Author: Maldoror
see chap. 1 for notes, warnings, disclaimer

Beautiful Symmetries + Chapter 4
4 Your Sakes.

I woke three hours later with the smell of breakfast twisting my stomach from the kitchen area. Duo was sitting at the kitchen counter, eyes on me, serious, though he smiled slightly as I slowly got up.

"Come and get something to eat if you feel up to it, Wufei. Heero's already left, but I thought you needed something more consistent than a protein bar."

I went to the bathroom without a word and got dressed in the only clothes I had left, a pair of sweatpants and jumper. I tightened my hair into a punishing ponytail, despite the beginnings of a headache clamping down on my forehead. I could hardly bear to glance in the mirror but I thought I looked as unappealing and severe as I could manage. Duo was still sitting in the same position when I came back out. He glanced up at me as I sat down at the counter and stared at the plateful of toast, bacon and eggs he'd made me.

"Okay, I can see why you ran out like a scalded cat yesterday." Duo smiled ruefully, his eyes still pained. "Heero 'n me had a talk. So, apparently, we both fell for you, and kind of jumped you barely thirty minutes apart. And you thought we were together. No wonder you bolted."

I stared down at breakfast without picking up my fork.

He hopped down from the stool and slowly walked around the counter. "Are you feeling okay?"

I nodded.

"Oh good." He hesitated, then stepped up to me, slid his arms beneath mine slowly, curled into me, lifted his lips towards mine.

For a moment I let it happen. I lost myself in the warmth that tried to dispel the cold that had settled into my bones last night. I could allow myself this much; the rest was going to hurt enough. I pressed the warm body against my own, felt a flutter of eyelash against my cheek, his heart beating against mine...Then I pulled away, gently but firmly.

Duo stared at my shoulder for a few seconds, flushed, eyes distant. Then he smiled, a real honest smile, though his eyes were sad.

"Thanks...I guess I wanted to do that when you weren't freaking out. I...thanks. I..." He put his head against my shoulder and spoke into the cloth of my shirt. "What you said last night. Shouted, actually. Maybe I was being stupid, to fall for you during the war. You were so strong, so proud, so resolved. You were inspiring, and breathtaking, and honourable even in the midst of a really messy war. You overcame your weaknesses and your pain and just carried on regardless. I wanted to help you, to make you feel better, but you didn't need me to... you didn't even know I existed. I...I guess I tried a little too hard, uh?

"Well, I've been thinking since last night. You and Heero, it makes sense, you know? You're a lot alike. When you guys are together, you just shine. You're fucking forces of nature. And I...well, I know you're an honourable man -" I hid my internal wince " and you have a strong, steady heart and that's good. I wouldn't trust Heero to just anybody, cause he's not used to all these emotions. He doesn't need a broken heart right now, and you should see the way he talks about you; he's really fallen for you hard, Fei. I guess what I'm saying is that you'd be great together. Don't worry about me, I'll just find some other gorgeous Asian guy to cuddle up with. Okay?"

He waited for me to say something. I didn't. He hesitantly lifted his head, stared. I stared back, silent.

He shrugged, uncertain and pained, and drew away. "Well, I said my piece. I better get to the office, we're still busy cleaning up after that last mission. Both Heero 'n me will be up to our necks in paperwork for most of the day. Can you-...could you please stay until we get back? I think you and Heero need to talk, and, well...anyway I'll see you tonight, I guess. Bye." He left quickly without a backward glance, his shoulders slumped.

I stared blindly at the kitchen counter for awhile. When that got boring I cleaned up the plate - I hadn't touched the food - and went to get the photo from the dresser and sat back down at the counter and looked at that. It made things pretty clear.

I didn't feel the time go by but a click at the door made me glance at my watch. Noon.

Heero walked in, carrying some bags. The smell of miso soup twisted my stomach.

He put the bags down on the counter carefully and then gave me one of his long, steady looks. I looked back, but said nothing.

Finally he went to the kitchen, took out a serving spoon and chopsticks, prepared a plate for me. He came up behind me, put the plate down, then slowly circled my shoulders and pressed himself against my back. I leaned back against the firm chest, relaxed a little, let myself go for just a few moments. I tilted my head sideways and he leaned forward and caught my lips in a firm kiss, arms pressing me, encircling me. I lost myself in that comforting embrace, firm lips taking mine, the feel of his body against me. Then I turned away, breaking the contact.

He stood behind me still, and put his chin on my shoulder.

"I know that you hadn't expected me to grab you like that yesterday." His voice was firm, abrupt, and he launched straight into the heart of the matter. "I can't even really say why I did it. Emotions are things I find hard to understand, even my own. I know that during the war I...I admired your capacity to follow your feelings, something I'd been told to do myself but had never been able to. You felt everything so vividly, so strongly. But it didn't make you weaker, on the contrary. Your emotions gave you a conviction and a certitude that had merely been imposed on me. You could even question yourself and then come back all the stronger. I...couldn't do that. I bottled it all up. It wasn't until after the war that I wondered why I couldn't stop thinking about you. I asked Une for that mission because I wanted to know why that was. I guess I found out."

I said nothing. There wasn't anything to say, and I had my plan already made, and besides I was waiting for the next part of his speech which was going to come with magnificent inevitability. I just knew it.

"About Duo." ...knew it. "I can see why you'd be attracted to each other, and I think that's an acceptable solution. I guess that next to the both of you, I'm emotionally stunted. It took me awhile to figure out that all the fighting you two do is just playful. I don't even get most of his jokes, and you've got the wit to more than keep up with him. You two have managed to keep your emotions intact and so strong, even though you've both lost so much. He has lost a lot in his life, you know. I don't want him to lose anything else, he just feels things too strongly. I won't miss something I've never had, but he'd be devastated. He's loved you since he met you, and he always gives himself one hundred percent, you know that."

Heero was silent after that exceptionally long speech. I didn't think he was waiting for me to say anything though. He just held me for a few more moments, then slowly took his arms away from me.

"You're feeling a bit warm." He added unexpectedly. I guess I was a bit feverish. My body was unhappy about the last twenty-four hours. I wasn't overjoyed about them myself. "Try to eat and get some rest. I have to go back to the office. Duo said something stupid about leaving to stay with Quatre later today but I'll drag him home tonight if I have to carry him, and you two can talk."

He left without a further word or a backward glance.

I stared at the soup and soba noodles. I glanced at the photo, at the two in the centre.

"You are both very stupid, you know that?" I told them in no uncertain terms. I threw away the soup and put the food in the fridge and went back to staring at the counter. Finally I lay down to sleep for the little that was left of the afternoon.

I woke up feeling a bit better, at least physically. My training allowed me to recuperate quickly from a few minor wounds and a thorough icy drenching. As for my centre, my balance, my cold equanimity, I would get that back just as quickly once I'd sorted things out, and it was apparently time to do so; both Heero and Duo had just come in and were looking down at me from the foot of the bed, a slightly worried look in their eyes. I straightened up slowly to a sitting position, legs folded as if to meditate, looking cold, distant and collected as I had during the war, staring back up at them.

"Hey Wuffee, you okay? You look a bit flushed still."

"I'm fine." I said, which was almost the truth. "And we need to get some things straight." I continued, not wasting a second to set my plan in motion. "I want you to both shut up and listen to me without saying anything until I tell you to. I mean it Duo." I added as he opened his mouth. "I both listened to you two earlier now it's my turn."

They glanced at each other, Duo uncertain, Heero frowning. Then they nodded.

"Fair enough, Fei. I guess you are pretty involved, after all! Ha, you could even say that your opinion is the one that matters the most-"

"Duo."

"Oh sorry."

"Right." I rubbed my eyes, which were gritty. I felt cold and clammy and fragile inside but I knew I showed nothing but the firm resolve which was going to get me through this. "In case you haven't compared notes yet, you both gave me virtually the same speech today. The one where you said you'd step aside if I was going to be happier with the other. Shut up." I added as they both glanced wildly at each other and Duo opened his mouth. "That shows me that whatever insane notion you have about me hasn't damaged what's really important here, and that's what's between the two of you. The really funny part - " for some reason I wasn't laughing "is that the things you said you loved about me, you can find in spades in each other. More than you can ever find in a cynical, short-tempered misanthrope like myself. So really the solution to this problem should be so obvious, I'm surprised the two of you took so long to figure it out."

We stared at each other. They looked at me solemnly and said nothing. I scowled.

"Come on, don't be idiots. You obviously care deeply about each other's happiness - more than you care for your own, or for me, I'd say, since you were in such a hurry to give me up." Duo started and opened his mouth again but Heero put a hand on his shoulder and he subsided with a mulish look. I nodded slightly. Good, this was how it was supposed to happen. "Why you two idiots haven't gotten together before is beyond me. If you'd heard Sally go on and on about how 'opposites attract' you'd have given up and eloped ages ago. You two are obviously made for each other. So...just wake up and get together and leave me out of it already." I managed a pretty good glare. Heero showed no emotions whatsoever, Duo's eyes widened a little but he said nothing.

I waited. They still said nothing.

I started to frown. I'd prepared that speech all day, and I knew it had been a good one, and had outlined the inevitable with almost scholarly precision. And without embarrassing me by revealing more than I wanted to. It was perfect, so what were they waiting for?

Duo raised a finger.

"Are we allowed to say something now?"

I cursed to myself in Mandarin. "Yes." I said warily.

"Okay. Good. I just have a question. Thanks for giving us a good insight into our own feelings and calling us idiots and all that but how exactly do you feel towards us?"

Damn. I gave a quick brush of my hand and an arrogant look down my nose - which goes to show how much I'd mastered the gesture, since I was still sitting on the bed and they were standing looking down at me.

"Feel? I will feel very happy when you two fools can sort yourselves out and realize you're obviously made for each other." I said coldly.

Duo's eyes fell, but Heero's narrowed.

"That wasn't what he meant." He said, his voice sharp. "Do you love one of us?"

"No." I said truthfully but much too quickly and my eyes had flinched away. "If I did then I wouldn't be shoving you together now would I?" I quickly elaborated, to avoid any further discussion on the subject.

"That would be stupid, if you loved one of us." Heero agreed, crossing his arms across his chest and staring at me. "As stupid as me shoving you and Duo together even though I-...love you." The unusual word left his mouth as if he were surprised at the taste of it. "As stupid as Duo -"

"Yeah okay I got that part." Duo's violet-blue eyes were glittering at me in the failing light. "As for me, there's something I don't get. I think I know my grouchy dragon pretty well and it strikes me as weird, now that I think of it, that you didn't kick one of our asses when we pulled a move on you yesterday. It must have come as an unwelcome surprise from at least one of us."

"Er-"

"Or that you're still here now, if you didn't care for either." Heero's eyes were narrowed still more. "And you still haven't told us how you felt towards us."

"What does that matter?" I snapped. "What matters is what you feel towards each other, not what I feel towards you both."

"Ah." Heero said, suddenly nodding. "Both."

Why had my ancestors given me a tongue...?

At Heero's words and the look on my face, Duo's eyebrows shot up. He stared, mouth open. "Oh. Oh, is that the problem?!"

"What? No!" I said, then realized that by denying it I was actually admitting I knew what he was talking about and that rather confirmed it. "Look, you're both my friends-"

"Friends don't kiss each other like we did this morning." Duo said, scratching the tip of his nose, eyes incandescent. "Oh, and to address this whole 'let's get Duo and Heero packaged off' deal, the bit about 'opposite attracts' only works in the movies, Fei-Fei. In real life, Heero and I work good together but we can't share a house for more than a month without driving each other crazy. That's why it's good we have missions and stuff to get us out and about."

"That's stupid." I said, mouth going dry. They were both looking at me in a strange way, and I couldn't blame them; I was squirming in horror under the weight of my revealed secret, my shame. Was this insanity of mine going to pull them apart? Destroy the harmony I had seen between them, whatever Duo said? I had to convince them- "You just haven't really tried it. You've always been busy each with your own thing, but if you actually set your mind to it you could easily share more than a house."

"Oh you want us to try to share something together?" Duo said, suddenly grinning like a loon.

"Yes, I'm sure you can make it work if you tried."

"Oh, I'm sure we could, if we tried hard enough." He was grinning at Heero, who was staring at him, puzzled. I wasn't sure why he was suddenly so cheerful...but then Heero smiled a bit too, as the unspoken communication that exists between close friends worked right under my nose. I was actually seeing it happen. The two men I loved were falling for each other, and I was a witness, soon to be gone from their lives and back to my own solitary one. I was so happy I began listing all of Treize's ancestors in my mind; the insult of not killing me before all this ripped me apart was too great, I was going to have to curse the dogs that had bred him as well as the arrogant bastard himself.

"Right, just...go ahead and kiss each other or something." I said briskly. That would put the final nail in my coffin, and erase the aching memory of those two kisses I'd received earlier. "Come on!" I ordered tartly as they stared at me. "Do it! I'm not leaving until I'm sure you idiots are not going to screw up again. And then I'll gladly get out of here because it was hard enough to see Sally get all gooey and silly when she was falling for her husband. Come on."

Heero and Duo stared at each other intently, there was a whole conversation in their eyes, one I was not party to. Not that it was any of my business now.

As I watched them a small measure of solace soothed my pain. The tension had left Heero's shoulders, the little lines had smoothed from around Duo's bright eyes. I'd made a right mess of it all but now I had set it right, and these two fools would be happy. How could I have chosen one over the other? Even if my heart had let me, I would never have been able to leave one of them crushed and broken out in the cold. Me? I was used to loneliness, and I was cold enough to freeze space according to most of my colleagues; this was just going back to the norm.

Duo grinned and launched himself at Heero - taking us both a little by surprise, I hadn't expected quite that much enthusiasm.

Neither had Heero. He hadn't expected the hug to end in a neck lock either.

"Hah, made you blink!" Duo said, laughing as he forced Heero to bend over and nearly tumbled him on to the bed.

"Maxwell!" I snarled, scandalized. But Heero Yuy didn't need my pitiful assistance. His eyes narrowed dangerously and his hands shot out in a perfectly coordinated attack. Duo screamed and tried to keep his hold on Heero's neck but it was hopeless. He cried out again as Heero, released, was able to use his whole body as leverage with deadly effect.

"You'll note, Wufei, that he's particularly ticklish on the sides, here, just below the ribs." Heero told me with clinical precision.

"Heero - no fair!" Duo shouted in between fits of hopeless laughter.

"Actually his feet are the worse but he's wearing shoes so I can't demonstrate it right now."

"Hee-! Sto-op! I -!"

"Why he insists on attacking me when I know his weaknesses is beyond me." Heero said, disapprovingly. Duo collapsed onto the end of the bed, convulsing and breathless and trying to squirm away.

"Yuy! I was serious!" I shouted, but I don't think he heard me above the noises Duo was making.

"I'm just glad OZ didn't try this when they had him captive." Heero said, putting a knee on the bed and leaning over a writhing pilot.

"Oh! Wu-Wufee! He-help!" Duo shouted, trying to protect his sides against the relentless assault.

I stared at the two of them in confusion. Well this was good, right? Okay not quite the romantic clench I'd hoped for - dreaded - but this warm, friendly tussle was also affection in its way. I felt it rise up in me and I was helpless to stop it; a chocking, hysterical laughter as I watched the perfect soldier, face oh-so-serious but eyes shining, 'torture' the dreaded god of death.

They would be fine. I wouldn't. I buried my face in my hands as the laughter shattered me like glass; I hid myself because I don't laugh out loud in public, and because I was terrified that I would start crying too.

I needed them. I needed them both so badly.

Two bodies barrelled into mine and pinned me back against the bed.

They held me close as I shuddered and let the sick laughter and the pain drain away slowly.

Heero had wrapped his strong arms around my shoulders, and one hand was rubbing the top of my arm, comforting. Duo was hugging me around the waist, face pressed into my chest, one leg curling up, draping his body over mine like a blanket.

"What are you fools doing?" I finally managed to whisper. Night had fallen, it was dark in the room, the only light crept into the window from the streetlights clawing through the gloom outside.

"Screwing up!" Duo said in a chirpy tone against my chest, his breath tickling me through my jumper.

"...what?" I muttered.

"You said you wouldn't leave until you made sure we weren't going to screw up." Heero reminded me in a precise voice, his breath moving my hair against my ear.

"But..." I was suddenly so tired.

"But we promise to try to share!" Duo said, a grin in his words.

"Hn."

"Share..." I stared at the ceiling, disappearing in darkness. Share?

"You're not suggesting..." I said, my eyes closing with the inevitability of it all.

"Hai."

"Sure thing! I mean, since we're all so ready to give each other up rather than hurt each other, why don't we try to not hurt each other while we both get you as well!?"

Heero and I were silent for a few seconds while we sorted that one out in our heads, then I felt him nod against my shoulder.

"But that's..." I tried to rally the horror I should feel at that scandalous suggestion. "That's just unheard of, that-"

"Boy, Fei, you need to get out more!"

"Or read some of Duo's books." A voice muttered in my ear.

"But- but what will people say!" I started to rally. There was no way this insanity was going any further.

"Hmm, donno. That we're three lucky bastards?" I could feel Duo grin against my chest.

"They probably won't be saying that." Heero said, seriously. "But I for one don't care. Do you?"

Did I? The two dozen people who knew me thought I was a heartless, hot-tempered, punctilious bastard for the most part. The half dozen I actually cared about would probably be...happy for me...

"No I don't care." I said. "But you do realize this is a stupid idea."

"Hn."

"Totally insane." Duo agreed.

"This doesn't have a chance of working." I said, more forcefully, still staring at the ceiling.

"Probably not."

"Not a chance in hell, I'd say." I could feel Duo nod vigorously.

"So why don't you just let me go and-"

"Because we'd just follow you anyway." Heero said firmly.

"Damn right. Hell, we won't even let you out of the house. Hey, 'Ro, we have any handcuffs?" My eyebrows shot up.

"No, but don't worry." Strong arms pressed me further into a firm chest. "He's not going anywhere."

My sanity tried one last protest even as my entire being started to tremble with an unaccustomed feeling of incredulous elation. "You are both being very stupid."

"Yes." Duo said with a yawn. They had also not had much sleep last night. "We'd have to be to fall in love with-...what was it?"

"A cynical, short-tempered misanthrope, he said." Heero's voice was softer now. I could feel long lashes flutter against my cheek.

"When you both wake up to that fact," I said sharply, "you'll- ...you'll leave me." And that was the basis of it, the reason I was so afraid of letting them in, letting anyone near, why I had so desperately wanted to believe they were together and didn't love me. I'd gone insane when Meiran had left me. And I could love these two so much more than that obnoxious fourteen year old scholar I had been had ever loved his strong-willed vivacious wife. What if- ...what if....

The arms around my shoulders and waist tightened.

"We're quite aware what a first-class grouch you can be, dragon." Duo sniffed.

"You won't get rid of us that easily." Heero said softly. "I'm willing to try. I love you too much not to. I'm even willing to put up with Duo's jokes and bad habits to-"

"Hey! Well, I guess I can put up with soldier boy's anal streak and his bad habits which are a lot worse than-" I tugged his braid and he took the hint.

I lay there, head swimming. I felt like crying, or laughing, or...

A cool hand brushed my cheek. "You're still warm. I noticed you haven't eaten all day and I bet you didn't rest much either. It's going to be a two-man mission to take care of you, I think."

"Yeah, this guy's high maintenance I bet." Duo chuckled, squeezing me.

"We should let you rest-" But I caught the arm as I felt their hold loosen.

"Don't leave me!" I said, in a voice I could barely recognize as my own.

"Shh, we won't." The arms tightened around my shoulder again as Heero leaned his head against mine. Duo curled up against my side and hugged me and rubbed my thigh gently, as if reassuring the fallen dragon that the fate in store for it wasn't going to be so bad after all. And as I sank into their arms, their touch, I found myself agreeing, and thinking that, all problems and complications and extreme insanity considered, despite it all...Chang Wufei was a lucky man.

I blinked my eyes, drowsy, light-headed. If this turned out to be some weird fever-dream and I woke up alone tomorrow...

Then I'd have to go hunt them down, wouldn't I.

Could we make it work? Really? The question drifted through my mind as my eyes closed, heavy as a promise you had to keep. Could the three of us make it work? It would take a miracle.

Well, we'd ended a war. And made it out alive. What a miracle already.

Heero held me against him, arms around my shoulders, comforting. My hand was wrapped around his strong wrist. Duo curled up besides me, breath slowing against my chest, my fingers woven into the strands of his braid. I felt safe and warm.

Beautiful symmetry.

Peace at last.

End of story.

+

(End of story? Well, maybe not. If I feel inspired I might toss in a few extra chapters - I rather like these three characters, and I'm curious to see how they'd work out the details. There could be plenty of sparks, and a lot of funny situations. Oh well, we'll see).

[chap. 3] [chap. 5] [back to Maldoror's fic]