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

Notes: Treize wakes up Wufei for dinner.  Quatre and Trowa start their own meal and Duo and Heero head home for the night..



Strays and Misfits



Part Twenty-Four


Treize smiled as he headed for Wufei's room.  It was time for dinner, and he felt that Wufei might need a buffer zone when
dealing with Zechs waking from a drugged sleep for the first time.  Though he loved the man to no end, he knew that Zechs had
the habit of swatting first and then maybe - if the stars were aligned just right - he'd ask questions later; if he felt like it.  Treize
knew that Wufei would be alone with Zechs in the morning, and for the better part of the day.  He, himself, had work.  
Mariemaia was going to be in school.  And Une would be meeting with Heero and his feline for the first time.

Treize knocked on the door.  When he received no answer, he knocked again.  He grew a little concerned and turned the knob.  
The door opened easily and Treize barely managed to quell the urge to go find a camera and take a picture of the scene he had
just walked in on.

Wufei was sitting mostly upright, except for his head which was down so that his chin touched his chest.  A pair of thin-framed
glasses were perched precariously on his nose and a book was lying on the floor.  It was closed, with a bookmark more out
than in.  Apparently, Wufei had dozed off while reading.  It was understandable considering the emotional roller coaster the
feline had been on for most of the day.  He walked over to the bed with the intention of getting Wufei to lie down so that the
feline would sleep more comfortably.

A sound that was a cross between a moan and a meow escaped from Wufei as his dark eyes blinked open.  "What ...?"

Treize smiled kindly.  "I came up to let you know dinner is ready and to help you wake Zechs.  But maybe you should stay in
bed if you're so tired that you're falling asleep sitting up."

Wufei yawned and bent down to pick up his book as he slid his glassed off of his nose.  “I will admit to a bit of fatigue, but I
wouldn't mind eating some dinner."

Treize nodded.  "Good.  I was hoping you'd feel up to it because I need to give you a few pointers when waking Zechs."  He
scratched an itch beside his eye before continuing.  "He can be downright violent when being woken.  I had one heck of a time
explaining why I had a black eye to my employees the first time I tried it myself."

The Chinese feline gently placed his book on the bedside table before tilting his head.  "I doubt that I will have too much trouble,
as I have been trained in a variety of martial arts.  But I do appreciate the warning, sir.  Should I attempt the task on my own
first?"

Treize had to admit to being curious.  "Sounds all right.  We might as well do this now and not some time when I'm at work and
can't help you out."  He motioned for Wufei to precede him and followed not too far behind.  His main reason for doing it this
way was so that he could be sure that Wufei knew the way to Zechs' room, but a tiny part of him admired the graceful swaying
of Wufei's tail.

When they got into Zechs' room, Treize stood back and watched Wufei approach the bed.  Zechs was breathing deeply and
evenly, a sure sign that his sleep was untroubled by the pain he felt due to his healing injuries.

The feline paused his movements as he stood at the edge of the bed, his head tilted in apparent concentration.  After a moment,
Treize could only stand back and watch as Wufei moved with the grace and swiftness granted to him by his feline DNA.  Before
Treize had the chance to blink, Wufei was on the bed, straddling Zechs, and holding the blonde's wrists down with a firm grip.

"Wake up," Wufei ordered simply without a waver.  A loud purr began to rumble throughout the room as Wufei's tail swished
lazily across the blankets.

For a few seconds, nothing happened.  Then Zechs' weary blue eyes began to drift open.  He blinked, then smiled.  "Hmmm.  
What a way to wake up.  Though, I didn't know you thought of me in that way."

Treize couldn't hold a chuckle back as Wufei all but leapt from the bed to land easily on his feet.  When the Asian feline tried to
look as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, Treize threw his head back and laughed loudly.  "That was priceless!"  Then
he shook his head at Zechs.  "But it's not nice of you to tease Wufei."

Zechs snickered, pushing himself up onto his elbows.  "I'm sorry, Wufei.  But I really couldn't resist.  I haven't had a Neko
pinning me to the bed since I was a kid."

Treize tilted his head.  "You've had a companion before?"

"For a time, yes.  Didn't you?"

"I think a lot of people did years ago."  Treize shrugged.  "Mostly when all of the camps and 'schools' were really bad.  The
Winner Camp was just the most notorious and well known."  He turned to Wufei and noted the feline's scowl.  "That was just
before the courts finally decided to get off their asses and give your people the few rights you have now."  He sighed.  "Please,
don't look at me like I'm the scum of the Earth."

Wufei looked away from a harsh frown.  "I apologize, sir.  I dislike hearing that humans kept my kind in servitude in a manner
that was little more than that of a pet or a slave."

Zechs snorted and shook his head, his hair flying over his shoulders to brush his bare chest.  "I hate to break this to you, but a
lot of misguided fools only SAW your people as pets or slaves.  I just thank every star in the sky that the government started
seeing the truth - that your race is caring and intelligent and in many ways better than humans."

Treize had to agree with that.  "That's the truth."  He almost laughed at how dumbstruck Wufei seemed.  "Well, you're faster and
your senses are more acute.  Your people are also more adaptable and seem to learn and retain knowledge at a faster rate."  He
sighed and shook his head, motioning to the door.  "Come on, Wufei.  I'm sure that Zechs can get to the dining room on his own
now that he's awake.”

Wufei shook his head.  "No, I will do my duty and aide him."

Treize smiled.  "All right.  I'll see you two in a few minutes then."  He smiled and gave a brief wave before turning and leaving
the bedroom he shared with his lover.


*****


Trowa pursed his lips as he went over the list of foods that Quatre could eat.  He wanted to cook a nice dinner for his
companion, but didn't want to make something that would make the frail feline ill.  He looked from the list to the contents of the
pantry and the fridge, then back to the list again, checking and rechecking.  He smiled as he thought of something to make and
stuck the list back up on the fridge with the cheap magnet Catherine had brought home from one of her trips.

He headed up to Quatre's room and smiled when he saw that he was just in time to be there when the pale blonde awoke.  The
feline was blinking his eyes open and yawning just as Trowa walked through the doorway.

"Hey."  Trowa shyly approached Quatre as he was rubbing his eyes with his arm.  "I was just about to start making some
dinner.  Umm ... I was wondering if you'd like to come sit in the living room and watch some television while I'm cooking."

Quatre blinked his large eyes and his ears perked up.  "Really?"

Trowa nodded.  "There's a channel we get that's dedicated to feline learning and culture.  I've watched it a few times and I
usually find the programming on it to be more entertaining and educational than some other channels."  That earned him a tiny
smile.  "Are you strong enough to walk?  I can carry you if you aren't."

Quatre tilted his head and his left ear flicked a little.  "Umm ... meet halfway?  Help me down and if I can't make it all the way,
you carry me?"

He nodded again and moved closer to the bed to help Quatre stand.  He smiled as Quatre grabbed his stuffed bunny, then helped
the feline out of the room.  Trowa was pleasantly surprised that Quatre made it all the way to the living room without incident,
only having to stop once halfway down the stairs to catch his breath.

Once he had Quatre comfortable, he turned on the television and easily found the feline learning channel.  "Oh, good.  It's time
for 'Read Along with Anne.'  I think you'll like this show."

Quatre smiled shyly and settled back into the cushions, holding his bunny close while delicately fingering the light blanket that
Trowa had draped over him.  Within moments, the blonde was watching with rapt interest, silently mouthing the words of the
story as they were highlighted on the screen.

Feeling a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, Trowa left the petite youth to his television program and went into the
kitchen to start dinner.  It was a relatively easy meal to make.  A simple chicken and rice meal, with a creamy mushroom sauce
and a side of vegetables.  He made sure to cut the chicken into small bite-size pieces and found himself humming as he worked.  
When Catherine was away, Trowa didn't usually go to this much trouble for food.  Generally he'd have a TV dinner, or
whatever leftovers were still in the fridge, or even what his tutor, Heero or Hilde would bring over for him.  It wasn't that he
was a bad cook.  He just didn't see the point in cooking a big meal, when he'd only end up eating it alone.

He worked quickly and efficiently, but paused when he heard a distressed sound coming from the living room.  He hastily wiped
his hands off on a towel and headed out.  "What's wrong?"

Quatre looked so heartbroken with his ears down and his eyes filled with unshed tears.  "Poor Tigger got stuck in a tree, then
promised not to ever bounce again."  He sniffled.  "But he likes bouncing!"

Trowa smiled in understanding and looked at the television.  Anne was saying something, but not reading at the moment, so
Trowa figured he had some time.  He remembered his mother reading the Winnie the Pooh stories to him when he had been little
and the basic plot points were familiar to him.  "Keep watching.  I'm sure it'll turn out all right in the end.  Do you need
anything?  I could bring you something to drink if you're thirsty."

Quatre ears perked up a little and he turned back to face the television.  "No, but thank you, Trowa."

Trowa returned to the kitchen, feeling content.  He was sure that Quatre would enjoy the ending of the story.  And then they'd
have dinner.



*****


Howard drove to Heero's place with a feeling of bemusement.  So much had changed in one day.  Duo, the headstrong stray that
had sworn never to allow a collar to be placed on him again had trusted a human enough to do just that.  A young feline from the
infamous Winner Camp had been placed in a good home.  Howard knew it had to be a good home.  Any human who could
convince Duo to accept a collar, even if it was only a formality, had to be a good judge of character.  And finally, Mueller had
revealed that Alex had reasons behind his prejudices and that he was trying to overcome them.  Add the fact that the two of
them were lovers and Mueller was carrying Alex's kit - it was almost too much for Howard to deal with all that once.  Still, he
was happy for the two of them.

Glancing in the rearview mirror, he saw that the young man, Heero, was fast asleep again.  He'd woken up once or twice, but
Duo had quickly calmed him.  Duo looked close to following young Heero into dreamland, and a soft purr could be heard.  That
was something else that amazed Howard.  He'd seen Duo not too long ago and the youth had been just as headstrong as ever.  
Hissing and spitting at every human that came too close to him.  Howard was only accepted because he had shown kindness to
the strays for so long.

Yes, things had definitely changed, and he was glad of those changes.  Duo looked much better than he ever had before.

"We're here," Howard announced a few minutes later as he pulled into a parking space near where Heero lived.

Duo blinked quickly as if he were snapping out of a daze.  "Hm?  Oh!  Yeah!"  He looked down and smiled gently, tenderly
running his fingers along Heero's cheek.  "Heero?  Come on, buddy, wake up.  I promise this is the last time tonight."

Howard shook his head and got out, opening the door as Heero was groggily coming to.  He helped Duo maneuver the shaky
brunette out, then frowned as Duo stumbled just a bit.  'Of course he's exhausted,' Howard thought to himself.  'Poor kid has
been running scared for as long as I have known him.  I'm just relieved someone found him before he got sent to a camp.'

"Let me help," Howard offered, not waiting for a reply as he easily swept Heero up into his arms.  He was surprised to find the
young man weighted so little.  It was a disturbing fact.  He glanced over to Duo, only to catch a knowing smile on the feline's
face.

"Yeah, I know ... he's a twig, huh?"  He shook his head.  "I'm working on it."

"Not a twig," Heero mumbled sleepily, his head falling against Howard's shoulder as he descended back into slumber.

Howard shook his head and started walking toward the building.  This was no time to stand around talking.  Heero was out of
it.  Duo was fast approaching unconsciousness.  Howard had to see to it they were settled in.  And then he'd go back to Alex's
place and do what he could there.

He smiled to himself.  This had turned out to be a truly wonderful couple of days.  He hoped they'd continue to be this good.



To Be Continued ...