Is this Goodbye for good?
It was in the fall, and we were totally oblivious about what would happen. I cannot even begin to explain, how shocked we still were by that time, for Wufei’s wife had just died… I won’t describe her death, the loss of her and the unborn baby, and how Wufei felt. I could not even try to bring that to paper. Fact was, that we all were still affected by this, especially Wufei. For one month after her death, the school had allowed him to wear the traditional Chinese robes for his mourning, but in fall, this time had passed already, and he was back in his school uniform.
I could never tell, whether he was over it already, or not. But then, would he ever? Oh… I forgot, I don’t want to talk about it right here. If anybody is allowed to write about this, it is Wufei.
So, in fall, my boyfriend had been to my school for quite a while now, and still, we, as well as Duo and Heero, were pretending to just be friends to the outside – because of the narrow-mindedness dominating in this school. Things seemed to went smoothly, but there will always be a time, when the officials want to mess with your life for no appearant reason.
The problems came in the shape of a thirty-pages long intelligence test. It was a contest in school – to filter out the most intelligent students, who would receive scholarships and be paid for their school books, etcetera. Well, Heero, Duo and Trowa were not in the need, they already were taken care of for being so intelligent. Me, I was rich, and Wufei also could afford the visit of the school. So it should not have been a big deal for us. We went to the test without preparation, not really caring, if we should fail. We should have cared and purposely messed up the test… it would have spared us a lot of problems.
Who would have expected this? The rest of the school maybe, but not us, since we had really not prepared for that test. Well, the questions were chosen to test your logical skills and general knowledge and understanding of the world. There would not have really been a way to prepare, as most of the students found out. Let me explain here: It means really bad luck for some of the scholars, especially those who were in there, because their parents could pay a lot to keep them there, no matter whether they had the brains to attend this higher-level school, or not. And these children probably had to stand a lot of pressure, since the parents wanted them to be good enough to not stick out (because of stupidity) of the mostly intelligent crowd. The test, however, revealed everything, and that was our problem.
Of course, Heero made the first place – just like that. His logical skills and his intelligence are yet unbeaten. I think he is even smarter than the teachers, and I wonder what he is going to school for in the first place. So he was crowned the admired God of Intelligence, and everybody was astonished – although they were not surprised. Heero’s unbelievable brain was known very well.
I am proud to write, that my boyfriend Trowa made it right after Heero, the second place. He is not really talkative, I know, but that it because he is a thinker. No wonder his brain works almost as good as Heero’s. Both did not really care about the results of that test, so it was kind of funny, that these two made it to the top. That they showed no pride, like a lot of other people would, was another proof of their intelligence, maybe. Duo and I, however, were proud of our lovers, and they enjoyed feeling that.
The third place was occupied by a hard-working and intelligent twelfth-grader, who also was known in school. Especially for his political skills. I think his name was Milliardo, or Zechs, or something. He also was known for his long blond mane, and everybody was surprised, that there had not been a measurement of his and Duo’s hair to see, who really beats the other in length.
The fourth place, to our surprise was occupied by three persons. You get the idea? Wufei, Duo and me had all reached the same amount of points in the test. Well, actually, I was 0.5 points off, but they did not count that. So we all, too, were positively surprised by ourselves, and Wufei definitely needed something to occupy his mind and cheer him up. After all, we found it had all turned out quite amusing and interesting.
Well, it was not the kind of occupation Wufei had asked for, none of us had, but we all got it: We and Milliardo were ordered to the office a day later, which didn’t surprise us much. What surprised us, was, what we learned there. The contest had, of course, not been just for fun. There is always something in the back of the minds of the people, who start these little entertainments. The case was, that from the very beginning of the test, the first three were supposed to be changing to another school in another city, a school for the elite of the world, if you will. The second three, and that would have been Duo, Wufei and me, would be brought to another school at the other and of our town, which offered more difficult courses and included some new, experimental ways of teaching children. Did you pick up the problem we had with that? Yes, Duo, me and our kois would be separated, our whole group would be cut into two. Our immediate answer was ‘no’, we would not be separated! Unfortunately that was the point, where someone decides, you have no control over your own life, and when the headmaster changed from friendly to very ungentle, and made it clear to us, that our opinion was not asked here.
How much power this school had over us, I could not believe it! I knew my father would approve such a change, so I couldn’t ask for his support to let me stay were I was. And anyway, what did it matter, if Trowa would go to another school – one which I could never attend. Duo and Trowa, for once, were without parents, so they were under the care of the state. It didn’t matter my koibito really had a family at the circus, and Duo had one in his orphanage, they would not be able to stop this. For the state, it is all papers and numbers, nobody cares how you feel about it. And Heero… he lived among scientist, who seemed to make some sort of super-human out of him. Nobody really knows, what happens there, not even Duo. Fact is, however, that what they do with Heero is not always fun. It cannot be stopped, he is fully in their hands, and I also think, Heero does not want it to stop. I am missing my point here, sorry. So, in the end, Heero would be forced to change, too, if it only fitted into the plans of his superiors, which it did, as far as I could see. And that is the main problem: Heero needs Duo. Even more than me and Trowa need one another. Duo is Heero’s source for energy, the reason for his survival, through everything he goes through, which we don’t know. Heero is dependant on him, and what the separation would do to them, I could not tell. And there was no need for Wufei to want to stay in the old school, if all of us were going, anyway.
I might be selfish, but my greatest sorrow was mine and Trowa’s separation. If Trowa really would be brought to the other end of the colony, how little of him would I see then? And how cruel could someone be to let this happen!? Trowa and I had long, pointless and tearful talks about that, for what could we change? So we ended up only confirming painfully, how much we would miss each other, again and again.
And things went so fast: By the end of September, everything was packed for Heero and Trowa. They would depart via the train, to a place far away from us. Duo, Wufei and me, we could stay home and just take a longer walk every morning, but Heero and Trowa would live in their new school. So we were standing on the station, wondering, how long it would be, until we would see each other again. Wufei said goodbye to them, casually, not wanting to interfere us lovers for too long, giving us the last bit of our precious time together. After I said goodbye to Heero, I could fully attend my own koi.
“Trowa, is this goodbye for good?” I asked. We didn’t know much about their new school, only that people were pretty much stuck in it, and you hardly heard from them.
“No, Quatre. I would never let this happen.” He wiped a tear from my eye, almost crying himself. I slung my arms around his hips and laid my head on his chest and shoulder, for one last time. He cuddled me, kisses my blond hair and sighed heavily.
“Mizu Me, I’ll write to you, and call you every night,” he vowed. “And maybe, I’ll find some place to work, so I can pay for tickets back home on the week end.” I could not quite tell, but I thought his voice was about to break. I looked up at him, and there they were: Real tears sparkling on the downer line of his eyes, ready to spill. And they did, as our eyes met, wetting his cheeks mercilessly. No need to tell, that by then, I was sobbing even more. To be in pain is horrible, but to see him aching, is even worse!
“I’ll write to you, too!” I sobbed, my face filled with the pain of parting. He gently brushed my wet cheeks, as if he could not believe I cried for him. He nuzzled me, before leaning into a kiss; the kiss of goodbye, the last one in a long while. And it was one of those, which for the brink of a moment, make you forget all you suffer on. I had my eyes closed and enjoyed his taste and tongue. There we stood, his had tilted down to the slightly smaller me, hugging each other closely and kissing, not caring about time and place.
Only, when Trowa gently pulled back, ending a moment I would have never wanted to end, I realized, that it was over. I came back into presence and realized, that I was facing an empty corridor for the time he was absent. I realized, he said goodbye and followed Heero into the train. I realized, how I was sobbing violently, and how he wiped his cheeks, unable to turn around. I saw Heero’s tensedness, as he carried his back inside, and how he, too, did not face his lover.
An arm was laid around me. Duo. When the train had disappeared in the distance, I looked at him. His eyes were wet, so were his cheeks. Of course, they, too, had been crying. We fell into each other’s arms, shaking with sadness, sharing the pain of parture. It was Wufei, who stood behind us and laid his hands on our backs.
“At least, you still have each other. They will come back.” And he was right. He did not have Meiran anymore. She would never come back. What right did we have to cry for a parture which would be resolved one day, when he would never see his love again? On the other hand, what we were facing was already bad enough. Together, we left the station and went to my home. It was such an empty day. We were supposed to prepare for our new school, checking the route we would walk, and choosing the subjects we would take. There was a bleak silence over us, as we did what was necessary and planned our schedules together. We wanted to have all classes together, more parting would just make it worse, however small it would be. So we sat on the floor, cross legged, the information spread between us. We tried to make compromises to reach our aim. It only meant, that Wufei was forced to take art, for mine and Duo’s sake, and that I had to give up on trigonometry, for Wufei and Duo both weanted linear algebra and stochastic calculations. We got things settled, mainly because Duo and I didn’t really care, and Wufei made the schedule.
I have to admit, though, that our new school was very good. Not did they only offer the greatest classes and the coolest teachers, making learning almost fun, they also were much more open to the world. When the news of Wufei’s deceased wife travelled, they all spoke out their sorrow without hesitation to him. Nobody judged him for having married at the age of fifteen. Furthermore, in a moment of annoyance, Duo blurted out that he was gay – and to our greatest surprise, nobody did mind. We were absolutely not used to that – if we had said this in our school, I don’t know what would have happened. However, the knowledge that we could admit our preferences, made it even more painful, to know, our koibitos were not here. We would have been allowed to show our relationship without fear, but there absensce made it impossible. It kept being a real pain.
“Quatre – come on, Ilea and Natasha cooked all day.”
“I am sorry. Thank you. I’ll take some of it later.”
And then, there was silence. I stared at my empty plate, ten pairs of sorrowful eyes were on me, as I watched my smeared reflection on the white surface of the porcelain. And I was more or less surprised, when it started to get wet. I was totally unaware, that the tears dropping on the plate fell from my eyes.
“Did Trowa-sama call yet?” Delilah asked carefully, while more tears tickled the white surface.
“No,” I managed to say, surprised at how easily my voice faltered. Why exactly I was crying, our of sorrow, pain or anger, I did not know. Trowa had promised to call, and so had Heero, but neither I, nor Duo had heard anything from them. We did not have their phone numbers or adresses, and this not-knowing-what-is-happening drove us both to the edge of our tolerance for unsettled situations. The fact, that of them didn’t give us a sign, made it clear to us, that something was wrong. Yes, we had been to the headmaster, demanding the number of that school, but he did not give it to us. And there was nothing in the phone book, either. So can you really blame me for crying that day, three weeks after the parting, three weeks of spending my afternoons on my own, and my nights in a cold and empty bed?
Delilah laid and arm around me. She is only twenty two, and can be very childish, but when it comes to it, she is like a mother. I grabbed my plate, excused and put it into the sink, befor disappearing to my room. It was one of the days I was mostly brought down. Saturdays just gave me too much time to think. Sometimes it is a good thing to have sisters. The first thing they did was calling Duo and Wufei, and they both came over. They all had their own burdens to deal with, but after all, unity strengthens one’s nerves.
So we sat in the living room, on the floor, since we preferred that position, and distracted ourselves with a quiz.
“Okay, Wufei. Who was the first man to set foot on the moon, and what was his nationality.”
“Neil Armstrong, American, and I bet a hundred, that the nationality-question is not on the card, Maxwell!”
Duo grunted. “Patriotism, I guess. Your turn, Quatre.”
“Here, this is a question for you, Duo,” I started, reading the card. “In the late 20th century and early 21st century Before Colony, a philosopher condemned technology. What was his name?”
“Who the.. condemns technology?” Wufei asked. “We are practically living from it.”
Duo fumbled with his braid. “Neil Postman.” He knew, that I knew he had read his book, and found it quite interesting, if not a little exaggarated. I personally couldn’t find anything in it, having read the first few pages. I mean, it was written years ago, when technology was not what it is today. But some of the things he had predicted had become true, although we did not consider them something negative.
“How do you know that?” Wufei asked.
“Read his book. It’s interesting and amusing at the same time, and Heero just hates me for citing it every now and then, usually he -” he stopped, realizing, that there currently was no ‘usually’ with Heero. All three of us sighed in unison and Wufei picked up the next card.
The phone rang. I crawled over to the small table and fished for the receiver.
“Quatre R. Winner, hello?”
I gasped. “Trowa?!”
“Oh, it is you!” he sounded so relieved. Wufei and Duo’s heads perked up and they listened attentively, to what they could hear.
“It is horror. I don’t know when they will stop me from calling you, Mizu Me, but we need help to get out of here.” It was unbelievable, Trowa could sound panicked, as stoic and composed as he was usually, but he did.
“What? What is happening over there?” I answered just as panicked. “Do they do something to you?”
“Quatre. You’ve got to help us. Me, Heero and Milliardo.” It seemed, he tried to calm down, to bring some sense to his talking, and yet, he was in a hurry, talking faster than usually.
“It’s some serious psychological pressure they use over here. It’s hard to not get absorbed into the system. They keep us from contacting anyone, it’s like we are prisoners. We don’t want to be part of this, no matter what education they provide. We tried to get out, several times, but we need help.”
“What can we do?” It was no use panicking now, although I was on the edge of doing so. If I really wanted to help them, I would have to think clearly.
“I have no idea… Milliardo is almost one of them, he’s weaker than us. You need to get us out of here.”
“Where are you? I don’t have your adress or anything. Please, we need to find you.”
“Mizu Me! I love you!” he said hurriedly and then the connection broke.
“No! Trowa… Trowa. I love you, too.”
I turned around to Duo and Wufei. “They are in trouble,” I confirmed their worries. As if we had not expected that to happen! However, we almost had no information on what they were doing to them. The description ‘psychological pressure’ did not reveal much, and sounded horrible at the same time. I quickly told them, what the problem was, we were facing, as much as I knew of it: Milliardo, Heero and Trowa were in trouble, some unidentified trouble. We had no idea were exactly they were, but we had to get them out, for it seemed, they were going to break under whatever they suffered from. We didn’t have a clue what to do. And that was the most disturbing problem of all.
If it hadn’t been for Wufei’s sake, we would have taken a long of time ot settle anything, for Duo’s and my worries kept us from clear thoughts. After I had told them, I was still shivering with fright. Never had I heard my koibito so much in panic. No wonder I was about to go insane.
“Calm down, both of you,” Wufei demanded.
“What can we do now?” Duo’s voice revealed, that he, too, was extremely worried.
“First of all, we need to find them.”
“Impossible!” I exclaimed.
“No – Quatre, calm down and think. At least, our old school must have had connections to the one Trowa and Heero are attending now – after all they were transferred. The problem is, to find and get it from the office, for apparently, there is a reason why they don’t give it to us.”
Duo nodded. “Right. So we have to steal it, I guess.”
“Steal?” I asked horrified. I had never stolen anything before.
“To help your koibito, Quatre! And we will only copy the adress, not do any harm. The only thing we need is distraction.”
“Hm…” Duo muttered, “I do have a plan…”
And even though, I was opposed to how many illegal things we were going to do, the plan was set. It included a lot of action, we were not supposed to do, and yet, I knew it had to be. Duo’s plan was not all too bad, simple and effective, if not a little dangerous.
First of all, we had to skip school to realize the plan. And since we were in a hurry, there was no reason to wait, so we did it right away the next day. Instead to our new school, we went to the old in our former uniforms. We were trying hard to hide enough behind the bushes, so that nobody could see us from the office window. Before all that, I had felt really guilty, but once a plan was set, there was no use for such feelings. Guilt would just mess it all up, so I got used to the fact, that the idea would be carried out – as professionally as possible. I was a criminal, now, and I could act like one, as well.
We sneaked inside the building, to the other edge of the corridor, away from the office. Duo stayed behind, he would have the criminal part. I am mean to say that, but he was most suited for that. Only he would have been able to keep a cool head doing something, for which you usually pay, if you get caught. So, we hid on the walls of the corridor, gave Duo our sign, that we were ready, and he disappeared. A moment later, the fire-alarm went off. I bet those alarms have helped a lot of students to skip classes, they were quite useful to get the school empty.
Immediately, doors flung open, and more or less panicked people stormed into the corridor. Wufei and I, wearing our old school uniforms and blending into the crowd just perfectly, ran along. While everyone dragged us forwards trowards the two-winged doors to t he outside, nobody took note of us. Some of these people knew us very well, but right now, they seemed to have forgotten, we were not going to this school anymore. I hoped Duo was alright, as Wufei and I parted from the crowd and slid into the office, without anybody noticing. As we had predicted, it was empty. We jumped over the desk and into the area which held all the important documents.
I went through the desks up front, while Wufei went through the headmaster’s office. Our files had all been removed from the school, so we could not find anything there, but the latest correspondance-letters were quite interesting. I went from sheet through sheet, as time urged me to hurry. Somewhere must have been a letter from or to that school. I found one about me and my new school, as well as on about Wufei and Duo, but it did not matter right now. As for Trowa and Heero… there was no letter.
I heard a rumble from the headmaster’s office.
“Wufei! What are you doing?” I said, running through the drawers on the desks with quick fingers.
“The damn thing is locked.”
It was exactly the moment, when I opened the top drawer of a desk and found a small key in the midth of pencils and pens. I snatched it and ran over to Wufei, telling him to try it, while I looked around the headmaster’s office, to find another key, in case the one I had found did not fit. There was no need to worry, though, it was the right key. And, as if I was in some corny criminal novel, the documents were just on top of the locked drawer. Wufei started to xerox what we had found, when Duo came storming in.
“They’re going back into the building.”
Now we had to hurry! Wufei quickly fumbled the sheet back into the drawer, while Duo disappeared with the copy, out of the office. At least the copy was safe. I threw the key back into the drawer, hearing the wings of the front door open. Great! Wufei and I were trapped! We retreated into the headmaster’s office, equally scared. But Wufei’s head was clearer than mine, and he opened the window. It was an easy solution, but something as easy as this, usually doesn’t come into my complex mind. He shoveled me onto the window sill and I jumped down onto the grass behind the building. Fortunately nobody was here. Wufei followed right after me. We were safe!
Duo came up the lawn, waving with the document and signing us to move away from the window, as quickly as possible. Oh yes! I almost had forgotten about that! If someone had looked out of the window, they would have seen us immediately. So we disappeared, taking the way behind the bushes.
As soon as we found ourselves in safety, we stared at the document. There wasn’t much to pick up, only the information, that Heero, Trowa and Milliardo’s files would be sent to the new school, and the adress was just on top of the document. That was all we needed. We went to Wufei’s house – it was the only place where we could be alone. Duo’s orphanage was full of kids, naturally, and I could be sure at least one of my sisters was home, wondering why we were not in school. But ever since Meiran had died, Wufei’s home was empty in the mornings, before his family returned, and even then, he had his and Meiran’s part for himself. How lonely he must feel there now…
But there was no time for mourning, we went to work professionally, checking the train-tables, and figuring we could even be there by tonight. It’s such an advantage to be rich, I can tell you – train tickets to the other end of the colony, were just no issue!
So by noon, we were buying our tickets, now full of energy for the upcoming task – and anticipation, for we still had no idea what would happen there.
Five hours later we found ourselves in front of a white building. It looked like a mixture of a hospital to cure the insane and a prison for juvenile criminals. It was really not very inviting, but it was our destination. We stood on the other side of the road, my heart pounding with anger and sadness – somewhere inside there was my korohyou, being tortured in this huge complex, in a way I did not even know. Duo’s hands were clenched to fists, and I swear, he would have stormed the building if reason had not told him better.
“Do you think they sometimes go on the yard?” I wondered. The yard seemed so unimportant and deserted, that the question actually seemed likely. However, we had to contact our lovers first, before we could work on a plan. The others shrugged. From the outside the whole building seemed deserted.
Wufei crouched down on the sidewalk and fumbled a sketch pad and a pencil out of his bag. Slowly and carefully, he sketched the part of the building we could see. I had no idea why he did not like to take art, really, he could have been an architect. When he had finished, he handed me the pencil and the paper.
“Write him a letter.”
And so I did. It was hard to leave out all the emotional stuff, but this was supposed to help them out of here and the info was more important. Wufei knew, why he did not let Duo write this thing – we did not have that much time.
“Dear Heero, dear Trowa,
don’t worry, we are here. We need to know your exact location and your physical condition. I hope you are all okay. We miss you. If you have any idea how we could help you, let us know, for we have no idea yet.
I folded the letter, and we discussed the problem about giving it to them. Obviously, this school wasn’t very trustworthy, so we could not trust anyone to deliver that to them. And the place was so creepily deserted, that there really was not anyone to deliver it, anyway.
The problem was solved by itself, fortunately and unfortunately. The door of the building was flung open, and my korohyou, followed by Heero, came stumbling out of it. He leaned over a banister on the stairs, and choked, clenching his stomach. My heart sunk, seeing him like that, something bad must have happened. Heero held and supported his weight, as they crept onto the yard. I have never seen Trowa so pale. Heero’s face held an angry glare, as he lead Trowa to a bench. I was so shocked by the scenario, that I almost forgot we had to take the oportunity to talk to them.
“Heero!” Duo shouted, running to the iron bars of the front gate. Heero looked up in surprise, and so did Trowa. Both their faces filled with relieved surprise and together, they came over. I stretched out my hand to grab his wrist… I had missed him so much. Now, still, we were separated by the iron door.
“What happened to you, Trowa?” I was really worried. The pallor on his face was unusual to me, and he and Heero looked haunted in a general way, too.
“Some people keep picking fights and ambushed me,” he said. “I am okay. I missed you, Mizu Me.”
“I missed you, too. I was so worried…”
“Heero… what do they do to you?” Duo had his hands on Heero’s shoulders, grabbing him through the iron bars.
“Hn. We don’t need to talk about it right now, koibito.” But the pain in his eyes was showing clearly. Duo of course noticed that, but this really was not the time and place to get anything out of them. And of course it was our Wufei, who kept a sober mind.
“Heero, Trowa, we need a plan to get you out of here. Where is Milliardo, and where are your rooms?” Trowa turned his eyes away from me, and to Wufei, understanding that we couldn’t dwell on our reunited love all day.
“Milliardo is in the library, but he shares a room with us usually. We have trouble convincing him, that this here is wrong, he’s getting absorbed. Our room is the first one under the roof to the front. It has a window to the roof, maybe that can help you.”
“Will you be able to climb through it?” I asked worriedly. He still looked beaten.
“We are fine, Mizu Me,” he smiled to reassure me, that he really was okay.
“Barton! Yuy! You are supposed to be in your study rooms! Come her immediately, and follow me to the west wing!”
“BULLSHIT!” Heero exclaimed – and not only Duo was stunned. Who in the world had ever heard Heero swearing in another way than calling Duo a baka?
“YUY! Third degree for you.”
Trowa quickly dragged Heero away from the gate, towards the door and the angry teacher. He whispered to us, that Heero wouldn’t be in their room that night, and that the yard was guarded. The teacher shoveled them inside in a most ungentle way, while Trowa still clutched his stomach.
That Heero would not be in their room could only have to do with the ‘third degree’, and it did not sound as if it was very nice. Duo gazed after them in horror, while Wufei’s mind seemed to work continuously, as he was staring at the school.
“Let’s get away from this place,” I begged, and we made our way towards the city, finding a cheap hotel, in which we would stay to set our plans. In my hand, I still held the letter, but it really was not needed anymore, so I put it away.
When we finally were in the hotel, we sat around a table, Wufei’s sketches spilled in front of us, and discussed what we would do.
“If the thing is guarded, as Trowa said, we’ll have a shitty hard time to get in there,” Duo mused, gritting his teeth in anger. What we had seen today, made us all furious.
“Yes, if we come from the yard,” Wufei agreed.
“Well, CHANG, where else would you come from, the whole complex is surrounded by the yard.”
“Maxwell, let me talk for once!”
“Well, then talk, Mr. Perfect!”
“Guys, please!” I begged, and they settled to quietness.
We discussed several possibilities. We could sneak in by bringing a package and get to our kois’ rooms, helping them out. But this wasn’t quite logical, because if they could just climb out of the window, they would already have done that, and would not need our help. Plus, it did not solve the yard-problem. And that was impossible – the yard, as Duo had said, surrounded the whole building. Unfortunately, we had no idea in what way the yard was guarded, so our only chance was, to avoid it. So, even our fire-alarm attack was pretty useless, for we could not get into the building unseen. Any intruder would probably be seen immediately.
“Intruder! That is it! What if we aren’t any intruders? It worked for our old school,” I explained. ‘Infiltrating’ our old school with our old uniforms during the fire alarm had worked pretty well. Duo shook his head.
“We don’t have the uniforms, and they seem to know all their students, judging on how carefully they are picked.”
“Nonono! Listen!” my cheeks were flushed in excitement, I had the idea of the century! At least I thought, I had. “Have you seen how dirty the yard is? It seems, although the building is shining brightly, nobody seems to care about the yard. Either, because it is too big, or because it isn’t really used.”
“MAKE YOUR POINT!” Duo yelled in anticipation.
“Gomen. What if we offer our service to clean that yard with three huge trashcans…?”
Wufei and Duo’s eyes lit up. The trashcans would be an easy way to transport three human beings out of there, unnoticed. Plus, we had free access to the yard. There only was a slight problem – would they let us do this? We could try, at least.
So, the next morning, we had bought gray uniforms, brooms, shovels and three rollable black trashcans. Standing in front of the gate, hats carefully shadowing our faces, we rang the bell. A white-haired man, possibly the caretaker, came to the gate.
“Yeah?” he said grumpily.
“Hello!” Duo exclaimed friendly, “T.R.A.S.H. Sweep & Sweat offers it’s services to sweep your yard in no time, and for almost no money!”
“What do you want?” the old said, still grumpy.
“We wanted to ask you, whether we can sweep tha’ dirty yard off yours, cuz’ tha’s what we do in the whole city. Sweepin’ and dustin’ and cleanin’. We can sweep yer whole school, if you want us to.”
“We don’t need any help.”
“But yer yard looks crappy, mister. Excuse my lousy mouth, but yer don’t quite look as if yer was up ter cleanin’ it by yerself.”
The old man snorted.
“Whadda ya say? The whole yard fer… lessay… 2000 yen? Good price?”
That certainly did it. Getting a kilometer-long square yard swept for practically nothing was a tempting offer. If that guy had had any brains, he would have been suspicious, but that way, he just let us in, satisfiedly. We rolled our tools inside.
“Mister,” I said, “we’ll need some water. Can I get inside and get some?”
“Yeah. Find the bathroom yourself,” he grunted, and limped back to the building.
“Thanks, Mister, sir!” I cheered dumbly. Our impression of three dumb yard-sweepers definitely worked. Of course, I was not about to go in, fill my bucket with water, and come back outside – the hell I did. I went straight up the stairs and to the roof. Everything was deserted, they all probably had classes right now. I was searching for the right room, and I really wondered how I was supposed to recognize it. I went to the direction, where I assumed it was, judging on where they had said, their window was. I entered a room. It was unlocked. It didn’t seem to have a lock, anyway. So there I stood, in this three-beds-chamber, and had no clue, how I was supposed to find out, whether it was the room I was looking for. Under one of the beds I found a red sports bag and pulled it out, taking a look inside.
The main part was empty, but in one of the side bags, I found a photograph. Now it was clear, whose bag it was. The photo showed me and Trowa on the lawn of a colony, chilling out. It looked quite battered, he seemed to take it out of there quite often. My poor koibito, it was probably all he had of us in here.
From another bed, which I assumed to be Heero’s, I took paper and pencil and wrote my message.
“We are on the yard to get you out of here. All three of you need to come down with only the things packed, you really need. Mizu Me.”
I put the note on his bed, and left the room. In the bathroom, I filled my bucket with water, which was totally unnecessary, since we really were only sweeping the leaves from the yard, not scrubbing it. The water had only been a pretext to get inside. I returned to the outside. Wufei and Duo were already doing their ‘business’, when I returned, looking like the local streetworkers in their gray uniforms and hats.
“Heyas, guys,” I said in my streetworker-voice.
“Aye, Quatre, go’ the water, eh?” Duo answered.
“Sure did.” I winked. It was enough to confirm to them, that everything had gone smoothly. And then, there was nothing left to do, but our work, waiting for our lovers. By noon, we had slowly done a third of the yard. We did not hurry, because if we actually finished our work, our plan would fail. I was just working on the left side of the house, when something came fluttering from above, right onto Wufei’s head. He picked it up.
“Letter,” he stated quietly. We clustered around him and read.
“Heero’s in some sort of detention. I’ll get him out of there this evening, as for Milliardo… I hope he has his senses tonight, or he’ll have to stay here. I’ll throw down three small bags after the break at about 5 pm. Make sure to hide them. Trowa.”
I dumped the letter into my trashcan, which was by then filled with a nice padding of leaves. With the rest of them, we just made piles, since there still had to fit three people and their luggage into the trashcans. We could not fill them completely.
After the second third of the yard was done, I purposely occupied myself close to their window. It was amazing, but for the whole time we had been here, nobody had ever come onto the yard. But we had, by then, understood, that the yard was watched through cameras. So we had to be careful. The camera, that would have recorded how I stuffed the bags into my trashcan, was no problem anymore, after Duo had ‘accidentally’ hit it with his shovel. Clumsy boy, ne?
So the rucksacks came flying down without anybody noticing, and were safe in my trashcan. We decided to have a coffee break, and sat down on the stairs, drinking tea, actually. We looked like real workers, and I only could congratulate us on that.
“Sure’s a cool day today,” Duo said, talking streetworker-like.
“T’is. Guess we gonna get an early winter this year.” I checked my watch, “We’ll be done here by seven, don’t cha’all think?” Wufei and Duo picked up the hint.
“Hope so, Quatre-kun. But once we’re done here, where do we take tha’ trash?” Code talking was so useful.
“No idea,” Wufei said snobbishly, “we cannot take it to another school, can we?” We laughed a false laughter. Actually, the situation was serious. Where would Heero and Trowa go after that incident? They would be searched for. If the system really was so horrible, the official wouldn’t want it to become public.
“Maybe,” Duo said, sipping on his tea most ungratefully, “there’s a legal way ter transfer the leaves. I mean, nobody has a right to claim, tha’ what lives on their yard is their’s, ne? Leaves are allowed to fly free, ya know?”
We must have sounded so dumb. But the conversation served the purpose in two ways, then. We were supposed to sound dumb, and we could talk about the important subjec tin a coded way. Well, Wufei, didn’t play dumb. He played the stupid snob.
“Ah! You are so ignorant,” he stated, “I am sure, the trees they back home will be happy to help them get reincarnated. They have a heart for their leaves.”
Duo and I giggled, but before the conversation could grow more weird, we returned to our work. We were sure there was a way, we could help our friends.
And finally - it must have been half past eight – they cam sneaking onto the yard, where we were working. We dearly hoped they’d picked up what we were about to do. Duo turned around, stretching his back, looking at the door.
“Hey, boys!” he called, as if he didn’t know who they were. “Care to lend us a hand? People studying all day could use some physical action, ne?” I couldn’t tell whether this purposely implyied something hentaish for Heero.
“Sure,” Trowa picked it up and came over. “What can we do, Mr… er?”
“Sweep,” Duo introduced himself, “Duo Sweep. Get the trashcans over there, will you?” He pointed to the corner with the smashed camera. Trowa took my trashcan from me, Milliardo, who obviously had his senses right now, took Wufei’s, and Heero helped Duo. We followed them. Wordlessly, I opened the half empty can, gave the rucksacks to their owners, while I was talking loudly.
“Sure is a cold fall, ne? So many leaves makes work hard’n’heavy.”
“We are glad we could help you. What is your name?” Milliardo said.
“Sweat, Quatre Sweat, and that is my friend Trash, Wufei Trash.” Wufei shot me a deathglare, that would have sent the devil back to hell, while Trowa climbed into my trashcan.
“Thanks for yer help, guys.” Duo said, stuffing some leaves on Heero’s head, as he sat in the can.
“Welcome,” Trowa said, peeking out of his hiding place, “We got to go back to our rooms now.”
“Bye,” Wufei said snobbishly, and closed the lid on top of Milliardo.
And from that point on, our ‘luggage’ kept silent, as if they were not here anymore, but back into the building. While we rolled towards the door, the caretaker came towards us.
“Hey, lads!” he yelled. “What about your payment?” Since when had he grown so friendly? We stopped, and set down our trashcans.
“We sure ain’t finished, yet!” Duo exclaimed, pointing at the part of the yard we had not do yet. “Gotta pay us tomorrow, mister.”
The caretaker opened his walled at gave us 1000 yen each. “I don’t expect you to come back tomorrow,” he said. What the heck was that supposed to mean? I leaned an elbow on my Trowa-can, and raised an eyebrow. “What makes yer think that?”
The caretaker gently patted the Heero-can, and smiled. “It’s okay. Thank you for helping these guys. Good luck. I wished, someone would help the others, too. All victims.”
Now, we were quite surprised. Someone in there was on our side! And he had picked what we had been doing. Well if he had not been on our side,, we’d definitely have been in trouble. Duo reached our a hand.
“Thanks, mister. We’ll see what we can do,” he said, using his normal voice.
And so, we left with our trashcans, back to the hotel. The journey was not over yet. We still were close to the building, we still had to return home and find a way to get Trowa and Heero into another school, explain toour families what had happened, and try to help the other students in that building. We still had no idea what had happened. For now, though, the hotel was our little sanctuary.
And there sat the six of us. Heero and Duo on one bed, me and Trowa on the other, Milliardo on Wufei’s, and Wufei cross-legged in a chair. And there was nothing but silence. I held Trowa’s head in my arms, as he cuddled against me, and tried to cope with his memory. Heero and Duo were in each other’s arms, too, caressing and patting. Milliardo had his head laid on his hands. He was the oldest of us, but he was shaken just as much. Especially, because he was the one of the three, who was alone.
I gently caressed my panther, not saying a word, holding him warmly and lovingly. The moon shone through the window. We had not changed, yet. Trowa, Heero and Milliardo still wore their school garments, and we were still in our gray streetworker-suits. Milliardo’s blond hair sparkled in the moonlight. Their still were some small leaves from the trashcan in hs mane. Nobody had bothered to pluck the last remains out of either Heero’s, Trowa’s or Milliardo’s hair. It made my panther smell like dried leaves. And suddenly, it was him who began to talk.
“It was horrible. They used all sorts of psychological tricks to transform you into learning machines. Pressure, punishment, the way they looked at us…” Trowa shivered a little, I held him close. “Nobody gave you any care. Everything we did was never 100 % correct to them. For the first time in my life I felt really stupid.”
“But it wasn’t only the teachers,” Milliardo explained, “The students were enthusiastic about being the same way: Learning was all that counted. The more you knew, the more respect you got. And don’t you dare asking. All you need, you find in the numerous books around there… And so we tried to catch up with them…”
“True,” Trowa confirmed, “We were sticking our noses in books just as much as they did. Even Heero. And when we found out, how useless all this was, how this couldn’t be the purpose of learning, the real brainwashing began… When Milliardo, Heero and I started hanging out on the yard, agreeing we would not become victims of the system, we got punished and dragged back to work. We learned pretty fast, that the schedule was all the same: Learning from 8 am to 9 pm without rest.”
“And it really was without rest…” Milliardo looked up for the first time, seeking comfort. He found it in mine and Wufei’s eyes, which were locked on them. Heero and Duo both held their eyes closed. “Even during the meals we had lessons.”
“Mizu Me… it was so tiring. There’s a point where you cannot take any information anymore. Especially not the difficult, complex issues they tried to stuff into us. There also were these guys. They just hated me. They would ambush me and beat me up every now and then. I couldn’t do anything… I was so tired.” It really hurt me, to see him talking like that.
“Bakas!” Duo exclaimed. “Did they hurt you, too?”`he asked Heero. Heero shook his head, but he didn’t say anything.
“Heero and I kept dozing off in class. I mean… we got up at seven, had to study for thirteen hours, and fell into bed. But we couldn’t get enough sleep… we were too exhausted. And everytime a teacher would catch us with our thoughts somewhere else, he would ask us, what he had just said. By then, we didn’t know what that meant. Heero was the first, who got caught. He couldn’t tell what the teacher had just said, and I couldn’t tell him, I was just as oblivious. He had been scribbling Duo’s name on his papers to keep himself awake. Heero… so exhausted… so tired… I could hardly believe it.”
Duo clenched his hands around his lover, holding him tight. Heero was just stiff and still, while Trowa kept telling us their horrors.
“She sent him to a room, and I did not see him for the rest of the day. It was the first of three degrees of punishment he got. The one you get for staring out of the window and not paying attention. I was there, many times. They take your tie from you, which means, everybody can see you are punished. And they’re laughing about you, as you walk to the room… All the students pointing at me, as I walk through the corridor to my destiny. And there, tired as you are, you sit in front of the most difficult math problem they can find. And the longer you take to solve it, the more minutes get added to your file… and that is bad. I was stupid… I needed hours to solve them. I was too tired.”
“Then came the second degree of punishment,” Milliardo said in a hollow voice, “the one you get if your minutes have added up to twelve hours, or when you fall asleep in class, or when you are really late. It takes place in the west wing. Falling asleep, that was how I got there. It was all of us three… Me, Trowa and Heero. It looked harmless in the beginning. We got loaded with three hours of educational movies, and our only problem was to stay awake. But then, in the fourth hour, a teacher would attend us, and ask us exactly what had happened in the movies. The first time, I had no idea. It was some chemistry things we had seen… but I couldn’t remember a thing, I had not paid attention. Heero and Trowa fortunately got out of it, but I was sent straight to the third degree of punishment.”
There was silence. Milliardo couldn’t bring himself to say anything about it.
“I was there twice,” Heero said. “Once it was me and Trowa, the day we tried to break out and got caught… and… and after I said ‘bullshit’, when we were talking at the gate, I got there, too.” Duo tensed visibly in horror of what would come now.
“I was sent to a cell, and the brainwashing started. Voices kept reading down my failures and test results, telling me what a miserable student I was. Then, they loaded me with an endless list of things I still had to learn within the next year.”
“And we were in our cell, all on our own, with not even a bed,” Trowa continued. “We started to believe how bad we were, that it was all our fault! We started to believe we were stupid, and that we had to work more. I spent the following night learning, until I passed our on my bed.” Trowa grabbed me tightly, as if it helped him to cope with the horrible memory.
“It got me worst of all,” Milliardo said shakily. Wufei climbed down from his chair and laid a hand on the blond’s back. “I thought I was horrible and lazy. I studied and studied, not having time to think about anything. Trowa kept trying to tell me, that this was stupid, that we were okay the way we were. He and Heero had snapped out of it much earlier than me. I was yelling at Trowa one day, about how stupid he was, wasting time to tell me his crap, instead of learning.”
“’Milliardo’, I said,” Trowa remembered, “’you are starting to be like them’. That was the first time, he came back to us. We vowed, that we would keep in mind, we did not want to become that. Occassionally, we all did become like them, but pulled each other out of it, again and again. Heero was the most stable, but sometimes it got him too. And it was extremely hard to convince him, that what he was doing was not good, not right, that he had to be himself again.”
“The worst of all,” Heero said, his eyes opened with fear, staring at Wufei and Milliardo, “was that we were denied any contact to you. Duo… I needed you.”
“I only got ahold of the phone, once, to call you, angel. And got into third degree punishment for it. I was so brainwashed afterwards… They used it really hard on me.”
“Heero and I tried to convince Trowa that he did not have to learn all day long, but he was totally into it.”
“Until I rammed my knee into his guts…” Heero mumbled, “the day we found you on the front gate.”
“So, you were the one making him almost choke?” I inquired, shakily. The picture of Trowa coming out of the building, pale and hardly able to breathe, supported by Heero, was engraved in my mind. And it had not been someone picking a fight with my korohyou… it had been Heero!
“Yes,” Trowa answered, “and it was the only thing that worked. Thank you, again, Heero. – After I had managed a second degree punishment, the next day, I found your letter, Mizu Me. It had taken them all morning to punish me. But Heero was still not back to class. I had no idea, how to get him out of there, nor how to retrieve Milliardo, who was in one of his learning-fits. So I first had a talk with him,” he pointed at the blond, “and int the evening, I risked everything. I sneaked into the office, stole an official paper, and wrote a letter to return Heero from his punishment. It seemed to be an incredible long sesssion for him. I faked the signature of the head-mistress, and went to the teacher who was responsible for the third degree sessions that day. I told her, I was sent to get Heero and showed her the letter. She acknowledged it, and got him for me. … Heero looked horrible, all shaken, he was shivering all over. Whatever they had done to him, it must have been worste than anything before.”
Heero whimpered… “They were talking about Duo.” It was all he said. We could imagine, what this must have done to Heero, to whom Duo was everything. No wonder, he had seemed shaken to Trowa.
“He was not into a learning-fit, he knew, that it was not him, who was wrong, but the place. On the way to our room, I told him, that we would be rescued, and he practically collapsed in my arm.”
“We were so glad to see you out there,” Milliardo said.
“We were, too,” I assured them. Trowa, for the first time ever since we had arrived at the hotel, looked up at me. I patted his head lovingly. “We won’t let them take you again.”
Trowa’s eyes filled with tears, before he started sobbing on my shoulder. Duo cried, too, but Heero could not. Milliardo was contemplating his self, with Wufei having an arm around him. I think, that was the most caring gesture, Wufei could offer by then.
It was a bad night. Heero, Milliardo and Trowa soon were asleep. They had had a long and exhausting life during the last month. With the poor, mistreated friends on out laps, Wufei, Duo and I soon fell asleep, too. And the next morning, we took the train home without complications. And this was good, because I really don’t know whether they could have taken much more.
As for Trowa, Milliardo and Heero changing school – it was no problem at all. The Maxwell orphanage and the people from the circus could very well see what this had done to them. They were upset, and not only helped them to legally transfer to our school (with the agreement from the scientists Heero lived with), but also contacted the caretaker to go against the system.
In December, the school was officially closed and became a hospital two months later.
Today, Trowa and Heero are in our school, which is the best place we had ever had. Nobody ever complains about him and me holding hands on the corridor and kissing every now and then. Same with Duo and Heero. The girls are all still fascinated by us, even though there is no doubt they have no chance – not with him hugging Heero suggestively every now and then. Duo gladly flirts with them, and Wufei unintentionally turns them on by telling them to leave him alone. You see, everything is perfectly normal.
Oh, Milliardo – I almost forgot about him. When our ways parted at the station, Wufei told him to greet “Treize”. I had no idea, who this Treize-guy is, really, and we asked Wufei about it.
“He is a friend of Milliardo and a politician. I happen to have met him a few times,” and then, he headed towards the train in front of us, so we could only see his back. Duo and I exchanged glances.
“Is it just me,” Duo asked, “or did he seem fluttered?”
The four of us stared at each other for a second before we all agreed: “Wufei … nah! Impossible!”