Garou + Part 28 (cont)
Learning to Deal

The curly-haired girl's eyes widened when she caught her dark expression.

"It's important. Never admit that you know, even if they tell you that they know all about it too. I mean... Deny. Always deny."

"You're talking about..."

"About Trowa's problem. The boys either have no idea, or they don't care--after all, they can defend themselves and they're used to disappearing, but you..."

She glanced around to verify that none of the Sweepers was within earshot and leaned toward the young woman.

"If one of them smells Trowa's scent on you, they will interrogate you to see what you know."

"Oh... And that's a problem?"

"Catherine, the law forces us to either change or kill any human who'd learn anything about us, and you know way too much! Howard and Sally too, but Sally is Resistance and always moves around and changes aliases, and Howard is always surrounded by tons of Sweepers. You live in a circus, right? That's not the safest place in the world."

Catherine made a face and reached for her wrist. The knife sheath had stayed in her trailer. She would put it on as soon as she came back. She didn't like expecting bad things from all strangers, but Hilde looked way too serious for her advice to be totally baseless.

"I don't want to talk about it, anyway. It would put Trowa in danger... Who'd believe me anyway?" she asked, weary.

"It's a principle," Hilde sighed. "It's a law."

"... You don't follow it," Cathy observed in a soft voice.

The brunette clenched her teeth.

"No, I don't," she muttered and rolled over on her other side, turning her back on the young woman.

There was a long moment of silence.

"I'm sorry," Catherine offered gently.

"It's not your fault," Hilde sighed as she turned over again. "I just haven't been in a good mood lately, dunno why," she added with a small smile, trying to forget her unease.

She did know why, and it wasn't anything she could tell Cathy about.


"...I hope Trowa is okay..." the redhead whispered. "I mean... I hope nothing happened to him. It's the first time he transforms, and he was ill so long...

Hilde shrugged.

"You'll be surprised to see how fast he gets better. He probably gorged himself with meat, I doubt he'll feel overly tired for long. Now that he has gotten through..."

"But isn't it weird to change for the first time?"

"Dunno, I was born that way."

"...oh."

Another moment of silence.

"Heero was rather... violent with Wufei... and frankly aggressive about Duo... you think...?"

Hilde wanted to lie to her, to tell her that as long as Trowa was under the influence of the pheromones, he'd be very happy to participate. But she knew all too well that it was far from always being the case.

Most of the time, all participants were happy to be there. But the fact was that, if one of them wasn't... it wouldn't change the actions and reactions of the others.

"Dunno," she muttered and closed her eyes, effectively ending the conversation.


* * *

A half-hour later, Hilde caught Trowa's scent in the wind and they left the ship with clothes for him. They climbed the path up the cliff to go to the seaside road, and waited. Trowa wouldn't have any trouble seeing them if he was around.

They didn't wait more than ten minutes before he arrived.

"Trowa??" exclaimed Catherine when she caught a glimpse of her brother through the leaves. "Is that you?"

"Cathy?" Trowa blurted out, surprised by her presence. "What are you..."

He didn't have the time to finish his sentence, the young woman had just thrown herself at him, so strongly that he landed on his butt in the grass.

"Oh, Trowa..." she whispered, hiding her face against his shoulder and hugging him hard enough to choke him.

Caught by surprise, he blinked like an owl, staring at the mass of curly hair under his nose, the only thing he could see of her. She was shaking, and he realized that she was crying.

"I was so afraid for you..."

"I'm okay, Cathy, I swear," he mumbled, not knowing what else to do.

Shyly, he hugged her back for a second then dropped his arms, and she leaned back, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand.

"I'm sorry, I just... I was so scared... Are you really okay now?"

She had troubles believing that he was. She still remembered the horrifying way his bones had broken under his skin, the sounds his body had made, wet, disgusting sounds, the screams it had torn from his throat.

"I'm all right," he assured her, giving her a little smile. "I'm tired and hungry as hell, but I'm okay. ...Um, Cathy..." he added, looking down.

The young woman turned red when she realized that he was naked and jumped back.

"Hilde, the clothes!"

Trying to hold back her giggles, the brunette girl gave him the pants and the t-shirt she was holding, then turned away with a sigh when he stared at her hard.

"You wouldn't be a prude perchance?"

He didn't answer, but then she had not expected an answer.

"Hilde, be nice to Trowa!" Catherine scolded her, protecting the boy as always.

"Yes, miss."

Trowa had... just as perfect a body as she was expecting from a Gundam pilot, and even if she knew there were about the same chances that she would want to go out with the other Wolf than with Howard, it was still interesting to watch. It wasn't as if she wanted more than that.

Once the teenager dressed, Catherine introduced them.

"Trowa, meet Hilde. I think you’ve heard of her. She's a werewolf too, from what Duo said."

'She smells the part, anyway', the new werewolf thought, fascinated how the scents of the girl and the she-wolf were distinct and yet told of the same person. He had noticed it from Heero's trail, but it hadn't been that clear, probably because the smell was dead already, didn't emanate directly from him.

"Hilde, meet Trowa, my adoptive brother."

As always, Trowa felt a mix of embarrassment and surprise when she said that, and concentrated on not showing it. If she knew that he was still as dazed by the fact that he had now family as when she had first suggested it, she would give him that pained look again and he couldn't stand it.

The black-haired girl gave Trowa's body a thorough once-over, smirking, but was disappointed when he didn't react. It wasn't funny to annoy people that calm. If she'd done that to Wufei or Quatre, they would have at least turned pinkish.

"Let's go back to the ship," she grumbled, annoyed.

Trowa nodded slowly and followed the girls down the path.

"I need to sleep," he informed Catherine. He didn't want her to think that he didn't want her company, but he was way too tired to talk with her.

"Yes, I suppose it wasn't very restful," the young woman admitted unhappily.

"I will have things to tell you all, but we'll have to wait for Duo and Quatre," Hilde announced suddenly.

Trowa stank of hormones and sex, and it had reminded her that the new weres would probably demand some details. She felt vaguely shameful that she hadn't thought of warning them before.

"Duo and Quatre?"

Trowa waited patiently for the two girls to stop giggling.

"Sorry, it's just that Duo had to go fetch Quatre--he's miles away and just as naked as you are."

"Oh."

The girls exchanged a look, surprised at the impassibility with which he had listened to their explanation, especially when hearing Quatre's name. Well, he wasn't shouting anymore when the blond Arab was mentioned, but they didn't know if it was better because he was growing more tolerant, or worse because he had decided to just break contact.

* * * * * *

The blond-haired boy didn't know how he had managed to get to the phone booth without being caught. He was happy that Duo had taught him how to make it work with no card and no money; otherwise, he would have been annoyed.

Sadly, once his phone call was done, he didn't have much choice but to return from where he had come from. The booth was in plain sight and he had already narrowly avoided being seen by a driver. It was so cold and his muscles hurt so badly after the previous day's run.... He had resolved to go hide in the barn, slipping inside though a hole between the planks, and having found a hiding place behind the straw piles, the boy had made himself as comfy a place as possible on the cold cement floor... and the farmer had walked out of his house to take care of the cows dozing off at the other end of the barn.

The hole seemed so very far away now. There was no way to get out of there without being seen.

Quatre curled up tighter and glanced pitifully at the house on the other side of the barn. There was a light at the kitchen's window, showing a glimpse of a warm, comfy room... and he was caught outside, his ass bare, sore as hell and on the verge of being caught. For the moment the man had not come any closer, occupied with his cows that Quatre had avoided for fear of panicking them with his scent, but it wouldn't last. The farmer had milked them, now it was time to feed them, and the hay was just beside him. Quatre prayed for the man to choose to get the hay at the other side of the stack, but he'd be surprised if it went true because the other side didn't look started.

The man wiped his hands clean after taking care of the last cow and looked at the straw. Quatre bit his tongue. /no, no, find other things to do first, not this way! I'm sure there's something else to do first.../

He sighed in relief when, instead of going his way as it had looked like, the man went to fill water buckets.

The delay didn't last long, and the boy tensed up once again, not any closer to finding a solution. The man was coming back for the hay, and looked this time determined to get it where Quatre was hiding.

/no, go to the other side, the other side!!/

The farmer's trajectory curved, leading him to the middle of the pile. He returned to his cattle, put the hay down, and came back... toward Quatre, once again, as if he had not even realized that he'd been going anywhere else just before.

Quatre's eyes widened. He had felt like... like...

The man was still walking toward him. /no, not this way, go to the other side of the pile!/ he thought forcefully, distracted from his perceptions for a short moment.

In the very middle of a step, the man froze, then, as if nothing special was happening, curved his path again to go to the other side of the pile. Then he began to clean the stalls, humming distractedly, and Quatre crumbled on the ground.

He had... pushed. With his mind. He had pushed the man to do what he wanted. Had influenced him.

'Allah...' he prayed, hesitating between surprise and horror. If he could do that...

'I have to tell Trowa about it', he decided. 'He's the only one who knows what's happening to me, and he's calm, logical, and..... and he's not my friend anymore,’ he remembered with a painful start. 'He's not my friend anymore because...'

He clenched his teeth. He wasn't going to bawl his eyes out over it. Trowa didn't want to see him anymore, fine. He'd learn to live without.

The farmer wasn't humming anymore. When Quatre glanced at him, the man looked worried and the corners of his mouth were dropping. Quatre realized, horrified, that he was emitting his feelings all around, and locked his emotions down once again, imagining a castle wall between himself and the outside, and the drawbridge closing. Everything that was coming from his empathy disappeared.

He shivered. It was like losing his hearing suddenly. Silent. Unreal. Empty of all life... He had never realized before that he was receiving so much, from the man as from the animals all around. Slowly, concentrating hard to get every detail right, he imagined the castle, the drawbridge. And lowered the bridge, keeping the metal gate closed.

Here, it was better. He could feel what was around somewhat, but nothing could escape from him and contaminate other people. He hoped it would last. He would probably need a lot of training before he didn't need to concentrate so hard to do that anymore, because, as he realized pretty fast, as soon as he forgot about the caste, his gift went back to fluctuating randomly.

At the extreme limit of his perception, there was the soft brush of something... someone he knew. A burning flame, dancing.

Duo. He'd be there soon.

Quatre bit his lip. Duo was going to wonder where he was. He had the location of the phone booth, but... Quatre had to get out of the barn now, or his comrade would have to search for him.

Ashamed, Quatre tried to push once again. /look the other way, / he sent, trying not to send his remorse with it. He waited a second, then when the farmer turned away, sprang for the hole in the planks.

He was halfway out when one of the planks scratched him. He yelped, more from the surprise than the pain, and didn't know if he had broken the impression he was sending the farmer that everything was normal or if he was losing his hold on his power. The result was the same.

"Hey, but... HEY!" the farmer shouted.

Quatre dashed off as fast as he could, scrambled up the embankment and threw himself through the bushes, using his hands just as much as his feet and knees. He appeared suddenly on the road just as Duo was slowing down, and didn't lose any time to straddle the seat behind him the second he stopped. His comrade blinked, caught by surprise.

"Quatre, you..."

"HURRY!!"

The braided pilot didn't lose time in driving away. Quatre pressed against him to fend off the cold, his arms tight around his waist not to fall.

Unwilling to drive around with a naked guy behind him, knowing that it would attract the cops, Duo didn't go very far before he found a small, mostly hidden road to stop.

"You got caught?" he snickered as Quatre slid off his bike.

Laughing at his comrade's red face, he opened his backpack and gave him clothes. The blond teen put them on as fast as he could.

"Oh, that's enough..." he grumbled, his face red. "I would have liked to see you in my place!"

Duo looked away not to let his friend see the tears of laughter that threatened to roll down his cheeks.

Quatre wasn't in the mood for laughter, even if the other teen's mood was contagious. He briefly thought about talking of his psychic problems with Duo, but the boy was still snickering and it was rather annoying. And there was more urgent at the moment.

"How is..."

"Trowa? Dunno, didn't see him. But Hilde says he's okay..."

"Hilde? What is she doing here?"

Duo opened his mouth, thought about it for two seconds, then closed it again.

"Dunno," he admitted after a short moment. "We were just beginning to chat when I got your call, I didn't really have any time to ask. I thought she wanted to see me, but for a friendly visit, it may not have been the best time... Full moon and all..."

Quatre frowned thoughtfully.

Once he had put on too-long jeans that were probably Duo's and a big, thick pullover, they climbed on the bike and Duo drove them back on the road.

"We'll ask when we get there!" he shouted over the sound of the wind rushing past them.

It was too hard, trying to talk like that, so Quatre just nodded before closing his eyes and trying to rest, leaning against his friend's back.

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