Author's Note: Previous disclaimer applies.
Treize woke up to a knocking on the door. He opened his eyes and untangled from Zechs, pulling on a shirt as he stumbled to the door. The knocking sounded urgent, and he ran a hand through his hair as he opened the door. "What?"
"It's Wufei!" Quatre exclaimed, and Treize noted he looked like he just woke up too. "Come on, you have to see it!" He moved into the room and nearly ran to the back door.
Zechs was coming out of the bedroom, blinking in the light as Quatre through open the shades and pointed. "Look!"
Treize and Zechs looked over Quatre's shoulder, and sure enough there was Wufei. He seemed to be running away from the dog in the fenced yard, but whenever he got cornered the dog would grab him and carry him back to the doghouse. Treize let out a chuckle as Wufei tried to escape again, only to have Sandrock give chase and capture him. "So that's where he was."
"I'm so sorry for making you worry, I didn't think to check the doghouse," Quatre said, and Zechs patted his shoulder.
"It's ok, at least he's safe," Zechs reassured, and Treize opened the back door and exited into the yard.
Wufei looked up and let out a loud meow, it sounded like a greeting. Treize opened the fence gate and watched the little kitten bolt through the opening and wrap around his legs. He let the gate close before Sandrock could follow, and Treize noted the dog sitting by the side of the fence staring at Wufei.
"I was so worried about you," Treize said, picking up the kitten. Wufei just nuzzled his hand and allowed Treize to carry him inside.
Quatre pet Wufei's head before leaving, and Treize deposited Wufei on the bed while he and Zechs got dressed and ready for the day.
"I wonder how he'll do at the University," Zechs thought aloud. "After being held hostage by a dog. I bet nothing could rattle him."
"I don't have tags for him yet," Treize argued, and Zechs shrugged. "He'll only stay in the office."
"What if he gets out?" Treize protested.
"He ran right to you when he saw you," Zechs argued back. "And this way we won't have to keep him cooped up at home."
Treize sighed. "If he gets lost, it's on your head."
Wufei peeked out from the carrier he was in and watched the world sway by. Treize set him down and opened the carrier, and Wufei cautiously stepped out.
He was in a classroom, and he jumped down to the floor to explore. Treize seemed nervous, but Wufei just looked up at him and tried to silently reassure the man he'd be ok.
[He's like an overprotective dad,] Wufei snorted to himself as he explored the classroom. He heard footsteps and quickly hid under the desk as people came into the room.
[I hope they don't step on me,] Wufei thought, and peered up at everyone. He recognized one student, and his ears perked up. [It's Duo!]
Wufei came out from his hiding spot and jumped onto the desk in front of his new friend. Duo just smiled at him and patted his head. "Hey there, kitty cat," he greeted.
"I'm socializing my new kitten," Treize said, laughing nervously. "He seems to be doing ok."
Wufei jumped down and sat on the floor next to Treize, listening to the lecture. He was impressed, and understood why Duo said it was his favorite class. He enjoyed the first class, but after the second one he was getting bored. He wandered throughout the room, and with a sneaky look at Treize he slipped out of the cracked door and ran down the hallway.
He found a window and jumped up to look out. The building was huge, and Wufei got dizzy looking down. He could see the gym from his viewpoint, and made a mental note of where it was before heading off and exploring again.
Wufei ran up and down stairs, back and forth through hallways, and in and out of rooms before he had the whole placed figured out. Unfortunately he forgot which room Treize was in, so he sat patiently by the stairs, hoping the man would walk by soon.
"It's a kitty!" girls nearly squealed, and Wufei's ears twitched. He turned his nose up at the girls cooing at him trying to make him come over to them.
"What a snobby kitty," someone laughed.
[I am NOT a snob, I'm just particular!] Wufei thought, scowling darkly. His ears twitched at a familiar voice, and he got up and immediately ran over to Treize, who knelt down and scooped him up.
"Good thing I didn't change your name," Treize said, laughing as Wufei obediently got into his carrier.
[Like I would answer to anything else,] Wufei thought, and curled up for a nap.
All that week, Treize took Wufei to the University campus and let him run loose. To Wufei's displeasure he also got him a collar, but at least his name was personalized onto the leather band, and didn't have anything dangling to distract him. And he only wore it when Treize and Zechs took him outside.
But he was learning more and more about his caretakers each day. Wufei refused to think of them as 'owners', but they were definitely 'caretakers'. And Wufei found he liked both of them.
He learned Treize got up first so he could read the paper without coffee spills, but always made sure there was plenty of fresh coffee for when Zechs got up.
He learned Zechs would bring home leftovers from lunch, and pretended to not like something so Treize could have it as a snack.
He learned that getting to the gym where Zechs taught at from the classroom Treize taught in was damn dangerous. Wufei only made the trek twice before giving up, there were too many distracted people walking around and nearly stepping on him.
He learned even though Duo liked the class, his grades weren't all that great. At least from the work Treize spent all Saturday correcting. Wufei liked to watch and read all the papers with Treize, although he didn't think the older man figured out he was actually reading.
He also learned that when together, his caretakers took advantage of time home together. Wufei hid underneath the kitchen table, his paws over his head as he tried to block the sounds coming from the bedroom.
It was Sunday, and Wufei hadn't seen either Treize or Zechs come out of the bedroom that entire morning. Everyday Wufei watched the clock at noon, but he stayed as a kitten all week. He sighed, giving a yawn and stretched as he heard the clock start chiming. He sat up and whacked his head on the edge of the table, and Wufei gave a startled yelp as he crawled out from under the table.
"I'm human!" Wufei said aloud, and froze as he heard voices.
"Did you hear something?" Zechs asked, his voice coming from the bedroom. "Sounded like a person."
Wufei panicked and dove for the back door, unlocking it and running from the house as fast as he could. He was exhausted by the time he stopped, several blocks away. Catching his breath, Wufei headed back into town, this time having a plan of where to look for the restaurant.
Treize glanced out the bedroom door, and his eyes widened as he saw the back door was open.
"Zechs, didn't you lock the back door?" he asked, closing it and locking it again.
"Of course," Zechs answered. "Why?"
"It was open," Treize replied. "Wufei must have gotten out."
"He unlocked and opened the door?" Zechs asked skeptically.
Treize shrugged. "How else did he get out? The door was shut and locked."
"Well, he certainly isn't a normal kitten, but that's way too bizarre," Zechs said, puzzled. "I wonder where he went, anyway."
"Maybe we'll see him in town," Treize laughed. "I have to meet with some students soon anyway."
Zechs nodded, but didn't let the mystery of how the cat got out leave his mind.
Wufei flipped through the phone book in the pay phone booth on the corner by the supermarket, looking for the name of the restaurant. He didn't find it, so with a sigh he left the pay phone booth and continued his exploration of the town.
The only part of town that was completely unexplored was on the other side of the University. And Wufei couldn't remember where the restaurant was using the University as a landmark. He was brought out of his musings from a shout of his name.
Wufei looked up and saw Duo running towards him, he waited and watched the young man brace his hands on his knees, panting for air.
"You're…one…hard guy…to find…" Duo panted, straightening up with a grin. "Did you ever get into the University?"
Wufei shook his head, noticing Heero approaching them. "No, I haven't."
"Weird," Duo said, scratching his head. "I swear I hear your name being called all the time, but I never saw you. I've been looking for you all week to ask."
"Ah, I've been busy," Wufei said, nodding a greeting to Heero as the other young man reached them. "What are you two up to?"
"Meeting with Khushrenada about extra credit," Duo said. "I flunked the last test and need something to boost my grade."
"It wasn't that bad," Wufei said absently, remembering the grade on Duo's papers. At the other two's raised eyebrows Wufei shrugged quickly, realizing his mistake. "I mean, it couldn't have been."
"It was," Duo said, laughing a little as they walked. "What about you? Got any plans?"
"No," Wufei said. "I heard there was a really good Chinese buffet somewhere, but I can't seem to find it anywhere in the phone book."
"There's one on the other side of town, a few blocks from the University," Heero said, and Wufei looked at him interested. "It just opened two weeks ago."
"That's a long walk, why don't you eat with us?" Duo suggested.
"I don't have any…" Wufei started, but Duo flung his arm over Wufei's shoulders.
"Me neither, Heero's paying."
Wufei sipped his soda, trying to not drink it quickly out of nervousness. Duo and Heero sat across from him in the wide booth, and Wufei had a strong feeling that the empty space beside him would soon be filled with someone he wasn't sure would react well meeting him.
"There he is…Coach Merquise is with him," Duo said, waving them over.
Wufei glanced over his shoulder, and sure enough both Treize and Zechs were approaching the booth.
"Hey Coach, hey Professor," Duo greeted, grinning.
"Mr. Maxwell," Treize greeted. He nodded to Heero, "Mr. Yuy, and Mr. …?" Treize trailed off, looking at Wufei.
"Chang," Wufei supplied, grasping the hand offered to him. "Duo's said nothing but good things about you, Professor."
Treize laughed, and Wufei scooted over to the edge of the booth and both men slid in. He gave Duo a subtle wink, and Duo's grin widened.
"All right Mr. Maxwell, let's discuss the topic of the paper, and your approach," Treize said smoothly, and Wufei sipped his soda as he listened. He already knew the lecture, the topic, and had read Duo's paper.
Treize lectured a little bit, and Duo just nodded and added his input. Wufei didn't really see what Duo was talking about, but then it kind of dawned on him. He didn't really know Duo too well. Maybe his outside activities influenced his paper.
"I'm sorry to interrupt," Wufei interjected when there was a pause. "Duo…Do you have a hobby?"
"Yeah," Duo said, brow furrowing in confusion. "I'm a car mechanic. What's that got to do with anything?"
"You're thinking of things like they're supposed to fit and work together," Wufei said, running over Duo's paper in his mind. "But Philosophy isn't about things matching just right. You can't think 'why does a car run?' and 'why does someone think this way?' and get a similar answer. You can fix a car the same way over and over, and you will always get the same result. But if you take a thought, and think it over and over, eventually you're going to come up with a different idea."
"I didn't think of it that way," Duo said, scratching his head. "But you're right."
Wufei nodded, playing with the straw in his cup. "It's more than just having a thought, too. It's about describing how and why you thought of it in the first place. It can be like fixing a car. But once the car is fixed, why did you do those specific repairs as opposed to other ones? How did you get from that beginning point to the end point?"
"Well, I…" Duo trailed off, looking thoughtful. "Beginning to end, huh?"
"Your paper was about the journey to the end topic," Wufei continued. "Not just the beginning and ending. There wasn't any thought, just facts. And anyone can write facts down. But your ideas and thoughts are unique to yourself, and that's what makes the central journey to the end really different from anyone else's. At least…that's what it sounded like…" Wufei trailed off, looking out the window.
"…'Fei you're really smart, you sure you're not at the University?" Duo asked, laughing. "I bet you could even lecture Professor Khushrenada to the ground."
Wufei blushed slightly, turning and eyeing the man sitting next to him. "…It's just a topic I enjoy," Wufei muttered quietly. "It's nothing."
"On the contrary, I believe I have been solidly put in my place," Treize said, smiling. "Now let's move away from the lectures, and enjoy lunch."
Wufei smiled and ordered on the cheap side, remembering Heero was paying for him and that Duo tended to get a lot of extras. They socialized and ate in comfortable company, Wufei enjoying the company of his caretakers.
Treize paid the entire bill, and the five of them left the restaurant, mingling out front for a little bit.
"Need a ride home?" Duo asked, looking at Wufei.
"Ah…no, it's ok," Wufei said, shaking his head. "I'm staying…at a friend's…place. But I was going to go running in the park."
"Well if you're sure," Duo said, frowning a bit. Wufei just waved and took off at a light jog, uncomfortable about lying. But he couldn't say where he really was living, and with whom.
Duo and Heero waved to Professor Khushrenada and Coach Merquise as they left, and they got into Heero's car.
"Do you think he's homeless?" Duo asked, and Heero just shrugged as he started the car. "He is clean and dressed nice for being homeless. But I swear he wore that same outfit last time."
"Maybe he likes it," Heero suggested, not really paying attention.
"I bet he's neglected and abused," Duo continued, not listening to Heero. "Or he's a prostitute in a slimy hotel but because he brings in so much money they let him stay clean and dressed. And he walks around everywhere so he can pick up new clients."
Heero rolled his eyes as Duo talked, but noticed Wufei walking along a path as they drove by the park. The young man seemed lost in thought and distant, and Heero didn't point him out as Duo continued his fantasies about Wufei's life.
The University was not within walking distance, and Wufei wandered around the park killing time. He would have to wait until he went with Treize and Zechs and then try and find the restaurant in his kitten body.
[It'll take me all week to figure out which direction it's in,] Wufei thought, kicking a rock angrily as he walked. [I wish I never agreed to go to that stupid dinner party. I never would have ended up on this side of town. It's all 'Lena's fault!]
A familiar car pulled to a stop just ahead of Wufei, and he was brought of his musings as the window rolled down and Zechs' face was poking out the window.
"Mr. Chang, you seem to be in a lot of thought for just taking a run," Zechs said, and Wufei bristled a little, pausing by the car window.
"I have a lot on my mind," Wufei said evasively. "I've had a rough few weeks."
"Are you sure you don't need a ride home?" Treize added, leaning over from the passenger seat. "It'll be no bother, where do you live?"
[Same place you do,] Wufei thought to himself, the humor not escaping him. "I'm just exercising my mind and body," he said aloud. "I'll be going home in a few hours."
"If you're sure," Zechs said, but Wufei could tell he was hesitant.
"I am," Wufei said, putting as much conviction in his voice as he could. "Thank you, though, Zechs." He didn't want to keep talking, so he turned down a path and picked up a fast-paced jog. He had to get away.
"Rather informal, calling you by your first name," Treize said, frowning slightly. "But it's odd…"
"What?" Zechs prompted, looking over as he started the car again.
"I heard Mr. Maxwell say 'Coach Merquise' when we entered," Treize said, shrugging a bit. "I've never seen that young man before, but he knows you enough to call you by your first name."
"I don't think he's one of Relena's friends," Zechs said aloud. "At least at her last dinner party I'm positive he wasn't there."
Treize chuckled. "I would have definitely remembered seeing him."
Zechs smirked as he glanced over. "Should I be jealous?"
"Of a young, intelligent man, who is also subtly handsome?" Treize replied.
"I take that as a yes," Zechs muttered, but there was nothing but mirth in his voice and eyes.
It was dark, and Wufei submitted to finally walking over towards Treize and Zechs' home. He would just camp out a few hours until midnight when he could go back to a kitten and get warm and fed.
He turned the corner, and suddenly a shout was all the warning he had before he was barreled over by a giant dog. He went flailing into some mud and bushes, his smaller frame squashed by the giant beast.
"S-Sandrock!" a young man cried out, and Wufei managed to get his bearings and recognized Quatre running over to him, a horrified expression on his face. "I'm SO sorry!"
"I-it's ok," Wufei coughed, and Quatre dragged Sandrock off him. He brushed dirt from his body, and Quatre looked at him with bright eyes.
"He's such a good dog, I don't know what would make him tackle anyone," Quatre babbled, his grip on the dog faltering as Sandrock seemed determined to lick Wufei's hand.
"I don't mind, I like dogs," Wufei said, smiling at the dog as he knelt in front of him.
"My name's Quatre," Quatre introduced.
"Chang," Wufei replied, petting Sandrock. "'Fei Chang."
"…You're all dirty, I'm so sorry," Quatre apologized. "I live just down and around the block, please feel free to get cleaned up in my bathroom."
Wufei nodded, rising to his feet. This was a perfect chance to kill some more time before midnight. "I'll take you up on that offer, thank you."
Sandrock behaved as they walked to the duplex, and Wufei followed Quatre inside. "Here's the bathroom," Quatre said, showing Wufei into the room. "Feel free to wash up, I'll be in the living room."
It didn't take Wufei long to straighten himself out, he wasn't terribly dirty but it was nice to get the mud and dog drool off his hands. He went into the living and sat down on the couch at Quatre's gesture.
"My boyfriend is at work tonight, he would have liked to have met you," Quatre said, folding his legs under him as he sat on the chair opposite the couch.
"What does he do?" Wufei asked, curious. He never thought about what Quatre and Trowa did for a living. "And what do you do?"
"I'm an assistant instructor in the music department of the University," Quatre answered, smiling. "I'm taking this semester off, though, to focus on my creative music. My boyfriend Trowa works evenings at the animal hospital's emergency room during the weekends. He's in the middle of writing another book about animals."
"Wow," Wufei murmured, impressed. He had no idea what Quatre and Trowa did, just that they were always available during the days for Treize and Zechs. Now that explained everything. "And here I'm just hoping to finish my legal education."
Quatre giggled into his hand. "We're not filthy rich, we're in a duplex of all things," Quatre smiled. "But we do have the best neighbors."
"What are they like?" Wufei asked, thriving on the talk.
"Professor Treize Kushrenada is honorable and chivalrous," Quatre said, sighing romantically. "He's loyal and intelligent and…" Quatre trailed off, blushing. "Zechs is noble and devoted. Not many know, but he's a real prince descended from a prestigious family. His sister Relena is studying to take over the kingdom."
"…Relena?" Wufei repeated, his brow furrowing. "Relena Darlian?"
"You know her?" Quatre asked, mouth falling open.
"She's my only friend out here," Wufei explained honestly. "She invited me to a party not long ago, but I…couldn't make it."
"She's been looking for you!" Quatre exclaimed, leaping to his feet and seizing a startled Wufei's hand and dragged him to the kitchen where the phone was. He had dialed the number and thrust the phone into Wufei's hand before he could even stutter out a protest.
"…'Lena it's me," Wufei replied, and he winced and held the phone away from his ear. The piercing scream could be clearly heard.
"FEI! YOU'RE ALIVE!" Relena could be heard screaming. Her voice quieted and Wufei was able to hold the phone properly and speak to the babbling girl.
"Yes I'm alive…No…No…NO…it's complicated," Wufei said in response to Relena, his eyes flickered to Quatre. "I met someone…I can't tomorrow…No…No…No, not until Sunday…It's complicated."
Wufei sighed, and held out the phone to Quatre, covering the mouthpiece. "I should go. Thanks for letting me use your bathroom."
Quatre took the phone from Wufei and walked to the door. Wufei could almost hear Relena's cry of "Don't let him go!" from the kitchen. He walked down the street, glancing back behind him before dodging into some bushes. It would only be a few minutes until midnight.
He heard clocks chiming in the quiet night, and once he was back in his kitten body he ran back to the duplex and cleared the fence to the backyard. Sandrock was sleeping but opened his eyes and let Wufei curl up against his warm fur to sleep.