North Gate: 2
"I donít trust him."
I glanced over at Duoís sleeping form, across the campfire weíd set up. Light flickered over his face and his form, giving the braided boy a deceptively innocent look, like a childís. His chest rose and feel steadily; he was sleeping.
"Why?" I turned back to face Wufei.
His dark eyes frowned along with the rest of his expression. "I have no reason to trust him. For all we know, he could be one of their spies. The fact that he is friends with the Seeker Ė "
"Quatre," I corrected.
He scowled at the interruption. "With Quatre, then. That is no reason to trust him. It may even be reason enough to distrust him. He could have been placed close to Quatre in order to gain his trust."
I couldnít dispute his point, so I shrugged briefly. "Perhaps."
Heero had been intently studying Duoís face, but I knew he was following the converstaion as well. He shifted to look at us. "Youíre mistaken."
Wufei glanced at him sideways. "How would you know, Yuy?"
"I just do."
Considering what had happened to me when I met Quatre, I felt it safe to speculate about Heeroís reasons for that trust. Duo and Quatre were, as Iíd realized earlier, very much alike. Heero and I were cut from the same mold as well. There were obvious differences, but it was easy to spot the similarities.
"Itís your neck thatís on the line." Wufei snorted, obviously not fully convinced by Heeroís dismissal of his suspicions. "Though I must say, Yuy, itís unlike you to trust an unknown foreigner so easily."
Heero just grunted.
"Even if we can trust him," the Easterner continued, mercilessly, "how do we know that we arenít going to end up having to baby-sit him every step of the way? If he canít fight, he can only serve as a hindrance to our plans."
"If he canít fight, then he wonít be our problem for long." There was a cold finality in the way Heero said that Ė colder than usual.
I smiled slightly.
Wufei scowled. "Do you really want his blood on your hands? If he dies, it will be our fault for not sending him back in the first place!"
I shook my head. "He chose to come. Thatís his decision."
"Weíll find out whether or not he can fight soon enough." Heero gazed thoughtfully at Duo, eyes studying the braided boy over the flickering light of the fire. "It would be best to give him the benefit of the doubt, until weíre proven otherwise."
"Innocent until proven guilty?" Wufei shook his head and stood up. "Iíll trust your judgement, but only because I know you didnít get where you are by being careless, Yuy. I certainly hope that youíre right."
I stared at him silently. Heero was still gazing in the direction of the fire and didnít look up.
"Very well. Iíll take first watch." The eastern warrior moved soundlessly off into the forest. "Iíll return to wake one of you in about two or three hours." He vanished.
"Nervous," I commented.
Heero shrugged. "Heís a good man in a fight. There are a few too many hard lessons in his past, is all. Heíll come around."
I shifted my gaze from him to Duo. "Would you honestly let him die?"
"Probably. Depends on how useful he is." Heero closed his eyes and turned away. "I canít afford to have people around me who are weak. You know that, Trowa."
I nodded slowly. That couldnít have been an easy conclusion to come to. I glanced downward at Quatre, who lay on his side near me, curled slightly. Would I ever make that same decision, if my duty bound me the way Heeroís did him? I reached out and brushed a few stray locks of light hair from his face. QuatreÖ so beautiful, his trust and his kindess. I couldnít imagine ever allowing him to be killed, not even for the sake of an entire world.
"Youíre fond of him, arenít you?"
I turned from Quatreís face to look back at Heero again. "Very," I admitted.
"Itís going to affect your decision," he reminded me.
Of course it would. "It might." I didnít want to think about that yet. It wasnít the time. And staying with Quatre wasnít necessarily the best course of action, though it was what I felt I would like. Duty, again. Everything was duty.
"He is beautiful, Trowa," Heero said dispassionately, watching me steadily. "But I would advise you not to get too attached. Fate can be cruel."
I smiled briefly. "Your advice may have come too late, Heero," I answered softly, glancing back at Quatre. "It may not have even mattered in the first place."
"Then Iíll advise you to be cautious." He stood abruptly. "Though I doubt you need to hear it. Good night, Trowa."
He walked off into the woods, not bothering to explain why he wasnít sleeping around the campfire. Heero was like that sometimes.
I shook my head and started to lie down beside Quatre.
My body froze for a moment, then I forced myself to get over the surprise. "I thought you were asleep," I said, as the light-haired boy shifted to look at me.
"Iím having a little trouble getting used to this," he admitted, smiling apologetically.
I spread out beside Quatre, rolling over and pulling him into my arms so that he was half lying on top of me. "Is that better?"
"A lot better, actually. Thank you, Trowa." He sighed and rested his head in a more comfortable position, where my throat and shoulder met. "What did Heero mean when he said he couldnít have people around him who were weak? Does he have something against people who canít fight?"
I ran my fingers over his back, soothing the tense muscles. "No. Heís just in a dangerous position. Itís not only his own life he has to worry about."
Quatre sighed. "I suppose you canít tell me what that means, can you?"
"Duo knows how to fight," he told me almost absently, fingertips trailing across my chest lazily. "I donít think Heero will be disappointed. What will I have to do, Trowa?"
I caught that wandering hand in mine. "Lock the Gate."
"Youíll have to tell me how, Iím afraid."
"Iíll come in with you." I wasnít letting him go anywhere near that Gate without protection. "The others will be busy fighting."
"Who will they be fighting?"
"The Gate will be guarded. Heavily. They fight, and we slip in. Then you lock it, and we move on to the next Gate."
He smothered a yawn. "It almost sounds easy when you put it like that."
I smiled and kissed the top of his head. "Get some rest. Youíll need it."
"All right." He must have been tired, to agree so quickly. "Good night, Trowa."
I held him closer and listened to the steady heartbeat, so close to mine, until his breathing became steady. "Iíll see you in my dreams," I told him softly. "Quatre."