by Cassima
see part 1 for warnings, notes, etc.

To Build a Fire + Part 2

As he carefully measured the coffee grinds into the machine, he idly ran the dream fragments he could remember through his head. They were strange, had been ever since he got sick. One of the ones that occurred rather frequently had something to do with Hilde in a leopard-print teapot; he tried not to think about it too much.

"Maxwell, you better not be cooking without supervision," a grumpy voice grumbled as Wufei shuffled into the kitchen.

"Don't worry, Wu; it's only coffee," Duo said, fighting both a sigh of impatience and a grin. After all, it wasn't just the kitchen Wufei was worried about, and, after spending the night trying not to feel totally insufficient and out of place, it was nice to have someone concerned about him--even if they hid it in concern for the Mr. Coffee. Never mind that Wufei already had a lover.

"Coffee?" Wufei said hopefully, as the other boy poured water into the top of the coffee maker. Duo could make two things without supervision: coffee and instant oatmeal. Toast was still iffy, and Wufei didn't let him near the tea.

"Hazelnut," Duo confirmed. "It'll be ready shortly."

Wufei made a pleasant noise and leaned against the counter, willing to wait. "Did you sleep well last night?" he asked. "Were you warm enough?"

Duo felt a slight twinge deep in his chest, but smoothly covered his slight hesitation by bringing two mugs down from the counter. "Don't worry about me, Wu. I'll be fine."

"Hn," he grunted, crossing his arms. "Why are you up so early, then? On a day without classes?"

"It's nice to be out of boarding school," Duo admitted. "But, hey, don't mistake my avoidance of classes for disagreement with mornings. I happen to think very fondly of mornings in general."

Wufei raised an amused eyebrow. "Oh, really?"

"Yes, really," Duo said a tad snappishly before pointedly re-directing the conversation. "Why are you up so early, Wu?"

"I always get up early," Wufei said. "I'm not a lazy weakling."

"Well, neither am I," Duo grumbled, staring at the pot. It wasn't his fault he was sick a lot; some people were born to families with houses and medical insurance, some lived in cardboard boxes in the back of alleys for a great deal of their life. It was just the way it worked.

Wufei had no reply to that, and they waited silently for the coffee to finish brewing.

+

He promised Quatre he'd be okay that night; the house had warmed up quite a bit, and he was hardly cold. Everyone else turned in early, to get a good night's sleep; they were still tired from their furious flight from Oz a few days ago, and all the work it'd taken today to finish getting the house straightened up while there was daylight. Actually, he was pretty sure they weren't sleeping; there was a ominous, rhythmic thumping emanating from Quatre and Trowa's room, and it was a safe bet that Wufei and Heero were just being quiet about it.

He pulled the couch closer to the fire again and curled up in front of it, wrapped in his blankets, with the book he'd stolen from Wufei resting in his lap. When you were alone and dependent on the heat of a fire, there was very little you could do to entertain yourself, short of solitaire, reading, and masturbation, and really, he didn't feel much like the last. He closed his eyes and shivered in front of the blaze; his feet and hands were tingling with cold, and he could feel it churning in the pit of his stomach--

Oh, crap.

His eyes flew open, and he quietly closed the book. How long had it been since he'd started to feel the ice? Twenty minutes? Half an hour? Shakily, he pulled himself to his feet, and headed for the bathroom, where they'd put his bag the day before. Why hadn't he realized earlier that his hands were shaking? Very carefully, he prepared the shot; if he moved slowly, he could control himself enough to handle it himself, without needing to call Quatre and disturb their rhythm. In went the medicine... he gently flicked the syringe and cautiously squirted some of the medication out to get rid of the air bubbles. Carefully, very carefully, he slid the needle into the skin of his arm and pushed down on the plunger.

After he disposed of the empty needle, he pulled his blankets back over his shoulders and removed a bottle from the bag, measuring out three teaspoons of the purple-red medicine. It didn't taste too bad, actually, for medicine, but Duo hated the grapey taste anyway. It meant that the ice was back, and he was weak again, a liability. At least this time they weren't on a mission, and weren't likely to be for a few months yet.

He left the bottle in the medicine cabinet, so he didn't have to dig it back out, and carefully put his injection kit away, back in the bag. The last thing he pulled out a small digital clock. He set it to their present time zone, and then set the alarm clock.

Six hours until he got another dose.

The medicine in his earlier injection was already starting to take effect; he felt a little woozy in a way that he knew he could only partially blame on the drugs. "Saa," he moaned quietly, "my life is a mess."

Then, shivering, he wandered back to his couch to lie down and sleep, toting the little clock with him.

+

Wufei shuffled down the hallway sleepily to the kitchen. The air was crisp and wonderful; he loved how sharp it made the moon look from the kitchen window. Quietly, so as not to disturb Duo, he filled a glass with water and took a drink. The mountains were so majestic and peaceful; he could, he thought, live there happily, if not for the snow. He liked snow, sure, but he also liked wearing shorts occasionally.

The landscape was so serene, he could almost forget there was a war. The stars glittered brightly in the distance, and he remembered wistfully what it was like to fly through space, to be a part of that vast eternal deepness.

With a sigh, he put the empty glass next to the sink and turned back for his room. As his hand was on the doorknob, however, he suddenly heard a shivering sound, and realized that Duo's couch was awfully close to the fireplace. Carefully, he snuck up on the boy and checked over the back of the couch, prepared to re-tuck blankets or throw another log on the fire if need be.

Duo lay curled inward into a ball, blankets twisted around him tightly to lock out the chilly air. His face--the little Wufei could see of it peeking out from the few woolen wrappings--was pale, and he was shaking in his sleep. Wufei frowned; his clock was set up on the end table, which meant--

He was having another attack, and hadn't told anyone.

His frown deepened to a scowl. "Maxwell," he whispered crossly, and shook his shoulder. "Maxwell!"

Duo stared at him, bleary-eyed and uncomprehending. "Wha...?" His eyelids were raised only to half-mast; with a sigh, Wufei knew the attack and the medicine were already working their sleepy way through his system.

"I thought Quatre said you were sleeping with them?"

Duo blinked a few times, slowly, and Wufei could tell his eyes weren't focusing. "Huh?"

Well, he couldn't just leave the baka there; one did not abandon one's comrades during their time of weakness, even in such as simple thing as this. With a grunt, he pulled the couch back from the fire a little ways and picked up the alarm clock. Maxwell whimpered his protest, and curled into a tighter ball, trying to find heat. "Shh," he calmed, "Don't worry, we're going to a warmer place."

"Hell?" Duo mumbled, and relaxed as Wufei's hands pulled him up, close to his chest. The Chinese boy held the American carefully, almost cradling, and they moved slowly towards the room Wufei and Heero shared. Heero had insisted on taking the side of the bed facing the door--it was one of his many paranoias, despite the heaviness of his sleep tonight--so Wufei took Duo around to the opposite side and sat him gently on the edge. "No," Duo whispered, "I can't."

"Don't be an idiot, Maxwell," Wufei whispered. "Lie down and get under the covers."

Sighing, he allowed himself to be pushed down onto the bed. He turned over and prepared for another miserable night.

"Maxwell," Wufei whispered again from behind him, and poked the American's back. "Scoot over!"

Duo tensed.

"I don't have enough room," Wufei hissed. "Move!"

"Don't you want to...?" he murmured, the words slurring instead of rolling off of his tongue.

"You're the one who's cold, you sleep in the middle. Now move over." Prodding him, the Chinese boy finally had enough room to get on the edge of the bed. "Give me a few more inches. I'm falling off."

Duo was on his side, as stiff as if he'd been frozen. "Heero's gonna kill me."

"Don't be an idiot. Just move over."

"If I touch him, he'll kill me. He'll wake up--he won't even realize who I am, he'll just break my neck and go back to sleep." Duo was shaking again, muscles still tense. "Even--even if he d-does recognize me, he hates me, anyway, s-so he'd probably snap my neck a-anyway."

Wufei sighed and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Nothing bad will happen to you. Just go to sleep."

To his embarrassment, Duo began to sniffle.

What could he do? He simply sighed, and made what he hoped was a comforting noise.

"Wu..." Duo gasped, turning and burying his face in Wufei's chest. "He's gonna kill me..."

"Sh," Wufei comforted, stroking Duo's back gently. "You're safe here. You're perfectly safe. Nothing's gonna happen to you. Sh, it's alright. Sh."

Through his tears, Duo laughed bitterly. "I must be the weakest person you know. I'm so stupid. I'm getting your shirt all soggy."

"It doesn't matter," Wufei sighed. "Just go to sleep."

His sobs finally ceasing, Duo rolled himself back over and tried to take up the least amount of space possible, tensing a little when he felt Wufei press up behind him, hand finally resting on his waist. "Relax," Wufei whispered in his ear, and awkwardly stroked his hair with the hand underneath his body.

Duo, despite his misgivings, seemed to fall asleep quickly enough; Wufei attributed it to a combination of the attack and the medication, and yawned a little. Settling his head down on his pillow, he sent his mind a message to wake him up a few minutes before Duo's alarm clock went off; it was pointless to wake Heero, too. It was his turn to take care of the baka.

+

Three-oh-seven in the morning, a mere two and a half hours since Duo had joined the frowning boys in bed, Wufei awoke. He blinked to himself for a moment--there was a reason he had set his mental alarm clock--before the feeling of a warm body pressed to his front snapped him into reality.

He and Heero had discovered early in their relationship that they were both much, much too hot-blooded to sleep touching; privately, Wufei missed the comfort of his lover in the early morning, pre-rising hours, but Heero never complained, so he left it alone. Not that Heero ever really said much of anything.

Duo, however... it may have merely been a tribute to his illness, but Duo's body was pleasantly temperate. He seemed to just soak in the heat, and radiate back out as little as possible.

Reaching behind him, he snapped the alarm off and then slowly got out of the bed. "Maxwell, get up."

"Huh?" Duo mumbled, and turned over to blink drowsily at Wufei.

The Chinese boy smiled gently at him and pulled him over to the edge of the bed. Duo was surprisingly cute. "Time for your medication."

"Didn't hear the alarm," Duo mumbled. "Wanna sleep." But he pushed himself into a sitting position and allowed his legs to swing off the bed.

"Can you walk unaided?" Wufei asked in a whisper as Duo braced himself and stood.

"Nothin' wrong with my legs," Duo slurred, and proceeded to stumble.

He didn't go far; Wufei caught him quickly into the fall and slipped an arm under his shoulder and around his back. "Just humor me," he comforted when Duo grunted in protest.

They made their way to the bathroom slowly, and Wufei turned on the light. "Did you get a shot earlier?" he asked, eyes raking over the room and pulling down the bottle of syrup.

Blinking owlishly in the sudden light, Duo nodded. "Yeah. Took some of the grape crap, too."

"Good," Wufei said, and measured out the next dosage. "Do you need another injection? How do you feel?"

"Don't need another." Duo's fingers slipped to fiddle with his braid, and he shivered a little. "Tired."

"I know," Wufei said, and handed him the medicine cup. "Drink it. Dizzy?"

"No," Duo said, cupping the medicine in his hand and staring at it as if wondering what it was.

"Drink it," Wufei reiterated. "Cold?"

Duo shivered again. "A little." With a slightly trembling hand, he lifted the cup to his mouth and swallowed the contents. "Blech," he responded, handing back the little measuring cup.

"Well," Wufei said, "you're responsive, not dizzy, not vomiting, and your pupils are evenly dilated. Anything I forgot?"

"Not passed out," Duo said, and shivered again.

"Come on." Wufei slipped his arm back under Duo's and lifted, helping support him. "Were you sleeping okay?"

"Yes, until I woke up," Duo said, obviously annoyed at the continued questioning. "Want to sleep now."

Wufei couldn't help but chuckle at the slightly petulant tone. "I know. So do I." He began to help Duo back to his room. The American shuffled beside him, hand unwillingly clasping Wufei's shoulders as they made their way back.

"Another six hours?" Wufei whispered when they were back in the room, setting Duo on the edge of the bed and helping him back under the covers.

"Yeah," Duo said sleepily. "Then more grape crap."

"Go to sleep, Duo," Wufei said, amused. "And, scoot over! I need more room."

+

Heero awoke to a hand on his arm. Most people, when regularly sleeping with someone, might not find it strange to wake one morning and be touching their bed partner... but Heero and Wufei never touched. Never. Heero had a sort of opposition to touching in general; he didn't like doing it in front of the other pilots, and he didn't like doing it while not having sex. Heero was glad Wufei didn't seem to mind too much; they wasn't like Quatre and Trowa. PDAs bothered Heero, especially in front of Duo. He was uncomfortable, looking at Duo while touching Wufei... remembering the feel of Duo against him those months ago in the warehouse, as he pulled Duo's body close to conserve warmth...

So the hand was a new thing. Opening his eyes he turned his head to glare at the offending appendage...

...Which definitely wasn't Wufei's, unless the Chinese boy had previously been using tanning lotion, and just washed it off... which was improbable, considering the kinky shower sex they had when Heero got into the mood--

Heero forced himself to focus, and followed the hand up the attached arm and to a face, and then blinked. What the hell?

He blinked again. Was he dreaming?

Okay, his mind processed, Duo was in bed with him. He glanced over Duo's head. Duo was in bed with him and Wufei, he amended. What the hell happened last night?? Had he and Duo--and Wufei, he tagged on hurriedly, and Wufei--had they had some kinky sex--and he'd forgotten it?! No, no, they weren't naked. Were they?

Sitting up slightly, he caught Wufei's eye and laid back down. Wufei was awake and lying snuggled up to Duo's back. One arm was curled around the braided boy's waist, and the other was quietly stroking the long braid. "Why is he here?" Heero mouthed to Wufei, noticing how uncomfortably close the two boys were.

"Had an attack," Wufei mouthed back.

Heero shifted away a bit, glancing at Duo. To have this boy so close, and not be able to touch...

"Don't move," Wufei mouthed. "He'll wake up. He thinks you hate him."

Heero looked away for a moment, embarrassed. "It's not that," he finally mouthed back.

Wufei caught his eyes and held them, studying him carefully. "Do you want to?"

"To what?"

"I know you want him," Wufei mouthed, looking a little embarrassed. "It wouldn't bother me if you wanted to..."

Heero flushed, considering it. "We don't have to."

"He should sleep with us, though." Wufei looked more determined about this one. "He gets cold too easily, and he's not unpleasant to share a bed with." His eyes fell down to where his fingers were fiddling with the weave of Duo's braid. "I really wouldn't mind."

Duo stirred slightly, and Wufei sighed. "It's time for his medicine again. We'll be right back." Dropping the braid, Wufei moved his hand up to gently shake Duo's shoulder. "Maxwell, it's time again."

"Clock," Duo mumbled, moving back into the warmth of Wufei's body.

"I turned it off so it wouldn't wake up Heero, remember? Come along."

From his spot in bed, Heero watched Wufei gently lead Duo out of bed and out the door, holding his arm for support. He could hear them walking down the hall, Wufei stepping so very lightly and Duo shuffling next to him, and wondered how he could have possibly slept through their adventure last night. This obviously wasn't the first time Wufei had assisted Maxwell with his medication, so they had been walking around, plus the fact that they climbed in and out of bed, possibly multiple times.

He frowned. Was he getting too soft for this war?

It was probably just the combination of mountain air and the culmination of a busy month and a half of missions--kept him wired to the point of exhaustion. It must be that, he decided. Nothing else made sense. He was just tired. He hadn't become so used to the other boys' presences that he slept easily and deeply when they were around.

Lying on his back, he folded his arms behind his head and stared at the ceiling, contemplating his life and listening to the sounds of the two pilots returning from the bathroom.

"H-Heero," Duo stuttered from near the doorway when he noticed Heero's eyes were open. "I-I... I'm sorry! I didn't mean--"

"Hn," Heero replied, not looking over like he wanted to. "Baka."

"Get in the room, Maxwell. You're blocking the doorway."

"I-I'm sorry, Wufei. I'll leave, and you guys can--I won't bother you."

There was a small scuffle, and Heero smirked a little as Wufei steered the shivering Duo back towards the bed and into it.

"Scoot over, Maxwell. I don't have enough room."

Duo inched closer to Heero, and suddenly, he wasn't smirking anymore. Duo was close. Very close. Turning his head slightly, he tried to see how close.

Very--yet, somehow, not touching.

Somehow both relieved and disappointed, he caught Wufei's eye. The look in his lover's dark eyes said, "I know what you want, and I won't stop you." Duo's eyes were closed, a look of intense embarrassment on his face.

"I don't want him," Heero thought to himself, but his lips were already moving to cover Duo's.

+

Duo started as a mouth devoured his, and his eyes opened wide to find what was evidently a close, personal look at Heero's face. He gasped a little as he felt another set of lips begin to work at his neck, and sighed internally.

It had been a bad idea to come back to the bed. It was a bad idea to get in the bed in the first place. If Wufei and Heero wanted to have sex, they could have just told him to leave.

Their passion twined around him, and he relaxed, giving in to the inevitable. His eyelids fluttered closed, and he knew that later he'd be lying next to them, forgotten, as they made love. Maybe sharing the love they had for each other would be enough, he thought, and let Heero plunder his mouth. He could feel the hard body of the Japanese boy, feel the muscles tense as they kissed, and shivered a little, because it was Heero. Wufei nibbled his earlobe, and he groaned, reaching a hand back to the other boy's hip and stroking it. Maybe it would be enough to keep out the cold.

end

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