Trowa was leaned against a wall with Heero standing close to him. They were talking about something which Quatre couldn't hear given his distance from the two men. They didn't seem to notice him there at all which was probably for the best. The light in the room changed a bit, making Quatre shudder and quickly leave the room.
Heero was in the canteen on Peacemillion seeking something to eat. It had been a long draining battle out there against Zechs and his mobile dolls. He obtained a bowl of soup and sat at the nearest table to eat.
Quatre walked into the canteen, without hesitation he walked over to Heero. "Heero, may I speak to you for a moment?" he asked fidgeting with the snaps of his spacesuit.
Heero nodded and gestured to the seat across from him. "What do you want to talk about?"
Quatre blushed for a second before his face set in a look of determination. "Trowa."
"What about him?" Heero asked barely glancing at the other man as he began to sip his soup.
"Anou ... This is a little embarrassing," Quatre spoke hesitantly. "How close are you getting to Trowa?"
Heero put his spoon down and stared at Quatre in earnest. "What do you mean?"
"I'm asking if you and Trowa are ..." Quatre squirmed uncomfortably at the hard stare. "Just what are you to each other?"
"Quatre, what does this have to do with anything?" Heero asked. "Trowa and I are friends. Why?"
"If I asked you to stay away from him?" Quatre asked looking away from Heero's face.
"Is this some sort of jealousy thing?" Heero had to ask. It was the strangest request he had heard in a while.
"No, I'm not jealous. That has nothing to do with it," Quatre sighed. "If I told you ... you wouldn't believe me. I'll just say this. Being around Trowa can be dangerous."
"Dangerous, how?" Heero asked, interest peaked.
The room felt a little darker and Quatre let out a small squeak. "I ... I can't tell you now!" Quatre said slightly panicked. "I'll talk to you later!" He got up and practically ran from the room.
A moment later Trowa entered the canteen and waved at Heero before getting himself something to eat.
Heero hid a smile. He was happy that Trowa had recovered his memories. He hadn't realized how much he missed Trowa until 'the Trowa he knew' didn't recognize him.
Trowa sat down in the spot vacated by Quatre. "Surely you plan to eat more than just soup, Heero," he said.
Heero grinned. "I seem to recall you used to bully me in Europe about that when you were looking after me."
"Someone has to take care of you," Trowa said returning the smile. He felt relief for the first time since Wing Zero gave him back his memories. Remembering Heero was one thing, hoping Heero would accept his friendship again was another.
"This from a man who looks to be eating a small salad," Heero returned the banter.
Trowa shrugged and started in on the aforementioned salad.
"Have you talked to Quatre lately?" Heero asked between sips of his dinner.
"No, why?" Trowa asked.
"He's acting strangely. He told me to stay away from you," Heero said.
"Why?" Trowa asked, looking puzzled.
"I don't know. What do you remember of your friendship with him before?" Heero asked.
"We were together briefly, then he wanted nothing more to do with me as anything," Trowa said with a frown, remembering as best he could. "Then he decided we could be friends but he still keeps his distance from me."
"I think he's jealous of our friendship," Heero said.
"I don't know why he would be," Trowa sighed.
Sirens through the ship rang out. They were under attack again. Trowa and Heero ran to the docking area to reach their suits. Quatre, Duo and Wufei quickly joined them.
"Duo, I want you to work with me," Quatre said through the radio as he powered up his gundam.
"You sure about that Q? You usually work with Tro.." Duo's voice said before Quatre cut him off.
"Don't argue with me. Let's go!" Quatre growled impatiently as his gundam headed out into space.
"Geez, alright, already," Duo replied, a little confused but not willing to argue the point now that they had fighting to do.
"I guess you and Wufei are with me," Heero said into his radio. "However if Epyon appears, he's mine. Understood?"
"Roger," Trowa replied calmly. He didn't expect anything less. Wufei on the other hand was not quite as complacent.
"Why do you get to fight him? I don't mind going in and kicking his butt. Or are you saying your suit is better than mine?" Wufei grumbled over the frequency.
"This is hardly the time to compare whose suit is better," Heero replied. "With Zero System on, I will be able to anticipate Epyon's moves."
Wufei snorted, "Sure ... rely on a computer instead of your own instincts, Yuy."
"Wufei," Trowa sighed. "We need to concentrate on destroying the dolls, not fighting amongst ourselves.
"I'm just saying that ..."
"Wufei?" Heero asked. The sudden silence unnerved the steely soldier for a moment.
"Sorry," Wufei said. "My controls all went black for a moment. I thought I had instrument failure. But it seems to be working now."
"Have Howard check the instruments board when we get back," Heero said.
"Okay, Mr. Obvious. I will." Wufei groused.
The battle was hard fought and completely meaningless to the crew of the Peacemillion. Zechs chose not to lead this last brigade against the gundam pilots. But shooting down hundreds of mobile dolls was wearing everyone down.
They returned hours later ready for rest that they knew they wouldn't get. The next round of fighting was bound to start up again in a few hours.
Quatre and Duo were walking towards their quarters. Duo looked over at his friend. "So what was all that about tonight? Are you mad at Trowa or something?"
Although Quatre was barely able to keep moving without collapsing, the mention of Trowa's name had his body tensing up.
This didn't go unnoticed by Duo. "Are you okay, Quatre?"
The blond pilot said nothing but continued walking to his quarters. Normally Duo would either joke with the boy to get him to loosen up, or step back because it was obviously something that the other didn't want to talk about. But Quatre had been acting weird for a little while and this weirdness seemed to come along whenever Trowa's name was mentioned. Quatre was at the door of his room. He walked into the room and Duo impulsively decided to barge in rather than go to his own quarters.
"What are you doing Duo?" Quatre asked, staring at his friend with tired eyes. "Can it wait until tomorrow?"
"It's already tomorrow Q," Duo sighed, feeling a little guilty about disturbing someone who really needed to rest. But he also felt he would get the whole truth out of Quatre in this state rather than waiting until the boy was awake, aware and able to evade. "What's wrong? Tell me."
Quatre sighed heavily before flopping down on his bed. Duo pulled up a chair to sit by the bed. Quatre pushed back the hair from his eyes before stating in a resigned voice, "You will think I'm crazy if I told you."
"I doubt it," Duo snorted. "No one is crazier than me. Why have you been avoiding Trowa?"
"I'm not exactly avoiding Trowa, I'm avoiding ..."
"I don't want to talk about it," Quatre said with a rising fear in his voice.
"You'll feel better once you tell someone," Duo said, recalling the number of times Sister Helen would say that to him when when he was upset.
"Huh?" Duo asked.
"I'm avoiding shadows. Trowa's shadow to be more specific," Quatre said with a sigh, waiting for Duo to laugh at him.
"I don't think I understand."
"No, I suspect you wouldn't," Quatre said. "Trowa's shadow is pure evil. It's very protective of Trowa and Trowa's will, although I don't think Trowa is aware of it at all."
"How can Trowa's shadow hurt anyone?" Duo asked. He wasn't sure he believed Quatre but it could never hurt to listen.
"It just can. Sometimes the room you're in will go dark. Other times I heard voices."
"Voices?" Duo had to ask.
"Evil voices telling me I'm a waste of Trowa's time. I'm not worthy of him, I should go away and stay away," Quatre said in a scared voice, while staring off into nothing.
"Have you told Trowa?" Duo asked.
Quatre shook his head no. "They wouldn't let me. Any time I tried my voice would seize up."
Duo thought back earlier in the night listening to the radio banter. "So when Wufei was complaining about his controls..."
"Trowa likes Heero. Wufei was giving Heero his usual hard time. Maybe Trowa subconsciously sent shadows over to mess with Wufei's instruments," Quatre replied.
"That's just ..." Duo stopped himself before he uttered the word ...
"Crazy?" Quatre finished the sentence. "I knew you wouldn't believe me. Please leave now."
"I didn't say you were crazy, Quatre," Duo replied. "But you have to admit it sounds really weird."
"True. I want to sleep now. Please just go," Quatre said softly as his eyes began to close.
"Goodnight, Q," Duo said softly as he pulled covers over this weary friend and left the room.
Duo went to his quarters more alert than he had been before. Sleep was going to be very elusive to him.
After a few hours rest everyone was getting up to get breakfast. Duo was walking towards the canteen when he noticed a shadow around the corner. It looked like someone was leaning against a wall. Duo walked over quickly turning the corner and uttering, "Hey Trowa!"
There was no one in the corridor. Duo looked to the ground to see if the shadow was still there. He felt a shiver down his spine. 'Damn Quatre,' he thought, 'Now I'm as paranoid as he is.'
Duo walked into the canteen to see Quatre and Wufei dining together. Quatre looked horrible. He grabbed a plate and went to join them at the table.
"Quatre did you get any sleep last night?" Duo asked.
"I got some," Quatre said, covering a yawn. "You should talk, you look like ..."
"He looks like crap," Wufei said. "We have to be mentally alert here, we're not playing tiddly winks. Yes they are just mobile dolls but they can be deadly if we aren't alert."
"Yes, mama," Duo huffed. "I'm well aware of that fact. So what was up with your gundam, did you have Howard look at it?"
Wufei glared at Duo for the 'mama' remark, "Howard couldn't find anything wrong with the instrument board or the fuses. It was just a quirk."
Quatre stiffened where he sat as his eyes met with Duo's.
"So what happened exactly?" Duo asked.
"Nothing happened, one minute all the panels and readings were normal, the next it looked like every instrument light was down. The boards were completely black."
"Did you feel anything weird before that?" Duo continued his questioning.
"There may have been a slight chill in the air. Maybe. Why?" Wufei asked wondering what was making Duo ask all these questions. 'Was he questioning my ability to handle my gundam?' he wondered.
"I'm just curious that's all," Duo said with an easy smile.
Heero and Trowa arrived together. They picked up trays of food and walked over to the table.
"What's the latest report?" Heero asked as he sat next to Duo. Trowa sat across from Heero and next to Wufei. Quatre who sat on the other side of Wufei found himself sliding further away from Wufei and Trowa. He had a panicked look that didn't sit well with Duo.
"Good morning to you too Heero," Duo said snidely. "Some of us want to get a little breakfast before wanting to know news from the front."
"Duo," Quatre cautioned.
Duo ignored Quatre. He decided he wanted to try a little experiment. Was Quatre paranoid or was there something to be worried about? He doubted Trowa's shadows could do any real harm. He just needed to know.
"There is nothing wrong with being apprised of a situation so you can think of strategies and the like while you eat," Heero reasoned.
"Cripes! I forgot that you are like this most of the time. Trowa, how do you stand it?" Duo asked.
Trowa looked over at Duo, "What does that mean? How do I stand what?"
"Come on, Trowa," Duo laughed, "I know you and Heero have to being boinking each other. You two are always together. Does he talk war strategies while you're doing it?"
Wufei looked offended. "I can't believe you are spouting crap like this so early in the morning Maxwell. What's the matter? You can't find anyone to warm your bed?"
Duo looked over at Wufei. "What are you sticking up for Trowa for? Are you boinking him too?" Suddenly Duo felt a strong chill down his spine.
"Duo!" Quatre yelled. "Stop this now!"
Duo chose to ignore the chill, ignore Quatre's warnings, ignore the slight darkening of the room.
"Why are you acting this way?" Heero asked, irritated by the whole thing.
Duo's brain told him they were only shadows and couldn't hurt him. "I just wanted to ..." was all Duo could say before he began to choke. He couldn't clear the obstruction. He couldn't breathe at all. He couldn't see. Everything was black. His ears felt clogged up and he couldn't hear anything, not his fellow pilots asking him what was wrong. Not Quatre's anguished cries. He just wanted a little precious air.
"Are you sorry you insulted him?"
Duo didn't actually hear the question, yet it rattled loudly in his brain. Along with other questions.
"Are you sorry you listened to your friend?"
"If we let you go will you tell on us?"
"Why must everyone try to hurt him? He doesn't deserve your derision."
Duo could dimly feel someone with their arms around him, trying to dislodge whatever was making him turn blue. He could feel his body being laid flat on the floor. Someone was pushing on his chest and trying to force air into his lungs.
"Shadows can't hurt you. Isn't that right little boy?"
Duo made one desperate plea to the only god he believed in, Shinigami.
"I'm sorry Duo," Shinigami's voice echoed in his head. "They are my brothers and I can't go against them. You should not have tried to hurt him and those he cares about."
The light returned briefly in the room, Duo could suddenly see everyone hovered over him. Quatre was crying and the rest of them looked worried, especially Trowa. He looked particularly sad and afraid.
Duo realized he could breathe and rasped out, "I'm sorry Trowa."
Then Duo's world went black again.