Author: pyrzm
see ch. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Broken Warriors + Chapter 64
Juxtapositions Pt. 1

Trowa and Quatre left to get ready for their performance, and Wufei and Zechs excused themselves to rest and freshen up.

"So, what do you think?" Duo demanded as he and Heero showered together in the master bath.

"What do you mean?" Heero asked, soaping Duo's back.

Duo wiggled away from tickling fingers and looked at Heero over one bare wet shoulder. "Zechs and Wuffie. Are they getting along?"

"Yes."

"And you can tell this how? They hardly look at each other."

"You're wrong." Heero lifted Duo's wet hair aside to rinse him. "You know what Sally said, Duo. Wufei's Chinese Colonial, and repressed on top of that. It's subtle, the way he shows emotion, but it's there all right. Leave them alone and quit picking on Zechs unless he actually does something. So far, he's been a perfect gentleman."

"Perfect, huh? I knew you had a thing for him."

Heero nuzzled his neck. "You're paying far more attention to him than anyone else. Maybe you have a thing for him?"

"Yeah, right!" Duo snorted, guiding Heero's hand to his awakening erection. "Think they'd be into a foursome? Or maybe a six-way?"

"Hn." Heero lazily stroked Duo's cock, enjoying the way it grew under his hand. He knew Duo was only joking, but wondered if the fantasy was contributing to this show of arousal. As fantasies went, it wasn't a bad one. "They could sleep with us. You know Trowa will probably offer. Would you mind?"

Duo relaxed back against his chest and thrust up into Heero's fist. "Would you?"

"No."

"I don't think Wu man would be into it, but I bet old Zechsy would say yes in a heartbeat."

Heero increased the speed of his strokes and nipped down Duo's shoulder. "He's not old, little mermaid."

"There you go, defending him again," Duo gasped.

+

Wufei showered first. He hesitated just inside the bathroom door, trying to find the words to invite Zechs to join him. Why was it so damned hard to do such a simple thing? He'd had the man's cock in his mouth, for god's sake, and Zechs's fingers up his ass! And it wasn't as if he thought Zechs would turn him down, either. Why did he freeze up every time he imagined some lesser intimacy outside of the bed?

He washed quickly and took a little extra time conditioning his hair. Working the slippery gel in with his fingers, he let himself imagine that it was Zechs doing this for him, perhaps standing close behind him, that heavy cock brushing up against Wufei's hip or the cleft of his buttocks. The warm spray stung pleasantly as Wufei's own cock stirred and lifted away from his thighs. He loved the hard press of his lover's erection against that cleft as they spooned in bed at night. He'd felt it through linen and silk, and skin-to-skin, too, secure in the knowledge that Zechs would never take advantage of such a position.

One of the few requests Zechs had made of him, besides wearing his hair down more often, was that he not masturbate, but save all his sexual energy for their nights together. Wufei sighed and turned the old-fashioned porcelain control knob to "Cold" and let the icy spray assuage the sudden throb between his legs.

Wufei emerged from the bathroom wrapped in his old yukata with a towel around his wet hair and found Zechs reading in a chair by the window. Wufei remembered the night he'd spent there, staring out into the darkness and longing for the man before him. Zechs was his now. Zechs would give him anything he asked for, if only he could find the guts to tell him.

Zechs smiled as he set the book aside on the windowsill and Wufei's breath caught in his throat. This incredibly handsome man loved him, wanted him, and was generous with him beyond all sense. Wufei felt pinched and selfish in comparison.

"You look tired, my love," Zechs said. "Would you rather not go out tonight?"

The masks lay on the bed, challenging Wufei. "No, I want to go. I want you to see it. I'm all right."

"Come here, then, and let me comb your hair for you."

Wufei brought him the comb and settled at his feet, back to his lover's knees. Zechs toweled more water from Wufei's hair and gently combed it smooth. His touch was soothing and he asked no questions. When he was done he kissed the top of Wufei's head and went to take his own shower. Wufei stayed where he was, head resting on his up drawn knees. Zechs loved him! Passionate and masterful and impetuous as he knew the man could be, he never really pressed Wufei for anything more than he offered, never made any demands.

Wufei almost wished he would.

+

As Quatre had hoped, nearly everyone in the crowd that night had worn masks of some sort. New Orleans was home to a number of famous Mardi Gras mask artists, and those worn by Wufei and the others drew admiring gazes but not undue attention. Duo had hidden his hair again, and he and Heero wore matching black abstract masks with a few sculpted flourishes.

They had front row seats again, and Wufei noted with a pang of guilt how easily Heero's arm rested across the back of duo's seat, and the way Duo leaned so comfortably over the armrest against his lover. Zechs sat between Heero and Wufei, chatting with Heero about the mechanics of the stage. Stranded on the end, next to a woman in a low cut top and peacock mask, Wufei eyed the distance, mere inches, between his shoulder and Zechs's, between their elbows and thighs. So close and yet so far.

The lights went down at last and the show began. It was the same as last time, but Wufei saw it with different eyes now. The opening act was dark, certainly, and rather creepy, but the sensuality of it came through to him this time, and he was embarrassed to find himself rather aroused at the sight of a painted, nearly naked Quatre writing at his sinister lover's feet. It was an act, a performance, but it brought back to him all the times he'd been trapped in a room near them, listening to their cries of abandoned pleasure. He'd experienced that now himself, understood so much better the yearning and joy. Quatre and Trowa embodied that for all to see. As the opening act ended he heard Zechs murmur "Magnificent!"

Wufei stole a sidelong glance at him. Beneath the mask, Zechs's lips were parted in an appreciative, perhaps even lascivious smile and his eyes glinted. Did he want those others? Was the Zechs who fucked strangers in back rooms coming to the fore? Jealousy reared its ugly head, closely followed by guilt. If Wufei wasn't such a repressed prig, would his lover look at others with such eyes?

Wufei pushed away such thoughts as best he could, knowing they were unworthy, products of his own self doubt. This business of being in love was most unbalancing. Ignoring the fire-juggling act that followed, he focused on his breathing and searched his memory for a suitable meditation. A verse of the Tao came to him.


Yield, and maintain integrity.
To bend is to be upright;
to be empty is to be full.

Those who have little have much to gain,
but those who have much
may be confused by possessions.

The wise man embraces the all encompassing;
he is unaware of himself, and so has brilliance;
not defending himself, he gains distinction;
not seeking fame, he receives recognition;
not making false claims, he does not falter;
and not being quarrelsome,
is in conflict with no one.

This is why it was said by the sages of old,
"Yield, and maintain integrity;
be whole, and all things come to you".



The wise words calmed his unruly heart and he was able to concentrate on the beauty of the show, and the fact that he was here because his friends accepted him and wanted his company. Leaning forward a little, he could admire the fact that Duo had his head on Heero's shoulder now, fingers laced with his lover's on Heero's knee. Such acceptance.

Zechs was clearly enjoying himself, and turned frequently to the others with some whispered comment or question. When Trowa's "Passage" began, however, Wufei felt him go very still. Even masked, Wufei knew he was seeing what Wufei had seen; death, the isolation of battle in space, the pain and fury and struggle. The loss of Treize. They'd never spoken in any detail of the man, but Wufei knew that Zechs had loved him. If Wufei still felt such loss, having known the man so briefly, what must Zechs emotions be? As if in answer, when Trowa had performed his death spiral and hung broken in the tangled red silk, Wufei saw tears seeping from under the silver wolf mask to streak Zechs's flushed cheeks.

A sad tenderness flooded through Wufei, and without hesitation, he took Zechs's hand and clasped it between his own.

+

Duo nudged Heero's knee with his own and made a slight nod in the direction of the others. Heero squeezed Duo's hand. He'd seen. Wufei was holding Zechs's hand! He looked sort of stiff and awkward doing it, and he was staring fixedly at the stage, where Trowa was being lowered in his red silk shroud, but Zechs didn't pull away and Wufei didn't let go. Then Duo saw the tears on Zechs cheeks. Heero was right, he knew. Much as he hated to admit it, it was pretty obvious those two were head over heels for each other, and there was a intense tension between them, despite Wufei's shyness. Or maybe because of it. If just having his hand held brought Zechs to tears, then maybe there was more to him than Duo had been willing to admit. OK, so he wasn't quite ready to let go of the past, but damn, if he loved Wu Man that much, then maybe he could cut him some slack.

+

Wufei had been right. This was poetry of the body, Zechs thought, amazed at all he'd seen tonight. And as much as Wufei had tried to prepare him, "Passage" rocked him to his core and tore the half healed wounds of Trieze's death wide open. And yet, in the midst of the heart stopping grief, he felt warm, strong hands close around his own, and read the boundless love and understanding in his lover's eyes behind the fierce mask. That simple clasp of hands from this shy young man enfolded him and comforted like an embrace. He knew how much it cost Wufei to do something like this, even in a darkened theater; he'd overcome a lifetime of self-control and fear to offer his love like this. Zechs ached to hold him, but loved him enough to let this simple holding of hands be enough for now. And in the midst of all this, as the tragedy before them on the stage metamorphosed into an act of tenderest love, Wufei still held his hand, and even stroked his palm with trembling fingers.

"Mei," Zechs whispered as the two golden bodies on stage twined together.

Wufei leaned close, close enough for his breath and silky black hair to caress Zechs's cheek as he whispered, "That's how I feel for you." And even as that declaration sank in, filling Zechs's whole body with fire, Wufei brought Zechs's right hand to his lips and kissed it. Wufei's lips were hot and they trembled against his skin. With a gentle tug at Wufie's hand, Zechs returned the kiss.

The act came to its gentle close but Wufei did not release his hand, or when Duo jumped up on stage to award the prize for best mask to a giggling young girl in a full body mask of a mermaid, or when the dark finale had reached its frenetic end. The lights came up and the crowd drained away around them, but Wufei's hand remained warm and tight around his own. Zechs caught Wufei's eye through the mask and saw something new there, a loving resolve of some sort. It took Zechs's breath away, though he wasn't quite certain what it meant.

It was well past midnight by the time the Barton-Winners reappeared in the empty tent, dressed in normal cloths and carrying champagne and glasses.

"Happy birthday, Wufei!" Quatre said, and Wufei let go of Zech's hand at last to allow a hug from the blond boy as the others echoed the sentiments. Trowa loosened the cork and let it pop, flying away into the back seats and they all drank a toast.

"Eighteen, huh?" Maxwell said, grinning. "And I always thought you were the old man of the team!"

"Only because I was the most mature," Wufei countered wryly.

"Well, guess you're officially legal for everything now."

Yuy caught the look his lover was giving Zechs and elbowed him sharply. Quatre looked embarrassed, but Maxwell gave them a disarming grin. "Legal to drink!" he exclaimed, grabbing the bottle from Trowa and refilling Wufei's glass and his own. Raising it, he gave Wufei and Zechs a warm, welcoming smile. "Be happy, both of you. You officially have my blessing."

Zechs would have been happy to take Wufei home to bed, but had been informed in advance that the others had hired a limousine for a moonlight drive around the city and along the river to the lake. There was more champagne, and oysters on ice and fresh strawberries and slices of rich chocolate cake. Everyone was cuddling with their lover and Wufei sat close to Zechs and held his hand again.

"You've had your gifts from the others," Zechs told him, reaching under the seat. "Now that it's officially your birthday, here are a few from me."

"This trip was my gift!" Wufei said, coloring. Gifts always seemed to embarrass him.

That was something he was just going to have to get over, Zechs thought, watching with amusement as Wufei unwrapped the first one and blushed even more hotly at the volume of Chinese homoerotic poetry Zechs had found for him. It was printed in Mandarin, but Wufei's reaction made the other's exchange knowing grins.

"Th-thank you," Wufei murmured, tucking it out of sight between them and starting on the next, also a book. Clearly, he feared something else embarrassing, but his expression changed to one of surprise as he saw that it was instead a catalogue of various universities. Inside, he'd written, "For Wufei the scholar, thoughts for the future."

Wufei read it, and then looked up with questioning eyes. "We'll talk later," Zechs murmured, taking a small box from his pocket and handing it to him. "Now, this one."

"Too much!" Wufei muttered, shaking his head as he pulled the narrow ribbons free and took off the lid. Inside, on a leather fob, was a car key bearing an unmistakable crest.

"A Porsche!" Duo said, gaping. "He gave you a Porsche! Wow!"

Wufei was speechless and Zechs began to regret doing this in front of the others. But then Wufei smiled and shook his head again. "You are far too generous, Zechs Merquise."

"I warned you I would spoil you," Zechs replied, handing him the dealer's photo of the sleek black vintage 911 Turbo. "And how could I expect a Gundam pilot to drive some ordinary car? You belong behind the wheel of this."

"It is too much, but thank you. I love it," Wufei said, and brought Zechs's hand to his lips again, right there in front of the others. "You are, as always, too good to me."

"Impossible," Zechs rasped, overwhelmed by this new, unprecedented display of affection. It made him a bit less nervous about the gift he intended to give Wufei in private later.

"Jeeze, Trowa gets a house for his birthday, Quatre got Trowa for his, and now Wufei gets a Porsche?" Grinning, he wiggled up into Heero's lap and wrapped his arms around his lover's neck. "We're going to have a little chat, Mr. Yuy."

"Hn. I've heard of an old American custom; birthday spankings?"

Far from being offended, Duo snuggled closer. "God, you spoil me!"

It was almost three when the car deposited them in front of the iron garden gate. The others were all drunk by now, but Zechs had drunk lightly and noticed Wufei doing the same.

Lamps had been left burning in the garden to welcome them back. Trowa paused, weaving a little on his feet as he leaned on Quatre. "Well, happy birthday again, 05. The offer still stands. Want to join us?"

"Join you?" Zechs asked, thinking this couldn't possibly be what it sounded like.

"We sleep in one bed, but just sleep," Maxwell explained, a hint of the old challenge in his eyes. "Wufei's one of us, so you two can tuck in if you want to."

"Thank you. But I think I'll sleep better in my own bed tonight," Wufei replied. "Perhaps tomorrow."

Perhaps Zechs was drunker than he thought, because it took him a moment to get his mind around all he'd just heard, including the fact that Wufei had just sort of committed both of them to sharing a bed with the other boys, and the fact that he was now leading Zechs upstairs by the hand right there in front of the others.

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