"The Untouchable Trowa Barton"
Duo nervously fingered his citrine as he strode across the docks towards where Heero was waiting at the end of a pier by his bike. Behind him, Gable waited in the jeep, none too happy with the arrangement, but silent.
Duo offered a grin that was partially forced as he stopped before his partner. "So.. plan on filling me in?"
"You first." Heero was leaning against the bike, arms crossed over his chest.
Duo caught himself staring. The jeans and button-up longsleeve shirt looked damn good on Heero, and the wind playing with his hair was making him an even more appealing picture. Stop drooling, Maxwell, he ordered himself sternly at the same time Heero asked,
"What happened after I was brought to the hospital?"
"Ah..." Duo faltered. No way was he going to tell Heero what Davarius had tried to do to him. Just thinking about it made his skin crawl. He had the feeling he might break down like a damn baby if he actually had to say it out loud. And he didn't think he could deal with Heero's disgust towards him right now. And of course he couldn't tell him how Trowa had supposedly heard his mental cry for help. That was weirding *him* out- he wasn't sure how Heero would take it. He settled on the same abbreviated version he'd given Wufei.
Heero listened silently as Duo quickly got him up to date, keeping a straight face but frowning inwardly. Duo was lying.
No, he was avoiding the truth, he relented. Duo didn't lie. If he were to ask outright, would Duo answer him? He would have to. When Duo had finished he eyed him sharply and demanded, "Is that all that happened?"
Duo hesitated, staring at him. It was only a brief pause, however. He blinked and grinned cheerily a second later. "Yup."
Duo was lying?
I run, I hide, but I never lie... Wasn't that what Duo always said? Uneasiness churned in his gut. How long had Duo been slipping away from that code? Had he lied to Heero in the past? Duo had always been the one person he could count on to be honest with him, and his stomach felt like he'd swallowed a rock. Of all things, he didn't want Duo to lie to him about *this*. What did he think he would do, snap at him for taking it so hard?
Tight anger coiled inside of him. This was all Davarius's fault. When he found the little snake he was going to-
Duo was looking at him uneasily, and he realized his anger must be showing on his face and Duo was taking it to be aimed at him. He quickly adopted his old stoney mask. What did it matter, anyway? he thought, disgusted with himself. It's Duo's problem. If he doesn't want to talk about it, drop it. As long as the team still functions, what happens to Duo is none of your concern.
But he was almost RAPED, his mind screamed.
Shut up, he told it savagely.
It shut up.
"Wufei already told me about Trinity and the dolls. You think Davarius is behind it?"
Duo nodded firmly. "Hai. Or at least he has something to do with it. That was his voice on the recording. I know it was."
"Did you hear about Relena yet?"
Duo gave him a blank look.
Heero remembered. "No. Your phone was off." He eyed Duo suspiciously. "Why did you turn your phone off?"
Duo blinked, looking confused, then it seemed to dawn on him, and he laughed nervously, a blush creeping into his face. "Ah! Well, um... I just turned it off for.. a little while. Last night. I, uh, must've forgotten to turn it back on." He gulped, scratching his head, face still red.
Heero felt his mouth twitch again.
Last night? Why would Duo want to turn off his phone at night? He never turned off his phone. Maybe he'd been exhausted and needed his sleep? He relaxed. That must be it. He must have still been shaken after the whole thing with Davarius, and hadn't wanted to talk to anyone. That would explain why he was so red. "Aa," he said, and Duo visibly relaxed.
"So what about the Peacecraft Prodigy?" he quipped, grinning.
Heero found the words strange on his tongue. "Wufei says she's dying."
Heero glanced away, out at the sea, frowning as he let it sink in with Duo. He was still struggling with the idea himself.
Relena was dying.
She had cancer. She was going to die. Jesus, she was only... sixteen? Fifteen? His age, wasn't she? So young...
He didn't want her to die, he realized. How could she die?
She was annoying, she was too bull-headed to realize when she was doing more harm than good...
But she was not a bad person. And... she meant something to him.
He had protected her, stood for her ideals. He had accepted her as a permanent if irritating presence in his life unconsciously. And now she was...
Heero looked at Duo sharply. "Nani?"
Duo had a strange look on his face. "Gable," he repeated quickly. "Maybe.. maybe he can heal her! Jesus, Heero, we can't just let her *die*!"
Heero stared at him, nonplussed. Duo would been the last person he'd expect to want to fight for Relena's life. His scorn for the girl had been evident since the day they'd met.
Heero frowned. Could Gable help her? Like Atreusio had healed him? Then he remembered what Atreusio had said and shook his head slowly. "Iie. Atreusio said a real Wiccan couldn't heal like he did to me." Then what, he mused to himself, did that make Atreusio?
"Well we can still *try*," Duo snapped desperately, and whirled around, dashing back towards his jeep.
Heero watched him go, faintly perplexed.
For someone that called themself the God of Death..
Sometimes Duo had a strange aversion to it.
Wufei glanced up at the familiar voice, frowning as Trowa's face appeared on the screen. "What is it?" he grunted.
"I just got back from the hospital. Heero's been healed. We had a run-in with the two who took Quatre."
Wufei was instantly alert. "Nani? Where are they?"
"They got away." Trowa's voice was impassive.
"Got away?" Wufei repeated incredulously. "You let them get away?!"
"They held a gun to Heero's head," Trowa said shortly. "I'll tell you more later. I didn't call you to argue with you, Wufei."
Wufei bit back his sharp retort, frustration churning in him. "What do you want, then?" he snarled.
"Heero's meeting up with Duo now. We're all supposed to meet at a safehouse."
Trowa quickly gave him directions, and Wufei altered his course slightly. "I'll be there in ten minutes," he said. "Now get off my scope."
Trowa looked unconcerned with Wufei's temper. "This isn't the time for internal fighting, Wufei," he pointed out.
Wufei knew he was right, but didn't care. "Get off."
Trowa's face flickered from the screen.
Wufei bared his teeth, grip tightening on Shenlong's controls. The boy who had kidnapped Quatre had been there. At the hospital with Heero and Trowa. And they had let him get away??
They had better have a damn good reason or heads were going to roll.
Wufei strode towards the door of the run-down cabin Heero had designated as the rendevous point. He scowled when it opened and Trowa came out onto the porch. He'd known the other pilot was already here because he'd landed Shenlong close to Heavyarms, but he was not happy with the fact because the other two hadn't arrived yet. Or at least he hadn't seen their Gundams. That meant he'd be alone with the other boy until they arrived.
He started to walk past Trowa, ignoring him.
Trowa put out a hand, putting it against the doorjam and blocking his way. Wufei came to a halt, looking up at Trowa in irritation. "Get out of the way, Barton."
"No." Trowa was as calm as ever. "We're not going inside until you pull your head out of your ass."
Wufei had to catch himself from letting his jaw drop. He didn't think he'd ever heard Trowa cuss, much less use a phrase like that. "What's that?" he sputtered.
Trowa stared him down, eyes hard with determination. "Let's get something straight, Wufei," he said in a low voice. "Quatre is just as important to me as he is to you. Both of us want him back. He may be with you, but that doesn't mean I don't want to get him back just as badly as you do."
Wufei opened his mouth to argue, but Trowa continued on without giving him a chance to speak.
"Fighting each other isn't doing us any good. It's going to tear this team apart if you don't quit being so bull-headed. Then we'll never find Quatre."
"Kisama," Wufei growled. "Who do you think you are?"
"Someone that Quatre trusts. Just like he trusts you and Heero and Duo. But we aren't going to be any help to him if we're arguing all the time."
Wufei crossed his arms over his chest, glaring up at the taller boy. "Are you asking for a truce?" he demanded.
"I'm not asking for a truce," Trowa said, voice a little sharp. "I'm saying drop it. Stop looking at me as a rival and stop acting jealous. All of us are tying to get Quatre back, but you take offense that I want him back, as well. That isn't fair, Wufei. I know that Quatre's with you. I'm not trying to take him away from you."
Wufei studied him warily. "Are you sure about that, Barton?" he asked quietly. "I think you want him for yourself."
"He's not a prize," Trowa snapped.
Wufei's eyes narrowed. "I didn't say-"
"Then stop treating him like one." Trowa's eyes flashed.
They stood glaring at each other for several long, tense moments of silence. Finally Wufei tilted his chin, eyeing the other boy. "If he's so important to you," he said, "then why didn't you take him when he was so into you?"
Trowa actually flinched.
Wufei was a little surprised by the reaction, but bulled on mercilessly. "It was obvious to everyone else that he was pining after you for weeks. Yet you didn't encourage him in the slightest." It hurt to say it, but he forced the next words out anyway. "He was crazy about you."
Trowa looked away, his jaw tightening.
Wufei waited for awhile for some response, but when it looked like he wasn't going to get one, he stepped forward again.
"I did want him."
Trowa's voice was so quiet Wufei paused, unsure if he'd really spoken. "What?"
Trowa hesitated, staring off into the trees, reluctant to speak. "How would I know what to do with someone like Quatre?" he said finally, very quietly. "Quatre... deserved someone who would be more open with their feelings."
Wufei studied him, frowning. "You didn't even give it a try. Why are you like that? You're even more emotionless than Yuy sometimes."
Trowa's mouth twitched. "Things are easier...when you don't have to deal with emotions."
"What are you so afraid of?" Wufei asked before he could stop himself. His voice was quieter, now. The anger was seeping out of him, replaced by an honest curiosity. Trowa had always been an enigma to them all. With the other boy's defenses momentarily down, he was determined to get what information he could. "You act like you're afraid to feel."
Trowa turned abruptly and strode inside.
Wufei hurried after him. "Oi! Don't you walk away from me, Barton. Answer me!" His quick footsteps echoed in the empty cabin as he caught up to Trowa. He reached out, grabbing his arm and whirling him around to face him. "Hey!"
Trowa yanked his arm away, glaring at him. "Drop it, Wufei."
"No." Wufei could be stubborn when he wanted to, and right now he was immovable. "You're going to answer me. If you expect us to stop fighting, then be honest with me, damn it." He advanced, backing Trowa into a corner.
Trowa looked like a trapped rat, glancing away quickly and going tense. "Drop it, Wufei," he repeated in a whisper.
"Why did it take you so long to see that Quatre liked you?" Wufei demanded. "What the hell is wrong with you that you refuse to feel anything until it's too late?"
"I wasn't paying attention to Quatre," he said between his teeth, still refusing to look at Wufei.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Wufei asked, exasperated. "You sure like him enough now." He was struck with a sudden thought. "You were interested in someone else first," he said suddenly, triumphantly. "Is that it? Before you saw that Quatre liked you- before you fell for him. Too late, I might add."
Trowa was completely stiff, his mouth a tight white line. He was staring off to the side, fists clenched by his sides. He said nothing.
Wufei blinked. It had been just a random guess... but had he been right? Trowa had liked someone before Quatre? The thought had never occured to him before. Though it would explain why Trowa had been so oblivious to Quatre's shy advances until right before the blond had given up on him.
"If that's it," he said slowly, "then why didn't you act like it? You never showed that you like anyone." He studied Trowa's hard, handsome face. So little about the other boy's past was known... Was it...? "What happened to make you close off your emotions?"
Trowa finally looked at him, jade eyes chips of ice. "Get out of my way," he said levelly, "or I'll break your leg and make you get out of the way."
"Answer my question."
"You pig-headed little-"
"Get away from me."
Wufei grabbed him.
He did it in a surge of temper, unthinkingly, seizing the other boy by his arms.
Trowa jerked back as if Wufei had hit him, body going impossibly tense. He hit the wall behind him, breath catching. Wufei jerked his hands away, startled. He'd forgotten the stoic pilot didn't like to be touched. Being grabbed so roughly after having his team mates respect his personal space for so long must have been a shock.
Then something clicked.
Trowa couldn't stand to be touched, and reacted violently to any dominant move into his personal space. His face was always a cool, impenetrable mask, his emotions locked away deep inside. It was as nothing ever phazed him, nothing touched him. But something *had* affected Trowa.
A long time ago.
Trowa was desperately afraid of human contact.
And that could only mean...
"Jesus," Wufei breathed.
A long time ago...
The untouchable Trowa Barton had been touched one too many times.
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