Chapter 19:


By: Dyna Dee

Disclaimer: I don't own any part of Gundam Wing nor it's characters. My stories are written for my own pleasure and not for any legal tender, darn it!

Warnings: A.U., yaoi, shounen-ai, some language, some violence but not too bad. Maybe some OOC, but I tried to stay with the personalities of the original characters as much as possible.


Chapter 19

The first hill was not very large but it was steep and the top surface was covered with the desert sand and loose rock which added to their struggle in getting the injured teens to the top. Surmountable though the hill may have seemed when they began their upward trek, three quarters of the way up it began to appear as daunting as scaling Mount Everest.

Duo woke several times and stayed awake just long enough to reach his hand out towards Heero walking close by his side or to make a slight moan before he faded out again. Even though Trowa had assured Heero that Duo would be fine, one look at the pale and slack boy on Wufei's back caused everyone to worry, especially Heero.

Brushing the moisture from off his forehead with his sleeve, Trowa felt the weight of someone's eyes on him. He turned his head and his eyes locked with Quatre's, the blond's expression a mirror of his own concern for Duo. From the pinched look on the smaller blond's face, he could tell his friend was in quite a bit of pain himself, but the boy, much stronger in disposition than his appearance projected, offered no word or sound of complaint as Zechs and the dark haired captain helped him up the hillside. Zechs supported him by having a firm hold of Quatre's uninjured arm while Captain Knaphasey, standing on the smaller blond's other side, held him up by gripping the waistband of his pants, helping to keep his sometimes faltering footsteps steady.

They took two brief rest stops while they ascended the first hill in order to allow Quatre, Heero and Wufei to catch their breath. There were offers from the healthy three to take turns in carrying Duo, but as Wufei turned to get Heero's response, the nearly exhausted Japanese boy looked back with complete trust on his face and in his eyes. "We trust you, Wufei," Heero said quietly. "If you become too tired to carry him, I'll do it."

A surge of pride course through the Chinese boy that Heero would vocally state his trust in him alone to carry Duo. Without hesitation, he accepted the honored task, then set his mind and sight towards the end of their journey and hoped he could find the strength within him to trudge onward over the next two hills, determined to either reach the transport or go until his legs collapsed under him.

They all found going down the sandy slope on the other side of the hill to be easier, but definitely a tricky task when aiding someone injured or less able. At the bottom of the first hill, Trowa once again removed Duo from off the Chinese teen's back to let his friend rest. "Are you alright, Wufei?" he asked, his concern now extending to his Asian friend who was sweating profusely from his laborious task.

"I'm fine," the Chinese teen answered with a dismissive wave of his hand and gasping somewhat to take in more of the hot desert air into his lungs. "All I have to do is climb two more hills."

Trowa wondered if his friend was oblivious of the chore ahead of him, or if he was merely trying to psych himself up for the onerous chore that still lay ahead. As he looked up, studying the taller sand covered hill in front of them, he decided that climbing it in their current partially disabled state was going to be more like hiking up Mount Everest.

Moving back to check on Heero, who, by some astounding strength of will, managed to stay on his feet and was currently bent over, his head bowed towards the ground with his hands gripping tightly onto his knees for support. Trowa placed a comforting hand on the struggling boy's shoulder, silently letting him know that he was there for him, to help in any way possible.

Heero straightened and clasped the extended arm with his own hand and looked into his friend's face. "Thank you, Trowa," he said in a strained voice, his face slack. It was obvious by the drooping of his facial features and the sallowness of his skin that Heero was extremely tired, but the sincerity of his gratitude was evident despite his exhaustion.

It took an hour and fifty-three minutes to climb and descend the last two hills. Captain Knaphasey stopped at the top of the third and final hill and removed an item from his backpack. He took out a mirror and flashed a signal off the sun to the transport below. They all breathed a sigh of relief when the returning signal came, revealing the position of the transport hidden under the desert camouflage net. The four members of the rescue team had each silently feared that their way out of the desert and to safety might have left when they failed to return on time, that the pilot of the hovercraft might have come to the likely conclusion that they had been captured. Feeling of relief and that their ordeal was near an end, the small troop carefully made their way to the bottom of the third hill.

Wufei was never so grateful for anything in his life than he was to reach the bottom of the hill where a slight, flat valley separated the hill they'd just descended and the next series of sand and hills that began to rise again a short distance from where he'd collapsed.

The rescue transport had been freed of its disguising cover and rumbled to life. Then with an ease of motion, seeming to float on a small cloud of dust and sand, the amphibious hovercraft, specifically designed to travel effectively over the desert sands, made its way to where they waited. It stopped a short distance away so that the thick dust, raised by the craft's powerful air thrusters, wouldn't choke the rescue party and the large. The metal ramp was lowered from the side of the craft and a Federation soldier, who had accompanied the transport's pilot, rushed out to help the wounded inside.

As the hovercraft's door was secured, a cold bottle of water was pressed into Wufei's hands several moments after he'd collapsed in a seat next to where Heero and Duo had been placed on medical stretchers. He drank greedily before dumping the remainder of the bottle over his head to cool his heated body. Then looking up at his captain, standing above him, he realized the man was studying him with an assessing eye to see whether he was alright or if he, too, needed medical attention. "Thanks," Wufei croaked out, then wiped the excess moisture off his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt.

Captain Knaphasey moved forward and sat in the seat next to the Chinese boy and thoughtfully studied the two teens on the stretchers. "You three know what's going on with them, right?"

Wufei nodded and closed his eyes as he tilted his weary head back to rest against the slight padding of the hard headrest. The air conditioning of the transport sent a chill up his over heated and wet skin and he could feel the vibration of the hover craft increasing as it powered up, a brown dust cloud rose up outside and darkened the vehicle's windows. He felt a sense of relief as the transport eased forward and quickly began to pick up speed.

"Who else is privy to whatever is going on here?"

Wufei sighed, feeling too tired to talk, but knowing he couldn't refuse his new captain. "Top brass: generals, Commander Reid, the training base's doctor and the three of us."

The young captain's eyes turned back to the two and they narrowed as he contemplated the pieces of what information he knew.

They sat for a while in silence with only the loud hum of the hovercraft's motors being heard in the cabin as they continued to glide over the desert floor. Zechs had set himself off to the side, closing his eyes while putting the cold bottle of water in his hand up against is face. Quatre and Trowa sat across from Wufei, near the foot of Duo's stretcher, dark circles underlining their eyes. Trowa sat straight, his shoulder supporting his smaller friend who was leaning heavily against him, eyes closed and resting, Quatre's bottle of water was tilting to the side as his hands began slack as he fell asleep. Seeing it, Trowa reached out and carefully plucked the half filled bottle out of Quatre's dust covered hand and looked up to catch Wufei's eyes on him. The two shared a brief smile, feeling that all would be well now that the five of them had been reunited. Then together, their eyes turned to the two on the stretchers to make sure all was well.

As the silence began to turn into sleep for each one in the cabin, a faint but desperate, croaking whisper called out. "Heero!"

Wufei's eyes snapped open and he was out of his seat belt in a flash. He went to Duo and knelt down next to the injured boy's side. Taking up his hand, he held it firmly so that in his semi-conscious state the long haired boy would feel his presence and know that he wasn't alone. "He's near, Duo, just resting," Wufei said earnestly, hoping to comfort his friend. "Everything is going to be okay now."

"Wufei?" the injured boy's eyebrows lifted slightly but his eyes remained shut, as if it took too much energy from his exhausted body to open them.

"Yes, Duo. It's me. I'm right here and so are the others." A faint smile lit the beautiful boy's lips before they slowly relaxed. But before his face went completely slack, Wufei felt a faint squeeze of his hand and a small, whispered word.


It was just before noon when the transport helicopter, carrying the secured hovercraft, landed at Fort Collins, and medical vehicles and personnel were there to greet them.

Wufei took on the responsibility of overseeing the two boys on the stretchers, requesting first, then demanding when there was some argument about it, that they be put in an ambulance together.

As the medical crew continued to argue with him, Wufei reached over to Heero's tags and displayed the special order's number. A surge of pleasure shot through him when all arguments immediately ceased and his request was granted without any further word. He decided it was pretty damn fine to have that kind of clout.

Quatre was loaded into the next EMT vehicle and it followed behind the one carrying Heero and Duo as they left the tarmac with the lights on top of the ambulances flashing and the sirens wailing. The four remaining pilots were taken separately by a jeep to the hospital where Captain Knaphasey filed a report to his superiors and Zechs excused himself to find his quarters and rest.

Wufei and Trowa were left in the hospital waiting room, determined to stay there until they had some word on the condition of their friends. It wasn't any longer than ten minutes before someone came looking for them.

They were led by a male nurse to an emergency exam room where they could hear an obvious struggle was taking place. They rounded the corner to see Heero, dressed in only a hospital gown, being physically restrained by two large and brawny orderlies from going to Duo.

"What's going on here?" Wufei barked out. A man in his mid thirties, wearing a white lab coat, round glasses and an arrogant attitude gave the two newcomers a haughty look. A quick glance to the tag on his lab coat declared to the two arrivals that he was a doctor.

"I take it you're pilot Chang?" the brown haired doctor asked looking at Wufei.

"Let him go," Wufei snapped unpleasantly.

"Pilot Yuy was found assaulting the other prisoner," the doctor told him with a look of disgust on his face.

"No, he wasn't," Wufei declared boldly, guessing the doctor had seen Heero trying to climb into bed with Duo. "He was just trying to hold and comfort him. Let him go."

The doctor folded his arms, looking unpleasantly stubborn. "I've called the M.P."

"Did you see his tags?" Trowa asked in his usual calm manner, motioning towards Heero.

"I've only been told that he's not allergic to anything," the doctor replied.

"Look closer," Wufei advised as he moved towards Heero, who was still straining against the two larger men and their hold on him.

"Just a moment, Heero," Wufei said in an effort to calm his friend. The Chinese boy reached for the chain around Heero's neck and lifted them from off his neck and slipped it over his head. He carried them to the doctor and held them out for him to see the numbers etched into the metal.

A look of irritated skepticism changed to one of dumbfounded surprise. Once again, Wufei felt a twinge of envy at the reaction and response the numbers brought.

"Let him go," the doctor said abruptly to the two goons holding Heero who nearly fell to the floor when he was immediately released and he stumbled forward in trying to catch his balance.

"Are the special orders a health concern?" The doctor asked as he watched the auburn haired teen, who had entered the room a moment before , catch the boy bearing the special orders tag and stopping him from falling to the floor. He watched with perplexed fascination as the same boy took Yuy by the elbow and led him to the long haired boy's side. Pulling back the covers that were put over patient Maxwell's unclothed body, the Chinese pilot helped Yuy to climb into the bed with the unconscious boy. Pilot Yuy promptly pulled the unresponsive teen into his arms. The doctor's eyes widened with surprise when the supposed unconscious boy gave a sigh of relief at the other boy's presence.

Turning away from the bed, Wufei addressed the doctor's question. "Yes, it concerns their health and government secrets," he belatedly answered the man's question. "You might have more of your questions answered if you contact your base commander. If he needs further information, he should contact Commander Reid at the Training Center or General Noventa. This information is highly classified and we're not at liberty to disclose it to anyone."

"I can't call Commander Forrester for a consultation of a health concern! We're at war, if you haven't noticed." The doctor replied indignantly. "There have to be forms filled out and submitted to his office before such a meeting can take place and it will only happen when he has the time."

"Tell him of the special circumstance numbers on Heero's tags," Trowa advised him. "Only a few top officials are to know what's going on here."

The military trained doctor looked off balance and perplexed by the situation. His eyes strayed to the bed where the two teenagers were spooned up against each other, the more violent boy protectively holding the other in his arms.

Wufei had turned his head to look with the doctor at the bed and, being the closest, saw a warning glare in Heero's eyes and knew he would attack anyone at the moment who tried to come between himself and Duo. "It's alright, Heero," He said soothingly to the glaring teen, trying to defuse the other boy's short fuse. "No one is going to separate you. I promise."

Slowly, Heero's face began to soften and his vice-like hold on Duo lessened slightly. A look of gratitude filled the dark blue eyes as Heero turned so he could look into Wufei's face. He lifted his hand towards the Chinese boy as an invitation.

Seeing Heero's gesture, Wufei went to the bedside and took up Heero's proffered hand. Neither boy said a word, but their eyes locked on each other's and spoke of gratitude and a bond of friendship that had grown tenfold during this last ordeal.

"We need Quatre," Trowa's voice cut through the silence in the exam room.

The doctor cleared his throat and came back to himself after being totally mesmerized by the drama unfolding in front of him. "I'll make the call to the commander's office and see what I can arrange," he said before hastily leaving the room with the two orderlies in tow.

"I'll find Quatre and bring him here as quickly as possible," Trowa said quietly, then turned and left the room.

Once the room was empty but for the three, Heero calmed significantly and found his voice. "Thank you, Wufei. Duo and I are grateful for what you've done for us."

"I'll always be there to help you," Wufei replied in a quiet, solemn voice. "The both of you."

Heero gave Wufei's hand, still clasped in his own, a grateful squeeze, with the caramel-colored skin so much like his own blending together, he wanted to show his gratitude to their friend. Heero was only slightly surprised when Wufei leaned down and placed a chaste kiss on his cheek, then moved forward to brush Duo's long bangs away from his forehead and placed the same type of kiss against the moist, pale and heated skin.

Dark eyes met blue as he straightened. "I swear to you both that if it's within my power, you'll never be separated again," Wufei vowed and reached out to finger comb the messy dark brown mop of hair from out of Heero's eyes and let his hand rest against the side of his head, grateful beyond words that the ordeal they'd just been through was over. His gesture was rewarded when Heero closed his eyes and leaned into the touch.

"Rest now," Wufei said in a warm voice, a small smile gracing his dirt and sweat stained face. "I'll keep watch until things are settled or they chase me out of here."

Heero nodded and let himself drift off to sleep as gentle fingers moved to continued combing through his hair, soothing him into a dreamless, restful sleep.

When Heero woke again, the hospital room was dark. Duo's body, warm and comforting, was still pressed up against him. He noted that, during their slumber, he had turned over and was now draped over the top of his chest, his partner's favorite sleeping position. Heero smiled, finally feeling hopeful about Duo's recovery.

A quick scan of the room revealed a small light on in the far right corner and above the sink, just barely illuminating that side of the room, but enough to see the dark haired boy curled up in a nearby chair, wrapped in a blanket and sound asleep.

Heero yawned, careful to be quiet. Then a movement from the opposite side of the room caught his attention.

"You're awake?" Trowa's voice came from the dark shadows.

"Apparently, so are you," Heero answered in a groggy voice.

Trowa stepped forward into the dim light while coming closer to Heero's side of the bed. "Wufei and I are taking turns on watch, with the base commander's permission."

Stretching out his right, numb arm, Heero looked up at the shadowed figure next to him. "So what's been happening since we've been out?"

"Quatre met with the base commander and doctor in his room and, with Commander Reid's permission, appraised them of yours and Duo's unique connection."

Heero frowned deeply, feeling a sense of panic begin to build up inside him. How many people were going to learning of their bond from this incident? He wondered with a deep sense of worry.

"They needed to know, Heero." Trowa said, seeing the strained and worried expression on Heero's face. "Otherwise, you would never have been allowed to share this bed with Duo. Quatre informed both men that you need to be close, in physical contact with each other, in order to recover."

The Japanese boy's arms came around Duo possessively and reached up a hand to stroke the long braid that fell over his shoulder. "What was the outcome of the discussion?" he asked, almost fearful of the answer.

Trowa took a step closer, and even in the dim light, Heero could see his friend's eyes were filled with sympathy. "Because of your inability to be separated for very long, and the fact that the both of you nearly died, not to mention the great lengths we went through to get Duo back to you, the Commander has decided to down grade the both of you from AMS pilots. He's not sure where to put you, but he knows the matter must be handled with extreme care. He believes your very existence, if publicly revealed, could shatter the public's confidence in the government, which is at an all time low at the moment from the trouncing the Allied forces have given us.

"Are we still in the military?"

"Technically? Yes," Trowa replied.

"If you told the base commander of our special needs, does he know we need to share a single room?"

"Yes, Quatre told him what he deemed necessary without going into any details. He was sure the commander came to the correct conclusion regarding your relationship with Duo, other than being connected to him."

A sound in the corner of the room signaled that Wufei had awakened during the conversation, and with the blanket still around his shoulders, he came to stand on Duo's side of the bed. He stood for a moment looking down on the sleeping boy, laying directly on top of Heero's chest. Dark blue eyes met onyx.

"As soon as you and Duo are well enough," Wufei said softly so he wouldn't disturb Duo's rest, "they're going to ship you further inland to a more secure location."

"We were trained to fight in this war," Heero stated unhappily.

"Yes, and you're the best the training school had to offer," the Chinese teen agreed. "But your genetically engineered weakness is too much of a liability for the Federation to risk. Your not being able to be apart from each other, and the dire consequences that follow a separation will only make more people curious and suspicious about the both of you. The longer you stay in the field, the more people will have to be told or will guess your secret, like the enemy's base commander did."

A long moment of silence passed between the friends, and it was clear that Heero was unhappy with how their situation had changed. The two standing teens heard a sigh of resignation just before Heero spoke quietly. "I guess they're right. As long as I have Duo with me, we'll be alright, no matter where they send us. But I won't let them experiment on us or hurt Duo. We've suffered enough."

"Quatre made them promise not to harm you in any way," Trowa said, trying to reassure his friend.

Heero's eyes rose again to meet the Chinese boy's. "Wufei?" There was a vulnerable tone to his questioning voice that the other two had rarely heard before.

"Could you excuse us for just a moment, Trowa?" Wufei asked the taller boy without moving his eyes from the boy on the bed.

"Back in ten," Trowa said quietly and quickly left the room.

"Du... we would like to stay with you and the others," Heero finished what he'd wanted to say a moment earlier and allowed his friend to see a rare emotion show in his face, the fear he was feeling at their changing circumstances.

Wufei's hand reached out and tentatively touched the long braid that snaked over Duo's shoulder, knowing he shouldn't be so presumptuous, but not able to resist the temptation. "We've no choice in the matter," he replied sadly. "There's a war going on and Quatre, Trowa and I will go on to fight."

Heero lifted his hand to his comrade and looking up, seeing it extended towards him, Wufei dropped the braid and put his palm in Heero's, their handshake solid and firm. "Duo wants me to say thank you for helping us, not only today, but for all the times we needed your help, comfort, and for running interference."

Wufei's eyebrows rose. "He's awake?"

Heero nodded. "Barely, but he's too physically drained and emotional to be any where but in my mind right now."

Wufei's hand moved to caress the back of Duo's head that rested on Heero's chest. "Maybe this is for the best," he said in a sad voice.

Heero searched the soulful dark eyes that were fixed lovingly on the boy in his arms. "You love him, don't you?" he asked in a whisper.

With his face pinched in thought, Wufei shook his head. "I don't know. I feel strongly for him, but I don't know." His eyes shifted to look into Heero's face. "But I do know that he loves you and only you."

"I'm sorry if we have caused you pain," Heero said sincerely. "We wish there was some way we could stay and fight on with you, Trowa and Quatre. We trust you three more than anyone we've ever known."

Wufei sighed, knowing in his heart the truth of what he was saying. "You and Duo need to finish becoming whatever you're evolving into. You don't need me around; I might prove to be a... complication." A quick glance to Heero's worried face showed Wufei that he was right. "Besides," he continued, trying hard to smile. "It will give us time. I need time to think about my feelings and try to understand them and decide where I want to take my life. You and Duo need to sort out your lives also."

"We'll stay in touch," Heero promised, a small, forced smile coming to his face, then just as quickly a look of uncertainty took its place. "Wufei, we've never really talked about it," Heero looked questioningly up at the other teen. "And I know you care deeply for Duo, you've done so much for him, for us, but that day when I... "

Wufei held up his hand to stop the other boy from speaking, assuming from their previous words that Heero was about to retract what he had said that day he kissed him on the rec room floor, hinting that there was a possibility of a future together. Wufei didn't need to hear it, he already knew. "There's a war on," he reminded his friend. "It's inappropriate to dwell on such personal matters and emotions when people are fighting and dying."

Heero gave him a sad, knowing smile and his eyes spoke of his understanding and let the unspoken matter be settled between them.

Wufei returned the smile. "Just be safe and take care of each other. Life has a way of sorting everything out, so don't worry about me. I don't want to have to worry about you two either, so I'm trusting you to make sure that you're both happy."

Leaning over the bed and Duo's shoulder, Wufei put his hand on Heero's dark, coarse hair and let his hand linger gently there as the two shared a warm smile, a simple gesture of the bond of friendship they'd come to enjoy over the years they trained and relaxed as friends together. Then turning to the unmoving figure on top of Heero, Wufei placed his open hand on Duo's upturned cheek and turned his fingers to brush the back of them against the soft skin, flushed with fever. Heero watched the tender gesture with a sad smile, feeling sympathy for the Chinese boy and his confused emotions for his lover. When their eyes met again, they shared an unspoken moment of understanding and, for that short space in time, all felt right in the war torn world between the three teens linked together in friendship.

A knock on the door brought Wufei upright. He turned to see Trowa poke his head through the doorway. "Allied forces are on the move again," he announced in a loud whisper with a definite tone of urgency to his voice. "They're going to evacuate the hospital now and Captain Knaphasey will be here in ten minutes to pick us up for our suit orientation."

Immediately after he'd uttered the words, two orderlies moved around him and into the room. One carried a stretcher and the other pushed a wheelchair. They went directly to the bed without batting an eye at the unusual position of the two lying in it. Heero reluctantly released his hold on Duo, then accepted Wufei's help in getting out of the bed and putting on a hospital robe to cover the open backed gown both he and Duo wore. As dressed as he was going to be for a while, Heero sat in the provided wheelchair and watched as Duo was placed on the stretcher and was quickly covered up with a blanket. The straps on both sides of the stretcher were then fastened, to insure the unmoving teen stayed in place during transport.

All the movement and the charge of urgency that filled the atmosphere of the room caused the long haired teen to wake from his sleep-like state. "What?" His weak voice called out. Wufei left Heero's side to reassure his confused friend, motioning the soldiers to step back.

Giving a reassuring smile to Duo, whose barely opened eyes looked about ready to close again, he combed his fingers through the long, tangled bangs, feeling some of the grit of the desert that lingered there. Duo showed signs of recognition and his half-lidded eyes displayed his confusion.

"They're moving you out, Duo," Wufei told him. "The Allied forces are approaching and we have to vacate the base in case of an attack."

Duo nodded slightly, showing that he understood, but then he turned his head and began to scan the room, a look of panic coming into his eyes. "Heero's going too," Wufei interpreted what that look was for and quickly spoke to reassure him. "He's right here, and things are going to change so that you won't be separated from each other again."

The exhausted blue-violet eyes moved back to him and Duo's chin quivered slightly. "Wu.." he whispered emotionally.

"I'll be alright." Wufei forced himself to smile, knowing Duo needed him to be strong. "We'll keep in touch and I'll come see you when I can. I won't forget you, my friend."

Duo nodded, then looked in Heero's direction. Wufei could tell they were communicating with each other. Duo nodded again and looked up at his best friend and motioned him to come closer so he could whisper something to him.

Wufei leaned down and placed his cheek against Duo's, his ear near the other boy's lips. A faint, almost inaudible sound came on the warm breath that gently puffed against his skin. "You're our best friend, Wufei. Be safe. Be happy."

Despite a room full of people, two of them strangers, Wufei leaned forward and put his forehead against Duo's. It was in that moment that he felt a part of his heart break. Somehow, he'd come to care too much for the boy on the stretcher and for his lover, watching them carefully from the wheelchair behind them. He knew, if he let himself, he could fall in love with the two inseparable teens. It would be a conscious decision on his part that would be fraught with complications and recriminations for him. The severe consequences from his family and possibly even the ruination of his future in the military, a career, or social life was staggering when he thought about it. He didn't know if what he felt for them was worth all of that, if it was enough to risk it all. And suddenly he was glad, glad for the coming separation. What he told Heero had been true, he needed the time to sort out his mind and heart, and being in the middle of a war was not conducive to an examination of one's emotions or future.

"You're my best friends, too," he whispered into Duo's ear. "I want the both of you to take care of each other. I promise you, we'll always be friends."

Then suddenly the room began to move with a resurgent feeling of urgency as a distant siren sounded in warning of an incoming enemy, and the two patients were promptly and efficiently removed from the room. Wufei pushed Heero's wheelchair and Trowa took up one end of Duo's stretcher as he was carried out to the ambulance that was backing up as they arrived, just outside the emergency door.

"Trowa!" Heero called out as he waited for Duo to be loaded into the vehicle, and the auburn haired teen went quickly to his side; their time was short. The two clasped hands. "Thank you," Heero said quickly but sincerely. "Duo and I can never express how much your friendship has meant to us. Please, tell Quatre of our gratitude and sorrow at not seeing him before we left. We'll never forget you, any of you."

Trowa looked into Heero's deep blue eyes, seeing more emotion in them than he'd ever seen before. His usually stoic friend was not one to express gratitude or sentiments on a regular basis, but he knew that he now spoke for both himself and Duo. It struck him again how well the two balanced each other.

"I'll tell him and we'll do all we can to stay in touch," he replied, then let go of Heero's hand and helped him to his feet, holding onto his elbow for support as Heero climbed into the ambulance and sat next to Duo's secured stretcher.

Wufei and Trowa stood together as they watched their two friends secured inside the emergency vehicle, and gave a final, slight wave of farewell before the back doors were briskly closed and they were taken away, headed for the air-transport on the tarmac that would carry the two away and out of their lives for an uncertain location and undetermined amount of time before they would meet again.

"Quatre's being sent away, too," Trowa said in his usual quiet voice, but this time Wufei noted an increased tone of worry in it.

"I'm sure he'll be joining us as soon as his injuries heal," Wufei said, hoping it was true.

"We better see if we can say goodbye to him before he's whisked away like Heero and Duo." Trowa said, then sighed as he watched with a worried frown as the ambulance turned a far corner of the street. "Do you think we'll ever see them again?" he asked Wufei as he turned to face his long-time friend.

Dark eyes met Trowa's, and the auburn haired boy noted a look of confidence in Wufei's face as his friend answered his question. "Definitely. We'll be seeing both of them again, I promise you." Then a smile slowly grew and graced the Chinese teen's face. "We only have a few minutes left. Let's go find Quatre," he said, slinging his arm over Trowa's shoulder and leading him back into the hospital that was buzzing with activity as the remaining patients were being readied for removal.





On to Chapter twenty

Back to Chapter eighteen



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