Author: Casey Valhalla

Disclaimer: I do not meddle in the affairs of Gundam Wing, for I am penniless and own no copyrights.

Author's Notes: It took a while to plow through this chapter, but hey, it's done. More humor, lovestruck Heero (complete with Cure lyrics!), contemplative Quat (contemplating in French!) and more of what you've all come to love about this fic. I hope. I'm not completely happy with this chapter, but it probably turned out okay.

Thanks as usual go to Sol for beta reading, and to Mal for assistance in French translations, and to both for pointing out a few characterization discrepancies. Big thank yous to Trowacko, who IM'd me to discuss some technical issues regarding my setting (turns out you can't actually see the Black Hills from anywhere further east than Red Shirt Table on the Pine Ridge rez. Oops.) and also for allowing me to pick her brain. Thanks, Tro! Oh, and to Sol for the Cure song. And everyone on AIM who's been bugging me about this for weeks.

And to everyone reading.

Great America: 6
Wanyaka, Tuwena Icunsi (Look, No One Acts in This Manner)

"Aww, how cute." A voice. Was it… Trowa?

"There is no cute about it. I'm going to kill him." That one was Wufei, definitely. He sounded pissed.

"Let them sleep, jeez." Trowa again, close. What was going on?

"They were sleeping. Separately. Last night. What the fuck happened?" Definitely pissed.

"Lower your voice, Wufei, you know how grouchy Heero is in the morning." Quatre, level and hushed. Almost soothing…

"When is Heero not grouchy, I'd like to know." Wufei again. One could almost hear the pout.

"Shhh!" Quatre, he was further away, trying to quell the Chinese boy's wrath.

"How do you expect me to feel when I wake up and find my best friend sleeping with a man he's only known for two days?" Okay, Wufei had a point.

"Three days." Point for the blond. Touché.

"Wait, I'm lost. I thought they were together already." Trowa again, confused, and somewhat amused as well.

"How the hell did you get that impression?" Preparing for Wufei outburst, T-minus 5, 4…

"Thought it was kind of obvious." Definitely amused.

"Obvious. Obvious! Christ, I warned him—" 3… 2… someone better do something, and quick.

"Give it a rest, Wufei. They're clothed. If they were naked, then I'd be doing the histrionics." Another point to the blond with the funny name.

"Do you have to argue about this right the fuck over my head?" Heero's voice was raspy with sleep, but without a doubt he would be offering a glare no less forceful despite half-lidded eyes and the sunlight that was probably stinging his retinas.

Duo decided it was in his best interests to continue to feign sleep. Besides which, he had absolutely no desire to move. He was warm and comfortable, face buried in the hollow of Heero's throat, head pillowed on Heero's biceps, arm thrown up around Heero's head to tangle fingers in Heero's hair. Everything surrounding him was Heero, Heero, Heero… the legs muddled together with his own, the hands holding him close, the scent, the heat, the breath, the heartbeat…

Nope, not moving. Not for an act of God or Congress.

"What did I tell you, Yuy? What did I say, just last night? What the hell--!" Yup, that outburst was imminent. "Mmmmf mm mmmmffff!"

What?

"Thank you, Quatre." Heero's voice was almost a purr against his ear. Duo sighed softly to himself, wishing the rest of the world would just go away so he could snooze out the rest of his life like this.

"Get his feet."

"I've got 'em, you go for his arms."

Apparently Quatre and Trowa were working in tandem.

"Now, Wufei," that voice rumbled again under Duo's ear.

"Mmmf!"

"Look at him."

"Mmfmm."

"Does he look heartbroken to you?" Heero's hands flexed slightly against his back, and Duo hummed low in his throat, shifting even closer and smiling to himself.

"Fmmf." Even muffled Wufei's voice sounded defeated.

"Right, now that we have that settled, let's go make some coffee." Well, how about that, Trowa had the foresight to give them some time alone. Not a bad guy at all, Trowa.

"I'll make the coffee, if you don't mind." Apparently Quatre was dead set on it.

"Why am I terrified of that idea?"

"Mmmf."

The voices faded into the background, until all Duo could hear was the wind in the grass, and the occasional rattle from within the garage. He thought he could fall back asleep, even with the sun on his eyelids, then felt the chest under his ear rumbling again.

"I know you're awake."

"Pretend I'm not."

Heero drew a deep breath and let it out slowly, sending a soft, warm breeze through the roots of Duo's hair. "I would, but we have to move eventually." His voice was gruff.

Duo made a low noise of protest and burrowed deeper into Heero's embrace.

"You can't crawl into my skin, you know."

"I can try."

"Duo—"

Whatever words would have followed were lost against Duo's lips. Heero gasped at the brief touch, and Duo grinned at his fluttering eyelids. "What was that, Hopa?"

Heero breathed something that might have been Japanese, Greek, or garbled English for all Duo could tell. It was strangely thrilling, having this sort of effect on Heero. He continued to tease the Japanese man's lips with brushes and gentle nips, until Heero's mouth fell open and a strangled whimper barely escaped from his throat. Duo smiled to himself at the sound and allowed Heero to capture him, rewarded by a deep, almost desperate kiss. Heero's fingers worked into the base of Duo's braid, massaging gently at his neck, as the kiss softened and slowed until the only sign that Heero was still conscious were his fingers twitching and the languid movements of his mouth against Duo's.

The Indian sighed. If Heero kept zoning out like this, they'd never move on to bigger and better things. Though, he amended, I don't mind kissing him at all. Oh no, not one bit.

Duo broke the kiss with an apologetic peck and pulled Heero into a sitting position, sliding into Heero's lap as he did so and settling himself with his arms resting on Heero's shoulders, their foreheads touching. Heero's fingers were still twitching, one hand still trapped in the base of his braid, the other at the small of his back. Heero's eyes opened halfway to look up at Duo through his thick lashes, and Duo shivered. That look, it was almost… devout.

"Hmm, I'm gonna go see if Corina'll let me use her shower," Duo said, shrugging his shoulders in a relaxed stretch. "Han? Go join the rest of the living. I'm sure Quatre's coffee will wake you up and stand your hair on end." When Heero continued staring without any indication he'd even heard, Duo reached up and tweaked his nose. "Snap out of it, Hopa. We can't stay in bed all day, much as I'd like to."

Heero blinked twice and shook his head slightly, making his bangs brush over his half-mast eyelids. He frowned, back to normal again. "That's what I was just saying."

"Well, then."

They continued staring at each other for the better part of a minute.

"You have to let go of me first, Hopa," Duo said.

Heero looked down at his arms as though they were malfunctioning, then glowered at Duo. "Not from lack of trying, I assure you."

The Indian laughed lightly and tilted his head to nuzzle Heero's cheek. "Is that so?"

"Tease," Heero muttered, and caught his lips.

A few long, lingering moments later Duo had to catch Heero to keep him from falling over backwards. "Space case," Duo chuckled, standing abruptly before he became entangled in a third good morning kiss.

+

Heero entered the garage in a daze, the only information registering in his brain the shift in lighting and the solidity of the cement beneath his feet. He nearly ran into Trowa.

The biker caught him by the shoulders; Trowa's face was half in shadow, but he could see the subtle smile forming on Trowa's lips. The green-eyed man turned him deftly until Heero was facing the table at the nearer corner of the garage. "The coffee's that way."

"Oh," Heero said, then realized that sounded stupid and wished he hadn't spoken. Wufei was sitting on the edge of the table scowling at him, his windbreaker tied neatly around his waist, revealing the plain white tee he wore underneath, and the golden skin of his arms. Quatre was leaning against the wall nearby, clutching a coffee cup against his mouth. His face was turning red from effort.

"What's so damn funny?" Heero demanded, in an attempt to regain his self-image. Hearing the words, however, he realized his voice was too breathy and vague to be intimidating. Quatre snorted and almost dropped his mug. Wufei's scowl deepened, and a brief growl rumbled low in his throat.

Heero decided he should really just stop talking and let the caffeine do its job.

"Good tailwind today," Trowa commented, since Quatre was still trying to contain himself and Wufei was too busy glaring to pay any attention.

Heero stirred his coffee slowly, watching the swirls of creamer disperse through the liquid. Duo's skin was about that color, like coffee with just the right amount of cream.

"I don't think he heard you," Quatre said, taking a long pull from his mug. "But you're right, we'll make good time… to… where are we going today?" He turned a puzzled look to Wufei.

The Chinese boy paid no notice, but muttered something under his breath. The word 'dishonorable' appeared somewhere in the mix.

"Guess they don't care," Trowa muttered. "Let's go to Texas, shall we?"

"No better destination!" Quatre agreed.

Heero kept stirring, and began humming to himself, adding an extra spoonful of sugar to his coffee. Sweet. Sweet was good. He recognized the song he was humming and began singing under his breath. "You turn the whole world upside down…" He returned to humming when he forgot the words, and added another dollop of cream. "You make me make me make me make me hungry for you…"

"That's it," Trowa stated, dropping to sit on the bumper of the blue Corolla. "We've lost him for good."

"Yuy!" Wufei snapped, hopping off the table to hover at Heero's shoulder. "You'd be obliged to keep your dirty paws off of him!"

Heero blinked sluggishly. "I would?"

"Yes."

"But you told me not to break his heart."

"Yes, and I meant it. I refuse to stand by and watch you seduce--"

"He kissed me first."

Wufei's mouth closed with a click. "Ah. Well… then…"

Heero wandered back towards the door, humming in between sips of his coffee, nodding erratically in time with the song only he could hear.

"C'est l'amour," Quatre murmured over the edge of his mug.

"He's got you there." Trowa raised his cup to Wufei, as though in toast.

The Chinese boy deflated and stomped off to the front door of the garage. "I'll just… go… glare at something inanimate."

+

G. F. G. No, G sharp. Or was it minor. Zut.

"There's enough fry-bread in here for two apiece, okay, and a soda for each." Corina was hovering by the passenger door, passing packages through the open window to Duo, who looked as though he had no intention of sharing them with anyone. Quatre shifted and pulled his right knee up, propping his foot against the edge of the seat, and continued scribbling at his memo pad.

A was minor. J'suis assez sure. No, maybe it was only in the chorus.

Heero was leaning out the window on the driver's side, asking Trowa something about mileage. Through the smaller back seat window Quatre could see the biker belting his helmet on, tucking his long bangs back through the open faceplate. Heero was tapping his fingers impatiently against the car door.

Je ne savais pas qu'il pouvait chanter, Quatre thought idly, and started considering harmony.

The structure of a work or passage as considered from the point of view of its chordal characteristics and relationships.

"You sure you wanna sit in the back?" Duo was smiling at him. Wufei leaned forward and snatched one of the packages out of the Indian's lap, receiving only a brief swat in retaliation.

C'est si bon. "It's okay," Quatre replied, "I don't mind, really."

Then F again. Flat? Sharp? Zut, alors.

The Corolla's motor started with a rumble. Corina stood in her driveway as they pulled out, waving, like a mother watching her children leave on a trip to grandma's. Or grandma watching her grandchildren leave for home.

Parting with women seemed to be like that, no matter what.

Quatre smiled a little, softly, at the scribbles on his memo pad. Julie was always telling him that he was too introspective. And that no one could read his handwriting but him.

He scrawled the thought into the back of the little book anyway, with all the other snippets he intended to work into lyrics eventually. His gaze passed over the last entry.

Like seeing God, and God consumes you.

C'est vrai, like the Aurora reflecting on the snow. There was a song in there, somewhere, but Quatre hadn't found it yet.

"I've reached a decision," Wufei announced, the first words he'd uttered since he walked out of the garage earlier. Heero glanced up at the rearview mirror, his eyes reflecting at the backseat for a moment before returning to the road before them.

Duo twisted in his seat to look back at them, waving through the rear windshield at Trowa, then settling his attention on his friend. "What's that, Fei?"

"Duo," Wufei began, then sighed heavily. "I've realized that you're growing up, and sooner or later I'm going to have to let you go."

"Huh?" The perplexed expression on the Indian's face was more than priceless.

"You don't need me to protect you at every turn, not now. You're almost a grown man." Wufei sniffed and turned his head to gaze sorrowfully out the window. "You have to live your own life now… you have to… move on…"

Duo's face drew into an exasperated line. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"I'm giving you my blessing, dammit!" The Chinese boy folded his arms and hunched down in his seat.

"Blessing?"

Heero smirked at the dashboard.

Wufei leaned forward and cradled Duo's face in his hands, his eyes drooping in mock dejection. "Is this the little boy I carried? Is this the little boy at play?"

Duo jerked away, horrified. "Oh god, Fei, don't even start with that—"

"Sunrise, sunset—"

"Somebody make him stop!"

"Sunrise, sunset—"

"I THINK—" Heero yelled, and paused until he was certain that Wufei was quite finished, "that's enough melodramatics for one day."

Wufei sat back in his seat, looking supremely satisfied.

Quatre couldn't decide which was funnier, Duo's indignant scowl, or Heero's long-suffering expression. Eventually, he gave up and laughed.

+

The only indication that they had crossed onto the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was a white road sign. Otherwise, the badlands and the prairie just kept going.

And the road was in somewhat worse condition, which bears mentioning.

"Seven," Duo announced when the car bounced, hitting another pothole.

"What are you doing?" Quatre turned from his window and spared a glance for Heero's hands, which were clutching the wheel in a death grip, before looking at Duo.

"There used to be exactly twenty-eight potholes westbound between Batesland and Pine Ridge. Twenty-three eastbound." Duo nodded to himself, as though that explained everything.

"So, you're counting because…?"

Duo grinned. "That's how you measure distance on the Rez." Bounce. "Eight. How ya doing back there, kola?"

"Hungry. Jonesing. Otherwise well." Wufei was curved in a U-shape, his arms folded behind his head, his legs angled almost straight up at the car's roof with his ankles crossed against Duo's headrest. "If I remember correctly, there were eleven potholes between Pine Ridge and the turnoff for your place, wasn't there?"

"Eleven potholes and a dip."

"I thought it was a bump."

"No, the bump is between Oglala and Kirby Falls Down's place. Eleven potholes and a bump. Two more potholes and you're at—" Bounce. "Nine. That's Melissa Sparrow's property, all her boys have their trailers there. I had a crush on one of her grandsons when I was a kid."

"Grandsons?" Quatre was distracted for a moment by something on the side of the road that looked like a pyramid of Budweiser cans with a little cocktail umbrella stuck on top. He was sure he hadn't just seen that, and thus had to look back several times.

Wufei snorted, and Duo shifted nervously, his jeans whisking against the vinyl seat. "Well, yeah. Obviously."

"Don't take this, you know…" Quatre trailed off and turned one last time to look back out the window. "I mean, I'm just curious, but did you always know you were gay?"

Duo blinked. "I'm gay?"

Quatre frowned, his face spasming in several places before he twitched his head sideways to indicate Heero, sitting stiff as a board in the seat in front of him. The Japanese man hadn't spoken since the road quality started to peter out.

The light of understanding passed over Duo's face, and after a few slow nods the Indian shrugged. "Well, if you were to judge my sexuality on a person-by-person basis, then yeah, but I don't think that makes much sense." Bounce. "Ten."

The tension in the driver's seat finally erupted. "If my suspension is blown by the time we get off this fucking road someone is going to die."

Bounce. "Eleven." Duo's voice was a squeak. Then he smiled lazily, and the tone dropped into a purr. "Ta ta iciya wo, Hopa." He reached out to touch Heero's shoulder, his fingers continuing on until Quatre couldn't see what he was doing due to the headrest impeding his line of sight. The set of Heero's shoulders loosened slightly. Duo's smile widened, and he leaned in to whisper a string of words in his native language into Heero's ear. Quatre didn't think for a moment that Heero understood a word of it, but the intended effect appeared to be working.

Bounce. "Twelve!"

Sixteen potholes later the Corolla entered Pine Ridge, a decent sized town with halfway decent roads. Shortly afterwards Duo proudly announced their arrival at the only intersection with a stoplight on the entire reservation. One corner of the intersection was taken up by a large service station, which Heero pulled into.

Immediately, Wufei clambered out of the car and dashed away from the gas pumps to relieve his nicotine cravings. Duo left Heero to refuel the car and sauntered away into the building. Left to his own devices, Quatre spotted the pay phones, and decided to make his daily call.

One of the inner pockets of his trenchcoat was stuffed full of prepaid calling cards, and with luck they wouldn't run out before his small stash of personal funds did. He dialed the number and lit a cigarette of his own, his eyes on Wufei's orange jacket where the boy was pacing on the sidewalk next to the road. Trowa had pulled in on his bike and was parked next to Wufei, talking to him through the open visor of his helmet. Quatre couldn't hear what they were saying. He listened to the phone ring exactly three times.

He had called every day, just as he promised, even though every day they had almost the exact same conversation. She asked if he was okay, and he told her he was fine. She asked if he had spoken with his father, and he told her he had no desire to do so. He asked about the union battle, and she gave him the latest news ­ usually that negotiations weren't getting very far, very fast, but lately things were going in the union's favor.

Today, she told him that the negotiations had reached a stalemate. The strike might have to end without a perfect resolution.

Quatre leaned back against the wall of the phone booth, watching a trail of smoke dissipate into the air. He could hear Julie smiling on the other end of the line.

"Comment a tu?" he asked, because he realized he hadn't, not for a while.

"D'accord." Her voice was like a wisp of cloud, painted by the sunset. "Tu me manques. Je t'aime."

"Ouais." He flicked the cigarette away, watching the glowing ash trail in an arc to the ground. "Je t'aime, aussi."

When he hung up, he turned away from the phone to see Duo watching him intently, his characteristic half-dangerous, half-playful grin on his face. The grin that unwaveringly told whomever happened to witness the expression that he was up to something. Quatre stared back evenly for a moment, then smiled and shook his head. "You're dying to know, I can tell."

Duo closed his eyes and shrugged, denying the fact. "We have an agreement."

"Doesn't mean you can't ask."

"It isn't my place to ask."

"But you want to," Quatre said, leaning forward to peer in Duo's face. "I can see it. It's eating you up."

"I can live without knowing." Duo's grin remained solidly in place.

Quatre sighed. "You're impossible."

"But I wondered if you take bribes."

Quatre raised an eyebrow, and Duo held up a bottle of Pepsi, dangling from where he held the cap between his first two fingers. Quatre gave him a measuring look, and snatched the bottle. "I'll tell you, if you ask."

"Fine. Who do you call and speak French to every day?"

Quatre opened the bottle with a hiss of pressurized air, took a swig and walked past Duo towards the front of the store. "My fiancée."

"You—" Duo started, and spun to follow him. "You have a fiancée? What, in France, or where? Why isn't she with you?"

"No questions asked, remember?"

"You little ­ you can't just leave me hanging like that. I bought you a pop!"

"Bought?" Quatre shot Duo a dubious look over his shoulder, then shrugged. "We have an agreement."

"At least tell me her name. Er, it is a girl, right?"

"I don't think you need to know these things, Duo, we're not so well acquainted, you know."

"Dammit."

[part 5] [part 7] [back to Singles a - k]