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

Notes:  There's a little bit of each household in this part.  Wufei keeps Zechs company.  Heero tries to distract Duo with a
movie.  Quatre asks a question that nearly floors Trowa.

More Notes:  Just in case it seems confusing, the time of day changes with each household.  With Wufei and Zechs, it's still early
in the morning, shortly after Une left for Heero's apartment, and continues on early into the afternoon.  For Heero and Duo, it's
early in the afternoon, a couple hours after Une's departure from there.  For Quatre and Trowa, it's a bit later, somewhere
around two or three in the afternoon.  I tried to keep it linear so I wouldn't be jumping back and forth in time randomly.  I hope
this made sense.



Strays and Misfits



Part Twenty-Eight



Zechs had been feigning sleep when Treize had come in earlier.  He had heard the man wake and felt him rise from bed, but he
hadn't alerted his lover to the fact that he was awake.  He knew that Treize worried about the trouble he had sleeping, but he
didn't want to deal with the arguments that would rise because of it.

If he wasn't exhausted most of the day, then he had insomnia.  There didn't seem to be a middle ground.  And then there was
the fact that he sometimes didn't sleep for more than a couple hours at a time.  It wasn't like he could get up and do anything to
keep busy during his early waking hours either.  If he tried to get himself in his wheelchair alone, Treize would undoubtedly feel
the shift of the bed or hear Zechs moving.  

He didn't want to see that anxious expression on Treize's aristocratic features.  He didn't want anyone to worry about him, least
of all his lover.  It made him feel worthless, pathetic.  He couldn't even bathe himself without help.

Hearing a footfall outside his door, he closed his eyes again.  The door opened with a faint creak.  Then there was silence for a
few seconds before Wufei's smooth voice spoke up.  "I know you're awake.  Your breathing is all wrong for you to be asleep."

Zechs let out a soft breath and peeked his eyes open to regard the feline.  "Sorry.  I've just gotten tired of the constant lectures
from Treize whenever I have difficulty sleeping."

The feline regarded him with a graceful tilt of his head.  "Perhaps if you took your medication at the prescribed times, you would
not have such difficulties."

Zechs was weary of hearing that statement from his doctors as well as from Treize and Une.  The last thing he wanted was to
hear that from some feline that Treize had brought in for the sole purpose of babysitting him.  He didn't dignify the statement
from Wufei with a verbal reply, instead shooting a cold glare the young man's way as he uneasily got his aching body into a
sitting position.  His irritation didn't ebb when he was sitting, so he did the first thing that occurred to him.  He stuck out his
tongue.

Wufei simply blinked and gazed at him silently for a moment.  "I was planning on offering a game of chess or cards to assist
you in passing the time after breakfast.  I am, however, under no obligation to do so.  My task is simply to keep you company
and take care of your physical needs."  He placed a tray laden with a light breakfast on the bed before sitting in a nearby chair.  
He was the epitome of calm, his tail twitching back and forth under the chair in a lazy manner.

Zechs picked up his fork and pushed his eggs around on the plate.  Better to focus there than on the quiet feline.  Even though
he knew he deserved it, he didn't like being told off in such a subtle way.  He didn't like being told off at all for that matter.  

He glanced over at where Wufei was quietly sitting.  The feline wasn't sitting stiffly, nor did his expression appear annoyed, but
Zechs could tell that he was not happy with him at the moment.  He ate a few bites before speaking.  "So, what are you going to
do today if not play chess or cards?"

Wufei seemed to ponder the question.  "Meditate."

The blonde frowned at the one-word answer, but guessed he'd get nothing further.  He resumed eating, but was well aware of
the uncomfortable silence that hung over the pair of them.  It was a silence that weighed heavily on him until he couldn't take it
anymore.  "I hate being bedridden and dependent on others, so it makes me testy to be forced to do both of those things.  I
apologize for my attitude."

"Perhaps, then, the wisest course of action would be to do as your doctors say.  They are doctors for a reason, are they not?"  
Wufei rose gracefully and walked over to adjust the pillows supporting Zechs' back.  "I have never been injured in such a way
that it would require me to depend on others, but I have been ill once or twice when I was little.  I found the experiences most
unpleasant."  His ears twitched when air started blowing through the vent.  "I learned that it is best to heed what you are told to
do even when the doctors prescribe some of the most vile-tasting concoctions."

He set the fork down.  For a while now he hadn't had much of an appetite.  "The pills aren't so bad," he muttered.  "I still don't
want to take them."

"It is too bad then, that you have to."  Wufei rose from his seat and retrieved Zechs' medication for the morning.  When the
blonde had obediently swallowed the nasty pills, Wufei picked up the tray.  "While I do not approve of how little you have
consumed, I will say nothing on the matter at the moment.  You will need to eat more for lunch, or I will have to inform Treize."

Zechs frowned as the feline left the room.  He couldn't help that he didn't feel like eating.  He didn't know why his favorite foods
suddenly had no appeal, but he vowed to eat more at lunch regardless, if only to keep Wufei from ratting him out to Treize.  He
knew Treize well enough to be certain that he would find himself in a doctor's office the following morning if the man
discovered his poor eating habits.

In only a few moments, Wufei had returned with a deck of cards.  "What would you like to play?  Gin?  Poker?  Go Fish?  I
know a variety of card games.  If you prefer, I believe I saw a wide array of board games in the hall closet."

The human smiled sadly.  He remembered coming over for weekends with Treize and sitting around the table with him, Une,
Mariemaia and Heero playing those games.  Mariemaia had been very small and hadn't understood the instructions for the more
sophisticated games, but that hadn't dampened the fun they'd had.  That was before Heero had left home, when the young man
had looked at the world with optimism.  He hoped that those days of simple companionship with the family would be returning
soon.  The fact that Heero had contacted Treize only fueled that hope.

"Poker will be fine."

They sat and chatted amiably as Wufei won six out of eight hands of poker.  Zechs would have been more annoyed had Wufei
gloated.  But the feline took both wins and losses with the same relaxed demeanor.

"Another hand?"  Wufei started shuffling the deck as he waited for Zechs to answer.

Zechs shook his head with a bemused smile.  "I don't think so.  Maybe you should set up the chess board.  I'll probably lose, but
at least it won't be within three minutes."

The feline's answer was to smile.  "Then I shall retrieve the board and set it up."  He stood with an easy grace and walked out of
the room.  He was back within a minute.

Zechs reached behind himself to adjust his pillows before relaxing against them as Wufei placed the board down and set up the
pieces.  He just hoped he had been right and wouldn't lose so quickly.

Wufei proved to be far better than him.  Zechs wasn't truly surprised.  Treize had tried to teach him, but he'd never had the
patience to pick it up.  Already, his mind was wandering.  As he watched the feline sweep one of his bishops off of the board,
he was struck with a stray thought.

"Wufei, forgive me for prying but I have a question."

"Hm?"

"Last night, what did I say to upset you?  I didn't mean to and I don't want to repeat the mistake by accident.  You ran out so
fast that I didn't get a chance to apologize.  I hope Treize made it known that I was sorry.  I fell asleep before he returned."

Wufei held up a hand to stall his babbling.  The feline smiled warmly.  "I did receive your apology."  He ran his fingers along one
of the chess pieces - the queen, Zechs noticed - a contemplative look on his face, his ears twitching and lowering slowly.  "Your
words brought memories of my sister to mind and I find it difficult to think of her without feeling ... she is the reason I did not
allow myself to be taken in by any other household.  I had hoped she would find me."  He pushed the King piece until it toppled
over.  "I think perhaps we should play another time."

When he stood, Zechs lashed out and clasped his wrist.  "I'm sorry.  I've done it again.  I didn't mean to upset you."

Wufei flashed a withering smile.  "I'm not about to run to my room and hide.  I only mean to make lunch for us."  He gestured
toward the clock which displayed it was well past noon.

"Oh."  Zechs felt foolish.  He slid his fingers from Wufei's wrist and averted his gaze.  He felt and heard as the feline put the
board and pieces away.

He worried over what Wufei had told him.  When his own parents had died, he and his sister had been raised by different
adoptive families.  Losing contact with her had been painful and he was grateful to have her back in his life now.  But the
memory of all those years wondering about her, searching for her, instilled a sense of sympathy in him toward his new
caretaker.  Maybe he should speak with Treize later about this, find out if there was something they could do to help the feline
companion.



*****



Heero turned off the water of the shower and stepped out to grab a towel.  As he dried off, he glanced over at the bathroom
door.  He sighed when he saw the telltale claw marks as the only evidence left of what Duo had been going through not too long
ago.  There wasn't even the residual tang of sex lingering in the air.  If nothing else, the feline companion had done quite a
thorough job of cleaning up after himself.

He dried the rest of himself off and quickly got into his pajamas.  It was still early in the afternoon, but he had no intention of
leaving the apartment.  There would be no harm in not getting dressed.

As he left the bathroom, he could hear the sound of familiar music coming from the living room.  He knew the music from a
movie, but he didn't remember which one.  He walked in and saw Duo sitting on the sofa.  "What are you watching?"

The feline shook his head.  "Some movie about a woman killing a bunch of stupid hormonal teenagers because her son drowned
in the lake."

Thinking carefully, Heero chuckled and joined his friend on the sofa, not bothering to put too much space between them.  He
wanted to show Duo that he wasn't uncomfortable around the feline.  "The original Friday the 13th.  There was a whole spawn
of sequels, I don't remember how many.  And a remake."

Duo made a face.  "You're serious?  This movie is not all that good."

With a shrug, Heero stood up.  "It's a classic.  Time's have changed though, I suppose."  He smiled.  "I'll get some of the stuff I
baked earlier for us to snack on and we'll watch whatever is on next.  You want something to drink?  Maybe some milk or
juice?"

Duo jumped a little when the boy unexpectedly jumped from the depths of the lake to attack the girl in the boat.  "What?  Oh!  
Umm, I'll have whatever you're having."  His ears flicked back and forth.

Heero nodded.  He rarely ate in the living room while watching television, and he usually only drank water.  But he wanted Duo
to just sit and relax for a while.  So he quickly put together a tray loaded with some cookies and small sandwiches.  He added
two glasses of milk and brought the lot out.

"What's on?"

Duo frowned a little and spoke deliberately, which told Heero that he was reading the title from the screen.  "Says the La-Lady in
W-White.  What's it about?"  His nose twitched.  "That smells tasty."

Heero set the tray on the coffee table and sat down in his previous spot.  "It's a good movie, in my opinion.  It's not a campy
horror film like Friday the 13th.  It's more like a suspense film.  A little boy has to find out who killed a girl ten years before the
events in the movie."

Nodding, Duo picked up a sandwich.  "How does it end?  Does he find out who did it?  What happens?"

Heero took a sandwich of his own, chuckling at the array of questions being tossed his way.  "You'll just have to watch and
see.  What's the fun of watching a movie if you know what's going to happen?"

The feline stuck out his tongue, then giggled as Heero gave his hair a tousle.  "Stop," he choked out between laughs.  "I'll drop
my sandwich!"

Smiling, Heero eased off.  Together, they sat and watched the movie in a companionable silence.  Duo only questioned a few
things, commenting here and there.  Overall, he was quiet though.  Not once did he jump up and run off to the bathroom, even
though Heero was sitting close to him.  Heero was pleased with that.  He had hoped to be able to distract him, and it had proved
successful.  If only for a couple hours, Duo was able to relax.



*****



Quatre watched Une as the older feline started packing up her materials.  Although he was still a little shy around her, he liked
her a great deal.  She spoke softly and never once made him feel bad about not knowing something.  He was reminded of his
sisters when he was around her.

"When will you be back?" he asked, watching her with hopeful eyes.

Une looked at him and smiled affectionately.  "I have to get the results of these tests before anything else can be done."  She
reached forward and scratched his head.  "Don't you worry about that.  You did very well."  She stood, her hand braced on the
tabletop.  "Once I know the results, I'll be in contact with Heero and Trowa to see if I can set something up so both you and
Duo can learn at the same time."

Quatre smiled.  He liked the idea of seeing Duo almost every day.  Even though he'd only known the former stray a short while,
he found that he liked Duo's openness and exuberance.  He wanted to get to know Duo better.  "Okay."

The pregnant feline nodded and walked out of the kitchen with Quatre not too far behind.

When they got to the living room, Quatre could see that Miss Noin was also ready to leave.  Looking around for Trowa -
knowing how shy and nervous the human was around strangers - he spotted the brunette by the stairs.  Hoping to reassure his
friend that all was well, Quatre gave Trowa a happy wave with the hand not occupied by holding Iria.

Trowa gave him a half-hearted smile in return, but kept giving Une wary looks.  He was afraid of her, Quatre noticed.  But then,
Trowa was afraid of most people who were strangers to him.  The only one he was truly relaxed around was Catherine.  Quatre
himself made Trowa nervous sometimes.  The blonde wished that wasn't true.  But Trowa had been hurt badly, and it would be
difficult to gain his trust.  Quatre knew it would take time.  Just as it would take time for Quatre himself to truly trust Catherine
and Trowa.

Miss Noin turned and smiled at Quatre.  "I'm glad I got to see you again before I left, Quatre."  She handed him the book and the
box of crayons she had lent him earlier.

Quatre took the items with some confusion.  "But won't you need these for someone else?"

Miss Noin chuckled and shook her head.  "Don't worry.  I have a niece so I keep a bunch of these things around for when she
visits.  They're yours to keep and I hope to see more of your work the next time I come over.  You have a gift and it should be
nurtured."

A bright smile flashed across his face and he hugged Miss Noin.  "Thank you!"  He'd gotten so few gifts in his lifetime that he
wasn't about to start taking the generosity of these humans for granted.

Miss Noin chuckled and hugged him back.  "You are most very welcome."  She had a smile on her face as she pulled away and
patted his head.  "I'll see you next time."  With that, she was gone.

Une looked pleased for some reason and Quatre smiled up at her.  Without needing any prompting, he walked over and hugged
her, too.  He liked her and had missed being with older female felines.  "Thank you, Miss Une."

To his delight, she didn't ask why he was thanking her.  Her smile was in her voice as she replied.  "You're welcome."  He could
see that warm and comforting smile as they broke apart.  "I'll see you as soon as everything is ready.  You take care of yourself
... and Trowa too."

"You take care of yourself, too."  He glanced at her stomach and purred softly again.  He liked kits.  "Bye."

"Goodbye, Quatre."  She nodded politely to Trowa, who gave her a shaky nod in return.

Once Une was gone, Quatre shut the door and locked it.  He turned to Trowa and trotted over to him.  "I like Miss Une.  She's
nice and she explains things so I can understand it."

Trowa's smile was weak, but getting stronger the longer Une was out of the house.  He walked into the living room with Quatre
keeping pace beside him.

"I'm glad to hear that.  She seemed nice."

"There's just one thing."  Quatre was confused about one aspect of his conversation with the older feline.  "What is sex?"

Trowa tripped over his own feet, stumbling and falling to sit on the sofa.  He swallowed loudly, his eyes wide as he regarded the
blonde.  "I-I thought Une was going to be teaching you."

Quatre's ears fell.  He'd hoped that Trowa would be more willing to help him understand.  Didn't he want Quatre to learn?  "Oh.  
You don't want to help me?  I know Une is my tutor, but I had hoped you would teach me some things as well."

Trowa seemed to come back to himself in a flash.  "No!  It's not that!  It's just something I don't know that I can explain
properly in human terms much less feline terms."  He sighed and stood up while looking around in apparent thought.  "I don't
know what to tell you."

Quatre blinked and felt his insides warm.  "Oh.  You've never had sex, have you?"

The brunette's eyes widened and his face turned a bright red.  "Quatre!"  Then he swallowed and looked down as if ashamed of
his outburst.  "No ... no, I've never had sex."  Then he sighed, running his hands through his hair.  "I'll tell you what I'll do.  I'll
be right back."  With that, he jumped from the couch and ran upstairs.  He was back down in only a few minutes, carrying his
laptop with him.  "Here.  I'll set this up and we can look for resources online."  He carried the laptop into the kitchen and set it
up on the table.

Quatre sat down and watched as Trowa did various things that he couldn't comprehend.  He could see it was turned on.  And
there were little screens popping up and closing all over the place.  He didn't understand what it meant as Trowa began typing
things in.  Lines of letters showed up.  Quatre blinked at it all, unable to comprehend any of it.  He knew they were words and
could identify the letters, but he couldn't make sense of it all.

"I don't understand," Quatre whispered, feeling ashamed.  He didn't want to upset Trowa with his stupidity.

"Oh, sorry.  I typed in a search on my internet browser.  These are the results that came back."  He pointed to one of the
unfamiliar lines.  "Each of these is a link to a website.  Hopefully one will have some information."

Quatre noticed now that there were numbers along one side of the screen.  Next to each number was some word or phrase
typed in a bolder script.  And underneath the bold words were more words that were smaller print and less eye catching.  
Perhaps it was a list.  And the less noticeable words were a description of some sort.

Trowa used his finger to move the cursor over to one of the bold lines and clicked on it.  Another screen popped up with even
more words.  But there were pictures too.  Pictures of felines.

"This just looks like a comparison between human and feline biology.  It barely touches on the subject of ... of sex."  He gulped
and closed the window.  Just as he was going to click on another link, the phone rang.  "Sorry, I'll just be a minute."  He got up
and answered it.  

Quatre smiled, hearing as Trowa greeted his older sister and began a conversation with her.  After a few minutes though, Quatre
was beginning to get bored.  He wanted to know about sex.  Biting his lip in worry and hoping he wouldn't get in trouble, he
delicately touched the laptop.  It pleased him when the cursor moved on the screen as it had when Trowa had done it.  So he
knew that he was at least doing this correctly.

He clicked on one of the links randomly.  He jumped, startled as the window popped up and he dropped his hands away from
the computer.  He didn't want to accidentally break it.  This window seemed strange though.  There were no words.  It was just
a black screen with a small hourglass turning over and over.  He was hoping for some pictures at least.  He was about to close
the window and wait for Trowa to come back when the hourglass disappeared and a video began to play.

Blinking, Quatre watched with rapt attention as two obviously male felines came into focus.  They seemed to be grappling with
each other, but Quatre didn't see a reason for it.  They weren't fighting to hurt each other.  The larger one could do that easily
enough since he was a good deal bigger.  Both were brunettes and attractive.  Quatre found it fascinating to watch them.  He
didn't understand what they were doing, but it was still interesting to watch.

They were kissing and touching.  The larger one shoved the smaller down onto his hands and knees and roughly grabbed a hold
of either side of his ass.  Quatre watched, still feeling confused, but with a touch of something unfamiliar as the larger male
pushed his penis into the other.  Why was his penis stiff?  Was there something wrong with him?  The other one seemed to have
the same problem though.

Quatre shifted in his seat, his belly tingling strangely.  Behind him, he heard Trowa saying his goodbyes to his sister.  The sound
of the phone being placed back into its cradle followed shortly.  He could hear Trowa's footfalls moving closer.  Without
turning, Quatre pointed to the screen.  "Is this sex, Trowa?"

"Oh my GOD!"  Trowa reached out and grabbed the top of the laptop, pushing it closed swiftly.

Quatre blinked, confused by Trowa's reaction.  "That was sex, right?  He was pushing his penis into and out of the smaller one.  
Is that what you're supposed to do?  How do you know when you are done having sex?"

Trowa was shaking, his face sporting a heated blush.  "Oh, God!  How did you ... that video ... how much did you watch?"

"I clicked on one of the links of the search."  His ears flicked.  "Was that wrong?  I should have waited for you.  I'm sorry."

Trowa passed a trembling hand across his face and dropped into the empty chair.  "No, no.  I just, I was trying to find legitimate
information and not a ... smut site."

"Oh, was that pornography?"  He'd heard about that from older males.  He'd never seen an example of it before though.

Green eyes blinked rapidly.  Trowa nodded with some hesitation.  "Y-Yeah, that was pornography."  He sighed and opened the
laptop again, closing the one window as quickly as he could.  He then began looking through the search results again.  "I'd prefer
it if you went to sites that were less obscene.  They have more informative videos that are easier to understand."

Quatre frowned and nodded thoughtfully.  The video had made him feel funny, but it was kind of nice.  "So why do people
make the pornography?"

Trowa swallowed loudly and clicked on one of the links.  "Cheap thrills.  Some people ... a lot of people actually, like watching
videos like that, or looking through graphic pictures of people posing or engaging in sex.  Two males together, or two women,
or a man and a woman.  Sometimes just a male or a female by themselves.  It ... excites people ... sexually.  But there are also
sick people who like to watch videos that-"  He smiled and shook his head as he ran his fingers gently through Quatre's hair and
scratched at his ears.  "Never mind, it's not important."  The page loaded and Trowa looked at the screen with satisfaction.  
"Here, it's mostly pictures for illiterate felines.  See here, there's a link under each picture with an audio file attachment that will
read the text for you."

Quatre looked at the pictures and frowned.  "The pornography was more interesting."

Trowa chuckled.  "I'm sure it was.  But this will give you more information."

He showed Quatre how to click on the audio link.  Quatre found it relatively easy to operate.  He clicked on a few of the audio
links under the pictures and frowned.  The pornography really was more interesting.  The man reading the text out loud on this
site was so dull that Quatre felt like he could fall asleep by listening to the drone.  He yawned, rubbing his eyes.  "Maybe I can
learn about sex some other time?"

Trowa looked puzzled, but he simply nodded and clicked a few things before he closed the window and then shut down the
laptop.  "How about we both take a nap and I can make dinner later?  You've done a lot, and meeting new people always wears
me out.  Plus, there was the shock I got from seeing what you were watching."  He smiled fondly, though to Quatre it seemed
shaky at best.  "Does that sound like a plan?"

Quatre nodded.  "I do feel sleepy," he agreed.  "But, do you suppose you could read to me some more?  I like it when you read
to me."  He hugged Iria close to his chest.  "And I want to hear what happens to the unicorn."

A faint blush alighted on Trowa's cheeks before he nodded.  "All right, come on."

He stood and held out a hand to the tired feline companion.  Quatre eagerly accepted the help, feeling a bubbling purr starting up
in his chest.  But as he took a hold of Trowa's hand, Quatre was puzzled when the funny feeling in his belly began anew and
spread a warm tingle throughout his entire body.  He felt warm and confused, and the urge to press himself closer to Trowa's
taller body was difficult to ignore.  Quatre easily slipped his fingers from Trowa's hand, trying to keep smiling so as not to
worry Trowa.  These funny feelings were distracting, not to mention disconcerting.



To Be Continued ...