Author: Sunhawk

Sanctuary (cont)

It surprised both a laugh and a blush out of me. Yes, I always took the bed by the door. I put myself between my partner and any possible danger whenever I could. I did it without thinking about it. I don't think Duo even realized why I always 'liked' that side of the room.

"But then," I returned, on sudden inspiration, "That's why your room was the first one at the top of the stairs."

If anything, her grin got wider, "Guess we're just two of a kind, Heero; always on point."

We chuckled together for a moment and then she shooed me off to bed as well. I gave her that same peck on the cheek, hardly believing I did it and went to make my rounds one more time, finding Trowa and Quatre sprawled, asleep in the two beds next to Wufei, who was still sleeping soundly as well. I found Duo with a slight frown on his face, struggling to return to the depths of sleep.

"What's the matter, love?" I murmured softly, so as not to disturb the others.

"S'cold." He muttered and I pulled a blanket off a nearby bed to add to the one he already had, tucking him in as gently as I could manage, and after a moment, the frown cleared away and he drifted back to sleep. I sought the bed next to his, not bothering to do more than kick off my shoes.

I thought about what she had said; always walking point. Always on guard. It was true. Everything that meant anything to me was in this room, and these feelings of... caring... were new and precious enough that I felt a constant, gnawing fear that they would be stripped away from me. Every hurt they suffered was a wound on my heart. How could I not be on constant guard? How could you ever relax when you suddenly found yourself with so much to lose?

I slept fitfully, waking several times in the night to make my rounds, checking on all that was mine to protect. Once, finding Quatre curled in a tight ball, I found another blanket and covered his chilled frame. Another round found Wufei awake and wanting water he wouldn't ask for, but I could tell from the hoarseness of his voice. A third round, in the small hours of the morning, and Mama-Marion cracked an eye-lid and called me an idiot and told me to go back to bed.

Finally, morning arrived, bringing a shift change and the doctors back to poke and prod some more. By mutual assent, we made ourselves ready to go, informing the medics we were leaving as much as we were released. It got us frowned at and fussed over, and bottles of painkillers and antibiotics were pressed into my hands, but by mid-morning, we had the lot of us dressed and ready to move out. Mama-Marion had somehow disappeared during the brief time that I had slept and we waited around for a while, hoping to be able to tell her goodbye. Finally, we had to go, and made our way to the transport bay somewhat reluctantly. Wufei on crutches, and Duo not even complaining when I shouldered his backpack. A truck would take us to a yet unknown address, where we would wait to receive orders before moving on to the next safe house, and we shared a mutual hope that it was better accommodations than the place Duo had dubbed 'the house of fleas'.

Our gear had already been thrown into the back of the truck, and we were standing there trying to figure out how to get Duo up there without tearing open the wound across his back, when Lt. Noin came dashing into the bay, panting and glaring at us.

"Oh... you are gonna be in so much trouble with Mama-Marion if you don't stop right there."

"What's up, Hellcat?" Duo grinned at her, leaning against the tailgate, trying to pretend he wasn't standing there because he couldn't haul himself up into the back of the truck by himself.

"She sent me to find you, Kittling. Said to not let you leave until she got here." She grinned back at him and Duo repressed a grimace.

Further banter was cut short when Marion breezed into the transport bay, in uniform with her arm in a sling, her pack over her shoulder and a wide grin on her face.

"There you are, sweetlings!" She greeted us, "Don't tell me you were going to leave without saying goodbye?"

Trowa, who had been in the back of the truck stowing gear, jumped down and we clustered around her, for all the world like the little children we had been while under her care.

She smiled around at us, and I could feel her affection in the weight of her gaze. Noin faded from the circle, giving us this bit of almost privacy. Marion pulled Quatre into a bear hug, ruffling his pale hair and then reaching to include Trowa as well.

"You two take care of each other, you hear me?" She had to tilt her head up to look at Trowa, and he leaned down to kiss her cheek, just as I remembered doing each night at bedtime. It was strange having these memories, distant and yet not.

Wufei required a sharp tug on his ponytail to get him to unbend and hug the woman; I suspect he was having a little trouble reconciling some of his new childhood memories with his current state of mind. I seemed to recall several somewhat undignified images of our stoic partner. But hug her he did, with a faint blush, and even kissed her cheek and finally smiled at her.

"Ah, my little Dragling," She gave his hair another tug, "Loosen up a little bit. I swear to the Gods; it won't kill you."

He actually snorted a little laugh and gave her another hug, whispering something in her ear that made her smile.

She turned to me then, and I opened my arms without hesitation, and she graced me with one of the misty eyed smiles that told me when something had touched her. She hugged me fiercely and said close to my ear, "Let it go, sometimes Wolfling; let someone else take the point position now and again."

I kissed her cheek, "I'll... try." Was the best I could tell her, because I didn't want to make promises I wasn't sure I could keep. She laughed outright, shaking her head at me and turned at last to Duo.

She was pulling something out of her backpack as she stepped up to him.

"Little Kittling." She said, looking at him, just looking into his eyes, and he let the jesters mask fall away for her, smiling one of his sweet, real smiles; heart on his sleeve.

She hugged him, careful and gentle and kissed his cheek, then pressed a manila envelope into his hands before turning to find Noin and start across the hanger.

Duo, puzzled, watched her go for a second, and then bent to the envelope and opened it. He pulled out a small stack of pages, and I suddenly realized what this was. They were the sketches that Mama-Marion had made from Duo's memories, and from the look on his face, she had gotten it right.

He gasped, staring down at the top picture. She had arranged the figures of the twelve children as though they had posed for a group picture. The background was vague, but obviously squalid, the children in the picture were thin and scraggly. There was Duo, right in the center; his arms folded defiantly across his chest, a little older than I remember him being when the drawings had been worked on. Beside him was an older boy, his arm thrown carelessly across Duo's shoulders. The others arranged around the two of them; leader and co-leader. Like a pack of wild dogs. She had pulled no punches, but drawn it just the way it had been. This was Duo's childhood I was looking at.

He couldn't do anything but stand there and stare for just a bit, eyes blinking rapidly, mouth working almost soundlessly.

"... Py... " I heard at length, and suddenly he was looking after Mama-Marion, his eyes bright and round.

"Here." I said gently, and took the precious bundle from his hands. He surrendered the stack of papers to me oh so carefully, and then ran after Mama-Marion as fast as he could manage. She heard him coming, and turned around to meet him in the middle of the bay, in a hard hug that had to be hurting the both of them. Words were passed; he to her and back again. Her eyes did more than mist, and she didn't care, hugging him again and patting his cheek and then he was standing there alone in the middle of the bay staring after her, looking so small and vulnerable that we were all moved to go to him.

He looked down at the sketches in my hands almost reverently and said, "Py... how could I have forgotten?"

Then his eyes came up and he was looking at me with that same wide-eyed awe, "She said... she said you did this?"

I flushed and smiled at him softly, wanting so badly to take him into my arms and not able to in the middle of the damn base, "I only made the suggestion." I told him, and the look that I was graced with was like a touch against my soul.

"Thank you, Heero." He looked back at the pictures, "Oh Gods... thank you so much." Then his face changed and he looked a little panicked. "Where can I keep them... "

I knew he was remembering that mad scramble out of a safe house that turned out to be not so safe and losing almost everything he owned.

"That," Noin interrupted gently, "has been taken care of. That's where Mama-Marion was this morning. She had copies made. There's a set in your personnel file, she has a set and uhmmm... I have a set. Don't worry."

The look they gave each other was surprisingly gentle for the two long time sparing partners, and then she turned and followed Mama-Marion back into the daylight.

"Come on," I told him, "let's get the hell out of here." We moved for the truck and found that someone had placed a small step stool by the tailgate that allowed Duo to climb up on his own without flexing his back muscles and pulling his wound open again. Wufei insisted on using it as well, handing his crutches up and climbing to the top step where Trowa could lean down and haul him the rest of the way in. Quatre and I scrambled aboard, Trowa slapped the back of the cab to let the driver know we were ready, and the truck lurched away.

Duo was sitting with his back to the cab, carefully not leaning on his wound, and staring down at the pictures clutched firmly, but gently in his hands.

Away from the prying eyes of outsiders at last, I went to sit beside him, slipping an arm around him and hugging him to my side. He tilted his head up for a kiss that bordered on feverish.

"Heero... I can't tell you what this means... "

I smiled at him, seeing just a little of the pain that always lived at the back of his eyes cleared away, "I think I know... a little."

We looked at the sketches together as he slowly paged through them. I couldn't believe she had captured so much, and obviously, from Duo's reaction; so well. When he came back to that first group picture, He laid his head on my shoulder and heaved a heavy sigh. I felt a little tension go out of him. I let my fingers touch the edge of the picture and softly said,

"Tell me?"

There was a long silence, during which I wasn't really afraid he wouldn't speak, I somehow knew he would share this with me, but just a small wait while he gathered his thoughts. Then he looked up at me, eyes asking for a kiss that I readily gave him, and it turned into something deeper. Something fell away between us and I knew in that moment we were about to take another step together. He was going to share this with me, this and much more. And in my turn, I would share things with him I had never told another living soul. It wouldn't be all at once, but it was going to happen, and he knew it as well, pulling back from the electric touch of our lips and looking up at me with eyes so full of love I felt a shiver run up my spine. He curled against me, his finger brushing the portrait,

"This... " He began, "is Solo... "

end

[part 3] [back to Sunhawk's fic]