by Bronze Tigress

Rainbow Sherbet + Chapter 10

Saturday afternoon and evening : Dinner with Dorothy: Reprise

Lying tangled up on the floor between two strong warm bodies is very close to heaven, Duo decides, except for one thing. Whatever that one thing is, it's starting to hurt where it's digging into his arm. A soft warm laugh in Wufei's beautiful honeyed tenor catches his attention, and Duo realizes he must have missed part of the conversation because Wufei's next words, "Did I not tell you so?" are obviously a response to something.

"Tell him what, D-baby?" Duo asks, voice still a little hoarse from sleep and... other things, as the taste there finally registers, recalling the events just preceding his apparent nap.

"Awake, now, little tiger? Did you enjoy that?" Wufei's voice is calm, sure, and asking only because he knows Trowa needs to hear the words, but Duo nods anyway.

"Mm, hmm... that was... indescribable... and very, very good," Duo concludes, then he pouts just a little. "Why can't we keep him, W'fei?"

Wufei raises an eyebrow, then grins. "Because you do not wish to become spoiled by too much attention, Brightness, and because he has already been claimed. Here," he offers, then moves in to kiss Duo, who sighs happily into the kiss, then moans as it deepens, and is left panting when Wufei backs away again. "Happier now?"

"Mmm, much..." Duo stretches a little, then winces as the movement brings him back into contact with whatever that sharp thing is. "Ouch." He fumbles with his free hand, finally emerging with the offending object - a small bent bit of plasticized foil. He stares at it for a moment, then abruptly registers what it came from, and smiles, before tossing it off that way with a muttered "Go 'way".

Then he is being gently turned over, to face Trowa, who takes a while to search his face before asking, "Keep me? really?"

Duo nods, "Really, Tro - that was incredible. If you weren't already spoken for... You, m'dear, have nothing to worry about, okay? You do like that, you'll be just fine. You feel... really good. Hah - listen to me, out of words for the occasion. Dorothy's a lucky girl to have you - and going to be luckier, I think - whenever you get to that, that is. Is anybody else getting hungry or is it just me?"

Trowa laughs, and then kisses him lightly. "I think I will be soon enough."

"Hah, good. You could use more feeding," Wufei chuckles as well, then rolls back to sit up and glance towards the clock in the kitchen. "Although it is a bit early yet for dinner. Still -perhaps your lady is done with her work, and can join us for the meal? Somewhere other than here." He looks around the room, then nods. "Definitely, somewhere other than here."

"Okay! You go shower, Wufei, and Tro can call Dorothy, and I am just gonna lie here until it's my turn to get underwater," Duo says, before flopping dramatically over onto his back and faking a snore. Wufei just looks at him, then at Trowa, and motions towards the phone even as he starts to rise from his place on the floor. Trowa has barely gotten to his own feet when a startled "Waaugh!" from Duo causes him to look around in time to see his friend being slung fireman-style over one of Wufei's shoulders and carted off towards the bathroom.

"It is your turn to get underwater, Duo - unless you did not wish help with getting that mop combed out again after?" Wufei sounds distinctly amused, but any response is cut off by the closing of the door. In a moment, the sound of running water further muffles any conversation.

Trowa grins after the pair, then sits down at the desk and runs his hands over his hair before dialling up Dorothy's celvid line and checking to see if she's free to join them for dinner. Checking the clock - and leaving plenty of time for the shower to clear - he sets up dinner arrangements, then blows Dorothy a quick kiss before hanging up. Taking a look around the room then, he begins shaking out blankets and folding them, mostly as something to do while he waits. He hasn't gotten too far, however, before he notices that the water has stopped, and barely manages to get the current blanket finished before the door creaks open and he's told that it's now his turn, and there should be plenty of hot water left for him. Duo is still scrubbing at his hair with a towel as the pair exit the bathroom and head towards their bedroom to find clothes.

By the time Trowa gets out of the bathroom himself, some ten minutes later, and wanders into the living room, his hosts are already seated on the couch, and Wufei is already in the process of braiding up Duo's hair. In another minute the job is finished, and Duo remarks, "That was quick."

"As you say - some things are private - and we are in something of a hurry as well. We can dry it properly after we get back," Wufei replies, snapping the elastic around the end of the tail and rising from the couch. He drops a small kiss on the back of Duo's neck, then looks around and spots Trowa lurking in the hallway. "Are you planning to dress again, Triton?"

"Uh, yeah. My stuff's out there still, though..."

"Whoops!" Duo chuckles, as Trowa heads for the couch, where his things are still neatly draped. It doesn't take Trowa long to pull his clothes back on, and rather than running back to his own quarters, Wufei offers him the use of a spare jacket. Duo suggests they finish clearing the floor now, since they have a little more time than Trowa bargained for, and with three sets of hands the apartment is soon fit to receive company again.

+

The three are even a little early for their dinner date. Dorothy is, predictably enough, a little bit late - a last minute emergency with a headscarf, she explains breathlessly as she is shown to the booth by the side windows of the small cafe, where the three young men have already been seated. Trowa stands up to let her slide to the inside seat by the window, across from Duo, then sits back down, unconsciously taking up the same guard position Wufei has.

Duo looks at them, then grins as he recognizes their postures, but says nothing aloud. He knows very well that he's nowhere close to being in Wufei's class at hand-to-hand, should things come to that, just as Wufei is no marksman - and it makes Wufei feel good to be able to take the more obviously protective role. Besides, in all fairness, if Wufei's skills are called upon, then that really isn't a viable quick exit route anyway, so it really isn't a sacrifice on that count either. Not to mention, a few extra seconds to aim don't hurt anything. No, instead, Duo slips a hand under the table to rest on Wufei's knee, giving it a small squeeze, and when Wufei leans back with a questioning look, he leans in close enough to whisper in the proffered ear, "You're doing it again - and I love you too."

Wufei blinks, then realizes what Duo is talking about, and flushes a little, but squeezes Duo's hand back - and promptly resumes his position, giving Duo the tiniest of smirks as he does so, and inclining his head briefly towards Trowa.

"I know," Duo mouths back, grins, and picks up his water glass.

Dinner arrives shortly, Trowa having put an order in for Dorothy, and the conversation soon turns to the doings of the day. "So," Dorothy begins rather bluntly, turning to look at the pair across the table, "Triton assured me you two would be taking good care of him this weekend."

Trowa flushes a bright red and drops his face into his hands.

Wufei, Duo notices when he glances that way, is even beginning to colour, although it isn't nearly as noticeable on his darker features.

"Well, dahlin'," Duo drawls, "Ah could tell y'all he's been a verrah good boy." He pauses, then resumes in his own voice, "But I think I'd embarrass him and Wufei half to death if I did. Don't worry, Dorothy, he's nearly as important to us as he is to you." There is a definite hint of steel and gunpowder in his voice as he notes, "At least - as he ought to be to you." His voice softens almost immediately however, as he continues, "We've been being very gentle and careful with him, although we have been hurrying things a bit. I'm sure I wouldn't mind keeping him for some more review, though, if you don't want him back right away."

Trowa, who had been just about ready to pick his head up out of his hands, aborts the movement and, if it is possible, turns an even brighter shade of crimson.

Wufei, meanwhile, is having a hard time deciding between joining the blush brigade, rolling his eyes at Duo's behaviour, and smirking smugly at Trowa's reaction. However, when Duo continues, an impish sparkle in his bright blue eyes, "'Cause I think Wufei has been having nearly as much fun with him as I have," his decision is made. A deep wine colour stains his cheeks as one hand comes up to cover his eyes.

"So... it's going well, then? I mean, um - you've, ah, shown him whatever it was he needed to see? He's going to be able to work the rest of it out alright?"

Duo abruptly sobers, and focuses his full attention on Dorothy. "Look, Dorothy," he begins, expression as serious as his voice. "Unless you see something that doesn't show up in a mirror, I can't wave some magic fairy wand and make everything perfect. There's no nice tactful way to say this, so I'm going to settle for short and direct. Trowa's been through more shit than any of us, which is saying something, when it comes to love and trust. That isn't going to just disappear overnight, no matter what anyone does. We are all going to be having the nightmares for years to come, depressions, survivor's guilt, weird flashbacks and bouts of deja vu. It isn't pretty, and it is going to take time to deal with, love, support, lots of understanding. I know you've got more insight into what we've been through than most people, but even you really only know about a small portion of what happened during the war - and a lot of Trowa's shit is a lot older than that. Wufei and I, we're here if either of you need us, okay?"

Wufei has, by this point, recovered himself, and nods in agreement, when Dorothy looks in his direction. Trowa, as well, is watching both their faces. Under the table, his hand meets Dorothy's as both move to make contact with the other, and he twines his fingers loosely with hers.

"We've basically managed to show Tro a few possibilities that he didn't know about before, and reminded him that there is a gentle man underneath all the shells - one who can touch the world without causing pain. But we've done this a handful of times, maybe, compared to what he has spent his entire life believing. No fairy wand, remember? Hearing something once or twice is only the beginning, and there's a lot of work ahead for him. I know he can do it, though," Duo says, glancing over at Trowa. "He's made it this far, and he's not alone any more. I didn't find a family just so I could stand by and watch my brothers get hurt." The note of fierce protectiveness in Duo's voice startles Dorothy.

"He's going to need your help with some things. You can't expect him to read your mind. You're going to need to talk. Lots. Clearly and explicitly. You're going to need to ask for what you want, and tell him what you like, or don't. Make sure he knows what you're feeling - and that you will keep on telling him. And make sure he does the same - especially when he starts going silent on you," Duo instructs her. "Beyond that, it's really not my place to say, right? Except that you both need to make sure you're both on the same page before you try anything new. And you," he says, turning to look at Trowa, "I know you have been, but keep talking to her. That's why you ran into trouble in the first place - not talking about it. She can't read your mind, either, right?"

Trowa nods, a bit abashed, but speaks up anyway. "True, but - in this case just her knowing and telling me different wouldn't have done much good."

"Perhaps not, Triton, but it might have saved Dorothy some self-doubt," Wufei points out. "And you are not alone any more; you do have people to turn to who are going through exactly the same sorts of things - and you are welcome to come to us again -for any reason." Duo gives Wufei's knee a squeeze under the table.

"Seriously, Dorothy, I think we've been over everything we planned to do at least once. I skipped out on Professor Chang's lecture," Duo says, "but from what little I overheard, he went well beyond just the basics. We did skip a lot of the lying around and exploring stuff, but under the circumstances it seemed like the thing to do, and I'm sure you can figure that part out by yourselves. The physical part, that's easy. The emotional part, that's a lot more complicated, but I think we did okay for a kick-start, and again, most of it's up to you two. Yes, he's any good, yes, we'd take him back in a heartbeat, and no, we have no intention of trying to. Did I miss anything?"

"No, I don't think so," Dorothy says, a considering tone in her voice. "I gathered that you'd originally planned to keep him through tomorrow, too, but since you three are basically done, maybe Triton and I should take the time together ourselves instead - do some of that talking?"

"That sounds like a very good idea, Dorothy," Duo replies. "Besides, I think I have something to, um, discuss with Wufei anyway." Wufei lifts an eyebrow at that. "But you're also both welcome to come back with us tonight. That way, if you think of anything we did miss, we'll be right there to ask. The guest room's got a double bed, or someone can take the couch - up to you - and we can certainly drop by your place to pick up a change of clothes on the way, if you wanted to stay over. Or one of us can walk you home later. It's entirely up to you, but the option is there if you want to take it."

After some further discussion, Dorothy decides that's probably not a bad idea, awkward as it may initially seem, and so the walk back from the cafe takes a slight detour. Wufei and Duo drop back on the sidewalk to let the other couple lead, since they are actually familiar with the route, and both are happy to see Trowa's arm slip around Dorothy's waist, and vice versa, although Duo is made a little wistful by the sight. Still, he leans in to whisper "That's a good sign, there," to Wufei, who nods back. They soon arrive at the building where Dorothy lives, and when Trowa looks back for them, he finds that Duo and Wufei are already finding comfortable bits of the front wall to hold up, settling in to wait there.

"So, Duo," Wufei asks as Trowa opens the building door for Dorothy, "am I to get a hint as to what this mysterious 'something' is that you wanted to discuss with me later?"

"Oh, just something about fair play," Duo answers somewhat evasively, but he leans in to whisper something to Wufei as the doors close behind Trowa.

"Are you sure they won't mind having me there, Triton?" Dorothy asks of her boyfriend, as they are heading up the stairs towards her floor.

"Yup. They won't mind a bit. They'd never have asked you if they did mind - wouldn't have even mentioned the possibility, or that it's a guest room. Hmph," Trowa replies, "I'd almost say they were checking you over and making sure you were suitable."

Dorothy laughs. "You've got big brothers now, hmm?"

"Something like, yeah, although Duo always seems younger. You worried about making a good impression?"

"No, not really. It's just - I mean, it just feels a little weird somehow. I know you've said they're together, and from the cafe just now, but looking at them now..."

Trowa smiles lightly at that, and replies, "Oh, they are most definitely together. I think it's mostly that Wufei doesn't feel very comfortable with being physically affectionate in public - or something like that. He seems to be expanding his definition of 'non-public', but it's going slowly." The pair arrives outside Dorothy's door and they stop while she looks for her keys. Trowa continues, "I remember, back in May, he and Duo were, I suppose, testing the waters to see how we'd react if we thought they were together. I think we were all wondering where the pod was; Wufei was wrapped around Duo like... like this," he says, stepping up to press his body firmly against Dorothy's side, one arm wrapping around her front, the other coming up to gather a handful of her hair, "and he had Duo's braid wrapped around his other fist here. Heero sprained his elbow, falling on it, he was so surprised. And the thing is, it was honestly a joke then, for the most part. If you remember, that evening at the party they were all hands-off again; I'm guessing now, they didn't want to tell anyone else besides us guys." He steps back from Dorothy then, and she turns the key in the lock, and opens the door to her apartment.

Dorothy kicks her shoes off, and pads further into her home. Trowa takes the opportunity to look around, and notes the flowers still sitting on the kitchen table with a smile. It doesn't take Dorothy long to find what she needs and come back out of her bedroom, carrying her own small duffle, which Trowa takes from her. Shoes back on, they head out again, leaving the door to lock itself behind them.

"So, you're telling me what I've seen isn't what I get, then?" Dorothy picks up the conversation again.

"Yes and no. What you normally see is perfectly real, although I think there's a second level to a lot of their conversations that you have to really know them to even think to look for. Duo just does not lie; if he says something, it's strictly the truth, although what he doesn't say or the tone he uses can make it seem like something else completely, and he is a master of evasion. Wufei is very much the same way, although his reasons are different; more to the point, though, he's a very private person. Count yourself lucky, I think, to be given this opportunity."

"Hmm..." Dorothy muses. The pair reach the front doors of the building, and once more pick up their silent tail as they continue on towards the headquarters buildings, arms once again looped about each others' waists.

When they arrive at the door marked #17, the four young Preventers quietly file in, leaving shoes and jackets at the door and making for the living room. Wufei heads for the kitchen to set the kettle on, and Duo flops dramatically along the couch, claiming it for himself. Trowa, therefore, takes the obvious clue and leads Dorothy over to sit on the love seat, turning himself slightly so that his shoulder slips behind hers and his arm remains around her waist.

It isn't long before Wufei returns, a small lacquer tray with cups and teapot held carefully in both hands. He deposits the tray on the small table, and then looks at Duo until he sits up enough to make room for Wufei on the couch. Once Wufei is seated, Duo promptly sprawls back into his lap, earning himself an amused huff and a fond smile, much to Dorothy's surprise. "Yes, yes, but you will still have to sit up for the tea, Duo," Wufei remarks. Duo pouts cutely at that, but does in fact sit up and swing his legs down to the floor, and when the tea is ready a few minutes later he is the one who folds himself down beside the table to pour and pass around the cups.

Meanwhile, the conversation has turned to topics of general interest. Although Dorothy claims she doesn't know anything about the young woman Quatre brought 'round to the office on Friday, there is a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. Details, however, prove impossible to extract. Frustrated in his curiosity, Duo turns to discussing the reasoning behind Sally's imminent departure for Mars to play taxi for the newest set of Agents to be assigned there and to pick up Noin and the other Agents who joined her there. She's not due back until late in January, and Trowa wonders vaguely that Zechs doesn't seem more excited about Noin's impending return than he is, and Wufei speculates idly that it is a toss-up whether Sally was chosen for this because she wanted more to see the outbound crew off, or the returning crew safely home.

Duo, oddly enough, doesn't contribute much to the discussion, just leaning his head back against Wufei's knees and smiling quietly. Dorothy and Trowa, as well, gradually relax as the evening wears on, so that by the time Duo yawns and mentions bedtime, Dorothy is tucked up on the love seat, leaning comfortably into Trowa's loose embrace.

"Yes, it is getting late, is it not? We should be getting to bed, Duo, so that our guests may retire as well," Wufei remarks. "Give me a hand with the tea things?" The two discreetly disappear into the kitchen to allow their friends a moment to speak quietly together.

Trowa sits up a little straighter, shifting Dorothy to sit facing him, and takes her hands in his own, holding them lightly. "He's right, you know," he says. "It's getting pretty late, and we should think about getting some sleep as well. I'd like," he says, then pauses. Taking a deep breath, he tries again. "I'd like it if you'd join me, in there," he gets out, nodding towards the spare room. "Just to sleep. If you wanted to. But it seems a shame to waste the opportunity."

Dorothy takes one long, long moment to search Trowa's face, before offering him a hand. "I'd like that, too, Triton."

They are interrupted by Wufei, who clears his throat rather loudly on finding the pair still seated and evidently not planning to leave, before turning to Trowa to remind him that he should know where everything he might need is, and that they will, of course, be right down the hall should some emergency arise. Then he turns to follow Duo towards their bedroom, leaving the other couple to their own devices.

Perhaps ten minutes later, there is a knock on the master bedroom door.

"What is it, Triton?"

"Sorry to disturb you guys, but, uh... you wouldn't happen to have a spare elastic, would you, Wufei? Thanks, man..."

From further into the room, a small chuckle escapes.

[ch. 9] [ch. 11] [back to Bronze Tigress' fic]