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

Notes:  More shopping.  Quatre takes Raberba and Treize shopping.  Duo and Heero take the kids they’re watching to a toy
store.



Young Hearts



Part Eleven


Quatre walked along the aisle of the store, looking for the clothing department.  He wasn’t used to shopping . . . growing up, he
had servants that had done that chore for him.  Most of everything he owned was tailor-made, not bought in department stores,
such as the one Quatre had brought the clones to.

Finally, Quatre found himself standing in the clothing department.  He looked back, frowning deeply when he didn’t see the
children behind him.  Where had they gone, he wondered, walking back the way he had come in the hopes of finding the
children.  

“Treize?  Raberba?”  Quatre called out, worried as he searched for the clones.  Perhaps they had wandered off . . . what if they
were lost?  Quatre bit into his bottom lip, his worry increasing with each passing moment as he hurriedly walked along the
aisles, calling out their names as he looked for the boys.

He couldn’t find them . . . this wasn’t good.  A chill swept through Quatre’s body, realizing that he was alone here.  Shivers
rippled through his body, fear overcoming him.  Alone, he was alone here.  He backed away from the aisle, moving through the
racks of clothing until he hit the back wall, sliding down to the floor.  He sat on the floor, shuddering, pulling his legs to his
chest as he whimpered.


*Flashback*


The room was cold and silent.  He was alone in a dimly lit place.  He shivered, rocking back and forth as he cried, the padding
on the wall cushioning him so that he wouldn’t inadvertently hurt himself.  It was a safe place, a place where he could recover .
. . at least according to what Father had said.

He didn’t want to be here . . . why wouldn't Father take him home?  He hadn’t meant to do anything wrong.  It had just been an
accident, a horrible accident.  He shivered and cried, emotions running ragged in his mind, fear overlaying all that he felt.  

“Let me go home.”  He whispered to the empty room, although he knew that no one would pay attention to him . . . no one ever
did.  “I want to go home.”  He cried, cold tears falling from his eyes as he shivered, rocking back and forth on the floor.


*End of Flashback*


The memory faded from his mind, but not the pain.  Quatre’s body trembled uncontrollably, rocking back and forth as he wept
quietly.  No one saw him there, he was too far away from the main aisle to bother any of the shoppers.

Quatre set his face down on his knees, fear and nervousness flooding his very soul.  He couldn't help it, couldn’t stop the fear
from assaulting him.  He didn’t like being alone, separated from familiar faces.  It scared him . . . it was the reason he didn’t live
in his own home . . . there was just too much room there, and no one there to fill the emptiness.

A small hand settled on his shoulder and Quatre looked up.  Through his tear-blurred vision, Quatre saw Raberba and Treize
looking back at him, both of their expressions showing concern for him.  Quatre reached out, pulling the both of them into a
hug.  He had been so worried.  He shivered as he spoke, his words wavering.  “Please, don’t wander off like that again.”  He
whispered, wanting them to understand without revealing his own inadequacies.  “Stay in my sight.”

“I’m sorry.”  Treize apologized, as Quatre broke the hug.

Quatre smiled, wiping his hand over his face, feeling like a fool for scaring the children.  “I just, I don’t take it well when I’m
alone.”  He said, feeling foolish.

“Why?”  Raberba asked, innocently.  “It’ll be okay.  If we had gotten separated, I would’ve gone to someone and asked them to
call my . . . our father.  He would know what to do.”  

Quatre winced, lowering his head.  His father . . . Quatre had never told the boy about what had happened to him.  He shouldn’t
put it off any longer.  The child had a right to know.  “Treize, would you give me a moment to speak with Raberba in private?”  
Quatre asked.

Treize nodded.  “Sure.”  He said, heading over to the aisle, but not moving out of Quatre’s line of sight.

Quatre turned to Raberba, laying his hands on the child’s small shoulders.  “Raberba . . . I . . . I have something to tell you about
my father . . . our father.”  He said, biting his lip as he struggled for words.  

“What is it?”  Raberba asked, his nervousness clear to Quatre.  “Did something happen to Father?”

Quatre nodded.  This was going to be the hardest thing he would ever have to do . . . he knew it.  He took a deep breath to
brace himself.  “Father didn’t agree with the colonies about what a military organization known as OZ was doing.  They accused
him of keeping resources to himself.”

Raberba blinked in shock.  “But Father wouldn’t DO that!  He was always generous!”

Quatre smiled at Raberba’s quick defense of Mr. Winner.  “I know that, Raberba.  The thing is, Father didn’t want them to use
the resources for the war.”  He took another deep breath and silently prayed to Allah for strength.  “He destroyed the resource
satellite and himself along with it.”

Raberba’s eyes went wide with shock and disbelief.  “What?”  He asked, tears shimmering in his aqua eyes.

Quatre could feel the pain radiating from Raberba, and he regretted having been the one to cause it.  He met Raberba’s eyes to
show the child his own deep sadness and that he wasn’t as calm about it as he sounded.  “Father is dead.  He died . . . for what
he believed in.  I tried to stop him, but I failed in that.”  He pulled the child close.  “I’m sorry, but you deserved to know.”

Raberba stiffened in Quatre’s embrace.  “Dead?  Father?  No!  He can’t be!”  The boy replied, his body beginning to tremble.

Quatre rubbed the child’s back.  “I’m so sorry.  It’s all right to cry.  He was our father, regardless of how we felt.  We both
loved him dearly, even if we didn’t always get along with him.”  He cradled Raberba as the child’s breath hitched and Raberba
started to cry against him.  He felt his own tears threaten to spill forth as Raberba clung to him.

After a few moments, Quatre rose to his feet, lifting the still crying child into his arms as he straightened himself.  Raberba
buried his face against Quatre’s shoulder, holding him tightly as his tears slowly subsided.  “Come on, we have to do some
shopping.”  Quatre said quietly.

Raberba nodded silently, hooking his legs around Quatre’s waist, his arms draped around Quatre’s neck.  Quatre carried him to
the aisle and back to the children’s clothes, nodding to Treize as he passed him by.  Treize followed along beside him, not saying
a word or asking what was wrong with Raberba.


*****


Duo smiled to himself as he followed his ‘son’ into the toy store.  Just the thought that Chibi-Duo was willing to be his son
made Duo feel giddy.  He had a son . . . and his younger self had a father.  Those two facts together just made this day the
best.  ‘Now, if only Heero would keep going along the lines he’s been going.’ Duo thought.  He blushed as he remembered the
offhand comment that Heero had made earlier regarding the jeans.  ‘Never thought Heero would mention how I would look . . .
let alone say I would look GOOD.’  

He shook himself from those thoughts and grinned as Chibi-Duo went from one display after another.  It was a while before
Duo realized that his clone would open his mouth, check the price, and then shut his mouth again.  Duo shook his head,
smirking a bit.  “Hey, come here.”  Duo said, waving his hand to gesture the child over.

Chibi-Duo ran over, looking up at Duo.  “What is it, Daddy?”

Duo’s smile spread, and he wondered how long it would take for him not to get choked up at his younger self calling him that.  
He gently led the boy back to the last display he had been at.  There were a number of items there, a group of different toys that
were selling well in this store apparently.   “Which one do you want?  Forget the price for a moment.”

Chibi-Duo looked doubtful.  He bit his lip, but he did raise his hand and point, although hesitantly.  “Um, there’re pictures of
food on that one . . . it, well . . . caught my attention.”

Duo smiled.  Grabbing one of the boxes.  “This here is an Easy-Bake Oven, my little man.”  Duo said.  “By following the
directions and using the little packets of ingredients, you can cook up some tasty treats.”

Chibi-Duo blinked, his eyes going wide.  “It’s a real oven?  You can buy an oven in a toy store?”  He gasped in disbelief.

Duo nodded.  “Yup!  You want it?”  

Chibi-Duo nodded eagerly.  “Yeah!”  Then the smile faded.  “But doesn’t it cost too much?”

“Nah, besides we do gotta buy things to entertain you kids.  I just don’t want you playing with this without supervision.  Got
it?”  Duo said, turning and carefully dropping the box into the cart that Heero was pushing.

Chibi-Duo nodded, then ran over and hugged Duo.  “Thanks.”

Duo grinned.  “Now, you go on and find something else you like.  You can have one more thing.”

Apparently the child didn’t need to be told twice.  In an instant he ran off, turning quickly and running down an aisle.  Duo
chuckled.  Behind him, Heero growled.  “You’re going to spoil him.”  He hissed.

Duo turned, meaning to say something in reply, only to blink as he saw that Heero’s attention had already been diverted.  Duo
turned, looking in the direction Heero was, only to see that Odin had picked up a simple red ball.  The boy was looking at it, as if
he had never seen a ball before.

Heero walked over, Duo quickly following along behind him.  Duo stopped at the end of the aisle, deciding to give Heero some
alone-time with his clone.  Odin looked up at Heero, raising the ball to him and looking at Heero in confusion.  “How does it
work?”  He asked.

Heero took the ball from him.  “Watch.”  He said, then turned quickly.  “Duo.”  He said, only a moment before he chucked the
ball in Duo’s direction.

Duo barely had time to raise his hands.  However, he did catch it, blinking.  “Hey, was there any need to hurl that at me?”  Duo
asked, meaning to give Heero a piece of his mind.  However, he stopped his rant when he heard a light chuckle, looking in shock
at Odin only to see a smile on the child’s face.

“Woah!”  Duo gasped.  “Hey, Heero . . . you should try that sometime.”  Duo said, lightly tossing the ball to Odin, who caught it
and smiled faintly.

“What?”  Heero asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“Smiling.”  Duo replied, gesturing to Odin before turning and walking away.  He did have to keep track of the other kids.  Before
he turned, he looked back at Heero.  “Let the kid have the ball . . . and get him at least one more toy.  I’m sure he can find
something else he wants in this store.  A few toys each won’t spoil the kids.”


*****

Heero scowled at the back of Duo’s head while they stood in the checkout line of the toy store, even though his heart wasn’t
really in making such a menacing scowl.  It was rare to see Duo so genuinely happy.  Most of the time, the smile was a mask.  
Today . . . Heero had caught a glimpse of what Duo might have been like if he had been raised as a normal child.  Something
about that made Heero feel better.  And he had to admit . . . Duo was right about the toys.  Odin was standing beside Heero,
clutching the red ball, and the expression on the child’s face bordered on pure happiness.  Heero almost envied the boy.

Heero smiled, gently taking the ball from his clone.  “We have to pay for it.  You can have it back later.”  He assured the boy.

Odin nodded.  “Okay.”  He said, his eyes locked on the ball as Heero set it on the conveyor belt along with the rest of the toys.

All of the children had gotten at least two toys.  Lena had chosen a stuffed horse, as well as a couple sets of toy cars.  Duo had
chosen a Raggedy Ann doll for Noin’s clone, as well as a few coloring books and crayons to keep her occupied when she finally
woke up.  Une’s clone had to be convinced that she was allowed the toys she wanted, since they were a little more pricey than
what the other children had chosen.  But according to Duo’s reasoning, she had every right to get the two toys she wanted most
at this moment.  Since she wouldn’t be getting anything special again until birthdays or Christmas.  So, Une’s clone had gotten a
jump rope and a dollhouse . . . which would have to be assembled . . . as well as a very delicate-looking doll.  It had a porcelain
face, hands and feet, the rest of her body was soft . . . the clothes it wore were violet, with a white apron, and in her hair were
two violet ribbons . . . her hair color was much the same as Une’s clone.  The girl had feared that she would damage the doll,
but Duo had convinced her that she could take care of it well.

Heero did think it was nice of Duo to purchase such things for her, even if the bill was going on Lady Une’s personal account.  
Chibi-Duo was quite happy with his toys.  Besides getting the oven, he had picked a rather large stuffed cat . . . it was almost as
big as he was.  And Odin had taken a liking to a set of Legos as well as a stuffed dog.  He hadn’t been able to choose which he
liked better, even after detailing the pros and cons of purchasing both.  Heero had put both in the cart to relieve the boy of the
stress of choosing.

Finally, once they had paid for all of the toys that were chosen, Heero, Duo, and the children returned to the car.  They wanted
to help Heero put the stuff away.  Heero had no reason to object.  So between the six of them they were able to manage getting
all of the bags and the box containing the doll house back to the vehicle.

Heero grunted, opening the trunk.  He pulled the bags of clothes out, knowing that the dollhouse would have to go in first.  It
just barely fit, laying on the floor of the trunk.  Heero was now happy that he had chosen a vehicle with a large amount of trunk
space.  Then he loaded the toys in, followed by the parcels from the clothing store.  He looked around, being sure that
everything was inside before he closed the trunk.  

“If we buy anything else, it will need to go on the floor of the backseat.”  Heero said, taking hold of Odin’s hand as well as
allowing Une’s clone to hold his other.  

Lena and Chibi-Duo were holding either of Duo’s hands.  They walked back into the mall.  Duo had said that there was
something else they needed, but he hadn’t elaborated on what it was.  So Heero merely followed him, looking around every now
and then and wondering where he and the children were being led.

After several minutes, Duo headed toward one of the stores.  “Duo, why are we going into a book store?”  Heero asked, curious
as to why Duo wanted to go inside.

Duo paused, then turned.  He bit his lip, then said something to Chibi-Duo and Lena.  When the children were in the store, Duo
walked over and knelt in front of Odin and Une’s clone.  “Will you two go inside and look in the kids’ section for anything you
want?  I gotta talk to Heero for a moment.”  Duo said.

Odin turned, looking up at Heero as if to ask if it was all right.  Heero nodded to the young boy and Odin walked into the store.  
Heero looked up at Duo, and titled his head slightly.  “What?”

Duo took a deep breath, as if steadying himself.  “We need to get books.  Not just for entertainment, although that’s a good
reason to buy them.”  He said, not meeting Heero’s gaze.

Heero noticed the embarrassment on Duo’s face, and figured out the reason on his own.  “He can’t read, can he?”  Heero asked.

Duo sighed, slumping his shoulders.  “No, he can’t.  I got into a lot of trouble at school, when I went to school.  I was smart,
hell yeah . . . but the teachers didn’t care about the poor little charity case from the orphanage.  They let me do whatever I
wanted and simply said I was a bad student . . . disruptive.  They couldn’t care less about helping me learn such a basic thing.  I
picked it up easily once someone did take the time to teach me.”

Heero nodded in understanding.  “So we need basic books so your clone . . .”

“Son.”  Duo interrupted.

Heero blinked.  “What?”  He asked, feeling confused.

Duo smiled a little.  “God help him, Heero . . . he wants to be my son.  He asked me in the dressing room when I was helping
him out.  He wants ME to be his father.”  He said, laughing a little.  “And I can’t help but want the same thing.”

Heero frowned a little.  The clones were more like brothers to the originals . . . but a part of him could understand Chibi-Duo’s
reasoning.  “We need basic books so your son can learn how to read.”  He said, strolling into the store, Duo quickly following
behind him.

A short time later, the six of them walked out again.  Heero found himself carrying two bags loaded with books.  Duo was
walking behind him, carrying two similar bags and grinning quite happily.  Odin and Chibi-Duo each carried a bag, having
wanted to help.  

Heero glanced back, stopping in his tracks as he found that one child was missing.  Une’s clone simply wasn’t there.  “We’re
missing someone.”  Heero stated, looking around.

Duo sighed, then nodded in the direction of a pet shop.  “Kids like animals.  I bet she went in there.”  Duo said, strolling over to
the store.

Heero followed Duo, the clones trailing along behind them.  He had a strange sense of foreboding.  Silly as it was, he did NOT
want to go into a pet store.  Pet stores almost always had puppies . . . and there was a chance that he would see one that looked
like . . .

~~ “I’m not lost at all.  I’m taking Mary for a walk.” ~~ A childlike voice from the past called out in his mind.

Heero almost inaudibly sighed.  He really did NOT want to go into the pet store.  Still, he knew that he would have to . . . they
couldn’t leave Une’s clone behind.  So he followed Duo’s lead, allowing the children to go ahead of him as he entered the store.

The scent of animals assailed his nostrils.  He stayed near the door, blinking as he looked in.  His eyes widened, flashes of
memory rapidly returning to his mind as he watched Une’s clone lean over the edge of a small pen, picking up a puppy.  It didn’t
look like Mary, but still . . . the memories came.

A wave of panic pushed past his defenses, his hands started shaking.  Heero dropped the bags that he had been carrying,
backing away from the door, just wanting to be away from there.  He stopped and dropped to sit on a wooden bench, leaning
forward and covering his face with his hands, pushing back the urge to cry.  He would not show weakness . . . he would not
allow himself to cry over this.

“Heero?”  A small voice whispered.

Heero looked up, frowning when he saw his young clone standing in front of him, dragging the three bags over to the bench
where Heero was sitting.  Apparently, he had picked up the books that Heero had dropped and put them back in the bags
himself.  Against his will, Heero felt a stray tear fall from his eye.

Odin said nothing.  He set the bags down on the floor, quietly climbing up to sit on the bench beside Heero.  Without a word, he
crawled onto Heero’s lap, curling his arms around Heero’s body.  Heero flinched, stiffening in the embrace.  Hesitantly, he
wrapped his arms around Odin, setting his chin down on the child’s head, sinking into the tender embrace the child had given
him.  Neither of them saw the person watching them, nor the sly smile of Duo Maxwell as he turned to head back into the pet
store.



To Be Continued . . .