Death Doesn't Knock

An Asche zu Asche Story by

Kat Reitz and tzigane

"La, la!" Wufei declared, waving a bare foot in the air. It was chilly out, and the roses had gone forever ago, but that didn't mean that there weren't nice fall flowers, too. He was trying to weave some together right then, though they weren't working very well. "I can't make them go," he told Treize sadly, waving them at the other man slightly.

"That's because the stems keep splitting," Treize observed sagely, reaching to take two. "You have to be careful with this type." And then he pressed a split into the stem near the head of the flower, carefully sliding the stem of the other flower down through that slit. Fall -- the weather out was beautifully crisp, and he'd talked Wufei into wearing jeans out, even if he wouldn't wear shoes yet. But the ground they relaxed on was clean and warmed by the afternoon sun. Sally hadn't let him wear his favorite blue sweater out -- probably because one wrist was fraying -- but he had a *new* sweater of the deepest midnight blue, and there was more than enough warmth in it for both him *and* Wufei!

"Yay!" Wufei cheered, bowling him over for kisses even as he wriggled his toes in the grass. Life was so very good for them, and he was so happy! There were flowers, and Noin and Sally, and chocolate cake, and *sex*, which was remarkably pleasant, Wufei thought, and which he rather liked. He was glad Treize didn't worry anymore that he wouldn't. "You did it!"

"There's not enough for a crown, but I can make a bracelet," Treize told him, setting it aside with care even as he laid back on the leaf-littered grass, hugging Wufei happily. "You know what? Sally says there's snow coming soon!"

That gained him a delighted sigh as Wufei sprawled out across him, laying his head on Treize's chest. "I should like snow, shouldn't I? It's cold outside, but we're warm inside! And we can make fires and we can have smushmallows..."

"Smushed marshmallows," Treize corrected lightly, not that Wufei ever listened to the corrections. "Only I don't trust the cold. So you can't go out in it alone -- only if I'm with you."

"I won't go out in it alone," Wufei promised by rote, face rubbing happily against Treize's shirt as he sighed. "I'm so happy today! Today is going to be a good day," he decided.

"I think Noin was planning a change for dessert -- pudding," Treize told Wufei. Books told him that a daily dose of sugar wasn't good for him, but he didn't care -- they both did enough romping and laughing to get rid of buckets of pudding! "I peeked, so."

"What kind?" Wufei asked in curiosity, poking at his buttons now. "Not the funny green kind, I hope?"

"Chocolate," Treize told him, as if in conspiracy, as he moved a hand to stroke down Wufei's arm. "Your favorite kind. So we'll probably have a visitor tonight."

"Why do you think that?" Wufei asked him curiously.

"Because that's when we normally get pudding -- even the pistachio type," Treize said sagely, letting his fingers tease Wufei through the cloth of his shirt. "Right?"

Wufei's mouth became a little round o of understanding. "So someone is coming to see us. I wonder if it's another of those book people!"

"That's who it normally is," Treize said. "That's probably why I'm wearing a new sweater today, too. Sally mentioned something..." Though whether he'd been listening or not was another story. "We should go in and see if it is a visitor. You don't mind... those people anymore, do you?"

Wufei sighed a little. "Only some. I don't like it when the pancake lady comes. She smiles too much at you!"

"No more than Sally smiles at you!" Treize teased, poking the tip of Wufei's nose. "They're all very nice to us."

"But Sally is *different*," Wufei told him seriously, nodding and then smiling. "She knows all about lubricant and things."

"I still can't believe you talked to her about that," Treize sighed, shaking his head. "But... maybe you're somewhat right."

"I'm very right!" Wufei said with a smile, sitting up and straddling Treize's legs. "Let's go see who the person coming is!"

"Sure you wouldn't rather do something else?" Treize asked, sliding his hands at Wufei's sides suggestively. "Or... after supper?" There was something particularly nice about doing it in bed -- plus, when they did it outside, they ran the risk of making Noin blush.

"Can we maybe have fire and smushmallows naked, then?" Wufei asked.

"Yes, I think that's a good idea," Treize agreed, pulling Wufei down to hug him for a moment. Oh, there was nothing better than that! They had a nice, thick and soft rug in front of the hearth, and a fire-extinguisher nearby, if it was needed... "Gather up the flowers, and then we should go in."

"All right!" Wufei agreed. His toes were beginning to get chilly as the sun went down, anyway, and he wasn't particularly fond of cold toes. That was a very bad thing!

"If we peek in through the kitchen, we can see who it is," Treize decided, sliding out from under Wufei and hauling him up with ease.

"WHEEE!" Wufei squealed, pulled right up off of his feet before being plunked back down again. "That was *fun*!" For the moment, all thoughts of the visitor were wiped utterly from him, and he smiled fatuously at Treize.

"Wasn't it?" Treize smiled back, looking straight down at Wufei and smiling. Then he swept in to take a kiss. Sometimes, the intensity of the need to touch was overwhelming!

"I love you!" Wufei told him happily when the kiss was done, his arms tangled around Treize and bunched a bit in his sweater. "I do, I do!"

That gained him two more kisses -- one light on his lips, and a brush across the forehead. "Love you, too -- now let's go in before your little toes fall off."

THAT image made Wufei's eyes go wide, a gasp sounding. "They can *do* that?" he squeaked, running already for the lit archway that was a path between their house and that of Noin and Sally.

With a laugh, Treize raced after him, only a half step behind. "Not literally, Wufei!" Under the archway itself, Treize caught Wufei, whirling them both around for a brief second. "To the main house...?"

Still shrieking delightedly, toes now forgotten, Wufei's arms snuck tightly around his neck. "Hokay!" he agreed, kissing Treize's cheek. "Let's go!"

"Are you going to walk, or am I going to carry you?" Treize asked with a grin, already walking down the walkway with Wufei in his arms.

"Carry me!" came the happy demand, legs twining about Treize. "Carry me, carry me!"

"You spoiled little thing," Treize teased, nuzzling his neck as he cinched his hands under Wufei's bottom.

"It makes me happy," Wufei agreed, smiling and resting comfortably against Treize as he was toted into the big house. "I like being spoiled. When you say that, it means you're happy with me, so I'll get *lots* of smushmallows, but not so many to make me sick."

"I'll make sure you don't get sick," Treize promised him, butting open the door with Wufei's bottom. His package only giggled at that, and then they were moving towards the kitchen with Treize's usual firm strides to find out who the visitor might be.

Treize set Wufei down just outside the closed door, as was his habit, and then pushed it open to gain another indiscreet peek. And what he saw startled him so badly that he backpeddled.

"Blond... red..." But the cold had gotten him! The cold had gotten rid of him! How could he be there?!

"Treize?" Wufei's voice was distinctly worried, and well it should have been. His Treize had gone utterly white, and it made Wufei frightened.

"It's *him* Wufei! Oh, it's *him*!" A tightly hissed utterance of noise that was scared and anguished as he pulled Wufei tight into his arms. "We have to hide!"

"Him?" Wufei gasped as Treize pulled him along, tugging him quickly 'til they were both out the door and running back to their house. "Who's him?"

""Him*." Oh, God, that send a bolt of terror clean through him, one that made him drag Wufei into the door of their comfortable house and then lock the door behind him. "He.. *he* hurt us!"

"The bad man? The bad man in the picture book?" Wufei gasped out, shuddering. Treize had said once that was *him*, the picture of the man standing beside the Blue-Treize, and that he was bad.

Treize's fingers were white-knuckled in their hold on Wufei. "Yes -- *him*!"

"We have to hide!" Wufei cried, eyes welling up with tears. "We have to hide! Where do we go?! We have to go somewhere!"

"In..." Oh, lord, where *to* hide?! He had flickers of bad memories, nightmares, about a darkened bedroom, and a nighttime storm, and that was more than enough to make him not want to go to bed. "We'll curl up on the sofa, Wufei -- real close, so we won't be noticed."

"Maybe if we put a blanket over us!"

"The big berber one," Treize agreed, already sweeping Wufei up and carrying him into the living room. The light from outside was dimming, slowly, but not so much that they needed to turn on lights.

"And we'll leave the lights off," Wufei whispered, swinging a foot, almost as if he'd read Treize's mind.

"That way *he* won't know where we are," Treize uttered as he set Wufei down on the sofa and then went to the room's closet to get that huge, warm and thick blanket. It had been a gift from Anne, a 'house-warmer' as she called it, and it certainly did keep them warm! "Let me just take off my shoes and my belt..." Sometimes, they napped and he knew that napping with Wufei when wearing a belt didn't work -- it was metal buckled and could jab if he twisted funny.

By then, Wufei was looking at the closet with obvious fear. "*He* can't come out of the closet, can he?" he asked, voice shaking.

Treize has just closed the door after getting the blanket and could only shake his head. "No -- he can't." THAT was mostly to assure himself of it, too, though, so he made his way quickly over to the sofa and toed off his shoes, giving the blanket to Wufei to unfold.

Fingers flew rapidly, his own and Wufei's, and the moment that Treize had his belt off, Wufei was already under the blanket, head and all. "You can't see me, can you?" Wufei asked worriedly, the sound muffled.

"No," Treize said, lifting up the blanket and crawling in beside Wufei, pressing his lover against the back of the sofa as he tucked them in from the inside. "We'll be okay here."

Wufei's arms wrapped around him entirely, face pressed into his side. "You said he was gone," Wufei told him tentatively.

"I thought he was!" Treize whispered. "Oh, I thought he *was*!"

"What are we going to do?" Wufei asked, biting his lip.

"Hide." There was nothing else to do -- they couldn't *fight* him -- they'd tried it once before, and *he* had nearly killed them!

Whimpering, Wufei hid his head against Treize's arm, glad for the blanket covering them up. "Why are Sally and Noin letting *him* come here!?"

"Maybe..." Treize shivered. "Maybe they don't want us here anymore!"

"Oh, NO! They wouldn't *give* us to him, would they?"

*THAT* only gained him a shiver from Treize, who was certainly frightened now, wrapping his arms tighter around Wufei in their warm cocoon. "I don't know! I don't *know*! They shouldn't!"

The wetness of tears soaked through Treize's shirt slowly. "I'm *scared*," Wufei whispered shakily. "I'm so scared!"

"I'm scared, too. But I won't let *him* hurt you again. No, not again," Treize said in a tight voice, burying his face against the top of Wufei's head. "Not again."

"If Sally and Noin don't want us anymore, where will we go?" He couldn't help but ask questions. He was so afraid!

"There... there's always the braid girl, or... or Anne," Treize said with hesitance.

Wufei sighed pitifully. "I don't want to go with the pancake lady, but I'm afraid to stay *here*, so I guess we have to go."

"In the morning, then," Treize said with a shiver.

"In the morning," Wufei agreed. "Should we tell them before we go?"

"I... may." Treize kissed the top of Wufei's forehead. "I'll decide in the morning."

Suddenly, in the warm quietness, there was a heavy knock at the door. "Treize? Wufei? Are you there...?"


/Oh, oh, OH!!!/ Wufei thought, shivering and remaining quiet. /What if she finds us? What if they give us to him!/ He couldn't help the snuffling sound that escaped him as he began to cry and clung to Treize harder.

Being the stronger of the two, Treize held reign over his fear for a little longer, shivering as he chewed his bottom lip, *trying* to not cry.

"Wufei..? Treize! Noin, do you have your key?"

"Right here," the other voice answered, and the sound of the door being keyed open sounded. "Wufei? Treize?"

As quiet as they were trying to be, though, Wufei's little sobs and Treize's own stifled sounds led the two women into the living room, where Sally picked up the edge of their blanket and pulled it down. "What are you two doing...?"

Shrieking, Wufei tried to pull it back over their heads. "Go away, go away! We won't be bad, just go away!"

"Don't give us to *him*!" Treize cried out as he, too, clutched Wufei closer and tried to hide -- or seemed to hide. It was hard to hide when you were a big lump under a blanket. "Please!!"

"Treize, Wufei, what's wrong?" Sally pressed, giving Noin an odd look. "What's wrong?"

"*HE'S* here!" Wufei sniffled, sobbing. "We won't be bad. We'll go with the pancake lady if you want! Please, please, please!"

"*HE*...?" A light almost seemed to go off for Noin. "No, no! That's just Dorothy!"

"Dorothy...?" Treize didn't seem to believe her, and he just closed his eyes tighter. "No, no, it's a trick!"

"We'll show you," Noin offered over the sounds of Wufei's nearly hysterical sobs. "It really isn't HIM."

Treize half sat up, but it was only to press himself further into the sofa, Wufei pulled with him, blanket and all. "NO!!!! I don't want to see again! The cold got him and it wasn't enough!"

"Sally?" Noin asked, sighing.

"Treize, just come in for supper, all right? I *promise* that it's not *him*."

"I don't want to see him! I Don't!" Treize's own voice was nearly a shriek now, and Sally looked helplessly over at Noin.

"Noin, let's have supper with her, and then we'll have them eat once she's gone up to her room," Sally suggested.

"We should have warned her not to wear red," Noin muttered.

"I hadn't thought of it," Sally sighed, looking sadly at Treize and Wufei -- oh, and it had been such a good day so far! "Treize, can you calm Wufei down, do you think?"

Near tears, Treize only shook his head.

"We'll bring medicine back now, and dinner. Dorothy can wait," Noin said calmly.

That gained a sad nod from Treize. /It's a trap, oh, it's a trap and I can't protect Wufei from it.../

"I agree. Is there anything special you want us to bring back for you two...? Treize? Wufei?"

"" Wufei hiccoughed.

Instead of answering, Treize just nodded for a moment before tucking his face against the side of Wufei's head.

"Sm?" Sally asked gently. "I'll bring it, if you just tell me what it is..." Oh, it hurt to see this -- both of them so *scared*!

Those hitching, hiccoughing breaths wouldn't let him say it, though, so Noin sighed as he hid his face in Treize's chest, her hands pulling the blanket gently over their heads. "Well."

Sally began to head towards the front door, still looking at them over her shoulder. "Smm. Hmn. What does Wufei say that starts with 'sm', Noin?" They both knew that half the war to calming them down was to make them feel comfortable again.

Shutting the door behind them, Noin shook her head, still thinking as they walked. "Hm. I don't know, right off-hand... Smushmallows! Marshmallows, I mean!" she said as they reached the door to their own house.

"Then you get the bag and dinner, and I'll get the sedative and talk with Dorothy," Sally decided, heading towards their own living-room, where the woman surely was!

"All right," Noin agreed. "Then come help me quick in the kitchen? You can carry the juice or something."

"Will do!" She turned into the living room, and then decided to turn into the library instead -- there Dorothy was, skimming through a book. "Dorothy, we'll be eating dinner later than I'd thought."

"Really?" the willowy blond murmured, standing swiftly, blond hair swaying against her red blazer. "Well, all right. I suppose it has to do with Treize sama?"

"Actually, not quiet -- it has to do with your red jacket -- he thinks you're Zechs," Sally told her disapprovingly.

Wide-eyed, Dorothy's hand flew to her mouth. "Oh! I had forgotten! Well, not forgotten, exactly, only I hadn't thought..."

"Red jacket, white pants -- but I hadn't realized it either, and now they're both in a panic," Sally sighed.

"Oh, dear. Shall I take off the jacket and go see them?" Dorothy asked.

The woman with the thick braids shook her head. "No... tomorrow, maybe, but not today. They're... jumpy right now."

"If you say so," the other woman replied, sitting back down.

"I'd wanted you to meet them over dinner -- that's when they're at their best for company, usually," Sally sighed. "You... are aware of just how 'different' they are now?"

"I've heard rumors, of course," Dorothy replied. "We all have, you know."

"What sort of rumors?" *THAT* made Sally curious. "And from whom?"

Dorothy smiled at her. "Oh, a variety of them. From the fact that you're lesbians living with gay men to the suggestion that one of them is really no more than a child and that it's one of *yours*. People will say anything, Sally Po."

"Oh, God," Sally laughed. "I thought it was something serious."

"No worse than that."

"But how do you think they *really* are?" Sally asked.

"Treize-sama, you mean? I admit that I don't know. That's why I came -- to find out."

"Treize is... more relaxed and playful than you'll remember him," Sally began unsurely. "A little jumpy and very protective of Wufei."

"And the little pilot?" Dorothy asked lightly.

"Like a child. He likes roses, chocolate, 'Smushmallows' -- marshmallows -- and sex." She shook her head. "You haven't lived until you've explained the whys of lubricant to a man who could have taught *you* lessons about it just weeks before."

A little shudder rippled through Dorothy's frame. "My. No wonder Treize-sama... And how is Treize-sama? If... if the pilot is like *that*, I don't think playful will have covered it."

"It doesn't. He's... eccentric in many ways, more than before. And he sometimes has auditory hallucinations and detaches himself from everyone. Wufei can break through to him when he does that, though. They're exceedingly patient with each other."

"I see. Well." Dorothy paused, sighing deeply. "I'm sure you need to care for them just now. I can wait 'til you return to talk."

"Thank you -- I was just on my way to find the sedative," Sally sighed, getting to her feet. "Why don't we try to have you meet them at lunch tomorrow?"

"Of course," she agreed graciously, and watched Sally go. /My. This *is* shaping up to be interesting!/

It didn't take long to get the sedative and the juice, meeting up with Noin against in the kitchen as she grabbed the carafe. "Do you have the marshmallows?"

"On the tray," Noin told her.

"Good -- hopefully they've calmed down a little," Sally sighed as she headed towards the door that would take them onto the walkway. "Today was going so well..."

"If only she hadn't worn red."

Brown eyes met purple, and Sally could only sigh. "Hopefully they'll sleep well tonight."

"If they don't," Noin murmured, glancing at her, "it won't be for lack of either of us trying."

"I know, but Treize has been telling me about his nightmares lately... He's been having *those* dreams again, and trying to hide them from Wufei, too."

"What are we going to do about them?"

"What can we do, Noin? Not much," was Sally's gentle reply as they stopped outside of the guest house's door.

"I just hate to see them suffer," Noin admitted quietly as Sally knocked and then opened the door, "and they're *suffering*."

"For the moment. But when they're happy..." She sighed again as she entered. "Treize...? Wufei?"

Soft whimpering gave away their new location -- hidden in the closet, now.

The tray was set on the side-table in the living room as Sally stalked towards that closet and she opened the door carefully, to find them still cocooned in that blanket. "Treize, Wufei, we're back -- and we've brought dinner."

"Don't give us away," Wufei wept the moment he saw her. "I'll be good. Please, don't give us away!"

She knelt to get on eye-level with them, shaking her head to herself. "Treize, Wufei, *he* is dead. He is *very* dead and in a grave. You saw Dorothy, wearing a red jacket and white pants. No one is going to hurt you here."

"Are... are you sure?" Treize asked, looking somewhere between scared and thoughtful.

"Is Dorothy a Book people?" Wufei sniffled.

"Yes. We're sure. And yes, she *is* a book people," Noin said quietly. "We brought supper and vitamins for you."

"And marshmallows?" Treize asked after a moment's pause, Wufei still clutched in his arms.

"Yes -- we brought them, Treize. Why don't you come into the living room and we'll eat, all right?"

Wufei looked up at him as if to ask if it was all right. That gained him a light kiss on his nose, and Treize started to stand up. "Book-people are usually good," he told Wufei with his own little shiver as he ducked so his head wouldn't hit their coats.

Still sniffling, Wufei looked up at Sally. "I'm sorry if we were bad. I don't mean to be bad," he said seriously, still worried.

"You aren't bad, Wufei -- we're just worried about you," she said, watching Noin set out supper while she closed the closet door behind them.

"We don't mean to make you worry," Treize spoke softly as he unwrapped Wufei and himself from the comforting blanket. "But we're scared again."

"Are you really sure it isn't h-h-h-him?" Wufei hiccoughed. He didn't really think he believed it. Sometimes, monsters fooled people, he knew!

"Wufei, we're sure," Noin spoke up, moving to guide them both to the little table that was, not surprisingly, scattered with one of Treize's 'projects' -- he liked to make things, little toys and gadgets, and tended to do it someplace where Wufei couldn't see the pliers or wire-cutters.

Still, Wufei wasn't at all sure that he believed them, so instead he looked morosely at the things Treize had scattered everywhere. "Sharp," he sighed sadly, shaking his head. Sharp things were coming back into their lives. The red coat was back. And worst, he didn't know what to do. Slow tears leaked from under his lids as he sat down dispiritedly and folded his hands together on his lap.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" Treize half-panicked as he swept the things into the plastic container he kept them in, and snapped the lid closed with an unhappy expression -- Wufei wasn't supposed to have seen that, and now he had! "I'm making things again, Wufei. I didn't mean to leave them out," Treize soothed, moving to hug the other man and only half-aware that he'd cut his palm when he'd shoved the wire-cutters into the box.

Noin sighed and sat down the tray. "I'll go get the bandages," she said numbly. Some days...

"It's all going wrong," Wufei whispered, sniffling. "He's back and there are sharp things again. I don't know what to do..."

"I think that after supper the two of you should just go to bed," Sally suggested with her own sigh, watching Treize hug Wufei protectively.

"It's just one day, Wufei," Treize whispered. "Just one. And the sharp things aren't here to hurt anyone..."

Wufei's eyes went slowly to Treize's hand, ignoring Sally for the moment. "They hurt *you*."

"But..." Well, they *had*... "But it was an accident."

Dark eyes came up and looked at him sadly, no words said even as Noin came back. "Sit down, Treize. We'll have you fixed up in just a minute," she promised.

"Okay." He acquiesced easily, sitting down with a hand still resting on Wufei's hip. "Tomorrow, let's stay in the garden all day."

"Okay," Wufei sniffled. His head was beginning to hurt and he felt terrible. "Can I have raspberry juice?" he asked mournfully, watching Sally bandage Treize's other hand.

"Mm-hmm," Noin told him, pouring a glass of it from the carafe -- the stuff was sweet, but Wufei liked the taste a lot, so she went out of her way to find it when she and Sally went grocery shopping. "We're having spaghetti tonight - with lots of cheese on top."

That seemed to cheer Wufei up some, and he smiled and reached for his glass. "I like spaghetti," he said hopefully, drinking with care.

Treize stretched his hand a little once it was wrapped, and whispered a 'thank-you' to Sally. "You're not angry at us, are you?"

"No, sweetheart, we're not angry with you at all. We're just worried, because we love you," she answered sadly.

"We love you, too," Wufei said a bit disconsolately.

Treize nodded to it, reaching to pull out a chair for Wufei. "Let's eat, yes?"

"Yes," Noin urged, putting down a plate at each of the four settings.

Once they were all seated and supper was begun, Wufei was much happier, forgetting all about the houseguest entirely as he swung a foot and ate spaghetti. "I want to have roast smushmallows," he told them. "Do we have to go right to bed afterwards?"

"How bout you have roast ones tomorrow -- and tonight we make s'mores instead?" Sally suggested, looking at Treize for confirmation -- the older man looked *tired* and gave a nod to that.

"Okay," Wufei agreed easily enough. He wanted roast ones, but he was awfully tired, too.

"I'll go check the kitchen and get the stuff together when we're done," Noin said. The guest house's kitchen only held a few small things -- some crackers, a few cookies, tea bags and a couple of bottles of juice in the refrigerator.

"That's just as nice as the other, Wufei," Treize said, trying to sound sly despite how tired he was -- Wufei could dismiss something quickly, but he didn't have that luck, and he was still scared.

"It's all right," Wufei agreed, "and it has chocolate in it, so even though it's not roast smushmallow, it's okay."

"And then we can go up to bed," Treize decided, twirling his fork in the spaghetti for a moment before he took an actual bite of it.

Noin smiled and nodded. "That should be nice, going to bed early. Sally and I will, too, won't we, Sal?"

"Mmm-hmmm," Sally agreed, seeing the relief on Treize's face at that. "Tomorrow is supposed to have beautiful weather with next to no wind."

"That's good," Treize decided around a mouthful of spaghetti. "It's hard to drawn when the wind blows my pages."

Wufei tilted his head to the side. "Can I color, tomorrow?"

"I'll bring out the big box of crayons and everything," Noin promised.

"When do the roses grow again, Noin? I know I should know, but..." Treize shrugged, still waiting for an answer. He'd been sketching the garden in bloom, but now it wasn't blooming the way it did before.

"Maybe by March," Noin told him solemnly. "But there will be winter flowers, Treize."

That made his eyes light up. "There will be? Flowers that can... live in the cold?"

"Flowers that thrive in the cold," Sally promised him, "so long as it doesn't snow *too* much."

"Wow," Wufei said in amazement, mouth open in a little o.

Treize smiled absently for a moment, then bolted upright, fork forgotten. "Oh, I forgot to feed the birds tonight!" He'd fed them this morning, he remembered, and cleaned out their cage, but the stress of the afternoon...

"It's all right, Treize," Noin soothed. "It's only ten minutes past the usual time, and they'll be all right. You can feed them as soon as we're done with supper."

"Are you sure...?" He looked strained for a moment, but when Sally nodded, he sat back down, nodding. "Oh. All right." Calling Treize 'a creature of habit' would have been an understatement -- he clung to certain routines in his days.

"Can I help feed the birds?" Wufei asked, smiling, all things forgotten.

"Mm-hmm," Treize told him, "But... you know to watch your fingers." His fork was picked up again, and he started to eat.

"Yes, Treize," Wufei said happily, and went back to eating his spaghetti.

/Another crisis averted,/ Sally sighed, casting Noin a sympathetic look as supper went on.

Once they were done, it was easy to get Treize and Wufei to take vitamins and sedatives with no qualms. "When will we have chocolate and smushmallow?" Wufei asked. He was rather determined to have marshmallows.

"How about right now?" Sally asked, looking at Treize, who stood up.

"Why don't we go feed the birds, Wufei, and they can make the s'mores?"

"Hokay," Wufei agreed, standing and moving to put his hand in Treize's.

Even with the light bandaging, Treize still firmly grasped Wufei's hand in his, and walked with him into the living-room to where the birds were twittering happily.

"Do they seem better now?" Sally asked Noin once they were out of sight.

"Wufei's forgotten about it entirely," Noin dismissed. "I'm not so sure about Treize."

"He remembers things much better," Sally noted, opening a cupboard to find where Treize kept the graham crackers, out of Wufei's reach. "I hope they sleep well tonight."

Noin nodded, breaking two chocolate bars into halves. "They should. They always sleep well when you medicate them, and they're usually happier for it the next day."

"Days like this, I truly can't bear to think what would have happened if they'd been institutionalized," Sally sighed, opening the bag of marshmallows.

"Don't think about it," Noin advised, setting the chocolate squares precisely on the crackers. "It's better not to."

"Mmm." Atop each square, Sally put a marshmallow, and when she was done, she leaned close to Noin, taking a kiss from the edge of her lips.

"Noin and Sally, sitting in a tree!" Wufei sang happily.

"The birds are eating up all their food," Treize declared just as happily as he wrapped his arms around Wufei from behind. "Are you two kissing?"

"They *are*," Wufei said smugly, squirming. Oh, he was happy again! /Why was I not happy before? I don't remember.../

"Yes, we are!" Sally agreed, pressing the kiss a bit harder before she pulled away. "Do you want your s'mores really hot, or...?"

"REALLY hot!" Wufei cried, delighted. He *loved* chocolate!

"Thirty-five seconds in the microwave," Sally told Noin as she put the little stacks on a plate.

"Yes, ma'am, Miss Sally, ma'am," was the jovial reply, even as they noticed one of their charges beginning to yawn. "Sleepy, Wufei?"

"Mhm," Wufei told them, eyes heavy. He wanted his smushmallow, though...

Treize just gave them both a silly grin, resting his chin atop Wufei's head. *He* understood that they'd been drugged, but he was grateful for it! "I can't wait to snuggle up in bed..."

"Smushmallow *first*," Wufei said sleepily.

"And then you're brushing your teeth," Treize goaded him, watching Noin pull the plate out of the microwave and offer the s'mores to the both of them. Treize grabbed the nearest one, handing it to Wufei only after he'd decided it wasn't too hot.

Wufei sniffled. "I don't like the new toothpaste. It hurts my mouth," he said sullenly, nibbling at his s'more.

"I put water in my mouth, first, to cancel some of it out," Treize confided as he bit a corner off of his own, chocolate smearing his fingers.

"We'll get a different kind next time," Sally promised. Lord, her patience was down to nothing by that point!

Noin gave a sigh of her own, and picked up one of the s'mores, offering it to Sally. "here, have one."

The smile that earned her was a grateful one and they all snacked for a moment 'til they were gone. "All right, boys," Sally told them as Wufei finished off his second one. "Time for baths and bed."

"I'll make sure we get that done, Sally," Treize promised solemnly, sensing that both Sally and Noin were tired -- mostly of, or because of, them.

"I'm sleepy," Wufei said, and his eyes *were* closing steadily, sugar or no sugar.

"At least try, Treize," Sally told them both with a little smile. Showers would probably happen in the morning, if she guessed right, though Treize would insist on brushed teeth. "Noin and I will be in the house if you need us, all right, Wufei?"

"Hokay," Wufei replied, Treize tugging him up onto his feet. "Gotta go upstairs now. Gotta go to bed. Thank you for the cookie and smushmallow."

"You're very welcome, Wufei," Noin said, picking up the trays again. "We'll see you tomorrow."

"Come on -- or else I'll have to carry you up the stairs," Treize was saying, already half-carrying Wufei towards those steps.

"Okay," the trailing agreement came back to them as Noin sighed and turned towards the door, tray and dishes in hand.

"Let's go back to Dorothy," she said solemnly. "We've still not given *her* dinner."

"I think knowing Dorothy, she's fed herself and gone to bed already," Sally uttered tiredly. "I think we should follow Wufei's example."

A weary smile was cast her way as she opened the door for Noin and locked it behind them, heading through the walkway and back to their home. "Sounds marvelous. Think we can avoid dishes 'til morning, in that case?"

"I'm sure of it," Sally told Noin, sliding her free arm around the other woman's waist. "Just a few minutes in there with them like that is... exhausting."

"Poor sweet," Noin sighed, letting Sally open their own door and moving in, turning towards the kitchen. "I'm just glad most days are *good* days."

"So am I -- Wufei's memory is the most frustrating part, but.. if he didn't forget so many things, he'd be walking around terrified."

"And God knows we couldn't live day to day with *that*," Noin agreed.

"I don't think Treize could handle it, either -- he's at his wit's end just trying to keep himself and Wufei calm," Sally noted as she moved the dishes into the sink.

Sighing, the dark-haired woman leaned over and lightly pressed her lips to Sally's. "Let's go upstairs and try to forget about this for a while, okay?"

"Wish I had more energy to help forget," Sally teased, taking another kiss. "Let's check in on Dorothy, and then we'll go to.... 'bed'."

"That," Noin agreed, "sounds just about perfect."

"See -- toothpaste isn't so bad, and you have nice fresh breath," Treize told Wufei as he rubbing his hands at the smaller man's hips, hands edging on sliding into Wufei's pajama bottoms.

"It's burn toothpaste," Wufei told him, rubbing an eye as Treize dressed him. "It makes my mouth hurt. But if you make me, then I don't mind doing it so bad, because it's for you," he finished, nodding.

"You're sweet, Wufei," Treize told him, kissing the other man's cheek as he buttoned up the loose pajama top Wufei wore. He, personally, would have preferred to have them both sleep in the nude, but Wufei seemed as self conscious about the scars on his body as Treize felt about the ones on his own. Scars that he couldn't remember getting, but... but he knew that they hadn't hurt for very long at all, and that Wufei loved him no matter what.

Happily, Wufei leaned up on his toes and kissed Treize full on the mouth, though he was barely able to think, much less hold coherent conversation. "Bedtime, Treize? I love you. I'm ready for bed now. Can we go?"

The sedative was getting harder to fight... "Mmm, yes," Treize told him, an arm around Wufei's waist, guiding him towards their nice, big, warm bed. He let Wufei get in, while he moved to lock the window. Well, double-check that it was locked.

Waiting patiently, Wufei smiled almost smugly when Treize came to bed and very promptly plastered himself up against the other man, closing his eyes. "Ti~ired.

"Good-night, Wufei," Treize whispered, closing his own eyes as he pulled Wufei close to him. "My sweet love..."

"Goo'ni'..." Wufei yawned, sighing happily. "Goo'ni..."

Hours later, the moon spilling into the room through the locked windows, they were almost awake again. It was nearing two and the moon had almost set, but it still spilled luminescent beams onto the carpet.

And in that half-awake state, Treize saw movement towards the bedroom door. Only... the movement in that darkened hallway couldn't have been Wufei, could it? No, not with the boy safely ensconced in his arms. A flicker, red and silvery-yellow, and he snapped his eyes shut quickly. /It's just a dream, just a dream..../

Still... it was disturbing, and it seemed to come closer, the gleam of metal, a slice of smile, the glisten of brass buttons...

Carefully, eyes closing again, he burrowed deeper into the sheets, until only he and Wufei's faces weren't under the covers, safely covered by the bedding, he hoped....

"Hm?" Even as Wufei spoke, the specter seemed to be moving dangerously closer, adrift in a wash of bleaching light, pale features turned to bone, mask on fire with ashen glow. "Trei...?"

"Shh," was Treize's desperate hiss of noise as he burrowed Wufei closer against him, trying to curl around the other man.

Obediently, Wufei remained quiet even when the covers slowly snuck up over their heads, Treize's trembling felt against him with every brush of motion he gave. He wondered what had upset him and was afraid, himself, because Treize was, but he couldn't ask.

They were safe, in their little nest of bedding, weren't they? And he really hadn't seen what he'd thought he'd seen -- because the cold had gotten him! It was just a hallucination. Sally would tell him that much, but... he was still frightened, whether or not it truly *was* there, in their bedroom!

"Treize." It was a ghost of a sound, deadly and cool, and definitely *not* Wufei. "Treize..."

"No! No, go away!" Treize howled suddenly, clutching Wufei tighter still. He was going to shake himself to pieces soon, he knew it! With Treize's voice raised, Wufei couldn't resist adding his own, high pitched shrieks of fear, the covers tangling around them almost as if hands were ghosting over them.

It left Treize whimpering, shaking in fear of what he'd seen, felt, and heard, and unable to stop saying, "No!" It had to stop! And those few moments of ghostly touch felt like years.

"Treize!? Wufei!!!?" The sound came from the intercom, their shouts undoubtedly heard over the small baby monitor that was usually left on in their room. "We're coming! We're coming!!"

But Treize didn't hear *their* voices -- he couldn't hear the *safe* voices that meant everything was going to be all right. He could only hear that *one* voice, so thready and familiar, whispering his name like nails down a black board even as Wufei's screaming continued, turning to a piteous mewl suddenly as the arms around Treize's neck folded with another of those touches.


Treize's whimper rose, louder until his voice was breaking, trying all the harder to fold Wufei somehow into his grasp fully, protecting the other man.

"WE'RE COMING!" The shout now was on the first floor, the sound of the door slamming open and reverberating off of the wall sounding loud in the night. As it did, the covers seemed to stop flailing, a ghostly chuckle sounding that left Wufei in hysterical tears, sobbing with terror, and Treize just as bad.

When Sally entered through the already opened bedroom door, the curtains were fluttering in the light night-time breeze, and the bed was a wreck, sheets all tangled around its two hysterical occupants. One of them was practically screaming, and the other was sobbing so hard that the bed seemed to shake!

"Oh, God," Noin said, moving to look through the window. The screen had been pushed out onto the porch roof, and that gave her distinct chills. Wufei and Treize would never have done that... would they?

"Wufei! Treize!" Sally shouted, trying to get their attention as she tried to untangle them from the bedding. "Sally and Noin are here -- everything will be all right!" Worse than the popped open window, there were feathers on top of the bedding, and little smears of blood.

"Waaahhh!" Wufei wailed as his face came out from under the covers, paled and streaked with tears. He didn't know if he wanted to reach out and grab Sally or stay where he was, clutching Treize, and the sight of the bloody feathers quickly drove that wailing sob into full-fledged screaming as he struggled harder to get out of the bedding.

Treize, who wasn't doing more than crying unstoppably as he curled tighter, was abandoned for the moment as Sally moved to the other side of the bed, wrapping her arms around what she could reach of Wufei's thin frame. "Noin, move that bedding out of here -- I'm going to have it sent to Anne for testing. Anything. And check the bird-cage," she suggested sadly, stroking Wufei's hair gently, careful to no pull him out of Treize's arms. "You're both safe now... I promise."

Screams became a steadily hitching keening sound, the younger man rocking back and forth in a steady terrified motion even as he tried to edge closer to Treize; tried, but couldn't quite pull himself together enough to get any closer.

"Yeah," Noin told her hoarsely, locking the window tightly shut again. "I'll get her to come out now, and to bring Trowa and Quatre with her." With a purpose, now, she gathered up the bedding, eyes lightly averted from Treize's naked frame curled up all alone. "And I'll bring pajama bottoms back for Treize."

"Thank you, Noin," Sally spoke above Wufei's panicked voice, still making those soothing noises to try to calm him down. "Wufei, you're all right -- and so is Treize."

"Treize!" Now that the covers were all wrapped up, Wufei felt he could think about something else. "Treize, Treize, TREIZE!!"

"Don't, please don't," he was whimpering, shaking with a fury that would soon drop him into utter exhaustion. "Leave us alone, leave us alone!"

"Treize!" Wufei cried again, crawling up against him, sniffling. "Oh, oh!"

"Wufei, can you keep him warm while I go get his robe?" Sally asked softly.

"Don't go far!" He was crying, but he was plastered to Treize now, flannel pajamas warm against both of them. Oh, the room was *cold* from the breeze that had come in while the window was open! "It will come BACK!"

"No it won't -- I've got a gun," Sally replied, getting up from the bed, saying it loud enough so that if... whoever was still around that he... she... it... would hear. "Just a moment..." And then she ducked into their closet, pulling the thick, long robe down from a hook on the inside of the door, and then darted over to the chest of drawers, from which she pulled a pair of pajamas that could be called over-sized at best. Treize had a penchant for snuggling into things -- which meant thick pajamas, and big sweaters. Coming back to the bed she leaned down, watching them sadly. "Treize? Come and put on your pajamas, sweetling. I'll help you, all right? You're safe..."

He'd slid his arms half around Wufei, still crying and sliding close to the other man. "C-can't!"

"You can," Sally soothed him despite the fact that they were both crying now. "It's all right. Noin and I are here, and you're safe. Just slide your legs in, just like this, and I'll pull them up for you..."

He seemed about to hysterically protest for a moment, but shivered and uncurled a little, still clinging to Wufei as he did as he'd been told -- slid his legs in and then lifted his hips a little to let her slid them up. There was something of humiliation that he couldn't do it himself in his current state, but it really didn't come to the forefront of his mind as Sally coaxed him to put on his robe, too.

"Sal, I called Anne," Noin said over the snuffling sounds as she came back into the room. "She's going to have to bring out someone to look things over, and they've promised to be... discreet."

"That's wonderful," Sally sighed as Treize sat up a little, pulling Wufei tightly to him, wrapping his robe partly around the other man. "Are you two feeling better now...?"

"It's cold," Wufei sniffled, still leaking tears.

"You're cold?" Sally asked carefully, wanting clarification.

Wufei shook his head slowly, crying again. "It's cold. It's cold again. Nothing will ever be right anymore!"

That started Treize to crying again, quieter this time as he clung to Wufei. "Just w-want to be safe and warm..."

"Oh, dear... why don't we go next door? I'll make some cocoa," Sally soothed, petting them both. "Noin..."

"I'll stay here and wait for Anne," she said firmly.

Sally was already shaking her head, though. "No. No one's staying in here alone," she said.

"It's not safe," Treize shivered with a whimper while Sally tried to gently coax them both to their feet.

"Would you like to sit in the library? I can start a fire, and both of you can warm up near it," Sally told them carefully. Their physical warm seemed to collaborate with the 'mental' warmth, so...

"Will the Book be not in there?" Wufei asked, rubbing at an eye.

"I'll take it out right away," Sally told them both, watching Treize start to pull Wufei to his feet, still holding the other man close.

With a big sniff, Wufei rose obediently and they headed downstairs led carefully by Noin, who avoided the living room entirely, shuffling them towards the side door and the kitchen out to the walkway.

Treize seemed to relax minutely as they stepped out into the garden that was the yard and he even looked around as he walked with Wufei held securely in front of him. Even if it was dark, the garden was still the *garden* and the walkway was brightly lit once they were on it again and heading towards the main house.

The morning air was quite cool, and Wufei was shivering by the time they got to the main house, herded into the library by Noin as Sally went to putter in the kitchen. "Now, I'll get you a blanket and put away the Book, all right?" she told both of them.

"Thank you," Treize whispered, throat raw from crying and yelling as he had. Staying mostly quiet, he tugged Wufei over to the oversized leather chair and sat down on it, pulling Wufei up onto his lap.

With a sigh, Noin left the room with the Book, intending to fetch a blanket, and Wufei sighed when she was gone. He popped his thumb in his mouth and settled his head on Treize's shoulder, still hiccoughing.

"Don't suck your thumb," Treize whispered softly, pulling Wufei's hand away from his mouth -- to kiss the center of his palm and then hug him tight. "I'm sorry I couldn't protect us. I was too scared."

"It's okay," Wufei whispered, shivering. "It didn't hurt so bad." There had just been that one hard poke against his upper left thigh, and that hadn't been so terrible, in retrospect. It still hurt some, but not so much he thought it would do bad things to him. "I was scared, too. I love you. I don't know why it happened. We locked all the doors and windows..."

"But maybe we didn't really," Treize tried to suggest -- the idea that *he* could get past locked doors and windows...!

"But I know we did," Wufei sniffed. "You checked after you put me to bed!"

That only gained a tight sigh from Treize, who nodded as he rested his cheek atop Wufei's head. "I thought I did, too."

"Treize-sama?" That voice came tentatively from the doorway.

Treize lifted his head at the sound of the woman's voice, but he didn't turn around yet. Not yet. He wants to stay in that chair with Wufei held tight against him... "Yes?"

She came into view slowly, silvery-blonde hair gleaming in the light. A blue bathrobe swathed her, the print of rumpled sheets still on her cheek. "It *IS* you," she said slowly, surprised. "It IS..."

He seemed lost and confused for a moment, grasping... and failing. "I... should remember you, shouldn't I?"

"I'm your cousin Dorothy," she told him, dropping down to look at the two. "I see you have a pet."

"'m not a pet," Wufei denied, his thumb in his mouth again making it a mumble. SHE had blonde hair like that other person did. "I'm Wufei!"

Looking at her quizzically and resting his cheek atop Wufei's head -- in a disturbingly childish way -- Treize uttered, "Cousin... Cousin Catalonia?" That was a question, as if he were associating the right name with the term 'cousin'. One hand gently pulled Wufei's thumb from his mouth.

"That's right," Dorothy replied, leaning forward. "I've come to check on you and be sure that you're all right. How have you been, cousin?"

"Happy here," he answered without hesitation. "Wufei and I are... mostly safe here. And Sally and Noin watch over us."

"Mostly safe?"

Wufei's thumb was creeping back up, but it stopped. "The Bad Man is back again," he said miserably, tears rising and spilling over in a flood.

"Shhh, shh, sweet," Treize soothed, kissing Wufei's temple without any self consciousness about him as he cuddled the other man closer. "M-mostly safe."

"I see," Dorothy said quietly even as Noin came back into the room with a blanket in her arms.

"How are you two?" Noin asked softly, unfolding the heavy and warm-looking blanket and draping it over both of them. Treize aided in tucking it in comfortably around them. "Better?"

"Some," Treize told her softly, swallowing to clear his throat as he snugged Wufei closer.

"Sleepy," Wufei mumbled. "I want to go back to bed."

"I think... it might be best right now if you sleep here -- can you do that?" Noin asked seriously.

Treize kissed Wufei's temple tenderly. "We can sleep here. It's warm and... safer."

"Can we lay down?" Wufei asked sleepily, still watching the blond-haired woman.

"Shall I fetch pillows from somewhere, Noin? Help in any way?" Dorothy asked.

Noin nodded, "If you can get some pillows, I think... that both of you could lay out on the rug here?"

With another mumbled sound resembling 'sleepy', Wufei crawled off of Treize's lap even as Dorothy went back to her room to fetch pillows. She hadn't been gone very long when a sudden scream filtered down from upstairs.

"Both of you stay there!" Noin told them, as Treize was moving from that chair to the floor with Wufei, and he didn't even ask why -- he just pulled the blanket up over them, hiding them both.

Sally raced up the stairs ahead of her, heading for Dorothy's room.

The sight when they got there truly *was* awful -- the remains of the bird that had been missing and even a couple of the dead ones that Noin had left in the guest house were scattered over her bed, and Dorothy was screaming bloody murder for all she was worth.

*This* time, Sally didn't have the mess cleaned up -- the Preventers, when they arrived -- and she hoped it was soon -- would need the further evidence. "Noin, Dorothy, go back into the living room; get a gun, Noin." Just what she was planning on doing, making her way to a side-drawer to grab the spare gun they kept.

"Right." With that, Noin was gone, ducking out of that room and into their own to fetch the gun they kept by their bedside.

Dorothy was pale as she turned to leave. "I'm sorry if I frightened you, only..."

"Only this is why we brought Treize and Wufei in here -- so both of you get downstairs *now*," Sally half-snapped, scanning the room with intent eyes to see if there was anything -- no open windows, nothing....

Whoever -- whatever! -- it was... It was still in the house.

A thump just outside the archway into the living room brought Wufei awake again, and he whimpered faintly, moving closer to Treize. What on earth was that sound? Oh, oh, it was no good!

"Wufei?" Treize whispered tightly. "Did you hear that...?"

"It was a bang," Wufei whispered, scrunching himself closer. "Like somebody fell over..."

"Shhhh," Treize whispered after Wufei told him that, snugging the other man closer still. "We'll just wait..."

"Treize, Wufei, *RUN*!"

That was a shout from Dorothy, followed by another thud.

"Treize!" Wufei cried out, suddenly utterly terrified. There was a sound in the doorway, footsteps coming closer...!!

Stay in hiding, or run, stay or run...?

It wasn't much of a choice, as survival instinct kicked in and Treize bolted to his feet, Wufei clutched tight in his arms as he scanned for an exit -- the doorway into the kitchen was still clear!

They were through it in an instant, Wufei squirming slightly to be let down so that he could run, too, and be less of a burden on Treize. He was let down, quickly, reluctantly, and they were out the door with no more than a glimpse of the specter after them.


Even in just his pajama bottom and his robe, Treize ran fast, Wufei's hand caught up in his own as he made it at a fast clip not towards the gardens but the front of the house. "HELP!"

"We have to *HIDE*!!!!" Wufei gasped, shivering. "We have to *hide*, and call the Pancake Lady!!"

"The neighbors, Wufei -- they'll help us, won't they...?" Treize asked, still running -- toward the nearest house. "Bet... bet our phones won't work. *He* would do something like that."

Wufei didn't answer, though, only nodded as they kept running, the nearest house nearly a mile away from their own. Still, they were moving quickly, and when they finally DID reach the neighbor's house, it was dark in the pre-dawn light.

"Do we ring the bell or do we knock?" he asked in confusion, looking up at his companion. He couldn't really remember what they were doing, but he knew something scary was after them.

"Ring," Treize said, clutching Wufei's hand tightly as he stepped up to ring the bell, pressing a shaking finger against the buzzer. /Please be home, please be home.../ He was out of breath, half-way, and so *scared*...

"They're not going to answer!" Wufei cried after a moment, beginning to sob. "They're not going to answer and the bad people will be coming any *minute*, that bad Red Man will be here, and then we'll be DEAD! He probably already killed Noin and Sally and the blonde lady," he wept, shaking.

Pulling Wufei closer, Treize rang the bell again and again and again, desperate -- even though he knew whoever it was was probably sleeping.

"I'm COMING, I'm COMING!" came a bellowed cry from inside.

"There's someone home!" Wufei sniffled, choking on a sob.

Treize gave it a final ring and bit his bottom lip as he waited for the door to open.

A car hurtled by on the road and Wufei shrieked loudly just as the door opened, a tall slim young man with bright green eyes peering out. "Good Lord! I'm not *that* scary at this time of morning!"

Treize seemed startled out of his wits for a moment, but managed to say, "W we're from the house down the road -- there are people there, and they've hurt Sally and Noin, and we ran.." He was very obviously near to tears, while Wufei was already crying.

"Uh...yeah," the guy in the door said bemusedly. "Hang on a sec. Hey! Omi! Call the police, woncha? We've got someone on the front doorstep!" What he got for his trouble at that call was an unhappy mutter and an Omi who probably wasn't making that call.

"Not for *us* -- we live with two female Preventers, just down the road at 77 Sunrise!" Treize told him, still holding Wufei. "We need *help*!"

"Right, right. Well, look, tell you what, you sit on the steps here and we'll call the police, hm?" And the door was promptly shut in their faces.

"WAHHH!!!!" Wufei cried out, unable to stop crying anymore. "We're going to DIE! The Red Man is going to come get us!!"

"No, he won't," Treize said as he did sit down, back to the door, pulling Wufei down into his lap. "We... we'll wait here. Wait here until Anne comes. She'll come."

"But what if she doesn't *ever*?" Wufei sniffled. "Even the Pancake Lady doesn't know *everything*!"

"But *he* is there! We can't go back *home*," Treize pointed out.

A sob broke loose. "We'll be lost FOREVER!" came the quietly cried answer.

"No we won't," Treize tried to soothe him. "We won't I promise. We won't." His lover kept crying, though, fit to break the hardest of hearts.

"W..W..We won't EVER g..get HOME!" Wufei sobbed, shaking all over. "Never! Never!"

Pulling Wufei up atop his lap, Treize wrapped his arms tight around the other man, trying to warm them both. "No, Wufei. We will. Shhhh.... shhh."

The crying was, in fact, so *loud* that it gained them an open door and the gift of a blanket. "Here, here. Don't let him cry so! Someone will be along soon, I'm sure. The street's got lots of Preventers down the way, lights flashing everywhere..."

"They're here...?" Treize took the blanket thankfully, and started to rise to his feet, pulling Wufei up with them. "We'll go to them, Wufei, if they're here... Thank you."

Snuffling, Wufei nodded as Treize wrapped the blanket around them both. "I want Sally," he said, tears still falling. "And I want Noin. And I want to go *home*."

"We'll go home," Treize promised him, starting the long walk back towards their home, half-jogging, though he kept Wufei closer on the way back than he did the way there. "We'll go home, and be warm again, and we'll be safe..."

"But what if the RED man is still there?" Wufei asked, fearful. He was clinging to that terrible thought, even though he didn't want to remember it.

"The Preventers are there." And Treize had a sort of blind faith in them, being a justice related group -- that Sally and Noin worked for. "They'll stop him. You won't be hurt."

"But what if *you* are?" He would just die if something ever happened to Treize!

"I won't let myself be hurt," he told Wufei with a tender look. "I promise that, too."

Wufei's agreement wasn't doubtful in the least. "Okay," he said, hand slipping into Treize's and holding it tightly. "If you promise."

They neared the cars with flashing lights steadily, heading towards the one that was at the foot of the long driveway. "Sirs?" Treize called out to two Preventers standing guard there.

"Who goes there?" the first asked suspiciously, peering out into the blue-lit shadows that fairly well concealed them, guns at the ready.

"Oh!" Wufei cried out, frightened.

"We-we-we're..." Treize stammered for a moment, eyes wide as he held Wufei's hand tighter, pulling the other man towards him. "W-we live with Sally and Noin -- we ran to get help..."

"T...Thomas?" a voice sounded from behind them. "THOMAS! WUFEI! You're all right!" The gleam of buttery blond hair came towards them, Quatre moving quickly. "I've got them! They're all right!" he assured the other men. "You ran away? Oh, good, good. Come on, then, I'll take you to Anne, all right?" Wufei was crying, and that hurt him terribly. He could almost feel the terror dripping off of them...

"Where... where's Sally? Where's Noin? And the... blonde woman..." His questions didn't stop him from heading towards Quatre, and dragging Wufei with him. "Did *he* get them?" The rich tenor voice broke when the word 'he' was spoken, and for a moment Treize seemed as fragile as Wufei was.

Quatre paused, looking at them both. "Oh, dear. You saw whoever was here, then?" No answer was immediately forthcoming about the others.

"H-he called my name, got into our room... Feathers, blood, everywhere, and yellow..." Disjointed speech would only be getting worse, aggravated by the bone-deep chill of the night air and fear.

Blue eyes watched as the smaller man patted Treize's back, still sniffling. "Come on. I'll take you to Sally, all right? She's fine."

"And Noin? And my... cousin?" he pressed, the glint in his one eye still a worried sad one, laced with fear. "And them?"

"They're being seen about," Quatre told him ambiguously.

That didn't calm him any as they started to leave the driveway entrance. "It's so cold..."

Wufei was still crying, clinging to Treize. "I want picked up," he sobbed, reaching for Treize's neck.

He couldn't deny Wufei anything at all, even though he was tired and scared himself... It took a little effort to hoist up the other man, but Wufei was smaller than him, so it wasn't too hard. "Keep me warm." Arms wrapped firmly about his neck and legs about his hips and Wufei's face was nuzzled quickly against his throat, thumb firmly stuck in his mouth again.

"Uh, this way," Quatre said, gently taking Treize's elbow, and he followed, up the slight slope through the darkness, trusting Quatre to lead him somewhere safe -- even if he was waiting for *him* to jump at them through the darkness.

No one jumped out, though, and when they got to Sally, she was almost sobbing with relief to see them. "I thought you were lost!" she cried the moment she saw them, hurrying over despite the large bruise on her left temple. "Oh, I'm so glad!" she said, wrapping her arms about both of them as Wufei began to cry harder and pulled his thumb out of her mouth to clutch at her as well as Treize.

"You're okay," Treize said, almost in disbelief as he hugged her one-armed as Quatre crowded them further into the back of the Preventers' van.

"It's warmer in here -- I think you two need to be out of the night air," he said gently.

As they were bundled inside, another familiar figure arrived. "We found one of them," Trowa said flatly, green eyes shimmering slightly as the light struck them. "I see Thomas and Wufei have been found, as well. That's lucky."

"W-what's going on?" Treize asked as Sally had him sit down, Wufei pulled up into his lap to share warmth.

"Intruders broke into the house," she told him, gently reaching up and touching her temple. "They knocked Noin and me out and seem to have taken Dorothy. One of them..." She paused. "One of them was wearing a red OZ uniform."

At that, Treize gave a shudder and closed his eyes, pressing his face to the top of Wufei's head. "No, no, no!"

That gained him a quick, strange look from Trowa, who raised an eyebrow. "He was wearing a platinum blond wig," he said quietly, "but he's really a red head."

Treize peeked up for a moment, looking at Trowa with tearful eyes.. "It's not *him*?"

"Just a man in a wig," Trowa promised him.

"Wufei -- it's not him!"

"Mmm?" Wufei asked around his thumb, tear-stained face raising. "Not?"

"It was just a man in a wig," Trowa said again, somewhat gently as he reached out tentatively and patted Wufei's head, hearing the other man sigh in relief and go back to sucking on his fingers.

"Then everything is all right?" Treize asked softly, even as he gently pulled Wufei's hand away from his face.

Quatre glanced tentatively at Trowa and Sally, making a decision. "Everything will be fine," he said softly.

"Good." Treize closed his eyes and bundled Wufei closer. He was cold, exhausted and trembling, aftereffects of the terror filled hours that had passed them by. "Good."

"Rest, now," Sally told them quietly. "Get in the back of the truck here. There's a stretcher and some blankets. Where did you get that one?" she wondered aloud. "Never mind, just lay down, all right?"

"All right. The neighbors... might want it back," Treize acquiesced as he pulled Wufei up and they got into the back of the truck, where it was warm and safer than out in the open.

The doors were shut gently, Sally climbing into the seat in the front a moment later. "I'm going to stay here with you," she promised them. "For now, though, let's rest."

"Rest..." Treize laid down tentatively, pulling Wufei atop him. "Sweet, sweet Wufei..."

"Love," Wufei sighed sleepily, burrowing his head against Treize's shoulder. "Mmmmmm."

And rest they did, with Sally watching over them.

Some time later, grounds combed over closely and no sign of Dorothy to be found, the majority of the Preventers force readied themselves to leave, several agents assigned to wait and guard the property 'til more could be discovered.

"I'm sure it must have been part of the rebel force that fell apart," Anne said worriedly, "though I've no way to prove it. Just a hunch."

After being released at last from the medical group, Noin was still woozy, but more than glad to help -- she *looked* bruised up, so it was better to leave Sally where she was and not worry Treize and Wufei by appearing to have been hurt. Not yet at least. "We've caught all but one of them, Anne -- interrogation will prove you right."

"I suppose I should go now," Anne told her with a sigh. "There are reports to write, and I'll be expected to be at the interrogation. I'm leaving five men -- we've been through both houses, but I won't feel all right about it unless there are at least that many. I still wish you'd just come home and stay with Marie and me until we find the other one." And Dorothy, but that remained unspoken.

"It might be hard to explain to Marie about Treize," Noin told her. "We'll be all right here."

"If you say so." Anne was reluctant, but there was little choice. What Noin said was true.

"We'll be fine -- tell Sally to bring the boys in. I think we're going to hole up in their guest house since it's more secure than the main house."

Standing, Anne reached out and lightly touched her shoulder for a moment. "I'll set the people I'm leaving to search one more time, quickly, and then the rest of us will go. Wait here and I'll send Sally and the boys, all right?"

"All right, Anne," Noin acquiesced. "I think they're probably ready to go to bed by now.."

That was more than true, Anne found once she went to get them. They were snuggled in the back of a van on a stretcher, Treize's black-haired lover sprawled all over them, both covered in blankets as Sally dozed in the driver's seat. She knocked gently on the window to get her attention.

Sally jolted awake, and rolled down the window once she saw it was Anne. "Have you found them yet?"

Anne shook her head, glancing into the back once again. "We're searching the house one more time before we go. I'm leaving several agents to stay with you. Noin wouldn't agree to leaving..."

Sally looked over her should and sighted. "I'll just drive over to the guest house and we'll stay the rest of the night there."

"Promise you'll be careful," the Preventers director said with a frown.

"I promise, Anne -- I'll call for the guards if anything happens."

"All right..." She was still reluctant to leave, but... "I guess we'll head out with our prisoner, then," she sighed.

"And hopefully another will be following," Sally told her as she started up the van, and called into the back. "Treize? Wufei? We're going to go home now..."

"Hmmmm?" Wufei asked sleepily, pressing his face harder against Treize. He wasn't quite sleeping, really -- it was hard to sleep with all of the light and noise -- but he wasn't awake, either.

"We're here, Sally," Treize told her, opening his eyes drowsily. "Something wrong?"

"I'm going to drive around behind your house," she told them. "We're going to go home, all right? The Preventers are watching out for us."

"That's good," Treize said, sitting up a little. "We can go to sleep? Can we sleep in the living room with a fire? I think... not the bedroom yet." He was still scared, a little...

"I think maybe we all will," Sally agreed. "You can run up to get your pillows and a blanket or two when we get there and I'll put out the air mattresses, all right?" Those were for when Treize and Wufei played camping in the garden.

A flitting smile touched Treize's lips as he seemed to relax even more. "I'm glad we're all okay, Sally. I couldn't think of what Wufei and I would do, if..." He swallowed, then spoke in an even lower voice, looking at her with his one eye, "if you or Noin or Wufei died."

"No one is going to die," Sally promised him, turning the key in the ignition and starting the black Preventers van. "Everything will be all right."

"I just wish everyone would leave us be," Treize went on softly, as if she hadn't spoken at all -- sometimes, he did that. When stressed, the interference from his own head tended to cloud over other's words. Only Wufei could cut through it distinctly enough for Treize to pay attention. "We haven't done anything to anyone. I just want to be happy and with Wufei, and stay with you and Noin..."

"You can stay with me and Noin," Sally promised gently, shifting the van into gear and heading around the gravel driveway towards the guest house. Preventers were leaving steadily and got out of her way as she moved, so they must not have found anything.

"Why won't they leave us alone, though...?"

"I don't know, sweetling," came her quiet reply. "I just don't know."

"I wish we could be just *safe* again," he said as she stopped the car -- it was getting light out! "Ohh, so tired... We were going to play in the garden today, but we'll have to sleep the morning away..."

The door opened and Noin peered in, smiling as she caught the last of his statement. "We'll have a picnic and chocolate cake this afternoon," she promised, voice strained. Her head was pounding and her throat hurt where she'd been half-strangled, but at least it was mostly over for the time being.

"Hmmmm," Wufei said sleepily, frowning. "Wanna sleep..."

"We'll go in and get pillows and blankets, Wufei" Treize declared, starting to stand up; but he was looking solidly at Noin, and for an eerie moment he seemed to understand that all was no completely well -- not all was safety and warmth, because she was hurt.

"That's a great idea," Noin murmured hoarsely. "We'll be in right behind you, all right? The house is safe -- and there are Preventers still here to watch over us."

Black eyes gleamed at her tiredly, fogged with somnambulance. "Okay," Wufei agreed, sliding from atop Treize, pajamas tangled.

They got out of the van fairly quickly, for two sleepy people wrapped up in a borrowed blanket, and the short walk into the house was wakeful -- for the moment, at least. "Are you okay, Wufei?" Treize asked softly.

"I'm ready to go to bed," Wufei told him. "Sleeping there wasn't comfortable. But I'm okay. My head feels all funny." And well it should, for all the crying he'd done.

"Headache -- you need sleep," Treize agreed softly as he pulled open the front door and took a step inside. Everything *looked* normal!

Wufei rubbed an eye. That was a good word for it -- headache. His head *did* ache! "We have pillows upstairs," he said, yawning and passing by a Preventer who nodded to him, looking at him with a strange gleam of sympathy in his eyes.

If Treize saw it, he didn't remark on it. "Hello and bye," he murmured to the passing man -- one of the *good* people, even if he was a stranger. He started up the steps, grasping onto Wufei's hand. "And we'll get your favorite blanket..."

"The fuzzy one," Wufei agreed with a yawn, trudging along behind him.

'Round the corner, and into the hallway, still barely lit with the morning's dim sun-light. "Mm-hmm!"

Treize pushed open the door to their bedroom, and stopped short.

There, sprawled amongst sheets and tiny soft yellow feathers, lay a bare body, sliced open in dozens of places, shorn hair wafting gently in the breeze from the open window. The wounds seeped bright red blood onto white sheets, and Treize could already hear Wufei's hitching hysterical breaths begin, feel his hand clench more tightly around his own.

But Treize could only watch, already tuning out of the world as he often did -- the blond body lying on his bed wasn't Dorothy anymore. It was the yellow cold-killed bird that had haunted him for so long, being set free at last, before his own eyes.

He didn't even hear the footfalls behind him, a flurry of them rushing, or the silenced shot that rang out behind....