by Bronze Tigress

Rainbow Sherbet + Chapter 7

Saturday morning : On Your Mark, Get Set...

Zechs wakes late, having had to stay up long enough to let his hair dry somewhat after washing the colour out of it before going to bed. Not that the colour would have come off on clothes or linens - the formula, once applied with the requisite sort of brush, bonds to the hair. However, it becomes water-soluble when soap or detergent of any variety is applied, so it is truly a temporary effect. The more unusual colours -the blues and greens and pinks - are quite popular for club-goers who want to add a little sparkle, and the more usual hair colours are quite often used in the hair salons to add highlights for special occasion hairdo's, or to give a client a chance to see what a particular shade will look like before they use a more permanent colouring agent.

That said, Zechs' natural hair colour is so pale that he usually has to wash it twice to get all traces of the powder out, so this morning sees him once again under water, scrubbing the shampoo thoroughly through his hair, and spending a little more time reminiscing on the evening just past. It felt... really nice to be able to do that - just spend time with the guys. He felt like part of a team, in a way he really hasn't since his piloting skills set him apart from the other soldiers in OZ, and his notoriety ever since has been such that he had nearly given up hope of finding that again. And it was... fun to be able to go out dancing like that; it just plain felt good to be able to be human, to have that little bit of human contact. He hadn't even realized he'd been missing it, but it had been so good to be able to just enjoy himself and his company...

All too soon, however, he is done and emerges to dress in nondescript clothes so that he can attend to the tasks of collecting flowers and picking up the lovely formal afternoon suit he ordered for this afternoon without drawing too much attention to himself. He plans to get back in plenty of time so that he can have lunch and get dressed before driving himself over to the pickup point he specified for the limo - a spot in front of one of the palace's minor residences, to which he would be entitled if it weren't so dreadfully inconvenient. He resolves to have a word with Relena very soon about getting it properly set up - just in case.

Trowa, on the other hand, wakes at his usual time and spends a quiet morning wondering if he really has finally lost all his marbles. After all, he is about to face one of his larger fears, head on, and there will be no hiding from it, now. Still, he thinks, it hasn't been so bad up to now. Parts of the past week have been quite pleasant. In fact, most of the time he has been spending with Duo and Wufei has been very pleasant indeed, once he has let go his initial fear-filled reactions. These are people he has known and worked with over the last two and a half years, now - even though he hasn't really had as much of an opportunity to work with these two as he has with Heero and Quatre - and there is no doubting their words to him. That they care deeply for him cannot be questioned; neither would say such a thing were it untrue. Duo, simply on the principle of the thing, and Wufei, because it would not be honourable to take such a sentiment lightly.

And they have not only promised him the possibility of a pleasant experience, but have shown him what that possibility looks like. In fact, he muses, it looked as if Duo was getting more pleasure out of their union than Wufei was, as he thinks about the expressions they were wearing. And he has to admit the back rubs received and given were pleasant in their own right - as was the dancing last night. That had been... safe enough, given the dimness of the club's lighting and its dress code, which tended to be a bit conservative. It had been fun to show off his moves, and although he still wasn't sure where it had come from, the various closer dances had also been, well, fun - for lack of any better terminology.

By the time he calls over to Duo and Wufei's apartment, a little after 0900hrs, to be sure that the other two are awake, he's quite settled and calm - and even beginning to get a little excited at the prospect.

They are, indeed, up, and have cleaned up themselves and the apartment, but have yet to formulate any particular plan of action for the day, when he arrives there a short time later. The three young men discuss a little among themselves. Given that Trowa wants to try "everything", the question is more one of what is to come first. The receive-and-copy method having worked rather well for him on Wednesday evening, it is suggested again. Of course, the problem there is that, really, he's afraid to be hurt this way, and the way he shifts in his seat as he says it speaks volumes. So Duo shares a bit of his own experience - "Like flying, man" - and Wufei is able to reassure him that he is quite willing to stop if necessary, and they need not continue if Trowa doesn't feel able to...

"This is for you, Tro," Duo puts in then. "All we can do is offer; I think it'll help you to take us up on this, but you don't have to if you don't want to - you can walk out any time. No strings, no debt, no pressure, no nothing. And it's not like you can leave us both high and dry, right? I'm sure we'd both prefer you finish anything you start, but..." Duo shrugs, "we have each other if it comes to that, so that's not a valid reason to mess yourself up, right? This is your show, remember?"

Wufei adds that he is not the sort of man to take an unwilling partner - a fact which caused him much grief from the elders, in fact, until... but that's another story. However, that much of a hint leaves Trowa curious, and Duo hasn't heard the full tale before either. So Wufei relates the story of how he was informed that he'd been chosen as Meilan's husband. Since there were no male grandchildren, she became the heir, although normally only the men would stay with the family, and women would be married into a new clan. His family was, sort of, honoured that one of their sons had been chosen, but it did him no great honour for his own self. Wufei's voice is no longer bitter as he relates this, but the hint of pain remains as he translates the words that described his role as "unnecessary husband".(1)

"Oh, man. No wonder you spent so much time and energy trying to prove yourself worthy... shit, 'Fei... that sucks..." Duo's voice aches for his lover's pain.

It does explain, however, how Wufei came to be a Dragon - for however brief a time that term was valid; he is unsure as to whether he is now entitled to call himself that. Officially, Wufei supposes, the marriage was a form of adoption into the Long clan, but his family was well enough off that he was not required to change his own name, merely -merely! - that which his children - and it was assumed that he would be having children - would carry. Honour, he points out, was evidently much more important to his Nataku than to his own clan, just as Justice was always her battle cry... "It does not matter now, however; she is dead, and there will be no more Dragons.

"In any case, we did not get along very well. It was an arranged marriage, and I had been raised a scholar and pacifist - hush, Duo, I am coming to that - where she had been raised a warrior, a fighter for justice. She wanted nothing to do with me, it seemed - and that is where the trouble with the elders came in. But she was beautiful, and a fiery bright spirit, and I wanted..."

Wufei shakes his head, and then says, "One morning, I had gone out back to the field to read. Meilan came out there, just as it started to spit rain, and she picked a fight with me. She said," he pauses to laugh - a dry, humourless laugh - before he continues, "She said she wanted to show me her justice; I beat her in three moves. She could not understand how it was possible for me to win the match, and I told her something I really should have remembered, afterwards - that justice is found in individual circumstances, not in simple strength, and that battles based on such a concept were meaningless. Master O told me, later, that I had not won at all, and why.

"Later that day, I made my apologies - and offered to make amends for the injury to her shoulder. Only justice, was my excuse." He laughs, mocking himself with the sound. "She taunted me, then, again, about not being a worthy husband, not fulfilling my duties. Yet how could I?" Wufei's voice takes on a wry note as he adds, "It is a bit difficult to do from outside the bedchamber she occupied. She had nothing else to say after I pointed that out, but, when I got done with her shoulder, we, ah... she..."

"Led you off to bed?" is Duo's helpful suggestion. Wufei nods. "I remember you saying something about the evening after that fight..."

"Yes. Thank you. After that night, things were better between us, although she was always so proud. Then OZ attacked, and she took the Tallgeese out to fight them. Merquise tells me he nearly died the first time he piloted it, from the physical stress on his body, and he was then as he is now. Meilan - she was even smaller than I, and I am not overly large myself. I realize now that she was effectively already dead when she first took off, but at the time I could not have known. She wanted to save the flowers in the field behind the house. The flowers! I took Shenlong out, still unarmed, to defend her. In the end, she saved me, and it killed her. I took up her fight, then; it was all I could offer her ghost. I never even really had a chance to make it work between us, although I did at least get to try, for that short time..." He breaks off then, trying valiantly to suppress the old pain.

Duo has by this time gotten up, and sat down beside Wufei, and wraps him gently in a soft and comforting hug. "She must have loved you too, by the end, 'Fei... did you think she would have saved that Gundam if somebody else were in it? That she cared for the machine more than for you? It was your flowers she was defending - your place, where you would go to sit and read and be you... She loved you, 'Fei..." Duo kisses his beloved softly on the forehead and pulls him closer, rearranging his legs so that Wufei is tucked closely against the whole length of his body, his head resting against Duo's chest as a too long repressed sob erupts. Duo strokes his lover's back softly, murmuring, "She loved you, 'Fei. I love you... It's okay, baby... I love you..."

Trowa, forgotten in the moment, stands quietly, and goes into the bathroom, where he wets a small towel with cool water and wrings it out, before padding softly back into the living room. When Wufei seems to have mostly wound down, he briefly catches Duo's eyes, then lays a hand on Wufei's shoulder, and says, quietly, "You are a man of great honour and worth, Wufei. For as long as I have known you, even when you didn't believe it yourself, even when we weren't fighting on the same side, or even for the same purpose, you have always, always been an honourable man, and worthy of my utmost respect. I am privileged beyond words to be considered your brother." He puts the cloth into Wufei's hands, then, and gives Wufei's shoulder a comforting squeeze before backing away.

Wufei nods, then, and after a moment he pulls away from Duo's shoulder and wipes at his face with the damp towel. He only has time to sniff once before large hands are taking the towel and placing a tissue in his hands instead. He wipes at his nose, clearing the last of the tears away, and the hands retrieve the tissue as well, as he leans his forehead into Duo's shoulder for a few last moments to compose himself. Duo's voice above his head says softly, "Kitchen, cupboard under the sink." Wufei's head snaps up as he remembers that there has been more than one witness to his grief and he struggles briefly for a moment to sit up straighter, but then there is a third hand resting comfortingly between his shoulders, and another on his knee, as Trowa kneels beside him and speaks softly, "Shh... savaa, mo namii, savaa... saa saa..."(2) The words don't make any sense to Wufei, but the tone is soothing and accepting, and he absorbs the sentiment, dredging calmness out of the comforting presences of his friend and lover.

"Well, then," he finally remarks, with a trace of his familiar dry humour lurking around the edges of his voice, "Where were we before I..."

"Hmm," Duo is already cutting in. "I think we were trying to decide how many different shades of pink we were going to make Tro here turn before we actually got down to doin' the horizontal mamba with him..." And Trowa does, indeed, flush at the words, although there is a distinct aura of excitement hanging over him as well. Wufei blinks, evidently processing Duo's peculiar terminology for a moment, and then nods, and gets up from the couch.

"I will return shortly," he offers as he walks into the bedroom. Trowa looks at Duo, a question in his eyes. Duo shakes his head and spreads his hands in confusion. They only have a moment to wait and listen to the sounds of rummaging, however, before Wufei returns with several objects in his hands. He carries his treasures to the low table and spreads them out so that they can be easily seen, and begins spreading them out, naming things as he does so: "Towels - very handy; lube -likewise; condoms, which we will be using some of now - take the rest of those home with you, by the way, Triton; pencils, and paper." The listed items have been spread out, drawing apparatus stacked neatly on top of the artists' sketchbook that formed the lowest layer of the stack.

"You're going to draw him a picture?" is Duo's somewhat incredulous exclamation.

"Of course, Duo - unless you happen to see a willing female lying about the place to act as a model?" Wufei's voice has adopted what might be taken for a smugly superior tone, were it not combined with the glint of mischief in his dark eyes; evidently Duo hadn't yet considered that part of the equation. It should be surprising, perhaps, but as it probably had more to do with his being focused on the more immediate concerns, Wufei is content to stop there. "Besides which, I did rather promise such a lecture... What we are going to be doing differs in several important ways from what Dorothy will be expecting, and I am not so good at verbal descriptions as you in this language that I can manage without some sort of visual aid..."

That said, Wufei picks up the pad and pencil, and begins rapidly sketching something. When he puts the pad down less than a minute later, Duo blinks, then flat out stares at the paper, before laughingly commenting, "Geez, 'Fei, I thought you knew how to draw..."

"Oh, hush, Duo, and look at what the cute little stick people are doing," is the response he gets. Sure enough, when Duo looks again, he laughs again, but this time in recognition. Four pairs of stick people are engaged in intimate, if two dimensional, embraces upon the page. Moreover, their hairstyles have been adjusted to suggest the people who had taken, or would be taking, the positions thus illustrated.

"Now, Triton - you saw this position already," he says, pointing to the first pair of stick figures, "and this one beside it as well. Both allow you to see your partners face, and put the deliverer largely in charge of the motion; they are rather popular, as positions go. Now, this one here, as you see," he points to another pair of figures, one with a shock of hair over its face, the other with what appears to be a small ponytail, "is how I would like to put you - and I would suggest it for the first time with your lady as well - it puts the receiver largely in charge of the motion, but still gives the eye contact."

Trowa, leaning in to see, nods as he follows the different positions indicated, figuring the relative ranges of movement, as Wufei continues his explanation. "And this one here gives the deliverer the best view of what he is doing, although you do lose out on the eye contact - and I am thinking to have you take Duo like this afterwards, yes? Since I can keep an eye on his reactions as well, just in case." Both Trowa and Duo nod at this point. "All agreed? Good, then. Now, lecture for the sake of lecture is done. Yes, we will get to some other topics later, but for now, are you ready? Comfortable? Do you need anything? A drink? The bathroom? Best go now, save distraction later... "

Trowa obediently disappears towards the bathroom, partly out of need for the facilities, and partly to splash some water on his face, and spend a minute staring at his reflection in the mirror, telling himself one more time that this isn't like those other times, that this is Duo and Wufei out there, with all that that implies, and that yes, he does want to do this. And, breathing deeply, and thinking back over the past few days, he realizes that at least part of the fluttering in his stomach is due to excitement rather than nerves. In fact, the more he thinks about it, the more the prospect of finding out just what it is that can reduce Duo Maxwell - of all people - to a shivering, incoherent mass excites him.

A knock on the door startles him out of his reverie. "Triton? Are you well?" Wufei's voice is more curious than concerned, although Trowa has a feeling that it could very easily become concerned if he doesn't say something quickly. "I'm fine, Wufei. Sorry to worry you, I was just... thinking, mostly." He opens the door as he speaks, smiling as he meets his friend's eyes.

Wufei nods, then slips by him, saying, "Go on, then. Duo is waiting for you out there; he could use a hand." The door clicks shut behind him without leaving time for Trowa to demand an explanation of the cryptic phrase.

However, the meaning becomes immediately obvious as he returns to the living room. Duo is having some trouble with spreading a blanket out evenly on the floor there, and there is a folded quilt and a small pile of pillows and cushions on the floor behind him. The table has been moved right up against the wall, and with Trowa's help the centre of the room is quickly transformed into a comfortable area to lie down - or play around on. As they work, Duo asks, "Did you want me to stick around for this, or leave you two alone? I mean, I'd like to stay, but if it makes you uncomfortable I can go read or something..."

"No, stay. I... think I'd like that. Knowing I'm not here alone might keep a lid on the memories so I can focus on the present..."

"Fair enough. Maybe I'll be able to see what it is my Dragon there is doing to me that feels so damned good, too. I'm pretty sure he'd like a try, although he's never said as much. I've never really been coherent enough to figure it out by the feel, though, and you're not the only one who doesn't want to screw this up." Duo gives a saucy wink, then, scooting a little closer, he asks, "Is it starting something if I kiss you first, today?"

"No, I don't think so. At least, not today. But I'll spare you the indecision," is Trowa's response. He gathers Duo into his arms, brushes their lips together gently once, then kisses him again, more deeply.

The sight that meets Wufei's eyes, therefore, when he rounds the corner into the living room, is that of Trowa and Duo, kneeling together in the center of the floor, lips locked in a very thorough and passionate kiss. As he watches, Duo's small hungry whimper is all he needs to hear to know that Trowa has learned this particular lesson very well. The sound, and the sight, combine to stir life to certain lower regions of his body. The thought that the two ex-pilots are very pretty together crosses his mind as he walks softly across the floor, hands already moving to lift his shirt over his head and deposit it on the couch on his way to join them. He wonders briefly if he is more than usually attracted to their colouring, noting the similarities, but dismisses the thought as being of no consequence; neither one would be half as attractive to him without their being _who_ they are.

Wufei sinks to his own knees behind Trowa, attracting his attention as he passes beside him, and lays his hands on a hip and shoulder before leaning in to lay a trail of small kisses along Trowa's bare neck, up towards his ear. Wufei slips his hand up to rest on Trowa's waist, tugging at the loose fold of his shirt with his fingers, then nips lightly at Trowa's earlobe before softly saying, "I think perhaps we are all a bit over dressed."

++

(1) according to my research, this is a possible situation that would allow Meilan, a girl, to be clan heir and still preserve the usual customs of marriage as observed in traditional Chinese society. The term for Wufei's position is given as 'zhui xu' - literally, "unnecessary husband" or "superfluous son-in-law". The society as a whole was very strongly patriarchal and patrilineal, to the point that women were not even always given their own names, instead being referred to as their father's daughter, husband's wife, or son's mother. References are available on request.

(2) Trowa says, "ca va, mon ami, ca va"; (literally 'it goes') "it's alright, my friend, it's alright" in French.

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