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

Notes:  Une checks in on the kids.  Odin is found onboard a shuttle heading for L-1.



Young Hearts



Part Thirty-Eight


Une sighed as she straightened her skirt and adjusted the bag that she carried.  There wasn't much in the bag since she still knew
so little about the children.  However, she felt it necessary to bring a peace offering for the children that she had frightened.  She
regretted her anger and harsh words now.  These children were innocents trapped in circumstances beyond their control and
they had done absolutely nothing to deserve Une's anger.  Hearing her own clone's voice saying she didn't want her name, only
left Une feeling a pit of ice forming somewhere deep inside of her.

Still, she believed that the small puzzles and coloring books would be accepted well.  She might not be forgiven outright, but
maybe the gifts would bring them some small amount of joy.  She clenched the bag in her hand and absently straightened her
skirt with her other before she reached out to press the doorbell.  There was a smile on her face when one of the Maguanac
opened the door and gestured her inside.  He took her coat from her, folding it over his arm.

"I figured it would be a good idea to see how everyone is doing in person instead of just getting reports over the phone."  Then
she noticed the vexed expression on his face and the way he kept glancing to the stairs.  "What's wrong?"

The slender man rubbed the back of his neck.  "There's a bit of a situation, I'm sorry to say.  If you'll follow me, ma'am, I'll lead
you to where all the commotion is.  Most of the kids are sick, except for the young ladies and Master Chibi-Duo."  His frown
melted a little.  "Darling kids, not complaining once about not getting as much attention as the sick kids, but rolling up their
sleeves and helping out as much as they can.  It's really quite cute to see them working the way they do."

Une smiled just a bit, but then sobered as the Maguanac led her up to one of the bedrooms where she could hear - it wasn't an
argument just yet, but she could tell that it could become one at any time.

Suddenly, Yuy's voice spoke up.  It was hoarse and one could hear the congestion in it.  "Look, I'm going after Odin myself and
I am not taking any of you with me.  Trowa and Wufei are both sick, Hilde is pregnant and it is not advisable for someone in her
condition to engage in space travel.  Quatre needs Sally here and both Relena and Catherine are needed to administer to the health
and welfare of the remaining children.

A little boy piped up.  "I'll go!  I'm not sick!"

Une knew immediately that it was Chibi-Duo.  The reports she received from Yuy and the others had included the names of the
children as well as updates on the status of their health.

There was a lengthy pause.  "No.  I want you here to look after Duo for me," Heero responded.

Une entered the room without knocking and put her best commander face on.  "All right.  Will someone tell me what the
situation is?"

Surprisingly enough, it was Maxwell's clone that came forward.  "Odin ran away.  I wanna go after him.  Please let me go and
make Heero stay here!  He's sick, and my Daddy will worry about him.  I can find Odin.  I'm sure I can.  Please?"

Kneeling, Une smiled as she looked into those large expressive violet eyes.  "I'm afraid I can't allow you to do that.  For one, I
think your father will worry just as much about you, maybe even more so since you're his son.  For another, you really don't
have the authority to be asking questions or to demand anything from people who would otherwise be very helpful.  All they
would see is a child."  She tentatively reached out to stroke the boy's hair, and was pleased when he didn't flinch away from
her.  "I do appreciate your willingness to help, but you're of more use here.  I'm sure you would be sorely missed since I've
been informed that you are one of the very few healthy children here.  I bet you help out a lot."

The boy sighed and nodded.  "I just ... Odin is my best friend, and I'm worried about him."  He sniffled.  "I lost lotsa friends;
dun wanna lose no more."

Une nodded, delicately setting her hand on his little shoulder.  "I understand, and I will personally ensure that you won't."  She
turned her attention to Yuy as she stood up.  "As your commanding officer, I cannot allow you to go alone."  She straightened
her skirt again.  "So I will accompany you in your search.  If there are any objections, speak up now.  If not, I'll start making
phone calls."  She had a feeling there wouldn't be any objections.  After all, she had agreed with the others that Yuy couldn't go
alone, and there was no one else that could go with him for the very reasons that had been stated.  She flipped open her phone
and began making her aforementioned calls.


*****


Charles had been informed of the call from the Preventers' HQ.  A child had run away from his caretakers, was ill, and headed
for a colony in the L-1 cluster.  The shuttle that Charles served as an attendant on had left Earth and passed the halfway point
before the call had come in.  Right now, he was looking in every nook and cranny a child could possibly hide.  He was well
trained in seeking out a hiding child since he had a little boy at home who loved to play hide and seek.

Once he had finished checking the passenger areas, he went back to the cargo hold and started looking there.  He looked in small
spaces and in the areas behind the crates that he could move with great ease.  He had no luck for a good five minutes, and then
he spotted what could only be the remains of a sandwich.  He walked over to it and picked it up.  Yeah, peanut butter; a sure
sign that a child was nearby.

A little more searching rewarded Charles with the near-heartbreaking discovery of the child he was looking for.  He was behind
a crate near the back, lying there pale and shivering in a little ball while hugging the backpack that probably contained everything
he had thought to bring with him.  The thin blanket he had was kicked off of him, although it was obvious that he was cold.

Charles knelt down and gently shook the boy.  "Hey there, little one.  You shouldn't be here."  He carefully scooped the boy up
and carried him out of the cargo area.  "What were you thinking?"

"I'm goin' for trainin'.  I've got to ... I'm too much trouble."  The boy sniffled, his voice a frail mumble.

"Hush now.  I doubt such a young fellow like you can be much trouble."  He headed through the shuttle up to first class.  
Someone had cancelled their trip at the last minute, so there were a few seats left at the very back.  Charles set the boy down in
one of them and put the seat into the reclining position.  Sure, it didn't go all the way back, but it was a little better this way.  He
slid into the seat beside the child and ran his hand through his sweaty hair.  The sheer heat coming off of the child's body was
alarming.

A fellow attendant was passing by, so Charles waved his hand to motion the willowy woman over.  "Sharon, hey ... do me a
favor.  Bring me a pillow and another blanket, please?  And some soup for this little gentleman."  Charles shook his head in
sympathy.  If this really was the boy they were searching for, then he'd undoubtedly made his condition worse.  The child
certainly matched the description sent out.

The other attendant returned with the requested items and clucked her tongue a little.  "This young man is in sad shape.  Where
are his parents?"

Charles shrugged, even as he tucked the blanket around the ill child's little body.  "He matched that description the Preventers
sent out of a runaway.  The details were foggy, but said that he was ill when he left his caretakers."  He gently tucked the
blanket around the boy and smiled as he took the cup of soup from Sharon.  "I was about to go up to the cockpit and let the
pilot know that I found a boy matching the runaway's description, but would you go in my stead?  I only just found him and
someone this small can fit almost anywhere.  He might run off again if he wakes up to an unfamiliar face."  

"Yeah, I'll go tell him now."  She replied, turning with a flip of vibrant red hair and rushing down the aisle.

He shook the boy's shoulder and smiled gently as the child's blue eyes blinked groggily.  "Here's some soup.  Are you hungry?"

The little boy shook his head, pushing the cup away weakly.  "Uh-uh.  I don't feel so good."

Charles' eyes widened a fraction.  He knew the signs.  he barely had the time to put the cup of soup down on the floor, find and
shake open an air sickness bag and hold it over the boy's mouth before the ill child was emptying his stomach.  Charles placed
his hand on the boy's back, rubbing it in gentle, slow circles as the kid heaved.  When his retches turned to sobs, Charles pulled
the bag away.  He folded the top closed and set it down out of the way.  Righting himself, he reached into his pocket and pulled
out a handkerchief and tenderly wiped the boy's face clean.

"It's okay.  Don't cry."  He lightly brushed his thumb across one puffy cheek, caressing a tear away.  "Hey, what's your name?"

The boy sniffled.  "O-Odin.  M-My name is Odin."  He hiccupped, still crying as he rubbed the back of his hand across his eyes.

"Well, it's very nice to meet you Odin.  My name is Charles.  Why don't you tell me why you were hiding in the cargo hold?"  He
didn't miss the way the little body stiffened.  But the child's shoulders hunched and sagged a moment later, his sobs returning
full force.

Charles wrapped his arms around him and pulled him over and onto his lap.  Odin clung to him, his little hands making fists in
Charles' vest.  "I-I ... I don't know why I'm crying," he whimpered as his tears subsided again.  "I don't cry.  It's not allowed."  
He sniffled, pressing his cheek against Charles' damp clothing.

"It's okay to cry," Charles replied, trying to soothe the obviously distressed boy.  "I cry when I'm upset.  Or even when I'm
terribly happy.  I've cried at funerals ... at my own wedding and I tell you I wept more than you just did the day my son was
born."

"You did?" Odin asked, his voice small and meek.

"Absolutely.  He's my pride and joy."  He stroked a hand through the boy's hair.  "Now, why don't you tell me why you're
running away."

Odin hiccupped, tears beginning to flow again.  "Heero's gonna hate me!  He'll get mad and send me away!  I know he will."

"So you ran away first?"

Odin nodded.  "Yeah," he replied.  He looked up at Charles, his deep blue eyes swimming with tears.  "What was I supposed to
do?  He woulda been mad when he woke up.  I broke his laptop.  He's always working on it.  I know it's important."  He
sniffled, wiping his hand across his nose again.  "I don't know how he'd punish me."

"I'm sure it won't be as bad as you think."  He ran his hand through Odin's hair, lightly stroking the child's scalp.  "He wouldn't
be looking for you if he didn't want you back."  True, he couldn't be sure that this Heero person was the one who had put out
the call, but it was a good bet.  And at the very least it would serve to calm the child.

The child lay his head down against Charles' chest.  "Why are you being so nice to me, Mister?"

"Because you're a sweet little boy who is sick and needs help."  He ran his hand through the boy's hair, then down along his
neck and back.  "Why don't you try and get some rest."  He reached over and grabbed the blanket, lightly draping it over the little
boy's body.

Odin didn't reply and when Charles looked down on his flushed features, he was moderately surprised to find he was already
asleep.

Sharon returned shortly after that, her dark eyes full of worry.  "How is he?" she whispered, her eyes always on the child even
as she picked up the forgotten soup cup and the airsickness bag.

"Honestly, I'd feel better if a doctor would look at him."  He brushed his fingers over Odin's cheek.  "He's burning up."

"Oh, well I think I can help you there.  Well, he's not a doctor."

"Sharon, what are you talking about?"

The slender woman smiled brilliantly.  "Well, I was talking to this really gorgeous man back in coach.  His name is Rick.  He's
going home to see his sister.  I think we were really hitting it off."

"Sharon!"

She blushed, snickering slightly.  "Sorry.  He's a nurse.  I'll go back and see if he'd be willing to help."

Charles shook his head with a smile.  She could be so flighty sometimes.  But she was a good friend.  "Thanks, Sharon.  I
appreciate it."

She was gone an instant later, rushing along the aisle and disappearing through the curtain that separated first class from coach.

Charles sighed and turned his attention to the little boy that was sleeping in his arms.  He looked so small lying there covered by
the too-thin blanket.  He hoped that the child would be all right.  He hated seeing any child in pain.



To Be Continued ...