Author: Merula

Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is not mine.
WARNINGS: This is the first chapter of a 1x2x5 that does not last. Pairings will change. (3x4 are here too- that one does last.)

Run and Hide + Part 1

"Hey, Duo! Time's up!" Becky called to me as I finished stacking the last of the display cases. She tapped her watch and gave me one of her meaningful stares. She looked like someone's grandma, but she could've given some of the war commanders I knew a run for their money.

"I know, I know!" I called back cheerfully. I grabbed the cart and headed towards the back. Becky's husband Charlie was there, bent over his unending invoices. "All done for the day- unless there's something else?"

"Nah, Duo, go home. Suzie just clocked in." Suzie was the night clerk. "Have a good weekend."

"Thanks Charlie. See you on Monday!" I grabbed my jacket off the hook and headed out towards the door. Suzie was already leaning over the front counter, deep in a gabfest with Becky. She winked an eye at me.

"Got big plans for the weekend, Duo?" Suzie was a honey blonde, pixyish and cute. But it was her voice that drove most of our male customers insane. It was husky and could make the most innocent comment sound dirty as hell. 'Can I help you' took on a whole new meaning when Suzie said it.

"Nah, just about the same as always," I grinned back at her. "Rest, relax and forget about work for 2 days. My roommates have the weekend off too so we'll probably go out and have some fun."

"Which reminds me- when are you going to set me up with one of those delicious roommates of yours?" She asked with a faint pout.

"Suzie, they're Preventers- they are in love with their guns and their badges. You don't want to get mixed up with them," I replied, as I always did. Leaving out the part about them already being in a relationship. Her pout deepened and I gave her an apologetic shrug. "You can't make me believe that someone as gorgeous as you has trouble getting dates." I smiled appreciatively at her and she blushed.

"How did you end up with 2 Preventers as roommates, anyway?" Becky asked. "I've always wanted to know."

"Advertised," I replied, with a wink. "WANTED: Big strong roommates that can scare a burglar to death..." They laughed.

"No really Duo." Suzie turned her pout into a smile.

"We've been friends for years," I replied truthfully. "We went through a lot of stuff together."

"Well, still- if you think one of them might be interested?" Suzie persisted.

"I'll check," I promised and I made my escape.

How did I end up with them? I wondered as I drove towards home. Weren't they supposed to push me off once the war was over? Once they realized that I was the unwelcome third? Once they realized that they didn't need me anymore? Depression settled over me and I tried to shrug it off.

What the hell was wrong with me? I scolded myself. I was tired. Fridays were busy in the store; it had been a crazy day. I was not going to go down this mental pathway my brain was urging me on. I loved them- they loved me. They said so, often enough. They weren't going to get tired of me. Right?

I sighed and ran my hand through my bangs. Almost home. Wufei and Heero wouldn't be home for another hour- at least. I had plenty of time to make dinner before they got there. I grinned, dark thoughts forgotten. Amazing the way we all just settled in to the routine of normal life. In our house I did the cooking, Heero did the laundry and Wufei did the rest of the cleaning. We all worked in the yard and traded off the shopping. It was quite cozy and domestic though sometimes it made me laugh to think about it.

I pulled into the driveway and looked at the house for a minute. It still kind of shocked me sometimes. My home. It was pretty damn amazing. After years of having no home at all, this was one of the things I loved about my life. I turned off the car and took a deep breath. I was lucky to be here- but for how long? I paused and put my head against the steering wheel. Why was I all of a sudden so doubtful of all the things I had been sure of yesterday?

The phone was ringing when I got inside. "Hello?"

"Duo!" A familiar cheerful voice replied. "Bad time?"

"Nah. Just got home. What's up Quatre?"

"This is one of the weekends the guys have off, right?"

"Yes," I replied as I flipped on lights. "Why?"

"I haven't seen you guys for a month," Quatre complained. "I was hoping we could go out for dinner or something."

"I'd love to," I smiled, knowing he couldn't see it. "But can you clear up that busy schedule of yours to see us?" Quatre had taken over Winner Industries- a huge conglomeration. It took up practically every waking moment of his life. Quatre enjoyed it, I knew he did, but sometimes I think it overwhelmed him.

"Hell, yes," he replied, making me laugh. "Trowa has threatened to shoot anyone who tries to schedule an appointment with me this weekend. He says I need a break."

"Good for him. I'll even lend him my rifle." Trowa and I managed to meet for lunch about once a week. We joked that he and I had less responsibilities than our partners, but then we also had a lot less stress. Lately he had been complaining that Quatre was running himself ragged. Apparently he had finally decided to do something about it. "As long as we don't fall into the appointment category." I flipped the lights on in the kitchen.

"No, you three are the relaxing, fun time category. So, is it a date?"

"I'll check with the guys, but I bet it's fine. We've missed you."

"I've missed you guys too. I'm sure Trowa has told you..."

"Of course. Trowa's said, and I quote: 'he's been busy'." I snorted. "Trowa is a great lunch date, but he's not exactly a talker." Quatre chuckled as I inspected the fridge.

"With you around he doesn't have to be."

"Oo! That was low, Quat, even if it is true!" I laughed. "Besides, I know for a fact that you can outtalk me when you want to."

"Then I'll do the talking when I see you."

"Deal. When?"

"Saturday night? Pick a place and we'll be there."

"We'll call tomorrow. Wufei said that if I picked a place on my own again he'd cut off my braid." Quatre started to giggle. "And since he called me "Maxwell" and used the word 'injustice' about 3 times in that threat, I'm inclined to take it seriously."

"I don't blame him." Quatre was still giggling.

"It wasn't THAT bad!" I protested.

"Oh- so a strip karaoke bar..."

"I didn't know! And it wasn't my fault that the owner had a thing for Asian men..."

"Is that what you call it? A thing?" Quatre teased.

"Oh, shove it," I replied cheerfully. "I'll just let them pick. But don't blame me if you can't pronounce or recognize anything we eat."

"Duo!"

"Oh, you know I'm right! Last time Heero picked I swear I ordered chopped poodle or something like that. He still hasn't told me what it was! Every time I ask he just gives me that death glare and mutters something darkly in Japanese."

"Poor Duo." Quatre's voice was shaking with laughter now. "So, you'll call us tomorrow?"

"Yep. As soon as the other two decide where we're going." I sighed. "How come you got the strong and silent one and I got the strong and violent ones?"

"It must have something to do with your personality, Duo." He laughed.

"Injustice!" I snapped in my best Wufei imitation.

"Hey, strong and silent wants to talk to you." Quatre said when he regained control. The phone was handed off.

"Thanks Duo," Trowa's warm voice spoke softly into the phone. "That's the first time he's laughed in a week."

"No problem," I lowered my voice suggestively. "Now, you just need to make sure he's relaxed enough to enjoy tomorrow, 03."

"I accept my mission, 02." Trowa chuckled at me. "See you tomorrow." I hung up the phone, still smiling. The message light was blinking and I hoped the guys weren't going to be late. I hit the button and began to pull out pans and ingredients.

"Hey Duo! It's Hilde! Did ya get the invite? Are you coming to see me get hitched or not?" I laughed as Hilde's cheerful voice scolded me. She was marrying one of the guys on Howard's salvage crew in a few months. I had just gotten the invite yesterday. "I know this is a bit early Duo, but I have a reason. I want you to walk me down the aisle. You know I don't have any family left but you, big brother. So, call me back and say yes!" I stopped my dinner preparations and blinked. Hilde wanted me to walk her down the aisle?

"Duo!" The front door opened and I heard Wufei's voice. "We're home!"

"You're early!" I called back.

"Yeah, the bad guys decided to pack it in for the day," Heero's voice answered. They entered the kitchen and I turned to smile at them.

"Everything's okay?" I asked. "You two are usually home late than early."

"We're fine," Wufei kissed me lightly as his arms snaked around my waist. "We missed you."

"I missed you," I leaned into him for a moment. "Quatre called. He wants to have dinner with us tomorrow."

"So Trowa's plan worked, huh?" Wufei questioned as he slid behind me so that Heero could kiss me hello.

"Yep. We get to pick the place." Heero raised an eyebrow at me. "No, I didn't pick one," I replied to his unspoken comment. "The mere thought sent Quatre into a fit of giggles."

"I'll call him back," Wufei replied. "I have an idea."

"Wait 'til tomorrow," I said with a faint smirk. "I bet they're busy right now."

"Now there's an idea," Heero leaned into me, forcing me back against Wufei.

"Food first," I protested after a few moments. "Last time we did this I never got dinner."

"We should feed him first," Wufei agreed, his breath sending shivers down my spine. "He'll have more stamina."

"True," Heero leaned back, "and you never got lunch." I turned and raised my eyebrow at Wufei.

"And why didn't you get lunch?" Wufei raised his hands and backed away.

"Truce, truce! Finish making dinner, Duo." He said and Heero laughed. I turned back to my cutting board and let the sound wash over me. They were home. They were safe. They left the room to go change, reappearing minutes later in jeans and sweatshirts. They were laughing over something that had happened back in the bedrooms and for some reason it bothered me. I reminded myself that I should be happy to even see them laugh. They had been pretty damn stoic in the war days. I used to wonder if they even knew how to laugh.

"Any other messages?" Wufei asked as he sat down at the table.

"Uh- yeah," I replied, my brain flipping back to Hilde. Heero hit the message button and Hilde's cheerful voice rang out again.

"Oh, Duo- you are going to do that for her, aren't you?"

"If she's really sure she wants me," I flashed my smile at Heero. "I'm kind of surprised she didn't ask Howard." I threw the ingredients into the pan and began to stir them quickly.

"You're closer to her than Howard is," Heero pointed out with a faint frown as he opened the fridge. Wufei rose to his feet and fetched the plates and glasses for the table. The stir-fry finished, I divided it onto the plates as Heero filled the glasses.

"Tell us about your day, Duo," he said as we sat down and started our nightly ritual. I told them about my day, then they told me about theirs. My retelling was fast enough. Just the usual weird customers and store gossip. Theirs took a bit longer, also as usual. Their day always sounded way more exciting than mine. When the war first ended and they joined up with the Preventers, they wanted me to join too. But I'd had enough. I wanted a nice safe job that didn't involve killing anyone. So I worked at the bookstore. Besides, the Preventers worked as partners. Heero and Wufei made a perfect partnership. Who would they have stuck me with? I'm better off in the bookstore.

Of course, the partners were not supposed to be romantically involved. The Preventers thought that the three of us were just roommates. Good friends that survived a war together. I wondered if that's why the guys kept me around. I was a good smokescreen for them. No, no, no! Good lord, what the hell was I thinking? Why was I all of a sudden so sure that they would leave me? Was my subconscious noticing something that I wasn't?

"Duo- what is it?" Wufei touched my hand.

"Huh?"

"You spaced out on us for a minute," Heero was frowning. "Did something bad happen today and you didn't tell us?"

"Ah, no. Just thinking about- stuff." I summoned up a smile for them. "Go on. I'm really listening this time." They exchanged a look, silently communicating, and a wave of jealousy washed through me. They spent all day together, worked together, did things that I didn't. I didn't feel left out- honestly, I protested silently. It had been my choice to turn down the Preventers. But all that extra time they spent together had made it so that they could have a whole conversation with just a look. Something must've showed on my face because they didn't back down.

"What are you thinking about? Something is bothering you." Wufei leaned over the table. "Don't shut us out Duo."

I blinked, trying to think of a response.

"It's really nothing..." I swallowed as they glared at me. Yeah, you try evading two Preventers and see how you do.

"Duo," Heero said softly. "Don't even try." See how well they know me?

"It is really nothing..." I stopped. How the hell could I explain this when I wasn't even sure what was wrong? "I've just been feeling a little down." I smiled for them and glanced at the calendar to avoid their eyes. I noticed the date and things suddenly snapped into place. "Ah...hell." That's it. No wonder I'd been feeling so depressed. That's what had been bothering me all day.

"Duo?" Wufei tried.

"It's okay," I stood up quickly, feeling the burning in the back of my eyes. "I- I'm not hungry." And I fled to my room. Damn, damn, damn. How did I manage to forget what today was? I went into my room and closed the door. I reached up and touched the cross that never left my throat. Tears welled up in my eyes. Today was the anniversary of the Maxwell Church massacre. When my world collapsed again and I was left alone for the second time.

Of course, the guys didn't leave me alone. The next thing I knew I was lying between them on my bed, their arms around me as I wept. It was almost funny. Whenever they get upset or worried they both lapse back into their native languages. I was being comforted in a tangled mix of Japanese, Mandarin and English. It took me awhile to realize that the English was me. My throat was hurting and I don't know what I'd been saying to them...

"...alone. I was all alone again... they left me... No one ever stays..." I closed my mouth and tried to calm my tears.

"We will stay," Wufei's voice was warm and rumbled in my ear. "We won't leave you, beloved. Not ever."

"You belong with us," Heero's hands brushed my tears away. "You won't be alone again, koi, I swear it." This only made me cry harder as my mind argued with my heart. They would leave me. Everyone left me. Solo- Father Maxwell- Sister Helen- my never seen parents. I wasn't worth staying with...

"Of course you are, Duo!" Heero's voice snapped gently.

"Please Duo, listen to us." Wufei's voice added and I realized that I had been speaking out loud. Ah God, what the hell was wrong with me? Pain welled up tighter in my chest. I hadn't meant to get them upset too.

The phone next to my bed rang. Heero turned and snagged it. "Yuy here." He paused. "It's the Church anniversary, Quatre." Oh god. I should've remembered that Quatre could still pick up on strong feelings. I must be really messed up this time. Remorse swept over me. "Last year?" Heero said into the phone.

Suddenly Trowa's voice was in my ear. "Duo, Duo- it's me."

"Trowa?" I replied, trying to calm myself, my fingers curling around the phone.

"I didn't tell them about last year. I thought we got through it. I'm sorry." Last year? What the hell had happened last year? Wait- That's right. Wufei and Heero had been off guarding Quatre on a diplomatic trip. Trowa had been staying with me when the anniversary rolled around. "Duo?" I pulled myself together.

"It's okay, Trowa, I did too."

"Do you need to do it again? I can be there in 10 minutes." It was tempting. Of course, last year I hadn't forgotten. It hadn't been as bad as this.

"I don't want to drag you..."

"Duo. Stop. It's no problem. I'll be there soon, okay?" He hung up. Heero took the phone from me, his dark blue gaze studying me intently.

"Trowa's coming over," I said softly.

"He said he could help you like he did last year." Heero replied. There was a strange tone in his voice.

"I need to get ready."

"We'll help." Wufei sat up.

I was dressed in black jeans and a sweater, tear marks scrubbed off my face by the time Quatre and Trowa showed up at the door. Quatre hugged me tightly in greeting.

"Are you ready, Duo?" Trowa asked, his green eyes calm and steady.

"Yes. I'm sorry..."

"Like I said last year, this is what friends are for." Trowa reached out and took my arm. "Car's ready." He glanced at the other three. "Don't just stand there. You're coming too." He piled us in his car, making sure I was between Wufei and Heero in the back.

"Where are we going?" Wufei asked as we pulled out of the driveway.

"Where Duo needs to go." Trowa replied in his usual cryptic fashion. We drove in silence; the only sound was the classical piece on playing softly on the car's stereo. It wasn't very long before we stopped. Wufei and Heero looked out of the windows and I could almost hear them sigh in realization as we got out of the car.

"A church?" Quatre said in faint surprise.

"We need to perform a little ritual," Trowa answered. "It won't take long."

The church was quiet and dimly lit. Trowa walked with me over to the statue of Mary and handed me a lit match. I lit two of the candles at her feet, one for Sister Helen, one for Father Maxwell. I closed my eyes as the tears welled up again.

"Pater noster, qui es in caelis..." I whispered. Trowa's voice joined me. "Sancticetur nomen tuum..." He bent his head beside mine as we prayed. I don't know where the other three were. Watching and wondering what the heck we were doing most likely. The familiar words washed over me reminding me of the happier times when I had first learned these words. "Amen," we finished.

"Ave Maria, gratia plena," Trowa started the next prayer and I joined in this time. We repeated the Latin words together, the sight of the tiny flames and the sound of the prayers easing a place in my heart. "Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatorbus nuc, et in hora mortis nostre." We finished and I felt – better. I hadn't forgotten and I wasn't alone. For now. I shoved that thought down.

"Trowa, how do you know these prayers?" I asked, just as I had last year.

"All part of my misspent youth," He replied just as he had before. "Feel better?" We turned to look for the others. They were standing just a few feet behind us. Quatre looked solemn, Wufei was frowning slightly and Heero's expression was unreadable. I went to the most approachable one and hugged him.

"I'm sorry I disturbed you, Quatre."

"It's all right, Duo." He hugged me back. "Can you tell me- what are the candles for?"

"You light the candles for someone you want to pray for," I replied. "They kind of stand in for that person." I looked up at Trowa.

"A remembrance," he added.

"And the prayers?" Quatre asked, his eyes studying the two of us. Trowa answered:

"The first was the Lord's prayer. The second was to Mary, asking for her to pray for us- to intervene on our behalf..."Trowa looked a bit uncomfortable, so I jumped in.

"Basically the last line sums it up: Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our deaths." I smiled at Trowa, trying to break the mood. "I'm still surprised that Trowa knows the Latin forms." Trowa smiled slyly at me, willing to play along.

"Sainte Marie, O ma mere, Mere de Dieu, priez pour nous pauvre pecheurs, maintant..." he paused with an arched eyebrow.

"Et a l'heure de notre morte." I finished with a smile. "French version too? How very cultured of you, M'siur. Barton."

"Ah, d'accord M'siur. Maxwell." He took Quatre's arm and I looked over at Heero and Wufei, finally identifying the emotion they were expressing. They were worried. I went towards them hesitantly.

"I'm sorry I..." Heero reached out and pulled me into his arms.

"No. This is nothing to be sorry for." He replied. Wufei's arms went around both of us and I relaxed in that familiar embrace.

"Do you feel better, Duo?"

"Yes," I smiled at both of them, letting a hint of mischief sparkle in my eyes. "But we'd better get out of here. Most Catholics aren't too understanding about same-sex relationships." I let them go, reluctantly.

"You mean you just keep having the same sex over and over?" Trowa quipped from where he stood near the door with Quatre.

"Shove it," I grinned over at him. Quatre was shaking his head.

"You've totally corrupted him Duo."

"That's my job." They walked out of the church. I looked back at the statue of Mary and for a moment, she looked like Sister Helen, smiling gently at me. "Ave Helen, full of grace, you are with me, always," I murmured to her then I turned to follow my family out.

The car was warm and I was more relaxed. The car ride back to the house was noisy as Wufei and Quatre argued over restaurants for the next night. Trowa, Heero and I were in stitches as the two of them compared Chinese to Arabian cuisine. Camels, rats, and sand were mentioned repeatedly. Finally as Trowa pulled up in front of our house, Quatre pretended to give in.

"We'll see you tomorrow at 6, then." He leaned out of the car window as we got out.

"We're looking forward to it," I told him, then leaned to the side to look at Trowa.

"Muchas gracias amigo."

"De nada Duo. Us ex-Catholics have to stick together. Especially surrounded by heathens as we are." We laughed as the other three made faces. I was still chuckling as they drove off.

"I still would love to know how he knows all those languages- especially the Latin."

"I would love to know how you do," Heero told me as we walked into the house.

"Well, most of the Catholic priests speak Latin. Sister Helen and Father Maxwell used it to speak privately- when there was something going on that the children didn't need to know about."

"So of course, you just had to learn it." Wufei grinned.

"Of course, but Father Maxwell started teaching me when I asked. I think he wanted me to be a priest someday." I felt the pain rise in my chest and tried to stop it. Quatre could feel it; I reminded myself icily and locked it down.

"Are you hungry, Duo? You didn't finish your meal."

"Neither did you two," I smiled back at Heero. "And Wufei didn't even get lunch." Suddenly, an arm was around me, and my feet were off the floor. I twisted my head and saw Wufei draw Heero closer.

"I am starving," Wufei murmured and kissed Heero hungrily as his arm tightened around me. "What say we take the braided baka upstairs and eat?"

"Hey!" I protested. We were upstairs, in Wufei's bedroom moments later.

I know it seems a little odd that we all have separate bedrooms. It's not really. One thing we learned early on after the war is that we all at one time or another needed our own space. Our separate rooms give us our own space. If we needed to retreat from the world, we had a place that was ours alone. The rest of the house we had decorated together, but not our rooms. It also gave us a more realistic cover- I mean, anyone coming over could see that we all had our own room. And it wasn't if we ever slept alone. We didn't. Well, not usually. Wufei and Heero had to go out of town occasionally, and then I was by myself, but if we were together, then we were sharing a bed.

I awoke the next morning before either of them. I had ended up on one of the sides, so it was easy to slip out without waking them. Wufei's sheets were a stark white and they played up the dramatic coloring of the other two. I admired them for a moment before going downstairs and starting breakfast preparations. We hadn't ever finished dinner last night- and I didn't know about them, but I was starving. I stopped on my way down for sweats and socks. Our house has wood floors and they are cold in the morning.

The teakettle went on first. No one in the house drank coffee anymore. The other two had corrupted me. I pulled out the frozen orange juice and made a pitcher, then tidied up the dinner mess from the night before. I decided what to make for breakfast as I washed the dinner dishes and then got started. I loved weekend mornings. During the week breakfast was toast, tea, and cereal, grabbed in haste and eaten quickly. Only on the weekends could I spend extra time in the kitchen. It was one of the little routines we had developed that I enjoyed. I spent extra time in the kitchen and they slept in.

My brain showed me the picture of the two of them still sleeping above and instead of smiling, I frowned as the ache built up in my chest again. They were perfect together- I didn't fit in this picture. I leaned my head into the cabinets and tried to get a hold of myself. They weren't going to leave me. They wanted me here. I was being stupid.

"Duo?" Heero's voice interrupted my mantra. My head snapped up in surprise. I didn't have time to pull a smile on. His arms were around me moments later. "Are you still upset? You seemed better last night."

"I'm okay. It's just..." I paused. How the hell do I phrase this? "I- uh- I just am having trouble straightening my mind out again."

"What do you mean?" Heero's arms tightened a bit. "We said we wouldn't leave you. You don't doubt us, do you?" He might have meant it as a rhetorical question, but my attempt to cover my reaction failed. His eyes narrowed.

"Uh- Heero, I need to finish breakfast," I said lamely and tried to slide out of his arms. It was futile. He is a lot stronger than me.

"Why?" He asked then, his voice soft. "Duo- why?" I knew he wasn't referring to breakfast.

"It's not important. I'm just kind of still upset from yesterday, I guess. Don't worry. I'll get over it." He looked at me searchingly for a moment and then kissed me fiercely, his arms tightening around me possessively.

"You're mine," he murmured in my ear. "Always. I never want to be without you." I rested against him for a moment and tried to let his words reassure me.

I touched his cheek gently as the teakettle whistled. "I need to get that before it wakes up Wufei." I slid out of his arms and turned to the stove. "You have time for a shower before breakfast," I said lightly, and he left the room. I heard the shower turn on a few moments later and I focused on breakfast and the things I needed to do today. Groceries, cleaners, and a dozen other little things around the house could get done before 6 easily.

[part 2] [back to Merula's fic]