"What happened?" Trowa's voice held concern with a touch of fear.

"Shhhh, don't feel so much Trowa, you're giving me a splitting headache." Worried, he moved to her side. She smiled up at him, a weak smile but a genuine one. "Quatre's right. We talked for about an hour and a half. As far as he's concerned, we only talked that much; he won't remember the rest of the time."

"Won't remember, what do you mean?" Anger suffused him; what had this woman done to his partner?

She grunted in pain, "Mmmm, Trowa, I told you to stop that. While we were talking Quatre's emotions built to monstrous levels. I don't want to talk about it right now; I need time to process all that I've learned, but he was in so much pain, that I shut him down."

"What does that mean, shut him down? What did you do to him?"

"I didn't hurt him; in fact, he probably hasn't felt as good as he does right now in a long time. Think of it as cleaning house-dusting. I dusted all the left over emotions from him. Now understand that the room is still
a complete disaster, but I did the surface dusting. I shifted some of his emotions to other places. I can't do that unless he's willing; his mind has to accept the change. But I told you already, Quatre wants to get better. He's resisting on a conscious level, but not on an unconscious one. He allowed the cleaning. No more excess worry or concern. Dusting, but the room is still a mess. Do you understand?"

Thinking about it for a moment he nodded his head, "He talked with you?"

She smiled, "I gave him a suggestion-just a small one, and he talked. His mind wants me to help him, but he's afraid. The little suggestion I gave him was all his mind needed to fight and win. We talked, but we have a lot more left to do. You should sit on the couch and wait for him; he doesn't trust me completely yet, and if he thinks I'm conspiring with you to hurt him, he'll fight me harder next time-and you as well."

Trowa moved to the couch as he asked, "He thinks I'm conspiring against him, to hurt him?"

"Not exactly, and at the same time yes. He knows you wouldn't do such a thing, but he's fighting himself to believe it. There just isn't any reason to make him worry."

He nodded, and a few seconds later, Quatre came out of their bedroom in one of Trowa's old turtleneck sweaters. Quatre didn't do it often, but he loved to wear Trowa's clothes, he said they smelled of him. Comfort.

"Ok, I'm ready, let's go eat some food. I didn't realize it until I got into the closet, but I'm starving." His smile was wide, reaching his eyes, and Trowa couldn't help but reciprocate it.

"All right. It's a nice day; I thought we'd eat outside in the gardens."

"Oh Trowa, that would be great! I haven't been there in a long time; we haven't been there in a long time either."

"Duo, Heero and Wufei are going to meet us in a little while. We'll grab some sandwiches and head out."

"That sounds great." Quatre walked over and pulled him off the couch, linking arms with him. "Corinne," he regarded the woman in the chair, "I'll see you at two, ok?" She nodded, and together, arm in arm, they left the room.

"How did the session go?"

Quatre smiled at Trowa, "Oh I think it went alright. Corinne looked a little tired, but that's what happened to my other psychiatrists, too."

"Did you have a lot of psychiatrists as a child?"

"Um? Oh yes, tons. Let's hurry; I'm really, really hungry, Trowa. I'm surprised you can't hear my stomach growling."

Without hesitation, Quatre had just told him something important. It may have seemed so little, but after being deprived so long of anything related to his little love, he was willing to thank the heavens for any such miracle.

Unlinking their arms, Trowa brought his arm around Quatre's shoulders and drew the smaller boy towards him. "I did hear it growling; I was trying to be polite."

Quatre moved an arm around his waist and laughed. "Thanks."

The mess hall was in full business mode when they arrived. Standing in line, Quatre struck up a conversation with one of the soldiers from Duo's squadron.

"Yes sir, quite as the night sky in June. It's nice of the bad guys to give us a vacation."

"It is helpful when they're so considerate, isn't it?"

They laughed; it was a very good sound.

Together they ordered a mountain of food, which Quatre promised the cooks he'd eat, and then together they walked to the gardens.

When the base had first been built, there hadn't been much in the way of flowers or anything pretty for that matter. But as the pilots began to have more and more lag time between flights, they'd gotten the idea in their heads to create instead of destroy, hence a garden. Quatre had arranged for all the equipment to be brought in, and Duo, who had unlimited experience doing anything labor intensive, manned it. As a group, they cultivated over five acres of land into a beautiful display of flowers and living things. The base saw how loved the garden soon became and provided it with a fully functional gardener, but even then, no one forgot who had built it with literally blood, sweat, and tears. For many of them, especially Wufei, it had been a cleansing experience.

They picked a spot sheltered by a wide ring of rose bushes and set up a blanket that Trowa had wisely grabbed before leaving their rooms. When everything was laid out before them, Trowa settled down and drew Quatre beside him.

"We should eat before the others get here; Duo won't save you anything."

"He's not that bad." Pausing, Quatre thought about it. "Well, ok, maybe he is."

Laughing, they settled against one another and began to eat.

"Is there a lot of work to be done at headquarters?"

"Not really. I'm handling most of the reports that come in. Wufei did an excellent job of holding everything down."

"I'll have to thank him when he gets here. I appreciate all the help he's been." Trowa was certain he hadn't heard any guilt in his voice-no feelings of unworthiness. Hoping it wasn't Quatre doing another form of blocking or just hiding his real emotions, he took it at face value.

"Would you like to know a secret, Quatre?" He looked down at his lover, knowing that while Quatre was no gossip, he loved a good secret like anyone else.

"A secret?" Quatre leaned in very close to him, "Ok, what's the secret?"

Trowa smiled, and closed the distance between them, laying a sweet kiss on Quatre's nose. "You're so cute, Quatre." His lover beamed at him, and he continued, "The secret is that Wufei has been seen flipping through a gem catalogue. I caught him this morning when he didn't know I was arriving."

Quatre's eyes lit up with dawning understanding, "Trowa, you don't think he's finally going to ask her, do you?"

Trowa shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not sure, but I thought I'd give you something to tell Duo."

Suddenly deceptively strong arms wrapped about his middle, and Quatre pressed himself into Trowa's stomach. "This is so wonderful, Trowa! You're so good to me. Now I'll have something to tell Duo even though I haven't  been out in a while. Thank you so much!" His blond lover gave him a tight squeeze before swinging his body around and laying his head in Trowa's lap.

Trowa ran his fingers through spun gold locks. "Anything for you Quatre. I love you."

"I love you too, Trowa. That's why I'm going to get better, so we can say that all the time and mean it without worry."

Again, said without the usual sounds of force in his voice, as if Quatre meant every word he said and had said it freely. Bending down, Trowa delivered a kiss to Quatre's upturned face.

A sudden look came over Quatre, and Trowa looked on in concern as his partner turned away from him. A haunted look was in his eyes as Quatre gazed over to the rose bush across from them. "Trowa?"

"Yes, Quatre."

"I lied to you, a very long time ago. I want to apologize."


He nodded his head. Taking a deep breath, Quatre continued, the words meaning more to Trowa than the lie ever did. "A long time ago, you told me your childhood had been non-existent. I told you we could share mine, do you remember?" He nodded. "I don't think it would be such a good idea if we shared mine, Trowa. I didn't have much of a childhood either."

It was too much to hope for, and yet Corinne had said that Quatre wanted to get better, that it would be faster because he wanted it so much. With gentle hands, Trowa urged Quatre to sit up and look at him.

"You don't have to apologize, Quatre. I understand. I'll always understand; anything you ever want to tell me, I may be sad, or sometime even angry, but I won't stay that way. I will, however, stay with you always. I live and love because of you, Quatre. You gave me everything I needed to do all that I've done. I want you to know that I'm going to give you what you need as well.

"Don't worry about sharing your childhood with me. We'll make new childhoods together, you and I. We'll be each other's childhoods, and when the time comes, we'll share them with children of our own. You'll see."

Quatre gave him a weak smile and nodded his head.

"Good. Now lie back down; I'm not done playing with your hair yet." The smile outshone the sun in the sky. Quatre lay back down and waited patiently as Trowa worked his fingers gently through his hair.

"Kisamia! Do you two ever stop?! You're as bad as these two!" Wufei rounded the rose bushes and approached them; behind him walking hand in
hand, were Heero and Duo.

Out of the blue, Trowa leaned down and kissed Quatre passionately on the lips. The kiss lasted long enough for Duo to whoop and the lot of newcomers to plant themselves on the wide blanket. When Trowa released them, Quatre was gasping for breath, and Duo was clapping like a madman.

"Trowa, that was a ten, man, a real ten. The judges have spoken!" Heero offered a smile before reaching for a sandwich and shoving it forcefully into Duo's mouth.

"Shhh, you said you were hungry, now eat."

"Heero! I'm rooting for the home team!"

"Fine, do it quietly."


"Duo." His voice held a note of mock violence.

"If I'm quiet, will you promise to put something better in my mouth when we get home?"

Heero blanched visibly before he gave a wide smile and a hearty laugh.

"I'll take that as a yes." Duo smiled, and looked down at Quatre, who hadn't moved from his position in Trowa's lap. "You look mighty comfortable; mind if I copy?"

Quatre smiled-it was good to be outside with his friends again, "Go ahead, I don't mind."

With the ok from Quatre, Duo swung around and dropped his head right into
Heero's lap-only something wasn't right.

"Maxwell! For the love of-show some discretion."

"What are you talking about?" His voice was slightly muffled, having to bounce off Heero's stomach to be heard.

"Maxwell! Turn and face the other way."

"Heero, am I bothering you?"

"Nope. I think it's fine."

"See Wufei, I'm not bothering Heero, and it's his beautifully, tight, jean clad-"

"I'm going to kill you!"

"Hey!" Duo sat up, pretending to glare at Wufei, "How'd you know me and Heero's safety word?!"

Wufei reddened, and the group of boys laughed, happy to be together, happy to be alive to enjoy it.

Quatre saved Wufei any further humiliation. "Thank you all for having lunch with us. Plus it's great that we could all eat outside."

"No kidding; it's a really nice day out here. Who's for skipping the rest of work and cloud watching?" Duo gazed up at the clouds, smiling.

"As if you work when you're there anyway." Wufei, smiled, knowing he meant no harm by his remark.

"OH come on, Wu-man! All work and no play makes me Chang Wufei!" He pretended to shiver, then his voice turned into a childlike plea of mock fear. "Heero, I don't want to be a Chang Wufei."

"Don't worry, I'll protect you."

"You will? How?"

"I'll tell Sally, Wufei threatened you, and she'll make him clean bed pans for a week." Wufei blanched, and the lot of them shook with laughter. Times like these made the war worthwhile, almost.

When they'd settled down after a few more rounds between Wufei and Duo-who was still undefeated-Quatre sat up and looked at Wufei.

"I wanted to thank you for handling my case load for me while I've.been working some things out. I promise to make it up to you."

"Stop! Don't say another word. Don't thank me for doing the honorable thing; it isn't honorable if you do." A smile entered his eyes. "Besides, Sally likes me honorable."

Again they laughed, and again they joked for awhile. Trowa felt Quatre ease back into the group. They'd all been so worried about him lately that most had taken to spending little time together, missing the sense of
togetherness when Quatre wasn't there. Now they seemed complete again, like old times, times before Wills, and sisters without feeling.

"Sir? Mr. Winner?" A soldier carrying a vid-com entered the clearing hesitantly, sorry he'd had to break up the laughter he'd heard.


"Sir, there's a com for you; it's coded urgent."

Quatre reached out for the unit without hesitation, but Trowa intercepted it and held it away from him. "Trowa?"

"Quatre, you're not to have any calls I've told you that already."

"Yes, I know but.but it could be an emergency. Lt. Deken said it was urgent." Quatre's eyes turned pleading. "Trowa it could be something awful."

"Or it could be your sisters. Quatre, you don't need to deal with them right now." Duo's put his hand on Quatre's knee and gave it a little rub. "Besides, it's probably just one of those new soliciting programs, you know, the ones that say urgent and try to sell you timeshares. Heero and I got one the other day; you should have seen Heero; he stared straight at the guy and told him if he didn't hang up, he was going to kill him. Wait a second! Heero, now that guy knows our safety word, too! You gotta stop saying that all the time!"

Quatre quirked a smile but returned his look to Trowa. "Please, Trowa, if it is my sisters, and I promise not to stay on for more than a minute, can I answer the call then, please?" It pained Trowa to know that if he didn't
give Quatre the phone, he'd be completely sullen the rest of the day; yet if he did and it was his sisters, Quatre would turn out the same way. Wufei saved him.

"Here, give me that blasted thing." Wufei took the com unit from Trowa's hand and switched on the signal. "Who is this, and if you're any of Quatre's sisters, you'll be very sorry."


Wufei didn't spare the Arabian even a glance. The screen was blank, but before he realized it, a very imposing head came up from the bottom, completely dominating the screen.

"I asked to speak with Master Quatre."

"Rashid!!!" Quatre grabbed for the vid-com, and Wufei released it into his custody, satisfied that Rashid would not upset his friend.

"Master Quatre, are you alright?"

"Of course, I am Rashid. How are you? How's the Terriforming coming?"

"It's coming along well. We're nearly complete with the Southern Hemisphere. The new numbers are staggering how ahead of schedule we are. But that's not why I've contacted you."

Trowa saw uncertainty flash across Quatre's face as they made brief eye contact over the vid-screen. "What is it, Rashid. Is everything alright?"

"That's what I'd like to know. I received my summons to the Preventers base last night, and am currently on a shuttle now. I was told you were ill."

A haunting look entered Quatre's eyes then, but he pushed it aside, "It's nothing Rashid; I wish I'd known you were summoned earlier. I would have called to tell you, you didn't need to travel all this way."

"It's no trouble, Master. I'm only concerned for your welfare."

"I've," he paused, looking at Trowa before returning to the screen, "I'm not feeling my best. It seems things have caught up with me from the past few months. I think someone might have overreacted. But I wouldn't worry about it. I'm feeling much better today. Besides, it'll be so wonderful to see you again. It's been months since the last time."

"Over half a year, Master Quatre. The Maganacs miss you. Most of the ones on Mars have wondered why you haven't visited."

"I'm very sorry Rashid. Things have been so hectic; I didn't want to bother anyone with-" Suddenly his eyes shot to Trowa's and regarded them with flickering emotions behind them. Then, just as quickly, they returned to the screen. "Rashid?"


"How long until your shuttle arrives?"

"It should be there by tomorrow. Why have you need of me sooner, Master?"

"No, I just want to be there when you arrive. I've missed talking with you, Rashid, very much." He sounded like a child then, so quiet and respectful-it sounded so strange to then hear Rashid call him 'master.'

"I have missed you as well, Master Quatre. I will see if there is a way to get this worthless shuttle to go any faster."

Quatre offered a weak smile and nodded his head. "I look forward to your arrival."

"As do I. We will meet soon."

"Yes, may Allah make your journey here safe."

"Thank you. And may he make your journey safe as well."

The communication ended, and Quatre set down the vid-com quietly. Without looking at him, Quatre spoke to him.

"Did you ask him to come, Trowa?"

"No, Corinne wanted him here. She didn't say exactly why."

Quatre nodded his head and looked to his watch. "It's gotten late. I have to get back." He looked at his friends. "Thank you all for having lunch with me. It was truly wonderful to sit with all of you and enjoy a quite meal. Well, quiet except for Duo." He smiled then and released the tension that had gathered around the group of boys.

Duo stood when Quatre did and hugged him tightly. "This is all going to work out, Quatre. I promise. Remember, I run, I hide, but I never tell a lie."

Quatre nodded his thanks, and when released, bent over and gave Trowa a sweet kiss. "I'll see you later." At Trowa's nod, Quatre left the circle of rose bushes and entered the complex.

"How's he doing, really doing?" Heero's voice was laced with concern.

"He was talking to me earlier, really talking with me. I thought-just for a moment-things were going to be alright."

"They will be alright, Trowa. We just need to stay positive. If you say that Quatre opened up to you and he only had one visit with the shrink, then it's probably a good sign, don't you think?"

"I guess you're right, Duo."

"Of course I'm right." Then a sad and wounded look entered his face, causing his body to slump slightly into itself. "I am right, aren't I, Heero?"

Heero didn't answer-just wrapped Duo in his arms.

I run, I hide, but I never tell a lie.