Duo felt he’d just barely closed his eyes when he was startled awake by a ringing phone. In fact, looking at the clock in some confusion, he observed that it hadn’t actually been all that long since the latest nightmare had awakened both him and Heero and they’d struggled back to sleep after a rather incoherent scene.

In a clumsy movement Heero sat up, fighting a blanket that wasn’t really very much in his way and grumbling slurredly about its being before eight and who could possibly be calling so early on a Saturday morning? Duo sat up as well, and pressed himself against Heero with his head on Heero’s shoulder and his arms around him to retain the warmth of lying in bed. Then he denied his inclination to laugh at the Neanderthal manner in which Heero put the phone to his ear and said, “Hllo?”

So close was Duo in this position that he could hear most of the other end of the conversation with little trouble. “Heero, I’m sorry to call you so early on a Saturday. This is Bernard Winner. I was just wondering if you’ve heard from Quatre lately.”

Heero woke up quickly. “No, I haven’t seen him since…” He paused to think. “Wednesday.”

“And no calls or emails?” Mr. Winner persisted.

“No, I haven’t heard from him at all.”

“Do you know what’s been wrong with him lately?”

Heero hesitated before answering. “I know he’s been pretty angry,” he hedged.

Mr. Winner snorted. “That’s an understatement.”

“It’s been… causing some tension,” Heero added carefully.

“He’s been very unpleasant at home for a while… His mother and I have been worried about him… You don’t think that Trowa has anything to do with it, do you?”

Duo stiffened, and pressed even closer.

“No,” Heero said with immediate, purposeful surety. “No, Trowa’s been very worried about him too. He’s been trying to figure out what’s going on.”

“All right…”

“Trowa’s staying with me right now,” Heero pursued. “I have to see how unhappy he is about this every day.”

“All right,” said Mr. Winner again, sounding a little more convinced this time.

Silently, Duo kissed Heero on the cheek.

“The reason I called,” Mr. Winner went on, “is that I woke up to an email this morning from Quatre that… just doesn’t seem like him.”

Heero and Duo waited in tense silence.

“He says he’s taking a vacation, but not where he’s going or for how long.”

“You got this this morning?” wondered the startled Heero.

“It came in the middle of the night.”

“He was supposed to meet us last night — yesterday after work — and he never showed up or even called.”

“I haven’t actually seen him since Wednesday either; his car hasn’t even been at the house.”

“Wednesday,” repeated Heero in some dismay. “And his car hasn’t been home?” His voice sank to a murmur. “Where has he been? Not with Trowa, since he’s been here… And now he’s ‘taking a vacation?'”

“I feel like something strange is going on,” Mr. Winner admitted. “I know he’s been upset lately, but this email… it just didn’t seem like him. Why would he email in the middle of the night, from his phone, instead of just telling us? He’s a responsible manager who would never abandon his work with no notice like that.”

Duo thought that, under the circumstances, Quatre might, but he couldn’t think of any way to explain this to Quatre’s father that would make sense and be at all convincing.

“And an email from his cell phone could have been sent from anywhere… from anyone.”

“You think someone else has his phone?” said Heero in some surprise.

“I don’t know. I’m very worried. With this coming on top of everything that’s been happening with him lately, I’m afraid something is seriously wrong.”

Something was seriously wrong. And it could have been fixed last night if Quatre hadn’t disappeared. But what could be said to this unfortunate man? Besides a helpless-sounding, “Yeah…” what was there to offer?

“Has he gotten into some kind of drug?” Mr. Winner sounded somewhat desperate.

Immediately Heero replied, “No, I don’t think so.” A suggestion of drugs might actually have been a good excuse for Quatre’s behavior, but also might have caused more problems, in the long run, than it solved.

“Then what’s going on? Drugs were the last idea I had that made sense!”

“I wish I knew.”

“I’m going to call the police.”

Duo was impressed with Heero’s calm as he replied, “Do you think there’s enough information for the police to care?”

“None of his friends or family have seen him for three days, and all I have is an email that doesn’t sound like he wrote it that could have come from anywhere. And that’s after he’s been acting strangely for two weeks. I want someone to look into this.”

Duo had to admit that Mr. Winner had a point. Wherever Quatre had gone and whatever he was up to, it probably related back to his possession and mood, but not knowing about those conditions might lead anyone to think he’d developed an addiction or perhaps been abducted. Once again, without explaining the entire situation, there was no way to stop Mr. Winner calling the police — and even an explanation would only help if Mr. Winner believed it. If talking to the police made him feel better while they waited for Quatre to drag himself out of whatever angry hole he’d hidden in, that was all for the good — however inconvenient it might prove to some of the people involved.

“OK,” was presumably the only thing Heero could say. But he did add, “We’re really worried about him; if you hear anything, can you let me know?”

“If you’ll agree to do the same for us here.”

“Of course.” After this they exchanged thanks and good wishes and hung up.

With a helpless sigh, Heero replaced the phone on the nightstand and lay back down. Duo wasted no time cuddling up against him, and Heero put his arm around him.

“We were so close to fixing this. And now his dad’s calling the police.”

“Is that going to cause problems?” Duo wondered.

“I have no idea. If they start some kind of investigation, they might want to talk to us… we should probably think of something to say…” Heero didn’t sound as if he wanted to make the effort at the moment.

Duo squeezed him, trying to offer comfort. The whole situation had already been frustrating and worrying, and now to have Mr. Winner involved made things even less fun. “If we could find Quatre, we could take the exorcism to him — like Trowa said yesterday. Call up those guys and have them meet us wherever Quatre is.”

“I’m afraid he’s hiding,” Heero sighed. “He’s lost control of what’s going on, and he can’t handle being around people.”

“If he could have just held out for a couple more days!”

“I know…”

“Do you think he will feel like he can be around people long enough to get exorcised? Or will he try to keep hiding forever?”

“I have no idea,” Heero said again. “I’m guessing about everything anyway.”

“We’ll need to tell Trowa about all this.” Duo had little enthusiasm for that, but Trowa — assuming last night’s divinations hadn’t already informed him — would need to know. That didn’t mean Duo was ready to move from his current position to hurry out and deliver unpleasant news. Chances were good that Trowa was awake still or again, but there was no reason for Duo to abandon his Heero-comforting/cuddling efforts just yet. He was extremely comfortable (physically) at the moment, and things weren’t likely to get any better than this for the rest of the day.

“You’re so cute,” Heero murmured, nuzzling Duo’s head with his face.

“Doesn’t that make you desperately want to have amazing sex with me?”

Heero was groaning with despair and clutching at Duo tightly even before the question was fully out. “Yes, it does,” he said emphatically, almost miserably. “You know how much better that would make me feel about the entire world right now?”

“I could try really hard to be quiet,” Duo wheedled.

Heero kissed the top of his head, then squirmed out of his arms. “I’m so sorry.”

With an explosive sigh, Duo buried his face in the pillow Heero had abandoned. After a moment, he kicked his legs under the blanket, trying to relieve his frustration. It wasn’t that he didn’t completely respect Heero’s aversion to the very thought of performing for an audience; it was just completely unfair for someone that had been deprived of sensation for eighty-seven years to have sex withheld from him now that he was human again, even for only a few days. Well, it had been seven days, and that already felt like forever. Apart from being something Duo very much enjoyed, and an aspect of their relationship that seemed awkwardly on hold at the moment, it would also, as Heero had said, be an excellent source of comfort for two men with some serious worries on their shoulders.

“I’m sorry,” said Heero again. “Maybe Trowa will go somewhere today and leave us alone.”

Duo returned the frustrated groan Heero had given before. By the time he looked up, Heero had disappeared into the bathroom.

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