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

Notes:  Duo helps Heero get ready for the day.  Sally arrives to help with Quatre.  Treize goes on an errand leaving Zechs in
Une’s care.  And Wufei finally makes his appearance.



Strays and Misfits



Part Sixteen


Duo breathed in deeply through his nose.  It was an old habit from his time on the streets that he had gained to determine
whether it was safe to face the day or if he should just play dead.  The slight salty scent of tears concerned him and he opened
his eyes to regard Heero, who was holding onto Duo as if he were a giant living teddy bear.  Duo looked over Heero’s shoulder
at the clock.  Deciding it was time for Heero to awaken, he nuzzled Heero’s shoulder.

“Heero.  C’mon, you gotta get up now.”  He spoke softly.  As much as he would rather stay here in bed with Heero, he knew
that Heero had to go to work today.  He didn’t want Heero to be late.

“Mmph!”  Heero groaned, tightening his arms around Duo a little.  A small furrow appeared between his eyebrows before he
opened his eyes.

Duo smiled in open amusement at the confused expression on Heero’s face and chuckled softly as the human blushed and sat
up.  “Don’t worry.  I didn’t mind,”  Duo said, not wanting Heero to feel self-conscious.  Not only had he not minded Heero
holding him, he had enjoyed it.  “Go take a shower and get dressed while I make breakfast and box your lunch.  How do you
like your coffee?”

He got out of bed with a slight bounce.  He had always loved mornings.  It meant a day full of new possibilities were waiting for
him.  Now that he had a human to look after, the possibilities grew to enormous proportions.

“Umm, two and a half sugars, no cream.”  Heero said, pushing the blankets away.  “You know where to find it, right?”  Heero
rose from bed, walking to his dresser to gather his clothing.

Do nodded.  “Yeah, in the cabinet above the coffee maker.  The simplest and most logical place to put all the coffee-making
supplies.”  He grinned.  “Besides, I had plenty of time to acquaint myself with your kitchen that first day I was here . . . and last
night when I was putting away all the groceries.”

Duo delighted in the smile that Heero gave him, then he ran out of the bedroom.  He’d take his own shower after Heero left for
work.

Duo smiled, making sure his hair was secure as he walked to the kitchen to start breakfast.


*****


Heero sighed at the feeling of the warm water running over him.  A shower always helped to energize him more than a full night’
s worth of sleep.  Of course, getting that full night of sleep had also helped him a great deal.  He couldn’t remember the last time
he had slept so soundly.  ‘For the first time in a long time, I think I might actually drink the coffee JUST because I like the way
it tastes.’  Heero smiled again at the thought.  He knew that Duo had reminded him of that first day just to get him to smile.  It
had worked beautifully.  Heero still felt a thrill of joy at the memory of coming home to find Duo waiting for him.

Shaking his head, since he could hear some upbeat music coming from somewhere in his apartment, Heero quickly cleansed his
body.  ‘With Duo here, I’ll actually have time to eat my breakfast.  I normally set my coffee maker the previous night and take
the time to drink it while I watch the news.’  He finished his shower and then dressed himself, grabbing another towel to run
through his hair as he went into the kitchen.

Duo was there dishing up two plates of eggs while the radio was tuned to a dance station.  Duo turned and smiled at Heero as he
turned the radio off.  “Sit down at the table and I’ll bring your breakfast over to you.  Your coffee is already on the table.  I
poured it when I heard you turn the water off.”

Heero sat down.  He would have objected that Duo didn’t have to wait on him, but Heero knew that Duo was doing it because
he actually wanted to.  He smiled as Duo placed two plates on the table before sitting himself.  There were already two glasses
of milk on the table as well as Heero’s coffee.

“So, what’s on your agenda for today?”  Duo asked curiously as he took a bite of the omelette he had made.  He smiled
serenely, his eyes slipping closed.  “I never knew my cooking tasted so good!”

Heero let out a short laugh.  “So THAT’S why you’re doing all this.  You’re not doing it for me at all.  You just want to eat your
own cooking!”

Duo paused, looking worried.  Then he must have seen the teasing glint in Heero’s eyes because he relaxed and sighed
melodramatically.  “Oh, my . . . you found me out.  What am I to do?  Can you live with that?”

Heero shrugged.  “I guess I’ll have to.”

They looked at one another for a moment and then laughed.

Duo cleared his throat.  “So, what are you doing today?”

Heero shrugged.  “I never know.  It could be checking temperatures and such, or it could be someone who needs a sponge
bath.  Or perhaps something more involved than that.  It’s not easy work and it isn’t pretty some of the time.  But I like to feel
as if I make a difference.”  He took a sip of his coffee and nearly spit it out.  “What IS this?”

Duo blinked and smirked.  “Coffee,” he stated.

Heero grimaced.  “It’s VILE!  It tastes like . . .”  Heero frowned as he sipped again.  “It IS!  It’s DECAF!”

Duo shrugged and looked down.  “Caffeine is bad for you,” he whispered, pushing his fork around on the plate.

Heero didn’t want to see Duo beating himself up about this so he smiled.  “It’s all right.  I guess I did drink too much coffee.”  
He pushed the mug away and picked up the glass of milk, deciding this would be the better of the two drinks.

Besides, the smile that lit up Duo’s face made the sacrifice well worth it.


*****


“The end,” Catherine sighed, closing the book.

She had read all the stories inside the book to Quatre, hoping that it would calm the feline.  It didn’t appear to be doing much
good though.  He remained underneath the bed, hidden from sight.

Catherine looked up as Trowa ran into the bedroom, looking very much out of breath.  “Trowa, what’s wrong?” she asked,
fearing for her little brother.

Trowa’s face was pale, his eyes wide with fear.  His voice came out quiet, almost a whisper.  “The d-door . . . Doctor Po . . .
sh-she’s here,” he said, his body shivering.

Catherine stood up, crossing the room to stand in front of Trowa.  She ran her hands up and down his arms, hushing him with
gentle tones.  “It’s okay, Trowa.  Why don’t you go to your room while I let her in, okay?”

Trowa nodded, not wasting a moment as he hurried from the room.  Although, he did cast one last glance back at the bed before
he walked through the doorway.

Catherine turned back to the bed.  “Quatre, Doctor Po is here.”

When she received no answer, she knelt down to peek under the bed.  What she saw nearly broke her heart.  Her reading had
accomplished something.  Quatre was curled up and fast asleep.  Catherine was tempted to wake him, but felt that rousing him
might frighten the poor feline even more.  ‘Best leave him there.’  She sighed, then stood and headed downstairs.

As she entered the front room, she smiled, seeing the doctor standing just inside the house.  “I’m Catherine Bloom.  I believe
you met my younger brother Trowa a moment ago.”

The doctor smiled pleasantly.  “I’m Doctor Po.  Please, call me Sally.  I apologize for startling your brother.”

Catherine shook her head.  “Don’t worry about it.  He’s just terribly afraid of strangers.  I’m actually surprised that he was able
to open the door to let you in.  Usually, he hides the moment he hears the doorbell.”  She took a breath, then addressed the
reason she had called Sally.  “I’m sorry for calling you out here, but Quatre is hiding and I don’t want to scare him.”

Sally held up a hand.  “It’s quite all right.  What startled him?” she asked as Catherine started walking back up the stairs.  Sally
followed her.

Catherine sighed sadly.  “I think he and Trowa startled each other.  Trowa jumped awake and Quatre must be afraid that we’ll
hurt him if he comes out.  I can understand his fear.  It is only his second day here and he doesn’t really know us well.”

Sally nodded in understanding as she entered the bedroom behind Catherine.  “He’s under the bed?”

“Yes.  He’s fallen asleep.  Both Trowa and I have tried to get him to come out, but the poor kitten is so scared.”

Smiling slightly, Sally nodded.  She walked over to the bed and knelt down, bending so that she could peer underneath.  
“Quatre?  Quatre, wake up please,” she said gently.

Quatre’s voice sounded so weak as he responded.  “Huh?”

Catherine stood back and watched, biting nervously on her bottom lip as Sally spoke to the timid feline, her voice always warm
and coaxing.  “Hello, Quatre.  You remember me, right?  You met me yesterday.”

“The nice doctor.”  There was a pause.  “Why are you here?”  Quatre’s voice was tinged with both curiosity and fear.  “You’re
not going to take me away, are you?”

Sally chuckled softly.  “No, I’m not here to take you away.”  She smiled.  “Catherine and Trowa called me.  You’re not well,
and lying on the floor isn’t good for you.  They’re worried about you, dear.  So, why don’t you come out?  You must be cold
and hungry.  Aren’t you cold?”

“Ummm, yeah?”  Quatre sounded so unsure of himself that it hurt Catherine to hear, but she stayed silent.

Sally stood up and stepped back.  “Come on out then.  I’ll take a look at you to make sure you haven’t done yourself any harm.”

Catherine let out the breath she didn’t know she had been holding when she saw Quatre’s golden hair emerge from beneath the
bed.  However, when she saw that he was having a difficult time getting up, she swept forward.  Not wasting a moment, she
gently helped him up.  “Are you okay, sweetie?”  She asked, looking on him worriedly as she got him to sit.

Quatre was looking paler than he had been just this morning.  “I’m sorry,” he whispered, his ears falling.

Catherine shook her head and caressed his cheek, not liking how hot his skin was.  “There’s nothing for you to apologize for.  
You poor baby, you’re burning up.”

Sally had a thermometer handy and placed it in Quatre’s mouth.  She looked ready to laugh at the dumbfounded look Quatre was
giving Catherine.  But, she managed not to, and Catherine was grateful for that.  Who knew how Quatre would react to being
laughed at.

“Whatever gave you the idea that Catherine and Trowa were angry with you?” Sally asked, taking his wrist in hand and checking
his pulse.  “Trowa looked beside himself with worry.  Of course, that might have been because I’m a stranger.”  She took the
thermometer from his mouth and frowned when she checked the reading.  “Well, you have a high fever.  I want you to get a
bath and get right back into bed.”

Quatre nodded and sniffled.  “I’m sorry.  I’m such a bother.”

Catherine felt a pang of intense sadness.  “Quatre . . . look at me, sweetie.”  She combed her fingers through his golden hair,
then delicately cupped his cheeks with her hands.

She smiled then, offering him comfort with her tones and words.  “You are not being a bother.  You’re ill due to someone
treating you badly.  You can’t be blamed for that.  Heero would not have brought you here if he didn’t think that you’d be happy
with us.  There’s something about him that tells me he’s been hurt as well.  I don’t know what it is . . . I’ve never asked and he’
s never told me, but I doubt he’d want anyone to be miserable.”

She sighed, sliding her one hand up to brush through his silken hair again.  “You just don’t know us all that well yet.”  She said,
hoping that this was helping him.  “I’m upset about the fact that you’re hurting . . . not because it means that you’ll be weak and
sick for a while and unable to help like you obviously want to.  I’m upset because you are a living being who deserves
happiness, and all you’ve ever gotten was misery.”  She leaned forward and kissed his overheated forehead.  “It’s okay though.  
I know it will take you time to accept that we mean you no harm and I’m patient enough to wait for the day you trust us.”

Quatre nodded a little, looking at Catherine with an awe-struck expression.

Catherine nodded in return.  “I’ll help you to the bathroom.  While you bathe, I’ll call one of my co-workers and see if she can
fill in for me.”  She chuckled a little when Quatre started to look alarmed.  “It’s okay.  If Trowa were the one who was ill, I’d
do the same.  You deserve to be mothered while you’re ill, and I’d rather be here helping you get better anyway.”

“T-Thank you.”  Quatre said in a meek voice, accepting Catherine’s help in rising to his feet.

Sally stood as well.  “Where’s your kitchen?” she asked, smiling politely.

“Down the stairs and to the left.” Catherine replied.  “Why?”

“Well, since you’ll be busy tending to Quatre and making calls, I thought it might be helpful if I had a look in your fridge to see
if I could come up with a good meal for Quatre.  I’m guessing he hasn’t eaten today and I would like him to have something.”

Catherine nodded.  “Good idea.”  She turned to Quatre.  “I don’t want you out of bed any longer than absolutely necessary.”  
With that, she wrapped her arm around Quatre’s shoulders, gently guiding him to walk.  “Will you need help?  I’m sure Trowa
would help you if you need it.”

Quatre shook his head.  “I can bathe myself.  B-But thank you.”

Catherine smiled.  “Okay,” she said quietly, assisting Quatre to the bathroom, pausing only to get a clean pair of pajamas and
undergarments for him to wear.  Once the ill feline was in the bathroom, Catherine headed into her own bedroom, allowing a
few tears to fall for Quatre’s poor battered psyche.  She had a few calls to make.


*****


Treize hung up the phone with a relieved smile.  All the arrangements had been made.  The only thing he needed to do now was
to visit the facility he had just called.  He had only just returned a few minutes ago from escorting Zechs to his most recent
doctor’s appointment, but he had important things he needed to do.

“You’re looking particularly pleased, Treize.  What’s going on?”

Treize smiled warmly at Zechs, turning to look at his lover as the handsome blonde maneuvered his wheelchair closer.  “I have
an errand to run,” Treize said, leaning down to give Zechs a quick kiss to the lips.  “Une will look after you while I’m gone.”

Zechs scowled.  “I don’t need a damn babysitter.”

Treize laughed,  “No, but you will require assistance should you feel the need to relieve yourself.  That is, of course, unless you
decide you’d prefer to use a bedpan.”  He shook his head, almost laughing again at the sight of the look Zechs was giving him.  
“I know you too well, Zechs.  You let your pride rule you far too often.  Please don’t give Une a difficult time.”

Zechs sighed.  “Fine, fine . . . when will you be back?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Treize answered, shrugging his shoulders.  “But I hope it won’t take me too long.”  He smiled though,
grazing his eyes over his lover’s form.  He did so worry for Zechs.  “You’re looking a little pale.  Why don’t you lie down for a
bit?”

Zechs rolled his eyes in response, letting out a long breath.  “Honestly, I am not a child.  I don’t need a nap.”  He stifled a yawn
with his hand, looking quite irritated that his body would betray him at that precise moment.  “But, I guess I don’t want to
overdo anything.  That doctor did say I should rest and who am I to argue with a qualified physician?”

“All right, let’s get you into bed then.”  Treize grinned, moving around behind Zechs to push his chair along.  As soon as Zechs
was comfortably settled in, Treize departed the house, leaving Une to handle things.


*****


Less than half an hour later Treize was walking along a corridor in a reputable feline training facility.  He gave the grounds a
cursory glance over and was satisfied when he saw various felines in good health walking down the hallways.  They nodded to
him politely as they passed him by.  All in all, Treize had a good feeling about this place as he spoke to the receptionist and was
led to the office of the man he had come here to see.

The balding headmaster of this school smiled at Treize as he rose to his feet, extending a hand in a welcoming gesture.  “Come
in, please.  Would you care for some coffee, or do you wish to get right to it and see if one of our students meets the
specifications you listed over the phone?”

Treize shook his head.  “I’m sorry to say that I can’t stay too long, so I will have to see the felines as soon as possible.”

The man nodded and pressed a button on his desk, which turned on the loudspeaker.

Treize paid little attention to the names being called as he looked out the window at what seemed to be a track field.  There were
several felines engaged in various physical exercises, and it pleased Treize to see that the felines looked to be well cared for.

“. . . Please meet on the outside track.  That will be all,” the headmaster said, then took his hand off the button and rose to his
feet.  “If you’ll follow me please.   I’ll show you the young men and women chosen for the position you require filled.”

Nodding his head, Treize followed the man as he led the way out to the track field.  There, Treize was surprised to find a small
group of felines standing in a relatively straight line.

He walked along the line of felines, looking at each of the young men and women in turn.  He asked each of them a few
questions, needing to know how they reacted to some things.  He sighed when he found that most of these felines only knew
how to provide nursing care and little else.

Treize frowned, shaking his head.  “No, none of these will do.”

The headmaster looked quite upset by this.  “You did say you needed assistance with an invalid, did you not?  All of these felines
have been trained and have impeccable ratings in such areas.”

“But if that’s all this lot are good for, then I’ll have to return them to camp after a while.”

A young feline, not a part of the group that Treize had been looking over, stepped forward and stood behind the headmaster.  It
was obvious that he had been working out on the track as his clothing was stained with sweat, his forehead dotted with
moisture.  “Why?” he asked.

Treize turned to look at the feline and was struck by what he saw.  He didn’t think he had ever seen a feline with such distinct
Asian features.  Straight black hair was confined in a tight ponytail, his dark eyes curiously looking at Treize.  The young feline
had cream colored fur on his tail and ears, tipped with black.  It took Treize a moment to realize the youth had asked him a
question, and when he did he felt very foolish for not realizing sooner.

“Why what?” he asked, wishing that he had thought of something better to respond with.

“Why would you have to return whomever you choose?” the feline questioned.

Treize met the feline’s questioning eyes, smirking when the youth didn’t turn his gaze away.  At least this one had some spirit,
unlike a few of the companions he had already looked at.  “Because Zechs won’t be an invalid for life.  He has a great deal of
physical therapy ahead of him, so he’ll need a strong person to catch him if and when he stumbles . . . the stubborn idiot that he
is.  Once he recovers though, I don’t want to have to uproot a feline from a place that he or she has come to call home.”  He
motioned to the group.  “And although these are fine individuals, none of them have any use outside of aiding an invalid.  I think
they would do more good working with people who truly need their skills.”  He sighed.  “It would be like having a wheelchair
for someone perfectly capable of walking.”

The feline chuckled lightly, shaking his head.  Wisps of ebony hair fell from the ponytail, sticking to his sweat-glistening skin in
places.  “For a moment, I thought you were going to say it would be like giving a seeing eye dog to someone with 20/20 vision.”

“Wufei!” the headmaster chided, apparently not pleased with the tone the feline was using when addressing a prospective buyer.

Smiling, Treize held up his hand, stopping the man from berating the feline.  He didn’t want the young man to get into any
trouble over this.  Besides, Treize was enjoying himself.  “Zechs doesn’t like being babied.  No offense, sir, but none of these
people would last a month.  I think Wufei is perfect though.”

Wufei blinked.  “What would I have to do?”

“Keep Zechs company.  Play chess with him, argue with him, as well as aide him in some physical tasks.  Let him know that
you’re perfectly aware that it isn’t his mind that is injured.  I also have another feline living in my house, a tutor for my
daughter, who also acts as housekeeper and cook now and then.  I may require you to assist her in her household duties in the
coming months.”

“I can do that.”  Wufei nodded sharply.

“It’s settled then,” Treize stated.  “I’ll take Wufei with me.”



To Be Continued . . .