+ Part 24
* * * * * *
His limbs were so heavy, and /Nanashi/ tried in vain to lift them. But
something was weighting down on it; and he felt so drained, so detached
from everything, as if he had been drugged. He wondered for a moment whether
opening his eyes was worth it, then realized that he couldn't do it anyway;
he would only see blurry shapes. He knew it.
How did he know it...? He searched in his memories, but couldn't find
anything that fit with that situation...
Then he remembered the coffee with the strange after-taste Roberts had
given him, and a cold demoralization invaded him. Why hadn't he been wary
of that man, whom no one in Nanashi's mercenary group had really accepted
as member when he had been there for months, him who was always staring
strangely at the boy without a name and made disparaging comments when
they were out of earshot.
He should have been weary of the man, he knew that. He had never trusted
that guy. Why had he judged it necessary not to piss off the man by refusing
that coffee and drinking it despite its strange taste? Oh, yes, it was
that he wanted to be sure not to fall asleep, because it was the first
time he had been authorized to stand guard; and he didn't want to provoke
someone who could give him trouble. After all someone as low in /the pack/
the social ladder as he was couldn't afford being difficult.
He tried to move, to open his eyes, but as he had thought, as soon as
he began to get free, he was prevented from moving right away; and he
could only see dark and indistinct shapes moving in front of his eyes.
And he knew /remembered/ what was going to happen, had happened, was happening,
* * *
Heero leaned worriedly over the teenager and pulled his covers up. Trowa
was sweating hard and shivering as if he was lost in a blizzard. And his
nightmares were coming back.
Frowning, Heero sat on the edge of the bed and put a hand on his comrade's
forehead. He was burning up, and dripping with sweat. The Japanese teen
let his hand slide on the teen's cheek to comfort him; borrowing the gesture
he had seen Sally do. But Trowa didn't settle down, and turned his head
away. Heero let his hand fall, discouraged, not knowing what to do.
* * *
He could feel a hand on his cheek, falsely soft, falsely caressing, and,
repulsed, he tried turning his face away to avoid the contact. He knew
that he was going to get hit, but receiving blows from that sweaty hand
seemed less a lie than undesired and hypocritical caresses.
But the blow wasn't coming, and he felt more and more afraid, not knowing
when, when... when the punition would fall ... and the wait was a nearly
worse torture than the pain would be.
Someone was leaning over him, he could feel it confusedly, and the bed
was dipping under the weight of the man, who was going to hurt him, who
'but there hadn't been any bed, it was on the ground... on the cold and
muddy soil that oozed through my vest, with pebbles getting grounded in
my back until I bled when his weight on me... his weight on me.. and ...
"NOOOO!!!" he screamed, making a desperate effort to pull himself out
of the torpor preventing him from moving.
* * * * * *
"THE WEREWOLF VIRUS ?! ARE YOU SHITTING ME?!??"
"Not obligatorily wolf ... Just Were," Quatre answered in a toneless voice,
letting the marks of the cheetah appear on his skin.
The young woman, startled, jumped back and plastered herself against the
side screen. He continued talking.
"The virus only gives the possibility to transform. The animal they will
become depends upon the person. Generally, everyone has an inner animal
... but it can be anything, a cow, a squirrel, an eagle, a cat, a fish...
Only tall and resisting enough the inner animals can survive the first
transformation. Trowa is a fighter, I know his inner Were will be resilient
enough, I was able to survive... well, he would have been if he had been
in top form at the full moon. But he has been contaminated too late in
the month, and the virus has to work harder to infect him wholly, to the
last cell, before the first night of the full moon. And it exhausts him."
Catherine reached out toward the Arab's still slightly childish face,
drew with a shaking finger the dark tear tracks that made him look infinitely
sad. She stared at the small round spots on his temples and over his eyebrows.
The short, soft golden hairs before his ears seemed to spread softly,
covering his jaws in fine velvet.
Quatre didn't even get surprised by the proximity of the cheetah in his
mind. The moon was so close and he had been, was still so stressed, scared...
He greeted the afflux from his sense like a kind diversion, but refused
the comfort of immersing himself in it more than a few seconds. The cheetah
stepped back slowly, step by step, to go hide himself behind the barrier
of his conscious mind, his presence like a purr that is felt more than
"For example Heero became a wolf," he continued in a voice that he was
forcing to sound impersonal. "I am a were-cheetah. Wufei's a tiger. Between
the five of us, only Duo is still truly human. We still don't know what
Trowa will be... if he survives."
The marks faded and disappeared in barely a few seconds as he forced his
"And what if he's not wholly... contaminated ... by that night?"
His stomach twisting with the nausea invading him when he thought about
Trowa's muscles and flesh trying to shift on a skeleton that stayed invariably
human, even where the powerfully tensing muscles were breaking it in multiple
places, Quatre didn't answer ... with words. But suddenly the young woman
cried out with surprise and hid her mouth behind her hands, her skin snowy-white.
"Oh my god… Halfway? He'll only change halfway?"
"I don't know," Quatre lashed back, trying to stop thinking about it,
since his mental shields were visibly in too much of a pitiful state to
keep his thoughts in his own head.
Cutting the conversation short, Quatre caught Catherine's arm and dragged
her down the armrest, sat her on his knees and pushed a last lever. The
young woman's shout of protestation got drowned under the roar of the
* * * * * *
Heero only had the time to block the flurry of blows Trowa was giving.
He jumped off the bed and stepped back, caught by surprise by Trowa's
"No, no, no!!!" was screaming the boy, desperate.
His eyes weren't entirely open, and looked glassy. He didn't seem to really
be seeing the room and his friend, but something else, something worse.
"Trowa, wake up! It's just a bad dream, now calm down!"
But Heero's words didn't reach his comrade, who kept on whining and growling
on the bed, half like a beast, half like a madman, or like a child who
went past the limits of terror.
"Trowa, damn it!!"
Heero cursed and jumped back to let some space to the scared teen. His
shout had only served to make Trowa tense up even more. Trowa was moaning
with fright now, one arm over his head, as if to prevent blows from falling.
"Trowa… Trowa, it's me..." he tried to whisper soothingly.
But being soothing wasn't his strong suit, and Trowa didn't seem to want
At the other end of the room, the Japanese pilot was biting his lips.
What to do?! If he came closer, Trowa would panic again, he knew that.
But how to make him come back to consciousness? And he couldn't even leave
to get Duo or Sally. He couldn't leave him alone.
"It's alright, Trowa..."
But the mere sound of his deep voice seemed to provoke shaking fits in
the boy. The Wolf was howling with distress inside, drowning him under
the need to go curl in a ball against his comrade, to give him protection
and comfort by his contact. He stepped forward... jumped back when he
heard the piercing scream of a tortured child coming from his comrade's
"Trowa, onegai shimassu..." he pleaded, tortured by his own powerlessness.
He slid down the wall, his knees under his chin, lowered his head to stop
seeing his friend's panicked face.
* * *
"What's going on?"
Heero jumped up and ran to her, pointing at Trowa. He looked lost, and
if you knew him, even scared. Cathy bit down on her surprised gasp and
felt her terror rise. For Heero to show such a feeling...
"I don't know what's the matter, he's delirious, I scare him... He's screaming,
and crying, and... even my voice freaks him out!!"
His voice was rising without him meaning to, and Trowa moaned pitifully,
curling his arms over his head. His legs were tangled in the sheets, and
he didn't try to kick them off for long, as if he knew by experience that
what was hindering him would refuse to let him go.
"No... lemme alone..."
Catherine clenched her teeth and wiped her tears away with anger. Someone
had hurt Trowa, and in his fever and pain induced delirium, he was reliving
it. And that someone sounded like it was male. No need to be a medium
to get the picture.
"Heero, get out please, I'll take care of him."
Used to her taking charge from his time in the circus, Heero obeyed without
"Cathy... don't let him bite or scratch you," he advised just before he
"Don't worry, Quatre warned me," she told him, looking at her adoptive
The Asian teen nodded and closed the door behind him. The young woman
stayed alone with the shaking and terrified teenager.
"Trowa? Little brother…"
* * *
Nanashi couldn't bear anymore waiting for what he knew was coming. He
was reduced to a heap of shaking apprehension, and every second that passed
without the man attacking him added to his terror.
And then a soft voice pierced the haze of his fear... a woman's voice,
or a girl maybe.
A voice that didn't have anything to do amongst the memories of that time.
"Midii…?" he murmured, vaguely remembering the blonde, young girl the
mercenaries had taken in... / and who had betrayed them /
But the voice didn't inspire confusion, like Midii had inspired in him
at first, when they had just met and he didn't get what she found so interesting
in him that she needed to be always talking with him; it didn't inspire
sadness and anger either, like he had felt after her betrayal. No... he
wanted to trust the woman talking. Her voice was deeper than the other
young girl's, more mature, more reassuring...
But apart from Midii, which girl had Nanashi known well enough that her
voice would make him want to trust her?
Trowa? The Barton son? Trowa was here? wondered Nanashi, starting. Ouch…
Not good for him...
He remembered very well the big burly blond, Dekim Barton's son, Dekim
being the one in charge of the Foundation paying for the Gundam project.
Simply put, Trowa was a bastard. He was pretentious, a show off, and much
too prone to blabbering for a mission of that importance. And he liked
bullying the technicians in charge of verifying the mechanic parts a bit
too much. In private Nanashi strongly thought that he had only been chosen
for his link with the man who helped Doktor S, the scientist charged of
building the Gundam, to pay the bill. And the fact that he didn't stop
bullying Nanashi, mocking him and harassing him with sexual innuendoes
only because the boy was younger than him and didn't talk much didn't
speak lots for his intelligence. There was only that dumb blond to risk
pissing off one of the people supposed to make sure that his Gundam wouldn't
blow up in his face as soon as he would be inside. If the ex-mercenary
hadn't had an enormous weakness for HeavyArms's destructive beauty and
a profound admiration for its technological level, he would have been
furiously tempted to put the idea of forgetting to tighten a certain bolt
Luckily, he had always managed to avoid getting in a situation that would
make him have to kill the cretin.
... But he had died anyway, had he not...? Yes, he had, Nanashi remembered
his death, the boy had been elbow-deep in one of HeavyArms's leg motors
when he had heard shouting in the hangar. Trowa had discovered that Doktor
S had changed his mind on Operation Meteor... or more like he had never
had the intention of sending the Gundams to ravage the Earth like Dekim
Barton had wanted. Trowa Barton had accused them, S and his assistant,
of betraying his father... Had tried to warn Dekim... and S's assistant
had shot him in the head. When they had realized that Nanashi had witnessed
the whole scene, they had wanted to kill him too, but, realizing that
the marvelous machine was now free, he had jumped on the occasion to pilot
it. He didn't really care if he lived or died... but piloting the red
and white Gundam, that was something that made him want to keep on living
a little while longer. And if, by piloting it, he could fight OZ...
… He didn't understand anymore. So, it was finished? He wasn't... He was
not with the mercenaries anymore? No, he was not, he remembered a taller
body in the mirror, a leaner face. He remembered Roberts' death. Kurt
had caught him, shot him in the torso just as he was forcing Nanashi's
legs open, and then dragged him in the middle of the mercenaries, and
executed him once they had all turned their back on the bastard who would
dare to lift a hand on their protégé, the boy who was more one of them
than that man had ever been.
That voice, who...?
"It's me, Trowa; it's me, Cathy… You remember me, don't you?"
"Sis' …?" he asked, forcing himself to open his eyes.
Everything was blurred, everything was turning, twisting around him, he
was seeing through a sort of white film. Too much light, his eyes felt
torn. He was crying. But in the middle of the white haze, a face was appearing,
gray-violet eyes, friendly, worried, and a cascade of auburn curls.
He reached out for her, tried to lift a hand to touch her. His hand was
heavy and fell back, but the young woman caught it before it hit the mattress
and cradled it between her own warm and reassuring hands.
"I'm here, hermanito, I'm here…" the woman whispered, trying to gulp down
the knot in her throat.
"Cathy..." he repeated, the words of thanks he would have wanted to say
getting swallowed by a sob.
He gave her a pitiful little smile, his eyelids half-glued shut by the
tears of pain he had shed, and she caressed his face, slowly, tenderly.
For the first time in a long while, he wasn't afraid of sliding into sleep.
* * * * * * * * *
"... numerous rebellions in the Colonies, contesting the reinforced military
presence of members of OZ. From several spokespeople, very few changes
were put into effect since the era of the Alliance dominion, contrary
to what had been announced. The rebels' claims are diverse, but they all
have in common their demands that OZ finally agrees to keep the promises
it had previously made to the colonists in exchange for their help in
fighting the Alliance. Numerous requests have been addressed to OZ's army
chief, General Treize Kushrenada, sadly unavailable for two weeks now.
According to our military experts, General Kushrenada didn't leave any
precise orders on the way to treat the new situation in the colonies,
and so there were some problems with the interpretation of his usual orders
subordinates that lead to conflicts and protestations from the population.
You all heard about the L2-00745 demonstration a few days ago, where an
officer gave orders to shoot at the people, killing two people and provoking
a panic that led to fifteen seriously injured. The discontentment of many
colonists seems to be growing ..."
Heero and Wufei, who had been going over plans in the common room, glanced
at each other.
"It isn't like Kushrenada to leave such a situation to develop," Heero
Wufei nodded. Not at all like him, that was true. What had happened to
him that was so serious he couldn't even give simple directives to his
"From what my sources say, no one knows where he is, he disappeared without
warning. The rumor mills are going full speed right and left..."
The Chinese teen shrugged.
"He's not dead, we'd assist to a real battle between his possible successors.
Ill maybe. The Gods know they wouldn't be talking about it for fear of
showing their weaknesses."
"From what they say, Merquise too would have disappeared."
The Japanese pilot snorted.
"That guy is so erratic; I don't see how two weeks of absence are exceptional
"True," agreed his comrade, pensive.
He thought back on his stay with OZ for a while, trying to imagine what
was happening, but he wasn't coming with any answer just now.
The news had ended. Heero got up and turned the TV off, then the two Asian
men abandoned their planning to meet Quatre and Duo and tell them about
it, in the corridor in front of the room where Cathy was still standing
guard over their friend.
(And no, if you didn't get it, Trowa didn't get raped. It came close,
but he didnt. And the mercenaries weren't all child rapists anyway like
you can see in some fics, just that one bastard. It didn't make Trowa
close off. He was shy and standoffish before, he got a little more shy
and standoffish after. He's certainly not broken or anything over that,
just warier ^.^ )
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