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

Notes:  Duo resorts to stealing, and goes to the first wealthy family he can think of.

Choices of the Heart

Part Eighteen

Duo could not believe that he was doing what he was doing.  Despite feeling like he’d been put in a blender on puree, he was
standing outside Quatre’s house in the middle of the night.  ‘Damn it!  Quatre’s a friend!  I can’t believe I’m even contemplating

Duo bit his lip under the black ski mask that he was wearing.  His braid was carefully tucked underneath his clothes in case
someone spotted him.  He really didn’t care about what happened to HIM, but he didn’t want anyone touching Cathy or Trowa
because of this.  They’d been so good to him.  Once he had the money for Trowa’s operation, he vowed to turn himself in.  It
was the only thing he could think of.

He stifled a groan as he moved a ladder underneath an open window.  He remembered using this tactic to visit Quatre that first
night . . . he shook his head, deciding not to think of that.  If he thought about it, he might not be able to go through with this.

‘Okay . . . at least they can’t say it was breaking and entering.  The window is open.  GOD, I can’t believe I’m trying to find a
loophole in this.  Well . . . I’m not armed, so this isn’t armed robbery.  It’s more cat-burglary.  Maybe I can pay them back,
little by little.  Sure, I’ll be in debt to them for life, but it’ll be something.’  Duo sighed, shaking off the thoughts that plagued him
as he climbed the ladder.  He paused at the top, staring into the window that looked into a hallway.  ‘I really can’t believe I’m
doing this.’

Pulling together his courage, Duo climbed into the open window.  It looked as if everyone was asleep . . . he was relieved about
that.  He didn’t really want to be caught right now.  However, he was even more relieved that Rasid was still at home with his
family . . . according to the large bodyguard, he was going to be coming back in the morning.

Duo breathed as quietly as he could.  He didn’t know how deeply the inhabitants of his house slept, not for certain anyway, but
he gathered that Heero was a light sleeper.  Duo sincerely hoped that he wouldn’t step on a creaky floorboard, or knock
something over.  The last thing he needed was Heero breathing down his neck.

With a sigh, Duo started looking for anything small that might not be missed right away.  He froze for a moment when he
entered the kitchen and almost ran right back out of the house.  Memories had rushed to the surface, reminding him of that first
night . . . when he and Quatre had made sandwiches and talked.  Quatre was his friend and he had been so NICE to Duo . . . it
was almost too much to bear, but Duo had to do this.  ‘Think of Trowa . . . just think of Trowa.’  He kept reminding himself.  
This was all for Trowa.  His friend needed his help, needed the money.

Duo then left the kitchen and glanced around.  He spotted Mr. Winner’s jacket and went over to it.  It was possible that the man
had left a wallet with cash in the pocket.  Duo searched through it and was rewarded with a wallet stuffed with bills.  ‘There’s
at LEAST a couple hundred dollars here.  Not enough for an operation, but enough for Trowa to get some more medicine if the
worst case scenario were to happen.’  He pocketed the money with a moment of regret and continued looking for anything else
he could grab.

After a few minutes, he had a few trinkets that he could take to a pawn shop and claim to have found them at a garage sale.  It
was a plausible story, though the thought of lying made him feel sick to his stomach.  He’d never liked lying.  Besides, he was
already stealing . . . from a friend no less . . . and that was bad enough.

He was about to head out of the room he was in and back upstairs to the window and make his escape, when the light flicked
on.  ‘SHIT, someone’s awake!’  He froze like a deer caught in the headlights when he saw Heero standing there in the doorway,
glaring at him.  The only thing keeping Duo from babbling out apologies and blubbering like an idiot, was the fact that he knew
Heero could not have recognized him.  With the ski mask, and the fact that his hair was hidden, he didn’t really have any
identifiable features.

Duo swallowed and backed up toward a second doorway in the room as Heero’s gaze flicked around the room as if to take note
of just WHAT Duo had taken.

“You son of a bitch!”  Heero seethed.

That was all the warning Duo got before Heero was running at him.  Duo spun and ran for the nearest exit, only to be tackled to
the ground.  The small pouch that held many of the trinkets he had taken went sliding across the floor as he collided painfully
with the ground.  It was all he could do not to cry out in pain as his injuries flared up . . . and he braced himself for what he
knew was coming.  Heero was very protective, Duo knew that, and he couldn’t blame Heero in the least for what was about to
happen.  If Duo had found someone stealing from Catherine, he would have reacted the same way.  So Duo could only bite his
lip against the cries of pain as Heero started pummeling him.

“Heero!  Stop it!”

Duo bit back a gasp.  That was Quatre’s voice.  Although he could feel new bruises popping up from Heero’s assault, the pain
that Duo felt came from deep inside.  He had hoped not to see Quatre at all tonight.  It would have made the whole thing a little
easier to bear if he hadn’t had to face Quatre, to see that sweet face of his and know that he was betraying his friend.

Heero growled and turned to Quatre.  “He’s nothing but a dirty thief!”  He yelled, raising his fist with the intention of delivering
yet another blow to Duo’s battered body.

Quatre approached quickly and stopped Heero, wincing with pain as he lashed out and grasped Heero’s hand.  “Maybe so, but if
he’s stealing, then he must need it for some reason.  He didn’t come to any of our rooms to hurt us, so he probably just needs

Heero sighed, shaking his head.  “Quatre . . . you’re too soft-hearted for your own good.  Fine, I’ll stop . . . go call the police.”

“Heero . . . couldn’t . . . couldn’t we just let him go?  I mean there’s been no real harm.”

“Quatre . . .”  Heero growled.  “He deserves to rot in jail.”

“But I want to help him.”  Quatre pouted a little.

Duo was taken aback.  Was Quatre really this kind?  True, he knew the blonde to be good-hearted, a kind and decent person . . .
but this was a little much, wasn’t it?

Apparently, Heero agreed with Duo’s unspoken thoughts.

“Quatre . . . he’s a thief, not a stray kitten.”  Heero warned, his weight shifting just enough in his distraction.

Duo took his opportunity to throw Heero off of him.  He forgot the bag and just ran for the door.  He was really glad that he’d
remembered to wear gloves.  He didn’t want anyone to get his fingerprints from the stuff he had tried to take.

As he reached the door, he could hear Quatre telling Heero not to chase him . . . that ‘the thief’ hadn’t gotten much since he had
left his sack behind.  Duo was down the street and around the corner before the reality of what he had done finally set in, tearing
off his ski mask as he came to a stop.  He had stolen . . . from Quatre . . . had betrayed his friend.

He was thoroughly sickened with himself . . . so sickened that he fell to his knees and threw up.


Trowa groaned with discomfort as he opened his eyes.  He felt so horrible . . . so tired and nauseous, so cold and sweaty all at
the same time.  He hated when his meds were changed, it always screwed up his body for at least a couple days.

He struggled to push himself to a sitting position, grimacing as he swallowed.  He was parched, his tongue feeling as if it was
made of sandpaper.  He reached over to the table beside his bed, picking up the glass that had been left there, only to frown as
he found it was empty.  That’s right, he had finished it the last time he had awakened.  With a shake of his head, Trowa decided
that he would just have to get another drink himself.  He didn’t want to disturb Catherine or Duo when they were sleeping . . .
he’d done enough of that already.

Carefully, he got to his feet, swaying unsteadily for a few long moments.  He was tired . . . dizzy . . . he could only hope that he
wouldn’t fall and crack his skull open on the way to the kitchen.  He slowly began to walk, leaving his bedroom, sliding one
hand along the wall of the hallway just in case.

Luckily, he managed to make it to the kitchen without harming himself.  

He was just about to head back to his bedroom when he heard the front door open and close.  He hadn’t known that anyone had
gone out tonight.  Of course, he had been in bed all day . . . so it was pretty easy to miss the comings and goings of his
roommates.  He wondered if it was Duo or Catherine . . . considering the way that Catherine had hovered over him all day, in
her typical mother hen manner, Trowa didn’t think it had been her.  Still . . . there was only one way to be certain.

Trowa set his glass of water on the kitchen table and headed out to the front room, freezing in place as he stood in the
doorway.  It was Duo . . . and he looked terrible.  He was standing with his back to the front door, dressed all in black . . .
Trowa had to wonder why.  His eyes were puffy and red, his cheeks flushed.  He looked like he’d been crying . . . but why
would Duo have been crying?

Concerned, Trowa moved over to where Duo was standing.  The long-haired youth hadn’t seen him yet, his eyes cast down on
the floor.  What had happened, Trowa wondered.  Why was Duo so saddened?  Had someone harassed him?

“Duo?”  Trowa asked, reaching out one hand, his own breath coming harshly as he worried for his friend.  He didn’t like to see
Duo upset . . . didn’t like the thought of Duo hurting.

Duo raised his head, his eyes swimming in tears.  He shivered, taking in a gulp of air as he attempted to keep his tears back.  He
was failing miserably.  Already, the wetness was seeping from the corners of his eyes, running down along his bruised skin in
tiny little rivers.

Trowa opened his mouth . . . and he would have asked what was wrong, but Duo didn’t give him the opportunity.

In an instant, Trowa found his arms full.  Duo all but threw himself against Trowa’s body, although it was obvious that he had
held back his strength . . . or else Trowa would currently be on the floor.  He clung to the taller boy with a desperation,
coughing out cries that left Trowa’s heart aching in sympathy for his friend.

“Duo . . .”  Trowa began, but was stopped from asking that question by Duo’s quivering voice.

“Don't, Trowa . . . Please . . . Please don’t ask me.”  He whimpered, his fingers clutching at Trowa’s body.  “I did something
horrible . . .  but just . . . please don’t ask.”

If anything, that made Trowa want to ask him about it even more.  However, he respected Duo’s wishes.  If Duo didn’t want to
talk about it, then they wouldn’t talk about it.  As much as he wanted to know what was troubling his friend, he wouldn’t violate
the trust they had with each other.

“All right, Duo.”  Trowa said, wrapping shaky arms around Duo’s body.  “I won’t ask.  But you know I am here for you,

“Yeah . . . I know.”  Duo whispered against Trowa’s chest, nodding his head.  “T-Thanks.  I . . . I just can’t . . .”

Trowa set his cheek against the top of Duo’s head, letting out a sigh.  “Don’t worry about it, Duo.”  He said, rubbing his hands
along Duo’s back.  “If you ever are ready to talk about it, I won’t turn you away.”

“Thanks.”  Duo replied, pressing closer.

They stood there for a few moments, Trowa simply holding his friend in the hope that he was offering some minuscule form of
comfort.  Then Duo spoke again, breaking the silence that had fallen between them.

“Trowa . . . d-do you think I could sleep with you tonight?”  He asked timidly, burying his nose against Trowa’s body, muffling
his words.  “I . . . I don’t want to be alone tonight.  I can go to Catherine’s room . . . if you’d rather . . . I don’t want to trouble

“Nonsense.”  Trowa answered, a smile on his face.  “Come on.”

He wrapped his arm around Duo’s shoulders and urged the youth to walk, easily guiding him back to his bedroom.  Duo
stripped down to his boxers . . . a fact that left Trowa blushing . . . and the two of them got into bed.  Mere moments after
laying down, Duo was asleep, his head laying on Trowa’s chest, his body warm against Trowa’s side.

Trowa sighed, brushing an errant hair from Duo’s face.  He hoped that his friend wouldn’t be burdened by this secret he was
carrying.  All he could do was hope.  Unless Duo talked, there was nothing left for him to try.  With another sigh, Trowa closed
his own eyes, allowing himself to fall asleep, his last conscious thought being that he hoped Duo would be okay.

To Be Continued . . .