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 Three


Duo looked around the crowded lunchroom, balancing his lunch tray with one hand while he carried both Trowa’s and his own
backpack with his other arm.  “Where do you want to sit?” Duo asked.

“There . . . that table is empty.”  Trowa said, pointing.

“Great!”  Duo replied, cheerfully, as he and Trowa made their way over to the vacant table.  He knew that Trowa preferred to
sit alone with Duo.  He didn’t have too many friends, although he was extremely loyal to the ones he had.  Most people just
didn't take the time to get to know Trowa, and that was a shame.  He was a good friend.  Duo sighed, shaking his head to clear
his mind of those thoughts.

Duo dropped the backpacks by the bench, placing his tray down on the tabletop.  He scooted himself back, propping his feet up
on the bench as he leaned back against the wall.  That was how he always sat when he got a seat by a wall, as rare as that was.  
If the table started getting crowded and someone needed a seat, Duo would move in an instant.  But for as long as he could, he
would sit comfortably.

Trowa sat across from him, on the other side of the table, staring down at his tray.  He picked up the cheap plastic fork and
poked at his lunch.  Trowa was on a diet, which he hated, so all of his lunches were made special for him.  Duo and Catherine
had even had it arranged so that Duo got the same lunch as his friend.  They had argued with the principal of the school, with
the lunchroom staff, and whoever else felt they needed to be included in the discussion, but in the end they had won.  They had
convinced the school staff that it would be better for Trowa’s emotional well-being, as well as physical state, if he wasn’t made
to feel left out because almost all of the other students got to eat normally, while he was on a strict diet.

“Now, don’t forget to go to the nurse after lunch for your meds.”  Duo said.

“I know, I know.”  Trowa sighed.  “Jeez, sometimes you sound just like Cathy, Duo.”

“Well, we both worry about you, Tro.”  Duo replied, smiling brightly.  Then that smile faltered as he brought up the past.  “I
don’t want a repeat of what happened last month.”

It had been over a month since that incident, yet it was still a cause of worry for both Catherine and Duo.  Trowa had purposely
missed taking his medication for several days, landing him in the hospital.  He had almost died, having given up.  It took Duo and
Catherine a long time to get him to see how wrong what he had done was.  If they could have afforded it, he would be in
therapy, but they had to do their best.  It cost enough just for that hospital stay, and now Catherine was even further in debt
than before.  Since then they made sure he took his meds when at home, and Duo usually escorted him to the nurse to get his
afternoon doses.

“I know . . . I was an idiot.  It’ll never happen again.”  He replied, his voice filled with shame, as he lowered his head.

Duo reached across the table, smiling as he grasped one of Trowa’s wrists.  “Don’t worry, buddy.  It’s in the past.”

“I just didn’t want to drag out my life when I’m just going to die soon anyway.”  Trowa mumbled, so low that Duo had barely
heard him.

Duo tightened his grasp, causing Trowa to glance up and look into his eyes.  “Don’t ever say that again.  Somehow, we are
going to raise up the money for that operation.  You just have to keep hoping . . . I won’t let you die.  I’ve already lost too many
people I care about.”  Duo let go, smiling as he took his hand back.

Trowa smiled slightly, and he opened his mouth.  But before he had the opportunity to reply, an obnoxious voice interrupted
him.  “Hey, Freak!”  Shouted Alex.  He was just a bully, a tough kid who preyed on the weaker kids, or the ones that wouldn’t
defend themselves.  

As always, Mueller was right beside his jerk of a friend,  “You gonna die soon or what?”  He asked, smirking.

“Nah, I bet he’s just faking all this stuff about his heart.  He’s just a lazy little prick who made up all this crap about his health.”  
Alex replied, flicking Trowa’s ear repeatedly while he spoke.  

Duo frowned as he watched his friend.  Trowa was just sitting there, his eyes closed, trying to keep his breath steady and slow.  
He couldn’t get too excited, it was too dangerous to his health, and a fight was definitely out of the question.

Alex stepped back away from Trowa while Mueller leaned over, placing one of his hands flat down on the table.  “You know, I
heard that your parents were so sick and tired of your ugly face that they went out and killed themselves.”

Duo, who had been watching the entire time, his fists clenched tightly, had finally heard enough of their crap.  Talking about
Trowa’s parents like that was just wrong.  Especially when they knew he wouldn’t fight back.  “Back off!”  Duo shouted,
slamming his palms down on the tabletop, one hand on either side of his tray, as he rose to his feet.

“Stay out of this, Maxwell.  This is between us and Barton here.”  Alex replied, glaring in Duo’s direction.

“Yeah, if you’re smart, you’ll mind your own business.”  Mueller snapped.

“Fine, you’re not worth my time.”  Duo replied, sitting back down and leaning against the wall once again.  Trowa just stared at
him in disbelief.

Alex and Mueller just blinked at him, apparently also surprised that Duo would give up so quickly.  “Smart move.”  Alex smiled.

Mueller looked up.  “Yeah . . . But if he’s so smart, why does he live with this loser?”  He asked, smacking Trowa on the back
of his head.

By now the four of them had gained the attention of almost everyone in the lunchroom.  Many of them were glaring in Alex and
Mueller’s direction.  No one really liked those two guys, and almost everyone enjoyed Duo’s company.  Duo was sure that if
Alex and Mueller made a wrong move, half the lunchroom would swarm them.  So Duo chose to take it easy, get them
provoked and possibly make the crowd even more sympathetic toward Trowa and himself.

Duo closed his eyes, thrusting his chin up and snubbing those two jerks.  “I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed
individual.”

“Oh PLEASE!  That is SO old, Maxwell!”  Alex replied.

Duo opened his eyes and looked at him, smiling.  “You think I’d waste my good stuff on you two?”  He laughed.

“You little . . .”  Alex started, then stopped, noticing for the first time just how quiet the lunchroom had gotten.  He and Mueller
glanced around, their faces paling at the site of all the people that now surrounded them.

“I think you two are outnumbered here.”  Duo smiled.  “Get lost before you get yourselves hurt.”

Mueller stepped forward, toward Duo, probably intending to hurt him.  But Alex grabbed his arm, stopping him from taking any
further steps.  The two of them backed away from Trowa, but not before Mueller reached out and shoved Trowa’s tray to the
side, causing it to fall to the floor in a loud clatter that echoed throughout the silent lunchroom.

“We’ll get you later, Maxwell!”  Alex said, pointing in Duo’s direction as he and his lackey slowly retreated.  “You’re getting off
EASY this time!”

Duo just watched them leave, until he could no longer see them.  By the time they were gone, the lunchroom had once again
become a mass of several different conversations, making it impossible to listen in on any one of them.

Sighing, Duo looked over to Trowa, frowning when he saw his friend picking up his lunch from the floor.  “Did you get to eat
any of it?”  Duo asked.

“No.”  Trowa replied quietly.  He watched as Trowa sat back down, his slender body trembling slightly.  Trowa leaned forward,
crossing his arms, and laying them on the table as he rested his head on them.

“Are you okay, Trowa?”  Duo questioned, concerned for his friend.  

“My parents didn’t kill themselves.”  Trowa said, his voice muffled slightly by his arms.

“I know, Trowa.  It was a car accident.  You shouldn’t pay attention to those jerks.  They just want to hurt you.”  Duo
responded, hating to see his friend so shaken up.  “Here, you can have my lunch.  I wasn’t really hungry anyway.”  He said,
pushing his tray across to his friend.

Trowa lifted his face, his eyes red-rimmed.  He smiled ever so slightly.  “I can’t take your lunch, Duo.”

“Yes you can.  You have to eat.”  Duo said, shaking his head.  “Besides, I have to get some of my homework done now, or I’ll
never get it finished.

“You sure you aren’t hungry?”  Trowa asked, wiping a hand across his face to get rid of the few tears that had escaped his eyes.

“Yeah, I’m sure.”  Duo smiled.  “Guess it’s a good thing we have the same lunch.”

Trowa smiled, picking up the fork and slowly eating Duo’s food.  As Duo opened his backpack, he put his hand to his stomach,
hoping that Trowa hadn’t heard it growling.  In truth, Duo was hungry, not to mention tired.  But he wasn’t about to let his
friend go without food.


*****


Quatre frowned as he entered the lunchroom.  He was just late for everything today.  Late for class, late for lunch, and he had
heard while he was standing in line that something had happened in the lunchroom.  He had missed out on some kind of a
confrontation between some students and Alex and Mueller, the class bullies.  Quatre wished he could have seen it, but he hadn’t
wanted to lose his place in line.

There were barely any seats left.  His stepbrother Heero was avoiding him, so he doubted he could find a seat anywhere near
him.  Then he spotted a familiar face.  Perhaps he could sit at his table.  Well, there would be no harm in asking anyway.

He placed a smile on his face as he approached the table.  “Hello, Duo.  Mind if I join you?  There don’t seem to be many places
left to sit.”  He asked, shifting from foot to foot nervously and hoping that he wasn’t fidgeting too much.  

“Sure, no problem.”  Duo replied, quickly pulling two backpacks out of the way.  “Quatre, this is Trowa Barton.  Trowa, this is
Quatre . . . uh . . . Sorry man, but I don’t remember your last name.”

Quatre took a hand away from his tray and reached over, smiling. “Quatre Raberba Winner.”  He said, shaking Trowa’s hand
firmly.  “It’s nice to meet you.”

“A pleasure.”  Trowa replied, then took his hand away and turned back to his own food.

“Don’t mind Trowa.  He’s not much of a talker.”  Duo said, as Quatre was sitting.

“Oh, it’s no problem.  My stepbrother is the same way.  If I knew where he was, I would introduce you.  But I think he’s
avoiding me because he’s mad that I made us late for school this morning.”

“So that’s why you were running through the hallway.”  Duo replied.  “I just thought you were being chased by a wolf.”

Quatre giggled, covering his mouth with one hand.  “No, more like an army drill instructor.  Heero’s mother was a soldier, and
he’s a lot like her, unfortunately for me.”

“You don’t mean Heero Yuy, do you?”  Duo gasped, dropping his pencil.

“Yeah, the one and only Heero Yuy is my stepbrother.”  Quatre sighed.

Duo brushed a hand through his bangs and whistled slowly.  “I feel sorry for you.  I mean, I have gym class with him, and he is
not the most pleasant conversationalist, not to mention he kicks ass at whatever sport he plays and you better NOT get in his
way.”

Quatre looked down at his food, suddenly not feeling so hungry.  “Yeah, he is a jock.  Last year he was on the football team,
this year it’s basketball.  At least he won’t use me as a practice dummy this year.”

Quatre looked up, hearing Trowa snickering, although the slender young man was trying to hide it.  Duo however was laughing
out loud.  “Sorry, Quatre.  It’s just I got the mental image of him tackling you.”  Duo said, struggling to control his laughs.

“Well, thanks.  He has done that you know, and it is very painful when you are not wearing protective gear.”  Quatre replied,
remembering just such an incident, the last time that he and Heero were late for school.  That bruise had lasted for almost a
month.  He shuddered, thinking that this time he might get a basketball bounced off of his head.

“Sorry.  Didn't mean to offend you.”  Duo replied, sounding as if he truly meant it.

“Don’t worry,  I wasn’t offended.”  Quatre replied smiling his brightest.

Before Duo could open his mouth to reply, Quatre heard a pair of familiar voices, arguing as usual.  Quatre had missed the
beginning of the fight, but he listened in on the rest once they brought him into it as they usually did.

“ . . . NOT join!  I absolutely forbid it!”  Wufei nearly shouted, as he and Meiran quickly approached the table.  The two of them
weren’t dating, although they had known each other since they were infants most likely.  Their families had always been very
close, and it wasn’t doubted that their parents hoped they would marry.  However, they were just good friends, and nothing
more.  It just seemed that the two of them argued, more then they agreed on anything.

“You . . . FORBID?  Who do you think you are, Chang Wufei?  You are not my keeper!”

“Wha?”  Duo gasped, apparently confused as to who these people were and what they were arguing about.

“Winner!  Tell this pig-headed girl that a woman has no place on a wrestling team!”  Wufei demanded, placing his tray of food
on the table beside Quatre.

“Quatre . . . tell this OAF of a man that this is the 21st century and I can do as I please!”

“Uhhh . . . Wrestling team?”  Duo asked.

Wufei looked over at him.  “You!  I’ve seen you!  Yes, you’re the guy who kept handing in wrinkled homework assignments in
history class.”

“Ummm  . . . my name is Duo, Duo Maxwell.”

Wufei bowed slightly.  “Wufei Chang, a pleasure to meet you.”  Then immediately he turned his attention back to Quatre.  
“Winner . . . You tell her not to do such a crazy thing!”

Quatre held up his hands.  “Wufei . . . PLEASE don’t get me involved.  I’m in no position to say what women can or cannot
do.”

“Thank you, Quatre.”  Meiran smiled, taking a seat on the opposite side of the table, beside Trowa.  

Wufei sighed, glaring at Meiran.  “Fine!  But don’t come crying to me when the guys get a little rough with you.”

Meiran merely huffed, then turned to Trowa.  “Hi, I’m Meiran Ling.”  She said, smiling pleasantly, holding out her hand, as if
there had not been an argument only seconds ago.

Trowa accepted her hand, shaking it, with a shy smile of his own crossing his features.  “Trowa, Trowa Barton.”  He almost
whispered.

“Don’t mind Tro.”  Duo said.  “He’s just a little shy when it comes to strangers.  Not very talkative anyway though.”

Trowa merely took his hand away and returned to his food, although Quatre couldn’t understand why he was eating what
looked suspiciously like a salad.  Quatre shook his head, not bothering to think about it.  Then he noticed that Duo wasn’t
eating.  “Duo, don’t you have a lunch?”

“Nope, not hungry.”  Duo replied, picking up his pencil and scribbling something down in one of his notebooks.  “Just gonna do
my homework here while I have the time.”

“Why don’t you do it at home?”  Wufei asked.

“If I had the time, I would.  But after school, I have a job to go to.  Usually I just crash as soon as I get home.”  Duo said, never
once taking his eyes from the books in front of him.

“Oh.”  Meiran said.

“You guys better hurry if you want to finish your lunches.  Period’s almost over.”  Duo pointed up at the clock, still staring
down at the book.

Quatre looked up, his eyes widening when he saw the time.  He only had a few minutes left.  He hadn’t known he was that late
for lunch.  He turned to his food, just as Wufei and Meiran did the same, concentrating on finishing his food, instead on what
Duo was doing.


*****


Once Duo had left Trowa at the nurse’s office, he made his way to the gym.  Glancing into the gym, he made sure that no one
else was in sight before entering.  There was no gym class this period.  This was when the gym teachers ate their own lunches,
so the place was almost always deserted at this time of day.  Slowly and quietly he made his way inside, then went right over to
the bleachers.  He ducked behind them, checking one last time to make sure no one would see him.  

“About time you got here!”  A snide voice commented.

Duo turned, not surprised to see either Relena or Dorothy standing there.  “Like you would have gone anywhere.”  Duo replied,
chuckling.  “I know you and your girlfriend here make out right after I leave.”

Relena blushed, while Dorothy just looked angry.  “Do you have the money, or not?”  She asked, holding out her hand
expectantly.

“Let me see it first.  I don’t want to get cheated.”  Duo said.

Dorothy sighed, then knelt down.  She reached into her backpack and dug around for a bit before pulling out a plain white pill
bottle.  For all intents and purposes, it looked like aspirin, even had a label on it in case a teacher found it.  Better hope those
teachers didn’t look inside though, or else they’d know for sure it wasn’t aspirin.

“Where’s the money?”  Relena demanded, while Dorothy rose to her feet.

Duo reached into his pocket, pulling out a wad of cash.  He had counted it before school, had kept it separate from the rest of
his money since he knew he’d be using it today.  “Here.”  He said, handing the money to Relena, while he took the bottle from
Dorothy at the same time.

“Nice doing business with you.”  Dorothy smiled, her grin just making Duo shudder.

If it weren’t for the fact that he needed those pills to stay awake, he wouldn’t be doing this.  But he did need them, or else he
would just collapse from exhaustion.  As he walked away from the two girls, listening to them snicker about something behind
his back, Duo popped the cap on the bottle.  He lifted it to his lips, then just downed a few, not bothering to count how many he
was taking.  He was feeling a little rundown already, and he wasn’t even done with school for the day.  He didn’t know how
much longer he could go on like this.  Something had to give sooner or later, and it would be his own body most likely.



To Be Continued . . .