So This Is Christmas (cont)

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Wufei looked thoughtfully at the last sprig of mistletoe. He'd stood on various pieces of furniture to get the other bits hung, but the doorway leading to the stairwell was a little awkwardly placed; it was at the end of the hall, and unless he really wanted to move the sideboard (which he didn't), he couldn't get a chair close enough. So, since he hadn't grown quite as much as Duo had over the last few years, this piece of mistletoe was dangling from a string that stretched across the doorway, and it was hanging a little low.

Hmmm... Duo and Heero should just scrape under. Trowa and Zechs can duck. And if they have a problem with that, they can damn well put it up higher themselves! Satisfied, he went back to the tree.

A few minutes later, he heard Duo leaping down the stairs. I'd better warn him just in case-- Sticking his head through the lounge room door into the hall, Wufei called out, "Duo, I put--"

Duo bounced through the doorway, wearing nothing but two towels, before he could finish the sentence.

Wufei had been right; the mistletoe was high enough that Duo should have squeaked under. Unfortunately, the towel wrapped around his hair raised his height several inches. When he felt the mistletoe snag the towel, Duo automatically swatted at it, catching his hand in the string and pulling it loose just as the towel fell off. The long wet hair piled on top of his head tumbled down, taking the mistletoe with it.

Duo flailed at it, sputtering, getting it tangled worse. "What the--? Who the fuck had the idea to hang this stupid shit up here anyway?!"

Wufei sighed, scrubbing his palm over his eyes. "You did, Duo. 'Every doorway on the ground floor, and all the light fixtures,' you said."

"Uh-- well-- well, why'd you hang it so low?!"

"Couldn't get a chair into that corner."

"What about the stepladder?!"

"You had it last I knew. Care to tell me where it is?"

"Um..." Duo paused, thinking, then blushed. "Er... no?"

Wufei lowered his hand just far enough to shoot a sardonic glance at him. "It's outside somewhere, isn't it?"

"Uh..."

"How far into the woods?"

"Ah... twenty minutes walk... south. Southish."

"How long has it been there?"

"Mmm... over a month."

"Why?"

"Well, see, there was this tree... only I couldn't reach the bottom branch... and--"

"I get the picture. We'll buy a new one after Christmas. Now come here so I can get that out of your hair."

"Eheh... tell me you aren't mad first."

Wufei raised an eyebrow at him. "Didn't we have this conversation an hour ago? Get over in front of the fire before you freeze your towel off."

Settling down behind Duo, Wufei carefully disentangled the mistletoe and started separating the wet strands with his fingers. After a few minutes of this, Duo shifted his weight slightly and sighed; mistaking it for a sign of impatience, Wufei apologised.

"I'll start brushing it soon, Duo, but I want to get the worst knots out first -- I don't want to yank at your scalp."

"Hm? Oh -- no, really, I'm in no hurry." Duo smiled over his shoulder, almost shyly. "I was just thinking how nice and peaceful this is... and, y'know, you're here, and doing something nice for me, and being careful 'cause you care, and it feels good..." He blushed. "I'm just... really happy."

Wufei's hands paused for a moment, then continued. "Really happy?"

"Yeah."

"Then... I'm sitting with you, doing something I enjoy, and you're enjoying it too... we're alone in our house... and I'm really happy too."

One violet eye peeked back at him again. "Really happy?"

"Yeah."

"...that's cool."

"Yeah." Wufei grinned and picked up the brush, blushing slightly himself.

Neither of them spoke for some time after that; Wufei just slowly brushed through Duo's hair, continuing long after all the knots were gone, and Duo relaxed, eyes closed, swaying slightly with each sweep of the brush. As his hair dried, the feel of the strokes changed; by the time Wufei set the brush aside and started running his fingers through the shining masses again, the cool slide of it against his shoulders told Duo it was almost completely dry. He carefully didn't sigh; 'Fei was pulling it away from his shoulders, gathering it up as if to plait it, and while he didn't want it to stop he ALSO didn't want to make Wufei feel bad about stopping.

He blinked as Wufei gently pushed the masses of hair forward over his shoulder and ran cool fingers over his back.

"You've got a couple of new bruises here... and here. They from when you fell off the roof?"

"Uh, I guess so; I haven't done anything else today that might ha-aaah!" Duo jerked upright, eyes wide, then swallowed and continued in a voice that was suddenly half an octave higher. "'Fei... what'cha doing back there?"

"Kissing them better." Duo could feel warm breath against his back as Wufei spoke. "Isn't that what a devoted--" lick, nibble, kiss "--husband is supposed to do for his beloved?"

"Uh-- I g-guess so..." Duo's breath quickened as Wufei's lips moved slowly lower on his back, one hand settling on his hip, the other sliding around to flatten against his stomach. "Ah... 'Fei... are you aware that most of my bruises are on my butt?"

Warm lips smiled against the small of his back as Wufei pulled the towel loose. "I guessed."

* * * * *

Wufei woke up.

Even before he opened his eyes, he knew exactly where Duo was; there was a warm weight pressed against his side, a leg thrown over his thighs, and an arm lying limp across his chest. Soft puffs of breath were tickling the hollow of his throat, Duo's bangs were tickling his chin, and the feeling of something loose and silky tangled around his left arm reminded him that he never had got around to plaiting Duo's hair.

Five years ago, I never dreamed I'd end up as Duo's body pillow, he thought, carefully disentangling himself and sliding out of bed. The hair posed a problem, but two-and-a-half years of practice made it possible without waking his lover. Bereft of his warm, human huggy toy, Duo made a discontented noise and clutched one of the pillows instead.

A few minutes later, Wufei managed to drag himself away from the sight and ducked into the ensuite for a quick shower. On the way, he paused for a look out the window; he was smiling when he turned on the water.

When he re-emerged into the bedroom, towelling droplets off his chest, Duo was in the process of waking up; he blinked drowsily through his bangs and smiled, sweetly, looking somehow completely innocent and much younger than his true age. It was a sight that Wufei was sure he could never get tired of.

Of course, it didn't last.

Yawning hugely and flopping onto his back, Duo stretched across the full width of the bed. Then, grinning wickedly, he started singing.

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas--"

Wufei snorted. "Baka. Stop dreaming and look out the window."

"--Just like the ones I used to-- huh? Why?"

"It must have been snowing all night; there's at least six inches on the ground and it's still coming down."

"YES!" Duo punched the air in triumph and bounded out of bed, scattering blankets and pillows as he leapt onto the window seat and threw the curtains open.

Leaning into the closet as he hunted out the right pair of pants, Wufei heard Duo start up in the middle of a different song.

"Walkin' in a winter wonderland--"

"Duo."

"--Gone away is the bluebird-- oh come on, 'Fei, it's just a song! --Here to stay is a new bird--"

"Duo."

"All right, all right! Sheesh!" Duo chuckled. "Grinch."

Turning around, mouth open to respond as he tugged the pants over his hips, Wufei froze at the sight that greeted his eyes.

And a very nice view it is...

Duo was kneeling on the window seat with his nose smushed up against the glass, craning his neck as he tried to see everything at once, swaying his hips in time with the carols in his head.

It's a good thing we've got double glazing, or I'd have to use a hairdryer to thaw his nose off the pane, Wufei mused, slowly pushing his slacks back off his hips. Hmm... we don't have that much left to do today. I think we can spare a couple of hours...

Downstairs, the phone rang.

"I'll get it!" Duo leapt off the window seat and ran out of the room.

"Oh shit-- Duo! Wait!!" Wufei scrambled after him, yanking his pants up as he ran.

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Lady Une turned a pen over in her fingers as she waited for the call to be answered. They are not going to be pleased... I expect Maxwell will put up a fight, but Chang's overdeveloped sense of duty should--

The call went through and the vidphone's screen blinked on. Lady Une's eyes widened and she froze, staring at the vision before her.

<<Maxwell-Chang resiEEYOW!>> Duo's cheerful smile vanished sideways off the screen. <<Ow! Not the hair! Not the hair!>>

Still staring wide-eyed at the screen (which was now showing part of a rather tastefully decorated room), she was vaguely aware of a tightly controlled Chinese voice, just within range of the other set's pickup. <<Duo... please put some clothes on before you answer the phone.>>

<<Oh! Shit! Sorry, 'Fei... I forgot I didn't wear anything to bed last night.>>

<<You never wear anything to bed, Duo! What's there to forget?!>>

<<Eheh... I'll just go get dressed and make breakfast, shall I?>>

Lady Une had barely got her breathing under control when Wufei stepped into view; she could feel it speeding up again as her eyes wandered slowly downwards. I've never seen Chang with his hair loose before... or shirtless... water trickling down his oh my oh my oh my I do believe he hasn't done up all the buttons on those pants-- She yanked her eyes up to meet his as he spoke, feeling a blush spread over her cheekbones.

<<Lady Une? Is there a problem?>>

Ooooooh no, not at ALL.. She cleared her throat. "Chang. I'm sorry to disturb you when you're supposed to be on holiday--" and goodness only knows WHAT I interrupted but I'd LOVE to see "--but yes, we have a problem. As I'm sure you're aware, there were fresh snowfalls last night, extremely heavy snowfalls with the usual consequences. The emergency services are handling all the problems in town, but once again they are stretched to their limits; and there have been fresh avalanches--"

Wufei paused midway through smoothing his hair back, fresh trickles of water making their way down suddenly tensed muscles. <<You're cancelling our leave.>>

"Yes. I'm sure you under--"

<<No.>>

"--stand, lives are... what?"

<<I said no.>> Wufei planted his hands on the vid table and leaned forward aggressively. <<You know what we've got planned -- hell, you and Sally Po are invited -- and there's still a lot to be done. We won't both come running back just because some microcephalic moron is endeavouring to improve the human race by freezing himself out of it!>>

Une suddenly realised that she was pressing herself back into her chair, trying to get further away from that furious black glare. "But-- I--" Her spine stiffened. "I have to send someone, and you two are what I've got!"

<<I'll handle it myself.>>

She shook her head. "Impossible. I can't send you up into the hills without backup."

<<Then find someone else to go with me. Also, I will be back off duty tomorrow night. I will not allow this nonsense to ruin Duo's Christmas.>>

There was a pause.

Somehow, Lady Une could hear all sorts of violent possibilities in that little pause.

"I... think Noin is available... she said something about 'sending Zechs to buy the tree and then putting her feet up'."

<<Understood. I'll be there in an hour.>>

Still staring at the darkened screen, Une picked up a file and began fanning herself. "Oh my... oh my oh my oh my..." She was mildly annoyed at the inadequacy of that statement, but decided that nothing stronger really covered it either.

"Oh, my..."

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Wufei could hear Duo cheerfully warbling in the kitchen as he stalked upstairs to get changed. Hm. I must remember to get into Lady Une's office and wipe the recording of that call. God only knows what might happen if anyone else saw it!

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Lady Une was still fanning herself when Noin poked her head around the door. "Relena Yui is here for your meeting, ma'am... uh... is something wrong?"

"Hm? Noin? Oh! Yes, ask her to come in -- oh, and go find Sally, could you? And come in yourself. Ah, I'm afraid I have to cancel the first day or so of your leave, but believe me, you won't mind!"

"Yes, ma'am!"

Zechs, outside casually chatting to Heero and Relena, overheard; he stopped Noin for a moment as she emerged. "Problems? Is my leave cancelled too?"

"I don't know yet -- whatever's up, it must be big. I've rarely seen her so agitated! Have you seen Sally?"

"She was in Lt. Green's office as we went past."

He raised an elegant platinum eyebrow at Heero as Noin zipped off down the corridor and Relena, looking concerned, stepped into the office. "Sounds fascinating... shall we?" Heero nodded, and they followed Relena in.

They backed out again a second later as Lady Une planted a hand in the centre of each chest and literally pushed them out. "Oh, no, no no no no no... really, gentlemen, it's good of you to be concerned but I assure you your assistance is not required with this matter, thank you, goodbye!"

The door closed in their faces.

They looked at each other.

Heero spoke first. "Well... that was out of character."

Zechs nodded. "Definitely. But I think I can take it that my leave is not cancelled."

"Ha! I'd say so."

The two men politely stepped aside as Noin and Sally hurried past. The office door closed again behind them with a very definite 'thunk'.

There was a slight pause.

"The way Une's acting, I doubt they'll tell us what's going on," drawled Zechs.

"I think you're right."

"But I, for one, am now immensely curious."

"You're not the only one."

Another pause.

"I hear you got in trouble last year for bugging the Preventers' offices."

"Hn."

"I don't suppose you've done it again?"

"...I might have."

"Any rooms in particular?"

"Une sweeps her office personally. Every day."

"Damn."

"Mmm."

Zechs sighed. "Well... all we can really do is stay here and listen."

Heero raised an eyebrow at him.

"After all, we want to be in earshot if they change their minds and call us in, don't we?"

"Ah. Of course."

"We'd be derelict in our duty, otherwise."

"Don't push it too far, Merquise."

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