Author: Honor A. De'Mandoren
Disclaimers: Gundam Wing is MINE, mine, mine, mine!
Shigeki: Keep in mind; this is the same woman that claims blow drying your hair in the shower is safe.

Pairings: 2x6 (6x2?)
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: romance, lemon, language, quirky humor, idiot Relena
Spoilers: Er...maybe?
Betas: Caitilin and Velvet
Archived: Gundam Wing Diaries
Author's Insane Ramblings on No Particular Topic.

Yeah...Katrice asked quite nicely to have a 6x2. And since I've never done a 6x2, and she asked so nicely, I decided to attempt it. Is that circular logic...?

Duo surprised me by actually giving me the whole plot, which really helped.

Enjoy! SEND FEEDBACK!

Author: Honor A. De'Mandoren
See chapter 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Common Sense + Chapter One
Oh Brother

"Stress:  that confusion created when one's mind overrides the body's desire to choke the living daylights out of some idiot who desperately needs it."
-anon

+

I love parties.

I'm the kind of guy that responds the same way to the word 'party' that a dog would respond to the word 'steak'. I'm up and ready to roll in two seconds flat, panting in anticipation. Everyone knows it too, which is why my current bad humor was so odd.

"Duo, you look like you're going to your own execution," Quatre muttered to me. "This isn't going to kill you."

"You wanna bet?" I growled at him. All five of us were in the limo, waiting in line to be let out in front of Relena's palace. It was the first anniversary of her coronation, and of course *everybody* just *had* to be there. "She hates me."

"She doesn't hate you," Heero corrected. He thought for a second before offering, "She just really doesn't like you."

"See? Even Heero knows she doesn't like me, and he's usually oblivious!" Boy did I get some exasperated glares for that comment. After that they kinda ignored me, or tried to. I can be damn invasive when I want to be.

But the inevitable happened, and we arrived. As soon as we walked through the door, Relena was there to greet Heero. She was nice to Quatre, polite to Trowa, a little nervous with Wufei (for good reasons, which we won't go into here) and then there was me.

"Mr. Maxwell," she greeted coolly.

"Nice party, princess," I replied with a thousand watt grin. Hey, you gotta give me points for effort here. I was trying to be nice.

"Thank you," she returned frostily. "Please enjoy yourselves. Heero, if I may I'd like to introduce you to some people."

Better Heero than me, man. I let him be dragged off, waggling my fingers in a cheerful farewell. I got Death Glared for that, but hey, he was the one that didn't take the opportunity to shoot her in the war. This was a mess of his own making.

Quatre snagged Trowa and started dancing, Wufei slipped off god knows where, leaving me all by my lonesome. You see what happens? You go through a war, through thick and thin, and in the end your best friends desert you.

Actually, they probably didn't want to hear me whine the whole night.

I didn't dare get drunk here; I have absolutely no control over my mouth with alcohol in my system. I did the safe thing, grabbed a cup of some kind of punch, and played wall flower.

As I was innocently minding my own business, trying to survive four hours of boredom (I *knew* I should have found a way to sneak in a game boy), I couldn't help but notice the people; one of them in particular, considering how bloody tall he was. Zechs was standing about ten feet away from me, surrounded by all of these society girls. He had a smile on his face, and was talking politely enough, but his eyes and body stance shouted 'Help! I need back-up! Break out the tear gas!'

I just couldn't leave the poor guy there, ex-enemy or not. I wouldn't wish that fate on my worst enemy (except maybe Relena, but she wouldn't consider it a trial.) Besides, this was the first action I had seen all night. It was either bust him out, or go crazy with boredom. Bracing my shoulders, I set the punch down and waded through perfumed ladies. "Zechsy! There you are, man, I've been looking all over the place for you."

It took a second to click, but the Lightning Count was no slouch. He gave me a dazzling smile and returned the greeting. "Hey Duo. Sorry, I got way-laid by these charming ladies."

Charming, my left eyeball! "Sorry," I told the ladies, "but I'm stealing him from you."

One of them, a willowy redhead with too much makeup on, batted her eyelashes. "Why don't you join us?"

Let me think about this--ah, no. "A bit later, perhaps. Right now, I get to collect on a debt."

Zechs played his part beautifully, looking pained. "What? Now?"

"Yup. Come on soldier, chin up and all that." I grabbed his arm and started towing him away.

"Balcony doors at two o'clock," Zechs hissed at me.

"Roger." I led the escape into the cool night air, ducking to the side so no one looking through the glass French doors would be able to see us.

"Maxwell, I don't know why you came to my rescue, but I owe you one."

"You looked like you were about two seconds from bolting for freedom," I answered with a wink. "Just do the same for me, sometime."

He snorted and nodded. "It's only fair. If you're here, then I assume all the pilots have arrived?"

We do tend to go a lot of places as a unit. Hm. "Yup. And Relentless is attached to Heero."

Zechs sighed. "One of these days..."

"...he's going to actually shoot her?" I hazarded.

"The world can only hope."

A startled laugh came out of me. Now, I haven't spent more than five minutes (collectively) around Zechs, and that was usually spent in polite greetings as we passed each other in the hallways of HQ. I didn't know he actually had a sense of humor. He was shaping up to be a pretty cool guy, not nearly as uptight as I suspected.

He quirked a white eyebrow at me. "This might be a bit rude--but I hadn't expected you to be here."

"What, cause your sister thinks I'm evil incarnate? Yeah, well, Heero refused to come without me so she gave in and invited me against her better judgment." I sighed, rolling my eyes. "Misery likes company and all that."

Zechs gave me this penetrating look. "Why do agree?"

"Old habits die hard, I guess." I shrugged, smile crooked. "I'm just too used to watching his back to desert him now. And you? I thought you were on full mission status."

"I was...until my sister intervened. She claims it was too stressful for me." The look he gave the balcony doors said quite plainly that he would rather be back at work.

I couldn't blame him. I'd rather get shot at any day then deal with Her Pushy Pinkness. "Whaddya say we find a nice quiet place to have some fun in?"

"Where my sister won't find us?" Zechs gave me that little scrutiny of his, and then slowly grinned. It reminded me of the grin Quatre gets right before he does something that he knows he isn't supposed to do, but will enjoy doing regardless. "There is this one room in the west wing she doesn't know about..."

I gave him a grin of my own. "Oh by all means, lead the way."

+

I was expecting a room with plushy furniture, some booze, maybe a billiards table, something ritzy you know? That picture was so off I just stopped and stared when Zechs opened the door, my jaw dangling on the floor.

It was a game room! A multi-plex game room, with these huge ass screens and a shelf dominating one room full of games, and bean bags and a huge couch and a snack bar!

"Maxwell?"

I dragged my jaw back up into position and croaked, "Am I in heaven?"

"No," Zechs assured me dryly.

"Are you sure? Cause a room just like this features in my daydreams on a regular basis." I was really surprised that the crown prince of Sanq had built it too.

Apparently my face said something along those lines because he shrugged a little self-consciously. "I know. It's not something people expect of me. It's just...some of these games remind me of Sims that I trained on. They're...fun. Relaxing."

"Hey man, you don't have to explain it all to me!" I gave him a wink, shedding black tie and jacket as I ran for the nearest bean bag. "I am in total agreement with you!" I landed in the bean bag with a soft 'oof' and squirmed around happily. Now *this* was my idea of a good time! "Whaddya in the mood to play?"

Zechs started stripping off jacket and tie too, leaping over the back of the couch and getting comfortable. "Mercenaries?"

My smile was feral. "You're going to regret saying that, man."

+

"MUWAHAHAHA! Meet your Maker! Oh *shit*!" Zechsy was definitely better than I gave him credit for.

"You better run now Maxwell!"

"Naw, it's only a flesh wound! Look, I still have thirty percent life force remaining! Er...twenty, I mean."

"So this is what you two were doing," a voice drawled from the doorway. Wufei sauntered in, brow quirked in amusement.

I paused the game as he came in, sharing a look with Zechs and a forlorn sigh. Shucks, looked like our party was over. "Hey 'Fei. I guess Relentless is throwing a fit, huh?"

"Throwing a fit is mild," he informed me sadistically. "She's ready to tear the house apart."

Zechs gave a martyred sigh and picked up his discarded tie, putting it back on. "Okay, I'm coming. Dare I ask how you knew where this place was?"

"Pargan gave me a hint. Out of Relena's hearing."

"Ah."

I watched Zechs go out the door, shrugging his form-fitting black jacket back on, and felt something like regret. Darnit, he was a cool guy, and I wanted to be friends with him but I wasn't sure if we'd ever get to spend time like this again.

Wufei, damn his eyes, was watching me with that know it all expression on his face.

"What?" I said defensively.

"You like him."

"Well duh! He's cool, and fun to hang out with."

"And sexy," Wufei deadpanned.

"..." Okay, so he was sexy. I was trying not to focus on the hot bod, thank you very much.

Wufei just smirked.

"Oh shut up. Can we blow this place yet?"

"All things considered, I think it would be wise to leave now. I'll get the others. You better head straight for the car."

Knowing how vindictive Relena could be...oh yeah, staying out of sight was a good thing. "I'll get the engine running, shall I?"

I skipped out the door, conveniently forgetting my discarded tie and jacket behind me. Hateful things. And damn uncomfortable too. Using my super-duper memory I traced my way back through all of the hallways and to the front, then tried to find a way to sneak out the side and to our waiting car.

And wandered right into Relena.

Bugger.

This is the *last* time that I go behind enemy lines without memorizing the blue print for the place.

Apparently she had dragged her brother to a side room to lambaste him, instead of doing it in front of her adoring public. She glared at me venomously. "*You*. I should have known better than to invite you! You corrupt everyone around you!"

I choked a little on that one. Me? I've never corrupted a single person in my...well, except Heero...and Quatre, just a little...okay, so maybe I was a bad influence on certain people. But Zechs wasn't in that number!

Zechs gave me a grimace, then sighed in exasperation at his sister "Relena, I told you that it wasn't his doing. I realize that this is a very important party for you, which is why I attended, but you know I don't enjoy these things. My presence here isn't strictly necessary."

"Quite a few ladies asked me about you," Relena snapped. "And just how was I supposed to respond?"

Something smelled here, and it wasn't fried chicken. Why do I get the feeling that Relena wanted her brother out in the party because she was trying to match him up with somebody?

"You aren't my keeper, Relena," Zechs snapped back. "You're my sister, and my younger one at that. I think I can be accountable for my own actions at this point of my life."

I really shouldn't be here. I was just intruding on a family argument. I started scooting back out the door.

"Maxwell!" Relena whirled on me, mouth pinched. "Don't think I'm done with you."

This is absolutely the LAST time that Heero talks me into going anywhere at Relena's invite. "Look, princess, I think we both better just say good night and give each other some space." Wuffers would notice that I'm not where I'm supposed to be and come find me...right?

"We could put the whole universe between us and it wouldn't be enough space!" she snarled. "Leave my brother alone!"

Okay, this was just tiresome. "Relena, I really don't get what you have against me. I've been playing nice all night."

"I'm not an idiot, Maxwell! You can charm your way through anything, and around everyone! First it was Heero, and now it's my brother. I'm tired of it."

What the hell was she getting at? I felt like I was missing a piece of the puzzle. The important piece, the one in the middle. "What? What did I do?"

"Heero refuses to think of me as a lover because of you! I'm not about to let you seduce my brother away from me as well!"

Zechs and I both were just staring at her in dumb amazement. Okay, I know I'm not exactly a slouch in the looks department. I'm not the next Cary Grant by any means, but I'm not Frankenstein either, y'know? I just couldn't reconcile with her picture of me though. "So...let me get this straight. You think I'm some kind of Casanova for the male species?"

"Don't play dumb with me, Duo!"

"Relena," Zechs drawled, "I'll admit that Duo certainly looks the part--"

I felt absurdly flattered by that statement.

"--however, he hasn't tried to seduce me. We were just enjoying each other's company."

"I'm supposed to believe that two ex-enemies were just enjoying the evening?" she delivered scathingly.

"Hey," I interjected, "I can't blame the guy for being a bit mixed up and joining up with the wrong side of the Force, y'know? I got damned confused on who I was supposed to fight quite a few times. At least he's got his head screwed on straight now, which can't be said of other people." Like you. I was very proud of myself for NOT saying that last bit.

A miracle intervened at that moment, in the form of Quatre. He knocked semi-politely on the half open door before coming in. "Duo, I've been looking for you." There was an edge to his smile that assured me that wasn't a good thing. "I have an early meeting tomorrow, as does Trowa. We need to leave now."

Leaving? Even if I am in trouble, take me with you! "Sure thing, Q. Well, Relentless, it was real. Later." I felt kinda sorry for Zechs being stuck there, and offered him a wink as I sidled out the door. "I'm open for a rematch anytime, sexy. Look me up, okay?"

Zechs blinked at me then grinned a little. "Okay."

Quatre grabbed my arm and tugged me away. He kept a firm grip on me all the way to the car, and kept it that way until the car was in motion and the house was out of sight behind us. That's just mean, I don't get into trouble that often!

I took a quick glance around at my team mates. Heero was exhausted (and probably mentally preparing contingency plans for any future invitations from Relena) Wufei was eagerly waiting for Quatre to lay into me (the rat fink) and Trowa was half-asleep on the far side of the limo.

"Duo," Quatre growled. "Just once, I wish you would behave in public!"

"I was being good!" I protested. "Look, Zechs was surrounded by a bunch of females and about to bolt, so I helped him out. And we kinda got distracted by playing some games, and then...well, I guess you know what happened then."

"Oh yes," Quatre growled in exasperation. "I know exactly what happened then. Fortunately, Relena waited until we were all out of ear shot before ranting, but rant she did. About *you*. And how you can't be trusted around attractive men. And *I* had the pleasant experience of trying to talk her down before she laid her hands on a butcher knife and went for you!"

Eek. Q's pissed. I know he hates dealing with Relena. "She's got a really warped view of me," I grumbled. "And I don't get why."

"Duo," Wufei apparently had to add in his two cents worth, or knowing him, two credits worth, "you don't really understand the effect you have on people. You effortlessly slide into any circle of society--Relena doesn't have a prayer of doing that, no matter how hard she tries. Granted, she's jealous of that, but some of what she says is true. You truly do influence people to follow along with your view of things."

"Influencing people, okay I can see that. But I don't seduce every male thing that moves!"

Heero turned and looked at me funny, and even Trowa stopped pretending he was asleep.

"She accused you of that?" Heero asked with this little perplexed frown on his face.

"She said, and I paraphrase, that I had seduced you which is why you won't have anything to do with her romantically, and she wasn't about to let me do the same thing to her brother. End paraphrase." I rolled my eyes. "I mean, come on! I'm not this living embodiment of sex or anything. Q-bean's probably the sexiest guy among us."

Quatre blinked at me stupidly. "What? Me? I'm not sexy."

Trowa, naturally, couldn't let that rest. "I think you're sexy."

"See?" I said to Q. "He agrees with me."

"Of course he agrees with you," Quatre shot back in exasperation. "He's prejudiced!"

Trowa shrugged, apparently unwilling to refute that.

I flapped my hands to get us back to the main topic. "Anyway, my point is, Relena has this warped idea about me and I don't want to have anything more to do with her. Heero, I hope you're with me on this one."

Heero nodded fervently. "We'll make up a mission if we have to."

Good ol' Heero. I knew I could count on him.

[ch. 2] [back to Singles a-k]