A/N: New chapter Yay!!!! Thanx to all the reviewers and special thanks to my new beta Dream ofStories :).
Another Time Another Place 5
In the Dining Room:
Dinner was a lively affair, at least on the part of the pilots. They bickered good naturedly and talked animatedly about their day, but despite their best efforts they couldn't draw Harry into a prolonged conversation. The reason why became impossible to ignore as Harry fell asleep, seemingly between one bite of the sago cake Wufei had made for dessert and the next.
"I guess we won't be asking any questions tonight," said Quatre with a worried frown.
"At least he trusts us," said Duo, earning raised eyebrows, "to just drift off like that…"
"Come on, Harry," said Trowa, gently shaking him awake, "let's get you to bed."
Harry blinked sleepily up at his older brother as his words slowly registered. When they did, he stumbled to his feet, "S…sorry," he said around a yawn, "I guess the nap wasn't enough."
"Nope, probably not," Duo said, as he gently cupped his elbow. "Come on your room's this way." He nodded to Trowa, who'd taken the lead.
"This is your room, bathroom is through that door there and your closet is in there," Quatre pointed out to Harry, who blinked slowly and then yawned. "And I can tell we'll have to go over it again tomorrow," he smiled.
Harry stumbled toward the bed, drawing the leather thong from around his neck. It took him three tries to get the silver key in the lock, but the pilots let him have space. He grabbed a pair of Gryffindor red pyjamas, and Quatre gently steered him towards the bathroom. He had barely closed the door when Duo went to grab the now open duffle, only to be pulled off by his braid.
"No snooping into my little brother's things,"
Duo pouted. Heero couldn't resist kissing him.
"Behave." Trowa snapped as Harry emerged with his day clothes in his arms. He placed the clothes on a convenient chair and climbed onto the bed where Trowa had pulled back the covers. "Good night, Harry." Trowa said, tucking him in.
"'Nite," was the sleepy reply, along with a small smile. Trowa once again began petting his ears and, with no thought to the others in the room, Harry fell asleep with a purr. Trowa looked up to see Duo nearly dancing on the spot, Heero's hand clasped firmly over his mouth.
"He's asleep," Quatre announced, "deeply." Heero let go of Duo.
"Did he just shrink? I mean he's short, but was he just…" he indicated a height with his hand against his chest, "shorter?"
"Yes, he was," they all turned to Wufei, who was holding up Harry's shoes – which would have added two and a half inches of height to Harry while he was wearing them.
"How come Fei-fei gets to snoop?"
"I do not snoop." the Chinese pilot sniffed.
"Cool," Duo said, bouncing over to … 'explore' the pile of Harry's clothing.
"He is so small," whispered Quatre, staring at the sleeping boy, "That can't be natural."
"We'll look after him," Trowa said, staring at the delicate features of the face so close to his hand, "I swear it."
Duo's groan directed everyone's attention to him. "Did you see how much he ate tonight?"
"About half his plate," replied Quatre, "more of the bread than the spaghetti, it wasn't nearly enough but…" he trailed off as Duo pulled slices of the bread Trowa had baked out of Harry's jacket pocket.
"Yep…tells us two things," said Duo, "One, he's not confident he'll get another meal anytime soon, and two, he's done this before."
"Gone from not eating to having plenty of food in front of him. When I first got to the orphanage I cleaned my plate and went back to get seconds. Then spent the night throwing up 'cause I wasn't use to eating that much."
"I remember, with the people who we'd find in the desert," put in Quatre, "We'd start by giving them small meals every three or four hours."
"Hai. Duo, call Sally, see if she can look him over tomorrow."
"You're willing to subject him to Sally's torture?"
"He needs it…even if someone went Dr J on him, he doesn't seem to have the training or even the modified immune system we do. He needs to be looked after."
"Sure," Duo looked back into the room from the doorway, "Come on, guys, let's let 'im sleep."
The pilots filed out of the room, Trowa smiling as he pulled away and received a sleepy groan of protest from his little brother.
"Sleep well, little one," he whispered, brushing a kiss across Harry's forehead, "I'll see you in the morning."
Harry woke early in the morning, so early that it was dark outside still. True, he'd been tired, but he rarely slept more than ten hours in a row. Checking the room and then the hallway carefully, Harry decided that it would be unlikely that anyone would be up for another few hours. This in mind, he opened up the gold section of his bag and located the sole book on Voados that he'd found, and settled into read.
The book was written by a researcher who'd spent time observing the 'largest cete of Voados in the world'. It contained a 'kyndyll' of seven submissives, a 'cast' of sixteen dominants and a 'colony' of thirty 'others'. Harry decided then and there that he hated collective nouns.
A cete was begun by a dominant Voados trusting another to look after his or her mate and built up from there. A submissive will feel comfortable and secure around any member of their blood dominant's cete. Within the cete that the wizard was studying were a number of 'dout'; two or three mated pair and their children would all live in the same place.
The close ties between the members of a dout, Harry read, meant that another could take the place of the blood dominant for a number of days, should something happen. A dout guarded their submissives closely, vetting all possible suitors thoroughly and reacting harshly to any perceived threat, even from other members of the cete.
Voados ate fresh fruit and raw meat, wrote the wizard, and while they lit fires for warmth and light they had 'yet to reach the level of civility required to utilize the elements in aid of superior nutrition'. After wading his way through that particular sentence, Harry checked the publication date of the leather bound book, 1814. At that he gave it up as a bad job and settled back to read some of the Marauders book.
Nearly an hour later, he was drawn out of the fascinating – and hilarious – book by tapping coming from the window. Cautiously he drew back the curtain, heart pounding only to freeze at what he saw.
On a normal morning at chez Winner, Wufei would wake first - with the dawn - and head outside to do his martial arts forms. Next Trowa would wake, ease himself out of bed so as not to wake his lover, and go feed/look after whichever injured animals he'd rescued recently. Then, Heero would wake to run a security sweep. Quatre would be up next to make breakfast, which would be served after both Trowa and Wufei had a chance to shower and change. Heaven help whoever or whatever tried to wake Duo.
This morning was different. When Trowa tried to extract himself from the octopus that was Quatre, he woke him up. Instead of the sleepy eyed, grumbling protest Trowa was used to Quatre practically bounced out of bed.
"Can we check on Harry?" Quatre asked. A blank, confused stare was his answer. "Your little brother?" Quatre could see/feel the moment when Trowa remembered the previous day's events. He moved and sat next to his lover. "What? What's wrong?"
"I…I don't know if I can do this…"
"Do what, baby?" asked Quatre, pulling him closer,
"Be responsible for someone else…be their guardian…"
"Everything will be alright," He kissed him lightly, "Harry loves you and trusts you already… everything will work out," another kiss, longer and deeper, "You'll see," a much deeper kiss that led to … well other things.
Thus it was a rather sheepish pair that emerged from their rooms, in time to see Heero return from his security sweep.
"Status?" Queried Trowa.
"Nothing tripped the electronics and nothing suspect around the perimeter."
"We're just going to check on Harry," Quatre said, "He's probably still asleep." They approached the door, "I can't fell anything…" Quatre's eyes widened, "I can't feel anything," he said, trying to keep his panic under control. Trowa threw the door open and stared at the empty room before rushing in and throwing open the bathroom and closet.
"Yuy, check the surveillance cameras." Trowa said, face blanking as he locked his emotions away, in a vain attempt to keep panic at bay. "Quatre get Duo up and help him check all the private areas."
In the Winner Mansion Grounds:
Wufei finished the last of his morning taolu (A/n Chinese kata) with a flourish. He bowed politely in response to the clapping of Trowa's little brother and the hoot of the snowy owl that was inexplicably awake.
"I'm headed inside," he called up to the boy. "Breakfast'll be in twenty minutes,"
"'Kay," called Harry from his resting spot, high in the branches of a tree.
The Surveillance Room:
"He's not on this floor," Quatre said, coming inside the surveillance room, "I've sent Duo to check around downstairs, there might be a blind spot."
Heero gave an indignant huff, turning from the cameras to Quatre. "Wufei's coming inside. Quatre, go tell him -"
"Wait! There, see?" Quatre interrupted, pointing at a screen.
"What?" Trowa frowned, moving over quickly.
"There, see…that swinging black thing…"
"Harry has a tail… He's up the tree!"
"Thank God," Trowa sighed, relaxing with the knowledge Harry was safe. "I'll go get him." Walking off, Trowa noted that the annoying itch on his shoulder blades had finally gone away.
A/N: a note on collective nouns, while harry is a 'catlike' creature a words like 'pride' and 'kyndyll' suit him better than 'pack', Trowa his brother and of the same species has (or will have) wings, therefore an entirely different set of nouns should apply. A cete is actually the collective noun for badgers. It'll do.