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

Notes:  Catherine gets ready for her business trip when Quatre pays her a visit.  Duo takes care of Heero after having trouble
sleeping.



Strays and Misfits



Part Fourteen


Catherine sighed as she checked the contents of her amenities' case . . . toothbrush, toothpaste, little vials of various soaps as
well as makeup.  She nodded and zipped it shut before placing it in her handbag.  She had really wanted to help Quatre settle in,
but sometimes things just came up.  She would have refused this trip, but she didn’t want Quatre to feel as if he were a burden.  
The poor kitten already felt like a nuisance.  She wouldn’t add to his distress.

Almost as if the very thought of Quatre had the power to summon him, the timid feline peeked into the room, his ears lowered
slightly.  “Miss Catherine?”  He asked in a small voice.

Catherine turned and smiled.  “Quatre!  Whatever are you doing out of bed?  You need rest.”  She walked over and gently placed
a hand on his forehead, frowning a little when she gauged his temperature to be a little bit warm.

“I had a bad dream.”  He said with a shrug, passing it off as if it were nothing - and it probably was a common occurrence to
the kitten.  “What . . . umm . . . you’re going somewhere?”

Catherine smiled encouragingly at the little blonde and motioned that he could come into her room.  She lightly bit her lip to
prevent herself from giggling at how cute he was.  The way he was carrying that stuffed rabbit around was simply adorable.  
She didn’t want him to feel embarrassed.

“Yes, Quatre, I have a business trip.  If you’d rather I stay and help you get adjusted, I’ll call a friend right now and see if I can
make arrangements to stay here with you.”

Quatre blinked and then shook his head.  “No!  No, I don’t want to cause any more trouble.”  After a heavy pause, his ears
lowered further and he took on a pose that was extremely submissive, indicating that he expected to be struck.  “Is . . . is
Trowa all right?  I-I didn’t MEAN to . . . you aren’t going to send me away, are you?  I wouldn’t blame you if you did, but . . .”

Catherine dropped the blouse she had been folding and ran to hug Quatre close.  “No . . . oh, sweetie, no!  I’m not going to send
you away.  Trowa is fine and I’m sure he understands that it was just an instinctive reaction.”  She rubbed Quatre’s back as the
feline sniffled against her.  “I’m not angry with you, Quatre.  It’s okay.  Was that what your bad dream was about?”

The young feline nodded a little.  “I was . . . sent back to the camp.  And . . . and . . . they did horrible things.  They hurt me.”  
He said, shuddering violently.

Catherine tightened her embrace slightly.  “Sshh, it’s okay.  You never have to ever go back there again.  They closed that
horrible place down years ago.”  She said, pulling back and caressing his tear-stained face with one hand.  “Come on, I think
there’s a brownie downstairs with your name on it.  You were too worn out after I tended to your injuries and I didn’t have the
heart to keep you awake just to have a snack.”

Quatre’s tentative smile almost lit up the room.  “I’ve never had a brownie.”  He said, his ears perking up slightly.

Catherine smiled warmly.  “I’ll fix you some warm milk, too.  After your snack, you’re to go straight to bed.  I want you to get
well so you can leave your room without feeling faint.”

“Okay.”  Quatre said, nodding his head.

Wrapping an arm around Quatre’s waist, Catherine led the skittish feline from the bedroom, escorting him downstairs and into
the kitchen.  She got him settled in a chair at the kitchen table and smiled as she grabbed the plate of brownies off of the
counter, setting it in front of the little blonde after peeling off the plastic wrap.

“Here you go.  You can have one.”  Catherine grinned, knowing it would be good for him to make some choices on his own.  
Leaving Quatre to pick out his brownie, Catherine got the milk out of the fridge and a pot from the cabinet.  As she warmed the
milk, she heard as Quatre asked a quiet question.

“A-Are you sure Trowa’s okay?”  He asked in a delicate whisper.

Catherine turned, casting a sad smile at Quatre.  He hadn’t taken a brownie yet.  In fact, he was simply sitting there, staring
down at his hands.  “I’m sure.  I had a look at it.  It wasn’t that bad.  I know you didn’t mean to bite him.”  She stirred the milk
slowly.  “If you still feel bad about it in the morning, you can always apologize to Trowa when he wakes up.”

Quatre nodded, saying nothing more on the subject.  Timidly, he reached out and picked up a brownie, his hands trembling as he
did so.  Catherine turned off the stove, pouring the warmed milk into a mug, all while she watched Quatre out of the corner of
her eye.  She smiled as he sniffed at the brownie with a kitten’s curiosity.  As Catherine moved to sit at the table, pushing the
mug of milk in front of the little blonde, Quatre darted his tongue out to taste the brownie.  Barely an instant later, his eyes
brightened and his ears perked up.

Catherine smiled, watching as Quatre set about eating the brownie.  A smile remained fixed on his face the whole time.  She was
glad he was enjoying it.  At least he was feeling some happiness, and that was a good thing.

He sipped at his milk between bites of the brownie.  And it wasn’t long before Catherine noticed he was getting tired again.  As
he swallowed the last of his brownie and finished off his milk, his eyes fell completely shut.  He leaned forward, looking about
ready to drop his head to the table.  Catherine smiled as she got up and walked around to his side of the table, easing him out of
his seat.

“Okay, back to bed.”  She said with a smile, wrapping her arm around his waist to keep him from falling over.

Quatre’s eyes opened a little.  His ears fell and he whimpered, looking to Catherine nervously.  “C-Can . . . Can I s-sleep w-with
you?”  He asked, fear dripping from his every word.

The sheer terror she heard in his voice melted her.  She couldn’t say no, not to such a heartfelt request.  “Oh, you poor baby.  
Of course you can.”  She said, smoothing her hand along the side of his face.  “Just don’t make a habit of this, okay?  I don’t
usually take full-grown men to my bed.”  At Quatre’s blush, Catherine laughed, pressing a soft kiss to his cheek.  “You are
simply adorable.”  She said with a smile, only causing his blush to deepen further.

Quatre ducked his head, hiding the smile that curled his lips.  Catherine chose not to embarrass him further and simply urged
him to walk, knowing that a good night’s rest was what he needed now.  Side by side, the two of them climbed the stairs,
heading back to Catherine’s bedroom.

When they reached it, Catherine made sure Quatre was seated comfortably on the bed before she went and moved her half-
packed suitcase off of the end.  Then, with a smile on her face, she helped Quatre to lie down got him settled.  Striding around
to the other side of the bed, she got in as well, turning off the light and adjusting the blankets.

In the darkness that bathed the room, she could just barely make out Quatre’s features, could see the fear there.  She didn’t like
seeing the little blonde so stricken, so she did the only thing that she could, the only thing she knew to do.  She reached out and
curled her arms around Quatre’s frail body, pulling him into a gentle embrace.  Catherine smiled, remembering how she had
often held Trowa like this, how sometimes she still held him.  His own nightmares were a plague to him, sleep was difficult for
him more often than not.  Thankfully, tonight was not one of those nights.

A light purr began rumbling in Quatre’s chest as Catherine held him close, his thin arms wrapping around her body slowly, as if
he was unsure if he was permitted to hold her in return.  He timidly curled closer to her, nuzzling his cheek against her chest as
he settled himself, his stuffed rabbit buried between their bodies.  Smiling, Catherine delicately ran her fingers through his silken
hair, scratching lightly at his ears.  In moments, he was purring so loudly that Catherine could feel it reverberating in her own
chest.

Pressing a soft kiss to Quatre’s forehead, Catherine closed her eyes.  She could only hope that Quatre’s sleep would remain
peaceful for the rest of the night.  He needed rest if he was expected to recover.


*****


Duo groaned as he rolled onto his stomach, clutching tightly at his pillow.  He took a breath and sighed, letting it out with an
irritated grumble as he rolled onto his back once again.

Everything in his room was fresh and new.  His bed was soft and his pillows fluffy.  And yet, Duo just couldn’t get to sleep.  He
was worried.  He couldn’t help it.  Heero had been so terrified.  And Duo had just put him to bed and left him alone.

“Well, it’s obvious I won’t be able to sleep in here tonight.”  He said as he let out a long breath.  He got out of his bed and
walked to Heero’s room, biting his lip lightly at the soft sniffles that he heard from within.  ‘This is no good.  It isn’t right.  He
needs to rest.’  He cleared his throat and lightly knocked on the door.

“Come in, Duo.”  Heero’s voice called, his tone full of sadness.

Duo turned the doorknob, pushing the door open slightly and peering in.  He smiled, although he was far from happy at seeing
Heero so unhappy.  “Hey, I was having a hard time sleeping, and I was a little concerned about you.  You were pretty upset.  D-
Do you want me to stay in here with you tonight?”

Heero blinked and sat up tiredly.  Even in the dark, Duo could make out all of his features and movements.  “I . . . I’d like that.”  
He smiled a little, the expression never reaching his eyes.  “Thanks, Duo . . . for caring.  It means a lot to me.”  With that, Heero
moved over to make room for Duo.

Duo hurried over, climbing into bed and curled up next to Heero under the blankets.  “Hey, you’re an easy guy to care about.  
You’re really great, you know?  Not a lot of humans would go out of their way to help a stray like me.”  He smiled up at Heero
warmly.  “And then you helped Quatre.  You didn’t have to do that.”

Heero shook his head, laying down.  “Yes, I did.  I could never stand seeing another person in pain.”  He sighed.  “Human or
feline . . . I couldn’t just stand by and do nothing when I knew I could be of help.”

Duo started purring softly.  “But you can’t bring yourself to care about yourself, can you?”  He nuzzled Heero’s shoulder
without realizing the affection he was showing.  “Then I’ll just have to care about you enough for the both of us.”

The human shuddered beside him and at first, Duo thought he had said something wrong.  Heero took in a shaky breath, his
body beginning to tremble.  When the sound of sniffling caught his ears, Duo realized.  Heero was crying.

“Oh, Heero . . .”  He said breathlessly, his heart aching for the young man.  Who had hurt him like this?  Who had dared to scar
such a nice guy?  Duo shook his head.  It didn’t matter now.  What did matter now, was that he help Heero.  Without a further
word, he reached out and pulled Heero closer to him, thinking of nothing besides helping his friend.

Heero shuddered again, his arms staying limp between them.  He wouldn’t return the embrace, yet he buried his face in Duo’s
chest, his tears dampening the T-shirt the feline had worn to bed.

Duo threw himself into helping Heero.  He settled his chin atop Heero’s head, a purr beginning to rumble in his chest - light at
first, then building as time went on.  He knew that Heero liked hearing the sound.  He wanted Heero to feel better and helping
Heero did give him pleasure.  With a soft smile on his face, Duo began to hum, his heart reminding him of a sweet lullaby his
mother used to sing to him.  The words were faded from his memory, but the tune remained.

He swept his hands along Heero’s body, stroking the back of his head, caressing his back, offering what comfort he could.  He
nuzzled his cheek against Heero’s head, all the while purring and humming.  And then the words returned to his memory and he
whispered them softly.

It wasn’t until he finished reciting the lullaby that he realized Heero had grown quiet.  Moving slowly, he looked down, a smile
spreading across his face as he found Heero’s eyes closed, his breathing even and deep as he slept.  Duo was glad thathe had
helped in this small way.  Keeping his smile on his face, he settled himself down, staying close to Heero as he joined the human
in slumber.

Duo didn’t know why, but he felt strongly protective of Heero.  He knew, deep in his heart, that he’d do his best to make sure
that no one ever hurt Heero again.  If anyone tried to harm him, whether emotionally or physically, they’d have to go through
Duo first.



To Be Continued . . .