By: Kracken
Disclaimer don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warning:Male/male sex, graphic, language, violence

Dragon's Home + Part 4
Shadows

When their boat slipped up to the dock by the cabins towards evening, they found Heero leaning against one of the pilings, wearing a pair of old jeans and a faded red shirt. Three small children were arranged around him with fishing poles, and he was talking to them in a very serious manner as they fished.

The motor cut out and Wu Fei tied the boat off. The children complained about the noise, but Heero calmed them with a few words and brought their attention back to their fishing. "The fish will come back. Patience. Silence. Concentration." The children nodded and looked as if he had handed them all very important missions.

Wu Fei was astonished. He climbed from the boat and Heero smirked at him, probably knowing exactly what he was thinking, that a trained killer babysitting innocent children was a very unlikely sight.

Two of the children were boys, who looked to be six or seven years old. The third child was a little girl, who, Wu Fei guessed, was about five years old. She wore a pink jumper and pigtails and her brown eyes were watching Heero's every move with unconcealed adoration.

Duo secured the boat and stepped onto the dock as well. He gave Heero a little wave, as if he were ashamed of something, and said shortly, "Hey."

Wu Fei saw Heero forget the children, forget him, and concentrate all of his attention on Duo. He felt dangerous and Wu Fei was suddenly glad that Duo was armed. Heero asked, in a very tense voice, " Is everything all right?"

It was then that Wu Fei realized that the person who was in danger wasn't Duo. It was himself. He recalled the over herd conversation from the night before. Heero had warned of dire consequences if he should hurt Duo.

Duo returned Heero's gaze, a warning of his own for Heero to calm down as he replied, "Wu Fei was great, Heero." He nodded to the children. "Later, okay?"

Heero relaxed in relief and Wu Fei had a sudden image of Heero waking up and then walking down to the dock, taking up a post and determined to keep it until they returned. The children, he surmised, had been a distraction from boredom and anxiety.

Heero turned back to the children and said his goodbyes. They looked very disappointed. The little girl, however, had found someone new to adore. She was walking up to Duo with a happy smile, hands outstretched to touch Duo's braid.

"It's sooo pretty, " she said excitedly.

Duo stepped back and kept her at a distance and, Wu Fei suspected, it wasn't out of fear that she would pull his hair. He was smiling at her, making it a joke, "Now, now, you're a very beautiful girl, but I'm already taken."

The girl pouted. "You're married, mister?"

"Yes," Duo told her, "Sorry about that."

Her hands flexed as she eyed Duo's hair again. "Can I-"

"Sorry, only my spouse can touch the hair," Duo laughed. "You'll have to stick to styling your doll's hair." There was a doll propped up near a tackle box. It's hair was adorned by an abundance of ribbons and hair clips.

Duo's eyes gave their surroundings a once over and then he smiled at her again. "See you later, we gotta go. Heero?"

Heero picked up a stringer of fish. When Wu Fei raised eyebrows at it he shrugged. "My payment for fishing lessons."

"Hope someone knows what to do with them," Duo said, eying them dubiously as they walked back to the cabin. "I've never started from the point where they stopped breathing."

The parents of the children were sitting in chairs facing the dock. The woman was a short blonde and the man looked like an executive even in his casual clothes.

"Thank you for entertaining the children," the man said to Heero. "You're very good with them."

"It was... interesting," Heero replied. Wu Fei winced inwardly and Duo rolled his eyes. The man really wasn't a very good conversationalist.

The father looked confused for a moment and then he recovered. "I'm glad," was an even more awkward response, but it allowed them both to escape any further words.

They continued to the cabin. A breeze was blowing briskly now and leaves swirled in the air all around them. A bird struggled inland, wings beating laboriously. That reminded Duo of the eagles and he began a long dialogue about them too Heero as Heero sat on the edge of the porch, took out a slim Bowie knife, and began cleaning the scales off the fish with expert ease. He seemed lost in the task and ignoring Duo, but he looked obediently when Duo showed him the birds on the screen of his digital camera and grunted in all the right places. He was listening, Wu Fei concluded. After finding a bucket for the scales and fish guts, and getting a pan for the cleaned fish, Wu Fei sat on the porch as well and watched the mismatched pair try to interact

While Heero could manage to entertain children, he was less than entertaining to Duo, who seemed to border on frustrated after the sixth grunt. He wrinkled his nose at the fish and used that as an excuse to give up. "Think I'll go downwind. That stinks!" He walked towards Wu Fei and Wu Fei saw Heero's brows come together, a sign that he was disturbed by Duo's retreat, even though he never stopped cleaning the fish or said anything to stop him.

Duo was checking their surroundings again, giving it a lot more time than at the dock. Wu Fei understood the difference. Heero had been alert and paying attention on the dock. Here, he was occupied and Duo must have felt that he was the one 'on point'. Wu Fei sighed. He wasn't a matchmaker or a 'marriage' councilor. Bringing two people together had never been a part of his studies. As Duo began talking about plans for the next day, Wu Fei tried to find the correct path, the best way to proceed with Duo's problem... a problem that had suddenly developed layers and another aspect, Heero Yuy. As much as Duo wanted to exclude him and believe that he wasn't part of the problem, Wu Fei had to disagree, strongly.

Heero found it hard to speak, to keep up with Duo's rapid and eclectic conversations, Wu Fei thought. Heero wanted to take his time, to consider, and absorb. He couldn't respond to what he was still analyzing. Duo, it was obvious, was mistaking Heero's silence for disapproval, for disinterest. Couple that with Duo's need to be on guard and Heero's ingrained training...

Wu Fei moved to face the 'yard' of the cabin and the lake beyond, even as he stepped closer to Heero. He took up a stance of someone observing everything closely and then said, going back to something Duo had said earlier and Heero would have had time to absorb and analyze, "Heero, do you know how to cook the fish?"

Heero kept working, but he nodded. "Survival training."

Too short, Wu Fei sighed in exasperation. "Duo, perhaps Heero could teach you how to cook them?" He looked at Duo only briefly and then returned his attention to their surroundings again. That at least was working. Duo was looking at Heero and Wu Fei now, trusting Wu Fei to keep watch.

"That sounds good," Duo replied and he did look genuinely interested. 'I tried it once and it came out all... mushy."

"Heero can show you what you did wrong," Wu Fei suggested. They both nodded and then Wu Fei picked another topic, the children. "You seemed to get along very well with those children, Heero. Why do you think that was?" Analyze and report.

"Children are trusting," Heero replied thoughtfully and his knife actually paused as he considered it. "They like to be listened to. They like to learn as well. They didn't know how to fish, so I taught them. Their social skills are still developing. They didn't require a high level of... interaction. I could observe the lake without too much distraction."

"You were watching for us?" Duo wanted to know. "I told you we'd be gone all day. You were suppose to be sleeping."

Heero was quiet as he placed the last cleaned fish in the pan. Wu Fei felt the need to speak for him. "You were worried." Heero nodded and then stood up, as if embarrassed, and carried the fish into the cabin.

Duo sighed and looked at Wu Fei apologetically. "Sorry about that. We really didn't know how you'd take everything."

"Like a reasonable man, Duo, how else?" Wu Fei replied, almost offended.

"Well, we aren't reasonable men ,so we imagined unreasonable reactions, " Duo explained. He smiled then and said, "Thanks... I could see you were trying to help just now."

Wu Fei nodded grimly, "With a small degree of success."

"Better than we've been getting by ourselves," Duo replied sourly.

They both turned to go into the cabin after Heero. Wu Fei said, as he held the door for Duo. "Talk to Heero about the eagles again, later, and ask him what he thinks. I think he will be more responsive."

Duo frowned, puzzled. "Later? Will he be in a better mood? He acted like I was talking about O ring seal specs... only he would have been more interested in that...."

"Trust me," Wu Fei told him seriously.

Duo smiled. "We both do. That's why we brought you along."

Heero and Duo could work together. As Wu Fei sat on the simple couch and pretended to read a book, he watched the two in the 'kitchen' trying to fry the fish. He smelled butter and heard the sizzle as the fish began to fry.

"The temperature has to be exact to sear them," Heero was saying. "Otherwise they absorb the butter and fall apart."

"I got it," Duo replied as he turned the fish over in the pan. "You make rice and vegetables."

Heero grunted agreement and began heating water.

They worked together smoothly, exchanging information, assigning tasks, completing the mission of cooking dinner. They both looked serious and totally engaged in the task, two cogs in the same machine, Duo doing most of the talking and Heero interjecting only when there were questions or instructions to give. It seemed mismatched, but Wu Fei could see the harmony of it. Duo fed Heero a seemingly endless stream of information and observations while Heero absorbed it, analyzed it, and then offered his conclusions or his assistance. Together they moved to modify or continue with the task at hand.

"Did the children catch all of these fish, Heero?" Wu Fei asked, experimenting, seeing what would happen if he threw a wrench into that harmony..

Wu Fei saw the flow of work grow confused and then just stop as Heero considered the question. Duo backed into him, apologized, tried to turn and move around Heero, and then stumbled into him again when Heero stepped that way to get out of his way. They both stopped then, scowling at each other.

"Heero, two's a crowd in a space like this. Sit and cut vegetables until I'm done frying, okay?" Duo told him irritably. Heero nodded and sat down. Duo returned to frying. When there was confusion, it was Duo who straightened things out, Wu Fei observed.

"The children caught all of the fish," Heero answered Wu Fei as if there hadn't been any time lapse between the question and the answer, and then he took out a paring knife and began cutting the vegetables and tossing them into a bowl.

Wu Fei stood up and joined them in the kitchen. He checked the water, saw that it was boiling, and then added the rice. Duo gave him a smile of thanks and, as he moved to turn the fish in the pan, his hip brushed against Wu Fei's in the tight space. Wu Fei felt an unexpected flush of heat from the contact. He tried to move away, but it happened two more times before Duo finished frying. He dipped when he stepped sideways, so it wasn't just a touch, but a gentle stroke along Wu Fei's hip. At first, Wu Fei suspected that Duo was doing it on purpose, but a glance found Duo totally engrossed in his task of cooking dinner.

Wu Fei was relived when the rice finished cooking. He quickly emptied it into a bowl and then turned to put it on the table, hurrying to escape a situation in which his body was starting to betray him. He found Heero, still sitting at the table, looking from him to Duo with an unreadable and intense _expression. Wu Fei froze, despite himself, and then forced himself to continue his task as if unconcerned. He wasn't guilty of anything, he assured himself, except a case of normal physical reactions and Heero's scrutiny had worked as well as a cold shower where that was concerned.

They sat down to eat and, though Heero seemed to relax as if he had decided not to be offended, Wu Fei still felt the prickling of guilt. These two men were his friends, friends who had asked for his help. He shouldn't feel anything for Duo except that friendship. Duo bent over to look for silverware in a drawer. His shorts tightened around his rounded ass and the mound between his legs was just visible. When he turned around with the forks in his hand, he stopped and blinked at them both.

"You guys see something you like?" Duo wondered with a scowl, but he was clearly embarrassed too.

Wu Fei looked over at Heero and saw that he had been admiring Duo's masculine attributes as well. The man smirked and returned his attention to his cut up vegetables. Duo snorted at Heero and then looked at Wu Fei. Wu Fei did his best to look inscrutable. He wasn't sure what to say, whether apologizing would only deepen his indiscretion . Duo decided to end the awkward silence.

"Don't worry about it, Chang," that was said almost under Duo's breath as he sat down as well.

They ate in near silence. When they were done, Wu Fei helped Heero with the dishes while Duo took the garbage out side. Wu Fei said cautiously, when he was sure Duo was out of hearing, "Forgive me."

"Duo is very handsome," Heero replied, just as uncomfortable and tense."Sometimes, he doesn't realize that and... I'm sure he's finding it hard to remember that you are homosexual as well."

"I'm here to help you," Wu Fei told him sincerely.

Heero sighed. "Your friendship isn't in doubt, but I'm not sure this situation has a solution."

"We've barely begun to discuss your difficulties," Wu Fei reminded him in exasperation. "There won't be any immediate solution."

"Our partnership has never been a problem," Heero replied as he finished the last dish and handed it to Wu Fei, "but this distance Duo puts between us, our inability to communicate on a more intimate level..."

Wu Fei replied as he dried the dish and put it away, "I've never known you to give up on a mission. This isn't any different."

Heero frowned."It is different... It's Duo, and he deserves... more than this."

Duo returned and Wu Fei was certain that he had taken his time on purpose to give them a chance to talk. He looked at them brightly, but then his frown matched Heero's when he saw their troubled looks. " Come on guys. If you're going to do the jealous thing, I'm packing and going back home." He glared at Heero. "So he stared at my ass, so what?"

Wu Fei blushed as he quickly said, "No, it wasn't that, Duo."

Duo looked confused and then embarrassed. "Oh, sorry, you two just looked... okay, forget about that. Why don't we light the fireplace and put our feet up?"

Wu Fei nodded. Heero nodded as well. Duo sighed at their silence as he went to light the fireplace. When it was crackling warmly, he lowered the lights so that the flames made comforting colors and shadows over the walls, and then he stretched out on the couch in front of the fireplace. He patted the place beside him. "Come on, both of you."

Wu Fei took a moment to lock front door before he joined him. He saw Duo's grateful look as he followed Heero to the couch and sat on Heero's other side as Heero settled by Duo. Duo put his feet in Heero's lap and rested back on couch pillows.

The silence stretched as they watched the flames dancing in the fireplace, each lost to his own thoughts. Finally, Duo said in exasperation, "You know, I think we should have a long talk, right here, right now. Let's get this all out in the open where Wu Fei can hear it, okay Heero?"

Wu Fei didn't expect Heero to comply. Their conversation by the kitchen sink had probably been hard enough for him. Confessions in firelight, in the company of his lover and a man who was a friend, but not a close confidant, was probably not the most ideal situation for him. Duo wasn't waiting for his reply, though.

"I'll start," Duo said with the same air of a man facing a firing squad.

"No, you won't," Wu Fei told him and Duo gaped at him, surprised. "We will talk, but not like this, not when we are all not in agreement.

"Fei, we only have a little bit of time left," Duo complained.

Wu Fei lifted a slim, dak eyebrow. "I will say to the both of you once more, I will not be pressured into making any sort of diagnosis of your problems. I do not expect that I will be able to accomplish anything by the end of our stay here. To expect such a thing is foolish and does not give your problems the seriousness they deserve."

They were quiet, but Wu Fei could almost feel Heero's relief. Duo was frustrated, that was clear, but he bowed to Wu Fei's wisdom. "Okay," he said and then sighed and looked towards the fire dejectedly.

"Do you love each other?" Wu Fei asked and felt a flush, uncomfortable with asking something so intimate.

"Of course!" Duo replied at once, startled and looking at him in confusion, as if it were obvious. Heero gave a firm nod, but he was holding Duo's stocking feet in a tight grip, using that touch to express himself rather than words.

Wu Fei looked at them, watching the glow of fire and shadow play over them both. Perhaps, they didn't show their love through interaction, verbally or in a more physical sense, but their unity was there like the glow of the firelight. It was warm and true and Wu Fei felt a pang of jealousy so strong he almost gasped. He was standing up instead, saying, as he struggled to keep his emotions off his face, "If you love each other, then it shouldn't be difficult for you to have patience. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to rest."

Wu Fei heard them making responses, perhaps confused by his sudden departure, but he didn't reply as he went into his room and closed the door behind him. He sat stiffly on the bed, hands clasped tightly, mind in turmoil. He was just as confused, if not more so, than they were. His jealousy hadn't followed a path that he was familiar with. Instead of wanting to push Heero aside, instead of imagining himself in Heero's place, receiving Duo's love, he had imagined something even more intimate, even more confusing. He had imagined himself with them, closing the space between them on the couch and sharing what they had, being a part of it. He supposed it was because, on some level, he couldn't imagine that aura of emotion surviving without Heero and Duo generating it together. He couldn't imagine the same feelings gracing his union with Duo. It was his guilt and a sense of dishonor, a sense that he was betraying them, that made him think that, he supposed, but it didn't make that perception any less valid.

"Fool," Wu Fei whispered harshly to himself and then composed himself to meditate, to purge those traitor thoughts from his mind so that he could help his friends, not destroy what they had.

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