AUTHORS: Mel and Christy (Living up to our evil reputation...)
DISCLAIMER: We couldn't come up with enough money to buy Gundam Wing, so it's not ours.
PAIRINGS: 5x2, 1xR, 3x4
WARNINGS: Yaoi, sap, FLUFF! AU-ish

Key:
minor scene change (from person to person at the same place, etc):
----------
major scene change (at another place, some time later, etc): * * * * *
flashback or dream starting or ending: ~*~*~*~
thoughts (and the occasional sound effect): *Tadah!*
some more sound effects (little ones!): -tadah!-
electronics (phone, TV, intercom etc): <<Tadah!>>

Rebuilding + Chapter 9

*Click!*

The door swung open slightly, and Heero frowned. "I know Wufei's got an alarm system, and he modified it to be more sensitive, so why--"

Relena walked straight past him, pushing the door wide open. "Duo? Are you here?" Everyone else followed right behind her, leaving Heero to trail in last, checking the alarm box on the wall on the way in. There was a piece of paper taped to it, with the codes to switch it on and off, in Wufei's handwriting-- presumably so Duo could set it-- but it wasn't on.

Duo was curled up under the afghan on one end of the sofa, reading a book, a glass of water on the end table beside him. He glanced up as Relena and the others came in, then looked away, concentrating stubbornly on his reading.

"Duo, are you all right?" Relena exclaimed, hurrying forwards. "Why weren't you answering the phone?"

"I'm fine," he said quietly, not looking up. "I don't want to tie up the phone in case 'Fei gets a call through."

Sally bustled forward, quickly checking his temperature with a hand on his forehead, then reached for his wrist to take his pulse. "I'm fine!" he repeated, yanking his hand away.

"Have you been eating properly?" she asked, worry making her voice sharp.

"Yes."

"Are you sure? I didn't see any dirty dishes in the kitchen--"

"I wash up!" he said angrily, glaring at her. "'Fei trusts me to look after myself. Leave me alone. I'm not a kid."

Trowa and Quatre conferred in whispers for a moment, then Quatre stepped forward. "Duo, would you like to come home with us until Wufei gets back?"

"No."

"Please? We really don't want to leave you all alone for a week."

"I don't mind."

"Duo, I really think you should--" Sally started.

"Wufei is coming back here!" Duo snapped. "He might call here. I don't care what you think, I'm staying here."

----------

Heero was standing back, behind all of the others, watching Duo. He looks better, he thought wistfully. All the bruises are gone. He's still too thin, but not painfully thin like he was. He hasn't looked at me-- he winced slightly, unhappily, --but he's talking to everyone else.

I guess Wufei really has been good for him.

----------

Relena was watching Duo, too, but was concentrating more on the way his expression was getting more and more mutinous and stubborn.

He's not going to agree to anything that takes him out of this apartment, but with everyone so worked up about his safety, they're not going to agree to leave him here alone. Sally's stressed enough that she might try to move him forcibly, and he'd never forgive that...Coming to a decision, she held up her hand, cutting Sally and Quatre off in mid-sentence.

"Heero, please pack me a bag and ask Karl to reschedule all of my appointments for the next week," she said firmly. "I'm staying here until Wufei gets back."

Une blinked in surprise, then slowly smiled; Sally wasn't so happy. "Relena, you're hardly qualified to take care of Duo!"

"I won't need to take care of him," she said sweetly. "He's perfectly capable of taking care of himself. I'm staying for everyone else's peace of mind, not because I think he needs help." She turned to smile sympathetically at Duo, who was eyeing her suspiciously. "I won't nag you," she whispered, leaning closer, "and it'll keep everyone off your back. Okay?"

"...Maybe," he muttered grudgingly.

"What about your meetings?" Quatre asked.

"Karl can make my apologies, and explain that I've been called away on urgent personal business," Relena said firmly.

"You can't cook," Trowa pointed out.

"Duo can, and when it's my turn, I have a platinum card and a phone book."

"I thinks it's an excellent idea, as long as Duo doesn't object," Une said cheerfully.

Everyone looked at Heero. Even Duo peered sideways at him out of the corner of his eye.

"...How many changes of clothes do you want?" he asked.

----------

It wasn't quite that simple, of course, but eventually Duo and Relena were alone in the apartment. Relena had a bag of casual clothes and toiletries, a briefcase full of paperwork, a list of instructions from Sally that she planned to ignore, and a mobile phone, so she could stay in contact with her office without tying up the apartment's phone line.

"Duo, will I be in your way if I do some work on the dining table?" she asked, holding up the briefcase. "I've got a lot of reports to read."

"Go ahead," he shrugged, curling up with his book again.

They read in silence until nearly dinner time, then Duo set his book aside and went into the kitchen to cook. A short while later, Relena looked up from her work to discover a plate of spaghetti and meatballs at her elbow. When she'd finished, Duo collected her plate and utensils, again without a word being said; when she heard him running water into the kitchen sink, she followed him out and picked up a dishtowel. Together, they silently washed up, put everything away, and returned to the living room. Duo pulled the spare futon and pillow out of the linen closet, helped her set it up, then picked up his book and walked off towards the bedroom.

He paused at the door, looking back. "...G'night," he said quietly, and vanished before she could reply.

* * * * *

"Leave me alone!"

Relena jerked awake, blinking at the ceiling. There was enough light filtering in through the curtains for her to see vague shapes in the dimness, and for a moment she was completely disoriented as she tried to find the familiar landmarks of her own room. Everything was in the wrong place, and the bed didn't feel right...

"Heero?" she said muzzily, propping herself up on her elbows to look around. "Where--"

"Don't!" There was a dull thump against the wall behind her, then a muffled whimper, and abruptly Relena remembered.

Wufei's apartment. Duo. Something's wrong!

Almost tripping as her feet tangled themselves in the covers, she scrambled off the futon and headed for the bedroom. She ran her hip into the dining table on the way, not seeing it in the gloom, but barely noticed the pain.

Duo was struggling against his covers, choking out sobs and curses as he fought in his dreams. Relena went to her knees beside the futon, reaching out to pat his shoulder.

"Duo? Duo, wake up," she said, trying to keep her voice calm. "You're having a nightmare. It's not real, you're okay, I promise. Wake up!" He cried out and writhed away as she touched him, cringing into a ball.

"Duo! Wake up! ...damn, damn, damn it, what do I do?" she almost wailed, clutching at her hair. Scrambling to her feet again, she ran out into the living room and grabbed her phone off of the table. Pushing the first speed-dial button, she paced back and forth, listening to Duo's sobs as she waited for the call to be answered.

< < Yui here. > >

"Heero, it's me," she said quickly. "Duo's having a nightmare and I can't wake him up. What do I do?"

< < I'll be there in five minutes-- > >

"No! I told Duo I'd keep everyone off his back. Tell me what to do, and I'll do it!" Besides, she thought unhappily, he still isn't comfortable around you. He might react... badly... if he wakes up and you're here.

There was a pause before Heero replied, and his voice was strained. < < ...Okay. If he won't wake up, he's too deep in the nightmare. The only thing that'll work is soothing him out of it. Hold him, stroke his back, keep talking to him. Tell him he's safe until he calms down, then stay with him or he'll just start again. Once you're holding him, he should calm down fairly fast. > >

"Right. I can do this. Um... if I don't call you back, everything went fine, all right?"

< < All right. Call me if you need anything else. > >

"I will. Bye. Thanks."

Without waiting for a reply, she hit the button to end the call and dropped the phone; it probably landed on the table, but she didn't wait to see.

Back in the bedroom, Relena carefully climbed onto the futon next to Duo. I can worry about getting under the covers after he settles down, she decided, reaching for his shoulders and gently pulling him forwards, trying to lift him enough to get her arms around him. I hope Heero is right about this working fast--

"NO!" *WHACK!*

Once again, Relena found herself blinking up at an unfamiliar ceiling. This time, she was sprawled off the edge of the futon onto the hard floor, with the added entertainment of a seriously painful right cheekbone and pretty sparkles in front of her eyes.

"Owwww..." Okay. Maybe this isn't going to be as easy as Heero made it sound. Sitting up, she carefully explored the bruise with her fingertips, wincing. Well, at least he didn't hit my nose. Wouldn't that give the press a field day? Vice-Foreign Minister Peacecraft with a broken nose, very photogenic. Ow. Let's try this again.

Easing back onto the futon, holding herself ready to duck, she carefully reached out and stroked Duo's arm. "It's okay Duo, I'm here. You're safe, I promise. It's okay..." He whimpered and curled up slightly, rolling towards her, and she switched to rubbing his back. "It's okay. You're safe..."

Well, he hasn't tried to hit me again-- yet, she thought after a minute, and his fists aren't clenched. He isn't trying to get away anymore. Maybe it's safe to get a little closer? Slowly settling down until she was lying facing him, still rubbing his back and talking softly, she inched forward just a little. Duo shifted slightly, brushing against her stomach with the back of his hand--

--and suddenly grabbed her, worming forward and burrowing under her chin. Relena squeaked in alarm as he clutched at her pyjama top, wrapping his arms around her waist and holding tight, and she had to suppress a panicked urge to elbow him off of her, the way Heero had taught her to deal with a grappling attack.

"Don't go," he sobbed, shivering. "Don't leave me..."

"I--I won't, Duo," she said, a little shakily, hugging him. "I'm here. You're safe, I'm not going anywhere, I promise."

----------

Some time later, finally dozing off, Relena's thoughts wandered. I wonder if that counts as a TKO? I think I was down for an eight- count...

Once he settles down, though, he settles down fast. Heero was right about that.

...Hm. Heero. He said he'd be here in five minutes... but from my house to here takes twenty minutes, if there's no traffic. What was he going to do? Fire himself out of a cannon?

Yawning, Relena nestled her unbruised cheek onto the top of Duo's head, and drifted off to sleep.

* * * * *

-taptaptap-

The warm body in Relena's arms shifted a little closer, muttering something incoherent about woodpeckers, and she stretched sleepily. "Morning, Heero," she yawned, cuddling closer and stroking his back; then her hand encountered something that felt like a long, soft rope, and she picked it up and peered at it, blinking. "Ooops, morning, Duo."

"Follow the rabbit," Duo said clearly, not moving.

-taptaptap-

"That's as reasonable a statement as anything else, I suppose," she muttered, settling down and taking stock of the morning. Early morning, she mused. It's still dark. I can hear a little traffic... no birdsong, yet... Ow. My face hurts. I wonder if I have a black eye?

-taptaptap-

...Is that the door? Lifting her head slightly, Relena listened intently.

-taptaptaptaptap-

Uh-huh. If that's Sally, I'm going to give her a piece of my mind!

Duo clutched at her as she started to ease our of bed, and she had to stop for a moment, stroking his hair until he relaxed; then she padded towards the front door, mentally rehearsing a few choice phrases about people who come knocking on other people's doors before dawn.

----------

Outside, Heero looked up and down the rows of apartment doors, then glanced over the walkway's edge, checking the glass-roofed central garden area for signs of life. It looked like his quiet knocking hadn't woken up any of the neighbors yet, which was good, but it also didn't seem to be getting any response from Relena.

I don't want to knock any louder, though, he thought, turning back towards the door to knock again. I don't want to wake up Duo if I can avoid it--

 

The door was abruptly yanked open to reveal an angry-looking Relena in red flannel pyjamas. "Do you have any idea what time-- Heero?"

"I wanted to check and make sure everything was all right," he stated, then stopped short as he saw the purpling bruise across her right eye and cheek. "You-- what-- are you all right?" he blurted out, eyes wide, reaching for her. "What happ--"

*WHACK*

The punch took him by surprise. One second he was standing up; the next, there was a sudden blinding pain in his left eye, and he found himself sitting on the walkway, looking up at Relena as she flexed her hand, working the tingles out of it.

"That's for not warning me to duck," she said coldly, stepped back, and slammed the door in his face.

* * * * *

[cont]