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

Notes:  Heero fixes Duo breakfast and then has to rush off to work.  When he comes home, he finds a pleasant surprise waiting
for him.



Strays and Misfits



Part Two


Soft . . . dry . . . warm . . . clean . . . and safe.  Duo wrinkled his nose.  He had never gotten those senses from where he had
slept before.  It was a new sensation.  He blinked his eyes open and sat up, frowning as he looked around the unfamiliar room.  
Where was that human?  The one that had saved him from the Catcher . . . no one had ever done for him in his whole life what
that one human had done for him in just one night.  ‘And he didn’t even try anything.’

He shook his head and got out of bed.  As he stretched his body, his ears twitched at the sound of movement in another room . .
. and he could smell eggs cooking.  Duo shrugged, figuring that the human was making himself breakfast.  He headed for the
kitchen, entering the room just in time to see Heero fixing two plates.  Duo blinked.  ‘He made me breakfast?  Even knowing that
I plan to leave today, he made me breakfast?’  Duo swallowed against the wave of sentiment.  This was a human he was
thinking about, and humans were most definitely not to be trusted.

Heero turned and smiled shyly.  “Good . . . you’re awake.”  He said, moving to the table and setting the plates down.  “I didn’t
want to wake you since you were sleeping so soundly . . . but eggs aren’t really good when they’re cold.  Do you drink coffee?  
I made a pot.”

Duo wrinkled his nose as he sat at the table.  “I don’t like coffee all that much.  Water will be fine.”  He replied, picking up his
fork.

Heero shook his head.  “I have some milk left.”  He said, opening his fridge.  “I should probably get some groceries tomorrow
since it’s my day off.  I’m almost out of food.  All I have left is two frozen dinners.  You can take one of them with you to heat
up later . . . somehow.”  He set the drinks down and sat across from Duo.  “I also left some clothes out for you . . . on a
dresser in the bedroom.  Again, they’re a little big, but I left a little money out as well so you can get another outfit or a few
meals.”  He shrugged and started eating.

Duo almost dropped the fork he was holding.  Only one question came to mind.  “Why are you doing so much to help me?”  He
was astounded.  No human had ever been so nice to him before.

Heero looked up at him and smiled a little.  “I like helping people.”  He replied, nodding his head a little with that gentle smile on
his face.

Duo froze and simply stared at Heero as the human finished his own portion of eggs.  ‘People?  He sees me as a person?’  The
concept was nearly too much for Duo to handle.  Heero thought of him as a person, not as an object to be used and abused.  
Why . . . Why was Heero like this?  Why was he so nice?  And just why hadn’t Duo met him before?

Heero frowned, a look of concern coming to his face.  “Don’t you like your eggs scrambled?  I could make them another way if
you want.  I know I probably should have asked, but you looked like you needed the sleep when I checked in on you earlier and
I really didn’t want to wake you.”

“N-No . . . it’s not that.  The eggs are very good.”  Duo said, smiling a little as he shyly ducked his head.  “I was just thinking
about something.”

“Oh, okay.”  Heero nodded, then glanced over at a clock on the wall.  “I have to go . . . I’m going to be late for work.”  He said,
pushing his chair away from the table and rushing to the other room.  

It was then that Duo noticed Heero was wearing the uniform of a nurse . . . come to think of it, Heero had been wearing a
similar uniform last night.  Heero grabbed a jacket and shoved a set of keys into one of his pockets, looking very much like he
was in a hurry.  Must not have been kidding when he said he’d be late, Duo thought.  Lastly, he slipped his feet into a pair of
shoes by the door, looking back at Duo one last time.

“Would you please lock to door as you leave?”  He asked, and was gone before Duo could even make an effort to answer him.

Duo slowly ate his eggs and blinked at the door as it closed shut.  Heero truly was a strange human, that much Duo was certain
of.  Once Duo was finished eating, he cleared the table and started washing the dishes.  There was no need to be a rude
houseguest . . . especially since Heero had gone through the trouble of cooking for him.  Besides, Duo’s resolve to leave had
crumbled a little.

His thoughts swirled around Heero and what the human had said and done.  ‘He . . . he left me alone in his apartment.  I could
do anything . . . take anything . . . but . . .’  Duo looked around the apartment and started thinking aloud.  “He trusted me
enough not to do that to him.”

With that thought in mind, Duo put the last dish away.  He knew what he had to do now.


*****


Heero sighed as he sluggishly climbed the stairs to his apartment.  He was tired . . . but then again, he was always tired.  But
today he felt more weary than usual.  There was a part of him that felt extremely remorseful that Duo was gone.

It had been nice to have someone in the apartment besides himself.  He hadn’t realized how lonely he had gotten until Duo had
come into his life . . . it was almost as bad as before when he had met his last boyfriend.  Heero shuddered, pushing away his
thoughts of that bastard.  It was a subject of pain, one that he’d rather not dwell on right now.

He staggered over to his door, fumbling with his keys.  He was weary . . . maybe he should take some time off of work.  But
no, that thought was tossed aside as quickly as it had come to his mind.  He wouldn’t take any time off.  If he did, then he’d
only be left with time to think.  Besides, there were people that needed him . . . one person in particular actually.  It was better
that he occupy himself . . . at work, and with his volunteering.  He wouldn’t set aside his responsibilities.

He sighed as he opened his door, suppressing a yawn that ached to be let out.  He stepped inside and blinked, a frown coming to
his face.  Duo had left the lights on.  But then he noticed that leaving the lights on hadn’t been the only thing that Duo had done.

His floor had obviously been swept and mopped.  The books and music on the shelves were now standing up, rather than being
scattered as Heero had left them.  His computer magazines were neatly arranged on a polished coffee table.  His apartment was .
. . simply put . . . clean.  He didn’t remember the last time he’d had a clean apartment . . . even the windows were clean.

As he gazed around the clean apartment, the smell of something cooking tickled his nose.  He walked into the kitchen, only to
find that it too had been scrubbed thoroughly.  He was shocked at the most unexpected sight that met his eyes though.

“Duo?”  He blinked, genuinely surprised to see the young man here.

The feline spun and smiled at him.  “Heero!  Welcome home!”

Heero blinked in pure shock and disbelief as Duo gently removed Heero’s jacket and moved to hang it up on a hook near the
door.  Then Heero shook his head in an effort to clear his thoughts.

“Umm . . . not that I’m complaining, but what are you still doing here?”  Heero asked, setting his keys down on the counter.

Duo flushed a little and folded his arms across his chest, giving Heero a soft glare as he strode back over to where Heero stood.  
“After you left for work, I did some thinking.  It’s actually your fault I’m still here.”  He shrugged and made a vague motion
with his arm.  “You had to go and treat me like an EQUAL when I’ve been told all of my life that I was inferior to humans.”  He
shook his head.  “It got me to thinking.  I don’t want to be nabbed by some catcher who will force a mating on me before
shoving me into some damn encampment . . . where more than likely I’ll be used in illegal breeding sessions.  And YOU
obviously need someone to look after you.  If all you eat is fast food and frozen dinners, it’s no wonder you’re as thin as a
rake.  And your apartment . . . . I don’t think I’ve ever seen a place so messy before.”

Heero felt something akin to hope welling up in his heart.  “What are you saying?”  He asked guardedly, not wanting to start
believing this too soon.

Duo smirked and gave Heero a half nod.  “I propose a partnership.  It’s a win-win situation if I stay here, at least it looks that
way to me.  I stay safe from the catchers . . .”  He shuddered . . . obviously still disturbed by the recent memory.  “And you get
someone to keep house for you.”  He held up a hand, stopping Heero from saying anything yet.  “Just remember . . . you may
have all the paraphernalia that comes with owning me . . .”

Heero smiled warmly.  “But this is a partnership, not an ownership.  You’ll only have to wear your tags and collar outside of the
apartment . . . so the catchers don’t bother you.  I won’t tell you where to go or what to do . . . you’re as free as you wish to
be.”  He smiled again, nodding his head.  “And you’re right . . . I spend so much time helping others that I don’t bother with
tending to my own needs.  It’s just better than . . .”  He trailed off, not wanting to get into that train of thought.  He focused on
Duo, on the way the feline relaxed and nodded in agreement.  “Thank you, Duo.  I had hoped that you would want to stay, but I
wanted it to be your decision.”  

With that, he reached over and brushed a stray hair away from Duo’s face.  Duo, in turn, started purring and snuggled up
against Heero, pressing his cheek against Heero’s hand.  It was a sign of trust, one that Heero would never want to take
advantage of.  Duo was a stray . . . one starved for attention and affection . . . Heero didn’t want to hurt him.

“You’re free to leave any time you want to.  I don’t want to own anyone.”  Heero said, gently stroking his fingers across Duo’s
soft cheek.

Duo sighed against him.  “I knew you would understand.  It’s why I decided to stay.  My kind . . . we have an inborn desire to
be needed . . . and I could tell that you needed something to look after you, just as much as I need someone to look after.”

Heero shook his head and gently pushed Duo to arm’s length.  “No . . . I don’t need someTHING to look after me.  I need
someONE.  You may be different than I am, Duo, but you are still a person . . . a very kind person to even want to stay here
with me.  You can think and dream and feel.  You are a PERSON not a THING.”

The smile that Duo gave to him was brilliant.  It warmed Heero’s heart to see it.  Then the smile faded a little and Duo sniffed
the air, his eyes widening before he pushed away and ran to the kitchen.

“Duo?”  Heero called, confused as he looked to where the feline had run.

“Damn . . . I think I burned dinner.”  Duo muttered, getting a pair of oven mitts and opening the oven.  

In a moment, Heero was surprised yet again by Duo, as the young feline pulled a baking pan from the oven, on which were a
number of well-done biscuits.  It was then that Heero noticed the large pot on his stove, and the salad bowl set on one counter.

“You cooked?”  Heero asked, his mouth dropping open in shock.  “Where did you get the food?”

Duo turned off the stove and oven, dropping the biscuits into a bowl, shoving the empty pan back in the oven.  He smiled as he
gave his attention to Heero, a faint blush coloring his cheeks.

“Well . . . since I wasn’t leaving . . . I didn’t really need that money you left.”  He smiled a little and shrugged.  “I looked up the
nearest grocery store in the phone book and asked if they delivered, and they did so I ordered just what I needed to cook you
dinner tonight.  You need a decent meal for a change and so do I.”  He motioned to the chair.  “Sit down and I’ll serve you
dinner.  You look exhausted.”

Heero sat gratefully.  It was true, he did feel dead on his feet.  “All right.  But if this is a partnership, I cook breakfast.  Agreed?”

Duo smiled warmly as he started dishing some stew for Heero.  “Agreed.  So . . . when do we go and . . . you know . . . ?”

Heero answered the question that he knew the feline was asking.  “Well . . . since I am off tomorrow, we’d best go and get you
registered then.  Better to get it over with quickly so you can start enjoying the fresh air without worrying about the catchers.  
Besides . . .”  He took in a deep breath through his nose and smiled appreciatively, his stomach grumbling in hunger.  “Oh . . .
this smells good.  Anyway . . . we have to go to the market.  I didn’t leave all that much money for you.  It was probably just
enough to buy groceries for a few days . . . and you should get food that you like.”

Duo leaned back against the counter and smiled.  “The only problem with that is that I don’t know what I like.  Whenever I had
a keeper, they only fed me scraps when they deemed fit to feed me . . . and then I was eating garbage out of dumpsters.  I can
cook . . . but I’ve never been allowed to taste anything I’ve made.  It was enough to know that people liked it.”  He ducked his
head and flushed a little.  “I liked the eggs you made me today.”

Heero grinned, oddly pleased that the feline had enjoyed breakfast.  “Well . . . then we’ll learn by trial and error what you like
and what you don’t.  Starting with this delicious-looking stew.”  He sat back and folded his arms over his chest, fighting off his
fatigue.  Duo was NOT going to be a pet that he fed when he saw fit.  He wanted Duo to be his equal.  “I won’t even eat a bite
of the salad you made until you serve yourself an equal portion of this meal and sit at the table with me.  We’re partners, and
partners eat together.”

Duo blinked, then let out a short laugh.  “All right.”  He smiled, his eyes glittering like jewels.  With that, the feline quickly set
another place at the table and served himself some stew and salad, taking a golden biscuit and setting it by his bowl.

Heero found that he liked to hear Duo laugh.  He hoped to hear it again . . . and soon.


*****


Duo worriedly watched Heero as the human ate his dinner.  To be honest, Heero looked more than just tired . . . he looked like
he was about to faint any minute.  His eyes were half-closed . . . it wouldn’t be long until he fell face-first into his bowl, Duo
was certain of that.

“Hey, Heero . . .”  Duo began, not sure if it was his place to say anything at all.  But then he remembered that he was going to
be Heero’s companion . . . that he was going to be taking care of him.  So why not start taking care of him now?  “Why don’t
you go get some sleep?”

Heero barely managed to nod his head as he dropped his spoon into the near-empty bowl.  He pushed himself to his feet, only to
fall back into his seat with a groan and begin to slump forward.  Duo was out of his seat in an instant.  He caught the young
man before his head hit the table, uneasily hefting the limp form into his arms.  Duo regretted his own body’s weakness . . . he
wasn’t as strong as usual, given the fact that he had been starving just a couple of days ago.  He’d have to work on getting
stronger.

“You can take the bedroom, Duo.”  Heero sleepily mumbled, his face falling against Duo’s chest.  “The couch is fine for me.”

Duo shook his head, a small smile coming to his face.  “Uh-uh, no way, Heero.”  Although he appreciated Heero’s kindness, he
wasn’t about to kick Heero out of his bedroom for the second night in a row.  So Duo carried Heero into the bedroom, being
careful as he set the young human down on his bed.  The two of them could easily share the bed . . . it was big enough for the
both of them.

He rushed out of the room a moment later, taking a few minutes to hastily clean up the kitchen and put away the leftovers.  He
turned off the lights, made sure the stove and oven were off . . . locked the front door.  Then he returned to the bedroom,
deciding that now was as good a time as any to go to bed . . . he was tired as well anyway.

Duo moved over to the nearest dresser in the bedroom, rooting around in the drawers for something that Heero could wear to
bed.  He didn’t bother looking for anything for himself, the sweat pants and T-shirt that Heero had left out for him this morning
were good enough to sleep in.  The fact that Heero had even cut a hole in the back of the garment for Duo’s tail had left Duo
feeling touched . . . it was nice of him to be so considerate.

Duo frowned when he couldn’t find anything . . . at least nothing that looked comfortable enough to sleep in.  He shrugged,
grabbing a gray tank top out of the top drawer.  He didn’t mind if Heero only wore his boxers and the tank top to bed.  At least
he’d be covered, that was enough.

Feeling a blush coming to his cheeks, Duo undressed Heero.  He removed his shoes and socks, dropping them to the side of the
bed, easing the shirt off of Heero’s body.  He frowned as he found a long scar along Heero’s side, idly wondering what could
have caused it.  Blinking, Duo reached out, drawing a delicate finger along the ragged line, before he finally shook his head and
got back to the task at hand.

He pulled off Heero’s pants, folding them neatly and setting them aside.  Then he pulled Heero into a sitting position, lightly
slapping his face to rouse him somewhat.  Heero blinked his eyes open a little, swaying where he sat.  Duo took the opportunity
to help Heero put on his tank top.

“Come on, Heero . . . I need you to get up for a moment.”  Duo said, making sure the top covered Heero well enough.  Then he
wrapped an arm around Heero’s body and pulled him to his feet.

Heero’s voice was incoherent when he replied, and he closed his eyes again, letting his head slump against Duo’s shoulder.  Duo
sighed, yanking back the blankets on the bed before helping Heero to lie down, arranging him in a suitably comfortable position.

Duo went and turned off the light, his eyes adjusting to the lack in lighting rather quickly.  It was one of the benefits of not being
human . . . his senses were better.  He climbed into bed beside Heero, grabbing the blankets and pulling them up around them.  
With a deep, contented purr, Duo snuggled up along Heero’s side, rubbing his face and upper chest against Heero’s shoulder
briefly as he smiled . . . he liked being touched and reveled in any opportunity he got to be in contact with someone . . . he had
gotten so little attention before in his life.

Heero’s hand came up, sluggishly brushing across his cheek.  Duo all but fell into the contact, his purring growing louder as he
cuddled up to Heero, finally settling himself along Heero’s side.  He didn’t think he’d ever let Heero get this close to him when
the human was awake.  But at the moment, Heero was asleep, so he wasn’t much of a threat.

With his smile fixed in place, Duo happily slipped off to sleep, feeling safe for the first time in years.



To Be Continued . . .