sapity sap sap sap
by: Caroline

Houseboat Haven + Part 4

Duo sat huddled at one end of the small couch, watching Wufei bustle around the kitchenette making hot chocolate. Dusk was beginning to fall, and with it, the temperature. For that, Duo was grateful. The midday sun had turned the cabin into an oven, and while Wufei's swimming lessons had taught him how to stay afloat and swim short distances, he still wasn't comfortable enough to go out on deck where it was cooler.

The braided pilot yawned and turned his gaze back to the darkening purple sky. It was very peaceful, being out here on the lake, but he had to admit, it was kind of boring as well. If only he had a book to read...

"Here, Duo," Wufei said, breaking him out of his thoughts. Duo looked up to see the Chinese pilot holding a mug out to him.

"Thanks," the braided teen mumbled, blushing as he took the cup. He sipped on it in silence, avoiding Wufei's gaze. Neither he nor the dark-haired teen had mentioned the kiss they'd shared. Duo grew warm just thinking about it. He glanced at Wufei again. The Shenlong pilot was fiddling with his laptop with an unreadable expression on his face. Duo wished he knew what the other teen was thinking. Was he, too, thinking about the kiss? Duo sighed dejectedly and turned his eyes to stare down at his hot chocolate.

A sudden noise emanating from the laptop caused him to jump slightly. He looked up, eyes open wide with amazement. His favorite vid program was playing on the screen. He turned his startled gaze to Wufei.

"How did you get that?" he asked.

Wufei shrugged. "There's a dish on top of the houseboat. I just connected it to my laptop. You were looking a little bored, and I knew this was your favorite show..." The Chinese pilot trailed off, looking somewhat embarrassed.

Duo smiled. Wufei had been paying attention to him after all. Maybe... maybe Wufei really did like him. He watched the other teen sit down on the other end of the couch as far away from Duo as possible. The braided boy frowned. That just wouldn't do.

Setting his mug on the floor, Duo crawled across the couch to sit on his knees next to the Chinese boy. Wufei turned his head to look at him.

"What is it, Maxwell?" he growled halfheartedly.

Duo stared at him without speaking for a long moment. Just as Wufei opened his mouth to speak again, Duo launched himself at the dark-eyed pilot. He wrapped his arms tightly around Wufei's neck and squeezed his eyes shut before any tears could leak out. He didn't know what had come over him. He had been planning on teasing Wufei to try and get a smile out of the stoic boy, but staring into those dark, chocolate eyes, he had been overcome with emotion. A strong wave of unfamiliar feelings had threatened to sweep him away, and so he had reached out to the one anchor he knew could keep him grounded.

"Duo?" Wufei asked, wrapping his own arms around the boy's body.

The braided teen sniffed and clutched tighter. "Thank you," he whispered softly.

"What for?"

"For caring. No one's cared for me in such a long time... I'd almost forgotten what it felt like."

Wufei held him for a moment longer before gently pulling him away. He reached up to wipe away one lone tear that had fallen onto Duo's smooth cheek. "How could I not care? You're beautiful, both inside and out." Both boys blushed at those words. "You're an easy person to love, Duo. Anyone who can't see that is a fool."

Duo blushed warmly, looking down at his hands. 'Wait a minute - did I just hear that right? Did he just say... love?' He glanced back up to see Wufei watching him intently. 'Surely he didn't mean it that way. No one can love me. I can't let them. Anyone who loves me dies. I can't - I won't let that happen to Wufei as well.'

But gazing into the Chinese boy's dark eyes, Duo felt it was already too late. Before being stuck together on this floating deathtrap, Duo had certainly been attracted to the other pilot. But now, after spending several days in such close proximity, and having Wufei take care of him, and the kiss - Duo had lost his heart to the dark-haired boy. And while he prayed that Wufei hadn't done the same, deep down he harbored the hope that the Chinese pilot did feel something for him as well. They'd both been alone for too long. This bloody war could easily destroy them. But together - together they would be stronger. And perhaps, having someone to love could help them come out of this war alive and a little less emotionally scarred than if they were alone.

"Duo?" Wufei's concerned voice broke him out of his reverie once again.

The braided pilot offered him a smile. "I'm okay. I was just thinking."

"May I ask what about?"

Duo shrugged. "Just stuff. You mostly, and about how lucky I am to be stuck out here with you. Heero probably would have tossed me overboard long before now."

Wufei grunted. "Baka. I'm the lucky one. Now be quiet and settle down. You're missing your show."

The Chinese pilot drew Duo down into a sitting position next to him and wrapped one arm around the braided boy's shoulders. Duo snuggled happily into the crook of Wufei's arm as he turned his attention to the program. He would worry about love later. Right now, he was content just to be close to the other boy. Nearly two hours later, Wufei looked down at the boy resting on his shoulder. Duo had fallen asleep about twenty minutes before, clutching onto him like a security blanket. The Chinese pilot smiled softly as he reached out to brush Duo's bangs out of his face.

'Poor kid. Swimming must have really worn him out,' he thought, trying to get Duo into a sitting position without waking him up. He managed to slither out of Duo's grasp without awakening him. Duo whimpered in protest at the loss of the warm body beside him. Inwardly, Wufei made the same sound.

He walked over to his laptop and shut it down, then headed for the sink in the kitchenette. He stumbled the last few steps as the boat rocked on the water. Peering out the window at the darkened sky, he frowned. There were no stars shining, and the wind was picking up. The water was getting choppier by the minute.

'Looks like it's going to storm. I'd better get Duo into bed, then secure the boat,' he thought as he filled a glass with some water and grabbed one of Duo's anti-nausea pills.

He walked back to the couch as carefully as possible with the deck rolling beneath him. But as he approached the sleeping figure on the couch, he had to pause. He'd seen Duo asleep before, but lying on the couch, curled up like a kitten with a soft smile on his face, Duo looked like an angel. Wufei's heart melted at the sight. His breath caught in his throat as a multitude of feelings swelled through him - admiration for the boy's courage, pride for facing his fears, friendship, devotion, and... something else. Something he hadn't felt since Meiran had died. Something he wanted, but was afraid to face.

Wufei closed his eyes and pushed all those feelings aside. They could wait until after everything was secure. Right now, he wanted to get Duo into bed and asleep before the storm arrived. With any luck, the braided pilot would sleep right through it. The water was bound to get rough tonight. He didn't want Duo to wake up and be afraid of the boat as it rocked on the waves.

Reaching out, he gently shook Duo's shoulder. The long-haired pilot stirred slightly, mumbling in his sleep.

Wufei tried again. "Duo, I need you to wake up."

One violet eye opened part way, looking up at him in confusion. "'Fei? Wh' time is it?" he asked sleepily.

"Time for bed. You've had a long day. You need to take your pill and get some sleep. Can you sit up?"

Duo nodded sleepily and pushed himself up. Wufei pressed the pill into Duo's hand. The braided boy swallowed it, Wufei holding the glass so he could chase it down with the water. Once that task was accomplished, the dark-haired teen set the glass aside and pulled his partner to his feet. Duo swayed groggily for a moment, but managed to keep his balance.

"Come on, Duo. Let's get you into bed," Wufei said, guiding the boy through the cabin and into the bedroom. Duo followed obediently, still half asleep.

They reached the bedroom without incident. Wufei flipped on the overhead light and led Duo over to the bed. He set the American down on the edge of the bed, then, after a moment's hesitation, began divesting the braided boy of his clothing. Duo allowed himself to be undressed, lifting his limbs when required. His eyes were closed, and Wufei wondered if he had fallen asleep during the process.

When Duo had been stripped down to his boxers, Wufei maneuvered him onto the bed, blushing as he touched the other boy's bare skin. He pulled up the covers around the sleeping pilot and turned to leave when Duo's voice stopped him.

"'Fei?"

"Yes, Duo?"

"Where do you sleep? If there's only one bed, it isn't fair for me to use it all the time. We could take turns or... I wouldn't mind sharing."

Wufei's heart flipped at Duo's offer. He'd love nothing more than to share the small bed with the American, feeling Duo's warmth curled up next to his body as he had been on the couch. For a moment, he was tempted to take Duo up on his offer, but he knew the violet-eyed boy might regret it in the morning. The braided pilot was half-asleep and might not be fully aware of what he was saying. Besides, Wufei wasn't entirely sure he could control himself if he and Duo were to share the same bed. The Deathscythe pilot evoked such strong feelings in him that he was afraid what he might do if he found himself sleeping next to Duo.

"The couch folds out into a bed," he answered the sleepy boy. "It's quite comfortable. Don't worry about me."

"Okay," Duo said, sounding almost unhappy - or was that Wufei's imagination? "G'night 'Fei."

The Chinese boy stood watching the American sleep for a long moment before clicking out the light with a sigh and closing the door behind him.

"Good night, Duo."

+

*BOOOOOOOM*

Wufei jerked awake, breathing heavily. He blinked for a moment, trying to get his bearings. Outside, a streak of lightning flashed across the sky, lighting up the darkened room. The wind was howling outside and rain was battering the roof of the cabin. The boat rocked almost violently on the waves being produced by the storm. Wufei turned on the sofa bed to glance at the clock. 3 A.M. Sighing, he sat up, knowing that now he was awake, the noise of the storm would prevent him from falling asleep once again.

Thunder crashed outside again. This time, another noise followed it. Wufei froze, trying to figure out what he'd just heard. He was about to write off the sound as a figment of his imagination when another clap of thunder boomed overhead. Again he heard the noise - a low, keening wail came from the direction of the bedroom. His eyes widened. Duo.

As quickly as he could manage in the rolling darkness, the Chinese pilot stumbled across the cabin. He pushed the door to the bedroom open just as another bolt of lightning raced across the sky, illuminating the dark room. In that brief moment, Wufei saw Duo's form flailing amongst the blankets. The braided boy was in the grips of a nightmare it seemed. Another burst of thunder echoed through the sky as Duo's head thrashed about on the pillow.

"Father... Sister... no!" he cried out in his sleep, sounding like a small, frightened child.

Wufei wasted no time in crossing the short distance to the bed. He sat on the edge and grabbed for Duo's writhing shoulders.

"Duo! Duo! Wake up. It's just a dream," the dark-haired teen said, shaking the other boy gently.

" 'S my fault. I'm so sorry," Duo muttered, not waking up.

Wufei shook harder. "Duo! Wake up!"

Scared violet eyes flew open. For a moment, the boy looked around wildly, not remembering where he was. Then his eyes focused on Wufei's face.

" 'Fei?" he asked plaintively.

Wufei pulled the frightened boy up into his arms and rubbed soothing circles along his back. "Shhh. It's all right now, Duo. You were having a nightmare. But it's over now. You're awake and your dreams can't hurt you anymore."

Duo sobbed in his arms for a long time. Wufei simply held him, rocking him back and forth gently as the storm continued to rage outside. Another clap of thunder caused the braided boy in his arms to jump.

"It's okay, Duo. It's just a storm," Wufei said soothingly, squeezing his arms tighter.

"A... a storm?" Duo sniffed. "In my dream... the thunder sounded like explosions."

Wufei drew back to look down at Duo's pale face in the dim cabin light. He reached up to wipe Duo's tears away, his breath catching in his throat as Duo unconsciously nuzzled his hand.

"D...do you think you'll be okay now, Duo?" he stammered, glad that the lack of light was hiding his blush.

Duo nodded but clutched tightly to Wufei's arm. "Please... stay with me?"

"Duo, I..."

"Please? Until the storm breaks?"

Wufei sighed softly, then nodded. Duo shifted on the bed, making room for the Chinese teen to lie down next to him. They lay in silence for a long while as the storm raged overhead. Duo had curled up on his side as close to Wufei as possible, as if taking comfort in the dark-haired boy's presence. Wufei lay facing Duo, unsure of what to do with his arms. Slowly he moved them to encircle Duo's body. The braided boy sighed happily and snuggled into his embrace.

After a while, after another loud clap of thunder had caused them both to jump, Wufei asked, "Why are you afraid of storms, Duo?"

The slender youth in his arms shrugged. "I'm not, really. I kinda like storms actually. It's just... the thunder sounds so much like the explosions when..." his voice trailed off.

"When what?" When Duo didn't answer him, he drew the boy closer. "If you don't want to talk about it..."

"No. I do. But it's hard for me." Violet eyes sought chocolate ones in the near darkness. "I've never told anyone before."

"Then you honor me again," Wufei replied, then waited for Duo to begin his tale.

"I never had a family - a real family I mean. For a while I thought I had found one with Father Maxwell and Sister Helen. I loved them both so much. But I shouldn't have. Everyone I've ever loved has died."

"What happened?"

"Tell me, Wufei, have you ever heard of the Maxwell Church Massacre?"

"Of course. Every school child on L5 knew of it. All those children..." Eyes opened wide as realization hit him. "Ancestors! But I thought there were no survivors."

"There was one," Duo sad mournfully. "I can still hear the explosions in my dreams sometimes."

"I'm so sorry, Duo," Wufei murmured, resting his cheek on the top of Duo's head. His heart ached for the boy in his arms. Duo had lost everyone he'd ever loved. Understanding began to creep in as he held the boy. What a lonely life the American must have had. No wonder he was so loud, talkative, and friendly to everyone he met. He wanted to draw attention to himself so he wouldn't be lonely anymore. Wufei frowned and vowed Duo would never have to be lonely again.

Hot drops of water began to seep through the cotton shirt he was wearing. He looked down to see Duo trembling in his arms as if trying not to cry.

"Duo, shhh. It's okay now. You're here with me and your dreams can't hurt you," he sad again, reaching up with one hand to wipe away an errant tear.

"But I can't forget, 'Fei," Duo whispered. "The explosions, the cries of the children - they're echoing through my head." Thunder boomed overhead once more, causing the braided pilot to cry out. He clutched at Wufei's shirt. "Please, 'Fei. Make me forget."

Wufei swallowed as he realized what Duo was asking. His body reacted immediately to the fey boy's words. His mouth went dry. Every cell in his body was screaming at him to say yes, to take this boy in his arms, and chase away the demons that plagued him. But he couldn't. He valued his friendship with the American pilot too much to take advantage of him in this manner.

"Duo, you don't know what you're asking," he said, gently trying to extract himself from Duo's grasp.

The braided pilot held on tight to Wufei's shirt, refusing to let go. "Yes, I do," he replied, then moved his lips to meet Wufei's.

The Chinese boy gasped as Duo's mouth covered his own. Duo took the opportunity to slip his tongue into Wufei's mouth, caressing his tongue in slow but urgent strokes. Wufei tried not to respond, but the taste of Duo combined with the little noises the American was making proved to be his undoing. He pressed back against Duo's mouth, their kiss becoming more heated as their tongues warred for dominance. Without realizing what he was doing, the Chinese pilot eased Duo onto his back, half-covering the boy's body with his own.

Duo's hands wandered along Wufei's back, tracing random patterns through the cotton shirt. When the boy's small hands slid under his shirt to meet bare skin, Wufei gasped in shock, pulling his mouth away from Duo's.

"Duo, we can't," he gasped, trying not to think about how good the American felt squirming beneath him.

"Please, 'Fei." Duo pleaded, kissing Wufei's throat.

Wufei suppressed a moan. "But Duo, you're not thinking clearly. You could regret this in the morning."

Duo reached up to make Wufei look down into his eyes. "I won't. I run and hide, but I don't lie." He wriggled beneath the dark-haired boy, causing them both to groan. "Please, 'Fei. I just need to forget. I just need to feel loved again, if only for one night. Please."

Wufei stared down at his would-be lover for a long time. Duo was so beautiful. And he deserved to be loved. Wufei didn't know if he could grant the kind of love he knew the other boy deserved, but if Duo wanted him to love him, if only for this one night, how could he say no? He could never deny Duo anything.

Duo stared up at him with unwavering eyes. Wufei knew the boy was waiting for an answer. Smiling softly, he took one of Duo's hands in his own, and answered him with a kiss.

[part 3] [part 5] [back to Caroline's fic]