By: Caer
see part 1 for warnings & disclaimers

The Forgotten + Part 4

Twelve bedraggled orphans lay in various stages of sleep as a weary Wufei closed the door upon their small community bedroom. There had been no time for contemplation or relaxation for two days now and the Chinese boy found himself wishing for a little of Duo Maxwell's seemingly endless amounts of energy. With the six older boys and two eldest girls spending the week with Trowa and Heero, Wufei had found quite a headache in taking care of the remaining dozen scoundrels who had almost as much energy as Duo. He sighed as he made one last sandwich for the day to take to his braided companion and heated up some broth for the blond whore he was nursing back to health. Wufei couldn't help but feel that something didn't quite add up. He was poisoned, but not beaten or even raped as far as Duo had revealed. He was quite unmarked for someone of his profession. That probably meant that he had belonged to one gang lord for a long time. So why would someone kill him? Even if he had defied his owner, he probably would only have been punished... maybe even broken, but not simply killed. He was really too pretty for that. The only thing Wufei's imagination could come up with is if a boss had refused to sell him and the offended party took the boy away.

Maybe they had a spy kill him within his own turf base. That still didn't explain why the body would just be dumped rather than incinerated. Even if the poisoning was nothing but an accident. Yes, that was another explanation. Perhaps he had overdosed on a new drug? If he were owned by one of the drug lords, that would explain his nice clothes.

Wufei poured the warm broth into a small battered metal bowl next to the sandwich and made his way to the quarantine room, carrying a tray that held both.

There was another explanation for the boy's appearance, but Wufei wasn't too sure he liked the possibility. Duo seemed to have some sort of sympathy for the boy. It wouldn't bode well for either of them if his third and more disturbing suspicion turned out to be true. He knocked on the door before entering and found Duo asleep in the chair beside the sick boy, who, for his part seemed to hold a little more color than before. It was starting to smell a little too much like old sweat and the Chinese boy couldn't help but make a sour face and leave the door open.

"You look like shit, Wufei. Have you slept at all?"

Wufei set the tray on the small table by the sink and looked at his friend, who now had his eyes cracked open.

"A bit. Have you?"

"Yeah." He got up and shuffled over to the sandwich, taking a huge bite and closing his eyes in pleasure. "Mmmm. Trowa brought fresh meat. He's a saint." He chewed reverently.

"A gift for the free labor." Wufei watched his friend eat, silently noting the haggard look about his friend. Even all that energy couldn't take three days of almost no sleep. He turned his attention to the convalescent. "How is your guest? He looks better."

Duo nodded. "He's been asleep for a while now. The fever is lower. I figure he should be able to join the rest of us soon."

"So you're intent on adopting him then?"

Duo shrugged, still chewing on his sandwich as he talked. "I don't know what else we can do. Someone tried to kill him so he's not safe out on the streets."

"What if he won't stay?"

Wufei caught the fleeting look of worry. But Duo just shook his head, resignedly.

"It's his life I guess. Still... "

"You want him, don't you?"

Duo eyed Wufei warily. "Kinda. Why?"

Wufei sighed. "If whoever owned him were to find out that you had him, we would be hard pressed to keep the children safe. Especially if the boy doesn't want any part of you. Or do you think you could win him over with a promise of freedom? But what if he gets stopped on the street and tells someone how to get here?"

Duo nodded. "You're right as usual. It's just... he's so, so exotic. I mean, look at his hair. And have you seen his eyes? I guess not. I can't help but... want him. Besides, he's better off with us whether he'd accept me or not." Duo said, finally setting his sandwich down. "I don't think I could just throw him back on the street."

"You'll have to think about it. Our security is fragile enough as it is. We can't risk the children."

"I know," He acquiesced. "He may not want this anyway."

"Want what?" A groggy but clear voiced chimed from the corner, causing two heads to turn. Duo threw on a smile.

"Hey Quatre. How you feelin'?"

Wufei bowed slightly. "The broth is for him. I'll retire now. You could do with some sleep as well." He said pointedly, eyeing his friend, only to be met with a tired grin.

"Thanks Wufei."

Wufei closed the door. "Good luck Duo." He whispered to himself as he headed for bed.Duo picked up the bowl of broth and moved over to the small bed, kneeling down. The blond smiled a bit.

"I feel better. Thank you." He said politely.

"Up to some broth?"

Quatre nodded and tried to sit up on his own. He was somewhat successful and at least ended up in a slumped position. He ignored the rubbery feeling in his arms to take the bowl and hold it to his lips while his caretaker watched. The first swallow caused his throat to protest and he coughed a bit, squeezing his eyes shut in pain. The salt of the broth bit at his tender esophagus, but then he could drink the rest without too much discomfort. His stomach grumbled at the first bit of food he had ingested in days. When the soup was half gone, his strength threatened to give out and he lowered the bowl to his lap to take a breath.

"You okay?"

Quatre nodded weakly. "Yeah... I just, I feel so weak," he admitted.

Duo took the bowl. "After a fever like that it's not surprising. You've been out for four days."

Quatre's eyes widened in surprise. Had it been that long? He looked up again. Now realizing that the smiling boy who looked far older than he was had been taking care of him day and night for that long, he could see dark circles under purple eyes. Quatre wanted to thank him properly, but more pressing urges made themselves known. He sighed and wiggled uncomfortably.

"Duo, I hate to bother you... but I sort of have to go to the bathroom."

Duo watched the blond look at him pleadingly. He smiled. The kid was pretty mellow. Maybe it was because he had nowhere else to go, but Duo had expected at least a little attitude. This one seemed a little green somehow. Something niggled at the back of his braided head, but he chose to ignore the thought for now. There was time for questions later.

"Well, " He said, "if you want, you can stay in bed and just let go. You're sort of set up for it."

Quatre sputtered and blushed, saying "What?" Even as he began to figure out what the boy meant. If he had been bedridden for four days... Already, he could feel the attachment that had kept him from soiling the bed, now that he was thinking about it. He looked down in embarrassment, feeling his cheeks heat.

"Oh." He said meekly. "I think I'd rather get up."

Duo laughed though. "It's no big deal." Quatre looked up. "I've done this hundreds of times. You're not the only sick boy I've nursed."

Quatre could see the logic in this judging by the contraption he was attached to that currently kept the bed dry. He once again saw that ageless look in the purple eyes. This boy, Duo, must have seen some horrible things on such an unforgiving colony. That he was no stranger to caring for the sick seemed quite apparent in both his words and Quatre's senses. Quatre steeled himself. He was in the heart of a dangerous, desperate, poor society and somehow he had found a friend. He was grateful to be alive, really. He set aside his shame and nodded.

Duo chuckled and turned so that he was beside the somewhat upright blond. He grabbed an arm and settled himself under the boy's shoulder, helping him toward the edge of the bed. Quatre mustered up enough energy to scootch to the edge of the bed, but when he stood, his legs betrayed him.

"I don't think I can do this." He admitted as he teetered back and forth on wobbly legs, unable to keep his balance. He was already feeling dizzy.

"That's ok. This is enough." Duo replied and he hefted Quatre up in his arms, eliciting a startled gasp from the blond and he threw his arms up around Duo's neck to steady himself. "Ah... . You're not as heavy as I thought." He smiled down at the flushed blond, walked to the door. Pulling it open with his toe, he made his way down the underground corridor. "Our bathroom's not the best, but there are worse."That the bathroom being `not the best' was quite the understatement. The small room was not much to look at, or smell. A toilet-like structure sat on a hole in the floor. As Quatre looked down, he could see water running below it. It was very dirty water by the looks of it and of course, it explained the smell.

"We're in the sewers," Quatre mused quietly. He hadn't realized . They made their way over to the meager structure and Duo let Quatre's legs lower to the ground.

"Do you think you can stand on your own for a minute? You can hold on to my shoulders."

Quatre nodded. "Yeah. I think so."

He mustered up his energy and stood shakily while Duo moved in front of him and lifted his T-shirt to remove the lightly fastened tube and plastic bladder from his unmentionable bits. Quatre blushed, frustrated. He was still a little aroused from waking up. He remained silent. What would he say anyway?

"Don't worry about it so much Quatre." Duo laughed, looking up. "I've told you, I've done this hundreds of times. You're all right, ok?"

Quatre nodded gratefully.

"Ok then." Duo stood back up and moved under Quatre's arm to give him some much needed support. His legs were threatening to give out. "I'll hold on to you while you take care of business?"

"Yeah." Quatre decided now that he needed to be over being embarrassed. He had to go so severely; his bladder was about to burst. He might as well think of Duo as a doctor here. Duo looked away while he relieved himself. He sighed as the pressure was released. Duo looked back before he was finished.

"You're still dehydrated," He noted. Quatre agreed. Both the color and smell of his urine indicated as much. "We can take care of that later at least," Duo said with a bright spirit. He directed Quatre to the corner of the small dark room, which appeared to be lit only by an opening high above, and a well-placed mirror. In the corner, sat a small oval tub, roughly seven by three feet. Rather than being flat, however, it was bent up at one end, which made it ideal for sitting, Quatre discovered, as he was gently lowered into the contraption. Though the metal was rather thin, the edges had been sanded down so as not to cut the user. A long faucet hung over the makeshift tub and Duo turned it on while rotating the faucet out from over the tub. A loud whine sounded from behind the stone walls before some brown water started to trickle out. Soon, it cleared and Duo moved the faucet back. The water was a bit cool but not cold. Quatre winced at first as it hit his fevered, goose bump covered legs, but relaxed as the water cooled his feverish body. Duo helped him remove his shirt completely now and moved away from the tub to discard it.

"You're lucky." He said as he moved out of Quatre's sight. "We never had running water until now. Before SSIP came, we had to trade for it."

"But I thought it only ran to the relief stations." Quatre offered weakly.

"True, but SSIP still had to get the colony water plant functioning again before they could get it there. The water still runs through the old pipes down here before it gets there. It's just that they only fixed the pipes that ran into the stations. There are a couple of places up top that water will run now that it's all been fixed. We had to tap into the pipes down here."

Duo returned to his side holding a threadbare rag and a chunk of what Quatre could only assume was soap. The water had filled the tub by about three inches and Duo shut it off. First dipping the rag in the water to saturate it, he moved the soaked cloth over Quatre's bare legs before he squeezed the water to drip down over Quatre's shoulders. Compared to the hot room, the water was bliss.

"That's smart." Quatre sighed. Already, he felt exhausted. He closed his eyes and relaxed, sighing his pleasure as Duo continued to squeeze the cool water onto his fevered skin. Soon, he changed to using a soaped up rag, running the soap over his legs and up his sides and finally over his chest and stomach.

"What's smart Quatre?"

[cont]