[ the holiday side story continued ]
He had been standing in the kitchen under a mountain of presents with
Millardo and Anne for the better part of the afternoon, and in his opinion,
they hadn't seemed to get the pile to lessen any.
"I never remember Christmas being so exhausting!" Wufei grumbled, taping
the wrapping paper around a box.
"Well, I will admit that ever year it seems to get bigger," Anne agreed,
adding her finished present to the completed pile.
"Ancestors!" Wufei sighed, brushing a loose strand of hair behind his
"This is nothing. There'll be three times this once the guys and my sister
get here this weekend." Miri added.
Wufei's eyes widened in something akin to horror at that implication.
"I thought everything was supposed to fit underneath the tree."
"It's more like a starting place." Une explained. "Too bad Sally and Lu
couldn't make it this year."
"Well Sally is visiting her family in China and we will see her at New
"And Lucrenzia is going to meet her boyfriend's family. They were going
to try to make both but... well you know." Millardo explained.
"Wait," Wufei interjected. "They were going to go from Colorado to here
Une whistled lowly. "They would have ended up flying more than visiting
"Exactly what I said. I told her we'll see her at New Year's and to enjoy
the quiet time over the Holiday." Miri replied, adding his gift to the
"Finally!" Wufei sighed, placing the last gift on the pile as well. "The
Chuckling, Anne grinned. "You sounded way too relieved about that, Wufei."
Joining her laughing, the blonde agreed. "More like joy over that fact."
"I think my fingers are numb," Wufei groused.
While Anne laughed, Wufei defended himself. "Seriously! I think I wrapped
well over fifty odd some gifts!"
Chuckling, Millardo leaned on the counter next to the Asian man. "Want
me to kiss them and make them all better?"
Tossing a wad of crumbled tissue paper at the older man, Wufei replied
with a simple, "Baka."
His faint blush did not escape Anne's attention.
"Hey, how was shopping, Anne?" Millardo inquired, drawing the woman's
attention away from the Chinese man.
"Actually, quite enjoyable," she replied.
Warming up the pot on the stove, Wufei pulled out mugs and hot coco from
them all. "I heard from Mariemaia that you actually ventured into the
"What? You two have never been talked into cheese fries?"
"Not a chance," Miri added.
"Am I missing something?" Anne inquired, looking between the two of them.
"I personally don't trust the food court," Wufei replied to her inquiring
"Ditto," the Sankian man agreed.
"You two have no sense of adventure," she admonished.
"Not when it comes to my stomach," Millardo agreed.
"Well aside from our lack of food court adventures, thanks again for taking
her" Wufei said, pouring the water into the mugs.
"It was nothing," Anne replied. "I had a fantastic time hanging out with
her. Say when are Duo and Heero getting her?"
"Hm? Oh tonight sometime," Millardo replied.
With a long stretch, Wufei glanced at the clock. "We should start moving
this mountain of materialism into the family room and under the tree.
Mariemaia gets home from school in a half an hour."
Slowly, they began to do just that.
"So, Noin had no problem bringing Marie here after school gets out?" Millardo
"Not at all," Anne replied. "I believe she mentioned it was on her way
to the airport anyways and it would give her a chance to give Mariemaia
"It'll be great to see her before she flies out," Wufei mentioned, placing
his presents in the vicinity of the tree.
"Definitely," Miri agreed.
Marie kept a lookout from the bay window atop the main staircase.
"Are they coming?" Wufei called out to her.
"I see lights!" She hollered back.
Millardo sipped his drink and muttered, "I think I can hear the bass of
Sipping her wine, Anne nodded. "He did always like grand entrances. I
suppose we should be grateful he is no longer allowed to have a gundam.
Just think of that landing in the front gardens with its bass."
"Miri!" Wufei called from the kitchen. "Can you get the chicken out of
Winking at Lady Anne, the blonde smirked. "Wufei beckons."
"Do you need any help?" she offered.
"No, it's quite alright, Anne."
"They're pulling into the main gates!" Marie hollered out. She shot up
and bolted down the staircase, making a beeline for the front door.
Millardo meanwhile pulled the chicken out of the oven as well as the turkey.
"Do you think this turkey is big enough for everyone?"
Wufei slide two pies into the oven. "Miri, it's a twenty-five pound bird."
"Two words. Duo Maxwell," the blonde replied.
"I also made a ham. I swear we will have more meat at the table than anything
"What temperature should the turkey be?"
"One-eighty-five," Wufei replied, offhand.
"It's done then," the taller man replied, lifting the bird onto the counter.
"Should I start carving it?"
"Thanks. I think we can wait until it's a little cooler before carving
"We'll be fine on food you think?"
Giving the older man a look, Wufei sighed. "I have enough food to feed
a small army. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, three different vegetables,
two different types of stuffing, and I think two more dishes after that."
"I think we might be short on food," he teased the smaller man.
Glaring up at the blonde, Wufei snorted.
Wiping his hands, Millardo reached forwards and untied Wufei's apron springs.
Turning around, Wufei glared up at the man, a small pout sitting on his
With a mischievous grin, Millardo pulled the smaller man against him with
the apron strings. "You're so cute when you glare," he teased, nuzzling
his nose against the Asian man's.
"He's even cuter when you're facing down his gun barrel" a voice interrupted,
grinning at the scene before him. "Heya Zechsie. Hey Wufei."
"Duo... " Wufei sighed, smiling at the violet eyed man.
"Duo," the blonde man greeted, relinquishing his hold on Wufei. "We heard
you coming from a few miles away."
Chucking, Duo grinned. "Yeah, well, one does need to make an entrance."
"I'm surprised that Heero hasn't gone deaf yet," Wufei remarked.
"It isn't for his lack of trying," the said man interjected. "Quatre and
Trowa were right behind us coming in."
On cue, the European man walked through the kitchen door. "It's a Doppler
effect," Trowa informed them. "All the speakers were facing forward so
it was a relatively quiet ride up for us."
"Hey!" Duo greeted the banged man.
"Wow, you guys certainly cooked a lot," Quatre commented, joining them.
"Wufei cooked a lot," Millardo explained.
"Marie and Anne helped," Wufei replied with a faint blush.
Marie rushed into the kitchen, latching her arms onto Duo with a big grin.
"Heya, kiddo!" he greeted her with a pat on the head.
"Can I bring out the hor'dourves?" she asked.
"May you?" Miri corrected.
Rolling her eyes, she corrected herself. "May I bring out the hor'dourves?"
"Yes you may," Wufei responded. "If there are any left after Duo has been
"Is Relena settled?" Heero asked the redheaded girl.
"Yes!" Mariemaia replied.
"And right here," the woman replied for herself, entering the kitchen.
"So this is where everyone has been hiding! And Wufei! There's so much
food. More than thanksgiving!"
"There are more people here than there was at thanksgiving." He kissed
her in greeting on the cheek. "Good to see you made it."
Chuckling, she nodded. "Didn't I just see you?"
Laughing, Wufei grinned. "Hm. Don't remember. Seems so long ago... "
"Relena," Millardo greeted his sister, kissing her on the cheek.
"Miri," she replied, and looked around. "Now I thought I heard something
"We have plates out over here," Duo replied to her question.
"Does anyone need a drink?" Wufei asked, pulling out the wine glasses.
"Relena," Quatre greeted, entering the kitchen. Turning he nodded at Millardo
and Wufei. "Holiday greetings to you two as well."
"Hello, Quatre," Wufei replied, "Do you want anything to drink?"
"Oh, let me help with that," the blonde man replied, pouring wine for
himself and Relena.
"Thank you, Quatre," Relena replied, accepting a glass from him.
Millardo in turn poured a merlot for himself and Wufei. "Anyone else what
the merlot? I think there is also a Pino Gregio opened as well."
"I'll think Duo and I will start with a beer. Trowa will have a soda,"
Heero replied, walking in from the dining room.
Wufei beamed internally. It felt so wonderful to be so relaxed for once
in his life. There was that realization that he had friends and a family.
Something he had lacked before. He had finally felt comfortable with himself
to open up to them.
Grinning up at the taller blonde, Wufei's eyes twinkled. The holidays
were definitely a wonderful time of year.
Wufei took a moment to breath after dinner, excusing himself with a collection
of plates into the kitchen. He had to rescue to pies from the oven and
he needed a moment to collect himself.
Quatre followed him in, holding a stack of dishes as well. "You look like
you could use some help," he offered.
Wufei smiled softly. "Thanks Quatre."
"Not a problem. Dinner was magnificent by the way," the Arabian complimented.
Blushing, Wufei placed the dishes on the counter. "It was nothing."
Quietly, the blonde man replied, "No it was. It was absolutely excellent."
Wufei turned to pull the desserts from the oven. "Whatever," he replied,
Leaning on the island counter, Quatre smiled. "You've adapted well."
"Huh?" the Chinese man replied, intelligently.
Walking over to the small man, Quatre helped him unload the ovens of the
goodies. "You've adapted well."
"You mean I'm becoming more like Fei?" Wufei replied, mostly keeping the
bitterness of the comparison out of his tone.
Quatre however seemed to catch it. He was an empath, he hated to remind
people. "No. It's true that we hung out with Fei more than we do with
you. But, truthfully, other than his initial breakdown with Duo and Millardo,
he was fairly closed off to us still.
"I think because we saw so much of him, we ended up thinking that we knew
"You can't think that you know me any better? I mean I barely do half
of the events Fei seemed to frequent and I know I have not fully adapted
to this place or universe, or whatever you want to call it," Wufei replied.
With a knowing smirk, the blonde man easily replied to the boy, "But I
know more about you than I did him. And I'm sure," he added after a moment,
"that it holds the same for Heero, Trowa, even and Anne and Mariemaia."
"Look, I've seen the photographs... " he interjected.
"Wufei," Quatre interceded. "Look, I know you don't want to become Fei.
Hell, we all know that. But, well, now that I know you, I am beginning
to see how much I didn't know Fei."
Wufei was silent for a while, letting that sink in. Letting the fears
seep into his thoughts as well. "Quatre?" he whispered. "What happens
when or if I go back? I try to only act like him. I don't want
to become him."
"Is his life that bad?" the blonde boy questioned.
"No!" Wufei hissed quietly, followed by a long pause. "And that's the
problem. It's not bad. It's a hundred, a thousand times better than my
life was or would have ever been!
"I know I'm changing. And... And I kind of like the changes. But you have
to understand that there is a looming... fear." Wufei looked into the Arab's
eyes for a long moment. Oh, how he hated and loathed to admit he was afraid,
but he needed to tell someone. And he didn't want to burden Millardo with
"A fear that one day I'll wake up back in my time and... And... Quatre, I
wouldn't know what to do. I wouldn't have anyone to go to. I would be
alone and in full realization of how alone I was."
"Wufei... " Quatre breathed out the man's name.
"I've never been on the cusp of fear like that," he admitted to the blonde.
"I feel guilt and fear. I mean I took another man's entire perfect life-"
"Fei was far from perfect," Quatre interjected. "Look, I know we built
him up into a certain kind of iconic image, especially upon meeting you.
But honestly, that was our own fault in the matter. We need to recognize
that that Fei was far from perfect, just like you.
"I know the fear will never go away Wufei, honestly I do. But you can't
live your life in fear. It will then only heighten with time. And you
deserve better than that." He finished and leaned in close to hug the
"Thanks, Quatre," he whispered. He took a moment to collect himself. "So
I guess we should get the desserts out, huh?"
Grinning, Quatre agreed, "Preferably before there is a riot on our hands."
Placing the pies and desserts onto trays, Wufei paused to look at his
pale friend. "And Quatre?"
With a warm smile, the blonde nodded. "Always, Wufei. Always."
She sat on the edge of the top step, anxious and excited to the core.
Mariemaia knew she would really be considered too old to be wound up over
Christmas presents, but somehow she could not find it in herself not to
be. So eager that she had not slept at all that night. Well, not really,
She had been so caught up in the fact that there were presents awaiting
her and others downstairs that she had not heard the American sneaking
up beside her.
"Hey Marie!" he greeted her.
Jumping slightly, she turned and glared at him. "Duo! Don't sneak up on
me like that!" Pausing, she glanced around. "Anyone else up yet?"
Shaking his head, Duo replied, "Nope. But I think we can arrange for it
to otherwise, ne?"
Nodding vigorously, the redheaded girl stood up. "I'll get Anne, Miss
Relena, Quatre, and Trowa up."
"I've got Hee-chan and Wufei and Miri," he nodded back, sharing a conspiring
grin with her.
"Five minutes?" she asked.
"Synching the watches," he agreed, standing up and heading towards Wufei
and Miri's room. He watched her disappear around the hall's corner heading
towards the other's rooms.
Grinning, the American man tapped lightly on their door. `I wonder how
this sleeping thing is working out?' he pondered, waiting for a response.
Not receiving one, he cautiously opened the door and was shocked at the
sight that greeted him.
Heero silently walked up behind his lover. Whispering into the smaller
man's ear, Heero asked, "What?"
Sneaking a look at the Japanese man, Duo nodded his head in Wufei and
Heero gave his love a pondering look before turning to see what had shocked
The sight of Wufei and Millardo cuddled in bed was not something the Japanese
man was anticipating. Watching them entangled in each other's arms, Millardo
shifted and Wufei went with him, snuggling closer. His features were so
open and relaxed, not the usual tightness he desperately tried to hide.
Heero's eyes widened slightly at the site. `Who would have guessed?' he
thought, slightly bewildered. He never really saw Fei cuddle Millardo
"Well, I do have to wake them. Marie's orders. Pity, though. They really
are very picturesque right now." Duo mused, quietly.
Sneaking in, the American sauntered over to the side of the sleeping men's
bed. Leaning over, he whispered, "Hey. Wu-kun." Leaning closer he pecked
the boy on the cheek. "Hey sleepyheads... "
Blinking his eyes, Wufei focused on the bright violet hued eyes above
him. "Maxwell!" He blurted out, sitting up rapidly.
Duo had by then fell onto the floor, laughing hysterically.
Heero leaned against their doorframe chuckling.
Wufei glared down at the hysterical American and scrubbed at his cheek.
Sitting up beside the disgruntled man, Millardo pushed his hair out of
his eyes. "Why are we getting up?" He asked, glancing at the time. "At
six am for that matter."
Still pouting, the Chinese man glowered at the American. "I thought we
agreed to do presents at ten."
"You were vetoed. Time to get up, Wufei." Duo replied, getting up and
crossing over to where his lover was leaning.
Wufei pouted angrily at the two of them.
"Well, I could always just toss you over my shoulder and carry you downstairs,"
Duo replied, with a sultry wink.
Flushing, Wufei hissed, "Duo!"
Grinning, Millardo shook his head. "Give us a minute and we'll be right
out, Duo. We'll meet everyone in the hallway."
"Gotcha!" Duo agreed, following his lover out the door and shutting it
with a firm click.
Wufei was amazed at how much joy could be had by simply watching other's
open up presents. There were a lot of presents, so much that he wondered
if he would ever see the base of the tree again.
But the laughter and sharing and general feel good attitude surrounding
him was something that warmed him all over. A year ago he had been involved
in a war. A year and a half ago he almost killed the people he was now
giving presents to.
Life certainly had odd turns for him.
Still, the smile on Mariemaia's face was all worth it to him. He decided
that the first second he had seen the smile illuminated on her face when
he exited his room with Miri.
There had been something that blindsided him in that moment. That he really
could change. And willingly, if just to keep her happy.
Protecting her this way was infinitely better than what he had tried in
the war. She wanted his guidance, his love, his support in a way a father
would give to his child. She hadn't needed a protector, a guardian, a
slayer. She needed a family.
He was not going to fail her now.
Sighing happily, he never really even felt Millardo's arm slip around
his shoulder, pulling him back against that powerful chest. Laying there,
their hands intertwined, he basked in the sight he had never dreamed he
His family enjoying a holiday.
His Christmas wish had finally come true.
Duo watched as Wufei leaned against the blonde European man. He seemed
not to notice, almost caught up in his thoughts. Happy ones, if Duo was
He found it comforting that for all appearances, whether Wufei knew it
or not, he seemed very relaxed in another man's arms.
`I mean they look natural together. But that is also what I believed about
Fei and Zechs. But Wufei seems, if it is even possible, more relaxed in
It was a puzzle he had often discussed with the other three former pilots.
Trowa and Heero had no enlightened points on the matter, just that gradually
Wufei had to adjust, he was a survivor after all, and that he need not
worry so much.
Quatre had enlightened him on the progress of his friend while he went
on long trips with Heero and Relena.
The boy seemed to hover between the stages of his world and Fei's world.
They were both so startling different from one another that Duo could
see how Wufei had a lingering fear.
He akined it to trying to find the middle ground between the two extremes.
That becoming completely how Fei was, was not going to help Wufei in the
long run. There were just many things Wufei had to discover for himself.
On the other hand, Wufei couldn't linger in his old mannerisms either.
They were ill suited for this place and he had built walls that were no
Yet, somehow seeing Zechs and Wufei together made everything seem good.
True, he knew there would never be a perfection that everyone believed
there once was. But for Wufei's sake, Duo knew that the boy was happy
with the changes. They were faster than they seemed at times.
Duo often forgot that Wufei had just really arrived less than a half a
"What are you thinking about?" Heero whispered into his lover's ear, eyeing
the pair in Duo's gaze's direction.
"Just about how cute they look together. That's all. Well, that and how
long it will take to notice that they are sitting beneath the mistletoe."
Heero's eyes widened at that thought. "Really? Hm."
"My thoughts exactly. I say we wait until the presents are open then we
might have to enlighten them."
"Of course." Heero agreed, sharing his lover's conspiring grin.
"After all, it would hardly be in the spirit of Christmas not to." Duo
replied with a soft chuckle and turned his attention back to the gift
giving. He really hoped he had remembered to bring the camera down.
[part 6] [back] [part
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