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

Notes:  Mariemaia is picked up from school.  Heero makes a confession to Duo.



Strays and Misfits



Part Twenty-One


Mariemaia giggled as she clapped her hands in time with the rhyme that she and her friends were singing.  She was looking
forward to seeing her daddy, Une and Zechs.  She always looked forward to that, waiting eagerly for the school bell to ring and
for Une to pick her up and take her home.  She bounced a little in her excitement.  Maybe the baby would be moving.  She
hoped so.  It was so much fun when Une let her feel the baby kicking.  It was amazing too.  The fact that a tiny life was
growing inside Une.  It awed Mariemaia.

“Why so happy?”  A little blonde girl with braided pigtails tilted her head.  “You thinking about the feline’s kit again?”  Her tone
was smug, arrogant.

Mariemaia frowned.  She hated it when people spoke ill of the Feline Companions, especially when they referred to Une.  “Why
not?  It’s my Daddy’s baby, too.  So that makes me his or her big sister.”

The blonde girl snorted.  “It’ll be a half-breed and not worth the air it breathes.  That’s what MY Daddy says and HE’S not a
queer!”

Mariemaia wanted to hit the bratty girl, but remembered what her daddy had said.  That people like her spoke badly about other
people because they felt bad about themselves.  Besides, her friend Susie liked Une.  That’s all that mattered to her.  She looked
up as her Daddy’s car drove up and squealed happily.

“Daddy!”  She ran toward the car and froze when a stranger was the first to step out.

He looked Chinese.  His skin was a rich creamy golden color and his eyes were like dark almonds.  Mariemaia swallowed as she
studied him.  He was a Feline Companion and he was even cuter than her teacher.  She suddenly felt shy and scuffed the ground
with her toe.

Her Daddy approached and knelt down, his hand moving to rest against her back.  “Mariemaia, this is Wufei Chang.  He’s going
to help Zechs for a while since Zechs doesn’t need a nanny watching over him.”

The Companion, Wufei, approached as gracefully as the dancers she had seen in the Nutcracker at Christmastime.  He stopped
in front of her and bowed.  “It is an honor to meet you, Miss Mariemaia.”

Mariemaia blushed and ducked her head.  “Hello, sir.  It’s nice to meet you, too.”

Daddy chuckled.  “It’s not like you to be so shy.”  He shook his head with a fond smile and moved to stand again, taking hold of
Mariemaia’s hand.  “Come on, let’s go home.”

Mariemaia nodded and turned to her friends as her daddy led her toward the car.  “Bye, see you soon,” she waved, then got into
the car.  Une and Zechs were already there, Une in the front seat and Zechs in the back.  She leaned forward to peer around the
edge of the front seat.  “Is the baby kicking?”

Une smiled and shook her head, running her hand over her stomach.  “Not at the moment.  How was your day?”

“Good,” Mariemaia grinned as she settled back in her seat and secured her seatbelt.

“What, no ‘hello’ for me, sunshine?”  Zechs asked with a slight pout.

Mariemaia giggled, leaning over and wrapping her arms around the tall blonde.  “Hello, Uncle Zechs,” she greeted, laying her
head against his chest.

He returned the embrace, pressing a soft kiss to the top of her head.  She was perfectly content to stay right where she was.  
Her Daddy and the other feline got into the car and soon they were heading off back home.  She couldn’t wait to get home.  
Maybe she’d learn more about Wufei after she finished with her homework.  She certainly hoped so.  But he’d probably have his
hands full with Uncle Zechs.  Still, she’d remain hopeful.  After all, Wufei would be living with them from now on.  She’d have
plenty of opportunities to find out what he was like.


*****


Duo cleaned the kitchen quietly.  True, Heero had stated that he wasn’t angry, but Duo still felt bad for the ruined dinner
regardless of the outcome.  The kitchen had been pretty much clean to begin with, but Duo felt that he needed to keep busy.

“Duo, the kitchen is spotless so you can calm down.”  Heero said softly, placing a hand over Duo’s to stop the feline’s cleaning
motions.  He smiled gently.  “Come on and sit before you rub the color out of the counter.  Dinner will be here soon.”

The long-haired feline allowed himself to be led out of the kitchen and sat on the sofa.  After a moment of silence, Duo cleared
his throat.  “So, how is Chinese food different from the food I cook?”

Heero sat next to him.  “It’s got a lot to do with how they prepare the food.  They mostly cook food by stirring it around in a
large bowl-like pot called a wok where there is usually a small amount of oil.  It’s a method called stir-frying.”

Duo nodded in understanding.  “Sounds interesting.  I can’t wait to try it.  So, what did you get me?”

Heero smiled.  “I made sure to get food that you are allowed to eat.  Chicken with broccoli, white rice and an egg roll.  When
you’re healthier, I’ll order more food, but right now I think eating too much might make you ill and I don’t want that.”

Duo smiled at Heero, purring softly.  “Thanks.  I appreciate it.”  He turned when someone knocked on the door.  “I’ll get it!”  
He jumped to his feet and walked quickly to the door.  Already he could catch the scent of chicken and it made his mouth
water.  He opened the door and smiled at the young man that was holding a paper bag.

The delivery boy cleared his throat.  “Is Mr. Yuy here?”

Heero was beside Duo a moment later with some money.  He nodded, smiling politely.  “That was quick.”

The youth chuckled.  “You ordered more than usual.  I was eager to see your guest.”  He glanced Duo’s way and nodded
appreciatively.  “It’s about time you got someone to look after you.”  He relinquished the bag to Duo with a grin.  “Okay, I’ll be
seeing you, Mr. Yuy and . . .?”

Duo smiled widely, darting his hand out.  “I’m Duo Maxwell.  It’s nice to meet you.”

The young man chuckled and shook Duo’s hand.  “Likewise, Mr. Maxwell.  I hope to see you again . . . but not in the near
future.  No offense, but Mr. Yuy orders from us far too often.”

Duo grinned, liking this delivery boy.  It put him at ease to meet someone who didn’t look down on him because of what he
was.  “I aim to keep him from calling too much in the future.”  He stepped back, waving genially.  “Have a good night.”

The delivery boy smiled and nodded.  “To you, too.”  With that, he spun and headed down the hallway.

Duo closed the door and went to the kitchen and set the bag up on the counter.  He stood by eagerly and watched as Heero
dished up the food.  The strange scents tickled Duo’s nostrils and made his mouth water.  “That smells good.”

Heero chuckled as he motioned for Duo to sit after pouring two glasses of water for both of them to drink.  “I know.  I hope
you like the way it tastes too.  While I don’t plan to order as often as I used to, I want to be able to enjoy the occasional take out
as a treat.”

Duo sat and took stock of what was on the plate in front of him.  He could recognize that some of the things were as foreign to
him as the country China was.  He watched as Heero picked up something and followed suit.

When he bit into the wrapped item, it crunched and a new wave of scents filled his nose.  Cabbage, eggs, spices, and some
other things he couldn’t identify by taste alone.  He made sure to chew before swallowing and taking another bite.

He found that he liked this new flavor and ate with relish.  Every bite brought new flavors to his tongue and he wanted more.  
Unfortunately, his plate was cleaned before he was even aware of it.  He almost pouted at the sight of his empty plate.

Heero chuckled warmly.  “I take it that you liked your dinner.  I’ll put the rest away now . . . unless you’re still hungry.”

Duo tilted his head as he took stock of how he felt.  “No, as delicious as this was, I can’t eat anymore or I’ll make myself sick.”

Heero nodded with a smile and put the containers in the fridge.  He paused there for a moment as if lost in thought, simply
standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open.  Then he finally closed the door and sat at the table once again, curling
his fingers around his glass of water though he didn’t lift it.

Duo watched Heero’s movements, then spoke up.  “Heero, what’s wrong?  You’ve looked pretty miserable all night with a few
exceptions.  And there is the fact that you’ve been crying in your sleep.”  He felt as his ears drooped as he spoke.  He hated that
Heero was unhappy and couldn’t help but wonder if it was his own fault.  “I can’t even try to help you when I don’t know
what’s wrong.  It . . . it’s not something I did, is it?”

Heero looked shocked.  “What?  No, not at all.”  He sighed miserably.  “I don’t really want to talk about this.  But, I suppose
you do deserve to know.”

Duo shook his head.  “No, I don’t deserve anything.  I don’t want you telling me out of some . . . obligation you feel.  If you
don’t want to tell me, don’t tell me.”  He reached across the table and took hold of Heero’s hand, offering a small smile.  “I don’
t want you to regret your decision to tell me.  You don’t have to say a word until you’re ready, and not a moment sooner.”

Heero’s hand was trembling as he clenched his fingers around Duo’s hand.  He took in a wavering breath, letting it out as he
focused his eyes on their joined fingers.  Then he began to speak, as if Duo had never offered to allow him to keep his secrets.  
“I graduated college before I turned fourteen.  I decided to go on to nursing school after that.  I . . . my parents died when I
was young and I remembered how nice the nurses were to my brother and I when we visited my mother after the accident.  
She never regained consciousness, but the nurses never let us give up our hope.  They were always kind to us and I grew to
want to give other people the same kind of hope they gave me.  My parents may have died, but I have no doubt that they are in a
far better place now, watching over me, proud of me . . . all because of the nurses.”

He paused and took a breath, quickly glancing up at Duo for a brief moment.  Then he spoke more.  “Shortly after I started
attending school, I met a man.  Well, I met him the first day.  He was also a student, but I’d never talked to him until he
approached me when I was studying in the library.  He was tall and good looking and eight years older than me.  I . . . he swept
me off my feet.  I’d never dated before, he was the first.  I was very naïve about everything.  When I finished nursing school,
we celebrated.  I gave him my virginity.”  His cheeks turned pink with a blush.

Duo gave Heero’s hand a squeeze, then settled his other hand over Heero’s as well, offering all the comfort that he could.  
“What happened?” he asked softly.

“I was only fifteen, and like I said, very naïve.  Everything he did to me that night hurt.  I couldn’t walk the next day because it
hurt so much.  But he convinced me it was supposed to be that way.  I wanted to believe him so much.  I was afraid of him
leaving me.  I didn’t want to be alone anymore.”  Heero swallowed.  “He convinced me it would be a good idea to move in with
him.  I did and things just got worse and worse.  He was so possessive of me, had to know where I was going to be every
minute of the day.  He wouldn’t let me go out other than to work.  And if I was ever late coming home he would only hurt me
more.  There wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t bruised or bleeding from somewhere.  And the sex . . . every time only
seemed to hurt more than the last.  Then one day I managed to convince him that I should go visit my brother, that Treize would
only worry or come looking for me if I missed his daughter’s birthday party since I went every year.  He let me, gave me a time
to be home by and I went.”

He swallowed again, his trembling only seeming to increase as the moments ticked by.  “During the party, Treize pulled me
aside.  He was worried about me, kept asking me about the bruises I had, about the fact that I had lost so much weight.  I
confessed everything to him.  And when I told him about the sex, he got me to finally see the truth, that my boyfriend was only
raping me.  Every night, every time that I said ‘no’ and he would beat me down before taking my body by force.  I saw the
truth and it scared me.  So I ran.  I ran right back to him and I confronted him.”  Tears were streaming down his pale face by
then, his entire body shaking terribly, sweat dotting his skin.  “It was the stupidest thing I'd ever done and he nearly killed me for
it.  I can’t even remember most of it, but sometime after he threw me through the glass shower door and raped me for the third
time that night, he left.  I don’t remember calling 911, but they told me that I did.”  He swallowed and cleared his throat, wiping
his hand over his teary eyes.  “He was arrested and convicted, sent to prison all before I came out of the coma.”

“H-How long?”  Duo managed to blurt out, shocked by Heero’s story, by the horrors the human had suffered through.  Now he
had a better idea of where that scar had come from.  “How long were you in the coma?”

“Almost a year.  I spent another year going through physical therapy, and lived in the psych ward of the hospital for a while
because they thought I might be suicidal.  He really hurt me badly.  My brother tried to get me to come home after I was
released, but I couldn’t even face him.  How could I after how stupid I had been?  I should have realized sooner.  Treize must
be so disappointed with me.  He probably hates me for what I let him do.”  He dropped his head to the table, uneasily dragging
his hand away from Duo’s and wrapping his arms around his head.  “I wouldn’t blame you if you felt the same,” he added, the
sound of his slight voice muffled by the table.

Duo didn’t waste a second.  He jumped from his seat and ran around to Heero’s side of the table, dropping to his knees.  He
threw his arms around the shaking youth, pressing the side of his face to Heero’s body and crying for his friend.  “I’m sure he
doesn’t hate you.  You were abused and terrorized.  He can’t possibly hate you for the trauma someone else put you through,”
Duo choked, feeling as his own tears fell for Heero’s sake.  “And there’s no way in hell I’d ever hate you for what that sick
bastard did to you.”  He nuzzled his face against Heero’s side, over the scar that marked the young man’s body.

Heero lifted his head from the table and turned.  Duo adjusted his hold, letting Heero move within his embrace until the young
man was down on his knees as well, his arms tightly wrapped around Duo’s frame.  He was shaking, his face flushed with
sweat and tears.  “I’m tired Duo, so very tired.  I’ve tried to get my life back together.  I’m done with physical therapy, though
it’s difficult sometimes for me to do what other people take for granted.  I’ve been to psychiatrists and still go to one every
other week.”  He coughed, choking on his tears.  “I got a good job and I volunteer wherever I can.  I’ve done everything I
know how to do, but I can’t . . . I can’t do this anymore.  I just . . . I want it to be like it was before him.  I want to be happy
again.”

Raising his hands, Duo slid his fingers along Heero’s cheeks, wiping away the tracks of tears.  His heart was aching for this
suffering human and he wanted nothing more than to take all his pain away and make him whole again.  “You push yourself so
hard,” Duo whispered, looking deep into Heero’s hollow blue eyes.  “You try to make life easier for everyone but yourself, and it’
s only hurting you more.  I-I can’t promise the happiness you had before, but I can try.  I’ll take care of you, Heero, just like I
promised I would.  I won’t let you work yourself to death, to allow yourself to whither away.  You’re safe with me.”

Heero broke into heart wrenching sobs then.  He collapsed against Duo, his hands clutching tightly to Duo’s shirt.  Duo could do
nothing but hold him, trying his best to ease the human’s wounded spirit.  He nuzzled his cheek against Heero’s head, a slight
purr beginning to rumble in his chest as he offered comfort to his friend.

It was several long minutes later when Heero’s sobs began to lessen, the trembling in his body slowing to a stop.  Duo carefully
drew himself away, peering down at the young man, only to find that he was beginning to doze.  “C’mon, Heero.  Time for
bed,” Duo whispered, grazing his fingers along the side of Heero’s head.

The Asian youth merely mumbled something in reply, tears still trailing from his eyes.  Duo carefully helped Heero to stand,
wrapping his arms around Heero’s body.  He began to walk, guiding the human, making sure he didn’t trip or fall as they made
their way to Duo’s bedroom.  It was closer than Heero’s room was.  Getting Heero into a warm and comfortable bed was the
only thought on his mind.  Heero needed rest.  In the morning, he’d talk with Heero more, ask him if he’d consider calling in
sick.  Heero really wasn’t up to working tomorrow, in Duo’s opinion anyway.

Heero was already wearing pretty comfortable-looking clothes - a pair of sweat pants and a T-shirt - so Duo just got Heero
settled into bed without bothering to get him a change of clothes.  Duo then stripped himself down to his boxers and climbed
into bed on the other side.  He pulled the blankets around them as he snuggled close to Heero’s side, purring once again when
Heero wrapped his arms around him.  He only wanted to help Heero and Heero needed all the comfort and reassurances he could
get.

“I’ll take care of you, Heero,” Duo said, brushing his cheek against the warmth of Heero’s chest.  He stayed awake for a while
after that, simply listening to the steady thrum of Heero’s heartbeat, the rhythmic sound of his breathing.  He wanted to protect
his new friend from everything and everyone that would hurt him.  Heero didn’t deserve to suffer any longer.



To Be Continued . . .