Inspired by the many hours I've spent out on my dad's pontoon boat this summer. And my first 5x2 fic. ^_^
by: Caroline

Houseboat Haven + Part 1

"Is anyone following us?"

Duo turned to look out the back window of the old pickup truck he and Wufei had swiped from the OZ base several miles back.

"I don't see anybody. I think we lost them," the braided pilot remarked in relief. "So what do we do now?"

"Lay low for a while until they've given up looking for us. It's too dangerous for us to try and leave the area at the moment. This whole region is swarming with OZ personnel," the Chinese teen said, trying to concentrate on his driving, as the road they were on was very curvy and dangerous.

Duo stared forward through the windshield. The trees along the mountain road were hung so low and so close together, it almost felt like they were driving through a tunnel. He shifted his gaze to the side window, where he could catch glimpses of the valley below through breaks in the trees. It was so green and alive. 'Not at all like L2,' he thought sadly. 'Only the rich people could afford anything green and growing. Earth is so beautiful.'

"Where are we going to hole up? A little cabin in the mountains?" the American asked, eyes sparkling in hope.

"No. You'll see soon enough. Master O has made all the arrangements for us," Wufei replied. Duo's brow furrowed in confusion. 'If it's not a cabin, what else could it be around here? We don't dare stay in the town. God, please don't let it some run down shack in the woods with bugs and furry critters and snakes.' The violet-eyed boy suppressed a shudder. He didn't like snakes.

"How long did you say it would take to get there?" he asked after a long moment of silence, desperate for some conversation.

"About twenty minutes." Wufei reached over and flipped on the radio. "If you need something to amuse yourself, listen to some music for a while."

Duo frowned and turned away before Wufei could see the hurt look in his eyes. He knew the Chinese pilot wasn't happy about having been teamed up with him for this last mission. He also knew Wufei was even less happy about going into hiding with him. He didn't know what he had done to give the other boy such a bad impression of himself. He genuinely liked Wufei, and wanted nothing more than to become friends with the quiet pilot.

'You'd like to become more than friends, wouldn't you?' he asked himself as they drove. Duo felt a blush spread across his face. It was true. He had been attracted to the Chinese boy since they'd met. But he knew Wufei didn't feel the same. He barely tolerated Duo as it was. The American shoved his forbidden feelings aside. He didn't want to do anything to jeopardize the fragile... friendship? relationship? ...he had with the other pilot.

A song he knew came on the radio. Duo smiled and began to sing along quietly. Normally he would have been blasting the lyrics at the top of his lungs, but he didn't want to upset 'Fei. He never wanted to do anything to upset the dark-haired boy beside him.

Wufei had been correct about how much time they had left on their journey. Fifteen minutes later, they entered the valley. A couple of minutes after that, they were pulling into the parking lot of a boat dock on the edge of the town. Duo shivered in fear as he looked out over the large lake stretched out before him. He didn't like large bodies of water. Actually, terrified was the correct word. All that water collected in one place just seemed so... unnatural. And to think that most of that out there was at depths well over his head scared him to death.

Wufei had hopped out of the truck when they'd pulled in to the parking area to talk to a scraggly looking man waiting near the dock. The two exchanged words for a minute or so before Wufei handed him the keys to the truck and walked quickly back to where Duo was waiting in the cab.

"Grab your stuff, Maxwell."

Duo grabbed his pack and slid out of the truck. "What's going on?"

"It's part of Master O's plan. Jeb over there will take the truck from here, to throw anyone looking for it off our trail."

"Oh," the braided pilot said, walking away from their escape vehicle. "So what do we do? Hot wire a different car?"

"No."

Duo looked confused. "We're not going to walk to our safe house are we?"

"No."

"Damnit, Wufei! Will you tell me what's going on?"

The dark-haired pilot pointed down to the dock. "We'll be staying on that."

Duo followed the line of Wufei's finger, eyes widening as he saw what his partner was pointing at. "Oh no."

Wufei's eyes narrowed in confusion. "What's wrong with that?"

Duo shook his head. "There's no way you're going to get me on that thing!"

"Duo, we don't have time to stand around and argue..."

"No! Not only no, but hell no! Uh-uh. Forget. I'll walk to the safe house."

"Duo... it's a houseboat. That is our safe house."

Duo's eyes widened in shock. "You've got to be kidding me!"

"I'm not. What's wrong with it? You've been on boats before. You've even gone underwater in your Gundam before."

"I've been on Howard's big ass ship, where I could walk around and not even see the water. I've been in Deathscythe's cockpit where I knew the seals were watertight. That thing looks like it wouldn't last through a storm."

Wufei sighed. "It's perfectly safe, Duo. It may be a little old on the outside, but O assured me it would have everything we needed inside. Now pick up your gear and come on."

"No."

"Duo, I'm not going to wait around while you act like a spoiled child..."

"I said no, 'Fei! There is no way in hell you are going to get me on that floating deathtrap..."

"Shit!" Wufei swore, interrupting Duo's tirade. Duo saw him looking up at the mountain road they had just driven down. High above, several armored trucks were heading down the mountain... heading in their direction. "Duo, we don't have time to argue! Let's go."

Duo was on the verge of panic. He was caught between a rock and a hard place... or rather, the devil and the deep blue sea. Literally. He could either stay behind and get captured by OZ soldiers, or he could face certain death in the chilly waters of the mountain lake. He swallowed hard. He knew he couldn't allow himself to be captured. But he was frozen in place. He couldn't bring himself to take one step towards the water.

Wufei was already halfway down the wooden dock when he noticed Duo wasn't behind him. He turned and shouted angrily at the American. "Duo, come on! We have to be away from here when they arrive!"

Duo closed his eyes, shaking in fright. "I c...can't."

He heard Wufei running back up the dock, gravel crunching under his feet as he jumped off and back onto the parking area. Before Duo knew what was happening, he felt himself being lifted off his feet and slung over a muscular shoulder. "'Fei? What are you doing?"

"We have to go. Now!"

Duo started to struggle. "No! Let me down! I can take care of myself!"

Wufei stepped on the dock, moving swiftly towards the houseboat. Duo opened his eyes and gasped as he realized how close he was to the water. He froze immediately, too terrified to fight any longer. The Chinese pilot dumped Duo onto the front deck of the houseboat, then moved quickly to the controls just inside the glass door. Duo followed him blindly, not wanting to see the water any longer. Already the movement of the boat was making him ill. And unlike the time he stayed on Howard's ship, he didn't have any medication to quell his heaving stomach. He disappeared further into the cabin, taking deep breaths in order not to be sick all over the place. He sank down to the floor in the little hallway separating the kitchenette from the sleep quarters. He curled himself into a little ball, wishing the whole mess was over already.

"Duo! I need you to untie the moorings while I start the engine!" Wufei called from the front of the boat. Duo curled up tighter, shivering in fear. He couldn't even find his voice long enough to refuse Wufei's request.

The Chinese pilot stuck his head around the corner to yell at him. "Duo, did you hear me?"

"I... I c...can't, 'F...fei. I'm s...sick," the braided teen stuttered, refusing to open his eyes.

"Dammit, Maxwell!" Wufei cursed as he slammed out of the cabin to untie the moorings himself.

Duo barely heard him move around the boat before finally returning to the controls. He was only vaguely aware of the motor starting up, and the boat moving away from the dock. But as soon as they passed the "No Wake" marker and Wufei threw the throttle forward, Duo cried out, eyes opening wide to look for something... anything to be sick in. The motion of the boat across the choppy water was going to make him sick. His eyes fell on a large bowl in one of the kitchenette cupboards. He only barely managed to grab it before his stomach rebelled. He heaved until there was nothing left. His sides hurt with the exertion. He gingerly placed the bowl on the floor and curled up again, feeling extremely cold, and wishing he was anywhere but out there on the water in a boat that looked like it would sink during the next small storm.

+

Wufei steered the houseboat out of the small inlet where the dock was located and around several of the small islands in the middle of the lake. With any luck, the OZ soldiers would think they were still in the truck and not out here hiding on the water. There were other boats on the lake, but they more likely than not belonged to the townspeople. Still, better safe than sorry, he avoided them, pulling as close to one of the islands as possible, out of sight of the mainland. He cut the engine and hurried outside to drop the little anchor to keep the wind from blowing them into the island.

When everything was done, Wufei turned his attention to finding the braided pilot and give him a lecture on foolishness and responsibility. Idly he wondered how such a baka could have become a Gundam pilot. Wufei seriously doubted the sanity of whichever scientist was behind Duo's training and subsequent position as pilot. Still... there was something to the violet-eyed boy. He had a deep heart and a dedication that rivaled his own. But that was no excuse for not helping him at the dock. 'Sick. Right. He was perfectly fine in the truck. How could he have gotten sick so quickly. Baka.'

"Duo! Get out here!" he called aloud, tapping his foot impatiently. When he received no answer, Wufei narrowed his eyes and decided to go looking for the errant pilot. "Duo!"

A low moan from the little, darkened hallway caught his attention. Flipping on the overhead light, Wufei gasped as he saw the Deathscythe pilot huddled in a heap on the floor.

"Duo!"

The American was curled around what appeared to be a bowl. Wufei knelt by his side and gently pried it from his grasp, crying out in surprise when he saw what was in it. "By the heavens, you really are sick, aren't you?" he asked as he tried to get the unresponsive pilot to sit up.

Something was wrong. Duo's head lolled back lifelessly as Wufei tried to help him sit up. Even in the dim light of the hallway, he could tell that the young American was very, very pale. He placed a hand on Duo's forehead, cursing when he felt how cold and clammy the boy seemed to be.

'Shit! He's going into shock! How the hell did that happen?' he thought, picking Duo's light body off the floor.

He shoved open the door to the sleeping quarters and lay Duo on the bed gently. He hurried to the small washroom to wet a towel with lukewarm water. He made his way back to the bed and used the towel to clean Duo's face of sweat and vomit. Tossing the towel aside, he eased Duo into a sitting position in order to strip him of his soiled shirt. Wadding the garment into a little ball to be cleaned later, he went to work on the American's pants, leaving him clad only in his black silk boxers.

'When did he have time to buy silk boxers?' he wondered, blushing slightly at Duo's semi-nude form. Ignoring his body's reaction, he tucked the braided pilot in, drawing up all the covers in an effort to get some warmth back into Duo's body. To his relief, Duo buried himself beneath the blankets, his cheeks gaining some color as the boy slipped into a more normal sleep. Wufei picked up Duo's clothes and stuffed them in the bathroom to be cleaned later. Methodically, we went around the boat, making a mental inventory of supplies and stowing both his and Duo's gear. He hoped the other pilot was all right. They couldn't afford to lose him now.

'We can't afford to lose him, or you can't afford to lose him?' his conscience asked as he worked. He hurriedly pushed aside the thought. No sense dwelling on it if he didn't know the answer... or was unwilling to face the truth.

[part 2] [back to Caroline's fic]