Heero stood silently outside the mausoleum entrance. He had seen Trowa running across the back field, and followed him through the woods, almost unable to catch up. When he did, he found the boy here, at the place they had visited on their first day together, and watched him go inside. Now, almost an hour later, he approached the portal.

The door was still open from when Trowa had gone inside, but the dense overgrowth of the plants and trees blocked even the faintest of light. He pulled a match from his coat pocket, and struck it against the stone walls of the building. The room lit up instantly, the dim glow a stark intrusion after the blackness, and Heero looked toward its center. There, he found the same angel that he and Trowa had encountered days before, only this time, at it’s feet, lay an angel of twice its beauty.

Trowa slept soundly under the guardian’s watchful gaze. His legs were curled beneath him, head resting on his arm, his face passive and peaceful. He had just a slight trace of puffiness beneath his eyes that gave away the fact that he had cried himself to sleep. He was beautiful and Heero drank in the sight greedily.

Heero began to wonder why the boy was there, why he might have ran. He was at least glad to know it couldn’t have been him. He had been avoiding the boy all week. But still, he was glad he had come, glad he had found him. It presented Heero with the opportunity he’d been looking for.

Trowa shivered slightly. The air was cool in the damp building, despite the warmth outside. Heero removed his jacket and spread it over the boy’s shoulders.

“Sleep well, lovely,” Heero whispered to the stirring form before leaning against the wall opposite him and sliding down it’s cool surface to sit, “I’ll be waiting.”

Trowa fought his way through the darkness. His feet were bare and the rocks and shrubbery underfoot slowed his progress. But he had to make it, and quickly.

“Wait!” He yelled, the word a plea he did not yet understand.

He stepped into a thick patch of briars. “Ahhh,” he stopped momentarily, his feet burning from their abuse, “no, I can’t-- no . . .Wait!” And he was running again.

Soon he heard the sound of raging water over his labored breathing. The noise struck him like a fist.

“No! No you have to wait!” His voice was beyond frantic as he burst from the forest, the muddy banks of the river swallowing his feet. He waded into the its depths with no regard for his own safety, the icy water biting at his flesh, fueling his fevered race.

“Please, no,” his voice was quieter as her reached the river’s middle. The undertow was strong and whirled around his legs and waist, threatening to topple him. But he seemed oblivious to its harassment, as did the form floating perfectly still before him.

“No . . .” he whimpered as he reached out, pulling the figure to him. The body was face down and he turned it over. It sunk deeper into the water for a second before resurfacing, river water flowing brutally over cold, dead eyes. They stared wide and blindly at the starry sky. Their color only shades darker than the blue flesh surrounding them.

“Trowa!” Heero shouted at Trowa, shaking the boy with both hands. He had been yelling in his sleep, trembling badly and gasping as if he were drowning. Heero had not stepped in until he heard the boy scream his uncle’s name. He shook him harder

Trowa woke suddenly, his eyes impossibly wide. His hair was mussed and stuck to his damp forehead. He stared at Heero for a few long seconds, seconds that scared Heero beyond what he thought possible.

“Heero,” The boy said finally, sitting up a little, Heero’s jacket falling form his shoulders, “Heero . . . he didn’t wait. He--” And then the sweet face crumpled and Trowa fell forward taking strong hold of Heero’s waist. Heero held him, bewildered.

Trowa was sobbing now, his cries echoing off the the concrete walls. His hands clawed at Heero’s back, clutched Heero’s neck, drawing the boy closer to him as if he might absorb him. It hurt so bad, the pain he felt, the void in his gut. He needed something to fill it. That something was Heero.

Heero was still a little shocked at what was happening, when Trowa pulled away from him only to bring his teary face to meet Heero’s. The morning sun peeked into the room and made Trowa’s wet eyes shimmer, emeralds in a flesh setting. And then Trowa was kissing him.

At first he didn't know it was happening, and then he felt the heat that pressed against his lips and he returned their fervor. He noted Trowa’s inexperience and took the initiative, grasping the sides of Trowa’s face and plunging his tongue inside his waiting mouth.

Trowa made a little surprised moan, and Heero smiled against him. A second later, the awkwardness was gone and they kissed like familiar lovers, exploring, tasting, loving. Trowa pulled away to breathe, Heero followed suit.

“Heero,” Trowa gasped, “why are you here?”

Heero still held the other’s face and brought their forehead together as he spoke, their heavy breaths intermingling, “I could ask you the same, couldn’t I?”

There was no response, only breathing.

“You were dreaming. What about?”

Trowa looked down abruptly, averting his eyes from the penetrating gaze, “I can’t--”

“Yes you can,” Heero prompted, “it was about my uncle. You screamed his name. I want to know why.”

“Perhaps I can . . . “ Trowa looked back at Heero now, suddenly indignant, “but I won’t. Now please, I need to go.” He stood, Heero’s hand sliding down his face and over his chest as he rose. What was he doing? His mind was clearing. The haze of semi-consciousness lifting with Heero’s commanding tone. Still, he was a little unsteady on his feet as he moved toward the door.

“Wait,” Heero called, jumping up from the floor, “I have something for you. It’s why I came.” He reached into his pants pocket and pulling out something, took Trowa’s hand and placed the item into his palm. Trowa looked at it.

The short red ribbon was silky and frayed on one end, the other held a small silver key, the sunlight glinted on its surface.

“What’s this to?” Trowa asked.

“That’s not for me to say,” Heero replied, a half smile playing about his lips, “you’ll know when a locked door presents itself.” The half smile turned real, “And something tells me that will be soon enough.”

A black-booted foot tapped methodically against aged linoleum tiles. Were the young man a less patient person he would have been bouncing nervously from the boredom of waiting. Instead, this habitual action was not of boredom but frustration.

“Why am I waiting for that damned boy?” Milliardo asked the Persian circling his still leg, rubbing his bottom and tail against the slick leather boot. “I have other things I should be doing.”

The kitchen he sat in was lit by the morning dawn and the new light spilled into the room, glinting on every possible surface, white cups and cat fur alike. The room positively glowed. But the cheerfulness of his surroundings did little to soothe the militant man’s foul mood. Not only had he been made to leave his sullen lover moments after their joining but, as added salt to the wound, his meeting with Treize had been spoiled as well.

He had arrived at the house late to find Treize in his room, lazing in an oversized chair, staring despondently into a roaring fire.

“My God, Treize! It’s more than eighty degrees outside. Are you trying to cook yourself?” Milliardo asked, pulling at his collar.

“Mind yourself, Milliardo.” Treize had replied without looking up. For all the melancholy the face held, his voice was undeniably commanding.

Milliardo immediately reacted. It was at these troubling hours that the older man would refuse to tolerate Milliardo’s familiar behavior and Milliardo was conditioned to know that tone well. His obedience was utter and in a flicker of firelight his entire demeanor changed. His posture straightened and his face became less animated, morphing him into the loyal dog he was sometimes expected to be.

“Sir, please . . . the fire?” He did not move but waited. It was a parody of himself but he did not loathe it. This was his duty first and foremost and the submission was very real.

The figure in the chair glowed from the raging fire, the only flesh visible was his face which was streaked with sweat, the rest of him was bundled in an oversized quilt. Or was all of that really sweat?

“No. Leave it. I’ll put it out before I go to bed.” The voice was harsh but sad at the same time, “There will be no meeting tonight. You’re late and our third party refuses to show.”

“I’m sorry about that sir. Is he not in his room?”

“No. He is not. I haven’t the slightest notion as to his whereabouts and couldn’t give a damn.” At that last word Milliardo heard a sloshing noise and then watched as Treize lifted a large bottle to his mouth, amber liquid pouring like water down his throat.

‘No glass,’ Milliardo thought, ‘haven’t seen that since . . .’

“Shall I find him, sir?” Milliardo asked knowing the man’s previous statement to be a lie. A man doesn’t drink himself silly over someone he doesn’t give a damn about.

“Do as you like,” was the dejected response, followed by another long swallow from his bottle.

Milliardo watched his Master, his Treize, for a moment more. He hated this, the sorrow, the infatuation. But the bad came with the good and in the past week or more he had seen Treize happier than he had in a long time. Hopefully this bout would pass quickly.

He turned to leave, pulling his eyes from the sad site.

“Milliardo,” Treize’s voice stopped him, soft and vulnerable. Zechs turned to meet fiery glimmering eyes that spoke so much more than his meek words, “Thank you.” And then the gaze was gone again, lost into the inferno before him.

He hadn’t returned Treize’s gratitude with a ‘you’re welcome,’ mostly because the task he had taken upon himself was not a welcome one. And now, sitting in the early morning kitchen, having searched the labor camps for hours in the pitch of night, having turned every stone in the less than humble estate, and having not bathed since early the morning before, Milliardo was ready to disappear the boy permanently. He couldn’t decide which was more of a sin, the inconvenience the boy was causing him, or the pain he caused Treize.

“Already up ‘n’ waitin’ for breakfast, mistah Milliard’?” Netti’s voice interrupted his thoughts, the kitchen door protesting loudly at being opened.

“Nothing so enjoyable, Netti.” His scowling remark was obviously not directed at her but it took very little effort to tell when Milliardo was to be left alone. She did so.

“Well,” she offered, not questioning his comment, “breakfas’ be ready in a bit, anything in particular you wont, mistah Milliard’?” She only risked the second question because she knew him for the finicky eater he was. The answer she got however, was strange indeed, and was accompanied by a faint footfall on the kitchen stoop.

“Trowa . . .”

|Part 10|