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

Notes:  Another part of my fic.  More Quatre torment.  



Choices of the Heart



Part Five


Wufei was guilt-ridden over the harsh words that he had spoken to his friend.  He had been wrong, but now it was too late to
take it back.  He’d hurt Quatre with his blind rage, and now Quatre was suffering all the more for it.  He should have been more
kind, should have taken his friend’s fragile state into consideration before he had started ranting.

He stood there, watching as his friend cried, as Heero and Meiran both tried to comfort him, to soothe his fear away.  Wufei
looked up at Heero, swallowing back his uncertainty about asking his next question.  “Heero . . . would you and Meiran please
leave me alone with Quatre?”

“What?  No way!”  Meiran snapped.

Heero merely shook his head, answering negatively.

Wufei sighed, although he hadn’t expected a different reply.  “Please, I would like to make an apology to him in private, without
Meiran’s snide remarks.”

“I do not make snide remarks!”  Meiran shot back, glaring at him.

“Fine.”  Heero nodded, removing his arm from around Quatre’s body.  “But make it quick, Mr. Peacecraft could be back any
minute with Nurse Sally.”

“Thank you.”  Wufei replied.

“Heero, you can’t be seriously thinking of leaving him alone with Quatre after what he said to him before?”  Meiran argued, even
as Heero was pulling her out of the room.

Once they were gone, Wufei turned back to Quatre.  The blonde was laying down, his legs drawn close to his small body.  He
trembled, his eyes tightly clenched.  Tears trailed along his bruised face, blood staining his lips.

Wufei stepped over to the blonde, laying a hand on his shoulder.  “Quatre?”  He whispered, not wanting to frighten his friend.

“I’m sorry, Wufei.  I now you hate me now.”  Quatre whimpered, his eyes remaining closed as he continued to tremble.

Wufei shook his head, grasping Quatre’s other shoulder, and gently pulling him up to a sitting position.  “No . . . what I said
earlier was wrong.  I should never have yelled at you like that.”  He paused, smiling as Quatre’s eyes opened and focused on
his.  “I was angry . . . angry because I have failed you as a friend.  I should have been there to help you, to protect you.  But I
wasn’t.  And for that I must beg your forgiveness.”

“No, you didn’t fail me.  You couldn’t have known what would happen.”  Quatre replied, sniffling, his voice slightly strained.

“True . . . but you could not have known either.  I am deeply sorry for saying otherwise.”  He hesitantly reached out and hugged
Quatre, not truly comfortable of the contact himself.  He wasn’t much for physical shows of affections, but for Quatre he
would bear the unsure feelings he had about it.  “You are NOT stupid, Quatre.  I apologize for my harsh words, and will
understand if you choose not to forgive me.”

Quatre’s trembling arms circled Wufei’s body, just barely holding him.  “I forgive you.”  He whispered in a small voice.


*****


Meiran wrenched her arm free of Heero’s grasp as they stepped out into the hallway.  She couldn’t understand why Heero had
agreed to leave Quatre alone with that arrogant jerk.  All those awful things he had said to Quatre, all those hurtful remarks.  She
couldn’t believe how callous Wufei had been.

She was pulled from her ranting thoughts when she noticed that Heero was no longer standing beside her.  She spun, her eyes
widening when she saw that Heero was sitting on the floor, his knees drawn against his chest while his head remained buried in
his knees.

“Heero?”  Meiran asked, wincing when she saw that Heero’s shoulders were shaking.  She had never seen Heero cry, had never
known him to show so much emotion before.  His mother had taught him to hide his feelings well.

“I can’t believe this happened.  Why wasn’t I there to help him?  If I hadn’t been so damned pigheaded about us being late this
morning, we all would have been walking home together.  This never would have happened if I weren’t such a jerk.”  He
mumbled, his face still lowered.

Meiran wouldn’t stand there and listen to that.  “Yuy . . . quit beating yourself up about it.  You won’t change what happened.  
Do something constructive.”

Heero lifted his head, looking up at her with a questioning gaze.  “Like what?”

“Simple.  You know several styles of martial arts like the back of your hand.  Teach Quatre some once he’s recovered so that
this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.  As much as I hate to say it, there are bastards in the world who will pick on Quatre and
many like him simply because he screams ‘easy target.’”  Meiran replied, hating the fact that what she said was true.

Heero chuckled, wiping at his eyes with the back of one hand.  “This why you want to join the wrestling team?”

“EXACTLY!  I’m sick of guys treating me like I’m not capable of handling myself.”  She said, glad that finally someone
understood her.

Heero smirked.  “Most girls would BEG for that treatment!”

Meiran huffed.  “Then most girls are ninnies who have fairy tale lives planned out and think that they’re going to marry some
rich man who will take care of them.”  She rolled her eyes.  “This is the twenty-first century!  There are no more knights on
shiny white horses and chivalry is pretty much dead!”

Heero’s only reply was to grunt.

Meiran sighed.  “Seriously though, Heero.  Quit blaming yourself when the people you SHOULD blame are the two creeps who
did this.  And blame the system for not having them neutered so that they can’t do this kind of thing again!”

Heero nodded.  “He never accepted my offers to teach him self-defense before . . . Maybe he will now.”

Meiran knelt down in front of Heero, placing a hand on his knee.  “Just make sure to wait until the right time to ask him.  Not
now . . . he’s much too scared and vulnerable.”

Heero nodded again.  He opened his mouth, but before he could utter a sound, the two of them heard a loud commotion coming
from down the hall.

“What the hell do you mean they got away?”  Asked Mr. Peacecraft’s voice.

“Just as I said . . .”  Came Mr. Treize’s more quiet reply.  “Mueller got away from Mr. Dorlian and shoved him into me.  I lost
my grip on Alex.  By the time we were able to get up, the two of them were long gone.”

“What are we going to tell those kids?”  Mr. Peacecraft asked.

“I don’t know.  But we have to tell them something.  Better us than some callous cop.”  Mr. Treize replied, quickly followed by
the sounds of footsteps approaching.

“Oh my God . . .”  Heero gasped, rising to his feet.  “Quatre is going to freak out over this.”

“Come on . . . let’s go back inside before they get here.”  Meiran suggested.  “We should try and get Quatre ready for the
impact this news will have on him.”


*****


Quatre stared down at his trembling hands, wondering if they would ever stop shaking.  Once again, he felt the tears sliding
down his cheeks, as the memories of what had just happened to him, forced their way into his mind.  Unable to stop them, he
just let them fall, trying to block the feel of Alex’s hands on his body from his memories.

Something warm slipped into one of his quivering hands.  Quatre looked down again, surprised to see a hand clasping his own.  
He turned, smiling slightly at Wufei who sat beside him, grateful that his friend was there.  He didn’t want to be alone.

Heero and Meiran walked into the room and Quatre looked away from them.  His stepbrother probably hated him now . . . for
being so weak, for not being able to defend himself properly.  He was happy that Wufei didn’t hate him for what had happened,
but Heero was different . . . Heero had been raised in a military family, his whole life centered around combat and self-defense.

He started shivering again, but tried to control it.  He didn’t want to look so weak . . . not in front of Heero.  It was bad enough
that he had broken down and cried on him.  Heero was probably already disgusted with him.

Wufei’s  hand slipped out of his.  Quatre felt tired, not only physically but mentally as well.  So he laid down on his side, his legs
still dangling over the edge of the bed.  He kept his eyes fixed on the wall across from him, afraid to look at his friends or
stepbrother . . . afraid of what he’d see in their eyes.

“Quatre?”  Heero asked, stepping into his line of sight to block his view of the wall.  “Quatre . . . please sit up and look at me.”

Quatre did as he was asked, although he had trouble looking at Heero.  No matter how much he tried, he was only able to keep
eye contact with him for a few short seconds.  Then his gaze shifted to look at Heero’s shoulders.

Heero sighed.  “Quatre . . . Mr. Peacecraft and Mr. Treize might have some bad news for you.  But I want you to know . . . the
three of us will be here and we won’t let anything happen to you.”

Panic started spreading through Quatre’s body.  Bad news?  Why did they have bad news and what was it?  He opened his
mouth, intending to ask what Heero meant, but didn’t get the chance since Nurse Sally, Mr. Peacecraft and Mr. Treize chose
that moment to walk in.

“I think you three should step outside.”  Mr. Peacecraft said, gesturing toward Heero, Wufei, and Meiran.

Wufei and Meiran left quietly.  But as soon as Heero took a step to leave, the fear overwhelmed Quatre again.  He grabbed
Heero's arm in a vice-like grip, whimpering in fear at the thought of being left alone with these people . . . even if they were
faculty members.

Mr. Peacecraft made a move to step forward, but Nurse Sally held her hand up, motioning for him to stay back.  “It’s okay . . .
Heero can stay.  We want to keep Quatre calm, not agitate him further.”

Mr. Peacecraft nodded.  “I’ll go wait outside with Wufei and Meiran.”  He said.

“Okay, Heero . . . why don’t you take a seat next to Quatre?”  Nurse Sally suggested, gesturing to a stool next to the bed, that
stood almost as tall as the bed.

Heero nodded, prying his arm away from Quatre.  Quatre wrapped his arms around himself, suddenly feeling very cold.  Sally
brushed Quatre’s bangs away from his face.  He only shuddered at the contact, fighting his fear.

“Quatre . . . it’s okay.  No one here is going to hurt you.”  She whispered, her voice strangely soothing to him.

Mr. Treize stepped forward.  “Quatre, there’s something I have to tell you.  I know you’re probably not ready to hear this now,
but I thought it would be better if you heard it from me instead of some police officer later.”  He paused, taking in a breath.  
“Alex and Mueller got away . . . they escaped.  But I don’t want you to worry, the police are on their way and will find them.”

Quatre felt as if his heart had just exploded.  He was more terrified now than he had been when Alex was touching him.  What if
they came back for him, to finish what they had started?  What if they killed him to keep him quiet?  Quatre couldn’t breathe . . .
he was so scared.  He tightened his hold around his own body, his trembling steadily becoming worse and worse.  He could feel
the tears streaming down his face, but made no effort to fight them back.

Nurse Sally grabbed his shoulders, firmly but gently.  “Quatre . . . lie down, take deep breaths.  Nothing is going to happen to
you.  You’re safe here.”

Quatre slowly nodded, letting Nurse Sally help him to lie back on the bed.  His body continued to shiver even though he made a
conscious effort to calm himself, taking in long deep breaths then letting them out slowly.

Nurse Sally smiled down at him, gently laying her hand against his bruised cheek.  “I’m sorry there isn’t much I can do for you
medically.  The ambulance is on its way and they’ll take you to the hospital where you can get treatment for your injuries.  I’m
sure the police will have questions for you.”  She sighed, her smile wavering for only a brief moment.  “We’ve called your
father.  He’s on his way to the hospital now.  He’ll be there when you get there.”

Quatre gasped as a fresh wave of fear washed over him.  His father . . . what would Father think of him now?  All his life
Quatre had been striving to make his father proud of him.  Any chance of that happening now was gone.  Father would be just
as disgusted with him as Heero was.


*****


Duo strolled into Angelo’s, a small pizza place that was owned by Howard.  The name wasn’t his, but as Howard constantly
said, “Who would buy pizza from a place named Howard’s?”

Duo worked there, although not legally.  And at the moment, he was quite happy.  He had just dropped Trowa off at home and
he had never felt more awake all day.  Of course, all the energy he had was due to the fact that he had taken another dose of
uppers not too long ago.

He whistled as he walked back to the employees' area, sweat already beginning to bead on his skin because of the proximity of
the front counter to the ovens.  The tune he whistled wasn’t really a song . . . but he just felt like whistling.

“In a good mood?”  Hilde asked.  She, unlike Duo, was legally employed.  Hilde was a nice girl, pleasant, probably why she got
great tips when she worked the small dining area.

“Yeah.”  Duo replied, cheerfully.  “Made some new friends today.”  He smiled, thinking back on his first class of the day and
lunch.  Quatre seemed like a nice guy, not to mention cute as hell.  And Wufei and Meiran were . . . interesting to say the least.

“Okay you two . . . this in no time for socializing.”  Howard announced, pulling a pizza out of one of the ovens and putting it in
a box.

“Yeah, yeah.”  Duo jokingly sighed.

“Hilde, I got a delivery for you.”  Howard said, handing over the freshly made pizza.

“Aw, why can’t Duo do it?”  

Duo smirked.  “Because I don’t have a car and you do.”

Hilde stuck her tongue out at Duo before grabbing the box and leaving through the back door.  “At least I don’t have to walk
everywhere.”  She muttered before leaving.

Duo smiled, then turned to Howard.  “So, what do you need me to do, Boss?”  He asked, grinning brightly.

“Just watch the counter.  There aren’t very many customers yet.”  Howard replied, gesturing out at the almost empty dining
room.

Duo nodded, turning around and propping his elbows up on the counter.  He then set his chin in his palms, just waiting for
someone to come along.  It was a weekday, so it was probably going to be slow until around dinnertime, but still, he hoped
business picked up soon, or else he’d have a major case of boredom.

Not five minutes later, a group of kids walked in.  They caught Duo’s attention immediately, since they were all dressed in rags,
filthy.  Duo knew a street kid when he saw one.  They ranged in age from about five years old to around twelve.  Since they
were all covered in dirt, it was actually pretty difficult to tell how old they were just from looks alone.

The oldest child, a boy no older than twelve, stepped up to the counter.  He hefted a plastic bag full of coins up onto the
counter, causing the numerous coins inside to clink together loudly.  “Can we have a pizza, please?”  He asked, politely.  

It surprised Duo to have heard a ‘please’ coming from the boy.  Not many kids on the street were so polite.  Duo smiled,
looking over the fearful faces of the children  “Let’s see if ya got enough.”  Duo said, opening the plastic bag and pouring out
the coins.  He frowned after looking over the coins, sorting through with his hands.  It was mostly pennies . . . there couldn’t
possibly be enough for a pizza.  Still, he counted it anyway and just as he had thought, the kids were a few dollars short.  
“Sorry, kids.  You just don’t have enough.”  Duo sighed.

The faces of all the children immediately darkened, one of them even beginning to cry.  Duo couldn’t bear to see these kids go
hungry, not when he remembered what it had been like to starve as a child.  He reached into his pocket, shuffling around until he
found what he was looking for.  “Now you have enough.”  He replied, putting his last few dollars on the counter.  Well, no
dinner for himself tonight . . . besides, these kids needed to eat more than he did.

A number of the kids shouted with glee.  “Thank you.”  Many of them said, until one by one all of them had thanked him in one
way or another.  It was enough of a thanks if one of them just smiled at him.  

Duo smiled.  “Okay, you also got enough for one topping.  You all like pepperoni?”

“Yes!”  Several of them cheered, a few only nodding in approval.

“One pepperoni pizza it is then.”  Duo replied.  He turned around, only to see Howard grinning at him.  “What?”  He asked,
innocently.

“You’re a big softy, Duo Maxwell.”  Howard chuckled.

Duo rolled his eyes.  “Well, I couldn’t let them starve.”  He whispered back.  “Now, why don’t you get Otto to fill that order.”

“You work for me, Duo, not the other way around.”  Howard replied, jokingly.  “Now, I see we have some other customers.  
Why don’t you go take care of them?”

Duo glanced back at the dining room, noticing that a small group of people had sat at one of the tables.  Howard must have
shown them to their table while Duo was counting that change.  Time to act like a waiter, Duo thought to himself.

“Hi, I’m Duo and I’ll be waiting on you today.  Would you like any drinks to start?”  Duo asked, always keeping a cheerful smile
on his face.

Two of the girls sitting at the table giggled and blushed, a normal reaction that Duo neither liked nor hated.  Another girl jabbed
one of the giggling girls in the ribs, while the three guys they were with just glared at Duo as if they could kill him with the looks
they were giving him.

The girls continued to giggle, eventually giving Duo their drink orders.  The guys just snapped at him, apparently unhappy about
the reaction the girls had to him.  It wasn’t Duo’s fault that he was naturally charismatic.

Duo went about his job, getting the drinks as quickly as he could.  As he was setting the drinks down, one of the girls started
talking.  “Did you hear what happened at the school?”  

“Yeah, I was waiting for Terry by the front doors when I heard about it.”  Another girl replied.

Duo set the last drink down, and was backing away while the conversation continued.  “That Winner kid was hurt pretty
badly.”  One of the boys said.

Duo involuntarily gasped, gaining the attention of the group at the table.  “Did you say Winner?  As in Quatre Winner?”  Duo
asked, not really caring that policy dictated that he didn’t start conversations with the customers.

“Yeah.”  A dark-haired boy replied.  “Alex and Mueller went after him today after school.  Did a good number on him from what
I’ve heard.”

“I heard he was raped.”  One of the girls whispered.

“Well, it was his own fault if he was.  Shouldn’t have been walking that way anyway.  What kind of an idiot walks past the
‘Hole’ anyway?  That’s where Alex and Mueller, not to mention all those other freaks, hang out and smoke.”

Duo backed away from the table.  He couldn’t believe it.  Quatre had been hurt?  He had been attacked by Alex and Mueller?  
But Quatre was so nice, gentle . . . and now he was hurt.  

His back hit something and he slid down to the floor, not caring if anyone was watching him.  Quatre was his friend.  Sure Duo
hadn’t known him all that long, not even an entire day, but the guy had just left a strong impact on him with his adorable good
looks and charming personality.

“Duo?  You okay?”  A soothing voice asked.

Duo looked up, surprised to see Hilde and Howard standing over him.  Hilde must have just gotten back from that delivery.  

“Yeah.”  Duo nodded, although he wasn’t sure if he was or not.  “Remember me telling you I had made a new friend today?”  
He asked, forcing back his tears.

“Yeah?”  Hilde asked.

“Well, I just found out he’s been hurt.  He was attacked after school.”

“Oh God, Duo.  Do you want to go check on him?”  Howard asked, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder.

“Nah, I’ll be fine.  Just give me a minute.”  He looked up at Hilde again.  “Would you mind taking over that table?  They
probably want to order something.”

“Sure thing, Duo.”  Hilde answered, placing a fake smile on her face.  She gripped Duo’s arm briefly, trying to offer a shred of
reassurance.  Then she left, taking out her pad of paper and a pen as she stepped over to the table.

Duo leaned back against whatever surface was behind him, probably one of the divider walls.  Howard left him for a brief
moment then returned, a glass of water in his hand.  Duo took it from him, a grateful smile on his face.  “Thanks.”  He
whispered, taking a few slow sips.

“You sure you don’t want to leave early to check on your friend?”  Howard asked.  

“No, I’ll stay.”  Duo replied.  He wouldn’t leave early.  He wouldn't feel right about leaving early and having Howard still pay
him all that he could, which he knew Howard would do.  It just didn’t seem right to take Howard’s money like that.  He should
earn his keep.  But that didn’t mean that he couldn’t visit Quatre after work, although it would be a little late.  Duo nodded
slightly, closing his eyes for a few seconds, deciding that he would visit Quatre as soon as he got off work.  He just hoped that
Quatre’s parents would let him see the blonde.



To Be Continued . . .