and Christy (wot... no nicknames?)
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Wish we did.
PAIRINGS: 5x2, 1xR, 3x4
WARNINGS: Yaoi, sap, FLUFF! AU-ish
minor scene change (from person to person at the same place, etc): ----------
major scene change (at another place, some time later, etc): * * * * *
flashback or dream starting or ending: ~*~*~*~
thoughts (and the occasional sound effect): *Tadah!*
some more sound effects (little ones!): -tadah!-
electronics (phone, TV, intercom etc): <<Tadah!>>
+ Chapter 7
Sunday morning- New Year's
Eve- Duo watched from the window as Wufei left for work, then turned back
into the apartment with a determined expression.
"Right," he muttered, heading for the kitchen. "What are
we going to need?"
A quick search of the fridge and cupboards produced a good selection of
finger foods, but also revealed that they were running out of several
things; Duo sighed, and made a list.
They were also running out of clean towels and sheets, as Duo discovered
when he hauled the spare futon, pillows and quilts out of the closet.
Well, I was already planning to do some housework, he thought,
eyeing the laundry hamper. I know the laundry room is in the basement,
so it shouldn't be hard to find, and I know where 'Fei keeps the laundry
money. He did say it was too steamy, though...
I haven't coughed for days, I'll be fine. I'll even take the stupid
puffer so if Sally finds out she can't lecture me too much. She
probably will find out, too.
First, though, Duo sat down in front of the vidphone and keyed in Wufei's
< < Chang here-- Duo? Is everything all right? > >
"Everything's fine," Duo said quickly. "I just wanted to
ask you to buy some things on the way home."
< < Oh... okay, that's not a problem, > > Wufei said, looking
immensely relieved. < < What do we need? > >
"Um, well, I thought we might want some champagne for midnight...
you know, for the toast and everything. The non-alcoholic sort, so it
doesn't screw with our medication."
Wufei smiled. < < Good idea; I wish I'd thought of it myself. What
else? > >
"We're out of hot chocolate," Duo told him, pausing for the
Chinese Preventer to awkwardly scrawl a note left-handed. "A loaf
of French or Italian bread... and could you get some bay leaves?"
< < Bay leaves? > >
"I found your crockpot and figured I could make a stew for dinner.
We've got all the other ingredients, I just need bay leaves."
< < I have a crockpot? > > Wufei blinked. < < Oh. That.
Sally gave it to me as an apartment-warming gift; I've never used it.
I suppose it works... > >
"It's still in the box, 'Fei. It had better work."
< < I'll buy bay leaves, then. Anything else? > >
"Ummm... no, that's plenty for one trip, considering. How's your
Wufei grimaced. < < It aches a bit, but nothing serious. If it gets
worse I'll take a pain pill, I promise. > >
< < By the way, I checked in the paper; there's quite a carnival
down at the lake today, leading up to the fireworks tonight. Would you
like to go down for a couple of hours after I get home? > >
"Uh, sure... if you're feeling up to it."
< < I think I will be. Shall we call it a date? > >
"Um. Yeah. A date," Duo stuttered, blushing slightly and looking
down. Idiot! he told himself. It's just an appointment type
of date, not a date date... isn't it?
Half an hour later, Duo was leaning on the wall outside the laundry room,
coughing so hard that he was seeing stars and wondering if his ribs would
stand the strain.
Damn it, if I pass out down here, Wufei's gonna freak! he thought
desperately, clutching his puffer in one shaking hand. I already took
one dose and it's not working. Maybe I should take another... shit, if
I could stop coughing long enough to do that, I wouldn't need another
There was a surprised exclamation from down the hall, and quick footsteps
coming towards him; then someone was helping him straighten up and supporting
him for a few steps, until he could sink into a chair.
"There now, you just sit and concentrate on getting your breath back,"
a warm female voice said. "Lean forward and put your head down...
that's right... did you manage to take your medication?"
Eyes closed, still coughing and gasping, Duo managed to nod and wave the
"That's all right, then." A gentle hand started rubbing Duo's
back, and the lilting voice chuckled softly. "There's always that
nasty pause before it starts working, when you're sure it's taking
too long, isn't there? My Casimir is always positive that this time,
it's not going to work.. then it does, and he does his best to pretend
he wasn't worried. I'm glad he only gets asthma in spring!"
She waited a little while, then patted his shoulder. "Getting better?"
"Yeah," Duo wheezed, opening his eyes and trying to breath deep
and slowly. "Thanks. I thought I was going to pass out."
"It's no problem. Were you doing your laundry?"
He nodded, slowly easing himself upright and leaning back in the chair.
"I was handling it okay until the dryers really got going. The extra
steam was the last straw."
The woman nodded, silver hairs at her temple catching the light. "The
residents have been complaining about the lack of ventilation in there
since this building was first occupied, but somehow nothing ever gets
done. It's a little odd, because anything else we complain about gets
fixed right away. You're Mr. Maxwell, aren't you? Staying with Mr. Chang,
"Uh... yeah," he said, automatically taking the hand she held
out to him. "I'm Duo. Uh, have we met?"
"No," she said, smiling, "but I ran into a couple of friends
of yours on Boxing Day. I'm Gwennol Ptaschinski."
"Oh! Mrs. P!" the braided teen exclaimed, then had to cough
again. "Ow... Whenever we encounter you, it's something to do with
laundry, isn't it?"
"I suppose our paths are fated to cross over detergent and dryer
sheets," she chuckled, getting up and recovering her basket from
where she'd dropped it. "If you'll just wait here, I'll check on
your washing, and fetch it out if it's finished. No point in giving yourself
another attack, is there?"
When Wufei let himself into the apartment, he blinked in surprise at the
collection of items arranged by the glass door to the balcony. The spare
futon and quilts were neatly folded and stacked, with pillows sitting
on top of the pile; next to them, the coffee maker was sitting on the
floor, charged up and ready to go, plugged into an extension cord long
enough to stretch outside. A little tray next to the coffee maker held
teabags, sugar, a bag of marshmallows, coffee mugs... and two wine glasses.
"'Fei!" Duo said happily, walking over for a welcome-back hug.
"How was your morning?"
"Reasonable," Wufei sighed, pulling Duo closer and pressing
a kiss to his temple. "It seems to be improving now, though..."
The shopping bag dangling from his hand bumped Duo's leg as he moved to
kiss him again, and he disentangled himself with hasty apologies.
"Oh, good," Duo said, taking the bag and turning away to hide
his blush. "I've got the stew all ready to go; I just have to add
a bay leaf and switch the crockpot on. It does work, by the way,
I checked." He quickly put everything away, ducking over to the glass
door to add the hot chocolate mix to the tray.
"Duo... what's all this?" Wufei asked.
"For watching the fireworks," the braided teen said, a little
sheepishly. "The futon and stuff is so we don't freeze, and I figured
we'd want hot drinks as well as champagne. I sorted out some snacks, too,
they're in the fridge. Um... do you want to have a rest before we go down
to the lake?"
"Not unless you want one. I thought we could have lunch there, unless
you already had something in mind?"
A slow grin spread over Duo's face. "Hot dogs with chili and sauerkraut?"
Ruthlessly suppressing his first reaction, Wufei grinned back. "I'm
sure we can find you one, but I think I'll stick to something a little
tamer." And if he ends up needing something for heartburn, i know
where there's an open chemist's shop. It should be okay... Duo's
been eating properly for a while now...*
...but I'm still going to make sure Sally never hears of this!
* * * * *
"Sally," Une's wary voice said, "were you expecting a parcel?"
"No," Sally replied, closing the car door and hurrying up the
path. Une was standing a few feet from the door, eyeing a large flat box
that was propped up against it as if it might jump out and bite her.
"We haven't had any bomb threats lately," Une muttered, peering
carefully at the label without touching it, "and they usually
try to bomb HQ, not private residences, but... oh. It's all right,"
she said, picking it up, "that's Maxwell's handwriting. I'd recognise
"I should hope so, by now," Sally said cheerfully, unlocking
the door and switching off the security system. "He sent you enough
samples of it during the war! I take it the tradition is starting again?"
"Looks like it. I'm almost afraid to look." Une set the box
on the hall table and started peeling off the tape.
Inside the box, protected by a lot of fluffy packing material, was a rather
smaller flat parcel, wrapped in sparkly metallic paper. A small envelope
tucked under the ribbon had 'READ THIS FIRST!' written on it in
big red letters.
"It was addressed to both of us," Une said dryly, plucking
the envelope out and handing it to Sally with a flourish. "Will you
do the honours?"
"You just don't want to be caught in the effects if this turns out
to be booby-trapped," Sally grumbled, holding it well away from her
as she eased up the flap and tugged out a folded sheet of paper. When
nothing happened-- no flour, glitter or stink bombs-- she
unfolded the paper and brought it closer to her face to read.
"'Dear Une and Sally'," she read aloud. "'Do not open this
until New Year's Day! We mean it!' It's signed 'Duo and Wufei', and that
was Duo's handwriting again. There's a PS in the scrawl Wufei's using
at the moment. 'That means you, Sally. I know what you're like.' Right,"
Sally said decisively, folding up the note. "Let's open it!"
"Oh no you don't," Une laughed, snatching it away. "We
are going to follow the instructions, and open it on New Year's Day!"
"I bet you didn't follow the instructions during the war," Sally
argued, edging closer.
"Once or twice I did," Une told her, thinking of 'CLICK ME'
on a computer screen. "Most of the time, he didn't leave instructions.
It'll be well past midnight when we get back from Quatre's party; we can
open it then."
"Oh, all right," Sally mock-pouted. "That'll have to do."
* * * * *
When they got close enough to the carnival to be encountering crowds of
people, Duo unconsciously drew closer to Wufei; the Chinese teen glanced
at him, noted the slightly nervous way Duo was looking around, and reached
over to hold his hand. Rewarded with a blush and a delighted smile, Wufei
smiled back and kept walking, rubbing his thumb over the soft skin on
the back of Duo's hand.
He's still nervous about getting separated, he thought, spotting
a hot dog stand and tugging Duo towards it. Hopefully he'll relax a
little once he gets used to the crowd. In the meantime, it's certainly
no problem for me to keep hold of his hand... especially when something
so simple can produce such a beautiful result!
They had to let go of each other to eat, but Wufei found a quiet corner
where they could watch the rides and stalls without worrying about people
pushing between them. At least, Duo watched the rides and stalls;
Wufei watched Duo, and was relieved to see no ill effects after the braided
ex-pilot downed one and a half jumbo hot dogs, smothered in chili, cheese
"You want a taste, 'Fei?" Duo asked, offering the last half
of his second hot dog. "It tastes better than it looks, I swear."
"It would have to," Wufei muttered, taking the drippy
Duo snorted. "It even counts as sort of healthy, since it has something
from all four food groups!"
"Which four?" Wufei asked, eyeing him with a faint smirk. "The
standard four, or your four?"
"'Fat, salt, sugar and chocolate'," Wufei quoted. "I don't
see any chocolate in this..."
"If you're not going to taste it, give it back."
Cautiously, Wufei took a bite and chewed.
"Well?" Duo asked, watching his face anxiously.
Wufei swallowed and handed the rest back. "It's not bad, Duo, but
it's not really to my taste, either," he said apologetically. "You're
right though; it definitely doesn't taste as bad as it looks!"
"I wouldn't have offered it if I'd thought you'd hate it..."
"I know," Wufei said, smiling slightly. "That's the only
reason I was willing to try it."
"So!" Duo exclaimed, dropping the empty wrapper into the trash
bin and dusting off his hands. "Where do we go next?"
"Well, traditionally-- since we're making a point of continuing
good traditions-- there are certain things that should be done
during a date at a carnival," Wufei said, elaborately casual as he
glanced around at the stalls. "I haven't exactly made a study of
the subject, but I believe I'm supposed to win you something. Shall we
find a suitable game booth?" he asked, holding out his hand for Duo
Duo stared at him, wide-eyed. "Then... um... you did mean
that this was a date date... not just an appointment-to-go-somewhere
type of date?"
"I did mean 'date date'," Wufei said quietly. "What
do you want me to win for you?"
Swallowing, Duo slowly reached out to take the offered hand. "I think
stuffed toys are the usual sort of thing," he whispered, a little
shakily. "Really big ones."
"Really big stuffed toys it is," the Chinese teen said, carefully
tucking their linked hands into his coat pocket to keep warm. "This
way, I think..."
They soon found 'Shooting Alley', where most of the gun- and throwing-
based games were concentrated, and Wufei shocked one booth operator by
hitting every target, handling the small pellet rifle one-handed. When
they left, Duo's free arm was wrapped around a large red and green plushie
A minute later, Duo tugged Wufei to a halt. "Oh, wow,"
he said, a slow grin spreading over his face as he stared at another booth.
"Will you look at that, 'Fei? I think it's my turn to win something.
Which one do you want?"
"As if you even have to ask," Wufei breathed.
At first glance, it was just a 'Whack-A-Mole' game, identical to games
that had been traveling around with carnivals and circuses for centuries;
but the signboard proudly proclaimed 'Whack-A-Leo', and the fuzzy objects
popping up and down in the holes were small mobile suit plushies.
"Five credits a game, gentlemen, care to try your luck? the booth
operator called, waving them over. "Hit a Leo and it's five points;
hit Tallgeese and it's fifty!"
"Tallgeese?!" Duo yelped.
"I have got to tell Zechs about this," Wufei purred,
"We've got a whole range of prizes, from Leos to Gundams," the
operator continued cheerfully, holding out a padded mallet. "Give
it a go, gents, take something cute home to your lady loves... oooops,
or to each other," he corrected himself, eyeing their linked hands.
"That'll teach me to look first and spiel later! No offense meant,
"None taken," Wufei assured him, handing over ten credits. "Two
games, please. Think you can win us one each?" he asked Duo.
"No problem," Duo chuckled, passing him the plushie dragon
and taking a firm grip on the mallet. "Stand back 'Fei, I'm a professional...
though, this would be more fun if I could use a scythe. I don't suppose
you offer alternate weapons?" he asked hopefully.
The booth operator just looked at him, one eyebrow raised.
"Didn't think so. All right, let 'er rip!"
One mad flurry of thumps, whacks and yells of 'Ha! Take that!' and 'Tallgeese!
Gotcha!' later, Duo had scored enough points to get a plushie Gundam.
"Congratulations!" the operator said, reaching up to the shelf.
"After that scythe comment, I suppose you want one of these?"
he asked, pulling down a Deathscythe.
"Yeah, for me, but first I want a Shenlong for 'Fei--"
"Actually, I'd like a Deathscythe," Wufei interrupted quickly.
Duo tried to cover his reaction with a wide grin. "Why, 'Fei, at
last you're opting for a real Gundam?" he crowed. For a moment,
as Wufei drew himself up to his full height and glared haughtily down
his nose, he thought he'd made a horrible mistake; then:
"Just because your Deathscythe has the full cloaking capacity
and the fancy thermal scythe that works underwater, is no reason to make
fun of my Nataku," Wufei said coolly, mouth twitching as he suppressed
a grin. "My Gundam has the flamethrower."
"I'm going to assume that you gentlemen are just big fans of the
Gundams," the operator said, setting the plushie on the counter,
"because the only other explanation for that conversation that occurs
to me-- that I have two Gundam pilots standing at my booth--
is too... disconcerting, Are you going to play your second game, or should
I just pull down another Deathscythe for you?"
"Hey, if 'Fei wants Deathscythe, I'll have Shenlong," Duo said
happily, taking a firm grip on the mallet again. "Start it up!"