Home + Part 2
Duo grinned and nudged Heero in the ribs, as if that had been some bone of contention between them. "See, nobody can resist Maxwell's patented Spaghetti sauce."
It wasn't overly full of garlic, which was Wu Fei's main complaint about spaghetti. It was sweet, with oregano giving it a full bodied flavor that complimented the long noodles.
Sitting around the small, wooden table, Heero and Duo sat beside each other and Wu Fei sat opposite them. Heero had been quiet throughout the remainder of the day, but Duo had talked, laughed, and made Wu Fei feel at home as he put things away and discovered what supplies came with the cabin rental. Duo filled the cabin with life, Wu Fei thought, and wondered what it would be like with only Heero and himself.... very quiet and very... serious, he surmised. He couldn't imagine the two of them making that place anything more than a overlarge hotel room.
Wu Fei was traditional enough to consider 'homemaking' a feminine role. Maxwell was anything but feminine as he took control of the cabin. He 'claimed' it, pouring personal items out of their bags and placing them in their proper places with the single minded determination of a man planting a flag on top of a mountain. He cooked with broad motions and the air of a short order cook. He ordered them about while he cooked, having Heero check the gas connections and the plumbing, while he had Wu Fei set the table, find where the laundry was, and make sure there was a place nearby where they could restock their supplies when necessary. It was if they were securing and mapping the area for a mission, Wu Fei thought. Old habits died hard.
Heero followed his orders with quiet enthusiasm. He like knowing that everything was working, safe, and secure. Wu Fei had to admit that he liked it as well, and liked knowing who and what was around them. He had even taken the time to check the other cabins. There was one family in the cabin closest to the lake and the rest were empty. Being a man who enjoyed his privacy, he was rather relieved to know that they would be enjoying some seclusion.
"I wasn't aware that you could cook," Wu Fei said after another bite of spaghetti.
Duo leaned, chin on fist, and looked at him as if he were totally enjoying that Wu Fei was enjoying his food. "The sweepers had a communal kitchen. Everyone took their turn, even a Gundam pilot in training. Since they didn't want me to poison them, they taught me some simple dishes. I can make rice and chicken, fry chicken, and make a mean lasagne. My specialty, though, is ordering pizza, so don't expect a lot."
Wu Fei found himself laughing.
"Do I get an award for getting Chang Wu Fei to laugh?" Duo asked teasingly.
Wu Fei felt some embarrassment as he quieted and began eating again. He looked at Heero out of the corner of his eye, wondering what Heero was making of their conversation. He saw Heero looking... frustrated... before his _expression went sullen again and he was eating his food as if they didn't exist. Frustrated. Wu Fei tried to understand that _expression. He remembered Duo's words then, that Heero just didn't know what to say. Maybe there was more to that than Wu Fei had thought. Maybe Heero wasn't silent by choice.
Wu Fei decided to test that theory. "Heero," he said and Heero looked up at him as if the last thing he had expected was for Wu Fei to talk to him. "Were the gas connections all right? In an old building like this, I would be afraid of leaks."
Heero looked relieved and eager as he launched into a detailed description of the system, the type of pipes, the likely hood of malfunction, and a contingency plan in case they did. He was animated, relaxed, and informative. Wu Fei found that he didn't mind listening, and that he was almost as eager as Heero to know that everything was orderly and taken care of.
Duo began yawning and rolling his eyes half way through Heero's report. He silently picked up the plates and dumped them into the sink, squirting dishwashing liquid on them and turning on the tap. The pipes groaned. He muttered, "You said it."
As he washed, Wu Fei told Heero about his own discoveries about their surroundings and Heero listened intently and asked pointed, intelligent questions. He was... enjoying himself. Wu Fei was enjoying himself as well and he found himself looking at Heero Yuy with new eyes. He discarded his impression of the wooden, cold, unresponsive Heero and replaced it with a rather socially inept one who had a mind that worked on a level that most people couldn't identify with... including Duo.
A towel hit Wu Fei in the back of the head. "Dry," Duo ordered as he shook the water off of his hands and sat down at the table again. His grin took the roughness out of the order and made it good natured. Wu Fei rose with the towel in hand and nodded, accepting the duty.
His back turned as he began drying the dishes in the rack, he heard silence behind him, silence only punctuated by the drumming of Duo's fingers on the tabletop in a bored fashion. The drumming stopped abruptly and there was a small, indrawn breath. The silence stretched and then Duo chuckled in a way that was very warm and very... suggestive. It made Wu Fei's ears burn, wondering what they were doing and having some idea. It made his gut clench. He wouldn't acknowledge jealousy; refused it. He buried it under cool observation. Perhaps Heero and Duo couldn't find conversational common ground, but, physically, they seemed to have. A superior, affronted, voice inside of him, was sagely predicting doom for any relationship based on the physical alone. A selfish voice was gleeful, wondering when it would collapse and he would have his chance with Duo. A logical voice shouted down the others and made him say, "I'm finished here. I think I'll retire early."
Wu Fei's feet took him to his room and his eyes refused to see what Heero and Duo were doing, whether they had finally decided to touch, to show the affection that had been strangely lacking up until then. Wu Fei felt childish, but, he thought, if he didn't see it, then he didn't have to acknowledge that it had happened. He should have known that Duo wouldn't let him go that easily.
"Hey, Chang..." Duo said apologetically as he touched his arm. Wu Fei felt warmth spread all through his body from that touch as Duo continued, "Hope we didn't make you feel weird, or anything? Heero said we had to be considerate and not get too... you know... guess I couldn't resist a little footsie. Sometimes, I just have to make that man smile any way I can. He can be..."
"It's all right," Wu Fei assured him."Don't feel that you need to accommodate my feelings, especially since I am not offended by your relationship."
Duo didn't sound convinced, but he replied, "Okay... thanks... uhm...well... see you in the morning."
"I'm sure that we will all have a good outing tomorrow," Wu Fei said politely.
Duo replied sheepishly, "Actually, it's just going to be you and me. Heero wants to sleep in the first day." Seeing Wu Fei's confused _expression, he explained, "He pushes himself too hard during missions. He missed a lot of sleep on the last one. He'll be awake and ready to fish, hike, or whatever, day after tomorrow."
Wu Fei nodded his understanding and then went into his room, mind churning. Closing the door behind him, he leaned against it and realized, without a doubt, that Duo had purposefully orchestrated the trip, together, without Heero. What that meant, he wasn't sure. What Heero thought about it, he couldn't guess.
Wu Fei could hear Duo and Heero talking in low voices, not aware that he was pressed against the door.
"It'll be okay," Duo said.
"If you're sure," Heero replied.
Duo laughed softly. "If I can't talk to Chang, then I can't talk to anyone. He'll understand."
"If he hurts you..." Heero's growl was dangerous.
"He won't," Duo said and there was a needy tone to his voice that made Wu Fei imagine him leaning against Heero's strength.
They walked to their own room and Wu Fei heard the door close. He was left, confused, wondering just what the hell was really going on.
The sun was just touching the edge of the lake, sparkling across it like red jewels, when Wu Fei sat up the next morning in bed, did some deep some breathing exercises, and then a very short run of stretching. When Duo finally knocked softly on his door, he was dressed in shorts, a blue tshirt, and a pair of old tennis shoes, ready for the trip.
Duo was dressed in a pair of khaki shorts with many pockets, and a pair of deck shoes without socks. He wore a red tank top, but he had a black windbreaker over that , and was wearing his baseball cap. He held out a tan one to Wu Fei with the Preventer logo on the front. "The sun gets pretty intense on the water. You'll need this."
Wu Fei nodded and put it on. Duo eyed him with a smile. "I've never seen you look so, casual." Wu Fei had the feeling that he had been about to say 'normal' but his usual, oriental style clothing, wasn't abnormal from someone from L5. He decided not to be offended and simply thanked Duo. It wouldn't have been good to start the day angry, especially when he was hoping that Duo would enlighten him about the conversation that he had overheard the night before.
"I packed everything by the door last night," Duo told him as they went to the small pile of gear in the living room. "There's some food; sandwiches, drinks, and protein bars. I'm also bringing a first aid kit, some fishing equipment in case you feel like that, and a map of the island in case you want to explore."
He bent to pick up the small cooler and Wu Fei saw the snub nosed gun, in its butt holster, at the small of Duo's back as his windbreaker lifted up. Wu Fei felt a moment of shock. He would expect something like that from Heero, who always liked to be prepared, and even himself, if his own body hadn't been trained to be such a deadly weapon on its own, but fun loving Duo... He had seemed the type to drop anything to do with missions, work, and something as serious as a weapon, at the first opportunity. It spoke to Wu Fei of some level of insecurity, that Duo thought that he needed it on a boating trip during a vacation.
Wu Fei kept his discovery to himself. It wasn't unheard of for agents to carry their weapons at all times and it certainly wasn't breaking any rules. He picked up his share of the gear and quietly followed Duo out of the cabin, leaving Heero behind, presumably sleeping.
There was a little dog on the porch of the cabin containing the family. It perked ears and Wu Fei winced as they neared it, expecting it to bark. Instead, it bolted off of the porch and raced to Duo. It was a little brown, scruffy creature with bright black eyes. It stared at Duo expectantly, even trembling in anticipation.
Duo grinned and said softly, "Okay, okay, I got your treat right here, boy." He fed the dog a few pieces of what looked like bacon. The dog gobbled them up, wiggled in ecstasy as Duo gave him a pat on the head, and then watched them go quietly as they proceeded toward the lake.
"Old street trick," Duo told Wu Fei with a light chuckle."Always make friends with the dogs. Never know when you need to sneak past them or keep them from tearing you a new one when someone sets them on you."
"Did you sleep at all last night?" Wu Fei wondered, mentally cataloging everything Duo had accomplished.
Duo shrugged. "I never have needed a lot of sleep. Comes in handy."
There was a small boat bobbing at the end of the dock. The light was making everything red and orange as the sun rose higher. There wasn't any mist hanging on the lake. It was going to be a warm, clear day. A duck winged past them, calling loudly.
Duo stepped into the boat like an expert and began checking to make sure that nothing had been disturbed during the night. Wu Fei made note of the life vests, but neither of them moved to put them on. They were bulky and constricting and they both still had enough of the soldier mind set to want to avoid that. Wu Fei checked the gas in the main tank and the reserve, opening them up and smelling briefly to make sure they hadn't been tampered with. Duo was checking the motor, his fingers getting quickly full of grease as he checked the connections and the plugs.
"Ready?" Duo asked as he finished and wiped his fingers on a rag stowed there.
"When you are," Wu Fei replied as he took a seat at the center of the boat and faced forward.
"All right." Duo cast off the line that attached them to the dock and then started the engine. It was surprisingly quiet, a special model specifically designed for hunters and fishermen. Wu Fei appreciated it as Duo pulled away from the dock and took off along the shore of the lake at a slow speed.
"Let's watch the sun rise," Wu Fei called back to Duo.
Duo nodded. He cleared a strand of rocks and then swerved to take the boat out onto the lake. When he reached a clear view of the horizon and the sun streaming towards them, he stopped the boat and dropped the anchor.
Wu Fei watched the light rise and change colors, loving the power and beauty. Duo was quiet, sitting behind him. When the sun reached a certain point, the sky turning blue and the light changing to yellow and white, Duo broke the silence.
"Wu Fei.... can I talk to you about something... personal?"
Wu Fei suddenly lost his tranquility. He decided that not turning towards Duo was the best course of action. Duo sounded as if he were nervous, almost reluctant. Keeping his back to Duo might give him confidence, the atmosphere of a confessional. "You can always talk to me," Wu Fei replied. "We've all been through a lot. We can understand each other better than anyone else."
"Yeah, exactly!" Duo said excitedly. "That's how I feel... that's why I thought you might... give me some advice."
"I would be happy to," Wu Fei told him reassuringly.
"Okay..." Duo paused and they sat in silence so long that Wu Fei began to think that he had changed his mind. Finally, though, Duo said slowly, "It's.... Well... Have you... Have you had any problem, since the war... letting yourself..." He struggled for the words to express something difficult for him, "get close to other people?" he finished in sudden rush.
Wu Fei thought that he understood and he was sympathetic. "I'm not very good with people," he admitted. "I've had my share of adjusting... to civilian life. It's been hard... trusting."
"But...," Duo cleared his throat and tried again, "Do you have trouble relaxing, letting people...get in your space? I mean, you can reach out and touch them when you want to, but when they want close... like use a weapon close... or... or get in your line of sight close... you get all... bothered?"
Wu Fei frowned, understanding the distance between Duo and Heero then. If Heero felt paranoid, or threatened, having someone close enough to interfere with a defensive or offensive action on his part, then it would explain their lack of touching or being close to each other.
"Do you have trouble... sleeping?" Duo continued, "with other people... letting them inside your radar even when..."
Wu Fei broke in, deciding to spare him the struggle. "Duo, have you discussed getting a psychiatrist for Heero, someone to help him through his soldier's defensiveness?"
Duo laughed. Wu Fei couldn't help turning and looking at him then. Duo was looking embarrassed and his laughter wasn't humoress, it was self deprecating and dark. "That's a good one, Chang... Heero has more control over himself than any man alive. He wouldn't let something, even his training, stop him from doing whatever he set his mind to. The problem, Chang... the problem is mine."
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