devoid of emotion.

Duo knew that he couldn’t lie.  Hiding the truth was one thing, but he’d never tell a lie.  “Just trying to work up the nerve to go
in there.”  Duo grinned.  Well, it wasn’t really a lie.

“You . . . Nervous?”  Heero said, raising an eyebrow as he stepped closer to Duo.

Duo hoped he had done a good enough job on his makeup.  If he had even made one mistake when applying it, Heero would
definitely notice.

“Hey, even the God of Death gets nervous.”  Duo replied, keeping that huge grin on his face even while his heart raced from
Heero being so close to him.  “I didn’t think you were the type to come to a Christmas party, Heero.”

“I don’t usually.  But when Rasid called and told me that Quatre was ill and requesting my presence, I couldn’t say no.”  Heero
replied, his face remaining expressionless.

“Aw, Heero, I didn’t know you cared.”  Duo teased.

“Quatre is a comrade . . .”  He paused before saying the next words, as if they didn’t come too easily to him.  “He’s  . . . my  .
. . friend.  Of course I would visit him when he is ill.  However, I did not appreciate the tone of Rasid’s voice when he phoned
me.  The least he could have done was sound pleasant.”  Heero commented.

Duo felt a little better, hearing that Rasid had also called Heero using that same annoyed tone.  Maybe he wasn’t the last person
on the guest list.  At least he wasn’t alone in being unwanted.  Maybe they did want Duo to show up at this party.  Duo pushed
off those thoughts.  No, that couldn’t be right.  No one cared about him.  If they did, then why hadn’t they called or written
him in all those months?

Duo took a step, hoping his legs wouldn’t give out from underneath him.  He adjusted the strap of his duffle bag, so that it
hung behind his back, out of his way.  Duo kept up that false happiness, as he threw his arm over Heero’s shoulder.  “Come
on, we can’t keep Quatre waiting forever.”  He said cheerfully.

Heero groaned, as Duo urged him to move.  He really didn’t look too appreciative of Duo hanging off of him, but Duo had no
choice in the matter.  He kept as much weight off of Heero as he could, but without him, he knew he wouldn’t have been able
to make it all the way to Quatre’s house on his own.  He was just so tired.

Trying to make it seem as if he were just like he was when they were all friends, he opened his mouth and belted out the first
Christmas song he could think of, (2)“The Restroom Door Said, ‘Gentlemen.’”    

He was just finishing up the song when he and Heero stepped up onto the porch.  The door was opened as they approached, so
they just walked in, Duo still singing the last lines of the song in his loudest, most purposely off-key voice.  “‘Cause I’ve got
two black eyes and one high heel up my behind.  Now, I can’t sit with comfort and joy.  Boy, oh boy.  No, I'll never sit with
comfort and joy.”

“Must you be so loud, Maxwell?”  Wufei asked, as he, Trowa, and Quatre walked out of another room.  Quatre, unlike the
other two, was not walking on his own.  In fact, he was relying heavily on the other two men that were helping him along, his
feet just barely lifting from the floor as he walked.

“Hey, Quatre, should you really be walking around?  You look terrible.”  Duo commented, taking his arm from around Heero.  
Luckily, Duo felt a little better, less tired, so maybe he wouldn’t fall to the floor.

“It is nice to see you too, Duo.  It’s nice to see both of you.”  Quatre said, as they stopped in front of Heero and Duo.  The
blonde Arabian was nearly out of breath, and Duo saw the weariness in his face.

“Why isn’t he in bed?”  Heero asked.

“He insisted on being here when you arrived.  He wanted to greet you personally.”  Trowa said.

Duo took a glance at the other two ex-pilots.  Wufei looked the same as the last time Duo had seen him, maybe just the smallest
difference in height.  Then he looked at Trowa.  Immediately, he saw the huge bruise spreading across the silent man’s face,
the small cut in his cheek.  “Whoa, Trowa.  What happened to you?”  Duo asked.

“It's nothing, Duo.  Don’t worry about it.”  Trowa answered.

Duo inwardly fumed, seeing the perfect proof that these people were no longer his friends.  He was right, no one cared about
him.  Trowa had just brushed him off, not bothering to answer his question.  It was obvious that something had happened, a
bruise like that didn’t appear out of nowhere.  That was a mark left by a slap, a slap from a very large hand, like Rasid’s
possibly.

Quatre took his arms from around Trowa and Wufei, pushing them away from him, as he took a couple steps toward both
Heero and Duo.  He threw his arms around the two of them, embracing them both in a gentle hug.  He probably would have
held on tighter, if he hadn’t been so weakened by his illness.

Suddenly, Quatre pulled away from them.  He staggered back a few steps, his eyes darting from Heero to Duo repeatedly, a
look of pain in his eyes.  His hand slowly rose to his chest, clutching his clothing tightly.  An instant later, he just collapsed to
the floor in a heap.



To Be Continued . . .




Footnotes:  (2)The words to “The Restroom Door Said, “Gentlemen”

The restroom door said, “Gentlemen.”
So I just walked inside.
I took two steps and realized
I’d been taken for a ride.
I heard high voices,
turned and found the place was occupied
by two nuns, three old ladies, and a nurse.
What could be worse?
than two nuns, three old ladies, and a nurse

The restroom door said, “Gentlemen.”
It must have been a gag.
As soon as I walked in there
I ran into some old hag.
She sprayed me with a can of mace
and smacked me with her bag.
I could tell this just wouldn’t be my day.
What can I say?
It just wasn’t turning out to be my day.

The restroom door said, “Gentlemen.”
And I would like to find
the crummy little creep
who had the nerve to switch the sign.
‘Cause I’ve got two black eyes
and one high heel up my behind.
Now I can’t sit with comfort and joy.
Boy oh boy.
No I'll never sit with comfort and joy.