Garou + Part 7 (cont)

* * * * * *

Wufei arrived at the safehouse first. After having verified the coordinates, he hid his backpack behind a bush and slid like a shadow toward the little house hidden under the great trees. He first verified that all the windows were closed and intact, then searched for eventual foot imprints on the ground. Apart from some deer traces and other animals, nothing, except a nearly indiscernible sole imprint that he could award without mistake to those atrocious yellow shoes of Yuy. Silent, the pilot walked to the back door and used the key hidden near it to open. He had a dozen seconds to turn off the bomb the Japanese pilot had placed on the door. It was a standard procedure of his, he had taught them all how to defuse this kind of traps fast enough.

Wufei searched the little house from the basement to the cellar before deciding he was satisfied, then returned for his backpack.

The house was Spartan in its accommodations, really something of Yuy's. The house consisted of a small, old couch with apparent strings, one table and three chairs in the 'living room', and a smaller table with a wobbly stool in the kitchen. One of them would have to sit on the floor, or on the couch, although the floor was less tricky. The bathroom only had a shower stall, no bath, and was visibly furnished with rainwater, cold like it should be. Only one bed in the little bedroom. For Quatre probably, since he was still subject to bits of illness and dizziness spells. One socket in the wall, powered by a generator, in other words for Yuy's laptop's use only. And absolutely no TV nor even a radio. Maxwell would throw a fit.
He felt himself smile.

* * * * * *

Trowa extracted himself from Heavyarms and threw the camouflage net on it. He verified that the mecha wasn't visible anywhere between the high branches hiding the little depression in the cliff, then threw his backpack over his shoulder and turned around to walk to the hideout.

His light steps didn’t make even one branch creak and he was melting into the undergrowth like he belonged here. He wouldn't be long.

* * * * * *

Duo slid off Deathscythe with the wire, then spoke into his wrist communicator, giving two order, and walked away from the lake's bank. The big mecha closed its door then walked away to go immerge itself in the depths of the dark waters. The boy verified that his Gundam wasn't in sight before ordering it to stop, then he walked to the place Sandrock hid in. The two places were near to each other, and with Quatre's state they had found it unthinkable to let him wander alone in the woods. The little blond was supposed to wait for him near his Gundam so that they could go together.

He rejoined his friend after a few minutes of very fast walking. He didn't know why, this forest made his skin crawl... oh, right, he did know why. Damn Yuy anyway. He just hoped that Quatre and him would be safer together, because he so was not used to this kind of places. Cities, yeah, he knew them by heart, especially the darkest places... But forests! It was damn more trees than he had ever seen all in one place. Who needed trees? There hadn't been any on L2!

Quatre spotted him before he did, but only because he was perched on Sandrock's belly, the mecha laid down on its back. "Duo!!" exclaimed the blond boy, waving.

"How's it going, buddy?" Maxwell answered, winking at his friend.

The other pilot grinned at him, thumb up, then descended from his mecha. With the help of Duo, they had soon covered the Gundam with the camouflage net. Quatre took one of his bags, the one containing clothes, then turned around toward his friend.

"We can get going," he smiled, turning back to Sandrock a last time to say goodbye.

* * *

The forest was big, deep, the leaves-covered branches made all visibility impossible, and the rare paths there were often didn't lead far before turning away of the direction they wanted to go or just disappearing in a brambles bush. They had to force their way to continue in the direction the compass was indicating, and it was very tiring, not to mention the state the feeble visibility left their nerves in, not knowing if they were going to get jumped at the next tree.

But even taking all of that into account, Quatre's heart was beating harder than it should have. He was cold and hot at the same time, his fever making another appearance, but he didn't want to scare his friend by complaining, and put on a brave and smiling front.
And there was another thing...

Heero had warned him that it would eventually happen, and he had experienced it already to some small degree, but never at this scale and never in such an environment... his senses had suddenly augmented, as if someone had turned the dial up.

He felt incredibly nervous. The forest was so silent, not a bird, no wind in the leaves, nothing... but his too-developed senses still perceived a few rustlings of leaves and grass, but so light that his brain unused to such a low volume refused to believe them real. A low, muffled, regular beat rang in his head; his own heart, or his comrade's? And those potent smells invading his lungs, that went to his head and dazed him, that he didn't recognize, so persisting... His eyes were zeroing in on the littlest blade of grass shivering from an animal's passage, the littlest difference in the plays of muted light of this so immobile undergrowth, and most of the time he couldn't stop it from happening. It was like a bad trip.

He wondered absently if he was going to pass out. He was going into sensation overload. He couldn't think anymore, only feel. And those strange emotions, which didn't stop coming and going in his mind, too fast to analyze them...

Exactly what Heero had described. Too bad the boy had never found a way to stop it.

He was under the impression that he was once again in the dreamforest... this hostile place oozing with the undefined and spiteful shadows of so many dangers. Yet the scent and the color of a droplet of his blood from a little prick were too strong for it to be a dream; he couldn't have come back there.

He didn't talk of his unease to Duo. He just made sure that he was firmly gripping his elbow, like an anchor in the real world.

* * * * * *

They had just arrived to the little house when Heero jumped toward them, taking the both of them by surprise. He didn't seem to concern himself with the knifes nor the gun that the startled boys had made jump under his nose. "Get inside, fast" he hissed, anxiously scanning the bushes.

Quatre and Duo glanced at each other and complied. "What's happening?" asked the American teen.

But the Japanese boy didn't answer and just pushed them inside before locking the door behind them.

"What's the matter?" asked Duo, frowning, surprised by his brusqueness.

Wufei and Trowa were looking at the scene without saying anything, and they looked as confused by their comrade's actions as Duo and Quatre were.

"They're out here" admitted the Japanese boy finally, once the door was well and truly closed.

"Who... WHAT? ! ? ?"

"Are you sure?" demanded Wufei, hand on his katana.

"Their scent is all around the house... they wander by this area quite often. I don't know if they're near now, but if they don't know already that we are here, they will know fast. We can't stay here."

"Wow... Really?"

Heero clenched his teeth and looked away, and his fists tightened. "I don't even know if we'll go one night before being noticed. Tomorrow morning we have to be gone."

"But..." objected Quatre. "Even if they attack us, we're armed..."

Heero stared at him, looking pensive, then glanced at his own gun, laying on the table beside him. He lowered his eyes on the old and dusty carpet covering the planks, looking bothered by something, nearly shameful.

"That's not the only problem... it's their home here, I don't have the right to stay..." he muttered, head low.

"What the hell...?"

The ex-mercenary frowned faintly at Duo before turning around to look appraisingly at their messy-haired comrade, thoughtful.

"You mean, you feel ill at ease because you're not part of this pack?" wondered Trowa out loud.

Heero sighed in an annoyed way and raked a hand in his hair.

"... I guess so, yes. It's their territory. And you won't be tolerated either... you smell like me."

Duo blinked. "Whuzzat...? Didja stamp us territory or what?" he asked, one eyebrow nearly in his hairline, looking surprised. Heero glared briefly at him.

"Yes I did," he answered back, nearly despising, clearly challenging the boy to show the smallest hint of disagreement or annoyance at the fact.

He hadn't marked them, not deliberately, but after living in close quarters for so long, it was inevitable that they would pick up his scent like he had picked up theirs.

"You can smell them?" asked Trowa, as cool as ever.

Heero and Duo glanced at him; he had done that just to cut them, even if he looked totally clueless and uncaring about the potential battle between them. He was right, they realized at the same time, it wasn't the best place to have an argument over such a silly thing. Duo turned away to observe intently the walls, his arms crossed over his chest, and the Japanese pilot slowly calmed down. He didn't know why he had felt so pissed that Duo would not want to be recognized as a part of his... territory? no, more like his pack. Oh well. Any wolf would know him as such anyway, there was nothing the braided boy could do.

He refrained himself from thinking 'so there'."It's everywhere in this forest..." said Heero, sounding nearly discouraged.

Wufei frowned. He didn't like the idea of being chased off by a bunch of loonies living in the woods like beasts, probably forgetting that they were human in the process. But for Yuy's sake...

Concessions, concessions... it was his way of life now, as it seemed. This group thing was proving quite challenging now that he was truly trying.

"Perhaps we could fight back, if they do attack before we decide to leave...Are there many of them?"

"I don't know; but at least a dozen, probably much more. I should not have proposed this safehouse..."

"Did any of us have anything else to propose?" Duo countered, sounding vaguely annoyed.

"... true," conceded the brown-haired werewolf, frowning at his teammate.

"If it can make you feel better, " Quatre proposed "I can let my network chew on the problem, I have connections that you all don't have, maybe tomorrow I'll have found something else."

Heero nodded and turned to Duo, looking at him expectantly, but still unwilling to ask out loud. The boy smiled at his comrade, knowing very well what he wanted. Their slight griping already forgotten, he decided not to make him beg for him and brought his laptop out of his own backpack.

"Here it is my dear, home delivery..." joked the American teen.

"Thank you" Wing's pilot answered in an absent tone of voice while walking toward the socket in the wall.

Duo stared at his back, astonished. "My pleasure..." he answered slowly, incredulous.

He had thanked him... but the worse was not the fact itself, but that he didn't even seem to realize it. Like it was so usual that it had become natural.

'If only it was the case... maybe there's hope for him yet.'

Yuy turned the laptop on and typed his password and some codes. Once the computer was fully operational and all of the traps he had inside rendered inoffensive, he logged on the net. Then he let the chair to Quatre to let him contact his friends. He stayed beside him to follow his progression though, ready to jump in if a hacker happened to follow successfully his electronic trail.

The others began to visit the little house. It was finished rather fast. Wufei and Trowa exchanged an ironic smirk when they heard the litany of protestations and rather originally formulated remarks coming from the braided boy. The lengthy string of curses he emitted upon his discovery of the shower was quite instructive, although describing with more details that they truly wanted to know some acts of a less erotic than acrobatic nature that most people over thirty should never attempt out of the supervision of a confirmed chiropractor. As for his reaction when he saw the only bedroom...

"So, who's taking the bed this night?" he asked with a weary voice once his breath and inspiration were entirely used.

"Quatre's sleeping in it all night long," answered Trowa. "He's still not at his peak. The others will alternate. One will stay awake, one will share the bed with Quatre and the third will be on the couch. Ok with you?"

"I'll stay on the floor," answered Wufei, shrugging. "I don't need a bed to sleep well enough."

"Maybe but you'll be aching something awful tomorrow morning," the American answered back. "Me, I won't pass up on the opportunity of sleeping in a bed while I can. ... Though with the size of the bed I don't know if I will rest that well..." he muttered.

* * * * * *

Quatre finally found a house big enough for them, belonging to the friend of a friend of his father's; as was the gossip saying, the man was on vacation at the moment and would probably never know that it had been used while he was away; it was more of a secondary house than a principal residence anyway. Nobody would ever find them there before they left. They should be ok there at least for two weeks.

Darkness fell and they settled for the night. Heero let the first watch to Trowa and went to sprawl out on the couch, where he fell asleep in mere seconds. Wufei sat against the wall facing the one window and let himself slide in a state where nobody could tell if he was meditating, sleeping, or just resting eyes closed, but from which he could come out at a moment's notice and always in top form.

Quatre didn't insist too much about letting the bed to another. He hadn't even begin to protest against the treatment that the fever attacked, letting him with his legs wobbly and his stomach heaving violently, in a little heap in the middle of the main room. Trowa put him to bed automatically, and he was still in the middle of a tirade on how he should be treated exactly like the others were when he fell asleep.

Bang boy sat cross-legged in the middle of the room and began to stretch, patiently waiting for Duo to finish with his hair and rejoin them to leave his sleeping friend for the night.

He didn't want to let him alone. He had felt more than once the little hairs on his nape stand up when he was in the woods. A sure sign that someone had been observing him.

It was dangerous out there. And he was probably the only one of them used to the woods, apart from the Were. Before Operation Meteor, Duo had never been to Earth and had lived in town, and as for Quatre, he only knew the estates his father had in the desert. Wufei knew only China's mountains, and not that well. But Nanashi had lived in the woods in his days as a mercenary, before leaving the unit to go to L3, and had been taught many tricks.
But even that probably wouldn't be enough to save him in case of an attack. He wondered if Yuy hadn't thrown them directly in the wolf's jaws...


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