Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or the series, but the story is my own.

Warnings: yaoi, lime, angst

Notes: Timeline be damned! Let us just say that this happens after the final battle, but the war didn't end as it was supposed to and the ZERO system was never taken out of Sandrock. I know this messes with the perfect 24 hour story, but forgive me this once and I'll be good next time. ^_^

Pairings: 3x4, 1x2 (x implied)


by Spencer

Chapter 1

Heero entered the safe-house silently, sneakered feebt not making a sound on the thinly carpeted floor. It was about 3:30 A.M., and he didn't want to wake any of the other pilots. All five of the Gundams were temporarily stationed on Earth, and for the time being their pilots were sharing quarters.

A quick glance around the room revealed a thin form folded into a chair beside the window. Heero spun to face the stranger, his soldier's instincts taking over, and gritted his teeth as the movement jarred his broken arm.

"Gomen, Heero." Quatre rose gracefully from the chair, dropped his blanket over the back, and crossed to the dark-haired boy's side. "It's broken." The words were more a statement of fact than a question, so Heero remained silent, slightly alarmed that his fellow pilot had seen his weakness so easily, even under cover of darkness. "May I help?" Heero knew from experience that the Arab would take silence as affirmative and shook his head in refusal.

Since he had entered, the throbbing pain had actually eased considerably.

'Maybe it isn't as bad as I thought.'

"No. It's fine." Heero kept his tone neutral, but frowned in his usual no- nonsense manner. Quatre's concern changed to an expression of knowing bemusement as one light eyebrow disappeared beneath the feathery fringe of bangs.

The pain came rushing back, full force, and Heero inhaled sharplyh. Quatre caught the startled cobalt gaze with his own piercing blue ice and Heero nodded, dumbstruck. When the shorter boy pointed to the couch Heero obeyed, wondering at his own actions. Meanwhile Quatre retrieved the well worn med-kit from the closet, placed it beside the perfect soldier, and turned on a rather small table-side lamp. At his return the pain once again receded, leaving Heero more confused than before.

Luckily, the bone wasn't far out of place. The jagged ends hadn't torn any muscle or skin, but they still had to be set. With deft hands the Arab set the arm properly, but Heero did not miss the slight grimace that flashed across his friend's features as the broken edges popped back into place. He himself was surprised at how little discomfort he felt, merely a shade of the original blaze.

When the arm was settled neatly in a sling, Quatre began methodically putting away the medical supplies. The silence settled thickly as Heero watched the smaller boy with searching cobalt eyes. Finally Wing's pilot tired of speculating and spoke his mind.

"How do you do that?" Heero frowned down at his wounded arm, slowly flexing his fingers.

"Nani?" Quatre feigned innocence, but Heero remained unmoved by the wide blue eyes. After a moment of tense silence Quatre smiled wanly.

"I don't know." He locked the case and turned tired cerulean eyes away from Heero's piercing cobalt. "It's happened since childhood, really without my control. If anyone around me is hurt I just take their pain into myself. It's like reflex. Sometimes if I really concentrate I can block it, but why?" He looked questioningly into Heero's deep gaze. "If I can help someone, then it is my responsibility to do so."

'.is it not?' hung thickly between them, but Heero chose the more obvious question, giving in to his growing curiosity. "What about battles?"

Heero suddenly felt himself drawn closer to the gentle blond. He had always assumed that Quatre had been blessed with an easy childhood, filled with his loving family, friends, and all the comforts money could buy. This admission cast a new shadow over his perception. For the first time he entertained the notion that the blond Arab's life may not have been entirely free of pain or loneliness. Maybe Quatre had been as unhappy as the other four young pilots.

"Aa. Battles are hard." Quatre twined callused fingers beneath his chin and stared out the window, drawing Heero back to the conversation. "I can't fight if I feel the death throes of each of my enemies, so I concentrate on blocking their pain even as I fight. It's . . ." He searched momentarily for a word to express his feelings, glancing out the dark window for an answer. ". . . tiring."

"And us?"

Quatre frowned, his distant eyes seeming to grow darker.

"You're different. I can't block you." He winced slightly. "I've tried, but have never succeeded. I don't know why exactly, but you're all closer . . . connected somehow . . . like family." He sighed. "It's all right when we're fighting miles apart; distance helps dull the sensations, but when we're all together . . ." He stopped, wincing a bit as Heero adjusted his arm in the sling. "You should go to bed. The more you rest the faster your body will heal."

Heero simply nodded, sensing he would hear no more of this intriguing new development tonight.

He rose and walked to the hall as Quatre extinguished the lamp and returned to his chair, wrapping the blanket snugly around his delicate frame.

Before Heero reached the corner he turned back, simply observing the pale form, illuminated softly by the moonlight. "Trowa?" he asked, softly.

"Yes," came the soft reply. The glittering eyes did not move from the window, lit by the pale glow. "He should be back by morning."

Heero nodded once more and turned to leave, but a soft voice at his back made him pause a final time.

"I trust you will honor my reasons for not burdening the others with this information." The question was simple, but for some reason it made Heero uneasy. He gave a third nod, though he knew it was not seen, and continued to his bedroom.

The braided Shinigami lay sprawled across the bed, glorious hair unbound and wild. A smile touched the perfect soldier's lips as he sank onto the mattress beside his lover. He doubted he would be getting much sleep tonight between his aching arm and Quatre's little confession, but who could ask for a lovelier view by which to think?

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