Stuck With You... + Part 6
Duo never came home last night.
I've been trying not to freak out, but maybe freaking out is warranted in this situation. How are you supposed to react when you're living with a friend who just returned from a mysterious half-year "vacation", who you know is having a tense time with his ex, and is a recovering alcoholic, and he DOESN'T COME HOME AT NIGHT?
Probably sitting at your desk typing furiously into your personal journal is not the most constructive course of action. But...
So, what if I kick up a big fuss, get everybody all worked up, and it turns out Duo just spent the night at a motel for some reason? Maybe he didn't want to be alone in somebody else's apartment. Maybe Heero came back, and he wanted to ditch him. Maybe he just couldn't stand the clutter of his own damn possessions!
I seem to be freaking out, regardless of the wisdom of doing so.
Okay, so it's still fifteen minutes before his shift begins. Our shift. Une wisely keeps all five of us on the same rotation. We don't always play well with others. So maybe, if I just settle down and wait until he's actually supposed to show up before I begin panicking...
How come I'm the only schmuck who comes in early?Even Wufei isn't here yet today.
Ken's here already. I asked him to get me a coffee. He told me to get it myself, he was busy. Then he grinned like an idiot and asked me how he was doing. Apparently he'd been practicing.
I told him very good. Then I told him to go get my damn coffee.
He's a clever boy. He went.
I'm still not sure if he'll actually get anywhere with Quatre, but at least he'll break the habit of letting people walk all over him because he wants to get them in bed. I'm all in favor of sexual empowerment. Woo-hoo.
Okay, five minutes past shift. Now I'm starting to get worried.
Maybe I'll just go see if Une has any messages from
Oh. Okay. He's here.
So is Wufei.
In fact, they seem to have come in together.
All right, that makes sense. For some reason, he didn't want to stay at my place alone last night, so he went to Wufei's. That's okay.
I feel better now.
But he could have left a fucking note.
"Trowa! You're back!" Duo declared happily as Trowa walked up to his desk. Trowa frowned at the dark circles under the violet eyes, and the slight tension in Duo's shoulders beneath the new uniform shirt.
"Nice to see you, too," was what Trowa meant to say, but somehow, when he opened his mouth, what came out was, "Where were you last night?" Trowa winced at his own demanding tone and quickly assured Duo, "You don't have to answer that."
"Um, no, that's okay," Duo muttered nervously. Trowa frowned slightly at Duo's sheepish expression. "Last night. Well... uh... yeah. Last night... I was... "
"Amazing," Wufei concluded, sliding around Trowa to slip an arm around Duo's shoulders. The Chinese man leaned possessively against Duo's chair and smirked down at him. "I don't know how Heero let you go. Although I must admit, you do take a lot out of a man."
Duo dropped his face into his hands and shook his head, sighing heavily.
"What... the hell... " Trowa muttered weakly.
Wufei smirked at the taller man. "Last night," the Chinese agent drawled, "justice was served."
Duo groaned aloud.
Wufei frowned down at the top of the American's bowed head. "What's the matter with you, Maxwell?" he demanded, sounding more like his old snappish self than he had so far.
"Go away before I puke," Duo requested, his voice muffled by his hands.
Wufei cuffed him lightly on the back of the head. "Hey, I didn't hear any complaints last night," he said pointedly.
"That's cuz I was desperate last night," Duo growled, raising his head to glare at Wufei.
Wufei snorted. "You're always desperate," he declared dismissively, ignoring Duo's growl of anger at this remark. "I see how it is," Wufei continued dramatically. "You turn to me in your hour of need, but in the light of day, you spurn me! You, Maxwell, are a fickle bitch! Injustice!"
Duo winced as Wufei's bellow echoed around the office. "Oh, just great," he muttered.
Trowa blinked in confused dismay at Wufei's angry scowl.
"See if I offer you the comfort of my bed again!" Wufei continued, either not noticing, or enjoying the fact that he was drawing quite an audience. "Chang Wufei is not a sexual plaything! You dishonor us both with your "
"Oh, SHUT UP!" Duo yelled, rising from his seat to physically shove the Chinese man out of his desk area. Then he returned to his seat and slumped down, cradling his head as if afraid it was about to fall off. Wufei stood where Duo had shoved him, in the middle of the aisle between desks, for a moment, then turned to frown thoughtfully at the American.
Duo glared at Wufei with one eye, peeking out from between splayed fingers. "What?" he snapped.
"Does this mean we're off for tonight?" Wufei asked placidly.
Duo glared at the Chinese man for a moment longer then said firmly, "Go away or I will kill you."
Surprisingly, Wufei smirked at him. "Welcome back, Maxwell," he said cheerfully, and then turned and walked to his desk, settling in as if nothing had happened. After a few moments, the rest of the office returned to work, accompanied by many shrugs and confused glances. Heero was stoically ignoring the entire incident. Quatre hadn't arrived yet.
Duo emerged from behind his hands and informed Trowa with a sigh and evident embarrassment, "I can't even claim I was drunk."
Wufei, seated just across the aisle, remarked serenely, "You know you loved it."
"Everybody loves the Wu-man," Duo replied wearily, but with a hint of a grin.
"Don't call me that," Wufei snapped.
"What, Wu-man?" Duo asked innocently. "Wu-man. WU. MAN. Wuuuuuuuuuu-man."
"Shut up, Maxwell!" Wufei was sounding more and more like himself, Trowa observed.
"You shut up, onna!" Duo called back.
Wufei turned bright red. "Maxwell! Kisama! I am not a woman!"
"You were last night," Duo drawled, apparently over his earlier embarrassment.
Wufei growled and yanked open a desk drawer, pulling out a sharp, shiny knife. Duo's eyes went wide, and he... giggled.
With only a quick, "Scuze me, Tro," the American was out of his chair and racing down the aisle, away from Wufei.
Wufei paused only long enough to assure anyone listening, "It's plastic," before he took off after Duo, bellowing a war cry.
Ken, returning at last with Trowa's coffee, stepped aside to let the other two pass, and shook his head. "I wouldn't want to be them when Une gets a hold of them," the young agent observed.
Trowa took his coffee and informed Ken flatly, "I'm going to go sit at my desk now."
Ken blinked at him in surprise and confusion for a moment, then said slowly, "Okaaay." He smiled a bit nervously.
Trowa nodded and returned to his desk.
It was safe there.
So he slept with Wufei.
Not sure how I feel about that.
Why Wufei? Of all the people available to him, and Duo is definitely the kind of guy who always has people available to him, why would he choose Wufei?
Because they're old friends? But then why not Quatre? He and Duo always seemed to get along better than Duo and Wufei. Not that Duo and Wufei didn't get along, they just had this sort of weird competitive friendship. Maybe that had something to do with it?
But if he was looking for conflict why didn't he go straight to Heero? Although maybe that would be too much conflict. Besides, he's made it pretty clear he doesn't want to get back together with Heero.
But WHY WUFEI?
Okay, this is getting me nowhere. I have no idea why Duo chose to sleep with Wufei. And quite frankly, I don't want to know. As long as they're both happy, it's great. Right?
If I didn't have a personal rule about not deleting anything I write in here, I would erase that ridiculous "sigh" I just typed.
ARGH! I am wasting time speculating about my friends' love lives when I have a report to write up! Okay, I am stopping this idiocy and focusing on work for the rest of the day.
Maybe I'll ask him later about Wufei. He is still staying at my apartment, after all.
... Isn't he?
Trowa chewed thoughtfully on a meatball, and shot a covert glance across the tiny kitchen table at Duo, who was focused on twirling spaghetti on his fork as if the fate of the free world depended on him getting it wrapped just right. Just at that moment, though, Duo looked up and met Trowa's gaze. Trowa immediately looked down at his plate.
Duo sighed loudly. "What's the matter?" he asked warily.
Trowa looked up at his guest with a frown. "Why should anything be the matter?" he replied innocently.
Duo wrinkled his nose at Trowa for this comment. "Oh, c'mon, you've been giving me funny looks all day. So just tell me what's bugging you?"
Trowa shrugged and looked back to his plate. "Nothing's bugging me," he assured Duo calmly.
"Bullshit," Duo declared vehemently. He set his fork down on his plate.
Trowa sighed slightly and set his own fork down. When Duo chose talking over food, there was no point even trying to avoid conversation.
"Really, Duo, nothing's wrong," Trowa assured Duo again.
Duo frowned doubtfully at him. "So what's with the attitude, then?"
"What attitude?" Trowa asked in confusion.
Duo waved his arms widely, an exasperated look on his face. "This... whole... thing from today! All day long, you've been freezing me out! You've barely spoken to me!"
Trowa frowned slightly. "Well, I had a lot of work to do today. I'm sorry if you thought I was ignoring you, I was just busy," he explained.
Duo's arms dropped to his sides, and he regarded Trowa with a frown that was both speculative and petulant. "Well, what about tonight? Since we got home?" he pressed. "You haven't even said if you liked dinner," he added, the petulance coming to the fore.
"Well... I'm sorry. Dinner is great. I didn't know you could cook," Trowa remarked. He glanced briefly at Duo's unsatisfied expression, and added, "And... well, I'm still tired from the mission."
Duo grunted softly in apparent acceptance of the excuse.
Trowa momentarily lost his better judgment and continued, "Besides, I didn't get much sleep last night since I didn't know where you were."
He glanced up again. Now Duo looked annoyed.
"You're not my keeper," the American snapped, picking up his fork and making agitated little circles in his spaghetti.
"I realize that," Trowa replied flatly, irritated at Duo's attitude. "I was just worried, since you didn't leave me a note," he snapped back.
Duo's fork slowed a bit. "I didn't realize you'd be coming home last night," he said quietly.
Trowa shrugged. "Neither did I," he said.
Duo looked up at him, peering from beneath shaggy gold-shot bangs, violet eyes furtive. "If I'd known... I wouldn't have gone," he offered apologetically.
Trowa shrugged again. "I don't really care where you spend your nights," he informed Duo flatly. "After all, I'm not your keeper. I just would have appreciated a note."
"You... " Duo raised his head, still looking at Trowa. The violet eyes were narrowed slightly, shadowed. Duo stared at the taller man for a moment, then he shrugged and rose from his seat, carrying his plate over to scrape the remainder of his meal into the garbage.
Trowa frowned. It wasn't often that Duo didn't finish a meal. "Duo?" he asked warily. "Is something... wrong?"
"Not a goddamn thing," Duo replied with blatantly false cheerfulness.
Trowa sighed and turned his chair around to face Duo's back as the American once again busied himself with the dishes. "Duo, just tell me what the problem is," he said firmly.
"Why should I? You won't tell me what your problem is," Duo replied reasonably. Trowa frowned at the tension in Duo's shoulders.
"I don't have a problem," Trowa asserted, beginning to get annoyed by Duo's refusal to accept this statement.
Duo spun around and braced himself against the counter, glowering at Trowa and shaking a finger for emphasis. "Yes, you fucking well do! You've been cheesed off all damn day, and you won't tell me why and it's bugging the hell out of me! I thought it was Wufei, but apparently not, since you don't care where I spend my nights!" By this point, Duo was yelling.
"Why should I? You're a grown man, you can make your own choices!" Trowa snapped back.
"Yeah, and I've got such a fucking stellar track record in decision making!" Duo spat angrily. He shoved his hands into his hair, digging his fingers into his scalp. He fixed the taller man with a wild-eyed stare and demanded, "Jesus, Trowa, what the hell is wrong with us? When did we all stop giving a shit about each other? This is why I fucking left in the first place! And you... " Duo slumped against the counter, seeming to suddenly lose energy. When he continued speaking, it was in a quiet, mournful voice, directed to the linoleum. "You were the only one who... I thought... still did care. You were the only one who even tried to help me, and... you let me move in here... I thought... " Duo had his arms wrapped around his body, squeezing tighter as his voice grew softer. "I thought we were still friends... the way we used to be... "
Trowa cursed softly under his breath and stood from his chair, crossing the kitchen in two steps and pulling Duo gently away from the counter. His concern for the American overriding his usual reluctance to get too close to anyone, Trowa wrapped his arms tightly around Duo's body, holding the shorter man close. After a moment, Duo's arms unwrapped from his own torso and slid around Trowa's waist instead, squeezing almost painfully tight.
Trowa could feel a fine trembling in Duo's body, perhaps from tension. He gently stroked the soft, short hair, vaguely regretting that he'd never held Duo like this before he cut his hair. Eventually, Duo relaxed against him, and Trowa, without loosening his embrace, said quietly, "So tell me about Wufei."
Duo shifted his head so his face wasn't pressed directly into Trowa's chest. "We always leave him out," Duo explained quietly. "I mean, we do stuff with him, but... He's one of us, but... not part of us, you know?"
Trowa nodded slightly, considering Duo's words. Wufei had always been the loner of the group, so Trowa had never really thought much about the fact that none of them had as close a bond with the Chinese man as they did with at least one of the others.
"Heero always accuses me of trying to solve every problem with sex," Duo continued. "But... well, sometimes, it works."
"Aa," Trowa acknowledged, thinking that there were definitely some problems sex could solve. He even had a few himself. He sighed internally. "So... you and Wufei... are you going to move in with him?" he asked, trying to keep the strange dismay he felt at the thought from reaching his voice.
Duo pulled his head away from Trowa's shoulder to frown up at him in confusion. "No," he said in a tone of confused derision. "Why would I move in with him? Have you seen his apartment? He lives like a freaking ascetic. He'd never let me keep all my stuff there."
Trowa studied Duo with a confused frown of his own. "But... aren't you... didn't you?" he attempted to ask.
Duo cocked his head like a curious puppy. "We had sex," he said flatly. "It was pretty good, too. But we're not... " his voice trailed off as a look of understanding brought an amused grin to his face. "You thought we were... an item?" Duo asked incredulously.
Trowa's frown deepened. "Well... you did sleep together," he pointed out.
Duo smirked at him in disbelief. "Since when does a one night stand with Mack Daddy Wufei constitute a relationship?" he asked sarcastically. "It was just meaningless sex, Tro."
"Is there such a thing?" Trowa shot back. "Besides, what was all that about him being left out?"
Duo's smirk widened. "Of course there's such a thing, and I highly recommend it. But you do have a point," he added thoughtfully. "Me and Wu... we're not cut out for each other, but last night... it was kind of important. He told me he always felt like none of us liked him as much as we did each other, like he was somehow not enough a part of the group to, well, boink. So now he knows differently. So I guess you're right, it wasn't just random... Hmm." Duo frowned thoughtfully. Laying his head back down on Trowa's shoulder. "Deeply meaningful meaningless sex. Leave it to us to complicate everything," he continued after a moment's thought.
They stood there, still holding one another, for a while, and then Duo gave Trowa an extra squeeze and squirmed out of the embrace. He grinned up at the taller man and announced brightly, "Okay, I think that concludes the melodrama portion of the evening. Now, back to the dishes."
"I can do that," Trowa offered. "Why don't you... take a bath or something?"
Duo waved him off, picking up Trowa's abandoned plate. "Nah, the least I can do is earn my keep around here. Besides, you're the one who's tired, so you should take the bath."
Trowa frowned slightly, but a bath did sound nice, after spending four days freezing in a car with Ken. "Well, if you're sure," he said slowly.
"Go! Soak! Come out in a better mood, and I promise not to have another nervous breakdown," Duo declared, smiling widely over his shoulder as he ran water into the sink.
Trowa smiled back and walked over to the bathroom. He paused at the door and looked back, watching Duo putter in the kitchen. It just seemed... right, to have him there. Trowa had lived alone for over a year, but it wasn't until Duo moved in that he'd realized he was at all lonely.
"I do care," he said quietly, sure Duo couldn't hear him over the running water.
But as he turned to step into the bathroom, he heard the American reply equally softly, "I know."