Author: Bane's Desire
see chao. 1 for warnings, disclaimer

A Grudging Seduction: Chapter Eleven
Things That Go Bump In The Night

After hearing the front door close behind Heero as he left for his mission, Duo allowed himself a satisfied smile. It seemed to him as if 'Mission Heero' was well on its way to becoming a complete success.

Lost in his thoughts for a moment and staring absently at absolutely nothing on the far wall, Duo failed to see or hear Wufei enter the kitchen, a lapse in attention that seemed to happen with more and more frequency. The clearing of the Chinese teen's throat caught his attention and Duo turned and lifted his eyes to see the other boy dressed comfortably in loose white pants and a black tank top, leaning against the doorframe that separated the kitchen and dining room. "Anything you want to tell me?" Wufei asked, one finely arched eyebrow raised as he folded his arms over his chest.

Duo swallowed hard, wishing more than ever that his legs were completely healed so that he could run out the door and escape the discussion they were about to have. He mentally prepared himself to be as elusive as possible and lie if it was absolutely necessary.

He hated this mission.

Even though Wufei's penetrating gaze seemed to take in everything, especially the fact that he was nervous, and divine his secrets, he didn't pry or push for answers. It was obvious to Duo that his other housemate knew something was going on, but appeared to respect the fact that he either couldn't tell him what the reason was for his and Heero's unexpected closeness, or that he just wasn't ready to talk about it. Since both reasons were correct, Duo was grateful for the patience and tolerance Wufei granted him by letting him keep his secrets for the time being.

Quatre and Trowa made an appearance the next day. Both pilots appeared at the doorstep looking tired but happy to have a couple of days off, affording them a chance to rest.

Shortly after entering the safehouse, the small blond insisted on inspecting Duo's wounds, and though some of the scabs were almost ready to come off, they were dark and ugly looking. With worried eyes, Quatre asked his braided friend if he was still in pain.

"Aches a bit," Duo replied, referring to his leg damaged by both a bullet and a knife, "but the rest of it mostly just itches. I should be ready for a mission in a few days so stop worrying, Quat. Besides, I'm walking much better now, thanks to some exercises Wufei came up with to work my damaged muscle." He ignored the doubtful looks on the faces of the other three pilots. He then stood and walked across the room for them, proving by his slight limp that he was speaking truthfully.

Wufei left the following morning for a mission he'd put off in order to keep the incapacitated teen company. This gave Duo the opportunity to observe and converse with the other two pilots. It was rare for the three of them to be alone together, and it didn't take Duo long to notice that Trowa and Quatre had become really close friends. The Heavyarms pilot seemed to be solicitous to the blond's needs, making the special blend of tea that Quatre preferred in the morning along with his own coffee, and insisting each night that they retire early in order to regain their strength, depleted somewhat from the last mission. Quatre seemed to return Trowa's kindness by giving special attention to the tall, silent boy, keeping conversations going and rewarding Trowa with a dazzling smile whenever the usually reticent boy offered anything to the conversation, any insight to himself, or when they spoke about their shared love of music.

Two nights after Wufei's departure, Duo excused himself from the company of the other two, deciding to turn in early. He'd managed to wear himself out by having jogged around the neighborhoods surrounding the townhouse. The word 'jog' he used loosely since he felt he'd run at the pace of an arthritic turtle. He was appalled at seeing how out of shape he gotten in such a short amount of time and was determined to exercise more in the next few days in order to become mission ready. After making it up the stairs and to his room, he more or less fell onto his bed and quickly made himself comfortable. Thankfully, sleep came quickly to him that night.

An odd noise woke the American up suddenly from his deep sleep. Instantly alert and slightly alarmed, always fearful of discovery by the enemy, he lay still in his bed, his eyes seeing nothing but dark in the closed bedroom. He listened, trying to figure out what the sound was that awakened him so suddenly and if it had meant danger. Not able to hear anything further, he got out of bed and reached for the gun he always set on his bedside table. Taking off the safety and putting the cold metal against his chest, he silently exited his room and paused, listening for any sounds indicating an intrusion.

A creak downstairs diverted his attention to that direction and he silently made his way to the stairs, hoping to see if their safehouse had been compromised and that an intruder had entered.

He paused at the top of the stairs and looked down. The glow from the television screen was the only light in the otherwise dark house, and as Duo silently inched down the stairs, he could hear a deep moan coming from the couch. He felt a wave of relief shoot through him. It wasn't OZ after all. He wondered then if it was Quatre or Trowa who had fallen asleep on the couch and was experiencing a nightmare. He knew he should wake the other pilot, but that it wasn't a wise thing to do so with a fellow gundam pilot who was in the middle of a nightmare. He'd learned that lesson the hard way with Wufei a while back. In order to wake the troubled slumberer from his nightmares, he had to come up with an indirect approach.

Another moan and a gasp was heard coming from the couch, which faced away from his vantage point. The dream sounded like a bad one, and Duo was determined to end it for which ever friend was having it. He continued down the steps to the bottom of the stairs and reached for the wall switch to the ceiling light, located in the center of the living room. Flipping the switch up, the light above flashed on and the reaction from the couch was immediate. It was a toss up at that point as to who's face reflected the most shock as Trowa and then Quatre both shot up into a sitting position on the couch to find Duo standing with his hand frozen on the switch with his mouth hanging open, his eyes wide.

Duo blushed furiously to see that apparently neither of the two teens on the couch had a shirt on and from the position they'd come up from, it was easy to see that they certainly hadn't been in the middle of a nightmare.

"Oh, shit. I'm sorry." Duo rushed to say, then quickly turned the light out and fumbled his way up the dark stairs as quickly as possible.

"Duo!" Quatre called out, and the sound of the two lovers scrambling off the couch was clearly heard by the retreating boy. The braided teen ignored the calling of his name and kept going until he was safely in his room. He clambered into his still-warm bed and pulled the blankets up and over his head, holding them tightly in place. He couldn't remember ever being in a situation like this before and felt his face burning from embarrassment at catching his friends together in a compromising position on the couch. Damn, he remembered a bit too late that he forgot to shut the door to his room.

Even with the blankets muffling the sound, Duo could hear the slight murmuring sounds of the other two pilots as they conversed in hushed and worried voices at the foot of the stairs. Then came the dreaded sound of twin footsteps as they began to climb upwards, and as they reached the upper landing, the two walked forward, making enough noise so that Duo could hear their approach to his bedroom door. The light switch in his room clicked on and with a feeling of apprehension, he knew that Quatre and Trowa weren't going to just let the incident pass without it being addressed.

"Duo," Trowa's soft voice firmly called his name.

The boy in hiding knew his voice, when he spoke, came out slightly muffled from speaking under the many layers of his blankets. "Look guys, I'm sorry. I thought someone was having a nightmare. I didn't.. ah, I mean I.. Um. Goodnight?" He winced as his voice squeaked on the last word.

Footsteps, and then the depression of the mattress at his side as someone sat next to him, let the braided teen know he was going to have to deal with this. The blankets, pulled tightly over his head, were forcefully pulled up and away, leaving the American feeling more than a little vulnerable. Reacting instinctively, he quickly sat up and came face to face with Quatre and his imploring blue-green eyes. Duo was quick to notice that he and Trowa were both fully dressed once again in the clothing that he'd seen them wearing earlier that evening.

An awkward silence arose like a brick wall between the three friends as each tried to think of something appropriate to say. Surprisingly, it was Trowa, the silent wonder, who spoke first. "Do you mind putting the gun down?" he asked.

Duo looked down to his hand, shocked that he'd forgotten he still held his weapon. He quickly put the safety on and set it on the bedside table. He then looked up his two friends with his chin down and eyes peering through his fringed hair.

Now that the gun had been safely set aside, Trowa continued in his usual calm manner. "We didn't mean for you to find out about us like this, Duo. I know it's probably a shock to you, but we hope you'll be open minded about our relationship and not judge us harshly."

Duo's mind went over past events, re-observing the two good friends together, the knowing smiles they gave each other, the way they seemed to have silent conversations with a glance or a roll of their eyes, a quirk of a smile or knowing look. He'd been rather jealous of their closeness, thinking of how he used to have similar way of communicating with Solo. He'd thought the other two pilots were just good friends, like him and his childhood mentor on the streets. How could he have been so naive as to miss the fact that his two comrades were in a relationship together?

He felt his face and ears grow hot with embarrassment. "Shit." He dragged his hand firmly across his face. "I don't know how I could have been dense enough not to see what was going on. All the signs were there, but I just didn't get it." He shook his head in disbelief of his own stupidity.

"We've tried to be discrete," Quatre said, his face equally tinged with pink. "But we got a little carried away downstairs, thinking you were asleep."

"I was," Duo said, his eyes looking down at the striped coverlet. "You woke me up. Like I said, I thought someone was having a bad dream with all the moaning going on."

The awkwardness returned as the three mentally fumbled for something else to say. This time it was Quatre who came to the rescue. "Does it bother you, Duo, that Trowa and I are together? Will it effect your being able to work with us?" the blond asked in a guarded manner.

"I don't know," Duo replied honestly. "Since I had no clue that you two were having a fling, I'm still a bit shocked. You know, I've heard about guys in the military turning to each other to meet...ah.. certain needs. I guess it's not for me to judge you."

Quatre looked taken aback by the American's response and Trowa's green eyes narrowed with something akin to anger. "This isn't a 'fling'," Trowa said, his tone cool enough to grow icicle from the hair hanging over his right eye.

Duo blinked owlishly. "Um...sorry," he mumbled, his eyes shifting nervously from the blond to the brunet.

Quatre turned his head to look back at Trowa and they shared one of those looks that communicated something Duo was ignorant of. The blond then turned back to the braided teen, his face calm and an indulgent smile on his face. "It's alright, Duo. You couldn't have known that Trowa and I love each other. This isn't a fling or a way to work off sexual tension. We've fallen in love with each other and both of us hope that you'll respect that."

Still looking from one to the other and relieved that Trowa's glare had softened, Duo managed a slight smile in return. "I'm glad guys," he replied. "It's hard to imagine two people finding love while fighting a war. I guess I can accept it a lot easier knowing that you're not just getting off on each other just 'cause you need to. Who am I to stick my nose up at love?"

Quatre's smile grew brilliant. "Do you really mean that, Duo? We've been concerned about what everyone's reactions would be if they found out about us. Wufei seems rather unyielding in his view of life and Heero, well, he's all about the mission. I'm sure he'll frown at a personal relationship between us, especially during the war."

Duo laughed at that, catching the other two off guard for a moment. "You'd be surprised about that," he told them, thinking of Heero's persistent advances towards himself.

"Will you keep this to yourself?" Trowa asked.

Duo's laughter stopped and he became serious as he considered a reply. "You're sure about your feelings for each other, right?"

Both boys nodded, and Trowa's hands came to rest on Quatre's slender shoulders.

"Then don't you think it would be easier if you just said something? Then you wouldn't have to hide your feelings for each other."

"We can't risk my family finding out about this until I'm older and come into my inheritance," Quatre said, with all seriousness. "They'll not take kindly to the fact that the heir to the Winner fortune, my father's only son and hope for the family company is gay and not intending to fulfill my duty of producing a multitude of off-spring in order to keep all the Winner money in the family's name."

Duo frowned, not really knowing what to say about that. He didn't know much about families or how they worked. "What is the worst they could do?" he asked out of curiosity.

"Ostracize me and have me disowned, then cancel my accounts which I depend on to supply many of our safehouses, clothing, food, ammunition, medical care and repairs on our gundams when needed."

Duo thought of all the places and things Quatre's money had afforded them. Without his substantial financial backing, fighting the war would be much more difficult. He and the other pilots would probably spend more time hacking funds and buying ammo, fuel cells and equipment from the underground than they would fighting. He could see Quatre's dilemma. "I'll keep your secret," he told the both of them, earning their smiles of gratitude.

Heero didn't return to the safehouse for the rest of that week. Ten days after his departure, Duo received orders to proceed to a school in Kyoto, Japan, located within close proximity to their target, a manufacturing plant in the nearby port city of Kasatsu that produced circuitry boards for OZ's mobile dolls. The American was instructed to join Heero, already set up in the school, to plan and infiltrate the plant in order to steal the computer schematics and an actual circuit panel to study for flaws in the system that they might be able to exploit. Duo was given one week from the day the message was received to arrive at the school where his enrollment and paperwork had already been taken care of.

Quatre had been going out of his way to please Duo ever since the night he found the two love birds fooling around on the couch. So after he learned of Duo's orders, the blond Arabian generously offered to provide a transport plane from the states to Japan for himself and Deathscythe. It was an offer Duo was happy to accept.

His feet felt like lead and weariness crept through his nearly healed body as he made his way to his assigned dorm room. He'd arrived in Kyoto the night before and kept his gundam in Quatre's transport plane that was currently stored in a private hanger at the airport just outside the city.

Knowing Heero had set up his identity and had the paper work done for him in advance of his arrival, Duo more or less meandered through the city in the predawn hours that morning in order to become better acquainted with it and arrived at the school well past the starting hour. He hoped to find Heero early in the day to let the other pilot know he'd arrived safely.

He'd barely set foot inside the doors of the learning institution before he was immediately pounced on by an overly efficient hall monitor. He was led directly to the school director's office where he was regaled to a lengthy diatribe of rules and regulation that took up much of the morning. Several sets of the required student uniform were given to him and he tried not to look horrified at the pleated blue shorts and slacks, the crisp white shirts, the blue jacket and cardigan as well as several red ties. Blue and white socks that came to the knee and shiny black shoes were the apparent accessories that were also mandatory.

He was led to a changing room where he was instructed to put on one of the uniforms. He chose to wear the long pants, white shirt and blazer. The minute he stepped out of the changing room, the school's secretary met him and then promptly led him to a locker where he was told to put his duffle bag and remaining uniforms until after school.

With his schedule in hand, the administrator's secretary took him around the grounds of the campus and then from room to room, introducing him to students and teachers alike. High pitched tittering and whispers of excitement came from the female population, hiding their mouths behind their hands as they whispered to each other about the new student. The boys in each class looked at him with politeness and blatant curiosity. He had been warned by Miss Chung, the secretary turned tour guide, that blonds and brunets were a rarity in Japan and that he should expect to get more than his share of attention. She expressed her hope that he would dissuade the other students from getting carried away and causing any disruption in the classes.

It was during his introduction to his fourth period class, already in session, that he spotted Heero, seated in the row of desks on the far side of the room, paralleling the wall of windows that looked over the school grounds and located pretty much in dead center. Duo blinked as Heero turned his head at the interruption and his entrance and graced him with a penetrating, heated stare. He quickly turned his head towards the teacher at the front of the room, feeling his cheeks heating up and hoping not to draw any attention to the fact that he and Heero knew each other. A slight involuntary tremor passed through his uniformed-clad body despite his wearing the blue blazer. His reaction had nothing to do with the air conditioning in the classroom. No, it had been the look in Heero's eyes as they locked with his own; it was the look of a predator locking in its prey. Heero appeared to be hungry for something and Duo had a shaky feeling that he pretty much could guess what it was.

Three more classes followed after that, and with each introduction, Duo received almost the very same overwhelming greeting from the other students. He was relieved to finally hear the sound of a bell and the doors to the classrooms were flung open and excited voices burst through the air as students clamored their way from classrooms to the lunchroom.

"After lunch," Mrs. Chung droned on with yet more instructions, spoken as if she'd given this speech hundreds of times before and was more than a little bored with the job. "You will resume classes, starting with class five on your schedule. If you have any trouble, speak with your teacher or come to my office and I will be happy to assist you. Do you have your dorm room number and key?"

Out of his jacket pocket came a key with the round white tag attached that had printed 'Room 219' on it, which he promptly showed to her. The woman smiled. "Good luck to you, Mr. Kent. I hope you'll enjoy your time here at Shunghou Academy. You are free now to get your lunch and become acquainted with the other students." With a slight bow, the petite, black haired woman left him in hallway as she walked away.

He was alone for about ten seconds before he was approached by several giggling females. One girl stood forward as the spokesman for the other three and shyly asked him if he was an American. He answered yes, and a dozen or more probing but harmless questions were thrown at him as the group collectively tugged on his jacket sleeves, insisting they escort him to the cafeteria. It all seemed to go downhill from there. He found himself in a large lunchroom surround by a sea of blue uniforms, black hair and brown eyes, all looking at him with a mixture of admiration and curiosity.

He was physically pulled through the lunch line where every item behind the glass was described in great detail and the group of students surrounding him insisted he try everything. By the time he left the line, his tray was stacked embarrassingly high. His eyes frantically searched the room, hoping to find Heero to provide some form of rescue. But when he finally spotted Wing's pilot sitting at a corner table to the back of the room, he could see he was already seated with a group of his own followers surrounding him. The American doubted he'd be finding any help from that quarter and he would just have to make do with the situation and hoped to the heavens above that the more rigidly run classrooms would afford him some space. That hope evidently fell on deaf ears.

So here he was, almost ten hours after his arrival at the school, trudging his way to his assigned room. He'd endured the questions and petting and pulling and incessant talking around him for far too long. All he wanted now was to take a shower and go to bed.

He turned to the room with the gold metallic numbers indicating room two nineteen, and inserted his key into the door, only to have it open suddenly from the other side and the face of an unhappy Wing pilot, still in his blue slacks and white shirt, glaring at him. He was quickly grabbed a hold of and brought inside the room before the door was shut firmly behind him.

"Where have you been?" Heero demanded, well within Duo's supposed personal space.

"Trying to escape," Duo replied with weary irritation while dropping his duffle bag and armful of uniforms unceremoniously to the floor. "You could see the situation I was in, why didn't you come and rescue me? Pull the damn fire alarm or set off a bomb or something. Anything would have been preferable to the ear-splitting chattering going on around me all day. Please, tell me we won't have to stay here long?"

The formidable look on Heero's softened as he took in the honest weariness on his roommate's face. He closed the short distance between them and embraced the fatigued boy. "I missed you," Heero whispered into the other boy's ear.

Duo sighed. He really was too tired to fight off Heero's affections or think about how to use the situation to his advantage, so he just gave into it and leaned heavily against the other pilot, allowing Heero to support his sagging weight. "Me too," was his vague answer, followed immediately by a yawn.

After a couple of long, lingering moments, Heero eased Duo's lethargic body back, took hold of his arm and lead him to one of the two made-up beds and sat him down. The American collapsed to his side dramatically and grinned up at the Japanese boy studying him. "I'm certainly not going to be the life of the party tonight," he chuckled and followed that brief statement with another prolonged yawn.

He closed his eyes, promising himself that it would only be for a moment, and was only vaguely aware when his right foot was picked up in gentle hands and his shiny new shoe was removed. His foot was set back into its relaxed position and the other foot was relieved of its shoe also. But instead of setting his left foot down, Heero began to massage it, bringing sounds of both pain and pleasure from the boy on the bed.

After no less than five minutes of Heero's massaging each foot, Duo felt like his bones were liquid, so much so that it was with considerable effort that Heero coaxed him into sitting up and discarding his jacket and then the rest of his uniform. After that was accomplished, he was neatly tucked into his bed. Duo's sleepy mind decided the mattress he was curled up on was really very comfortable. He fell asleep to the sound of Heero typing on his laptop, a familiar sound that acted as a lullaby, with the rhythmic staccato easing away all the irritations of the long and irksome day.

The sleeping boy was only vaguely aware sometime later when Heero climbed into bed with him. He wasn't startled this time as the covers were lifted and cool air hit his body, nor worried when he felt the other pilot's body press against his side or a head settle on his shoulder. When a cool arm settled across his tee-shirt covered stomach, he instinctively reached up and patted the hand resting there, then drifted back to sleep with only the sound of Heero's contented sigh following.

[ch. 10] [ch. 12] [back to Singles a - k]