Written By: Dùlin
Archive : This fic is archived here with permission, please request it from me if you want to archive it somewhere else. There’s a very good chance I’m gonna say yes anyway.
Disclaimer : I once was a delusional fangirl who thought she owned the G-boys. Then common sense hit me on the head with a big stick, and I realized they were not mine. So I'm just borrowing them to torture them a little, and then I'll put them right back where I found them.
Rating : R, mature audience only, please.
Warnings : angst, dark, psychiatric disorders and mental torture, mention of abuse, violence, and (on a slightly happier note) yaoi romance and limes.
Post-EW, Spoilers for the whole series, Battlefield of Pacifists and Endless Waltz.
Pairings : 3x4, 2x1, heavy 5+3 and 5+4 that may result in 3x4x5 very slight mentions of past 3x1, 1x4, 2x4, 1x5 (I said 'past' you perverts!)
A special thanks to Misanagi, whose fic 'Inverse' changed my vision of Dorothy. That girl is so twisted that it took that fic to make me give her an actual chance when before I would have done anything not to have her, or just as a villain. It turns out she makes an astonishing character on a good side, and she’s ambiguous enough for me to delve deep into my writer panoply and play a bit *tries to keep Dorothy from running away*
/blah/ : Quatre's thoughts and empathic perceptions.
/blah/ : something else ... you'll see ...
SPECIAL DISCLAIMER : Contrary to popular belief, I own neither Dr Corday nor Dr Carter, but I needed doctors. They belong to the people who created ER, and I hope those people will forgive me for turning them into psychiatrists and subjecting them to Sally Po.
Thanks to cj simila, Cozzy bob, the ever faithful karina, Deb, MOrgan, Misty Yuy, Jen, Press, Dragon Eye, Missy Irene, Alleyprowler, Lady Midnight, Vega Lume, Merit Somnia, Kylarkallana, Sintari, infamous-otaku, Haruka Hana, Bane's desire, Amejisuto, Helcat 805, katrice ballard, Poorthingie, Lise, Keithan MousyCoon, Elisabeth, Light of the Blue Rose, EternalKaze, Derek and a special glomp to Lisou-chan & Laurence-sama, beta-readers extraordinaires.
Prologue – AWOL
~AC 197, March 2nd, L2-C687, 2:03 AM~
Duo opened a sleepy violet eye and tried glaring at the phone to make it stop ringing. It didn’t work.
“Crap ! Who’s the jerk …”, Duo started to grumble before he was rather rudely interrupted by the phone yet again.
The young American gave in. An arm snaked out of the bundle of covers on top of the bed and caught the receiver, leaving the visuals off.
“It’d better be Heero or you’re dead meat”, he groaned as a welcome.
“Duo ?”, Trowa’s voice answered.
Which had the immediate effect to wake Duo up completely. Why in space would Trowa call at two in the morning ? The ex-mercenary knew the time differences between the L2 and L3 colony clusters.
“Hell, Tro, what’s wrong with you ?! You know I need my beauty sleep ! How come you’re callin’ in the middle of the night ?”
“I’m sorry, Duo, I didn’t want to disturb you, but …”
There was a long awkward pause. Duo sighed. Trowa was the emperor of long, awkward pauses. Yet this particular silence had a strange quality to it. Usually, Trowa was silent, because he didn’t have anything to say. This time, it sounded more like he didn’t know how to explain. Which was very strange, because Duo knew that if Trowa had something to say, he could become as eloquent as himself if needed.
Duo eventually turned the visuals on and saw immediately something was wrong. Trowa actually looked tired, there were dark circles under his eyes and worry was clearly visible in the emerald-green eyes.
“Tro ? What’s wrong ? You look terrible ! Cathy givin’ you a hard time ?”
“No, it’s not that, it’s … Have you heard anything from Quatre lately ?”
Duo raised both eyebrows.
“Well, not that recently, why ? Did you two have a fight ? Is that why …”
As usual, Duo waited for Trowa to elaborate. As usual, Trowa didn’t.
“Uh, lemme think”, Duo said, scratching his head. “He called me something like three weeks ago, I think. He told me you two had plans, and he was up to his neck in papers with WEI. And … I think he mentioned going away for a few days to take a break. I assumed he was going to the circus to visit you, kind of a surprise, y’know ?”
Trowa’s face tensed a bit, and this in itself was an indication of how troubled the young European was. The Trowa Duo knew would never have let his feelings show on this face like that. Well, come to think of it, being with Quatre had worked wonders on him, or so Duo thought. Yet no other people but his best friends knew how to read Trowa’s lack of expression and the tiny sparkles that sometimes lightened his green eyes.
“What day was it actually, Duo ?”
“I’d say February 9th.”
“You sure ?
“I see”, Trowa sighed.
“Lucky you”, Duo smirked, “’cause I don’t. You’re callin’ me at two in the fucking morning to know when Cat last called me ?”
“I’m sorry, Duo, but are you absolutely sure that it’s the last time you heard from him?”
“Positive. If he had called while Heero was here and I wasn’t, Heero would’ve told me and I’d have called. Trowa, what’s going on ?”
Another pause, before Trowa took a deep breath.
“I don’t know where he is.”
Duo blinked stupidly at the vidphone, twice.
“What do you mean, you don’t know where he is ?”
“I mean exactly what I said. I have absolutely no clue where Quatre is, and I’m worried.”
“Tro, that doesn’t make any sense. If anyone should know where he is, it’s you !”
“I know. That’s why I’m worried. I haven’t heard from him in three weeks as well.”
“What ? But …”
Duo looked suspiciously at the screen.
“You sure you didn’t have a fight or somethin’ ?”
“How could I not be sure of that, Duo ?”, Trowa said, a bit of exasperation in his voice.
“I dunno, it’s just … Heero and I thought it was a bit weird that you two didn’t start living together right after the Barton Incident, when he and I did it. I mean, we thought …”
“I know what you thought, Duo. Heero can be brutally honest some times.”
“He told you ?”, Duo asked in a little voice.
“Shit, I’d told him not to do that, I mean this is none of our business, and you’re gonna think we meddle in your life and stuff and …”
“Duo, it’s okay”, Trowa interrupted. “Heero is the best friend I ever had. And you’re my friend too. I … I am glad that you watch out for us and worry for us.”
That little confession warmed Duo’s heart. It was not often that one was graced by such words coming from Trowa, and Duo was proud to be one of the few. This train of thoughts brought the young American back on tracks.
“What happened exactly, Tro ?”
“We … had decided to take it slow, after the end of the war.”
“Cat agreed to take it slow ? He was head over heels with you, I somehow can’t imagine him agreeing to that.”
“I had a hard time convincing him, actually”, Trowa admitted, “but he had responsibilities with WEI, and I had some with the circus and we needed time off from us, I guess. So he decided to go back to L4 to put everything in order, and I went back to L3 to finish the season with the circus, since I kind of let them down when I took off during the thing with Mariemeia.”
“That’s not exactly what I would call letting them down, Tro. You stopped Operation Meteor almost all by yourself. You saved their lives.”
Trowa dismissed that with a blank look.
“Okay”, Duo kept on, sighing. “What next ?”
“He called me, the same day he called you. Said he needed a break and one of his sisters had invited him for the weekend. He was supposed to call me back on Monday.”
“He never called back.”
“Oh. Well …”
“I first thought he had forgotten ‘cause he had too much to do …”
“That’s crap, Tro, and you know it ! Cat ‘forgetting’ to call you ? He’d leave a board reunion just to hear your voice !”
“Yes, but … I called the mansion almost each day, and every time, Rashid told me he wasn’t back, and he looked worried too. I’ve tried his cell phone, I’ve left I don’t know how many messages, I never could get through. And two days ago, when I tried again …”
“The operator told me the number didn’t exist anymore. That the contract had come to end and the customer hadn’t called to renew it, so the chip in the cell phone had been deactivated.”
“But … that’s not possible !”
“That’s crazy ! I mean, come on ! Why would Cat forget to renew his cell phone contract ? And why would he disappear like that ? Hey, did you call Wu-man ?”
“I couldn’t reach him, he’s on a solo Preventer mission. And I knew you would know if Quatre had contacted Heero.”
Duo ruffled through his bangs, his brain working fast.
“This doesn’t make any kind of fucking sense. Something’s not right.”
“I … I’m afraid something happened to him, Duo.”
Trowa’s distress was clearly visible on his face.
“Did you try Iria ?”, Duo asked.
“I don’t have her number. She was still in hospital at the beginning of the year anyway.”
“Wait up, I got her number here somewhere, and if she’s not home, you could always find someone to give her a message. You should talk to her before we start assuming the worst has happened.”
“I know, Tro. I know. It doesn’t look good if he took off and didn’t even tell the Maguanacs where he was. I’m worried too, but maybe there’s a reason behind it that we don’t know of. I … I feel in my guts that something’s wrong, but we gotta make sure that no one knows where he is before we take any kind of action, okay ?”
“You’re right. Thanks.”
“No need to thank me, Tro. You guys are the only family I got left, and I’ll be damned before anybody does any harm to my family !”, Duo said fiercely. “You call Iria, and I’ll call Heero, he’s off playing bodyguard with Relena right now, I can always ask her if she heard or saw somethin’. You try to get Wufei again, and you call me back tomorrow, or rather, later this morning, okay ? If you can’t reach him, I’m sure Heero could track him down. If we don’t get anything within ten hours, you take a shuttle and come here, and we’ll try to find some course of action.”
Duo’s face was very serious, and his eyes were sparkling with a strange mix of tenderness and fear.
“We’ll find him, Trowa. I swear to you, whatever happens, we’ll find him.”
Trowa just nodded, his face set in his expressionless mask yet again.
Duo put the receiver down. He was sure he could never go back to sleep now. His eyes fell on the picture of them five that Relena had taken after Heero’s release from hospital two months ago.
“Shit, Cat ! You can’t do that to us now ! Where the hell are you ?”
~ * ~