by Bronze Tigress
Apr. 10, AC197; early morning
PHQ single residency apt. #205
and Preventers Headquarters cafe
When Duo wakes the next morning, he is blissfully relaxed. A warm lethargy
seems to have been wrapped around him like stained-glass sunbeams on polished
wood; the only sour note is the slow throb beginning to make itself felt
in his wrist, but even that isn't enough to drag him out of his comfortable
spot. He is surprised to note that it is already beginning to be light
out. That means, he realizes, that he slept without nightmares last night,
even after having been in action again the day before. And, he realizes,
he's pleasantly warm, too, for a change - all wrapped up and cuddled up
close... He stiffens suddenly. //Wait a minute... cuddled? What happened
last night, again? Conversation... hair... massage... and then... No,
that's the end of it. Either those meds were something else... but that
makes no sense; Wufei wouldn't have lied about what they were.//
As Duo is mulling over these thoughts, an arm flops over his midsection,
and pulls him snugly up against the solid body curled up around and behind
him. //Hmmmm... feels nice.// Curious, Duo looks down. //That's definitely
Wufei's arm... Is he still asleep? Well, I did tell him to do whatever
he wanted, so I guess...// He squirms a bit, then slips his hand down
to check out just what happened to his... well, his towel, he supposes,
since he does remember stripping down during the massage. //Well, that's
still there, and... Yeah, I'm all wrapped up in the quilt. Looks like
he just bundled me up in it before crashing himself.//
Duo pulls his hand back up and runs his fingers through his bangs, then
untangles the chain from around his neck and idly rubs his fingers over
his cross, thinking. //Well, let's see. Butt naked except for a towel
and wrapped in blankets. Separately wrapped, though. Not sore anywhere.
I doubt I could have slept through that, anyway - these meds aren't
that good. So nothing else happened. I guess he must get lonely
for someone to cuddle with at night too.// He squirms a little, worming
himself into the embrace just that much closer, enjoying the feeling.
//Heh; points for the intuition; knew I was right about him.// He smiles
to himself, the barest upturn of lips and a warm shine in half-opened
eyes. //God, I missed this feeling; safe, warm, close... Wonder how he's
gonna react to waking up wrapped around me like this, though...//
He doesn't have to wonder long. There's a sleepy murmur behind him that
sounds like "Lan..." and the arm around his waist tightens slightly -
Wufei's thoughts, on finding that the warm body in his arms is not, in
fact, yet another dream of times past, are considerably more jumbled.
//No, it can't be her, she's long dead - even before the others were.
Then... who? that scent... the colour of those shoulders, that scar...
Duo? Yes, it must be; nobody else has hair like that, but... why is he
in my bed with me...?//
As he becomes more awake, scenes from the night before flicker through
Wufei's memory. //Oh... right. Is he awake yet? It's already light out,
so it's probably time to get up anyway...//Wufei shifts then, propping
himself up to half sit while leaning on his elbow, then pulls back the
arm he has wrapped around Duo, carefully but not skittishly. //I wonder...
Damn, I hope I didn't screw up some weird cultural thing...// A quick
glance past the form of his (hopefully!) still sleeping bedmate at the
clock confirms that it is, indeed, probably about time to get up, especially
considering that they will have to share the bathroom. He rests a hand
on Duo's shoulder, gripping gently and rocking back and forth lightly.
"Maxwell? You awake? Come on, sleepy, time to get up..."
Duo shifts then, sounding far too awake to have been just woken as he
replies, "I would, Wufei, but I wasn't sure you wanted me walking around
in just this towel, and I don't see my pants out there..." He squirms
over onto his back and then sits up, the quilt and blanket puddling around
his hips as he does so. He absently reaches up with his bad wrist to tug
his cross back to the front and hisses sharply before trying again with
the other hand.
//Well, I guess that answers that; he doesn't seem upset to have woken
up here.// "Ah, I folded them on the chair out there," Wufei explains,
as he folds back his own sheets. //And he was awake before me...// He
gets up to fetch Duo's pants, deciding that there's no point in being
bashful now. He's three steps away from the bed before the swish of fabric
around his ankles reminds him that he is wearing something after
all. //And he didn't move away, either. Knowing Duo, if he had minded,
he would have moved, pants or not. Speaking of which,// Wufei thinks as
he takes a good look at the state of Duo's pants. They definitely show
signs of having been worn, slept in, and then dragged through the mud,
now that the light is better. He picks them up and walks back to the bedroom.
"Considering what you put these through yesterday, do you want to borrow
something of mine for now? We can wash your things after breakfast; I
need to run some laundry anyway..."
"Hmmm, thank you, I'd appreciate that," Duo says. Wufei drops the pants
into a hamper in the corner, then takes Duo's shirt off the doorknob and
tosses it in as well. "Sally didn't give me much time to pack, and I figured
tools were gonna be more important... Um... You wouldn't happen to have
coffee, would you? And maybe a shower once my clothes are clean...?" Duo
sounds distinctly hopeful.
"Yes, actually, to both, but no milk, if you take that." Wufei smiles
as he bends down to open one of the dresser drawers, rummaging through
it to find a pair of pants that might fit the now slightly taller //very
attractive// young man who is sitting //naked// in his bed. //Focus, Chang.//
"Oh," Duo comments. "Tea would be fine then I guess; I can't seem to get
used to drinking my coffee black," he says.
"Here, try these," Wufei says, handing Duo a pair of loose sweat pants
which he seldom wears because they tend to drag and bunch at his ankles.
"The bathroom is yours; I need to get my things together, and then take
my shower once you have done." //Probably a cold one.// He watches as
Duo swivels his feet out of bed, then prudently turns back to the dresser,
looking through one of the upper drawers this time. "We can go down to
the on-duty cafe for breakfast rather than stay here, so you can have
your coffee how you like it; I do not believe I am in the mood for cold
"Eeeww!" Duo's face, as he finishes pulling the loose grey sweatpants
on, is twisted in a comical grimace. "Cold rice for breakfast? That's
worse than black coffee, Wufei... Yeesh, you been taking cooking lessons
from Heero or something?"
"No, actually. I've been giving cooking lessons to Yui, but that
is rather beside the point, is it not?" Wufei nearly laughs at the startled
look on Duo's face as this bit of information is revealed. "Go on, and
don't take too long in there; you sounded like you need to take some more
of those meds."
When Duo gets back out of the bathroom a few minutes later, Wufei is waiting
for him with a glass of water and more of the pain medicine and one of
the antibiotic pills as well. "Here, take this now too." He watches while
Duo takes his medicine, holding the pills on one outstretched palm, then
turns to pick up a small stack of clean clothing from the countertop.
"There are shirts in the third drawer; feel free to pick one you like.
I should be out shortly, and then we can go find you some coffee, hmm?"
20 minutes later, Wufei is looking and feeling relatively professional
again, although his neatly tied back hair is still quite damp. Duo has
found, after some very careful rummaging, a plain emerald green T-shirt
that isn't decorated with kanji. //With my luck, I'd be sure to get the
one that Wufei only wears when he wants to flip off the world. Or the
one that reads 'Property of Nataku'. Better not to tempt fate...// Wufei
nods approvingly at him as he slips his own shoes on, and somewhere, a
small, vain voice in Duo's head bounces excitedly.
The pair don't run into anyone on the way to breakfast, which makes Wufei
much easier over the subject. He does have a reputation to uphold, after
all! Having had overnight company would be bad enough. Having his overnight
company recognized as being dressed in his clothes would only raise speculations
he isn't quite sure he's yet prepared to deal with. He's really not certain
that the fact that his overnight company happens to be male improves that
It would not have raised too many eyebrows back on A0206 (in fact,
Wufei well remembers his youngest uncle's _qidi_(1), who used to read
him the best stories when he was a tiny child), so long as his filial
duties were fulfilled. And, as he reminds himself, he no longer has
those - not that they would necessarily have interfered with his taking
a lover in any case. //And let us not get ahead of ourselves, Chang...
You still don't know for certain if he is even interested... Although
he does seem to be available... and not completely opposed to the idea...//
However, there seem to be very few male couples here in the Sanq area,
and Wufei is rather leery of causing any further rumours about himself
to be spread. Already he is suspected of being an ex-terrorist (true though
that is!) and of having applied for his position via Sally's bed (most
emphatically not true!). He doesn't see any need to add to the
list. So Wufei offers a silent thanks to his ancestors as they arrive
without undue notice at the cafe, and join the line for service.
The two make their way through the line and are soon sitting at a quiet
table far enough from anyone to prevent casual eavesdropping, but not
so far hidden away as to arouse suspicion that their conversation might
be interesting enough to warrant the attempt. Once they are seated, Duo
asks the question that has been plaguing him for the past half hour, "so,
"My wife, Meilan.(2) I must apologize for this morning, I suppose."
"No, Wufei, it's okay, I lik... I mean, I wasn't planning to crash in
your bed like that..." he says, and takes a large swig of coffee. //Shinigami,
why can't I stop blurting things out around him?// When he puts the cup
down, he is already steering the conversation back to a safer topic. "I
didn't know you were married, Wufei. Why isn't she here with you?" //...and
if he is, then what the fuck...?//
"She died, in an OZ attack on my colony, about six months before we came
to Earth. You could not have known; I didn't exactly tell any of you much
about my past. Now, what was that about liking waking up that way?"
"I," Duo stutters, surprised at having been caught out and questioned.
//Shit. He did catch it.// "Well," he begins again, "at the orphanage
all us little ones, we'd get packed in four to a bed going the wrong way.
I guess it was cheaper than separate cots for everyone, and it was warmer
in the winter. It was nice, kinda like being home again. I didn't have
the nightmares last night, either, which is really strange considering
we were fighting yesterday, even if it did turn out okay. Damn, if I'd
known in advance what I know about that now, I would've dropped it quicker,
y'know? My wrist still hurts this morning..." //...a widower at 14? Dear
"Ah, but if you had known in advance, would you have come? No, never mind."
Wufei fiddles with his breakfast for a moment before apparently changing
the subject, asking, "what will you do next?"
"Huh? Oh, well... I have that appointment this morning to talk to Une,
but after that, I need to go back to L2 for a while. I have some business
with Hilde to take care of. I was thinking last night - when you were
about down to my shoulder blades - that I couldn't just keep avoiding
the issue with her. I may not be telling her I've got the same happy-little-family
dreams she does, but I haven't discouraged her any, either, and it's time
I stopped letting her lie to herself. I've got too much to deal with from
the war, still, to be worrying about settling down with her and having
kids, and, well... She deserves the chance to go look for someone who
can give her what she wants, you know?"
Wufei nods. "Yes, that would probably be kindest to her."
Duo gazes at his coffee cup for a moment before looking up again. //Fuck
it. All he can do is reject me; if he was gonna kill me he'd've done it
last night.// "Last night is the first time I haven't dreamed that Deathscythe
was about to push the button on me since we said goodbye to them last
month, y'know? And before that, it was the soldiers I killed, or the other
kids from the orphanage or the gangs, or..." He shudders with the memories.
"Anyway... d'you mind if I stay with you for the rest of the time I'm
here? It won't be for more than a couple of days, but unless I get a lift
the commercial shuttles don't run straight to L2 so often, and I hate
having to stop over at the Moon Base, after all the trouble we've had
Wufei chuckles slightly at the reference. "I do not mind. You know, if
you do take the position, it will be easier to arrange transport. I take
it you are interested in Une's offer, then?"
"Uh, huh. I just need to wrap things up with Hilde and her yard, first,
before I can start, provided I like the terms. I might need to stay with
you for a couple of days while I found my own place, then, too..."
//I wonder...// "Maxwell..." Wufei sounds oddly tentative, and Duo finds
it rather unsettling to hear his normally self-confident friend so unsure
of himself. "If you do come to work here... Would you consider a longer-term
"Huh?" Duo is startled enough to be rendered speechless.
"They have some larger apartments over on the other side of the courtyard.
They are two-bedroom units, and they are mostly empty so far; I shouldn't
have any trouble getting one, but they are on leases, not available on
a short-term basis like the singles."
"Um, Wufei?" Duo is plainly surprised by the implications of that information,
taken with the previous question. "Are you asking me to move in with you?
Maybe I need to check your head this morning..."
"I think my head is probably fine - perhaps more so than you have been
privy to previously, in fact - but thank you for offering," Wufei smiles.
"Think about it, though. They are not quite as big as two of the singles
put together, but with only the one kitchen and bath, there is more living
space; the rent works out to less when split two ways as well."
"So, it's just a better deal? Why not pick someone else, then, who won't
be in your face all the time? Heero, Quatre, and Hilde can all tell you
I'm not a quiet person to live with."
Wufei smiles. "A number of reasons, in truth. We work well together in
the field, for one. And you do know how - and when -to be quiet. Also,
I was thinking about what you said last night... About having someone
around who understands the nightmares without having them explained, and
what losing your family and being helpless to save them feels like. And
something else. Do you know, you had that damned loud ever-competent ever-confident
grinning mask off the whole time last night? Even after
the narcotic wore off."
Duo blinks as he realizes that it's quite true. "Yeah, I did, didn't I?
Didn't need it, I guess..."
Wufei nods. "I thought as much. And you have mentioned feeling at home
again, several times now. I don't know. We could try it, though; if it
does not work, we would just find separate places after the lease expires."
Wufei is, by this time, toying with his fork rather than making any pretence
whatsoever at eating.
"It means a lot to you that I agree, doesn't it, Wufei? Why?"
//Here goes..// "Because of the nightmare I did not have last night, either."
Wufei glances up at Duo's face, barely catching the fleeting expression
of shock. "Yes, my dreams are still... less than pleasant. How could they
be otherwise, after what we have done, what we have seen?" Wufei pauses
for a sip of his tea. "I am becoming wary of making assumptions about
how people will react to things here, where the oddest things are the
opposite of what I expect. But you have as much as told me that it did
not bother you to wake up as we did. It also occurred to me that
what is good enough for an Emperor is surely good enough for me, especially
now that I am the one who must choose for myself. I have already fulfilled
my family duty of marriage, and I have been freed of it."
"Family duty? That seems like an awfully strange way to think about someone
"Love?" Wufei makes a rude snorting noise. "No, not among my people. Love
might come, but it was never the point, nor ever required. No. Marriage
was never about love on my Colony, only the family line."(3)
"Even my marriage, much as I came to wish otherwise," Wufei comments with
a somewhat bitter laugh. "Oh, she hated that I even walked the colony,
much less that I was deemed necessary to continue her family's line. Not
even my family's line, but hers. And here I talk of honour! Laoshi
O tried to send me back to my studies, when she died, but instead I chose
to take up her cause, to fight for justice.(4) Stupid, no? I didn't believe
in her Justice, and I certainly didn't understand it. It was all I could
think of to do, however.
"After the Eve War," Wufei continues, "I spent a full year trying to learn
what justice is, since I never did find it in avenging her death.
Khushrenada - I did not kill him, in the end; rather, he threw himself
onto my trident. Vulcanus, the affair with Sogran, even that foolish scheme
of Quatre's - none of them helped.(5) Mariemeia provided the key, in the
end; without her, Yui would never have been forced to remind me of who
I began fighting for. I finally remembered what I knew all along - justice
is not an absolute, and trying to make it one only causes more senseless
deaths - like hers was. But now, Nataku is gone, in both her incarnations,
and I am done with mourning her."
"Well, that explains a lot, but could you go over the bit about
Emperors for me again?"
"Ah. Any number of Emperors, according to the histories, saw fit to take
another man into their households - and presumably from the literature,
their hearts and beds. Of course, it was hardly unknown among the common
people either, but their stories did not tend to get recorded in the same
scrolls - then, or on the Colony. How common this occurrence was varied
by Dynasty, and after the Western influx that fact was... suppressed for
a long time, but I was a scholar after all, to begin with."(6)
"Oh. And you're telling me this now because...?" //Into their hearts?
Does he mean..?//
"Because now... Hah! This is where I should borrow a trick from your book
and evade the question, I suppose. But after this morning, I think I do
not wish to hide. Because... I liked waking up like that, as well, and
I would very much like to understand... what this is that I feel for you."
Wufei's voice has grown quiet, and it is edged with all sorts of emotions
that Duo has to struggle to guess at.
//Oh... my... God...// Duo finishes his breakfast in silence after this,
broken only by his asking Wufei if he would like a refill when he goes
to fetch a second cup of coffee for himself, and if he wanted sugar.
Long notes for this part, but Broze spent a lot of time compiling this
(1) _qidi_ - technically, "adopted younger brother". However, the term
was used specifically to refer to the younger of a pair of bonded male
lovers. A ceremony similar to that for swearing blood brotherhood, but
containing the same promises to fulfil obligations as a marriage, was
commonly used to celebrate the union. The _qixiong_ (the elder of the
pair) would be responsible for his _qidi_ in much the same manner as he
would be for a wife, and the _qidi_ would be treated as a son-in-law by
the _qixiong_'s parents. Wufei's uncle and uncle-in-law are my creations.
(2) While the katakana is indeterminate on the subject of R's and L's,
the kanji used here is listed in my reference source as being pronounced
'Lan', so I'm using this version of her name.
(3) Wufei is quite correct. In a society where the bride and bridegroom
never saw each other before the wedding, it is ludicrous to think that
love played any part in the selection process. Instead, it was a duty
to one's family to marry the selected person and produce children - preferably
male - in order to continue the family line.
(4) According to my research, since Meilan is identified as Long Shirin's
heir, Wufei, in contradiction to usual practice (whereby Meilan would
become a member of the Chang family/clan), was being "adopted" via the
marriage into the Long clan as their son. His children, if not he himself
(which would have been a great dishonour to his own family), would have
been required to take her family name, in order to continue the Long family
line. In other words, Meilan remained Long Meilan, not becoming Chang
Meilan at any point; if any changing of names took place, then Chang Wufei
became Long Wufei for the time that he was married.
The term for Wufei's position in Meilan's family translates roughly as
"superfluous husband" or "unnecessary son-in-law" - no wonder he speaks
of having to prove himself worthy of being her husband! However, with
Meilan's death, any of his children would not be Longs by blood anyway,
hence he was 'set free' - and Master O tells him so at the end of his
Ep0. What he wants at the time is to avenge his wife and carry out her
justice, but it doesn't negate the fact that as her "widow" (because the
role of a widower was quite different) he was essentially being dismissed
from the Long clan.
(5) Wufei refers to the events shown in Battlefield of Pacifists,
Blind Target, and Ground Zero, respectively.
(6) The existence of male Consorts is recorded in the official documents
of the relevant Dynasties, while the associated love stories are recorded
in the literature of these eras (and regarded among the classics). In
the 1800's, however, European visitors began importing Christian views
of morality, as well as Western definitions of homosexuality. As a consequence,
today it is difficult to find information on the subject. Just how 'traditional'
the society on A0206 was, of course, is up to an individual author to
(More) Author notes: yes, I am aware that there is a fan site which states
that Wufei's culture is matriarchal, and that Long Shirin is Meilan's
grandmother; and, that this "fact" has been widely copied. This is, from
my research, quite incorrect. I believe I have also found the source of
this bit of misinformation, where the description given contradicts the
word used. Reference links available on request.
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