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

Notes:  Duo makes dinner and wakes Heero up to eat.  Catherine changes Quatre’s bandages.  Then Heero makes an important
phone call to someone he hasn’t contacted in years.



Strays and Misfits



Part Twelve


Duo lowered the heat on the vegetables he was making and checked on the meatloaf.  The movers were gone.  His bedroom
was set up just the way he wanted it.  Everything was going well.  And it looked like dinner was done too.  He nodded in
satisfaction at the scent coming from the meat.  Duo knew they wouldn’t finish all the food tonight, but at least Heero would
have something more filling for lunch tomorrow than just a salad.

He bit his lip lightly in a brief moment of indecision.  He really didn’t want to wake Heero, although the young man did need to
eat a healthy dinner.  ‘Well, he can always go back to sleep afterward.  He needs to eat.’  Duo told himself.  With that decision
made, he headed for Heero’s bedroom, pausing only to grab the hated bottle of ear drops from the bathroom.

He frowned in concern as he entered Heero’s bedroom.  Although asleep, it was obvious that Heero’s dreams were not
peaceful.  The young human was tossing and turning, clawing at the bedding below him as he let out the occasional whimper.  
He whispered with choked cries, telling someone or something to stop.  Duo didn’t like the sight or sound of this.

Duo walked over, looking down on Heero with concern, watching every labored breath.  Worry crept over him at the sight of
Heero’s sweat-covered body writhing in discomfort.  It wasn’t right.  Heero should only have sweet dreams.

Duo was cautious as he took a seat on the side of Heero’s bed, his ears twitching as he reached out to gently shake Heero’s
shoulder.  “Heero?  Dinner is ready.”  He whispered, not knowing what else to say in this instance.

Heero’s eyes snapped open and they darted to look at Duo, a frightened gasp coming from his lips before he calmed.  “Duo?”  
He asked shakily, trembling setting into his body.

Duo felt his heart throb at the pain in Heero’s eyes and instinctively wrapped his arms around the fragile-looking human, holding
him with the utmost care.  He purred softly when Heero’s breath hitched, wanting nothing more than to ease Heero’s psyche.  
Heero’s shaking arms circled him, his fingers digging into Duo’s shirt.  The way he clutched to Duo, it was obvious that Heero
was frightened about something.  Perhaps the dream he had suffered through had some basis in reality.  Duo wanted to help
soothe him.

“It’s over . . . real or imagined, it can’t hurt you anymore.  I won’t let it.”  Duo whispered, nuzzling Heero’s head with his
cheek.

Had anyone told him the previous week that he’d be protective of a human, he would have laughed hysterically.  At the moment
though, all that mattered to Duo was getting Heero to a healthy weight and seeing to his emotional well-being.  Heero needed
him.  It was a truth that Duo could not deny.

“Come on . . . dinner’s ready, and you have to put these damn drops in my ears.  I can’t bear to do it myself.”  Duo said, in a
way of changing the subject.

The sight of Heero’s tentative smile made the upcoming discomfort worth it.  “Yeah, I’ll be right out. I just want to change.”

Duo nodded, pulling himself away from Heero.  He understood.  Heero had to be uncomfortable with his clothing drenched in
sweat the way they were.  “All right.  I’ll just go start dishing up dinner.  Okay?”

Heero nodded, rubbing the back of his hand across his face.  “Thanks . . . thank you, Duo.”  He whispered, turning away.

Duo nodded at Heero’s back, understanding.  With a smile, he quietly left the bedroom, holding the bottle of ear drops in one
hand as he made his way back to the kitchen.


*****


Catherine hummed a happy melody as she worked.  The song was more for Quatre’s benefit than for her own.  She was
tending to Quatre’s wounds - his fingers at the moment - applying the ointments that had been prescribed to him and wrapping
them in bandages again.

Seeing how badly hurt Quatre really was, made her anything but happy.  However, the one time she had stopped humming, the
poor kitten had looked at her as if he had done something terribly wrong.  At the moment, his eyes were closed and his head
was moving slightly to the sound of Catherine’s voice.  The one thing that pleased Catherine was the soft purr she could hear
coming from the feline.  It was a timid sound, and every so often he would stop purring and tighten his free arm around the
stuffed rabbit that he held.

“I’m almost done, sweetie.”  She hushed, taping off the end of the bandage.  “Trowa?”

Trowa flinched before he approached.  “Yes, Catherine?”

Catherine sighed a little.  ‘He’ll have to get used to Quatre soon, or else the kit will want to leave.’  She thought.  She smiled
however, and motioned for her younger brother to sit beside the feline.  “I’ll have to check his tail, and that will be the worst
bit.”  She stroked Quatre’s face as the feline whimpered.  “I know, sweetie, but it has to be done.  I’ve got some nice warm
milk for you when I’m done though . . . and maybe one of my homemade brownies.”

Quatre’s ears perked up.  “Brownies?”  He asked, his eyes widening slightly.  “I’ve heard of those . . . are they really as good as
they say?”

Catherine chuckled.  “You’ll have to be the judge of that.”  She smiled, brushing her hand along Quatre’s arm.  “Trowa seems to
like them well enough.  But you deserve a treat for being so brave and the care instructions from the doctor doesn’t say anything
against it.”  She gestured to Trowa, wanting the little blonde to understand.  “I want Trowa here so you can have someone to
hold onto while I’m checking your tail.  Sometimes, you need a real person to comfort you.”

Trowa, to his credit, didn’t retreat back to his shadowed corner at the prospect of being in contact with Quatre.  He only paused
for a second before he took his seat on the sofa beside the little blonde.

Catherine gave Trowa a smile full of pride and gratitude.  It was obvious that he wanted to help the injured feline.  She turned
her smile to Quatre.  “I won’t lie, Quatre.  This will hurt.  I’ve met enough felines to know that the tail is one of the most
sensitive parts of your body.”

Quatre simply whimpered and nodded.  He turned toward Trowa, curling against him, his head against the taller boy’s chest.  
Catherine let her smile fade, delicately reaching out to take hold of Quatre’s tail, admiring the softness of the white fur for a brief
moment.

“Trowa, hold onto him.”  Catherine said, gently removing the bandages that bound a portion of his tail, as well as the splint.

Trowa nodded, shakily easing his arms around Quatre’s body, holding the trembling blonde with a great deal of care.  It was
only when she was sure that Trowa had a good hold on the blonde, that Catherine carefully squeezed the tail, feeling for
anything out of the ordinary.  The instructions had said she was to make sure his tail was mending straight.

Quatre cried out, his body beginning to shudder as he tried to crawl closer to Trowa’s body, to move away from Catherine’s
hands.  He threw his arms around Trowa, only to bite Trowa’s shoulder in reaction to Catherine’s prodding.

“I’m sorry.”  Catherine said to both young men, seeing the look of pain entering her brother’s eyes.  The cries made by the
young feline ate away at her, and she made quick work of replacing the splint and wrapping his tail once again, satisfied that he
was healing correctly.

“It’s okay . . . sshh . . . it’s okay.”  She hushed, wrapping her arms around Quatre and easing him out of her brother’s arms.  
“You all right, Trowa?”

Quatre removed his fangs from Trowa’s shoulder, blood staining his lips as he allowed Catherine to hold him.  He looked at
Trowa with wide eyes, his ears falling.  “I’m sorry . . . I’m sorry!”  He cried, turning and throwing himself into Catherine’s
arms.

“I . . . I’ll be all right, Catherine.”  Trowa said, holding his hand over the fresh wound in his shoulder.  “I . . . I think I’ll go take
care of this.”  With that, he quickly rose from his seat and fled the room.

Quatre choked out a sob, his body shuddering.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to hurt him.”  He cried, nuzzling his face against
Catherine’s chest.  “Please don’t punish me too badly.  I didn’t mean it.  Please . . . please.”

Catherine’s heart broke at the sound of his whimpering, at the feel of his tears soaking through the fabric of her shirt.  She set
her hand atop Quatre’s head, lightly stroking his hair.  Gently, she began to rock back and forth, humming once more.

Slowly, Quatre grew quiet.  Catherine looked down, a sad smile on her face as she found the little blonde to be sleeping.  “I wish
I could find the men that hurt you so badly.  If only to kick their asses myself.”  Catherine said, a sigh passing her lips as she
eased Quatre from the floor.  He roused somewhat, purring lightly as he snuggled his face against her.  “Let’s get you to bed.”  
She smiled, carefully helping the dozing feline to walk back to his bedroom.

She tucked him in with the utmost care, staying by his side even after she was done.  Catherine simply worried for him.  
Tomorrow she was leaving town for business.  She hoped that Trowa would be able to take care of Quatre on his own.

Speaking of Trowa, she wondered how he was doing.  She might as well go see if he was all right.  Feline teeth probably hurt
like a bitch.  She rose to her feet and left the bedroom, casting her gaze back at Quatre one last time before she turned off the
light and closed the door.


*****


Heero smiled a little as he pushed his empty plate away.  “That was very good, Duo.”  He commented, rubbing at his eyes
tiredly.  Even though he had napped, he was still weary.  Then again, he was always tired.  He didn’t remember the last time he
had actually felt well rested.

“Thanks, Heero.  But I think maybe you should get back to bed.  I can put the leftovers away.”  Duo said, his ears falling a little
as he regarded Heero.

“Thanks, Duo.  But I have a phone call to make first.”  Heero pushed himself away from the table, rising to his feet in one fluid
motion.  “Although the thought of sleep is a welcome idea, it’s an important call.”

Duo nodded.  “Okay, I understand.”  He smiled.  He got up and went to the kitchen, probably to put everything away, while
Heero went to the living room to make his call.

Heero picked up the phone and dialed a number he knew all too well.  The familiar voice on the other end caused a smile to
spread across his face.  “Treize?  It’s Heero.”

“Heero!”  The voice of Heero’s elder half-brother called out with a happy chuckle.  It died away only a moment later though.  
“Okay, what’s wrong?  You’re not hurt or something are you?  Did that bastard come back?”

“No . . . no.”  Heero said quickly, his body breaking out into shivers.  “It’s not anything bad.  I . . . I was just wondering if I
could borrow Une from you a few nights a week.  I’d be willing to pay for her services.”

“Heero, what use could you possibly have for a tutor?  For a feline at that matter?”  Treize asked, his voice laced with suspicion.

Heero smiled.  “Well, I have a feline myself now.  He was a stray, I couldn’t let him stay out there on the streets, it’s too
dangerous.  And he doesn’t know how to read.  So I thought that maybe Une would be willing to help.  She’d have two students
actually.  I also delivered a Winner feline to a friend of mine.”

“A Winner, eh?  I had thought they all perished.”  Treize sighed.  “I’ll ask Une when she gets home with Mariemaia.  But I’m
sure she’d love to help you out.”

“Thanks, Treize.  I’d better get going.  I have to get up early for work tomorrow.”  Heero said, fearing that his brother would
only bring up more painful topics if they continued to talk.  “T-Tell Zechs I said hello.”

“Sure, no problem, Heero.  I’ll give Zechs your regards.  You should come by to visit us.  With Zechs laid up, your visit would
be welcome.”  Treize said.

Heero frowned.  To visit would mean bringing up the past.  He didn’t want to do that.  Still, he couldn’t be so rude to his
brother.  “Yeah . . . sure.  Bye, Treize.”  He said, then swiftly hung up, not waiting for Treize to say anything more.

Suddenly, he felt sick to his stomach.  He dropped to the couch, shuddering violently as he wrapped his arms around himself.  
To think, it had only taken one conversation with Treize to bring up the past, to return the memories that Heero dreaded.  He
brought his legs up, burying his face in his knees.  He didn’t want to remember.  And only Treize, Zechs, and Une knew the
secrets he was keeping.  To talk to Treize again - he choked back a cry.  He didn’t want to remember.



To Be Continued . . .