Title: Catching Colds - sequel to Catching Duo
Author: Mistress Tsunami Archive: caveofbats. Anyone else, please ask first. I won't turn ya down, promise.
Rating: R
Pairings: 1+2, 3x4, 1x5, 5xMeiran, 1x5xOCxOCxMeiran (many combinations thereof I dun feel like writin' 'em all out)
Warnings: AU, OOC, school-fic, angst, drug-use, Duo-torture (no NCS or BDSM, though), yaoi, shonen-ai, het, get-together fic (is that a warning?), and anything else I forgot, since I just copy/pasted from the first fic.
Many thanks to my beta: TabiWolf (if you're reading this...email me! Let me know you haven't died yet!)

Somebody is hoping you aren't in trouble.
Fortune Cookie

Duo didn't make it to school the next day, and with no one to turn to and ask how he was, his old friends became worried. They knew that his caretakers – Father Maxwell and Sister Helen – had many other children to care for, and wouldn't worry about him for a while yet, and considering the braided boy's company when he last left the building, Quatre had a reason to be concerned. Doubly so, since Trowa seemed to have also gained the habit of disappearing from the school at odd times during the day.

Quatre knew, from Duo, where Heero and the others lived. Quatre knew that was where Duo was most likely to be, and that Heero would probably be taking care of his long-haired friend. He didn't know, though, if that was a good thing or not. He didn't know if he could go to that apartment and find out for himself how Duo was doing, either, because he didn't know what the 'gang' who lived there would do to him if he simply showed up on their doorstep.

"If you're so worried, you could go see him, ya know," a voice spoke up from behind the blonde boy. The crowd of students that was his meager protection were leaving, the dismissal bell having just rung, as he turned to face whomever had addressed him. "Heero's not going to kill you for visiting, Mei-mei's sick, and Fei-fei's prolly going to be looking after her once he gets home with Hee-man's assignments. All you gotta worry 'bout is Lexie and me, and we're not gonna hurt ya, either. We know you're braid-boy's friend." It was Alex, the blonde boy who, more often than not, hung around with Heero. Quatre took a moment to note that, while the boy may have been blonde, he obviously wasn't stupid.

"I...uh..." Quatre stammered, not quite sure what to say to that. He certainly hadn't expected them to notice that he was...concerned.

"I'll walk ya, if ya want," Alex offered, managing to dredge up a soft, soothing smile, "we just gotta wait for Alexia."

"Um...well, I was waiting for Trowa, but I am worried," Quatre answered nervously, not quite ready to give up on a chance to see Duo. He'd never really been on friendly terms with the group before, but he'd never really spoken to them before, so this was a new experience for him. He wasn't quite sure how to handle it, but was willing to offer a tentative chance to the tense boy. Alex had obviously never offered before, either, judging by the waves of distrust that he could feel. Quatre knew that he was being weighed, tested even, but, to his credit, he hid his nervousness quite well, and it was only his speech that revealed his true unease.

"Lover-boy's right over there," Alex said calmly, pointing behind Quatre to someone.

"We're not lovers!" Quatre very nearly squeaked, and his face went beet red at the suggestion. Alex relaxed at the sign of shyness, and the obvious inability to lie well. Alex shot the other blonde a look, one eyebrow raising in an 'Oh-really-Why-not?' way. Quatre's face toned down to a slightly pinkish hue as he fought the urge to blush harder and tried to explain himself, not knowing why he even felt the need to. "Honestly, we're just friends, and we're worried about Duo, and, oh, hi Trowa, where were you today?"

Trowa didn't question Quatre's sudden verbal inadequacy, his nervous babble, nor his feverish face. Instead he simply answered the question, saving Quatre the misery. "I needed to look into a few things about what happened yesterday. I don't think Duo will be having any more problems like that any time soon. At least, I hope not."

Alexia popped up behind her brother, simply appearing from somewhere down the hall, and joined in the conversation. "Hope not what?"

"Hey, didn't you think that those two were lovers? Or at least boyfriends?" Alex asked, refusing to let the subject drop. Trowa looked at Quatre with an expression that the blonde easily read as 'how-did-that-come-up?' and Quatre shook his head no, 'later.' Unfortunately for them, or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it, this only served to prove Alex's point. "See?"

"Look like it to me. Hey, can we go home now? I wanna see how the inmates are doin' and I bet Fei's already there," Alexia said in a near whine.

Alex nodded his agreement. "You two coming?"

"Yes," Quatre answered immediately for the both of them, following the twins out the door. Trowa followed behind him, still somewhat caught up on the 'lovers' subject, and watched Quatre closely all the way to the apartment. He wasn't quite sure if the term would be a good thing...or not.

By the time they had reached the elevator, he had pretty much decided that it would be a good thing if Quatre did like him that much. If the small blonde loved him. Or, if not exactly good, certainly exciting and wonderful. Of course, he didn't know much about relationships, never having gotten very far in one himself, but he wasn't averse to the idea.

Alex opened the door quietly, Alexia sneaking in behind him as he held the door open with his foot, the female twin already searching out the members of her pack that had not come to school. Quatre and Trowa followed at a much slower pace, allowing Alex to move out of the way before they came inside. Trowa automatically began memorizing the look and layout of the rooms, while the small blonde watched the people. Alex was in the kitchen already, searching for something to eat in the small fridge, and Alexia kept darting from one doorway to another, making her way between two of the three bedrooms. Wufei stood in the doorway of one of the bedrooms, a stack of books placed precariously on his hip as he explained something to the people inside.

"Fei, stop standing in the doorway and let the lover-boys see their sick and oh-so-ailing friend," Alex shouted, never once looking away from the kitchen to the hallway.

"We're not-"

"You two are his friends?" Wufei interrupted, watching them critically.

"Yes. We were worried when Duo didn't show up for classes today, and wanted to make sure he was all right," Quatre explained. He seemed to run out of words, then, and there was an audible pause before he spoke up again. "Uh...the guy in the kitchen - "

"Alex!" the blonde boy in the kitchen shouted.

" - Alex, said we could see him, but if it's a bad time..." Quatre trailed off.

"Go ahead," Wufei sighed, as if he were allowing them a huge favor. He moved aside to let them pass.

"Thank you," Quatre whispered.

He was shocked at what he saw when he entered the room. He had expected something similar, of course, but expecting something and actually seeing it are two different things.

The scene wasn't all that odd, or even all that compromising. Heero was sitting on the bed with Duo spooned up in his arms, the violet-eyed boy half-asleep on his chest and clinging the other's shirt. Both were lying on top of the sheets and blankets, so it was clear that they were both fully dressed.

What was shocking were the dried tear-trails that fell down the normally cheerful boy's cheeks.

"Oh, Duo, what happened?" Quatre asked, rushing to his friend's side.

The braided lump chuckled. "If you're gonna go into 'mother-hen' mode, Q, there's a sick girl on the other side of the hall who I'm sure won't mind."

"You've got two sick people here and none of you are worried!" Quatre quietly muttered. "I hope you've at least been feeding them liquids, soup's best, and I hope you've taken their temperatures. Maybe I could have Iria fix up some of her chicken soup, and I'm sure we have some Ty-"

Duo chuckled. Trowa joined him, albeit quietly, as he took in the shocked looks on the faces of both Asian boys. "Yeah, you laugh now, but just wait till you get whatever she has ONTOP of whatever it is you have now. Not fun. Trowa, do you have your phone, mine's dead," Quatre asked, then took the phone already offered without missing a beat, and not looking to see where it came from. He dialed his home phone number quickly and began talking as if he were the only person in the room.

Never let it be said that Quatre didn't take care of his friends. He did his best, which was, on occasion, just a bit too much.

"Hey, sis, is Iria home? No? Who's there? Serena can't cook...what about Dalia? Okay, have her fix up some of Iria's special soup, enough for two people for about two days, and then fix up something for...hang on...one, two, three, four, five...better make it seven others. While she's doing that, could you get us together some clothes, Duo's should be lying around somewhere, those'll work for now, and see if Trowa left some around too, and put some of mine in a bag. Towels and things too, I'll be spending the night at a friends, and we don't want to do laundry. Put some pillows and some blankets in, too. And that shampoo Duo likes, there should be some in the closet closest to my room.

"There should be some cash by the phone in my room to, put that - all of it, Kristin- in my bag too. Trowa and I will be over to pick them up in under a half an hour, can you manage that? Okay great."

There was a pause as he hung up the phone, and then Alex - who had entered to watch and was, however ironically, the one to hand Quatre Winner the phone - asked, "Did you even pause to take a breath? I hope she has a good memory, either that or she recorded the whole thing."

"She's a secretary for Father's business, she took notes. I hope you don't mind if we stay over for a while. I don't mind the floor. You feeling okay, Duo?"

"I'm fine, mother. Go see Mei," was the muffled response.

Quatre obediently flew from the room. Trowa chuckled, moving to sit cautiously on the edge of the bed.

"Did someone slip him a sugar pill while I wasn't watching?" Alexia asked from where she stood, halfway out the door.

"No, that's just how he gets when one of his friends is sick," Trowa answered.

"Really? I could have sworn he was on a sugar high..."

"He's a bit of a mother hen sometimes, and can get overprotective."

"Sometimes?" Duo asked, his voice still muffled.

Trowa simply glared at the bed-ridden boy.

Duo sighed. "Not to be rude or anything, but would you mind if I slept for a bit? I'm kinda tired."

"Go ahead. If you need anything, Quatre and I will be here, as will the others, I assume." With those final words, Heero and Duo were left alone.



Looking back on it, I think that this chapter kinda came outta nowhere, and doesn't really end anything, so I'm considering just simply tossing it and rewriting the entire third chapter. What do you think? Too many questions and errors to fix, or should I try and salvage something from the wreck?

Reviewers can answer the above question as well, since my new beta is currently MIA. Perhaps I should email her...that would be the smart thing to do, actually. Oops.