Urg, been a long time, but I' still alive out here. Life's been crazy and I still can't seem to write anything I'm happy with for chapter 26, so I've put one of the major problems to a poll. Go vote and may be you can stop some of the infighting among my muses. Here's the edited version of chapter 25, added a few more details, and fixed a few problems, but hasn't really changed a lot. Many, many thanks to everyone that had favorited and reviewed this story.
Four hours later found Harry's mind whirling in an overload of new information. How to hold a gun. How to aim a gun. How to clean a gun after it was fired. How to load and unload ammunition for the gun. Heero covered everything except how to actually fire the thing.
"What's next?" Harry asked when Heero pronounced his loading and unloading of the clip to be acceptable.
Heero picked up the demonstration materials as he answered, "It would be wise to wait until we reach your safe house to have you practice firing. For now, it's lunch."
Startled, Harry glanced at the clock to see that it was indeed almost noon. Remembering that Heero had skipped breakfast this morning and dinner last night, he realized that the younger boy must be starving. "You must be starving, Heero! Come on," Harry exclaimed as he lightly grasped Heero's wrist and started to pull him out of the room toward the mess hall.
Heero again had to repress his instinctive reaction to pull away from Harry's grasp, but he couldn't help but smile just a little at the black-haired teen's obvious concern. They had almost made it to the mess hall when Harry rounded a corner and ran square into Duo, sending them both to the floor. Thankfully he managed to release his grip on Heero before he pulled him down too.
"Oh, damn! I'm sorry. I wasn't watching where I was going. Are you okay?" Harry apologized as he scrambled back to his feet and extended his hand to help the black clad brunette up.
"Hey, no problem. I wasn't payin' attention either. I was just comin' to see if you guys wanted lunch," Duo said with a smile, waving away Harry's apology.
Harry chuckled slightly as he replied, "That's where we were headed, actually. You want to eat with us?"
"Sure," Duo chirped as he fell into step beside them as the continued toward the mess hall.
Heero maintained his silence as the three walked into the mess hall and got their lunch, just observing his companions. Harry and Duo were very different, and yet Heero was starting to see several similarities between them. Both were soldiers as he was, but they had somehow managed to retain a bit of innocence and enthusiasm that he had lost years ago. It fascinated Heero at the same time that it puzzled him. How had they been able to do that? Especially Harry. While Doctor J and Professor G had trained him and Duo, Heero knew that their intentions toward them, while not exactly caring, hinged on their survival. They wanted them to live. But Harry… his 'trainer,' for lack of a better word, had been actively engineering his death. How had he managed to accept that knowledge and still retain his positive outlook and caring spirit? It was a mystery to Heero, but one that he was thankful for.
After they finished eating, Duo sat back and sighed in contentment. "That really hit the spot. So what are you plannin' after we hit Melbourne. We're only scheduled to dock for a day and a half. You plannin' to stay on?"
Heero shot a quick glance at Harry, but fielded the question himself. "We have a safe house near Sydney. We'll be heading there for the time being."
"Yeah," Harry agreed. "We'll head into Melbourne and pick up a few things in the morning, then come back and get… our things tomorrow night."
Duo nodded his understanding and assured them that they were staying in Melbourne so it would be no problem for them to come back for their stuff. After a few moments, they broke up and went their own ways, Heero telling Harry that they would meet on the deck to evaluate Harry's physical condition in half an hour. Watching the other two teenagers leave, Duo wondered what was going on. He hadn't forgotten what had happened at the Marina the other night, and his curiosity was eating him alive.
Heading out onto the deck after lunch, Heero continued Harry's training by evaluating his physical condition.
Pointing to some boxes of supplies that were stacked off to the side, Heero said, "How many of those do you think you could lift?"
Harry frowned slightly as he walked over and tested the weight of the indicated boxes. Finding the small boxes weighed about twenty pounds each, he said, "Four or five easily, maybe a couple more if I don't have to go too far." Heero almost sighed, but still by civilian standards that wasn't too bad. It was going to take a while to bring him up to Heero's standards, of course, but at least there was already a bit of a foundation to start from.
Spotting an open section of the deck, Heero marched over, waving for Harry to follow him. "How much hand-to-hand training have you had?" Heero demanded as he abruptly turned.
Harry stopped short, but shook his head, "None. Wi…er our people are rather old fashioned, but they frown on physical confrontations as uncivilized and barbaric."
Heero worked hard to suppress the grimace at Harry's answer. Damn it. "Perhaps, but hand-to-hand skills can easily be translated into other types of fighting. For the moment, though, I need to test your reflexes. Dodge." With that, Heero launched a very slow punch toward the other teen's face.
"What…?" Harry exclaimed as he swiftly moved to the side, letting Heero fist pass harmlessly by. Seeing a small smile flicker across the pilot's face, Harry couldn't help the answering smile that crossed his face as he got ready to dodge more blows. As the 'evaluation' continued, Harry was surprised when Heero started adding kicks as well, moving faster as he did so.
Twenty minutes later, Harry was getting very tired and eventually lost his footing on the deck of the ship. Seeing Harry land hard on the deck, Heero dropped his fighting stance and instead reached down to help the panting boy to his feet. Heero was actually rather impressed; Harry's reflexes were excellent, though his stamina was going to need work. Heero had been moving at almost two third of his full speed and hadn't landed a blow on the older boy. Handing Harry a bottle of water, Heero let him rest for a while as he devised the next test for his vic…er student.
When it came time for the three teenagers to head for their bunks, Heero still hadn't decided exactly what forms Harry's physical training regimen should take. Glancing at the other two occupants of the room, Heero sighed quietly and pulled the blanket over his shoulder. He had no idea what kind of equipment he was going to have to work with, so he was just going to have to try different methods until he found one that worked well.
Several hours later, Heero was brought to instant alertness. Remaining perfectly still, Heero pretended to still be asleep, much as he had when Duo and Harry had been talking the previous morning. Listening carefully, Heero could just barely make pout the sound of muffled groaning coming from the top bunk. Frowning, Heero stood from his bunk and peered up at the British teenager on the top berth. Harry was still asleep, groaning quietly and his brow furrowed.
Heero repressed a sigh. With what Harry had told him about his life and what he had discovered himself, he wasn't really surprised. It would have been more of a surprise if he didn't have nightmares at least occasionally. Unfortunately, there wasn't really much he could do about it.
Shaking his head, Heero was about to climb back into his bunk to get some more sleep when Harry suddenly cried out, "No!" and threw himself away from whatever it was he was seeing in his dreams. Which sent him over the side of the bunk toward the floor, and Heero barely managed to catch him around the chest to keep him from hitting his head. Harry, still firmly gripped by the nightmare, writhed in his grasp as he tried to get away. "Let me go, Remus, please! Sirius!"
"Po…Harry, It's me, Heero. Wake up!" Heero wasn't sure exactly how to react, but he knew he had to wake the boy up fast. Heero continued to talk and shake Harry's shoulders as Duo came over, confusion obvious on his face. It only took a couple moments for Harry to come out of the dream, but seemed like hours to Heero. When the rigid body in his arms finally collapsed, Heero pulled him over to sit on the side of his bunk and let him pull away while keeping a steadying hand on his back.
"Hey, man, you all right?" Duo said, taking a seat on Harry's opposite side from Heero.
Shaking off the after effects of the nightmare, Harry buried his face in his hands, elbows propped on his knees. "Yeah, I'm fine," he assured Duo, his voice muffled in his hands. After another two deep breaths, Harry looked up at the pilots flanking him and gave a tiny smile.
Duo looked surprised that the black-haired teen was able to shake off the nightmare this fast. It had taken him years, as well as some rather unpleasant training from Professor G, to be able to do that. Glancing at Heero, he found the normally stoic pilot frowning slightly. As different as these two seemed to be, it was obvious to Duo that they developed a very close friendship. "You goin' to be okay?"
Harry shivered slightly as he remembered the nightmare. Seeing Sirius fall through the veil again had not been Harry's idea of fun, but at least it had broken the seemingly endless cycle of listening to Dumbledore and Mrs. Weasley's betrayal. "I'm sorry. I didn't think. I have p…medicine that helps with the nightmares, but it got left behind. Yesterday I was so exhausted that I slept soundly and didn't think to warn you last night. I'm sorry I woke you up."
Duo shrugged and smiled wryly, "No problem, Harry. It's not like I don't have my share of nightmares and bad memories. Think you can get back to sleep?"
Harry glanced up at the clock. It was only just after 3 o'clock in the morning. "Yeah, but…"
"Okay, then," Duo interrupted him as he started to steer him toward the second bottom bunk across the way. "Let's get you into bed. If you have another nightmare, Heero might not be there to catch you, if you come of the bunk again, so you should use this one. I'll take the top bunk."
"But that's yours," Harry protested. "I don't want to cause any trouble."
"Doesn't make much difference to me really. You just get some more sleep," Duo said as he nimbly climbed up the end of the bunks.
Ten minutes later found all three of the teens in bed and slipping back into the realm of dreams. As Duo lay there thinking about what had happened, he wondered what the other boy had seen in that nightmare. He was almost positive he had seen tears in the British boy's eyes after he finally came around. Duo wondered who Remus and Sirius were, as it was obvious that they meant a great deal to him. The mysteries were just piling up around the new boy, and Duo wasn't one to leave a mystery unsolved for long.
Contrary to what Harry feared, he didn't have any more nightmares during the night. The next morning found all three youths fairly well rested and alert.
"We should head for the bank first," Harry said quietly, after Duo left for breakfast. "I need to get a… key to the house." Heero wasn't sure why Harry emphasized the need for a key to the property, but nodded his understanding and acceptance.
Duo, who had stopped just outside the door, wondered why the two would need to go to a bank before going to their safe house. For that matter, why were they going to the city at all before heading to the safe house? Wouldn't it be better to get settled in there, and then head to the city to get necessities? With how paranoid Heero had been about Duo leaving a paper trail, why was he going to a bank to practically announce to the world where he was? Duo just didn't get it. Curiosity and suspicion growing, Duo decided that a little covert observation would be wise.
After leaving the ship, Heero and Harry, or more specifically Harry, started looking around to find a likely wizard to help them find the local magical district. After an hour or so, Harry hit the jackpot and they were on their way. Heero and Harry soon found themselves talking to a Goblin about retrieving the books Harry had been given by the Tokyo Gringotts and resetting his portkey locket to the Sydney property. Both matters of business only took an hour, but they agreed that rounding up a wand for Heero and other supplies would have to wait until after the Gundam was safely hidden at the safe house.
Duo had slipped off the boat behind the mysterious pair, staying in the shadows as he followed them through the port town. It was going well, though there was a couple times that he thought Heero might have spotted him, until the two suddenly seemed to disappear into thin air. Stopping in shock, Duo stared into the alley they had just entered. The two boys could not have been out of his sight for more than five seconds, yet when he went to follow them, there was nothing there but a dead end alley.
They had casually walked passed the pet shop and started to down the alley that divided it from the neighboring restaurant, yet Duo could see no evidence of where they could have gone. There were no side entrances to the buildings in the alley. Looking closer at the first shop, there was nothing strange about it. The pet shop had a variety of kittens and puppies in the front windows and a wide selection of leashes, collars, toys, and other accessories to be seen on the walls and shelves within. All of it perfectly normal. Confusion and curiosity spiking, Duo crossed the alleyway. A few moments later, Duo stepped in front of the small Chinese restaurant. He again peered in the windows but found nothing out of the ordinary to be seen. Stepping back into the alley Duo looked around again, but found nothing different. A few stacks of boxes, a dumpster, and a bit of loose trash were scattered around the alley. There were no exits that he could find anywhere, so where did they go?
What the hell was going on!?
Determined to figure out what was going on, Duo crossed the street and found a place that have him a good view of the mysterious alley. If they had disappeared here, then more than likely they would reappear here, and he was prepared to wait and find out.
It took an hour, but Duo's patience, or stubbornness if you wanted to be honest, paid off, and Heero and Harry stepped back into view just as abruptly as they disappeared. Glancing around quickly, Duo found the road to be clear, so he stepped forward determined to get some answers.
As the two stopped to discuss getting back to the boat, Harry was surprised to see Duo coming across the street toward them. Seeing the confused and determined expression on his face, Harry swallowed hard. What had the other pilot seen? "Heero," Harry said quietly nodding toward the approaching brunette.
Heero turned slightly to see what Harry was indicating and frowned hard. So he hadn't just been paranoid this morning; they had been followed. Damn it! "He must have followed us from the boat this morning," Heero murmured as they waited for Duo to catch up with them.
Harry's attempt to ask Heero why he hadn't said anything earlier was aborted when the sound of shrieking breaks pulled his attention back to the street.
Just in time to see Duo rammed by a speeding car!
Both Harry and Heero darted forward toward the fallen teenager. Harry spared a fast glance around for the driver only to see the tail light of the car disappear around the corner just down the road. Grinding his teeth together, Harry examined Duo as best he could without moving him. It was obvious that his right leg was injured, and there was a bloody gash on the side of his forehead.
"We can't take him to the hospital, can we?" Harry whispered to the pilot that had taken up position at Duo's head in case he regained consciousness and tried to move.
Heero silently shook his head, trying to figure out what they should do.
Glancing around to find the street was empty, Harry responded, "Can you carry him? If we can get him to the house, it should be stocked with potions and bandages. I'll patch him up as best I can."
Again Heero didn't respond verbally, but carefully slipped his arms under the brunette's legs and shoulders and stood. Thanks to his training and Doctor J's tampering, Heero was able to lift the other boy with ease, though it did throw him a bit off balance.
"Come on," Harry said as he led him into the mouth of the alley. After they were completely hidden by the anti-muggle wards, Harry turned and placed a hand on Heero's shoulder. "The portkey feels like a hook catching you around the stomach and landing from them always messes with my balance."
When Heero nodded his understanding, Harry brought his other hand to the locket at his neck and activated the portkey to his Sydney house. Feeling the familiar sensation, Harry wondered how they were going to explain all this to Duo when he came around.