by Bronze Tigress
Apr.9, AC197, 2130hrs
PHQ single residency apt. #205
(current home of Chang Wufei)
Braiding Duo's hair doesn't
take Wufei very long, and he is soon asking for the elastic to wrap around
the end. The skill itself is a familiar one, although when he learned
it, he had been expecting to use it on his own queue, and not on a fellow
ex-pilot's fingertip-length mane. And 'fellow' is exactly right, Wufei
reminds himself. He is suddenly concerned, given Duo's quick request to
get his hair finished, that he is being overly personal by resting his
hands so. He knows well that the rules on contact differ here from those
he grew up with, even given the difference between public and private
spaces; he has seen a couple of... vigorous rejections of too-familiar
contact in the short time he has been living in Sanq, and does not wish
to have to defend himself against one. //Not that I couldn't defend myself!
But I do not want to end up hurting Duo more in the process.//
So, Wufei is very careful how he phrases his next words. "There, your
hair is all done. Hmm... This bench is too narrow to work on your back
properly without a lot of shuffling, and this lovely industrial carpeting
is not nearly as comfortable to lie on as a tatami would be; we could
use the bed, though..."
Duo nods his thanks, then stands up and peers at the two closed doors.
"Sounds like a good idea. I'm guessing that door is the bathroom, right?
I think I need to visit there first..."
"Yes, it is; I'll just go... straighten up or something." //That went
well... I think...//
Five minutes later, Duo peeks carefully around the corner of the bedroom
doorway to see Wufei straightening the already perfectly-flat covers on
the bed. Grinning a little to himself, he backs just as silently out of
the room before 'making his exit' from the bathroom with a little less
stealth. When he pokes his head around the doorframe this time, Wufei
is sitting nonchalantly on the bed, apparently just waiting, and rolling
a small bottle between his palms to warm it.
"Wufei? Ah, there you are... where do you want me?"
"Just here will be fine. You'll need to take the shirt off, too, so I
can see what I'm doing better - and so that I have not been warming this
for no purpose," he smiles wryly, holding up the bottle. //Much as I like
that lovely tight red shirt on you, I'm sure it will look lovely
on my floor as well.//
Duo smiles as well, and moves to undo the zipper at the throat of his
red pullover shirt. However, when Duo grasps the shirt hem to pull it
off over his head, he gasps suddenly, dropping the shirt and clutching
his wrist instead. "Shit! That hurt..." Wufei is already standing beside
him, concern written on his face, by the time he opens his eyes from squeezing
them shut against the sudden pain of twisting the cracked bones against
"Are you alright?" he asks. Duo nods slightly, so Wufei continues, "do
you want to try again, or do you want some help?"
"Uff. I think I can manage, Wufei - just as long as I remember not to
twist it again..." he replies wryly, reaching for the shirt again.
This time he manages to slip the shirt off over his head with no further
Wufei takes the opportunity, while Duo hangs his shirt carefully on the
doorknob and then stretches himself out, catlike, face down on the near
side of the bed, to appraise and admire the view. Duo's frame is still
as slight as it ever was, although he, like all of the boys, has grown
a little taller since the end of the Eve Wars. Nobody really had the time
to notice things like that the last time they worked together, but there
are now a few variations in height. Duo is nearly as tall as Trowa now,
and Quatre is lagging behind the others somewhat. On the other hand, it
seems likely that Wufei himself has nearly finished growing. If things
keep on at this rate, Duo may well end up the tallest of the lot, Wufei
muses. By the time Wufei's thoughts reach him again, Duo is situated and
still, and Wufei moves to kneel on the bed beside him, leaning over slightly.
Wufei's hands are warm on Duo's shoulders where they first come to rest,
almost impossibly gentle as they move his hair out of the way, brush away
a few stray tendrils that didn't quite want to go into the braid, and
moves the fine silver chain out of his way. //Lovely...// Pouring a small
amount of the warmed massage oil into his palm and recapping the bottle,
he starts, first skimming lightly over the upper part of the shoulders,
then coming back again, more firmly, questing for the sore points, and
finally settling in to work out the knots. The process is repeated on
Duo's neck, after a murmured command and the guidance of gentle hands
to turn his head straight.
When the muscles in Duo's neck have relaxed somewhat, Wufei enquires after
stiffness or headache, and isn't terribly surprised to get affirmative
answers to both. He thinks for a moment, thumbs still idly working the
long muscles beneath them. //Well, he isn't Yui, after all, so perhaps
it would be best... yes, he won't have the opportunity to tense up beforehand
that way, but...//
"Do you trust me?" It seems an odd question given their relative positions
to Duo, yet it spills from Wufei's lips as if it were the most natural
thing in the Earthsphere to ask at this moment. Normally, Duo Maxwell
wouldn't - doesn't - trust anyone as far as he could comfortably
spit out a live rat. Make friends with, sure. Keep close? You betcha.
Watch like a hawk? Abso-fucking-lutely. Trust? Hell, no.
On the other hand, this is Wufei, who has been saving the world alongside
him, for the last two years, off and on, and whom he has never known to
be less than honourable - although, to be sure, his choice in causes has
been rather questionable from time to time. Still, it looks like he has
currently chosen to spend his evening looking after one Duo Maxwell -
and Wufei is not one to lightly change his mind. And after all, he realizes,
he has already turned his back on the man... to say nothing of letting
down his hair, or taking half his clothes off. In fact, now that he thinks
about it, the question has, really, already been answered. //I wonder
just when that happened...// The frozen moment of decision and
realization ended, Duo nods, voicing a mumbled agreement as well.
Wufei nods as well, unaware of the full magnitude of the half-voiced confession
but still somehow sensing some of its import. "Hmm... roll over, then,
and slide down a little; it will make this next part easier..." Wufei
stands up, and moves to the head of the bed, directing Duo to move downwards
a little bit further. Duo is both confused by and curious about the request,
but goes with it, purely on trust, for the moment. "Good, that's fine
right there. Now relax, let your head be heavy..." Wufei instructs.
A knee settles beside one of Duo's shoulders, and then another by the
other, and one strong hand comes to cradle the back of Duo's skull just
at the base, stroking the muscles in his neck gently yet with a firm,
sure movement of calloused fingers. Duo's eyes open wide as he stares
up into those of the man who is now kneeling over his head.
Wufei looks down with a confident, yet somehow soft expression. With his
free hand, he traces a finger down Duo's forehead, then down the bridge
of his nose, and he says, softly, in a voice like warm honey, "close your
eyes, Duo, and just... let go." Duo's eyelids obediently flutter down,
as if dragged by voice and hand alike.
//Waitasec, did he just use my name?//
The finger skips from the tip of Duo's pert nose down to his chin and
then a hand cups around his jaw. There is a sudden sharp *twist*
and *jerk* and *crackcrackcrackpop* (1) and the hand on
his jaw is moving smoothly and gently to trace along his jawbone and brush
across the soft skin beneath his ear even as Duo's eyes are flying open
and his hands are coming up off his chest to - well, to do something,
before his ears register the liquid voice still speaking softly and steadily.
"Relax, Maxwell, I know exactly how hard I have to push before your pretty
neck is in any danger, and that wasn't anywhere near hard enough," Wufei
chuckles. "Although you nearly tagged me there. It does sound horrible,
I know. Now, hush, relax again, let your head fall and we'll do the other
//Maybe not... but...//
The hands change position, the other one taking over the tracing of features
this time, hesitating slightly at the dip of his chin before the hand
settles on his jaw, and the thumb moves almost as if in a caress as it
tightens before the *jerk * twist * POP* is repeated in the other
direction. Duo tenses and shudders involuntarily at the sensation and
most especially the sound, but once again it is done before he can really
"All done, Maxwell," comes Wufei's voice again, and Duo lets his eyes
and fists unclench, as he takes a deep breath.
//Pretty neck? Did he just say... Oh, man... Please let me be reading
him right, please...//
The movement Wufei makes is almost definitely a caress as the hand he
has on Duo's chin moves to join the one already under his head, and then
hard fingers press into the points where the neck and skull meet, seeming
almost to be seeking to separate the two. Again, Duo's eyes fly open,
once again meeting Wufei's warm gaze. "Afraid I might take your head off?"
Wufei gives another slight chuckle at Duo's somewhat wide-eyed expression.
"I promise, I'll put it back on again. I thought I might as well check
some of the configuration switches while I had it off, though; has everything
been running alright for you?" The barest hint of a smile, and a decided
twitch to one eyebrow, pass across Wufei's face, and Duo blinks in shock,
then laughs softly in answering humour.
"Leaving aside the fact that I'm not entirely sure I haven't just been
called an idiot," he pauses, questions in eyes and voice. //Gentle hands...
never guess they belonged a warrior...//
"Never that, Maxwell. You, too, were chosen by the Gundam," Wufei answers
him. "I merely thought you might like a check of your volume settings;
you have been very quiet this evening, and I was c... surprised."
//I wonder what he was going to say before he caught himself?//"It's
been a very long day for me, Wufei - the time difference and all - and
it's the busiest I've been in a while. Working in the scrapyard doesn't
usually give you quite the same sort of adrenaline rush as saving the
world! On the other hand," Duo continues, a light smirk dancing about
the corners of his mouth, "maybe I ought to have my head examined;
here I am lying half-naked in a strange man's bed, with my head in his
lap, and all I can think of is that I wish he'd roll me over and work
out some of my kinks..." //And man am I going to need to have it examined
if I've read him wrong - right after they scrape me off the walls...//
Wufei's eyes widen almost comically as several possible implications of
that particular phrase cross through his mind. //Ancestors, don't tell
me he's flirting with me! Then again, maybe that isn't a bad thing...//
"Oh, don't look at me like that," Duo continues, laughing, "you are
kinda strange, Chang-san, and I mean that in the nicest way. Nobody else
quite like ya." //Still in one piece, that's good...//
"Aah, I suppose there is that." //Then again, if he is flirting
with me...// A smirk of his own crosses Wufei's face before he adds, "but,
right now, I would like you to roll over, and tell me all about
these kinks you want to have me work out."
//Oh, Great Shinigami.// Duo chokes back a surprised snort on hearing
these most unlikely words from his normally serious friend, then chuckles
and rolls over, fetching up with his face pressed against one hard, well-muscled,
uniform-clad thigh. "I can't believe you - you, of all people -
just said that... heeheehee... Jeez - that's my line..."
Duo's head rubs lightly against Wufei's leg as his shoulders shake with
quiet laughter, and his arms have landed on either side of Wufei's knee,
one hand nearly brushing his ankle. Wufei freezes. //Too close, too damned
close...// For an instant, he stops breathing altogether, before he grabs
for his self-control again. //Ancestors! Does he know how good that feels?
Breathe, Chang...// Slowly, too slowly, he calms.
When Duo's laughter subsides somewhat, Wufei lays a hand lightly on his
back before moving, easing his knee out of Duo's hands before swinging
off the bed. He grabs the bottle of oil again before taking the two steps
down and back onto the bed to kneel straddling Duo's hips, knees at his
waist, and carefully avoiding making any other contact. //No, that would
probably not be a good idea,// he thinks, even as his hands begin their
work on his patient's upper back. //I can't read him well enough to guess
how he'd react to that... even if he was flirting with me
just now. He may not lie, but that doesn't mean he would not imply
something that was not, and a flirtation need never be serious...//
From there, things proceed smoothly for a while. Wufei concentrates on
the job at hand, and as Duo's muscles relax down as far as the bottom
of his ribs, so does some of the peculiar tension that has taken up residence
halfway between Wufei's navel and heart. //Enjoy the moment while it is
here, Chang; it is never the same river twice.//
As he gets to the small of Duo's back, however, he realizes his self-appointed
task extends down past the waistband of Duo's pants. A few tentative passes
over the heavy material convince him of the futility of trying to work
through them. //Oh, damn it all; these things will have to come off to
finish this properly. And I'll be damned if I can figure out whether that's
a good thing or a bad one...// "Ah, Maxwell? Would you mind taking these
//Pants off? oh, shit...// "Um, are you sure you want me to do that, Wufei?
I'm kinda not, uh..." //Sure picked a good day to go commando...//
"Ah." Without further words, Wufei opens a nearby drawer and reaching
in blindly, grabs a small towel. "Drape that over your hips if it makes
you feel better? I'll be right back, I need to get something..."
//Yeah, Chang - try an ice pack. What are you thinking of, or are
you? Has it truly been so long since you laid hands on... no, check
that, it has been that long... but Duo?// All the possible
objections - that he is a foreigner, male, a nameless child of the streets,
and quite probably most emphatically not willing or even interested,
despite his teasing behaviour - flit through his mind and are dismissed
as irrelevant except as they affect the last. Wufei stands in the middle
of the kitchen for a good minute, staring unseeingly at the empty teapot
on the countertop, before he realizes that the small rustling noises from
the bedroom have stopped. //Get it together, Chang.//
Opening the fridge on impulse, he grabs a couple of cans of cold soda
instead - something clear and nearly flavourless, but sweet and bubbly.
//Good, I've still got these in here. I'm not used to the bubbles yet,
and it'll help clear my head. I could use a clear head right about now...//
Heading back towards the bedroom door, he calls ahead, "Duo? Are you all
"Yeah, I'm all ready for ya..."
//Oh, that is so not helping...// Wufei rounds the corner of the
doorframe, eyes automatically going to the bed and its occupant. //Well,
shit. That's the towel I gave 'Lan, just before we... No, don't
go there.// Wufei sets one of the cans down on the bedside table and pops
the tab on the other, taking a long slam before sitting down gingerly
on the edge of the bed. //Do not go there...//
When Wufei looks up again, Duo is leaning up on his elbows, injured wrist
resting on the bed, and taking a considerably more polite swallow from
the second can. "Thank you, Wufei," he smiles.
A long silence follows, with no further movement on Wufei's part. "Wufei?
"Ah. Yes. I... just realized which towel I grabbed; it brings back...
"I'm sorry; do you want to get a different one?" //What memories?//
"I doubt it would help, Maxwell; it was just the crowning touch. That
towel - it was part of the... gift I gave to my Nataku to apologize to
her after our first fight - literally. She challenged me, mind you - something
ridiculous about showing me her justice. I won the match, and lost the
argument, although it took a lecture from Master O before I saw that.
My... apology ended with more than just the massage; after that, we got
on together a lot better."(3)
//Nataku was a woman? For sure his Gundam never challenged him...
More than just... Oh!// "And this was bad, how?" Duo's question seems
to startle Wufei.
"Ah..." Wufei begins, then pauses again, entirely at a loss for words.
"Hmm. Lemme guess - it's been way too long since you last saw her,
and seeing me here in just this particular towel didn't help." //Skin
hunger, for sure, but what else?//(4)
Wufei nods his head at the concise summation of his current difficulty
- even if his reasons are not quite what he suspects Duo believes to be
//He isn't afraid to keep going, is he? Of what he might do? Am
I?// Duo sips again, then carefully sets the can down on the bedside table
before twisting around to look directly at his friend. "Wufei - after
all we've been through together, I trust you, even if you don't
trust yourself. With my life - literally; I think we just proved that
one. I think I can trust you with my body - or I wouldn't be here.
Shinigami hasn't been around this long without learning a few things about
staying out of trouble. I know you're not the most hands-on kinda guy
normally, but..." He trails off somewhat uncertainly.
"But?" Wufei prompts, setting his own drink aside.
//No, he might want to, but... that's just not him.// Duo looks
directly into Wufei's face, searching for something there, before he continues
speaking. "Look, maybe I'm getting the wrong conclusion here, but just
listen, okay? I wouldn't have even come home with you in the first place
if I had been the least bit worried that you'd do something dishonourable
- whether I had any other options or not. I slept on the streets for most
of my life, I can do it again. I'm here, though. With you. I trust
Wufei bows his head, thoughts whirling, and Duo guesses at his confusion.
"Wufei - have you ever had a cat?" A nod. "Where I grew up - the cats,
they always knew who they could go up to and who to keep away from. I
like to think I learned something from them." Wufei cocks his head in
inquiry, and Duo continues, "and I'd be..." then shakes his head to clear
the image of waving paws from his thoughts. "No, that's beside the point.
Look. I was really enjoying what you were doing. It's okay, you can touch
me. Hell, do whatever you want - I know you're not gonna do anything to
hurt me. Please - continue?"
"Even knowing that I...?" //that I don't want to let you go, that I ache
to hold someone close so that I can pretend for a night that someone cares
a little for me, that I want there to be more to this than just the kinship
of having a common foe?//
"Wufei!" Duo sounds just a little exasperated by now. "I don't lie, remember?
And I trust you. Okay?" //Knowing what? Guessing lots, but...//
"As you wish, then," Wufei replies softly, standing to turn and then climb
back onto the bed. This time, he kneels straddling Duo's thighs, so that
he can easily reach the muscles of his lower back, and picks up where
he left off.
In the end, Duo falls asleep under Wufei's touch. With a sigh of mingled
relief and disappointment, Wufei slips into the bathroom to change into
pajama pants (feeling the need to actually wear them to sleep in for a
change). He takes a moment then to straighten the room up a little, and
fetches the spare blanket from its drawer on his way back to the bedroom,
where he stands looking down at Duo's sleeping form for a minute.
//He did say he missed sleeping with someone else, and there should be
enough room for us both. Che. Never thought I'd actually be glad to be
so small.// After a moment's consideration of the rough blanket, he folds
the quilt back over top of Duo before spreading the blanket over the whole
bed. Then he turns out the lights and pads carefully back to slip under
the sheets on his side, turning to face away from Duo, his back just barely
making contact with the warm, solid presence there. It isn't long before
he, too, is asleep.
(1) Do *NOT* try this at home. I cannot stress this enough. Done incorrectly,
the technique may cause serious injury, paralysis, or death. Do not attempt
it. Yes, I do think Wufei would be familiar with the technique, and even
more so with its lethal counterpart.
(2) author's interpolation of events portrayed in Episode Zero, taken
with comments from the directors concerning Wufei's ABC experience; it's
fairly clear *something* happened to change her attitude towards him,
and there can't have been that much time between their fight and the OZ
(3) skin hunger - an intrinsic need for physical contact and comfort
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