When Fallen Angels Fly - Three of nine
By Jen
Random inane comments:Since I'm not overly knowledgeable about bikes (let's just say motorcycles and I don't mix) I'm not too certain whether the bike Wuffie uses in the series would be a two seater. From what I've seen though, it doesn't appear to be. So for the sake of this, we'll just have to pretend that he gets a new one. Besides, I'm certain he wasn't too worried about getting it back when Noin was chasing him. ^^ The entire fun Duo drags Wufei on was supposed to take up this chapter only, but I kinda got carried away and now need to split it up. ^^;; So there'll be one more chapter than I had planned on writing. I need to quit being so long winded...

When Fallen Angels Fly + Part Three

Duo bounced lightly on the balls of his feet, sliding from one to the other with a recklessness that should have taken him to the floor. His thumbs were hooked casually in the back of his black pants, elbows jutting out behind him like twin ornaments. Impish features were even brighter than usual, and there was a mischievous light lurking in the blue depths of his eyes that Wufei didn't like. While Duo's actions may appear to be random, Wufei, who noticed everything, analyzed, and then tucked it away for future use, knew perfectly well they were not. Shinigami never did anything without reason.

He wasn't entirely certain he wanted to find out what this particular reason was.

The cheerful mask was firmly back in place, as was the priestly attire he usually wore. Duo had again asked Wufei to braid his hair after his afternoon shower, and the latter had obliged, working with a brisk proficiency that had gotten the task over and done with as soon as possible. Whatever had passed between them yesterday, good or bad, seemed not to have happened at all. He didn't know whether to be pleased, relieved, annoyed, or disappointed. Given the choice, he would go for the fifth, unavailable one. Uncaring.

The American pilot tugged at his collar, running his finger along the inside edge.

Finding his eyes unwillingly drawn there, he was struck by the irony of a boy claiming to be the God of Death wearing clothing that symbolized everything that meant life in the Christian religion. He hadn't asked, and Duo had never offered, so Wufei wasn't certain where the clothing had come from. He would have said stolen, but something about the way Duo refused to wear much else other than that told him it was not that. It could be any number of things. A reminder. A shield. A comfort. Just another piece that made up the puzzle calling himself Duo Maxwell.

Absently rubbing his damp palms against his hips, Duo wished for what felt like the thousandth time that Quatre had gotten air conditioning. The guy practically had his own colony, and he couldn't even get air conditioning! Not that Mr. Chang looked even the slightest bit rumpled, overheated, or flustered by that, he noted with more than his fair share of irritation. Someone of his discipline was impervious to the weather. Hell, the weathers probably took one look at Wufei, conversed with one another, and decided it would be wise to leave him alone. And not only that, but with that stick-straight, black hair, held down by only gravity and water, Wufei didn't need to worry about frizzies and fly-aways.

Damn him anyway.

Damn him thrice, for pretending that yesterday hadn't even happened. Duo should have known better than to expect anything from him, and he sure as hell wasn't making the first move. He was going to smile, fairly ooze congeniality, get in Wufei's way every chance he could, but he was not going to give the Chinese boy even one inch to work with. If Wufei wanted to pull a Mr. Heero 'the rock' Yuy, and ignore his existence except when it was useful, then Wufei Chang could kiss Duo's black clad ass. No, wait, that was very bad imagery that didn't quite pan out to the insult he had intended for it to be.

/I have very bad taste in men/, he lamented to himself, holding in a sigh. /I always pick Mr. Sociable. Maybe I should start liking women.../

Besides, wasn't he supposed to like Heero? He had been trying to chip away at the Perfect Soldier's stone defenses, complete with 'the death glare' and superhuman strength for what felt like forever now. His progress, it seemed, was minimal. So minimal that he didn't even know why he hadn't given up yet.. It was apparent Heero lived for the mission, and the mission lived to have Heero. If the guy cared for anything outside of that, it was that damned laptop computer he was practically joined at the hip with. Heero hadn't even once shown interest, or even looked at him or touched him in any way that lent itself otherwise. Heero hadn't said he was beautiful. Not like Wufei.

This was beyond frustrating.

He wanted to know if Wufei was even remotely interested in him. He wanted to know if Wufei's comment on his appearance was just a truth, with no emotion behind it. He wanted to know if he was a complete idiot for even thinking this way. And he couldn't do a damn thing about it. Because if he pushed Wufei, then Wufei would retreat further into himself and Duo would get even less of him. He had seen the Chinese boy do it before. So then what? Leave it at a stalemate? Go back to pretending that everything was as it used to be when he was starting to notice little things about Wufei that he hadn't before?

Not likely. It wasn't happening.

Wufei lowered his eyes to his book (the book that got more attention than Duo did, the American pilot noted as the green-eyed monster reared its ugly head), missing the sudden near violent glitter enter Duo's eyes. The characters on the page blurred together, forming no real words, as the Chinese pilot continued to be aware that Duo was staring at him. If he thought the boy a nuisance before, then he was an outright obstacle now. He stood between Wufei and complete, blissful, silent peace. Even when he wasn't in the same room, he was still there, occupying his thoughts despite all attempts to produce the opposite result.

Why couldn't the others have left behind someone else? Someone like Heero, who would have gladly left him alone? Why this braided menace who insisted upon making him question his discipline, his notions on love and relationships, and worst of all, his feelings? And why now, of all the time that they had been together fighting for the same cause, did he just begin to notice?

The silent stand off was over. Neither side had won, and it was time to regroup and bring in reinforcements. The Chinese camp had retreated into their insulated little world, and it was up to the American camp to draw them back out again.

Pressing his palms against his hips so that his arms veered out in a distinctly bird-like fashion, he remarked offhand, "I know you can do it, Wu!"

"Do what?" The other replied, not bothering to look up. He was perfectly aware of who was standing before him. It was his hope that if he didn't look, said person would go away.

"Spend one whole day being a perfectly normal, 15 year old boy."

That statement was so ridiculous, Wufei had to lift his head and pin Duo with a withering glance.

"We aren't exactly what one would call 'normal', Maxwell, lest you forget," he answered curtly.

Keeping the smile in place, though it was becoming considerably strained, Duo resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

"Thank you, oh-enlightening-one. I couldn't have figured that out without your help."

Ignoring the obvious sarcasm, Wufei continued to stare at him without changing expressions, much less blinking.

What was it again, that he liked about this guy? He was considering developing selective amnesia...

"What I mean, Wu, is that we spend one day without being Gundam pilots. No hugeass Gundams, no kooky professors, and no blowing shit all to hell. I'm me, you're you, and we're just a couple of 15 year olds kids with nothing better to do than-"

"Does this have a point?" Wufei interrupted.

"I was getting to it! Don't be so utilitarian! If words weren't meant to be used, then they never would've been invented."

"Words," Wufei returned mildly, "were developed because people failed to understand each other's body language and couldn't appreciate the beauty of silence."

Speaking of completely missing the body language boat...

"No, they were created by people who appreciated the value of communication!" Duo shot back, looking affronted.

Something childish stirred in Wufei.

"No," he corrected with more force this time, "they were created by people who take up more than their fair share of air by talking too much."

Duo rocked back on his heels. "Are you insinuating I talk too much?"

"No. I am saying you talk too much."

Duo did the only thing he could do in defense; he stuck his tongue out at Wufei.

The Chinese pilot's expression remained impassive.

"I fail to see how that contributed to your argument."

"It made me feel better, that's how," he informed Wufei, his tone deliberately petulant as he folded his arms across his chest.

He was losing him now. Wufei's interest was being pulled back to that damnable book of Chinese that Duo was considering burning after Wufei drifted off to sleep tonight. If he hadn't wanted to live to see 16, he might have done just that. Still, he couldn't complain overly much. He had been very close to getting Wufei to drop that formal shield he wore like a protective second skin.

But almost wasn't good enough.

"If one intends to win an argument, logic and reason go a lot farther to convince than sticking one's tongue out," Wufei began, preparing, Duo was certain, to launch into a lecture that made counting beans sound appealing.

Slashing his hand through the air, Duo cut him off. "Screw logic and reason. I swear, Wu, sometimes you're more of a professor than Dr. G!"

"While I appreciate your above average intelligence," he continued before Wufei could respond, "it won't be needed today. Because you see, we're going shopping."

Wufei went from dealing with the warmth Duo's offhand compliment created to confronting shock all in one turn.

"Shopping?" He parroted.

"Yes," Duo replied, feeling inordinately pleased at having managed to throw the Chinese boy off guard, "you know, that thing where you go from shop to shop, spending all your money and-"

"I know what shopping is!" Wufei snapped.

Duo's brows rose. "Yeesh, don't bite my head off or anything, Wu."

Wufei slammed his book shut, the sound echoing like a gunshot.

"Sorry," he said. Then before Duo could react to that, added, "I am not going shopping with you, Maxwell."

"If you don't, I'll make you read to me," Duo threatened, receiving only a partially raised eyebrow for an answer.

Wufei was determined that Duo wasn't going to change his mind. He detested shopping. It always took longer that it should, and you always ended up coming home with more than you had intended to get. Something told him that with the American, the amount would be more than doubled. Besides all that, it was too normal, too simple, and too personal. He didn't want to bond with Duo. He wanted him to go away and leave him alone.

Duo had no intentions of leaving Wufei alone. He wanted to go shopping, and he wasn't leaving this house without two things. His hat, and Wufei. The sooner the Chinese boy realized this, the better. If he had to pester him half the day to get him to go, then so be it. Bothering Wufei was fun anyhow. Though, admittedly, it would be much more fun if he would react beyond staring and unfailingly stingy, polite statements. Right. Polite and Wufei in the same sentence just didn't work very well. It was more like bald civility. Unless he was insulting him, of course. Which Wufei seemed to have taken more of a liking to as of late.

"I swear Wu, you are going shopping with me, if I have to bug you all day."

"That's nice," Wufei replied absently, opening his book again.

Duo bit back a groan, frantically searching his mind for something that would force Wufei to go with him. As he found it, a sly, wicked smile curved his lips the likes of which would have made Shinigami proud.

"Hey Wu-man, if you don't go with me... I'll just have find some other way of passing time. I was thinking," he continued, examining a nail, "that I might service Deathscythe. Since he's in top shape, that won't take long. I'll just go ahead and work on Nataku for you when I'm done."

Duo was still looking at his nail when the explosive sound of book hitting wood filled his ears. He wisely swallowed a smile.

"Are you ready?" Wufei demanded right next to Duo's ear, causing the latter to jump slightly.

When he had recovered his wits, he nodded. "Ready as I'll ever be."

"Then let us get this over with," Wufei snarled, forcefully closing his hand around Duo's upper arm and pulling him across the floor.

"Hey, Wu, I bruise easily!"

An unsympathetic grunt was all he received in reply.

+


Duo shifted his arms gingerly, understandably, against the feeling of metal pressing against his skin, even if it was through a coat. It took every ounce of strength he possessed to not press his face against Wufei's back and relax completely. The Chinese pilot was so tense right now, it was amazing he could even turn the bike around corners without driving them into the ground.. He somehow doubted that getting any closer to Wufei than was necessary would be appreciated. And despite the fact that he was a little leery with just trusting Wufei's word that he could manipulate this motorcycle perfectly (as this was the guy that had threatened to kill him if they overspent, thank-you-very-much Mr. Heero Junior), he had to admit to enjoying the proximity that was allowable.

It was not like he could buy a whole lot when Wufei had insisted they take this motorcycle anyhow. He had tried to point out the value of taking the truck the Maguanacs had left, as it had plenty of space for packages in the back, but Wufei had refused. Duo had the sneaking suspicion that Wufei was trying to ruin his fun. Or Wufei was just not a very astute shopper, Duo decided with a grin. After all, some of the most expensive things were the smallest things. Not that he intended to push the Nataku pilot's patience. He had to consider himself lucky to have gotten him this far.

Wufei's overcoat flapped against his leg again, and Duo shook his head, wondering if it was really worth roasting to be armed. He hardly considered a trip to the mall as being dangerous enough to warrant a sword. Personally, he thought Wufei was being paranoid. But then, you didn't argue with Wufei Chang when he was holding said weapon in his hands. Especially not when he was threatening you at the same time. It was a wiser course of action just to nod and look agreeable. Duo considered himself more than apt at both defending and fighting back, but he was not fool enough to think that he could stand up to Wufei and expect to get away without a few broken bones. The Chinese boy had been training for God-only-knew how long, probably almost his entire life, in two of the most deadly arts. The only place he might have had a chance, was in his Gundam, and that was said without any real arrogance. Duo knew that he was good. Doctor G wouldn't have chosen him otherwise, whatever wisecracks the scientist might make aside.

Easing back on the throttle, Wufei took them around a curve, trying not to be aware of the fact that each time they did, Duo was pressed more firmly against him. This was torture of the most exquisite kind, and he had only himself to blame for it. After all, in order to keep Duo from buying out half the mall, he had insisted they take his motorcycle. It only occurred to him as he started it up and Duo settled behind him, that he had failed to consider all aspects of his decision. By then, it was too late to back out. So he salvaged his pride and suffered with teasing his libido instead.

This was not the way to go about ignoring the effects the Deathscythe pilot had on him. Not with Duo's arms wrapped tightly around his waist and little to no space between their bodies. Surely, this was a joke played by some higher power to amuse itself. Would it have been so difficult to have allowed him to see the entire scope of the situation? He was being sensible and wise about this whole thing, and he found himself confounded at every turn. Duo, it seemed, was determined to spend nearly every waking moment in his company.. Wufei really couldn't see why when he was doing everything he could to discourage him...

He was having a hard time denying to himself that the thought of spending an entire day in Duo's company while pretending to be nothing more than normal teenagers was not appealing. It had been a long time since Wufei could remember doing anything of the sort, if ever. There were moments when it seemed as if they had been in this war forever, and as if the war itself had no end.. Any supposed normal, sane moments were few and far between. Because even when they had a free moment, being anything other than a Gundam pilot was difficult. Except, when you were with Duo.

Unlike the rest of them, Duo shed Shinigami when he left Deathscythe's cockpit. Seeing him at any other time was a rarity that meant something had managed to get past Duo's amiable exterior and anger him. While he saw Heero and Trowa as the 'steel backbone' of the five of them as a team, he considered Quatre the heart and Duo the morale. That left him where he preferred to be; alone and there only if they needed him to be. Which, admittedly, had become much more frequent. It seemed that the thought of unity was even starting to get to him.

The backroads melted away, leaving behind dust and isolation for asphalt and population. Wufei maneuvered his way through traffic with ease and authority, essentially the way he did everything. While he concentrated on that, Duo found his mind wandering to inane things with no actual relevance. Such as what would happen if a big bug splatted right over the shield of Wufei's helmet, or what would happen if that car to their left moved over just the slightest bit more. He began humming under his breath as well while they waited at a stoplight, the sound of it drowned out by the whir of the motors around them. Which was just as well, considering Wufei probably would have yelled at him for making noise.

Flexing his fingers absently against Wufei's abdomen, he found himself staring at the black silk of his tail peeking out just beneath the edge of the helmet. Duo had never seen him with it down, and he couldn't help but wonder just how long Wufei's hair was, or if it was as smooth to the touch as it looked. What was the significance of it? Wufei struck him as a warrior who valued efficiency and precision. Having long hair didn't jive with that image. Yet, there were times that Duo glimpsed something else beneath Wufei's mask. Another Wufei, one that he rarely let others see, much less himself.. So what had Wufei been before he became a Gundam pilot? And how to go about finding out...

Muscles tense beneath Duo's constantly moving fingers, Wufei pulled them into the mall parking lot, wishing that he could blast them into a spot and get off the motorcycle. He didn't like the heat those fingers were creating. It was an unwelcome distraction, one that was going to land them both on their heads if Duo didn't quit it. He wanted to tell him to stop, but that would mean admitting to the effect they had on him. Once again, pride came before libido. Surely, he deserved an award for his resolve...

Almost before the kickstand had touched down, Duo vaulted from the bike and was removing his helmet, his braid swinging around him like a long, chocolate rope of silk. Wufei found his eyes drawn there against his will, remembering how the other looked with his hair unbound.

"Man, am I glad to have that stuffy helmet off. It's worse than the one Dr. G forced me to wear on my way down to Earth," Duo remarked, almost seeming to be speaking to air, as he spun around, the offending helmet tucked beneath his arm.

Sometimes Wufei forget they all had separate lives before Operation Meteor got underway. It almost seemed as if they had become one collective family, these four pilots and he... A family he didn't need.

"Yo, Wu, get the helmet off and let's go already! I'm starved. We didn't eat lunch, remember?"

Duo bent over at the waist, passing his hand in front of Wufei's face, completely oblivious to the attention he was garnishing. Who wouldn't want to look at him? He was a beautiful bundle of energy and hair. He drew the eyes of male and female alike, and Wufei was not liking at all this sudden feeling of jealousy that sprung up. Unreasonably, he wanted to throw himself in front of Duo and demand that no one look at him.

"Absurd," he muttered crossly, removing his helmet to glare at Duo.

Duo pulled back. "Do motorcycle rides always make you so pleasant?"

Ignoring the comment, Wufei pocketed the key to his bike and leapt gracefully down, his feet making no sound as they touched the pavement. Without waiting, he began walking, leaving Duo with no choice but to follow, wondering why it was Wufei kept glaring at random strangers...

[part 2] [part 4] [back to Singles a-k]