Disclaimers:  I only own David.  The rest don’t belong to me.

Author’s notes:  Here it is, the final installment of Painful Memories.  And thanks once again to Tenshi-Chan for all your help.  
I truly appreciate all your assistance. Enjoy.



Painful Memories
Part 15



Wufei slowed the car to a stop outside the safe house.  He glanced in the rearview mirror, once again checking on the welfare of
his friends.  Duo still lay curled up against Heero, who held him so carefully in his arms, as if he were afraid that Duo would
shatter if he held too tightly.  Heero’s eyes were red-rimmed from all his tears and half-closed, his entire body telling Wufei that
he was exhausted.  It was only by sheer will that Heero had stayed awake so long, obviously not wanting to take his eyes from
Duo for a second.

“We’re here.”  Wufei stated, opening the door and stepping out.  He opened the back door for Heero, offering a hand of help.

Heero just shook his head, saying, “No, I can do it myself.”

“Fine.  But I am here to help.”  Wufei replied, respecting Heero’s wishes, even though he saw how tired the pilot looked.

Heero got out, still cradling Duo against his body.  Wufei walked ahead of him, rushing to the front door to open it for them.  He
looked back, frowning as he saw Heero swaying with each step he took.  Heero didn’t look as if he could continue for much
longer.  Wufei might have to step in and help, whether Heero wanted his assistance or not, if it became necessary.

Heero walked past him, into the safe house.  Wufei followed close behind, shutting the door once he was inside.  He heard a
gasp and looked up.  Sally stood over the portable gurney that they must have set up while Wufei and the pilots were rescuing
Duo and Quatre.  It was in the center of the living room, and Wufei didn’t remember it being there when he had left.

Sally looked furious, her hands tightly clutching her crutches once again.  However, the gasp he had heard hadn’t come from
her.  It had come from Hilde, who stood to Sally’s side.  Her hand was at her face, obviously fighting back her tears.  Relena
stood next to her.  However, she looked far calmer then either of the other two women.  

Heero carried Duo over to the gurney, laying him down as gently as possible.  “Take care of him.”  Heero said.  Then he
promptly fainted, all the stress of the night finally catching up with him.

Wufei rushed forward, catching Heero before he hit the ground.  “I will take him upstairs.”  Wufei stated.

Sally only nodded, as she pulled the blanket away from Duo’s body and examined the wounds.  “Hurry down.  I might need
your help.”

Wufei slung Heero over his shoulder, and quickly climbed the stairs.  He glanced to Heero’s door, then turned, deciding instead
to take the pilot into what had been Duo’s room.  Maybe the lingering scent of Duo would be of some comfort to Heero.  This
was really the only thing Wufei could do for Heero, try and make him as comfortable as possible while Duo's wounds were
tended to.

He dropped Heero onto the bed, carefully.  Then he covered the unconscious pilot with the blankets.  There was nothing else he
could do.  Besides, he had to get back downstairs and help Sally with Duo.

When he turned back to the door, he saw David standing there.  He still clutched that bear in his arms.  “What are you doing
awake?”  Wufei asked.

“I couldn’t sleep.”  David answered.  He pointed to Heero.  “What happened to him?”

Wufei offered a slight smile.  “He was just tired.  But he will be fine.”  He gently ushered David out of the room, and back to his
own.  “Now, go back to sleep.”

“What’s going on downstairs?”  David asked, as he climbed back into bed. “Did you find your friends?”

Wufei covered him with the blankets.  “Yes.”  Wufei smiled.  “Trowa took Quatre with him.  We are trying to help Duo right
now.  That is what is going on downstairs.”

“They were hurt?”  David asked, sounding concerned.

“Yes.”  Wufei sighed.  “Now I must go.  Sally needs my help.”

David sat up.  “Can I help?”

“No.  Duo is very badly hurt.  I would not want you to see him in that condition.  It would be best if you stay up here.”

David looked down at the bed.  “Okay.”  He whispered, his voice sounding dejected.

Wufei turned away and left the room, rushing downstairs.  When he got down there, he saw Duo lying on the gurney, just
where Heero had placed him.  Sally was leaning over him, examining the wounds on his body.  Hilde was behind Sally, holding
her up, since she couldn’t really use her crutches and examine Duo at the same time.  And Relena was standing by the medical
instruments, ready to hand Sally whatever she needed.

Wufei sighed, dreading what was to come.  Duo needed surgery, that incision in his stomach had reopened and there might be
some internal bleeding.  Slowly, Wufei walked over to Sally, wondering what she would need his help with.  


*****


Trowa looked down at the angel he cradled in his arms.  The blonde was catatonic, not responsive in any way.  If only they had
reached the hotel earlier, if only they had discovered where Carl had taken them sooner, maybe they could have gotten there
before this had happened.

Trowa looked up from gazing at his love, wondering just how much longer it would be until they arrived at their destination.  
They had already been driving for several hours.  In the back of his mind, he also worried about Duo, wondering if Heero had
been able to save him.

“We’re almost there, Trowa.”  Catherine said, a fake smile on her face.

“Thanks.”  Trowa replied, glad that she had come.  If he had come alone, then who would have held Quatre, who would have
taken care of him?

He looked back to Quatre, wishing that the blonde’s eyes would focus on something or at the very least blink.  But there was
nothing.  His consciousness was gone, retreated deep into his mind.  Trowa felt a tear on his cheek, but thoughtlessly brushed it
away, trying to keep his emotions buried.  Quatre would need him to stay strong.  Trowa couldn’t let negative emotions hurt
Quatre any further.

Only minutes later, they drove through the gates of one of Quatre’s many estates.  Trowa knew that this was a place where
Quatre could recover, if he recovered.  Everyone here probably already knew of his empathic abilities and had experience in
dealing with it.

“We’re here, Quatre.”  Trowa said, as Catherine stopped the car.  “You’re home.”

Catherine opened the door for him, and he climbed out, still cradling Quatre against his body.  He looked up at the sky, noticing
that the sun was beginning to set beyond a lake that was on the grounds of the estate.  “It’s beautiful here, Quatre.”  He said,
trying to get through to him.  “The sun is setting.  There are pinks and golds, spreading across the sky.  I wish you could see it.”

Trowa heard Catherine, as she stepped beside him.  She was struggling to stop her tears, to keep her emotions back.  It wasn’t
easy for her to block out all the pain.  Of course, it wasn’t easy for Trowa anymore, not after all that Quatre had done to help
him, all the love he had shown him to bring him out of his shell.

Rasid walked out of the front doors, quickly approaching Trowa.  Trowa wondered why the man was here.  Didn’t he have a
group of men to lead?  “What are you doing here?”  Trowa asked, his arms aching from holding Quatre for so long.  But he
wouldn’t let go, couldn’t let go, not now.

“I called him.”  Catherine said.

Trowa turned to her.  “When?  How did you know his number?”

“Quatre once told me that if there was ever an emergency, I could contact him through Rasid.”  Catherine answered.  “So,
when I was upstairs packing your stuff, I decided to call.  Rasid deserved to know.”

Trowa looked back at Rasid as the man asked.  “What happened to Master Quatre?”

Trowa grimaced, not wanting to discuss this now.  He had to get Quatre inside.  He had to get him into something warm, check
for other injuries.  “Not now.”  Trowa replied, walking around Rasid to go inside.

He carried Quatre right upstairs, going straight to the room he knew was Quatre’s.  He and Quatre had spent sometime here
once, not too long ago.  Trowa still remembered how to get around the large house.

He laid the blonde down on the bed and pulled that thin blanket away from his body.  Carefully, Trowa checked Quatre’s body
for injuries, hoping he wouldn’t find any.  He sighed in relief when all he found was that bite on his ear and the bruise on his
cheek.  At least there were no signs of sexual assault.  But that was of little consolation, considering that his angel was just a
hollow shell that would slowly waste away if he didn’t come to his senses.

Trowa left Quatre’s side, although he hadn’t really wanted to.  He went into the bathroom, preparing a bath for Quatre.  He had
to get him cleaned up and into some clothes.  He walked back over to the bed and scooped Quatre into his arms, carrying him
back into the bathroom.  

He took his time washing Quatre, carefully scrubbing away all the dirt from his body.  Last he washed his hair, all the time
making sure that Quatre didn’t fall over.  He wasn’t absolutely sure if Quatre could stay sitting up without help, and Trowa
wasn’t about to take that chance just yet.  Then he drained the water out of the tub and reached over to grab a towel.

“Quatre, please say something . . . Do something.”  Trowa pleaded as he wrapped the towel around Quatre and lifted him from
the tub.

Once again, Trowa placed Quatre on the bed, this time in a sitting position.  As he began drying Quatre off, Rasid walked into
the room.  Trowa didn’t take his eyes from Quatre, didn’t stop drying him off, as the large man walked over to a dresser and
opened one of the drawers.  He pulled out a pair of Quatre’s silk pajamas.

Rasid walked over and dropped the white garments on the bed beside Quatre.  He laid a hand on Quatre’s dripping wet hair.  
“What happened to Master Quatre?”  He asked, repeating his earlier question.

Trowa sighed, deciding that he better tell him now.  He started with the beginning, telling him about Duo’s disappearance,
although he left out a few things like why Duo had left.  That really was none of Rasid’s business.  Then he went on to talk of
Duo being found and how the American’s lack of recovery had begun to steadily wear down Quatre’s health.  He told Rasid of
Duo and Quatre being kidnapped.  Then finally, he told him of how he had found Quatre in that room, just staring blankly into
space.

“He’s retreated into his own mind, because he couldn’t stand to feel all of that suffering anymore.”  Trowa said, as he finished
speaking.  

All while he had been speaking, Trowa had been dressing Quatre.  He had needed to do something with his hands, to keep
himself distracted, to keep his emotions away.  Now, with Quatre cleaned and dressed, he laid Quatre on the bed, pulling the
blankets up to his chest.

A firm hand grasped his shoulder and he looked back to see Rasid standing behind him, his face full of distress.  But then he
spoke, “If anyone can bring Master Quatre out of this, it would be you.  I can see the affection you feel for him in your eyes.  
You must love him a great deal.”

Trowa nodded, finding himself to be suddenly mute.

“I will have the servants stay out of your way.  I do not need their emotions interfering with his recovery.  If you need anything,
just call me.”  Rasid said.  He took his hand away and turned, leaving the room.

Trowa looked down at his beloved Quatre.  He lifted one of his hands, holding it gently.  “I’ll help you, Quatre.  No matter how
long it takes.  I won’t leave your side.”


*****


Heero awakened, wondering where he was, and what had happened.  Then in a flash, everything came back to him.  Rescuing
Duo, bringing him back to the safe house.  It was all so clear in his mind now.  

He jumped from the bed he had been laying in, instantly regretting moving so quickly.  His head throbbed in pain, his legs nearly
gave out on him.  He had to grab the bed to keep from falling over, as everything around him began to spin.

“I don’t think you should be getting up so fast.”  A timid voice commented from the doorway.

Heero turned, his eyes focusing on David after a moment.  “What happened?”  He asked, wondering why he felt so lightheaded.

“Wufei brought you up here yesterday afternoon.  He said you were tired.  Then Ms. Sally came up here and stuck a needle in
your arm because she said you needed sleep.”

Heero narrowed his gaze in anger, but at the sight of David flinching, he pushed his anger aside, not wanting to frighten the boy
again.  He had learned that lesson earlier, when he had so rashly let his anger flash out in frustration, slamming his fist on the
dining room table.  The boy had run away from him then, to hide somewhere in the house.  It had made him feel so horrible,
knowing he had terrified the boy so much.

“Who’s the guy with the long hair?”  David asked, after a few moments.

“Duo.”  Heero gasped, remembering the condition the American had been in when he had found him.  “Do you know where he
is?”

“Yeah.”  David answered.  “Right across the hall.”

Heero swiftly walked out of the room, not even stopping as a wave of dizziness struck him.  He crossed the hall, quickly
opening the door and walking into what had been his room.  Sally was standing there, beside a hospital bed in which lay Duo.  
They must have brought the bed up last night, Heero thought.  But the thought was quickly pushed aside, as his heart raced in
fear and worry.

Duo looked positively horrible, his face covered in bruises and wounds, his body wrapped in bandages.  Heero could hear the
beeping of a heart monitor that Sally was busy fiddling with.  He could see all the tubes and wires sticking in and out of Duo.  
An IV dripped fluid into one of his arms, and a tube was shoved down his throat to keep him breathing.

Sally turned, and smiled slightly.  “Heero, what are you doing out of bed?”  She asked as she approached him, using her
crutches to walk.

“How is he?”  Heero asked, not bothering to answer her question.

Sally’s smile disappeared, her tone dejected.  “I won’t lie to you, Heero.  It doesn’t look too good.  While we were operating, he
stopped breathing and I found it necessary to hook him up to a ventilator.  But the longer he hangs in there, the better his
chances.”

“Can I . . .”  Heero started, but his voice caught in his throat.

“I’ll leave you alone.”  Sally said, stepping past Heero.  “If you need anything, just call me.”

Heero didn’t reply.  He just stepped further into the room, closer to the bed.  Tentatively, he reached out and laid his hand on one
of Duo’s, frowning at how cold that hand felt.  

“I’m sorry, Duo.  I should never have gone on that mission.  I shouldn’t have left you.”  Heero whispered, a silent tear falling
from his eye as he watched the face of his love, hoping for him to awaken.

“Will he be okay?”  David asked from behind Heero.

Heero turned, wiping the tear from his eye, to face the young boy.  “I don’t know.”  He answered.

Heero watched curiously, as David took in a deep breath.  Slowly, David approached him.  When he was only a few inches
away, he hesitantly wrapped his arms around Heero, pulling him into an apprehensive hug.  After only a few seconds David
pulled away and ran back to stand in the doorway once again.

Heero appreciated the show of trust.  That simple, and short, action by the timid boy, showed Heero that he was beginning to
trust him.  It cheered him up far more than a hug from any member of the Maguanac Core, or even from Relena, would.

“What was that for?”  Heero asked, staring intently at the timid boy.

“You looked like you could use a hug.”  David replied.  “Feel better?”

“Yes.”  Heero smiled slightly.  “Thank you.”

“David?”  Wufei’s voice called out from the hallway.  A moment later, the Chinese pilot stepped into the doorway, right behind
David.  “David, it is time for you to eat.  Hilde has made lunch for you.”

“Okay.”  David replied.  He turned and stepped past Wufei, leaving the room.

Wufei looked over at Heero.  “I did not know you were awake.”  Wufei said, stepping into the room.

“Yeah, well . . .”  Heero replied, not really knowing how to respond to that.  He turned back to Duo, gazing at the battered
features of the man he loved.

“I am sure Duo will recover.  He is a strong person.  If anyone can pull through this, Duo can.”  Wufei said.

“Thank you.”  Heero said, appreciating Wufei’s words.  “Could you leave, please?  I want to be alone with him.”

“Of course.  If you get hungry, I am sure that Hilde or one of the others will bring you something.  All you have to do is ask.”

“No thanks.  I’m fine.”  Heero replied.

“Then I will leave you be.”  Wufei stated.  “I am sure he will be fine.”

Heero felt another tear run down his cheek as he looked at Duo.  He brushed a stray strand of chestnut hair away from Duo’s
eyes, hoping that Wufei was right.  He didn’t know if he could live without the long-haired pilot anymore.  Duo brought so
much joy to his life, so much excitement.  If he died now, what reason would Heero have to live anymore?


*****


Trowa was kneeling next to Quatre’s bed, brushing his fingers through the Arabian’s blonde locks.  “Please, wake up soon, my
Angel.”  Trowa whispered, placing a gentle kiss on Quatre’s forehead.

There was no reply, no answer to Trowa’s statement.  Quatre remained still, his eyes vacant and staring at nothing.  Trowa
could only hope that Quatre could hear him, that he was fighting his way back to reality.  Hope was all that Trowa had left now.

Someone knocked on the door.  “Come in.”  Trowa said, not looking up as Catherine walked into the room.

“I brought something for Quatre to eat.”  Catherine said, walking over to the bed, with a bowl of soup in her hands.  “It’s only
chicken broth.  Considering the condition Quatre is in, I didn’t think it would be wise to bring something that needed to be
chewed.”

“Thanks.”  Trowa said.  He rose to his feet and carefully lifted Quatre to a sitting position, propping him up against the
headboard.

Trowa sat on the edge of the bed.  Catherine held a cloth napkin out to Trowa, then set the bowl of soup and a spoon on the
bedside table.  He once again thanked Catherine as she firmly grasped his shoulder.  “He’ll be okay.”  Catherine said with a
comforting tone.

Trowa watched her leave, then turned back to Quatre.  He placed the napkin over his chest, tucking it up under his chin.  He
picked up the bowl of soup and the spoon.  But he wasn’t sure if this would work.  Would Quatre eat, or would he have to be
given food intravenously?

He sighed as he lifted the spoon the Quatre’s mouth, hoping this would work.  This was probably about to get very messy.

Trowa dipped the spoon into the soup, then lifted it to Quatre’s lips.  He was expecting the soup to just spill from Quatre's
mouth, seeing as how the blonde was completely catatonic.  But to Trowa’s delightful surprise, Quatre actually swallowed it,
only a few drops falling from the corners of his mouth.

Trowa couldn’t contain his happiness about that one small moment.  He placed the bowl of soup on the beside table.  A single
burst of laughter left his mouth as he wrapped his arms around Quatre, knowing that it would probably help Quatre to feel the
love and joy coming from Trowa at that moment.

The door flew open and Trowa turned to see Catherine and Rasid burst into the room.  “What happened?”  Rasid asked.

“He’s not as far gone as I thought.”  Trowa smiled, pulling away from Quatre.  “He ate the soup on his own.”

Catherine gasped, a smile crossing her face as she covered her mouth with her hand.  She and Rasid both crossed the room,
coming to stand beside Trowa.  

“That is wonderful.”  Rasid commented.

Catherine took her hand away from her mouth and brushed it affectionately through
Quatre’s hair.  Trowa could see the hope on her face, the happiness in her eyes, as well as the affection she felt for Quatre.

“I know he’ll come around soon, Trowa.  I just know he will.”  Catherine said positively, still smiling brightly.

“Yeah.”  Trowa replied, keeping that hope in his heart.

“Hey, I have a great idea.”  Catherine announced.  “We want as many positive emotions around Quatre as we can get, right?”

“Yes.  Positive emotions would go a long way in helping Quatre right now.  He needs to know that he’s safe, around people that
care about him and love him, and that no one will hurt him.”  Trowa replied.

“Then how about we get our circus troupe to come here?  That would cheer up so many people.  Quatre would pick up on all
those emotions, and maybe he’d get better faster.”  Catherine said.

“Good idea.”  Rasid said.

“Yeah.”  Trowa replied.  

“I’ll get in touch with the Manager.  I’m sure he’ll come right away.”  Catherine said.  She turned and hastily left the room.  
Rasid slowly followed her.  

Trowa turned back to Quatre and once again picked up the soup bowl and the spoon.  He began feeding Quatre once again, a
smile on his lips as Quatre repeatedly swallowed the soup.  At least he wasn’t totally lost.  Maybe he would wake up soon.  
Trowa held onto that hope, not letting himself think anything negative.


*****


Heero sat on his bed, across from Duo’s.  He just sat there, staring intently at the unconscious American.  Duo had been in a
coma for three days now, his body hooked up to various pieces of machinery to keep him alive.  

Heero hadn’t left his side in those three days, not unless it was absolutely necessary.  He hadn’t eaten, hadn’t slept, nothing.  All
he did was sit there and watch him, wishing for him to awaken.  He couldn’t leave Duo now, not when he had failed to protect
him.    

He totally blamed himself for this.  If he had only moved faster in the hotel, that bastard wouldn’t have hurt him so badly.  That
man that had been strangling him, might not have done as much damage if only Heero had done something other than stand in
the doorway in a state of shock.

He wiped a stray tear from his eye as he thought of Duo never waking up.  He tried to keep hope.  But it was so difficult when
he saw how badly hurt Duo was.

Once again, he looked over to Duo’s bed, and for an instant he thought he saw the other pilot open his eyes a fraction of an
inch.  But Heero pushed that thought away.  Duo was in a coma, it had to have been his imagination.

Then, Duo moved again, and Heero jumped to his feet, knowing that it wasn’t his imagination.  However, he wasn’t happy,
because he saw the way Duo was struggling.  Duo was coughing all of a sudden, thrashing about on the bed.

Heero nearly panicked.  There was something wrong.  He called out for Sally, knowing that he needed help.  He didn’t know
what to do.  Duo was having some kind of a seizure.  He grasped Duo’s shoulders, trying to hold him down so that he wouldn’t
hurt himself further.

Sally rushed in, moving as fast as her crutches could carry her.  She pushed Heero aside gently, as she stepped over to Duo’s
bedside.  Heero could only watch with a horrified expression as Sally began to laugh, tears streaming down her cheeks.  He
couldn’t understand what she had found so funny at such a moment.

But then Sally spoke.  “He’s okay Heero.”  She said, unhooking Duo from the ventilator.  “He was just trying to breathe on his
own and the machine was counterproductive in that.”

Heero couldn’t help it.  The tears came forward, as relief swept over him.  He laughed once, not knowing why he was doing it.  
And then the room began spinning.  An instant later, he felt himself falling and then there was the sensation of crashing to the
floor.  But if he felt any pain, it was dulled by the happiness in his heart.  Duo was breathing on his own, and that was the last
thought that went through Heero’s mind before darkness descended on him.


********************


The next thing Heero was aware of, was a bright light shining in his eye.  He turned his head, wondering what had happened,
trying to get away from that offensive light.  Someone turned his head back, and that light was in his eye once again.

“Are you okay?”  Sally’s voice asked.

“I will be, once you get that light out of my eyes.”  Heero replied, trying his best to glare, despite that light she shone in his eye.  

After his vision cleared, he saw Sally sitting on the floor beside him, her crutches next to her.  It must have taken a great deal of
effort for her to get down on the floor.

Then his thoughts returned to Duo.  “How is he?”  Duo asked, pushing himself up off of the floor and standing.  He didn’t
hesitate and helped Sally to stand.

As she adjusted her weight, so that most of it was on her crutches instead of on Heero, she spoke.  “He’s sleeping normally
now.”  She said, as she started giggling.  “And to think, a boy who never believed in miracles was just the subject of one.”  
Then she added more seriously,  “I'll tell you the truth, Heero.  I never thought he’d pull through.  I’m glad I was wrong.”

Heero hadn’t really been paying attention to her anymore.  If she said anything else, he didn’t hear.  He stepped over to Duo’s
bed, looking down at the face he loved so much.

As he watched, Duo’s eyes slowly opened, and after a moment focused on him.  Heero couldn’t speak, knowing that Duo
probably hated him.  He had heard for himself in the car while bringing him back to the safe house that Duo thought he had
abandoned him.  His words still rang in Heero’s ears,  “Heero?  Where are you?  Why won’t you save me?”  Duo had asked, as
he had slipped into unconsciousness.  And Heero knew that Duo hated him, for ever leaving him, for abandoning him when he
needed him most, just for some stupid mission.

He watched as Duo opened his mouth to speak, but only a strangled gasp came out.  His throat was probably still too sore to
speak.

Heero couldn’t just stand there anymore.  He didn’t want to look into Duo’s eyes, to risk seeing hate or anger in their cobalt
depths.  He turned away, knowing that Duo would be better off without him.  He left the room, silent tears trailing down his
face as he stepped into the hallway.

He quickly walked through the hall, going downstairs as fast as his legs would carry him without running.  Just as hastily, he left
the house, not answering either Relena or Hilde’s questions as to where he was going.  He didn’t even bother to stop and grab
his coat.  He just walked outside, and over to a large oak tree.

Heero pulled back his arm, then sent it crashing forward, hitting the trunk of that oak tree.  The pain surged up his arm, but he
didn’t cry out.  He was just so angry at himself, so frustrated.  Why had he gone on that mission?  It had been for nothing, and
Duo had needed him at the safe house.  He should have stayed behind.

He pulled his hand away from the tree, cradling it against his body.  It didn’t matter that his fist was throbbing in pain, that blood
was dripping from fresh cuts in his knuckles.

He just turned and leaned back, letting himself slump to the ground, his back against the tree.  Tears stung his eyes, and this time
he let them come.  He cried for the love he had lost.  Duo would surely hate him now, thinking that Heero had abandoned him.  
And in Heero’s mind, that’s just what he had done.  He had abandoned Duo when the American had needed him the most.  
Heero could never forgive himself for that.

“What are you doing out here?”  Wufei asked, as he walked toward Heero.

Heero looked up, noticing that David walked beside Wufei, wearing a very loose set of clothing on his body, along with a coat
that Heero recognized as Quatre’s.  It looked as if Catherine had left some clothes behind when she had packed Trowa and
Quatre’s belongings.  It wasn’t really a surprise to Heero.  Quatre’s clothes would fit David the best.  

“Nothing.”  Heero replied, wiping his tears away with the back of one hand.  The other remained in a fist, held gently to his own
body.

“I do not believe you.”  Wufei said.

David stepped forward, still holding that bear close to him.  “What happened to your hand?”  He asked, sounding so innocent.

“It’s nothing.”  Heero said, not wanting to upset the boy.

Wufei stepped over and grabbed Heero’s wrist, pulling the bruised hand up so that he could see it.  Heero didn’t try to take it
back.  It didn’t really matter to him.  

“You hit that tree, didn’t you?”  Wufei asked.

“So what if I did?”  Heero said, then he tried to change the subject.  “Where are you two going?”

“David needs clothes.  He cannot wear Quatre’s forever.  So we are going shopping.”  Wufei replied, but then his face grew
serious.  “Now, do not change the subject again.  Why are you out here?”

Heero looked away.  “Duo woke up.”  He sighed, gazing up and watching as a leaf fell from one of the lower branches of the
tree.

“Then, I ask again . . . Why are you out here?”  Wufei asked, letting go of Heero’s hand.

“He hates me.”  Heero said, a fresh tear escaping his eye.

Wufei frowned, and crouched down beside him.  “Did he tell you that?”

Heero didn’t turn to look at him.  There really was no point.  “He didn’t need to.  I know he hates me.  How can he love me
after I abandoned him, after I allowed Carl to get him again?”

Wufei’s hand grasped his shoulder, and he forced his head to turn.  “You did not abandon him.  We all had a mission to go on.  
We had no idea that it was fake, that Carl had set us up.  I am sure he does not blame you.”

“But . . .”  Heero began.

Wufei raised his hand, stopping Heero’s words.  “If you do not believe me, then see for yourself.  Ask Duo, talk to him.  If he
hates you, then you will know for sure.  But if he doesn’t, you are only hurting him by doing this, by not being by his side when
he needs you.”

Heero saw the truth in Wufei’s words.  If Duo did still love him, then he had just hurt him by leaving like that.  He had to go
back, had to apologize for the fool he had been.  “Thanks.”  He said, as he stood and walked away.

As he strolled to the house, he heard Wufei speak from behind him.  “And have Sally look at that hand.”

Heero entered the house, and immediately was stopped by Sally.  “Why did you just leave like that?”  She demanded, her face
contorted in anger.  “Do you know what you’ve done?  He’s up there crying because of you?  Why the Hell did you leave?!”

Heero lowered his head, guilt and shame filling him entirely.  He had hurt Duo, definitely this time.  “I didn’t mean to hurt him.”  
He whispered.

Sally grabbed his wrist, looking at his bruised fist.  “You punched something hard, didn’t you?”  She asked.

“Yes.”  He replied quietly.

“Come on, I’ll bandage it up for you.  But then you are going upstairs and apologizing to Duo for what you did.”  Sally said.

Heero only nodded, and followed as Sally turned and walked over to the couch.  She sat, laying her crutches down on the floor
as she grabbed the black bag that still sat on the coffee table.  She opened it, pulling out gauze and anything else she might need.

As she finished bandaging his hand, she spoke again.  “You're very lucky this isn’t broken.”  She commented.  “It looks like it’s
just a bad bruise, with a few minor scrapes.”

Heero hadn’t really listened to her.  Once she let go of his hand, he stood and walked upstairs.  He quickly entered the room he
and Duo now shared, having every intention of telling Duo how sorry he was.  But his voice was stopped as he stepped over to
Duo’s bedside.  The American was asleep, streaks marring his face where his tears had run.

Heero laid his palm against Duo’s bruised cheek, hoping he wasn’t hurting him with his touch.  Duo mumbled something in his
sleep, too low for Heero to hear.  Heero couldn’t help but fear that Duo hated him.  He might now, if he hadn’t before.  

Heero yawned, and for the first time realized just how tired he was.  In three days he had gotten no sleep, except for those few
minutes when he had lost consciousness, but that could hardly be called sleep.

Hesitantly, he stepped back away from Duo, letting his hand drop to his side.  He backed away to his bed, not wanting to take
his eyes off of Duo, for fear of losing him forever this time.  When the backs of his legs hit the bed, he sat, then lay on his side,
always keeping his gaze firmly locked on Duo.  And Duo was the last thing he saw as he drifted off to sleep.


*****


Duo slowly awakened, pain surrounding and filling him completely.  The physical pain of all his injuries was terrible.  But even
more painful than all of his injuries combined, was knowing that Heero no longer loved him.  That knowledge left a horrible ache
in his heart.

And he was sure that Heero didn’t love him.  Why else would he have just walked away like that?  Heero was so disgusted with
him that he couldn’t even look at him.  It was plainly obvious.

Duo felt a tear at the corner of his eye, but tried to push the depressing thoughts from his mind.  Thinking like that wouldn't be
good for his health, and he did want to get better.  He wanted to recover.  Maybe then he could win Heero’s love back, maybe
he could do something so that Heero wouldn’t hate him anymore.

He turned his head, glancing around the room, at first wondering where he was.  Then he realized that he was in Heero’s room.  
Why did Sally have to put him in there?  Couldn’t she see how much Heero hated him?  After a moment of looking around, his
eyes settled on the bed across from his, and the form that was lying in it.  

There was Heero, sleeping peacefully, in his own bed.  Duo couldn’t help but notice how beautiful he was.  But quickly, he
turned away from looking at Heero.  It was just too painful to see that face and know how much Heero hated him.  He closed
his eyes against his own tears, not wanting to disturb Heero’s sleep with his sobs.

“Oh, you’re awake.”  A timid voice whispered.

Duo looked to the door, to see a young blonde haired boy standing there.  He noticed the resemblance to Quatre, and wondered
who he was.  In the boy’s arms was the bear that had been given to Duo by Relena.  But how had that boy gotten it?

He snapped his head to the side, quickly looking to Heero’s bed to see if the other pilot had awakened.  Duo sighed, seeing that
Heero was still asleep, a light snore escaping from his unconscious form.

When Duo turned his head back, he saw that the boy had approached his bed.  “I’m David.”  He said quietly.

Duo opened his mouth, struggling to get the words out.  “Where . . . did you . . . come from?”  He asked, each choked out
word making his throat burn in pain.

“You shouldn’t be talking.”  David whispered, standing right next to Duo’s bed.  Then David, looked down, keeping his eyes on
the floor below him.  “Wufei found me, when he was questioning someone about where you were.  But before he got there,
Nick had already . . .”  His words trailed off.

However, Duo didn’t need to hear anymore.  If this was the same Nick that worked for Carl, then Duo already knew what had
happened.  Duo reached out, placing his hand on the boy’s shoulder, hoping to offer some form of comfort to him.  He forced a
smile, trying to be reassuring.

David looked up, smiling at Duo.  Duo could see a great deal of understanding in David’s violet eyes, understanding and
suffering, too much suffering in eyes so young.  “Do you need a hug?”  David asked.

Duo blinked, unsure of just how to react to that.  However, the mention of that hug, did make Duo think of Heero.  He turned
his head, looking longingly at the sleeping pilot.  How he wished that Heero would hold him again.  Duo missed having those
strong arms around his body, holding him close.  He missed the warmth of Heero’s body against his, the feel of his hot breath
on Duo’s neck.  He let out a long breath, a tear slipping from his eye as memories of Heero’s touch ran through his mind.

Duo blinked the memories away and turned back to David.  “What?”  He gasped, not sure if the boy had said anything else while
he had been daydreaming.

“I asked if you needed a hug.”  David said, then he glanced over to where Heero was sleeping.  “He needed one when he got
back.  I think he still needs one . . . but I don’t think he wants it from me.”

Duo’s brow furrowed as David turned back to him.  “Not me, either.”  Duo gasped, the words barely recognizable.  “He doesn’t
care.”

“Yes he does.  Mr. Yuy stayed by your side and hasn’t really slept since he brought you back.  He’s also been crying a lot.  He
doesn’t want anyone to know, but I’ve seen the tears.”  David replied, his voice quiet.  He held the bear out to Duo.  “Here, you
can have this now.  Mr. Yuy said I could borrow it, that it belonged to a friend.  I guess you were the friend.  Here.”

Duo took it slowly, not sure why the boy was doing this.  He looked to Heero again, wondering if David was telling the truth.  
Had Heero stayed by his side all that time?  Did he still love him?  As he gazed at Heero, he noticed it, the distressed expression
on Heero’s face, the way his eyes were closed so tightly.  His skin was pale, and he looked so tired, even though he was already
asleep.

Duo placed the bear beside him on the bed.  He then grabbed the side of the bed, and pulled himself up, biting his lip to keep his
cries in.  Moving even an inch hurt so much, but he had to do this.

“What are you doing?”  David asked, holding his hands up in an attempt to stop him.

Duo heard the beeping of the heart monitor increasing in speed, but paid no attention to it.  “Help.”  Duo whispered.

David stepped forward.  “This isn’t a good idea.  You should stay in bed.”  David replied.

“No.”  Duo gasped, dangling his legs over the side of the bed.

“Wait.”  David said.

Duo looked at him, wondering why.  Then he watched as David walked over to the heart monitor and switched it off, moving
quickly to the other machines and doing the same.  “If you’re going to get up, you should turn those off first.”  He said.  “Ms.
Sally will come running if the alarms start going off.”

“How?”  Duo asked, wondering how the boy knew what to do with those machines.  It wasn’t knowledge that every boy had.

“When Papa was in the hospital, he was hooked up to machines like these.  I watched the doctors.  And then . . .”  He paused
what he was doing, and stared straight ahead, his eyes brimming with tears. But he didn’t continue that sentence.  “Come on, I’ll
help you.”  He said, plastering a smile on his face as he turned back.  

Duo knew a fake smile when he saw one.  He had placed enough of them on his own face, but he didn’t bring the subject up
again.  It obviously pained David to speak of it.

David pulled all of those patches from Duo’s skin, the ones that connected him to the heart monitor and the other machinery.  
Duo just sat there, breathing in and out, preparing himself for the pain that would come when he got out of that bed.

“Come on.”  David sighed, slowly grabbing Duo’s arm and helping him out of bed.  Duo clenched his teeth shut, the scream
within him aching to be let out.

David wrapped his arm around Duo, helping him to walk as much as he possibly could.  With his other arm, he pulled Duo’s IV
along, keeping it close to the both of them.

Each step was agony to Duo.  But he kept the cries back.  White spots speckled across his vision, everything else growing fuzzy
as dizziness washed over him.  He tried to hold on.  Just a little longer, he thought to himself.  He was almost there.  He could
see the bed in front of him, only a few more steps away.  And on that bed was Heero, his warm body seeming to beckon to him
although it was out of focus.

Moments later, David helped Duo down onto the bed, making sure that Duo’s IV didn’t get tangled, or that it was in danger of
being pulled from his arm.  Duo laid down, pulling his pain filled body as close to Heero’s as he could.  Behind him, he heard as
quiet footsteps headed toward the door, a moment later, also hearing as the door closed shut with the slightest of sounds.  

He was pleasantly surprised when Heero’s arms gently wrapped around him.  He heard Heero’s voice and looked into his face to
see if he had awakened.  He hadn’t, but in his sleep he murmured,  “Duo.”

Duo smiled, so happy to hear that Heero had spoken his name.  Maybe Heero still loved him.  Slowly, Duo draped his one arm
over Heero’s side, keeping his broken arm between their two bodies.  He curled as close as possible, the pain in his body not as
bad as it had been only moments before.  He sighed, enjoying the warmth of Heero’s body again, loving the feel of Heero against
him.

Heero’s hot breath brushed across the top of his head as he nuzzled his face into Heero’s chest, just under his chin.  Hopefully,
when Heero woke up, he wouldn’t push him away, wouldn’t hate him.  He prayed that David had been right, that Heero still
cared.


*****


Trowa looked up at the sound of the door opening.  Catherine walked in, carrying a couple coats in her arms.  She laid them on
the bed.  “I got one for each of you.”  She said, pleasantly.  

Trowa smiled, appreciating her kindness.  “Are they all set up out there?”  Trowa asked, referring of course, to the circus
troupe that had arrived earlier that day.  Trowa noticed that she was already wearing her costume.  However, Trowa wouldn’t
be joining in the performance this time.  He couldn’t leave Quatre’s side.

“Yup, just waiting for you to arrive.”  She replied.

“Come on Quatre, time to get your coat on.  They’re waiting for us.”  He smiled, as he grabbed one of the coats and pulled
Quatre’s arms through the sleeves.

“Oh,”  Catherine said.  “I got some news from Wufei.  He says that Duo woke up from his coma.”

“I didn’t know you were in contact with the safe house.”  Trowa replied, as he buttoned Quatre’s coat.

“Well, I wanted to know how Duo was doing, and I’m sure you did too.”  She replied.

Trowa smiled.  He had been wondering about the American’s health, but had been too afraid to ask.  If he got bad news, it
would only hurt Quatre to feel his sorrow.  He was glad to hear that Duo was better, though.

Quickly, Trowa pulled his own coat on, then returned his attention to Quatre.  He pulled the blonde to his feet, and was getting
ready to sweep Quatre into his arms, when he noticed something.  Quatre was standing on his own, he wasn’t swaying, didn’t
seem to be in danger of falling over.

Trowa took hold of Quatre’s hands, deciding to try an experiment.  Gently, he pulled Quatre forward.  Just as he had hoped,
Quatre took a step.  Trowa resisted the urge to leap up and down, and instead just wrapped his arms around Quatre, tears of
happiness falling from his eyes.

He felt Catherine’s hand grab his shoulder from behind.  Slowly, and reluctantly, he pulled away from Quatre, turning to look at
Catherine’s smiling face. “Did you see?”  He asked, happily.

Catherine reached out and brushed the tears from his cheeks. “Yes.”  She smiled, a single tear falling from her own eye.  “Come
on, we don’t want to keep everyone waiting too long.”

Trowa nodded, and wrapped his one arm around Quatre’s waist, while with his other hand he held on firmly to one of Quatre’s
hands.  He led Quatre along, smiling with each step that the Arabian took.  But always, when he looked at Quatre, Trowa’s gaze
traveled up to his vacant eyes.  Trowa found it difficult to keep the sorrow away, seeing that the light that used to shine so
brightly within Quatre’s eyes, was no longer there.

As they walked out of the mansion, Trowa made sure that he didn’t move too fast.  He really didn’t want Quatre to trip because
he had rushed him.  Trowa saw Rasid holding the door open for them, and they stepped out of the mansion.  Trowa stopped
next to the large man, and saw a smile form on his lips.

Rasid reached out, and laid his palm against Quatre’s cheek.  “It’s good to see you walking around again, Master Quatre.”  He
said, speaking to the catatonic Arabian.

Rasid took his hand away, as Catherine walked around to face Trowa.  “I’ll see you two after the show.”  She smiled, then
promptly ran off toward the tent.  Trowa followed her more slowly, helping Quatre along.  If Rasid was following or not,
Trowa didn’t care.  His attention was solely focused on the blonde Arabian.  

They stepped into the tent, and immediately the laughter of children caught his attention.  People from the nearest town had been
invited to come to the circus, free of charge.  The Manager had been against a free performance at first, but then when he met
Quatre and saw his condition, he quickly agreed.  They did need as many happy people as they could get, and making the show
free would definitely bring happy people to it.  

He looked out into the ring, and saw a group of clowns doing their act.  Quickly, he found a place to sit.  As the night wore on,
the jovial atmosphere of the circus continued.  There were the trapeze artists, the tightrope walkers, and many others all doing
their acts.  Trowa described each and every performance to Quatre, hoping that this was having a good effect on the catatonic
blonde.

“It’s Catherine.”  Trowa said, describing the final act of the evening.  He turned, smiling at Quatre who only stared ahead with
his vacant eyes.

Trowa watched the performance, with a sense of fascination, while he described it to Quatre.  He had never actually seen this
for himself before, he was usually a part of the act.  

Catherine raised one of the knives.  The tension in the tent was almost a physical force as the entire audience held its breath.  
Then everyone let out a sigh of relief when the person against the board was unharmed by the knives Catherine had thrown in
his direction.

Slowly, the crowd began filing out of the tent.  Trowa stayed where he was, waiting for the others to leave first, or at least until
there weren't so many people making their way out of the door.

“What’s wrong with your friend?”  A little girl asked, as she stopped in front of Trowa and Quatre.

“He’s sick.”  Trowa replied, smiling down at the girl.  “It’s sort of like sleeping with his eyes still open.”

“Oh.”  She said.  She leaned forward, and placed a tiny kiss on Quatre’s cheek.  Then she frowned as she moved away.  “Why
didn’t it work?”  She asked.

Trowa smiled at her innocence.  “He isn’t sleeping like in the fairy stories.”  Trowa said, trying to explain in a way that a child
would understand.  “An evil warlock tried to take his spirit away, and my friends and I are trying to get it to come back.”  It
was almost the truth, just toned down to make it more understandable to the child.

She giggled, covering her mouth with one hand.  “That’s silly.”  She smiled.  “How is he going to get better?”

“Your laughter will help him more than your kiss, but I’m sure that kiss didn’t hurt.”  Trowa said.

“Joy?!”  A woman’s voice called out.

The little girl turned in the direction the voice had come from.  “Coming, Mama!”  She yelled back.  Then she turned to face
Trowa again.  “I hope he gets better.”

“So do I.”  Trowa replied.

“Bye.”  Joy smiled.  Then the little girl ran off, waving goodbye before she disappeared through the exit.

“Who was that?”  Catherine asked as she stepped over to Trowa.

“Just some girl.”  Trowa replied.  He looked up at her, and noticed that the Manager was standing next to her, as were a number
of other people from the circus troupe behind the two of them.

“We all just want to extend our hopes that Mr. Winner gets well soon.”  The Manager said.  “He seems like a very nice young
man, and we’ve all noticed how happy he’s made you over the past few months.  It would be a great tragedy if his kindness
was lost to the world.”

“Thank you.”  Trowa replied as he stood.  He turned slightly and swept Quatre into his arms, deciding it would be better to
carry him this time.  

Catherine laid a hand on his shoulder, her other hand brushing through Quatre’s blonde locks.  “I really wish you had been in the
act tonight, Trowa.”  She said.  “It would have been so much easier to pretend that everything was normal if it had been you,
instead of the guy we got to replace you.  He whimpered every time I threw a knife.  I had to concentrate so much harder than
usual, not because of that guy, but because I was trying to block out the fact that Quatre is still catatonic.”

“It’s all right Catherine.  I know he’s going to get better soon.”  Trowa replied, still holding on to his hope.  “It’ll just take time.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”  Catherine agreed.  “I just wish I could stay longer.  But the circus needs to keep moving, and I am one of
the main attractions.”

“Catherine, I don’t mind if you go.  If I need anything, there are the servants here, and Rasid will be here for a few more
weeks.  I’ll be fine.”  Trowa replied, knowing that Catherine did have to go with the troupe when they left in a few days.  “Don’
t worry about me.”  

Trowa turned and walked away, carrying Quatre back to the house.  He didn’t listen to Catherine’s words anymore, tried to
block out the pain of being alone again.  Even if Quatre’s body was there, Quatre’s mind wasn’t.  And now that Catherine was
leaving too, Trowa was losing those closest to him, the two people that knew him best.  He’d be alone, surrounded by people
that wanted to help, but still alone and taking care of his beloved Quatre.


*****


Heero didn’t want to open his eyes, didn’t want to wake up.  He was in the middle of the best dream he’d had in days.  And in
that dream, Duo still loved him, didn’t blame him for anything.

He let out a deep breath as he decided to face reality, and he opened his eyes.  He frowned in puzzlement, wondering why Duo
was still in his arms if he were awake.  Maybe he was still dreaming.  But the body of the American felt so warm against his, so
real.  It had to be real.

He looked over at Duo’s empty bed, wondering how Duo had gotten over to him.  It had to have been agonizing for him to even
stand, let alone walk the few feet over to Heero’s bed.  Then Heero saw it, the stuffed bear laying on Duo’s bed.  David must
have helped him.  That was the only possible explanation.  Heero would have to thank David for this, later.

Almost afraid that the American would vanish, Heero cupped Duo’s somewhat bruised face in his one hand.  “Duo?”  He
whispered.  Then his breath caught in his throat as Duo’s eyes opened.  “Duo, why are you here?  Shouldn’t you be resting in
bed?”

Duo’s brow furrowed as he looked down at the bed.  The expression in his eyes stated plainly that he was resting in bed.  Then
the look changed to a questioning one, a hint of fear darkening the light in his eyes.

Heero could see the worry and doubt in Duo’s eyes.  “Stop thinking like that.”  He said calmly, knowing he couldn’t risk hurting
Duo’s already vulnerable heart.  “I am not complaining, and I do want you here.”  He smiled gently.  “I just don’t want you to
get hurt any more than you already are.”

Heero felt all the strain from the past few days ease, when Duo shook his head and simply moved closer.  Heero planted a tender
kiss on Duo’s forehead.  “I missed you, and I don’t care what J says . . . I’m not leaving you again.”

A memory flashed through Heero’s mind, of him just walking away from Duo’s bed, thinking for sure that Duo hated him.  
Gently, he pushed Duo away from him, needing to say something to the American.  “I am so sorry I just walked out like that
when you woke up.  I was sure that you hated me.  I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt you.”

Duo opened his mouth to speak.  His voice came out as a strangled gasp.  “I . . . don’t  . . . blame  . . . you.  Love you.”  He
said, struggling for each word, while his hand moved to cover his throat.  

Heero laid his fingers against Duo’s lips, hushing him.  “Don’t try to speak.”  He smiled.  “I love you too, Duo.”

Duo smiled, and pulled his body back against Heero’s, hissing in pain with each movement he made.  Heero frowned, not
wanting to cause Duo any more pain, but not wanting to hurt him by pushing him away.  He hesitantly wrapped his arms around
Duo, holding him as gently as possible.  After a few minutes, Duo’s breathing slowed, his body relaxed, as he fell asleep.

Heero looked up as the door was opened.  Hilde stepped into the room, carrying a tray in her arms.  “I brought you something to
eat.”  She whispered, as she crossed the room.

“Give me a hand.”  Heero replied, quietly, gesturing down at Duo’s sleeping form. “I want to get him back into his own bed.”

Hilde set the tray on the bedside table, and stepped over to help Heero.  She supported Duo, keeping him from falling off the bed,
as Heero untangled himself from Duo’s arms and climbed out.  He really didn’t want to wake Duo, unless it was absolutely
necessary.

Slowly, and carefully, he lifted Duo into his arms.  He felt Duo’s body take in a sharp breath, and looked down in time to see
Duo open his eyes.  After a few seconds he focused on Heero, confusion and fear swirling around in the cobalt depths of his
eyes.  

“This is for your own good, Duo.”  Heero stated, carrying Duo over to his own bed, while Hilde made sure to bring his IV
over.  There was no need to pull that from his arm by accident.  

“Yeah, Duo.” Hilde said.  “It’s better for your health if you stay in the hospital bed.  Besides, the sooner you get better, the
sooner you can stay with Heero all night.”  She smiled.

Duo groaned as he was placed on the bed, his face twisting in pain.  Heero hated to see him like that.  He took hold of Duo’s
hand, giving it a gentle squeeze as Hilde walked over to the tray for a moment.

“I also brought this for Duo.”  She said as she walked back over, holding a glass of cloudy water in her hand.  “I dissolved
some painkillers in water.  I thought it would be easier for him to take that way.”

Heero took it from her and held it to Duo’s lips, helping him to drink it.  After only taking a sip, Duo turned away, nearly spilling
what was left in the glass.  He was making a face that told Heero that the stuff tasted horrible.  When Heero tried to get him to
drink it again, he moved his head away in a silent refusal.

“Drink it, or else . . .”  Hilde said, reaching into her pocket to pull out a syringe.  “I just thought that with what you just went
through, a needle was the last thing you wanted to see again, so I got Sally to agree to give your medication in pill form.”  She
sighed, then spoke again.  “Either you drink it, or I’ll have to use the needle, Duo.  I did get some medical training and I can give
you an injection if I have to.”

Duo only glared at her as Heero once again lifted the glass to his lips.  This time, however, Duo did drink it.  He only stopped a
few times to catch his breath as he gulped down the entire drink as quickly as he could.

Once the glass was empty, Heero took it away and handed it over to Hilde.  Then he leaned over Duo, placing a gentle kiss on
his lips.  He could taste the medicine that Duo had just drank, mixed with Duo’s own taste.  He agreed with the face Duo had
made, the stuff was terrible.  

Duo was smiling when he pulled away from him.  “I’ll stay here until you fall asleep.”  Heero promised, taking hold of Duo’s
hand.

After a few minutes the smile on Duo’s face began to fade, as sleep once again overtook him.  Once Heero was satisfied that he
was indeed asleep, he let go of Duo’s hand and stepped away from the bed.

Hilde shoved a plate in front of his face, blocking his view of Duo.  He turned to her, ignoring the sandwich on that plate.  
“What’s this?”  He asked.

“Your lunch.  You have to eat, Heero.  It’s not good for your health to just sit up here and stare at Duo all day and night.  He’ll
need you to be strong.”  She replied.

Heero took hold of the plate and picked up the sandwich with his other hand, casting an appreciative look in her direction.  He
slowly ate the sandwich, not because he was hungry, but because he knew she was right.  Duo would need him to be strong.  
He would need him.

Hilde stepped over to Duo’s bedside.  She brushed the bangs away from his eyes, just staring down at him.  “Duo’s my friend,
Heero.”  She said, keeping her eyes locked on Duo’s face.  “I care about him, even though I know he’ll never love me, not the
way he loves you.”  Quickly, she turned to Heero.  “He was honest about that, never led me on or gave me false hope.  And I
appreciate that.  I’m just content to be friends with him.”  Then Hilde’s eyes narrowed, as if she wanted to pierce Heero’s soul
with her gaze.  “I don’t like seeing him hurt, Heero.  Don’t you dare ever let anything like this happen to him again.  He’s like a
brother to me, and I’d give my life to see him happy.”

Before Heero could reply, Hilde turned and left the room.  Heero hastily finished his sandwich, and returned to stand beside Duo’
s bed.  He’d die before he let anything like this happen to Duo again.


*****


Duo opened his eyes, the sunlight hitting him in the face.  It was warm, but way too bright for his liking.  

He sat up slowly, his arm reaching around his waist as his ribs began to throb in pain.  It had been a week since he had first
woken up, a week since he had fallen asleep in Heero’s arms.

Thinking of Heero, he looked around the room.  He frowned when he noticed that Heero was nowhere to be seen.  There wasn’t
even a note or anything.  Where could he have gone, Duo wondered as he swung his legs over the side of the bed.

He stood, his legs shaky, but he was just tired of lying around all day.  He needed some form of exercise.  He walked to the
door, picking up a robe as he walked.  It would be kind of awkward if he walked into one of the girls when he was only wearing
a pair of pajama bottoms.  So as he walked, he put on the robe.

Duo shuffled along, unable to lift his feet very far from the floor.  It was hard enough just moving.  His entire body ached, and
walking just made it worse.  Slowly, he went downstairs.

As he reached the bottom of the steps, his breathing was ragged.  He was already out of breath, although he had only traveled a
short distance.  He had to sit, and soon, before he fell over.

Duo sat on the sofa, groaning as his ribs throbbed from the movement.  Of course groaning only made his throat ache more.  
Even after a week, his throat seemed no better, and it was so hard to speak.  He sat there, breathing in and out, trying to get
himself to breathe normally once again.

A hand touched his shoulder from behind, and Duo jumped slightly.  His body stiffened in fear before he found the courage to
turn and see who had touched him.

Wufei was standing there, his hands held out in front of him.  “I’m sorry, Duo.  I did not mean to startle you.  I forgot to
announce my presence.  I apologize.”  He said.

Duo took in a few more breaths, trying to get his heart rate back to normal.  Even after a week, he didn’t like to be touched,
especially by strangers.  But it wasn’t so bad when a friend came in contact with him.  The only problem was, that he didn’t like
being surprised.

“Heero?”  Duo asked, keeping his speaking to a minimum.

Wufei walked around and sat beside Duo on the sofa.  “He and David went shopping.  Sally asked Heero to pick up your
medication for you, so he decided to get a few things of his own while he was out.  They should be back shortly.”

Duo smiled slightly.  A thought occurred to him.  He had heard that Wufei had been in contact with one of Quatre’s mansions.  
At first it had been Catherine that he had been getting information from, but Duo knew she had left with her circus troupe almost
a week ago.  Now it was Rasid that was relaying information about the blonde’s health to Wufei.

“How’s Quatre?”  Duo asked, once again struggling to speak.

Wufei frowned.  “Not well, I am sorry to say.  He is still catatonic.  Rasid informs me that he hasn’t made a single movement to
let them know he was aware.”

Duo’s heart twisted.  He grimaced, his mind racing in self-hatred.  Tears came to his eyes as he stood.  He took a few steps
before Wufei grabbed his wrist and spun him around.  “Duo . . .” He started, but Duo wouldn’t let him finish.

“Leave me alone.”  He whispered.  

Quickly, he returned to his room, just wanting to be alone.  He didn’t know how he was able to move so fast.  Maybe it was
adrenaline.  But he didn’t linger on the thought, it really didn’t matter to him.  He just wanted to be alone.

As he crossed the room, he passed by a mirror and caught sight of his reflection.  The bruises were fading, the wounds healing.  
But he could still see how disgusting he was.  There was that hair, the hair that Carl loved so much.  He couldn’t stand to see
that face, that body, that hair.  He was sickened by his own reflection.  But what could he do about it?


********************


Heero pulled the car to a stop outside the safe house.  He and David got out of the car, and walked around to the trunk.  He
opened it, and caught sight of something he had bought for the boy.  He reached into the grocery bag, pulling out a stuffed lion.

Heero held it out.  “For you . . . To protect you from your nightmares.”

“A lion?”  David asked, looking at the stuffed lion with a dubious expression on his face.  

“What’s wrong with a lion?”  Heero asked, puzzled.

“I’m not the most religious person, but wasn’t there a David in the Bible that was thrown into a den of lions so they could eat
him?”  David asked, taking the lion from Heero.

Heero wasn’t sure if the boy was right or not, he didn’t keep up with any type of religion.  He had no use for it any time in his
life, so why should he worship any God?  He let out a chuckle, comparing David’s situation to the David mentioned in the Bible.  
The safe house was almost a den, and the pilots just as dangerous as lions.  “Don’t worry, David . . .”  Heero replied, smirking,
as he ruffled the boy’s hair.  “This den of lions won’t be eating you.”

David smiled up at him.  He was definitely much better than when Wufei had first brought him here.  His injuries were healing
well, and he didn’t seem as afraid of the pilots as he had been.

Heero shrugged, brushing off the thoughts.  He really wanted to get inside and back to Duo.  He felt he should have told Duo he
was leaving, or at least left a note or something, but Sally had needed him to go right away.  

Heero handed a bag to David, allowing him to help carry the groceries.  Grabbing the other bag, he closed the trunk.  He and
David walked to the door, opened it and stepped inside.

The first thing he saw, was that Wufei was staring up at the stairs with a concerned expression on his face.  “What’s wrong?”  
Heero asked, not liking the way Wufei looked.

“It’s Duo.  I am afraid that I may have made a mistake.”  He replied.

Worry filled Heero, wondering what Wufei had done.  “What did you do?”

Wufei turned to him.  “He asked how Quatre was, and I told him the truth.”  Wufei answered.  “I tried to talk to him, but he told
me to leave him alone, then he went upstairs.”

“I’ll go check on him.”  Heero replied, immediately walking to the stairs.  He heard David following him, but didn’t try to stop
him.

As soon as he opened the door, he saw Duo.  The American was standing in front of a full-length mirror, holding his hair
awkwardly in his cast-covered hand, while with the other he held a pair of scissors.  Duo spun around, obviously hearing the
door open.  He looked at Heero with an expression resembling that of a deer caught in the headlights of a car about to hit it.

“What are you doing?”  Heero asked, concerned.  He noticed that Duo hadn’t cut his hair yet, just looking at it while he held
those scissors.

Tears fell from Duo’s eyes, as he turned back to the mirror.  “Carl liked my hair.”  He whispered.

“Carl liked boys better than girls  . . . Are you going to have a sex change operation too?”  David asked, from beside Heero.

Heero saw Duo let out a small chuckle.  “No.”  He replied, quietly, lowering the scissors.

Heero dropped the grocery bag, and quickly crossed the room.  He wrapped his arms around Duo from behind, holding him
gently.  He smiled a little, when he saw that Duo was watching his reflection in the mirror.  “If you really want to cut your hair,
then it’s fine by me.”

“Carl . . .”  Duo began to say.

Heero didn’t want to listen.  He turned Duo to face him, wrapping his arms around him once again.  “Duo, if you’re going to cut
it off, do it because you want to, not because he liked it long.  If you do that, then he’ll win.  I don’t want him to win, Duo  . . .
And I don’t think you want him to win either.  Don’t give him the satisfaction of victory while he burns in Hell, Duo.  Spit in his
face at every opportunity and get on with your life.  You are not to blame for what happened.  If you want to blame anyone,
blame the people who keep sickos like him in business.  If there were no clients, there would be no need for people like him.”

“But, Quatre . . .”  Duo whispered.

Heero sighed.  “Quatre was a victim, just as much as you were.  Look at me.”  He said, pulling away from Duo to look into his
eyes.  “You were kidnapped, beaten, raped, abused in every sense of the word, and strangled.  You almost died, and you’re
blaming yourself?”  He sighed again and once more pulled Duo into an embrace.  “You did everything you could to protect
Quatre, and you still feel like it wasn’t enough, don’t you?”

“If I . . .”

“No,”  Heero interrupted.  “He would still have kept Quatre.  He was a bastard who would have had no qualms about breaking
his word.  Even if you had let him take you into his employ, he would have kept Quatre and gotten away with it.  You did
everything you could do.  You know that even if the bastard did let Quatre go, then Quatre would end up hating himself because
he would feel as you do . . . that he should have done something more.  It would never have been enough, Duo . . . Never!”  He
pulled away slightly, looking into Duo’s eyes again.  “I want you to look me in the eye and say that it wasn’t your fault.”

There was nothing from Duo, no reply, for a good five minutes.  But Heero didn't move away, didn’t avert his eyes.  Finally,
Duo answered.  “It  . . . it wasn’t my fault.”

Heero nodded.  “One day, hopefully soon, you’ll believe that.”  He said.

“Heero?”  David asked.

Heero turned to him, “Yes?”

A shy smile formed on David’s face.  “It wasn’t my fault either.”  He said quietly.

“No, it wasn’t.”  Heero said, returning the smile.  Then he turned back to Duo.  “We’ll help you, Duo . . . you know we will.”

Heero’s heart lightened when he saw Duo smile slightly.  “Thanks.”  He whispered.

“Now, if you want, I can braid your hair for you.  Carl did prefer it loose.”  Heero offered.

“Yes, please.”  Duo replied.

Heero knew that Duo couldn’t take a shower, his body just wasn’t up to that yet.  And bending over a sink was out of the
question since he had too many wounds to his stomach.  Heero left Duo’s side for only a moment, getting the bag he had
dropped earlier.  He rummaged around for a moment, then pulled out a box.  

“Sit down.”  He said, turning to see Duo.

Duo was silent as he did as Heero had instructed.  Heero saw that Duo was watching him with a curious expression, then Heero
turned back to the box he had grabbed from the bag, and pulled out what looked like strange shower caps.

Heero turned to David.  “Go heat these up . . . I think we'll need all of them, and bring them back as quickly as possible.”

David left quickly, running out of the room with the caps in his hands.  Heero turned and picked up a hairbrush from the
dresser.  He glanced at the handle of the brush, noticing that it had an elastic band wrapped around it.  Good, he thought, he
would need that later.  

Carefully, he pulled Duo’s hair over his shoulder, laying it against his back.  A week of sleeping with it loose and not washing it,
had left it a tangled, and slightly oily, mess.  While waiting for David, Heero carefully began the task of brushing Duo’s hair.  

While he brushed, he spoke.  “Don’t worry so much about Quatre.  From what I’ve heard, he eats when Trowa feeds him and
he walks when Trowa leads him. Although it’s not what we want, it’s a sign that he’s not as far gone as we originally feared.”  
He was working on the middle of Duo’s hair by this time. “Of the two of you, you were in worse shape.”  He paused to kiss
Duo’s shoulder. “Quatre will be all right.  I’m just glad that I didn’t lose you.”

“Here you go, Heero!”  David said as he walked in with the strange shower caps.

Heero nodded and took one.  He affixed it onto Duo’s head and started massaging Duo’s scalp.  “These are caps for people who
can’t take showers.  Not the same as that botanical stuff we both prefer, but it will do the trick.”

Duo’s only answer was a soft sigh.

Heero smiled fondly as some of the tension left Duo’s shoulders.  “Next!”  Heero worked his way slowly through Duo’s hair,
using a new cap every so often.  After about twenty minutes, he was finished and looking at a slightly tangled mess.  He picked
up the hairbrush and proceeded to, once again, brush through Duo’s hair to untangle it.

Once done brushing the hair, he separated it into three equal sections.  Then he began braiding it, remembering the first time he
had braided Duo’s hair.  It hadn’t happened too long ago, in fact it had been right before Duo was kidnapped.  Heero brushed
off those memories, not wanting to remember what came next.

As he finished with the long mass of chestnut hair, he frowned.  Something was wrong.  Duo was shaking, his body trembling.  
Heero walked around the chair, going to stand in front of Duo.  When he saw Duo’s face, how pinched and pale it was, Heero
was sure that something was definitely wrong.

Suddenly, Duo slumped forward, his eyes rolling back in his head.  Heero caught him, then quickly picked him up.  He carried
Duo over to the bed, laying him down.

“David, go get Sally.”  He said, without taking his eyes from Duo’s pain-stricken face.

Only minutes later, David returned with both Sally and Wufei.  “What happened?”  Sally asked, hobbling over to Duo’s bedside.

“He just collapsed.”  Heero answered, moving out of her way.

“Well, he did run up the stairs after I had mentioned Quatre’s condition.  I guess the adrenaline he had been running on, finally
wore off.”  Wufei said.

Heero watched as Sally checked Duo over, hoping he would be okay.  Sally looked to Heero, offering a small smile.  “He’ll be
fine, Heero.  Just let him get some rest and give him some of his pain medication when he wakes up.  You did fill that
prescription, right?”

“Of course I did.”  Heero answered.  He turned to David, remembering what else they had bought that afternoon.  “David, could
you take the ice-cream downstairs and put it in the freezer before it melts, except Duo’s.  Put his in the fridge.”

“Why in the fridge?”  David asked, as he picked up the bag.

Wufei answered the question for Heero.  “It should be soft for Duo to eat.  His throat still pains him very much.”

“Okay.”  David replied, taking the bag from the room.  Wufei and Sally followed him.  

For the next few hours, Heero sat by Duo’s side.  Whispering soothing words into Duo’s ear each time he whimpered in his
sleep.  He was obviously having a nightmare, but Heero was reluctant to awaken him.


********************


Duo snapped his eyes open, awakening from that horrible nightmare.  He didn’t want to remember any of that, what Carl had
done to him, what had happened to Quatre.  He didn’t want those memories.

He breathed in ragged pants, then realized that someone was holding his shoulders down.  He turned his head, his eyes locking
on Heero after a moment.  He sighed when he saw it was him.

“Are you okay?”  Heero asked.

Duo nodded, not wanting to strain his already sore throat.

“Is it time for ice-cream yet?”  David asked.  

Duo glanced around and saw David sitting on Heero’s bed, swinging his feet over the edge, impatiently.

“Yeah, why don’t you go get it?”  Heero replied.

“Okay.”  David answered, jumping to his feet.  He approached Duo’s bed, holding up what looked like a stuffed lion.  “See what
Heero bought me?”  he asked, proudly.

Duo looked at the lion and smirked, then turned and raised an eyebrow at Heero.

“Yes, I bought him a lion.  So what?  It was either that or a pink bunny.”  Heero said.

David looked up at him, hugging the lion to his chest.  “Heero . . . you made the right decision.”  He paused a moment, “It's like
in the Bible, when David was thrown to the lion den.”  

Duo laughed, which caused his throat to burn.  He looked over and saw Heero smiling, something that made him smile in return,
despite the burning in his throat.

“I’ll go get the ice-cream.”  David said, turning and walking to the door.

Heero helped Duo to sit up, propping him up against the pillows.  He held a glass out to Duo.  Duo didn’t remember seeing him
move, or even pick anything up.  He held a couple pills out, in the palm of his hand.  Duo took them and tossed them in his
mouth, not asking what they were.

But Heero told him anyway.  “They’re painkillers.  Sorry, I didn’t think to dissolve them in water like Hilde had.”

Duo offered a slight smile to Heero before he took a drink of water, washing down the pills.  It hurt, but he still swallowed them.

A moment later, David came running back into the room, carrying three pints of ice-cream and three spoons in his hands,
however his stuffed lion was gone.  He gave two of the pints and spoons to Heero.

“Here.”  Heero said, pulling off the lid of one of the pints and handing it and a spoon over to Duo.  

Duo looked at the name of the flavor and wrapped his arm around Heero in thanks.  Death by Chocolate was his favorite flavor.  
But how did Heero know?  Then after thinking a minute, he decided that question was useless.  Of course Heero knew.  They
were roommates.

He dipped the spoon into the ice-cream, noticing immediately that it was soft and mushy.  But he didn’t mind, on the contrary,
he actually liked his ice-cream slightly mushy.  He smiled as he put the spoon in his mouth, savoring the taste for a moment
before swallowing the soothingly, cold ice-cream.

Duo took a look around the room as he ate his ice-cream.  Since the lights were turned on, he knew it was after sundown.  He
must have been sleeping quite a while.  Then he saw a bag sitting on the floor near the door.  He quirked his eyebrow.

Obviously, Heero noticed his expression.  “What?”  He asked, after swallowing a spoonful of his own ice-cream, plain vanilla by
the look of it.

Duo pointed to the bag with his spoon.

“That’s the stuff Heero bought today.”  David said, then promptly shoved another spoonful of ice-cream into his mouth.

Heero placed his ice-cream on a table beside Duo’s bed.  He walked over and picked up the bag, quickly returning to Duo’s side
with the bag under one arm.  He reached in and pulled out a coloring book and a box of crayons.

Duo raised his eyebrows, wondering why Heero had bought them.  “For you.”  Heero said.  “To keep you busy.  I know how
much you hate sitting around in bed with nothing to do.”

Duo merely glared at him, as he took the items from him.  

Heero reached into the bag again, this time pulling out a legal pad and a pen.  “So you can communicate without having to strain
your voice.  Now that you have this, I don’t want you talking.”

This time Duo smiled, touched that Heero had been so considerate.  He immediately opened the pad and scrawled out in his own
unique handwriting, “Thank you.”

Now that he could communicate, he could let Duo and Heero in on something they had gotten wrong.  He knew more about the
Bible than any of the pilot’s probably, so he wasn’t surprised that Heero hadn’t corrected David.  “It wasn’t David that was
thrown to the lions.  It was Daniel.”  Duo wrote, then held it out for both Heero and David to read.

“Oh!  Well, then I guess I have nothing to worry about.”  David smiled, while Heero only shrugged.

For the next few minutes, they ate their ice-cream in silence.  Duo stealing several quick glances to Heero so that he could smile
appreciatively at him.  However, he soon became tired, his eyes slowly beginning to close.  Those pills sure did make him
drowsy.  They had worked faster when they had been dissolved, but that didn’t change the fact that they made him want to go
to sleep.

He didn’t even realize that Heero had taken the spoon and ice-cream from him, until he saw them in Heero’s hands.  For a
moment he had thought the ice-cream was Heero’s, but then he remembered that Heero had vanilla, not chocolate ice-cream.

“Go to sleep.”  Heero coaxed, helping Duo to lie back on the bed.  

Duo barely heard him, and couldn’t be sure if he had replied.  He just closed his eyes, letting himself slip into unconsciousness,
and hoping that the nightmares wouldn’t come back again.


*****


Duo was bored, completely and totally bored.  He had done everything he could think of, including coloring in all of those
pictures in that coloring book.  He had even gone so far as to play with that stuffed bear, making it do the cancan.  Doing that,
however, had certainly made Heero laugh.

He looked over at Heero, seeing the other pilot sitting in a chair, his back to Duo.  He was working on his laptop.  There was
that incessant clicking again, Duo thought.  Duo wanted to do something, anything, to get Heero’s attention, but he couldn’t talk.

He got an idea, and opened his legal pad.  He quickly wrote a message, then began folding the paper, turning it into a paper
airplane.  He was just about to throw it in Heero’s direction when Sally walked in.  Quickly, he hid it, hoping Sally hadn’t noticed.

“How is everybody this morning?”  She asked, cheerfully.

Duo didn’t like her happy tone, not when he felt so bored, so he tossed the airplane at her, instead of at Heero.  It hit its mark,
bonking her in the head.

“I’m fine.”  Heero said.  “But Duo’s bored.”

“I can see that.”  Sally replied, unfolding the paper.

Then she held it out so that Heero could also read the message Duo had written on it in big bold letters.  “I’M BORED!”

“Well, you won’t be bored much longer, Duo.  David and Hilde have a present for you.”  She glanced over her shoulder.  “Bring
it in.”

Duo’s eyes widened, as Hilde and David rolled a TV into the room, on one of those wheeled trays.  He smiled brightly, happy to
finally get something to do.  David handed him the controller to a video game system that was hooked up to the TV.

Duo took out his pad again and wrote a large thank you across it.  Hilde smiled, as she switched on the TV and game system.  “I
knew you’d hate being stuck in bed, so I thought I’d go out and get you something.  David picked out the game.”

Duo pressed the start button, watching as the opening cinema began.  Looked like a role-playing game of some kind.  He wasn’t
even paying attention as David, Hilde, and Sally left the room.

After an unknown amount of hours, Duo dropped the controller on the bed.  His thumbs ached, from all that button pressing,
but they didn’t bother him that much.  He was just getting tired.  He yawned, and turned to look at Heero again.

There he was, still sitting in that chair, typing away at his laptop.  Duo just had to know what was so important, why Heero was
still on that thing after all this time.  He carefully crept out of bed, trying not to make a sound as an ache crossed his body.

Slowly, he approached Heero, and peeked over his shoulder to see the screen.  He read the words carefully, making sure he was
reading them correctly.  

J:  I have a new mission for you.
Heero:  I cannot accept it.
J:  What?  Why?  Are you in the middle of another mission that I am unaware of?
Heero:  No.  I am taking care of someone who is infinitely more important than any mission.  Yuy out.

Duo threw his arms around Heero’s back, not caring if Heero got angry at him for spying over his shoulder.

“Duo?”  Heero asked, grabbing his arm and gently pulling him around so that they were face to face.  He placed his laptop on the
floor.

Duo was aware of the tears on his cheeks, but didn’t try to hide them, or force them back.  “Love you.”  Duo gasped.

“I told you not to talk.”  Heero said, smiling.  “You saw the message?”  

Duo nodded, as he buried his face in Heero’s neck, snuggling closer to him as he cried tears of happiness.

“I love you too, Duo.”  He replied, wrapping his arms around Duo’s body, holding him close.


*****


Trowa helped Quatre to stand, just like he did every morning.  He had learned that Quatre would walk, if you led him.  But still,
Quatre hadn’t snapped out of this catatonic state.  It had been weeks.  Quatre’s body was back to health, but his consciousness
was retreated so far back into his mind that sometimes Trowa feared he might never come back.

He led Quatre out onto the balcony and sat him in a chair.  Trowa remembered how much Quatre liked to stand in the sunshine,
to let the warm rays wash over him.  How Trowa had loved to watch the sun’s light shimmer in Quatre’s blonde locks.  But
now Trowa wasn’t happy, he hadn’t been since before Quatre had been taken from him.

Rasid walked over to him.  “Here are the items you requested.”  Said the large older man, as he handed a violin and a flute to
Trowa.

Trowa thanked him quietly, not wanting to take his attention away from his blonde angel.  He didn’t even notice that Rasid had
left, wouldn’t have cared even if he had.

He knelt in front of Quatre, placing the violin and bow on his angel’s lap.  He lifted one of his love’s hands, gently laying it on
the instrument.

“Here, Quatre.  It’s your violin.  I thought you might like to join in.”  Trowa whispered, hoping that this might somehow work.  
If it didn’t, then Trowa didn’t know what would.  The circus hadn’t worked, being surrounded by all that happiness hadn’t
brought him back.  Trowa had tried everything he could think of, and there was nothing left.

Sighing as he noticed that Quatre hadn’t even blinked at the feel of the violin under his hand, Trowa stood and lifted the flute to
his lips.  He began the notes that made up the tune that he and Quatre had played that first day they spent together.  That had
been the day he had first fallen for the young Arabian, even though at the time he had fought against those emotions.

As Trowa played, he watched Quatre, never taking his eyes from the face of the man he loved.  As he neared the end of the
tune, his hopes slipped, as Quatre hadn’t made a single move.  Trowa took the flute away from his lips, letting his hands fall to
his sides in defeat.

There was nothing left.  His angel was gone.  He felt a hot tear fall from his eye, wishing he had gotten to Quatre earlier.  If only
they had learned of Carl’s whereabouts sooner, maybe they could’ve gotten there before Quatre slipped away, before Trowa lost
him.

Trowa opened his eyes, looking once more to Quatre.  Trowa gasped, seeing a single tear on Quatre’s cheek.  Was it his
imagination?  Dare he hope that Quatre had heard?

He knelt down again, brushing the warm tear away from Quatre’s cheek.  He took the violin and bow from Quatre’s lap, and
laid them down on the ground along with his flute.

“Quatre?”  He asked, hoping that his angel could hear him.

For a moment, there was nothing.  Then to Trowa’s delight, Quatre blinked and looked at him for only a second or two.  Still,
he said nothing, but that was more than enough for Trowa.  Quatre was still in there, somewhere deep inside.  But at least he
was struggling to find his way back out.

Trowa placed his hands on either side of Quatre’s face.  “Quatre?  Can you hear me?  Please, do something.  Show me you can
hear me.  Please.”  He begged, trying desperately to keep his voice calm.

Once again, Quatre blinked, but this time he stared deeply into Trowa’s eyes.  “Trowa?”  He whispered, his voice raspy from
not being used for so long.

Trowa threw his arms around Quatre, so happy that his angel was back.  He didn’t even attempt to stop his tears, crying onto
the blonde’s shoulder.  Quatre returned the embrace gently, his body shaking.  Trowa pulled away, realizing that he could force
Quatre to retreat into his mind if he pushed too hard, if he moved too fast.

Before he could pull completely away, Quatre tightened his own embrace, as he exhaled a shuddered breath.  “Please don’t leave
me.”  He whimpered, his body shaking even more.

“It’s okay, Quatre.  You’re safe here.”  Trowa replied, trying to soothe the blonde he held so carefully in his arms.

Quatre suddenly pulled away from him, driving a stake of worry through Trowa’s heart.  “Duo?!”  He exclaimed, his beautiful
blue eyes filled with worry.

“He’s okay, Quatre.  Heero got him back to the safe house.  He's hurt, but he’s getting better.”  Trowa replied.  He saw that the
worry still hadn’t left Quare’s eyes and thought that maybe it would be better if the blonde saw for himself.  “Do you want to
talk to him?”

Quatre nodded quickly, still clutching tightly to Trowa’s arms.

Trowa stood, helping Quatre along with him.  Even though Quatre no longer needed his help to walk, Trowa felt better keeping
his arm securely around Quatre’s waist.  He stood in front of the video phone that was hanging from the wall, and dialed the
number for the safe house.

Wufei’s face appeared after only one ring.  “Trowa?  What happened?  Is something wrong?”  He asked, a concerned tone in his
voice.

Trowa smiled.  “No, nothing’s wrong.  I called because someone over here wants to talk to Duo.”  He pulled Quatre into Wufei’
s view.

Wufei smiled openly.  “Quatre, it is good to see you well.”

“Thanks . . .”  Quatre replied.  “But I’m worried about Duo.  How is he?”

“Hang on a moment . . . His voice is not completely back yet, but seeing you will do him a world of good.  He just recently
attempted to cut his hair off because of guilt over your condition.  At least that is what I was able to find out.”

While Wufei was away from the screen, Quatre turned to Trowa.  “What happened to Duo’s voice?”  He asked.

Trowa didn’t know if he should tell Quatre, but then he knew that Quatre would see that bruise around Duo’s throat when he
appeared.  “He was strangled.  Rasid informed me that he was hurt very badly, and was in a coma for three days.”

Quatre’s face paled and he frowned.  

“Quatre!”  Duo voice called out over the video phone.  Immediately afterward, he began coughing, covering his throat with his
hand.  Trowa saw that Heero was holding him up, keeping his arms wrapped around the American.

“Duo, I am so happy to see you.”  Quatre said, a smile appearing on his face as he looked at the American.  “Are you well?”

Duo nodded.

“I don’t want you to blame yourself, Duo.”  Quatre said.  “I don’t blame you.  It wasn’t your fault.”

Duo smiled slightly, taking his hand away from his throat.

Trowa looked at his blonde angel.  He looked so tired.  “That’s enough for tonight.”  Trowa said.  

“Yes.”  Heero agreed from the other end of the line.  “Duo needs his rest.  He was asleep when you phoned.”

“I’m sorry.”  Quatre said.

“That’s okay.  It’s good to see him happy again.”  Heero replied, then switched off the phone.

Trowa didn’t waste a second.  He swept Quatre into his arms, carrying him over to the bed.  He gently laid him down, then
leaned over to pull the blankets up to Quatre’s chest.  He went to stand, deciding he had better tell Rasid that Quatre was
awake.  Quatre’s hand grabbed his wrist, stopping him from going any farther.

Trowa turned back, hearing a faint whisper.  “Please, don’t leave.”

Trowa smiled.  “I’m not leaving you, Quatre.  I just want to go tell Rasid that you’re well.  I’ll be right back, I promise.”

“No.”  Quatre replied, tightening his hold on Trowa’s wrist.  “Take me with you.  I don’t want to be alone.  Please.”  He
begged, his voice filled with desperation.

Trowa picked Quatre up out of bed, not wanting to hear him begging.  There was no need for that.  Trowa would do anything
he asked, if only to make him happy.

He carried Quatre out of the room, cradling him against his body.  They didn’t have to go far however, as Rasid was walking
down the hallway.  “Rasid!”  Quatre called out.

Rasid stopped in his tracks and turned to face the two pilots.  As Trowa stopped in front of him, Rasid spoke.  “Master Quatre,
you are awake.  Allah be praised.”  He said, laying one of his large hands against Quatre’s cheek.

Trowa glanced down at the blonde in his arms, and noticed that his eyes were slowly closing.  He then looked up at Rasid,
seeing in the other man’s smirk what he already knew.  It was highly ironic that Quatre was falling asleep just after he had
awakened from his catatonic state.  

Rasid took his hand away from Quatre’s face, as Trowa turned.  “We will talk in the morning, Master Quatre.”  Rasid said while
Trowa was walking away.

“Yes, I’d like that.”  Quatre murmured into Trowa’s chest.

Once again, Trowa laid Quatre on the bed, covering him with the blankets.  This time however, he kicked off his own shoes,
sliding himself into the bed beside his beloved.  He wrapped his arms around him, holding him close to his body, happy that his
love was amongst the living once again.


Epilogue


David looked around at the party.  It was so boring.  There was no one there his own age.  And he was so totally
uncomfortable.  The clothes he was wearing felt itchy to him, he didn’t know why he had to wear a stupid suit.  

He looked up at Duo, who stood beside him.  He smiled, seeing that Duo looked just as uncomfortable as he felt.  At least all
those wounds had healed, David thought.  Duo did look a lot better now that he wasn’t covered in bruises.  And that cast was
gone too.

“Would you two stop fidgeting?”  Heero asked, stepping over to the two of them.  “Relena’s party isn’t that bad.”

“Yes it is.  It’s boring.”  David commented.

“But it’s her birthday, and we have to be here.”  Duo sighed, obviously resigned to the fact that he was stuck there.

David looked around again, seeing the same stuffed shirts, all those boring dignitaries.  He saw the table that was covered with
food, all of which was bland and on fancy plates.  And the music was so boring it made him want to fall asleep.

Duo looked down at him, and he glanced up, watching as Duo faked a yawn to show that he was just as bored as David was.  
David giggled, covering his mouth to stifle his laughs.

Heero glared at the two of them, not saying a word.  Wufei did the same from where he stood, just to Heero’s left.

“Hey, there’s Trowa and Quatre!”  Duo almost shouted, as he pointed to the door.  He nearly ran over, weaving his way through
the crowd.  

When Duo reached Trowa and that blonde guy, he pulled the blonde into a hug.  So that was Quatre?  David hadn’t realized that
he looked so much like the guy.  And he was a pilot, just like the others?  David didn’t know if he could believe that.

Heero grasped his shoulder, and David looked up.  “Come on.  I think the two of you should meet.”  Heero said.

David swallowed, suddenly feeling nervous.  He didn’t like meeting new people.  But he trusted the guys when they said Quatre
was a friend, after all he had been kidnapped by Carl too.  He just didn’t know why they had waited so long to let the two of
them meet, they could have done it months ago.  But every time David asked why Quatre and Trowa didn’t just come over, they
said that they wanted to wait for the right time.  And that Relena’s birthday party seemed to be the right time.

“David?”  Trowa gasped, when David was no more than a few feet away from him. “You look so different without all of those
bruises on your face.”  He smiled slightly.

David smiled back.  Then turned his attention to Quatre, as he was introduced to him.

“David, this is Quatre.”  Heero said.  “Quatre, this is David.”

Quatre smiled, a smile that quieted all fears David had left about this stranger.  “It’s good to finally meet you, David.”  Quatre
said.  “Trowa has told me much about you.”

“Nice to meet you too.”  David replied quietly, a smile on his own face.

An announcement drew everyone’s attention.  “Ladies, gentlemen, time for the birthday girl to blow out her candles.”

“Come on.”  Duo said, grabbing David’s hand and pulling him through the crowd.  “We’ve got to get a better view.”

Duo and David, followed closely by Heero and the other three pilots all made their way to the front of the group.  “Guys, you
can come closer.”  Relena smiled, gesturing for the guys to approach the table where Relena sat.

In front of her, was a large cake.  Actually, Relena had two cakes, one smaller cake with candles for her to blow out, and
another larger one, that would be served to all the guests.  The smaller one was the top tier of the larger one, and was supposed
to be placed on top of the larger cake after Relena blew out the candles.

Both cakes, were white with pink accents, and little pink roses.  Duo leaned over and remarked that the cake was probably so
sweet that they were all probably getting cavities just by looking at it.  David smiled at that, then noticed that Relena was taking
an awfully long time to blow out those candles.

David didn’t know if he could wait much longer.  He really wanted a piece of that cake.  Then he got an idea.  Why not blow
out the candles for her?  It would probably be all the fun he would get that night.

But before he got a chance to do it, Duo beat him to it.  With one huge breath, all those candles were out.  David looked up at
him in surprise.  He hadn’t expected Duo to do something like that.  He was so used to Duo just meekly agreeing with people
and not doing anything that might get someone mad.

Heero leaned down, whispering into David’s ear.  “You just caught a glimpse of the real Duo that everyone was hoping to see
again.”

David glanced around, seeing a lot of angry reporters glaring at Duo.  They all had obviously wanted to get a picture of Relena
blowing out those candles.  “It’s not my fault.”  Duo called out, and David turned back to see the American shrug his
shoulders.  

David looked up at Heero, seeing that he was smirking.  Heero stepped over to Duo, grasping his hand and giving it a reassuring
squeeze.  David understood the double meaning of that one sentence.  Every time Duo had one of those bouts of self-blame over
the past few months, Heero would get him to say that.  Maybe Duo really believed that all that had happened to him wasn’t his
fault now.

He was happy that Duo was better, possibly on his way to a full recovery.  Maybe he’d be back to his old self someday.  David
sure couldn’t wait to see what Duo was really like.  He seemed to be a fun guy.

David smiled, glad that everyone was doing so much better.  Duo and Quatre were healthy, Heero and Trowa were happy.  
Maybe David could get used to being happy again.  After all the pain he had gone through in his life, it would be a welcome
change.



The End



Finally, “Painful Memories” is complete.  I know I didn’t explain who that mystery man that helped Duo was, or who that
Chinese girl was.  But isn’t that what a sequel is for?  

And yes, I am perfectly aware that in the Bible, that David wasn’t the one thrown to the lions.  That it was, in fact, Daniel.  But
neither David nor Heero would have known that.  David wasn’t religious and Heero just has no use for religion in his life.