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

Notes:  Catherine brings Duo home.  The next day, Duo goes to visit Quatre.



Choices of the Heart



Part Seventeen


Duo felt horrible, not only bodily discomfort, but emotional distress as well.  He was currently sitting in an examination room,
wearing nothing more than a flimsy hospital gown, since Wufei and Meiran had brought him to a hospital to have him checked
over.  Meiran and Wufei had been on their way home from a date when they had stumbled across Alex and Mueller tormenting
Duo . . . Duo was alive because of them most likely.

Still, he couldn’t bring himself to be joyous right now.  He wasn’t as upset about what had almost happened to him, as he was
about losing all of that money.  He’d been saving for so long to get that amount of cash.  And with Trowa’s health failing the
way it was, there was no way that Duo would be able to get that amount again in time to save his friend.  ‘How could I have
been so STUPID?  The money would have kept until tomorrow!  I should have KNOWN better than to get it all at once!’

The door suddenly opened and Catherine walked in quickly.  “Oh, Duo!  Are you okay?”  She asked, rushing over to stand
before him.

Duo found himself in Catherine’s arms and he fought off his tears.  Because of his stupidity, Catherine would lose her baby
brother.  How could she be so kind to him when he was such an idiot, such a stupid fool?  How could he tell her that all of her
hopes were down the tubes because of him?

He found that he couldn’t fight it anymore, and he let his tears fall forth.  He clung to Catherine desperately, feeling so terribly
sorry for disappointing her.

“I’m sorry, Cathy.”  He whimpered, burying his aching face against her shoulder.

Catherine rubbed his back.  “Sshh . . . Duo, you have nothing to apologize for.  You didn’t do anything wrong.  It was those
jerks that hurt you.”

Duo let out a sob.  Of course she thought he was blameless.  She didn’t know how stupid he had been.  He barely heard
Catherine ask a doctor if she could take him home, and felt his guilt increase a thousandfold.  She and Trowa had made a home
for him . . . a place of warmth and safety.  He HAD to get that money for her.  She deserved it . . . Trowa deserved it.  They
had been better to him than anyone else in the world.

“Duo, come on, honey.  Let’s get you home.”  Catherine urged.

Duo nodded, his mind drifting as she helped him to get dressed.  He was simply tired, not to mention quite angry at himself over
the idiot that he had been.  He was barely aware of anything as they left the hospital, gave no notice of his surroundings until
Catherine finally pushed him down onto his bed and took off his shoes.

“Huh?  What’s going on, Cathy?”  He asked, yawning as he tried to sit up.

Catherine shook her head, carefully pushing him back down.  “Now, Duo . . . I want you to get some rest.  You’ve been
through a lot tonight and you need to sleep.  And don’t even think about getting up tomorrow.  I’m off from work, and I plan to
fuss over you completely.”

“But I gotta go over Quatre’s tomorrow.  I promised him I would.  We have a biology report to work on.”

“Duo . . .”  She sighed.  “Fine . . . but I don’t want you overdoing anything.  I’ll drive you there in the afternoon.  When you’re
ready to come home, I want you to call me and I’ll pick you up.  I do not want you trying to walk to and from there.”

“Thanks, Cathy.”  Duo yawned again.  Then he smirked.  “You can spend your time fussing over Trowa tomorrow.”

“Brat.”  Catherine smiled and gently patted his shoulder.  “Go to sleep.”


*****


The next day, Duo felt even worse when he looked in on Trowa.  His carelessness had probably caused his best friend . . . his
brother . . . to lose his life.  There he was, lying in bed, his face chalky and pale, his body sweating as he lay in bed, just barely
awake.  He couldn’t live like this for too much longer, Duo knew that . . . it was his own fault too . . . he shouldn’t have been
so stupid last night.

“Duo . . . if you aren’t feeling up to it, we can call.  I’m sure Quatre would understand.”  Catherine’s voice was saturated with
worry as she set her hand on his shoulder, carefully easing him away from Trowa’s bedroom door.

Duo forced himself to smile for her.  “Nah.  He’d understand, but I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself for breaking a promise.”  
Duo replied, allowing Catherine to help him into the kitchen.

Catherine sighed and shook her head.  “Have it your way then.  As soon as you finish your breakfast, I’ll drive you over.”

Duo nodded and went about eating his breakfast.  He didn’t have the endurance to argue with Catherine right now . . . no, his
body was simply too sore and tired to deal with an argument, his mind plaguing him with memories of just how stupid he was.  
Still, even though he hated himself, he ate his food in silence, not wanting to add to the grief he had already caused Catherine and
Trowa.

Not too long after breakfast, Duo was getting out of Catherine’s car.  Catherine had helped him to get dressed, much to his
embarrassment, and had brushed and braided his hair for him.  He couldn’t quite manage to do it on his own . . . everything just
hurt.  

He smiled back at her as he closed the door, shoving one hand in his pocket and fingering the simple white pill bottle contained
there.  He hadn’t left it at home . . . couldn’t have left it even if he had wanted to.  He wouldn’t be able to stay awake unless he
took some of those, and he wanted to stay awake today, to actually do the homework he had to help Quatre with.  

“I can make it from here.”  He said, looking down the walkway to Quatre’s front door.  It wasn’t too far away.  He’d be able to
get there on his own.

“Are you sure?”  Catherine asked, leaning over on the seat to see him.  “I don’t want you falling down and hurting yourself
further.”

Duo smiled.  “I’m sure.  I can walk from here.”  He nodded slightly.  “You get going . . . I’ll call you when I’m ready to come
home.”

Catherine sighed, looking at him with concern obvious in her gaze.  “Well all right . . . if you’re certain.”

“I am.”  Duo responded quickly.

“I’ll see you tonight then.  Take care of yourself, Duo.”  Catherine said, righting herself and starting the engine.

Duo watched as the car drove off, then turned and slowly began to make his way to Quatre’s front door.  It wasn’t a long walk,
not really, but to Duo’s sore body it was quite a tiring trip.  He took a breath once he finally reached the door, letting himself
catch his breath as he raised his hand to ring the doorbell.

It was Quatre’s father that answered the door.  “Oh my.”  He gasped, his eyes going wide as he saw Duo’s bruise-riddled form
standing before him.  “Do come in . . . have a seat.”

“Thank you.”  Duo replied politely, stepping into the house.

He made his way to the sofa as quickly as he could manage.  Sitting, he couldn’t help but groan as his injuries protested the
movement.  He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths, not noticing as Mr. Winner closed the door and came to stand in
front of him.

“What happened to you?”  He asked, his voice laced with concern.

Duo faked a smile as he opened his eyes, shaking his head lightly.  “It’s nothing really . . . I just had a run in with some muggers
on my way home from work last night.”  He said, trying to play it off as nothing.  He didn’t want more people worrying about
him.  It was bad enough that Catherine and Trowa had to put up with him.

“Perhaps you should have stayed home.  I’m certain that Quatre would have understood your reasons for not coming today.”

Duo shook his head.  “No . . . I promised that I would come and I don’t break my promises.  I never lie.  Besides, we have
homework to do.”  Duo answered.  “Is Quatre up in his room?”

Mr. Winner smiled a little.  “You’re an admirable young man, Duo.”

“You should have stayed home.”  A quiet voice said from behind Duo.

Duo turned and looked at the doorway, sighing when he saw Quatre standing there.  Duo could honestly say that the blonde
looked better than yesterday . . . a few more days and he’d probably be back to his old self.  Sure, he was still bruised and
looked tired, but he did seem better.

“Like I told your dad, Quatre . . . I don’t lie.  I said I would come over today and do that assignment with you, and I meant it.”  
Duo grinned, carefully rising to his feet.

A small smile appeared on Quatre’s face just before he ducked his head.  “Well then . . . come on, we can do the assignment up
in my room.”

Duo nodded, following behind his friend.  As he walked, his eyes roamed around, his sight catching on various objects that
decorated the halls.  The stuff here . . . it had to be expensive.  Even as he thought it, Duo’s eyes widened.  He almost faltered in
his steps.  What was he thinking?  Quatre was his friend, he couldn’t do what he was thinking of doing.  No . . . Quatre would
hate him if Duo were to steal stuff from his house.  

Duo shook his head, biting his lip as his eyes landed on an ornate crystal vase.  Quatre’s family was well-off . . . maybe they
wouldn’t miss a few little things.  Duo closed his eyes, his hand tight on the railing of the stairs.  He didn’t want to . . . no,
Quatre was his good friend.  He didn’t want to hurt the blonde.  But . . . he needed the money . . . Trowa needed the money.  
Maybe Quatre and his family wouldn’t miss just a few things, only some little knickknacks that Duo could sell for quick cash.  
There was no other choice . . . Duo had to.  Trowa needed his help, needed money for an operation . . . Duo had no options.



To Be Continued . . .