Category:  Yaoi, Gundam Wing, AU
Warnings:  minor angst, shonen ai
Pairings:  3+2, will be 1x2, 3+4/4+3, possibly 5x3
Author:  Arigatomina


Part 1

Quatre was thoroughly lost.  He'd never been in a city before, and the twisting, exhaust fogged streets formed a maze.  For nearly two hours he'd tried to find
his way back to the mansion, he'd stayed to his right, taking the turns as if the streets truly were a maze, but all he'd accomplished was to confuse himself
even worse.  There were plenty of people he could have asked for directions, but he remembered his brother's vivid warnings, and the strangers were more
frightening than the idea of spending the night in an alley.  And from the way things were looking, that was exactly what he'd be doing.  A glance at his watch
told him it was nearly four-thirty, and he walked quicker.

His brother was going to kill him if he ever did find his way back.  He was thinking this when he passed the group, and he barely looked at them, his pale brows
lowered in worry.  But they noticed him well enough, and his wrist was gripped before he'd taken more than a few steps.  Turning, he blinked in surprise at the
four boys.  Heero had warned him enough times that he shouldn't talk to people, and he chewed his lip, wondering what to do.  They looked young, maybe
eighteen at the most, and they were smiling at him.

"Lost, kid?"

* * *

No one could run faster than him; it was well known that he could traverse the shadows better than anyone.  But he didn't bother with hiding his destination,
the message one of the boys had given spurring him on.  He knew exactly where to go, and he halted abruptly at the mouth of the alley, his violet eyes
narrowing at the sounds that reached him.  Then he stepped forward, moving around the pulled out dumpster until he could see them.  Tristin looked up with a
wide grin.

With a stance that belied his anger, Duo crossed his arms over his chest, eyes moving over the boy they held.  Small and blonde, his wide blue eyes were
flying wildly about him, tears marring his pale cheeks.  It was his age that settled things, and he was sure the boy couldn't be more than ten, maybe eleven.  

"It's been too long, Duo.  We've missed you."  The boy stood, pushing the blonde toward one of his friends.  Pale gray eyes glinted, and he walked forward till
the dark-clothed boy was only five feet away.  "Is this one of yours?"

Duo's jaw tightened, and he glared past the tall boy, staring into wide eyes as he looked at the blonde.  "He is now."

"Perfect."  Tristin turned and crossed to the boy who was being held around the waist.  Still grinning, he ran his hand through thick blonde hair and kissed
Quatre's cheek.  The boy's eyes flew to his, and he smirked.  "I knew you'd do the trick," he whispered, patting the boy's damp cheek.  "Thank you."

He'd given up struggling when the boys had hit him the second time, but Quatre became still now, confusion rising in him.  The boy holding him pulled him
back, away from the other three, but he didn't do anything more.  Staring at the tall ringleader, Quatre watched as he turned toward the new boy.  He was
dressed in black, a long coat falling to his ankles, but it was dark violet eyes that made him frightening to look at.  Those eyes were still glaring at him, not at
the others, and he was more afraid of this boy than he had been of the ones who'd hurt him.  Then the boy's gaze turned and Quatre breathed with relief.

"One hour," Duo said suddenly, staring holes into Tristin.

The boy's eyes widened, then he made a face, turning to look at his friends for a moment.  "Duo, that's no bargain.  He would have lasted three hours at

Quatre blinked when the longhaired boy suddenly looked at him again, and he could feel those violet eyes raking over him.  The boy raised an eyebrow till it
nearly disappeared beneath his dangling bangs.

"Who are you kidding?" Duo asked, his voice low and mocking.  Again, he found himself looking at the blonde, and he wanted to hit him for being so stupid.  
"He's just a little kid."

"Maybe," Tristin acknowledged, "But Duo, we haven't seen you in months.  An hour just isn't enough time.  Besides, he's a very pretty one; that little body,
those big blue eyes.  Surely he's worth more than an *hour* of your time?"

The boy in question was small, and Duo glared at him one last time before straightening.  Holding Tristin's eyes, he shrugged off his long coat, letting it fall to
the dusty cement.  He raised a black-gloved hand and held it out in front of him, palm up.  "Two.  Final offer sale."

The sound of clicks broke the silence of the alley, and Quatre turned his head, staring in shock at the dark figures that seemed to have come out of nowhere.  
He couldn't really see them, but he caught the glints of two metallic objects, dark eyes behind them.  They were standing at the opening opposite the one the
strange boy had come from, and his four attackers didn't seem the least bit surprised by their arrival.  In fact, the gray-eyed boy didn't so much as glance
back, his eyes still on Duo.

"Done."  Grinning wolfishly, Tristin reached into his belt, pulling a small knife.  He held it, his eyes on the boy before him.

With slow, graceful movements, Duo tugged off the glove.  This he tucked under his arm and he stepped forward, not blinking when the tall boy took hold of
his left wrist.  He followed the blade, a small flinch crossing his face as it sliced his palm.  Then he took it.  With cold eyes, he cut Tristin's left hand, an equal
mark, and the deal was sealed, hands clasped.  Stepping back, he tossed the knife, not worrying that the boy had trouble catching it.  Instead, he had turned
his head to look over his shoulder, and his eyes softened just a bit.  "Trowa?"

The boy moved forward, appearing from around the corner, and Duo turned to face him, a wistful smile given for the boy's sad eyes.  Three years younger
than him, Trowa was still nearly a foot taller, and the boy's slender frame gave him a vulnerable air.  Green eyes sparkling, the boy moved to him.  His eyes
dropped to his left hand as the boy lifted it, and he watched Trowa press two fingers to the blood collecting there, following his long-fingered hand as he raised
it to his lips.  Those green eyes hurt to look at; they were filled with such adoration and sadness.  Tasting the blood on his fingers, Trowa closed his eyes; his
long fall of bangs masking the bright trail that ran down one cheek.  

Lifting a hand that threatened to shake at the boy's devotion, Duo ran his thumb over the boy's cheek.  "Take him home, please?  I'll be there shortly."

Trowa nodded slowly, not looking at the boy as he took the black glove.  With careful movements, he pulled it onto Duo's hand, smearing the blood and
drawing a pained breath from the boy.  Holding it in both hands, he let his eyes move to Duo's, and he raised the gloved-hand, pressing a light kiss into his

His throat closed, and Duo's hand dropped to his side as Trowa stepped past him.  Five years he'd known him, but he still seemed unable to accept the way of
the city.  He sometimes wondered if the boy was more hurt by his intervention than he would have been if Duo had left him to the others.  No one had touched
him since they'd met, but Trowa refused to forget, each person they gathered was one more reason for him to revere their leader.  And the boy's complete
trust and care for him was one more reason Duo was determined to save every one he could.  Turning, he watched the tall boy as Trowa moved unmolested
among the four waiting teens, and his previous anger towards the blonde boy evaporated.

Quatre stumbled when he was released suddenly, his stomach hurting from where one of the boys had hit him earlier.  Straightening, he blinked at the tall boy,
not sure what was happening.  Trowa didn't say a word, but he waved his hand towards the two glints to their right, turning away.  For a moment, Quatre
stared dumbly after him, then he was shoved from behind and he fell forward.  He didn't even see the boy move, but the tall one was between him and his
attacker in an instant.  An unspoken message seemed to have been given, and the boy turned back to him, green eyes narrowed.  Again, he gestured toward
the two shadow-masked people, and Quatre got to his feet quickly, backing away.  This time, when the boy walked past him, he followed.

The two glints proved to be guns.  Quatre was surprised by the boys who held them as one looked to be even younger than he was.  They were both glaring,
but they didn't speak to him, taking up positions on either side as the tall boy led them away.  A streetlight illuminated the mouth of the alley and Quatre looked
back.  He couldn't see the longhaired boy, but the four others were circled together, and he stopped.  "What are--?"  The tall boy rounded on him, and he
gasped, stepping back as green eyes blazed at him.  Again, the boy didn't speak, and Quatre shivered as the two boys beside him took his arms.  Turning
again, the boy led them, and Quatre didn't look back, propelled forward with them.

* * *

The boy was seated, leaning against the wall of a building, and he paused, looking at those dark lashes.  His shoulders were hunched beneath his long coat,
and his dark bangs fell forward over his face as his head was bowed.  For a moment, Trowa simply looked at him, caught in the rare display of weakness.  
Then violet eyes snapped open, and he straightened, moving out of the shadows as Duo stared at him.

"You shouldn't be here," Duo said softly, a pained smile curving his lips.  The tall boy's face was void of expression, but he couldn't bring himself to yell at him.  
"And you came alone, didn't you."  The tall boy didn't speak, crouching in front of him, those green eyes boring into his.  Sighing, Duo closed his eyes, leaning
his head against the wall.  "I was coming home, I was just taking a break.  You didn't have to come looking for me."


Blinking at that soft voice, Duo looked at the boy, a genuine smile lighting his face.  It wasn't often that Trowa spoke, only when he had something to say that
couldn't be explained with gestures.  "I'll be fine," he said softly.  Hiding his discomfort, he pushed away from the wall, Trowa moving back so he could stand.  
Despite his words, his body protested the movement, and he pressed a palm to the wall, unwilling to give in.  "I don't know what to do with you," he said quickly,
trying to distract the boy, as he knew that Trowa noticed everything.  "You know the rules, Trowa.  Never, never come after me.  I always come back, don't I?  
In my own time."

"You can't walk."

The coldness in that statement caught him by surprise, then Duo glared suddenly, stepping forward.  Moving the tall boy back, he folded his arms over his
chest, his eyes narrowed.  "I can."  Pride swept through him, as well as indignation.  To admit to weakness would be to say that he was unable to protect them,
that their reliance on him was faulty.  It hurt to think that Trowa, one of the first he'd met, would doubt him.  "I don't need help."

There was a darkening bruise on the boy's cheek, and Trowa stared at that, calming his own anger at the stubborn stance.  Every blow he took in their stead
brought him down, one inch closer to the edge.  The two months since the last time had shown a different side to their leader, and Trowa thought of that now.  
He'd seen glimpses, over the years, of a gentleness; a vulnerability that was hidden carefully.  But the lack of pain had brought that side to the surface, and
Trowa no longer thought of the boy as being invincible.  He was a child, just like them, and he was breaking.  

Duo was unprepared for the boy's move; he'd never thought that Trowa might have the strength or impulse for what he did next.  But he was lifted easily, and
his fury bounded, his hands gripping the boy's shoulders tightly.  "Trowa.  Let me go now.  I don't want to hurt you."

He looked at the boy, those violet eyes darkened with anger, but he merely tightened his hold, lifting him higher against his chest.  "If I put you down...Duo.  
That would hurt me.  I'm going to help you."

His anger drained slowly, and Duo's eyes swept over the boy's face, again touched by the boy's sad eyes.  "Trowa," he said, his voice softer yet unwilling to
bend.  "I don't need help.  I can make it on my own, don't I always make it on my own?"

"I won't let you go.  This small thing may be the only way I can begin to repay all that I owe you.  I know you don't *need* my help.  But I want to give it."  

Those eyes had a sheen on them that hurt more than his own pain, and Duo closed his eyes.  It was so hard, relaxing enough to rest his head on the boy's
shoulder, but he did it slowly.  "Alright.  This time only, Trowa.  As long as you know, I *am* capable of protecting you, all of you.  As long as you don't doubt


* * *

No one had spoken to him since he'd first stepped into the building, and Quatre had seated himself in the corner away from the door.  The room was lit by
candles, something he'd never actually seen but there didn't seem to be electricity.  Since the tall boy had left, a few slender males had come and gone, the
fact that there was only one girl making him wonder.  He had no idea why he'd been brought there, or what was going to happen, but his fear had left him as
he'd been offered food and drink.  True, he hadn't been able to tell exactly what it was the little girl had offered, but the kindness was reassuring.  Four boys
and the girl were resting on the various mattresses that filled the room when the door opened, and Quatre sat up from where he'd dozed, leaning against the

There was a shuffle as everyone got to his feet, and Quatre had just started to stand when the girl bolted across the room, throwing herself at the
dark-clothed boy.  The boy's expression was completely changed from before, and he grinned, kneeling to hug her.  Glancing from him to the tall boy who
stood just behind him, Quatre blinked, noticing that he was scowling at the other boy.

Letting Hilde go, Duo stood slowly, not showing pain as his eyes grew sober and the others approached him.  It was a ritual, started by Trowa, and he sighed,
lifting his left hand.  He shifted uncomfortably as his palm was kissed, and he resisted the urge to pull away.  Their display made him feel as if he were being
worshipped, something he knew he didn't deserve.  After all, aside from the girl, they would all be able to care for themselves soon, old enough to leave the
city.  In fact, he often wondered if they were growing too dependent on him, others had left at younger ages.  He knew for a fact, that Trowa could handle
himself, yet the boy made no move to go anywhere.

He sighed again when they'd finished, and he gave each a quick smile.  "It's late, guys."  His words were greeted with nods so quickly that he wanted to
grimace.  Their compliance with his every word was so grating on his nerves, but he smirked instead, reminding himself that Trowa had gone against him and
he much preferred the obeisance.  They went to their beds, and Duo glanced around the room, his gaze resting on the blonde boy who stood in the corner.  
With Trowa following, he crossed to the small boy, sitting down in front of him.  The boy quickly sat down as well and Duo was relieved, even his legs hurt.

"What's your name, kid?" Duo asked, quieting his voice as he was aware of how young the boy was.

"Quatre Raberba Winner."  The boy let out a light laugh, and Quatre blinked, not sure what to make of it.

"Well, Quatre Raberba Winner, where did you come from?  And what the *hell* made you go roaming around the city like that?"  Duo gritted his teeth a bit
when the blonde flinched, but it was incredibly stupid for such a young boy to be alone.  

"I got lost," Quatre whispered, dropping his eyes.  "I've never been in a city before.  I just wanted to see what it was like but the roads all look the same."

"You have a family...?"

Duo's eyes narrowed, and he agreed with Trowa's disbelieving tone.  Staring at the pale boy in front of him, he shook his head, right hand curling into a fist.  
"What kind of family lets a little boy go wandering around like that?  I can't believe this."

"I...didn't tell anyone," Quatre admitted, his cheeks growing hot with shame, "I was only going to go down the street, just to see.  But there were so many
people and I couldn't see the house anymore."

"Okay," Duo said, controlling his anger.  He'd had such a high picture of what a real family would be like, but obviously he was wrong.  And there was no point
blaming the boy.  "How old are you, Quatre?"

"Ten, but I'll be eleven soon."

"Yeah.  So long as you stay off the streets.  I tell you what, tomorrow, I'll take you home, okay?  Till then..."  Standing, Duo turned stiffly, his scowl reappearing
as he realized there wasn't an extra mattress.  He made a face, then sighed and looked back at the boy.  "Well, you can have my bed."  Trowa was shaking his
head before the words were even out of his mouth, but Duo ignored him, gesturing toward the mattress and blankets in question.  

"I couldn't," Quatre said quickly.  "It wouldn't be right."  The tall boy's eyes snapped to him, and he shrank a bit back against the wall, not sure what emotion
was behind those green eyes.  

"He can have my bed."   

Turning his head, Duo stared at the boy for a moment.  "No.  I've accepted responsibility for him, this isn't up for debate."  Trowa's eyes narrowed and Duo
wondered for the second time that night where the boy's will to go against him had come from.  

"You are in no condition to sleep on the floor," Trowa said quietly.  

He knew the others were still awake, and his entire body clenched in anger.  It didn't matter that what the boy said was true, there was no excuse for revealing
his state to the others.  Duo stepped to him, reaching up, and his gloved hand clenched a fold of Trowa's shirt, the boy wincing in reaction.  His voice was a
whisper through his teeth.  "Don't."

Trowa knew he'd gone too far, he could push the boy, but Duo wouldn't take anymore, especially now when he was so tense.  He'd picked the worst possible
time to stage a rebellion.  "He can share my bed," Trowa whispered back, "he's small enough."  He jerked back a bit when Duo's eyes widened, and he blinked
in confusion, the odd expression on the boy's face catching him by surprise.  

Still holding Trowa's shirt, Duo turned his head slowly, looking over his shoulder at Quatre.  The boy was still pressed to the wall, and he looked at him closely
for a moment then whipped back to stare at Trowa.  His lips twitched, and he raised an eyebrow, once again looking from one boy to the other.  Trowa
blushed.  "I see," Duo said, white teeth showing as he grinned suddenly.  "Why, Trowa, you should have just said so.  I had no idea."  The boy's green eyes
were wide, and he was shaking his head but Duo ignored it.  Releasing the boy's shirt, he patted Trowa's cheek.  "He's kinda young, though, don't you think?"

Mouth open, Trowa stared after Duo, watching the boy as he slowly pulled off his coat.  He knew what the boy was insinuating, of course he did, and that
hadn't been his meaning at all.  But then, Duo probably knew that.  He glared a bit, watching as Duo went to his bed, but he wasn't really angry.  After all, he'd
gotten his way.  Sufficiently reminded, Trowa looked to the blonde boy and waved a hand toward his own mattress.  The boy followed his gesture, then those
pale cheeks flushed and he shook his head quickly.  Trowa frowned at him, then glanced back to where Duo was seated across the room.  The longhaired boy
was watching him with a raised eyebrow and it made his muscles tighten reflexively.  

As far as Quatre was concerned, he was perfectly fine in the corner.  He'd never shared a bed before, and he simply couldn't see a reason to put these
people out of theirs, especially when it was becoming obvious to him that they'd helped him. The tall boy was scowling at him, and Quatre shook his head
again when the boy waved toward the only empty mattress.  Wondering why the boy even bothered arguing with him when he knew he wasn't going to change
his mind, he jerked back as Trowa suddenly crouched in front of him.  For a moment, he thought the boy was going to hit him, then he felt hair on his cheek
and his eyes snapped open, blinking quickly.

"I'm not going to hurt you," Trowa whispered, his mouth near the boy's ear so Duo wouldn't be able to overhear.  "But, if it weren't for Duo, you'd still be in that
alley.  He took your place.  Maybe you don't understand, that's just as well, but he's hurt now and you are making it worse.  If you keep arguing with me, he's
going to be hurt even more and I won't allow that.  There isn't a reason for you to be stubborn, too.  Believe me, I won't touch you."

Looking across the room, Quatre could see that Duo was frowning.  He turned his head and dropped his own voice as he knew the boy was whispering for that
reason.  "I didn't think you would," he said quickly.  "It's just that...I owe you, too.  It wouldn't be right for me to put you out anymore than it would for me to take
his bed.  I'm just trying not to inconvenience you anymore than I already have."

He didn't speak like a child of ten, or rather, Trowa could tell he hadn't grown up on the streets.  It occurred to him that the boy was being polite, and he
thought quickly, how to use this to his own advantage.  "Well, the longer I argue with you, the less sleep I'll get.  And Duo won't even relax until we are both
secure.  So, if you don't want to inconvenience us, go along with me."

Quatre sighed, nodding slowly.  The boy pulled away immediately, and he frowned at him, glancing from green eyes to the mattress.  "Heero would kill me if he
ever found out about this," he said quietly, pushing onto his knees.  "This isn't how a person is supposed to repay his debts, by incurring more."

Trowa waited until the pale boy had removed his shoes and slid beneath the cover, then nodded sharply to Duo.  The boy seemed surprised for a moment,
violet eyes flicking down to the blonde, then Duo smiled again and Trowa's left eye twitched.  There was something very irritating about that sense of humor.  
Tearing his eyes away, he took off his own shoes and climbed in next to the small boy, inches separating them as the mattress was just large enough.  
Quatre's eyebrows were raised in question and he gave the boy a sharp nod, before laying back.  The boy's small smile made him blink, then Quatre turned
his back toward him and curled on his side, making himself comfortable.  

The blonde's words came back to him, and Trowa propped himself on an elbow, glancing around the room quickly.  Duo had lain down on his own bed, and his
eyes were closed.  As long as he'd known him, Trowa was still amazed at how quickly the boy seemed able to go to sleep.  His voice was soft as he leaned
over Quatre, and he whispered.  "You don't owe me for this, I owe you."