Disclaimers:  I still don’t own anything.

Notes:  As I already said, this is a 2x4 AU, although in the beginning it’s more like 2+4, since they don’t just hop in the sack
right after meeting.  Other pairings are 1+3, 5+Meiran, and others that I might make up along the way.  But these are the
important ones.  All the guys are normal kids going to the same school.  So far not all of them know each other, but that will
change as the story goes along.

Warnings:  Drug use, violence, foul language, rape (eventually).



Choices of the Heart



Part Two


Duo walked along beside his best friend, and roommate, Trowa Barton.  Every now and then, he would cast worried glances in
his silent friend’s direction, hoping he was doing okay.  Trowa had a heart condition, even walking to school left him out of
breath.  He didn’t want to rush Trowa, but he also didn’t want to be late for school.

As he walked, he let his mind wander, thinking of how he and Trowa had first met.  He smiled at the memories, letting them
come.


*Flashback*


Duo had been living on the streets for several months now.  He just hadn’t been able to stay in that house with those horrible
people anymore.  That foster home just wasn’t for him.  He was sick of being afraid to fall asleep, wondering if he would be
awakened by someone touching him, or by fists brutally pounding his young body.  He shuddered at the memory of his foster
parents, his ‘father’ always hitting him when he got drunk, his ‘mother’ finding other uses for his body.

He pushed off the thoughts to look around at his ‘home’.  Just a box in an alley, but it was better than nothing.  He wouldn’t go
back to that house . . . never again.  He had scrounged up what little he had and left.  All of his belongings were in the duffle bag
that also served as his pillow at night.

Well, time for school, he thought, grabbing his bag.  He hefted the heavy load onto his shoulder and left.  The school was mostly
empty so early in the morning, and he had to sneak in since most of the doors remained locked until a certain time.  As soon as
he entered the school, he went to his locker.  He looked in the small mirror that hung on the inside of the door, hoping he looked
okay.  His hair was a bit disheveled, but otherwise it was fine.  

Maybe after work tonight he could get his boss to let him use his shower again.  It had been over a week, and Howard did seem
willing to help him in whatever way possible.  He had even offered to let Duo stay with him.  But Duo wouldn’t do that.  He
didn’t need to owe Howard anything.  Just having that job, which he was still too young for, was enough, and to be paid under
the table in cash.  It was illegal, and Howard would probably get into a lot of trouble if he was caught, so Duo chose not to ask
any more of him.

School went just as it always did, boring and slow.  He got his assignments and left quickly, not wanting to take the chance and
stay around longer.  Teachers were bound to ask questions sooner or later, and he rather not be around for them to catch him.  

As he walked home, he started to feel a little dizzy, so he stopped, resting up against the side of a building.  He dropped his bag
beside him, and slid down to the ground, wrapping his arms around himself as an icy breeze swept over his bare arms.  He
wished he had a jacket.  It was starting to get pretty cold out.  Maybe he’d save up some of his money from work and buy one,
but if he did that he’d probably have to go without clean clothes for a while.  Those laundry machines were not cheap.

He coughed, shuddering as he closed his weary eyes.  He was just tired . . . tired of working, tired of going to school, tired of
living on the streets.  Maybe he should just freeze to death.

“You okay?” A stranger's voice asked.

Duo blinked his eyes open, momentarily unable to focus on the stranger that was looming over him.  “I’m fine.  Leave me
alone.”  He mumbled, struggling to get himself to his feet.  Finally, his eyes focused and he was able to make out the features of
the person in front of him.

Duo recognized the guy from school.  They were about the same age, around sixteen, and in the same home room class.  He
was tall, slender but well-built, dressed in a tight pair of jeans and a turtleneck.  His deep green eyes showed his concern.  Duo
shook his head, clearing his thoughts.  “Trowa, right?”  He asked, hoping he had the name correct.

“Yeah . . . Trowa, Trowa Barton.  And you are?”  He asked.

“Duo Maxwell.”  He replied.  “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get going.”  

Trowa reached out, grabbing Duo’s shoulder.  “Wait . . . are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine.”  Duo replied.  He turned and took a step away, and almost immediately he fell to his knees.  “Maybe not.”  He
mumbled under his breath.

Trowa was beside him quickly, reaching out and catching him before he could fall flat on his face.  He laid one of his hands
against Duo’s forehead.  “Jeez, you’re burning up.”  He said, helping Duo to his feet.  “Let me help you home, your parents will
probably be worried about you.”

Hearing those words, Duo pushed the taller boy away from him, staggering backwards a few steps.  “No . . . leave me alone.”  
He shuddered, not even sure why he was so scared.  It wasn’t as if Trowa knew where he had lived.  But the very mention of
going back to those people, scared Duo.

“But you’re sick.  You should be home in bed with your parents fussing over you.”  Trowa replied, slowly reaching out to Duo.

“I don’t have parents.”  He whispered, trying to keep himself upright and away from Trowa.

“Well, then whoever takes care of you will be worried.”  Trowa said, once again reaching out to help Duo.

“No one takes care of me.  I’m on my own and I like it that way.”  He hissed, pushing Trowa’s hands away.  He grabbed his
bag and turned to leave.

He was able to take two steps before he stumbled, falling into Trowa’s arms.  “You’re coming home with me.”  Trowa stated.  
“You need someone to take care of you . . . You can’t just live on your own.”

Duo made some unintelligible answer, before darkness clouded his vision.  When he opened his eyes again, he found that he was
lying in a strange bed in a strange house.  He sat up quickly, suddenly terrified.

“Easy, kid.”  A sweet voice said.

Duo snapped his head to the side, shivering at the sight of the woman that was sitting in a chair across the room.  He looked
down at himself, and saw that he was in a bed.  His chest was bare, and he lifted the blankets to see that he was currently only
wearing his boxers.  Terror gripped his heart, wondering what had happened, if anyone had done anything to him while he was
unconscious.  Duo grabbed the blankets, pulling them tight around himself as he pushed himself as far back on the bed as he
could.

“Calm down.  You’re safe here.”  Trowa said as he walked into the room.

Duo looked over at him, concerned when he saw the sweat covering the other boy’s face, the way he moved sluggishly, and the
gasping of his breath.  “You okay?”  Duo asked, calming himself only slightly.

“Trowa, you are supposed to be in bed.”  The girl said, rising to her feet to rush over to Trowa’s side.

“I’m fine, Cathy.”  He gasped, stumbling as he walked.  

“Well, come on.  At least sit down before you strain yourself too much.”  The girl replied, grabbing his arm and helping him
over to the bed that Duo was sitting on.  Duo moved aside, giving the taller boy room as the girl propped a few pillows behind
Trowa’s head.

“Duo, this is my sister, Catherine.”  Trowa said, gesturing to the girl.

“Nice to meet you, Duo.”  She said, only looking at him for a moment before turning her attention back to Trowa.  “You know
you can’t have any strenuous activities.  Your heart . . .”  

“I know all about my heart, Catherine.”  He spat out.  “I know all about my heart defect, that I can’t play sports or do anything
strenuous, or else I could have a heart attack.”  He closed his eyes, struggling to take in a breath.  

Duo couldn’t help but wince at the bitter tone in Trowa’s voice.  He turned, slowly trying to slip out of the bed.  He didn’t
belong here.  It was obvious that these people had troubles of their own and didn’t need him mucking things up further.  Before
he could get out of the bed, a hand clamped down on his arm.

“Where do you think you’re going?”  Trowa asked, his gaze nearly piercing through Duo with its intensity.  Obviously seeing
Duo’s nervousness, Trowa softened his gaze, releasing Duo’s arm.  “You’re sick.  You need rest.”

“I don’t need charity.  I can take care of myself fine.”  Duo replied, not wanting to be pitied.  He wrenched his arm free of
Trowa and threw the blankets away from himself.  He stood, aware that he was only wearing his boxers.  “Where are my
clothes?”  He asked, fighting back the wave of dizziness and nausea that flowed through him.  However, his body didn’t seem to
like moving, and the dizziness won.  He stumbled, grasping the edge of a nearby table to keep himself from falling over.

“Oh, I don’t think so.”  Catherine replied, walking around the bed, and pushing Duo back down onto it.  “You are staying right
here until you are better.”  She sighed.  “And since Trowa here tells me that you have no home, I guess you’ll be staying even
longer.”

“No!”  Duo nearly shouted, as Catherine tucked him back into bed.  He sighed, deciding it was better to stay there at least until
they went to sleep and then sneak out.  “I don’t need charity from anybody.  I’m fine on my own.”

“Yes, we can see that.”  Trowa replied, with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

“Well, if you don’t want charity, then what do you think about earning your keep by working?”  Catherine suggested, sitting on
the bed beside Duo.

Duo narrowed his eyes, gazing at her suspiciously.  “What do you mean?”

“Once you’re healthy again, you can do chores around the house.  Keep the place clean.  With my jobs, I really don’t have much
time to keep up with the housework . . . and Trowa really can’t do too much.  We could always use a hand.  Besides, I never
did feel right about leaving Trowa alone.”

“Catherine, I am not a baby that needs a sitter.”  Trowa objected.  “I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”

“Then explain why I found you lying unconscious on the floor last week.”  She shot back, her voice wavering.

Trowa closed his eyes a moment.  “So I fainted.  It’s no big deal.”

“It is so a big deal, Trowa.  You could have hit your head on something.  You could have hurt yourself, or worse.”  

Trowa didn’t reply.

Catherine turned her attention back to Duo.  “You see . . . Trowa has a heart problem, and sometimes he has fainting spells.  I
always worry about him . . . so if you agree to stay, it won’t be charity since you’ll be helping us a great deal more than we’re
helping you.”

“Fine.”  Duo agreed, although his heart was skipping.  He finally had a house to stay in, a warm bed to sleep in.  However, he
knew it might not last long.  “I might as well stay for now.”


*End of Flashback*


Duo smiled at the memories, glad he had decided to stay with Trowa and Catherine.  They had quickly become like family to
him.  Once again he looked over at Trowa, frowning when he saw that he was breathing heavily.

“Trowa, you okay?”  He asked, shifting the weight of both backpacks he carried, his and Trowa’s.  He never let Trowa carry
his own books, except during school when they didn’t have classes together.

“I’ll be fine, Duo.  We’re almost to school.”  Trowa replied.

“We can stop.”

“No, but thanks.  I don’t want us to be late.”  Trowa said, taking in as deep a breath as he could before coughing.

Luckily, they were close to school.  Before they walked into the building, Duo made Trowa sit on the steps, knowing that his
friend did need a break.  Trowa didn’t argue again.


*****


Quatre ran through the halls, cursing at himself.  He had to insist on eating breakfast when he knew he was running late, hadn’t
he?  Because he was late, Heero had left the house without him.  And now he was late for class.  However, he still had time.  
The late bell hadn’t rung yet.  He probably had a few seconds left.

Unfortunately, Quatre wasn’t watching where he was going, looking instead into his bag to make sure he had his homework.  
He ran right into someone, sending both of them sprawling to the ground as the door to class swung open and the late bell rang.  
Quatre heard a number of giggles and laughs from the other students as he struggled to untangle himself from whoever he had
run into, feeling a blush creeping across his face.

“Excuse me.”  Quatre mumbled, noticing for the first time who he had run into.  

The other boy had long chestnut hair, woven in a braid.  His name was Duo, if he wasn’t mistaken.  They were in a few classes
together.  Duo always had seemed like a pleasant person, although the two of them had never actually met in person before.

“No, totally my fault . . . I should have been on the lookout for running blondes.”   The boy replied, chuckling.

“Are you two going to join the class, or stand there talking.”  Their teacher, Miss Une said.

Quatre looked down at the floor as he walked into the room.  “Sorry, Miss Une.”  He replied, shyly taking his seat, completely
and totally embarrassed.  He turned, to see Duo take his seat, although the other youth didn’t look the least bit embarrassed by
running into each other the way they had.

“Okay class, today we will be dissecting frogs.”  Miss Une said, earning several groans from the class, Quatre among them.   
“And for this assignment, I will be pairing you off.”  She went through the class, separating them into pairs.  Upon hearing his
own name being called, Quatre looked up.  “Quatre . . . since you and Duo seem to have become acquainted, you two will be
working together on this assignment.”

A number of giggles and snickers filled the room, causing Quatre to once again blush.  “Yes, Ma’am.”  He said, quietly.

Once all the pairs were seated together, Miss Une handed out the frogs.  Quatre grimaced as he looked down at his and Duo’s.  
His stomach flipped, and he bit into his bottom lip, fighting back a wave of nausea.  He just didn’t feel right about cutting open a
frog, even if it was already dead.

“I don’t think I can do this.”  He whispered to Duo, hoping he didn’t come off sounding like a total wuss.

Duo smiled at him.  “Don’t worry about it.  I’ll do all the cutting, and you can just do the paperwork.  That way we’re both
doing an equal share here.”  He smiled, immediately making Quatre feel slightly better.

“Thanks.”  Quatre smiled back.  However, that smile faded as soon as Duo cut into the frog for the first time.  Quatre had to
close his eyes to keep from fainting, or worse, from vomiting.  Neither were things Quatre wanted to do in the middle of class.  
He was embarrassed enough as it was.

Duo paused, and looked over at him.  "He's dead, Jim!"  Duo said, doing a very good impression of Doctor McCoy.

Quatre giggled, covering his mouth to keep Miss Une from hearing.  He appreciated Duo’s successful attempt to divert his
attention from the frog.  Now that he felt better, Quatre picked up his pen, and started scribbling down what Duo was doing
with the frog.  If he just concentrated on work, he would be fine.

Throughout the assignment, Quatre avoided actually looking at the frog, unless it was necessary.  He just listened as Duo
described his actions or what he saw, and jotted it down on the paper, trying to treat it like any other assignment.  Thankfully,
the class seemed to pass quickly.  When the bell rang, Quatre hurried to stuff his books into his bag, while Duo did the same.  

“It was nice working with you, Duo.”  Quatre said, after he had handed the papers in and stepped out of the classroom.

“Yup, a pleasure.”  Duo replied, reaching out and energetically shaking Quatre’s hand.

Quatre swallowed, then smiled.  “Hey, you wanna hang out after school?  Do something?”

“Thanks for the offer . . . But I got work after school.  Maybe some other time though.”  Duo replied, stifling a yawn, then
smiling.  

Then he quickly turned, hastily walking down the hallway without giving Quatre a chance to reply.  Quatre just watched him
leave, fascinated and curious about the happy young man.  There was something about him . . . Quatre couldn’t place it, but
something felt off.  Maybe he wasn’t as happy as he seemed to be.  


To Be Continued . . .