The room was empty when Quatre woke up, and he wondered if he'd overslept. There weren't any windows, and the four candles still lit didn't help much to
dispel the darkness. But he could clearly see that the other mattresses were empty and he moved off the one he was on. Looking at the others, he spread
the blanket to mimic them. He didn't want to cause any trouble, so he remained seated beside the mattress, listening for voices. Minutes passed before the
silence was too much for him and he fidgeted abruptly, standing with his arms folded over his chest.
They wouldn't have left him, he was sure of that, and he crossed the room carefully, walking between the mattresses pressed close to the walls. The door was
closed, and he hesitated. On the one hand, it was possible that they had let him sleep, but chances were he was expected to wait. There hadn't been any
lights when he'd come up the night before, but he remembered stairs and turns. He didn't plan to go outside or anything. Besides, the longhaired boy had
promised to take him home, and as much as he didn't want to think of Heero's reaction when he did get home, he was also eager. Deciding no one would get
mad at him, he finally gripped the doorknob, turning it easily.
A boy was seated against the wall outside the room, and he stood when Quatre opened the door. "Hungry?" The blonde nodded, and he turned away, hiding
his glare. It was irritating; the boy had slept nearly half the day away. Everyone else had left hours ago but he'd been asked to stay and watch him. Sure,
most of the time the new kids were treated with leniency, but this one wasn't even going to stay with them. He had a home he was being taken back to. Still,
Duo had asked him to take care of the boy, and there was no way he'd do anything but that. He didn't, however, have to like it.
Tall windows lined the wide hall, and sunlight shone through the pale paint covering the glass. It was obviously late, and Quatre was surprised that he'd slept
so long. The boy was moving away from him and he followed, taking in the dark clothing as he recognized him as one of the gunmen from the night before.
Not much taller than him, the boy no longer looked younger now that his features were visible. "Where did everybody go?"
"To work. We all have assignments here, each does his part."
The boy's cold expression wasn't lost on him, and Quatre dropped his eyes. "I'm sorry to put you out." He didn't get a response, but the boy motioned him
through a doorway and he could see a small table. The girl was there, and she smiled at him. She was standing on a small footstool in front of a counter, a
fryer heated on it.
The blonde boy glanced at him, and he frowned, waving a hand at the table. "The name's Joe," he said sharply, but his eyes softened a bit when they fell on
the black-haired girl. "That's Hilde."
"Quatre." The girl nodded a few times, still smiling.
"I know, you said that last night. Duo said to make sure you eat, but that you might be picky." Hilde frowned at that, telling how much she cared for it, "But you
aren't picky, are you? My food's good."
Quatre shook his head, glancing at Joe who was leaning in the doorway. The boy was sneering at him. The boy obviously didn't care for him, but he couldn't
help that. "It smells good." The girl was frying small pieces of meat on the rectangular skillet, telling him that they did have electricity despite the use of
Hilde nodded happily, approving. "Duo says I'm the best cook they've had here. I'm not old enough to work yet, but I can cook anything they bring home."
"How old are you?" Quatre asked. She was shorter than him, but she seemed smart enough.
"I don't know, but Duo thinks I'm at least seven." She nodded again when the blonde boy looked surprised. "Sit down," she said, waving at the two chairs
pushed up to the table. "How hungry are you?"
"A little is fine," Quatre said quickly, sitting in the chair closest to the door. He already felt like an outsider, and he was again reminded of how much he owed
these people. Joe's feelings toward him were reasonable, as far as he could see. He hadn't contributed anything, and he doubted if they had much to offer.
It didn't feel right taking more from them than politeness demanded. "I'm not that hungry."
"Really?" Turning a bit so she could look at him, Hilde frowned, her brows drawing together. "But you missed breakfast." Joe was shaking his head at her,
and she hopped off the stool and walked to the boy. Stopping in front of him, she glared and curved a finger telling him to bend down. A flicker of discomfort
crossed his face, then he leaned close so she could whisper in his ear. "Were you mean to him, Joey?"
The blonde boy was looking at them, but Quatre turned away quickly and Joe sighed. "Maybe."
"I don't like it when you're mean. Why don't you go carve something? I want to talk to him, it's okay." The boy frowned, brown eyes dark, and she smiled at
him. Then she patted his cheek, giggling when he flushed and straightened. "Be good, Joey."
The dark-haired boy left so quickly that Quatre turned back to stare after him despite how rude it was. The girl's grin was cheeky, and she winked at him
before hopping back onto the stool. He wanted to ask, but didn't. Hilde plucked the pieces of meat up with a knife and scraped them off into a plastic bowl.
Then she took a few and put them on a plate, crossing the few feet till she could set it on the table in front of him.
"There," Hilde said, "eat that. But I bet you'll still be hungry afterward."
"You're welcome." Sitting in the chair beside him, she propped an elbow on the table. "So Duo is taking you home? Where do you live?"
"I'm not sure," Quatre said. He would have been nervous with the girl staring at him, but she seemed nice, and he understood that she would be curious. He
was. "We just moved here a few days ago. I got lost, so I don't know where the house is."
"You live in a house? Duo says there aren't many houses left because too many companies move in. They need space and that means up not out." The
blonde boy blinked at her and she shrugged. "I guess he means tall buildings like our warehouse. Is your house tall or wide?"
"A bit of both," Quatre shrugged. "But it's no where near as tall as the buildings I saw on the streets. I've never seen buildings like that before."
"Joey says this city has the biggest scrapers anywhere. When we leave we're going to go to the country. They have grass and trees and little houses. Joey
promised I could have a garden with flowers, too."
"Then you guys are going to leave the city?" Quatre asked. "I used to live in the country, but my brother got a job here. So we had to move."
"Everyone leaves eventually. Except for Duo, he's been here forever. Joey was going to leave a year ago, but he says I'm worth waiting for."
The girl was smiling, and Quatre blinked for a moment before leaning forward. "Then it's just the two of you who are leaving?"
"Yeah. Usually the boys leave one at a time, that's what Duo said. But Joey says a girl can't just leave all by herself. He's teaching me how to use a gun so
we can go together."
"Aren't you too young to travel without an adult?" He couldn't forget what had gotten him into trouble, and the thought of two kids trying to go to the country
was far-fetched. It had taken hours by plane, and Quatre remembered all of the different cities they'd passed over. "It sounds dangerous. And where do you
get guns? I thought only adults were allowed to use guns."
"Oh, Duo's an adult. And Trowa's almost an adult. They get weapons, but we don't use them much. Joey says they're for show, they show them to people so
they know not to break the rules." Quatre had finished eating, and she picked up the plate, setting it on the counter. "Duo said you have a family but that
they're bad people. I thought families were supposed to take care of their kids."
"They're not bad," Quatre said quickly, frowning at her. "My brother takes care of me, it's not his fault I got lost."
"What about parents? Do you have those, too?" The blonde shook his head and she sighed. "We don't either. But Duo says we don't need them because
people stupid enough to throw kids away don't deserve to be parents. We're a family."
"And you're the resident chatter-box." Duo smirked from where he stood in the doorway, and he shook his head when Hilde jumped up looking guilty.
"You're home early! I didn't make dinner yet." Frowning, Hilde glanced at the empty skillet. "I'm sorry."
"Hush," Duo said easily, leaning against the doorframe. "You're doing fine. Trowa and I are going to take Quatre home, now. Just save us something for this
"How are you going to find his house if he doesn't know where it is?" Hilde asked, looking from Duo to Quatre.
"There aren't that many houses in this city," Duo reminded her. Quatre stood up, and he waved toward the door. "Let's get moving. We don't want to lose
* * *
He spotted them as they crossed the street, and the three boys had already entered another alley before he was able to move. Not once had he actually
thought that his search would turn up anything. Rather, Wufei was looking simply to be doing something. Traveling on foot, he'd been searching for anyone
who had spotted a boy matching Quatre's description. He hadn't expected to see the boy himself, but once he shook himself out of his shock, he took off after
them. The three were halfway through the alley when he reached the entrance, and he was grateful he'd come armed.
Duo turned first, his eyes wide with shock and disbelief. Then he shoved Quatre behind him, looking at Trowa. "Get him out of here *now*." The blonde boy
was staring at the man aiming a long gun at them, and Duo's gaze raked over him. He wasn't that old, black hair pulled back in a tight tail behind him. But he
held the gun with evident ease, and with complete idiocy. No one carried a gun in the daytime.
Quatre found his tongue when Trowa grabbed his arm and started to pull him away and he shook his head quickly. "Wait, it's okay!" Wufei had turned the
gun on the tall boy and he tried to hold still but Trowa lifted him with an arm around his waist. "Wait."
"Stop," Wufei said sharply, moving forward a few steps. "Get away from him now, or I *will* shoot."
"The *hell* you will."
The two boys with Quatre looked past him, and Wufei stiffened, glancing back to see four teens step into the alley behind him. While he didn't lower his aim,
he was very aware of the fact that each of the teens was armed. He looked back to Quatre and glared at the frightened look on the blonde's face. Then Duo
stepped in front of them and Wufei's teeth clenched. He actually had a break, and now he didn't dare move or he would endanger the boy.
Not taking his eyes off the black-haired man, Duo waved a hand at Trowa. "Go." The four teens moved forward, placing themselves between them and he
risked a glance. Quatre's eyes were wide, but he didn't struggle when Trowa carried him out of the alley. The moment they were out of sight, Duo relaxed.
Tristin was looking at him, and he glared briefly. The rules were clear, no weapons during the day, but he couldn't complain now, not when they'd been
"Get going," Tristin called, turning back to the man who had lowered his gun.
"I owe you," Duo said softly, not moving until gray eyes turned on him.
Tristin grinned, "I know." The boy nodded once before following the other two, and he turned back to Wufei, moving closer. The man's gun was evidence that
he was affiliated with the law, meaning they couldn't kill him. But ignorance was no excuse for what he'd done. "You fucked up," Tristin murmured, pressing
the tip of his gun against the man's forehead. "You *must* be new, so you just get a warning. Do your research before you come into the alleys, talk to your
superiors. Because next time you pull a gun on him, we'll kill you on sight. And if I find out you so much as touched him, I'll find you and kill your entire family.
One of the teens had taken his gun, and Wufei held still, not moving as he was threatened. If they didn't plan on killing him, then he wasn't worried. The tall
one who spoke was obviously the leader of the gang, and from his words the boy expected to be obeyed. Wufei just looked at him, and he didn't dodge when
the boy punched him in the stomach. Instead, he let himself fall to his knees, and he almost smirked when the four left him there. As far as he was concerned,
they were amateurs. The moment the last of them was out of sight, he pulled a second gun from inside his coat and followed them. They had no idea who
they were up against.
* * *
"He's a friend of my brother," Quatre said, shaking his head at Duo's glare.
"I don't care who he is," Duo spat, rounding on the boy. "No one pulls a gun in the daylight, *no* one. There are rules against that. I'll take you back, Quatre,
tonight. But you remember to tell him *never* to try that again. He'll start a war, and we don't need that."
"I can take him," Trowa said softly. He knew what the boy was going to say, but he couldn't help trying.
"Forget it." Stepping to the tall boy, Duo's eyes narrowed and he shoved him suddenly. Trowa recovered almost immediately, but the boy's eyes were on the
ground. "Don't follow me, this time," Duo warned. "I already owe Tristin, and I don't want to owe him anything else because they had to save you as well.
Promise me, Trowa."
He didn't look up, his hands curling into fists. "You have my word."
* * *
Having warned Quatre not to speak, Duo led the way toward the residential part of the city. They didn't get far from where they'd left Trowa before a familiar
figure moved out of the shadows. Quatre halted, but Duo held the boy's hand to keep him from moving back. He didn't understand that he was safe now.
"Where are you going with him, Duo?" the boy asked smoothly, raising an eyebrow.
"He's mine now," Duo reminded the boy, holding his left hand up. "It's none of your business." Pulling Quatre with him, he stepped past Tristin, not glancing
behind the teen to where the other three were hidden in the darkness.
"Duo, have you forgotten your debt so quickly?" The longhaired boy halted but didn't look at him.
"I'll be back." The four made no attempt to follow them, and Duo kept his hold on Quatre's hand, walking quickly.
Quatre was watching the black-clad boy, not sure what was happening. He was confused, the four boys had hurt him and he'd assumed they were enemies to
Duo and the others. But it was obviously more complicated than that. They were moving fast, and it seemed as if Duo knew where they were going. Thinking
of his home, Quatre wondered what Wufei would say to him when he arrived. There hadn't been time to really look at him, but he was certain his punishment
would be severe. Deep in these depressing thoughts, he bumped into Duo when the boy halted abruptly and his eyes flew around the alley they were
currently in. They all looked the same to him, and he glanced up at the boy beside him.
Tristin thought of himself as being good, but Duo was better and he turned suddenly, his eyes boring into a black corner. "Just so you know," he said sharply,
"I heard you three blocks ago." Dark eyes glinted as Wufei moved into the light and Duo glared at him. "Don't bother pointing your gun at me...Wufei." The
man flinched and he smirked at him. "Yeah, Quatre here told me about you. You're a friend of his brother."
"That's right," Wufei said. His eyes swept over the boy, taking in his dark coat, the long braid of hair and the fact that he wore only one glove. Then he looked
at Quatre, and he could tell by the boy's wide eyes that he felt guilty. "Quatre, are you all right?"
"Yes," Quatre said quickly, "Duo was taking me home."
"I'll take you home." Wufei took a step forward but stopped when the longhaired boy shook his head.
"I don't think so," Duo murmured. "I promised to take him, and that's what I plan to do. I'll deliver him into the hands of his...family." The word was spat out as
if distasteful, and Duo snorted softly. "Besides, where were you when he was getting himself lost in this city? If you want to see him home, lead the way."
"I do have a gun," Wufei said slowly, eyeing the boy.
"Pull a gun on me again and you won't live to regret it. Do you think they were kidding? If so, then you're dumber than you look. Lead the way." The man
continued to stare at him for a moment, then he stepped past them. Duo's eyes flicked to Quatre, and his left hand fell on the boy's shoulder as he nodded.
"Let's get you home, eh?"