By Jen
Warnings: Lemon. Yes, again. ^^;;;
Random inane notes: Whelp, this is it. The last chapter. I'm kinda sad it is. I've enjoyed writing this. I'm going to miss Duo and Wufei taking up my thoughts and shoving all my other characters to the back of my mind. Granted, the other characters don't exactly appreciate it... but hey, you can't have everything. ^^ BTW, even after reading the Episode Zero manga for Duo, I'm still a bit confused as to his age when he first was taken in by Father Maxwell. So if I mess it up here, feel free to point it out.

When Fallen Angels Fly + Part Nine

As always, Duo awoke slowly, savoring the feeling of muscles stretching, mind battling through the fog, and eyes opening inch by careful inch to take in the light a bit at a time. This time, however, he felt more relaxed than ever before, as if he had slept for ages. And... Blue eyes shot open suddenly, to find a bronzed arm wrapped possessively around his waist and an equally bronzed body pressed firmly against his side, a sheen of ebony hair obscuring a well-known face like a curtain of fine silk.

"So you weren't a dream," he whispered softly.

A smile curving his lips, he reached up to run his fingers lightly across the arm draped over him. With a care, he gently moved the black hair away from the face, so that he may look upon Wufei while he slept. The Chinese boy looked innocent and uncaring in sleep, the act having smoothed all lines or worries from his face. While Duo thought he looked beautiful this way, he felt the Nataku pilot had never looked more so than when his eyes were filled with passion and he was saying those words Duo both feared and craved.

I love you.

They had both said it, and both meant it. Where this would take them now, was anyone's guess, but Duo didn't think he minded. His entire life had been one great gamble, one chance after another, with no way of knowing whether he would come out on top, in the middle, or crushed at the bottom. What better risk than your heart? There was so much to give and be given, that he was certain he didn't want to miss out.

Leaning down, he pressed a kiss against the edge of the Chinese boy's lips, moving up his face to nip at his ear with teeth.

Wufei awoke to delicious shivers of heat coursing through his body, and the whispered words right next to his ear, "Hey Wufei, I think you did more than get me out of my pants this time."

"Shut up, Maxwell," he muttered sleepily, but there was no bite in his words, and even as he was saying them, he was turning and pulling Duo to him.

"Hello," Duo breathed, as he found himself sprawled across Wufei and staring into his face.

Wufei smiled. Duo melted.

"Good morning."

Grinning, the American pilot corrected. "Good afternoon."

Wufei groaned, closing dark eyes momentarily. "You are a bad influence on me."

Duo leaned down to press a kiss to his neck. "So. You like it."

Lips twitched. "Maybe."

The Deathscythe pilot fell into indignant sputtering that was lost when Wufei's lips silenced him and pulled him into a wonderfully exploratory kiss.

After the draining show of affection, Duo slid down until he was lying in the crook of Wufei's arm, where he rested his head against the Chinese boy's chest and listened to the rapid beating of his heart and felt the uneven pattern of his pulse.

Wufei wrapped both arms around him without hesitation, marveling still at the soft press of skin against skin. He never would have imagined this was where he would find himself, or that it would be exactly what he wanted. Duo quieted those inner voices that had always plagued him, and left him with a sense of completion he had never found outside of piloting Nataku. There were no certainties, no guarantees, and as a soldier of war, he understood this better than most. But none of it mattered to him, so long as he could remain this way.

"How is your knee?" He intoned quietly.

Duo smiled against his skin, unable to resist touching the other there with his lips. That was Wufei. Always thinking ahead, and mothering.

"It's fine. It hurts, but it's gonna until it heals."

"I have something for you to put on it when we get up. It will reduce the swelling and take away some of the pain."

"Lotion?"

As he had hoped, the Chinese pilot let out a little uneven gasp of air, color spreading across his cheeks.

"Why didn't you give it to me last night?" Duo asked, when the other didn't comment.

"I was a bit distracted," Wufei replied, tone rich with personal amusement.

They lapsed into a comfortable silence, punctuated only by Duo's soft snort of laughter. Wufei could sense no unhappiness on Duo's part, which was why it took him by surprise to hear Duo suddenly address him in such a serious tone.

"Hey Wu, I need to talk to you."

His heart caught painfully.

"About?"

Duo raised his head, blue eyes boring into black with the intensity of his feelings.

"My feelings for you won't change, Wufei. It's not about that."

He released the breath he had not known he was holding, amazed that Duo had heard all that in one word.

The American boy settled back down. "No, it's about something else. It's about my past."

Something in the way Duo said it told him that this would not be pleasant, or easy. Stroking fingers down his back in offered comfort, Wufei remained silent, allowing Duo to speak when he felt he could. This was how he wanted it to be, with Duo telling him only when he was ready. What was given freely, was given with love and without resentment. Impatience took more than it was supposed to, more than was ready to be given, and since Wufei wanted everything without reservations, he would wait.

"I'm an orphan, you know," he began, his tone oddly subdued and so unlike Duo, that it tore at Wufei like little pinpricks against his heart. "I don't really remember where I came from or who my parents were, but that doesn't matter much. My life pretty much began when I was seven and Solo found me and took me in anyhow. He wasn't that much older than me, but he took care of all us orphans and made certain we had before he did. They all became my family of sorts. The first I'd ever had."

Wufei continued to listen, offering support as he combed his fingers through Duo's hair, unaware as he did so that he was making it much easier for the other to talk. What he did know, was that he had a greater understanding of why Duo found human interaction so important, and why he was so adamant about them being there for each other, being a family.

"I was about ten when Solo died. Some stupid virus wiping out the colony, and of course, you couldn't get cured unless you had money," he spat bitterly, surprised at how much it still ate at him. "So I stole some. But I wasn't quick enough to save him, and when he died, I wanted to die with him. But I didn't, so I lived more instead. And tried to keep our family of orphans together."

A lot of responsibility for a ten year old boy. But then, Wufei understood that Duo had never really been a child. Life had not given him that option. And it took from him still, taking advantage of his giving nature, his strength of commitment when fighting for something he believed in, and his need to make a difference so that others would never have to experience what he did.

"Duo." Wufei said softly, brushing fingers across his face.

Duo trembled, felt his resolve threaten to crumble, and the hot burn that pushed at the back of his eyes. Not yet. He had to get this all out.

"We were doing fine until the Federation nabbed us. That's what they were called in those days, the Alliance was. We got out though, and somehow we were taken in by the Maxwell church. Father Maxwell and Sister Helen... they gave us all a lot. But like everything else around me, they died. Died because of war, died because I..." he trailed off, taking a deep breath to calm himself. He had never told anyone this before. Never.

Tightening his hold, Wufei resisted the urge to tell Duo to stop now before he hurt himself further. He had never known what it was like to feel pain because the one you loved did. But he did now, and he was of the opinion that it was the worse kind.

"Some colony rebels took over the church. They were cruel to us, just as cruel as the Federation. How can cruelty like that breed peace?"

Inch by painful inch, Duo could feel the weight he had been carrying around in his heart lifting. Somehow, he knew that telling just anyone would not have produced the same results. This was Wufei, who, contrary to appearances, always listened. But he didn't just listen, he cared. And that made all the difference.

"They wanted a Mobile Suit. I just wanted them to leave us alone. So I said I'd steal one. It wasn't easy, but I did it. In the end, it didn't matter. The Federation destroyed the church. They... they killed everyone in it. I found Sister Helen... she... she was still alive. She... even at the end, she was thinking about someone else. About me... She didn't deserve to die, Wufei. None of them did. Where was their God then? What kind of God lets good people die?"

The broken, aching note in Duo's voice tore at him, forcing him to close his eyes.

"I didn't cry, you know. Even when... I didn't cry," Duo said softly, his voice distant. "I didn't want to give it the satisfaction."

Life. It had taken so much from him. It couldn't have his tears too.

"It's all right, Duo," Wufei said with more calm than he felt, reaching down to lift his chin so that American boy could see that he cared.

"Boys don't cry," he whispered.

"It's all right," Wufei repeated, hand curving to rest under Duo's chin.

"Boys don't cry, Wufei," he said again, even as one hot tear escaped his eye and slid down his cheek.

But Wufei could. Wufei could have his tears.

Wufei held him while he cried, the force of his sobs shaking his thin shoulders, each one torn from somewhere deep inside him, where they had remained buried and denied for so very long. It was a great effort, but Wufei held his own tears in check, fighting the painful burn of them against his eyelids. He would not take this moment from Duo, who needed it. His moment had come and gone. And in this one, he understood again just how dangerous love was when you felt helpless.

When the tears had subsided, and breathing returned to normal, Duo laughed weakly, grasping the blanket to wipe at Wufei's chest.

"Hey Wu, I got you pretty wet, huh? Don't know why you put up with me. I'm not much in comparison-"

"Don't!" Wufei snapped, grabbing a startled Duo by the chin rather harshly and forcing the boy to look at him.

"Don't put yourself down. Ever. You are worth ten of me, with your smiles and your strength and your beauty..."

Eyes wide and unblinking, Duo stared into Wufei's face, the latter's twisted with fury and reproach. He had only seen Wufei this angry twice now. When he had come barreling around that corner and leapt into the middle of the fight at the research facility, and last night, when the Chinese boy had snapped at him for being so careless with his life.

"Yeah... okay..." he replied, his voice somewhat unsteady.

Wufei's expression softened. "Sorry... I just... love you."

The smile Duo gave him was one of the most beautiful he had ever seen.

"Yeah, Wu, I love you. And don't forget it. You're stuck with me," he added, twisting neatly out of Wufei's grasp and rolling out of bed onto a stiff knee that very nearly gave out under him.

With a speed that never ceased to amaze him, Wufei had thrown the tangled sheets aside and was next to him in an instant, one arm around his waist in support.

"You're handy to have around," he praised, liking the feel of Wufei against him.

"Idiot," Wufei muttered, feeling himself being pulled into the spell.

Pulling away, his hands coming up to rest on his hips, Duo said without preamble, "Let's go get my stuff and move it in here."

The boy certainly didn't let any grass grow under his feet. But Wufei wouldn't deny that the warmth Duo's request caused left him with a breathlessness, a speechlessness that he was hard pressed to get around. And it had nothing to do with the fact that the American was standing naked before him. Well, mostly didn't, anyhow.

"We aren't going like this," he chastised, failing to put the usual bite in his tone.

Duo grinned. "Duh. We'll just throw some pants on."

"We haven't showered."

If it were possible, the grin grew wider. "We will. Afterwards."

Something about the way he looked told Wufei they would be doing more than showering...

+

Brows drawing together into a frown, Wufei followed Duo down the hall, carrying the last box of his CDs. The things were heavier than he expected them to be. And how in the world Duo could get so much junk in the closet space allotted him by Heero was beyond the Chinese pilot.

"Why do you have so much music? You hardly ever listen to it..."

Duo tossed him a look over his shoulder, his hair fanning out around him in a way that drew Wufei's eyes. "Heero wouldn't let me, that's why."

Wufei could not say, after getting a good look at some of the titles, he blamed the Wing pilot...

"You will, won't you, Wu?"

"Hm?" He asked, passing through the door to his room.

"Let me listen to my CDs."

Duo fisted his hands on his hips again, drawing Wufei's eyes lower as he set the box on the floor. His room was about to get a great deal more crowded...

Dark eyes met blue. How could he not? How could he deny the boy anything? He was weak... But he did not mind this time.

"Yes."

Limping across the space between them, Duo threw himself into Wufei's arms and kissed the Chinese pilot enthusiastically. Wufei felt his knees give as his hands slid up to curve around a slim waist, and his mind drifted away on a comfortable haze of passion.

"How about that shower?" Duo asked when he pulled away, breathless and wanting more, but in a different way.

Wufei nodded mutely, allowing himself to be led into the bathroom, where Duo started the water up and reached out to peel Wufei's pants from him. They were tossed carelessly behind them, where they hit the door and were soon to be joined by Duo's.

It had never occurred to him that a shower could be so erotic. Always before, it had been nothing but a necessity to cleanse his body. But with Duo beneath the spray, hands covered in soap and sliding across his body, taking as much delight in touching as Wufei did in being touched, the entire event took a much more different meaning. He was not certain he could ever step foot in a stall without thinking of this again.

"Turn around," he ordered, reaching for the shampoo.

Duo did as he was told, sighing in contentment when Wufei's hands worked through his hair, lingering more than was necessary. Who would have thought he could get this much joy out of washing a rope of annoying human hair? Making his way up to the top, he began massaging Duo's scalp with gentle fingers, knowing that the other pilot had a slight headache from his emotional outburst, even though the American had said nothing. It was amazing how in tune he was with him, so that the slightest thing Duo did drew his attention.

"Hey, Wu," Duo said, his voice thick and lazy with desire, "do you think we could make a habit of this?"

"Do you need me to answer that?"

Duo laughed; a low, carefree sound that tugged Wufei's need of him higher.

Once the conditioner was used and washed out, Duo spun Wufei around and set to work on washing his hair. "I think I'd rather wash yours than mine. It's much shorter... It practically takes me all day to wash mine."

"Mm." Was all the other could manage, with those wonderfully nimble fingers of Duo's pressing in on his skin.

"And," Duo added, rinsing the shampoo out, "you don't even need conditioner. Lucky."

Wufei was about to shoot back a reply along the lines of Duo cutting his hair if it bothered him so much (though he would never truly mean it; he loved Duo's hair nearly as much as the American), when a slim arm snaked out and around his waist, pulling him against a slick, compact body. His words caught in his throat, lost somewhere in the trembling blast of air that escaped his lips instead.

Touching his mouth to the back of Wufei's neck, Duo drew a soft, slow line down it and across his shoulder, while hands slipped lower and sought out the heat of him.

"Duo!" Wufei bit out, when his knees threatened to buckle.

"Wufei... let me make love to you?"

Dark eyes swept shut as a shudder twisted through him. There was such a raw need in the other's voice, as if Duo was afraid he would be rejected.

"You..." he paused to gasp, "need me to answer that?"

On Duo's beautiful laughter, laughter that Wufei could not see how he ever lived without, he let the American pilot position him so that he could grasp on to the shower door and rail for support, and then let him love him, until they were both beyond coherent thought and reduced to mere puddles with the water swirling at their feet and down the drain.

+

Duo sat in the center of Wufei's bed in a mess of sheets, his towel barely covering his lap, let alone his gloriously long legs. His hair was positioned in a wild tangle in his lap, while he fought to draw the brush through it and make it to the end without creating new knots. It was a desperate battle, one that the hair was fast winning.

Wufei, his hair still damp and hanging free, was shrugging into a pair of pants, his bare feet cool against the warmth of the wood. It was going to be exceedingly hot today. Out of the corner of his eyes, he caught Duo's struggle, a smile tugging at his lips and amusement lurking in his eyes when the other threw his bare arms out helplessly and blurted out a rather nice expletive.

"Would you like help?"

His head snapped up and he glared. "No, it just looks like it!"

Wufei laughed, a full laugh, his head thrown back and his entire being put into the effort of it. Duo watched, transfixed and the brush fell from his fingers to hit his injured knee, sending off a fresh round of cursing from him and a fresh round of laughter from Wufei.

"I'm glad you find this so funny!" He snapped, when Wufei fell next to him, a small container in his hands.

"Oh hush, you big baby," Wufei answered, scooping out some of the cool creme to spread across Duo's knee.

It tingled at first, a cold sensation that made him want to cover his leg, before heat swept through him and he then wanted to wipe it off.

"It will pass," the Chinese pilot informed him impassively, reaching out to take the brush in his hand.

The American found it hard to concentrate on his burning knee when Wufei dragging the brush through his hair felt so much better. The boy did it like a pro too, as if he had spent his entire life brushing and braiding hair.

"Duo, why do you keep your hair in a braid?" Wufei surprised him by asking, as he began the process of braiding.

Duo hesitated, and then answered quietly, "It's a reminder. I've never cut it. Life has taken a lot from me, Wu, but it can't take my hair, not unless I let it. When I look at it, I remember all the beautiful things about life, and the reasons why I'm still alive. The braid... well Sister Helen did it. She tried to cut it when I first came, but I wouldn't let her. So she said it was neater this way. I keep it... because of that, and because it reminds me of her."

"Duo..." Wufei reached around him to hug the boy.

Duo leaned into him, closing his eyes, more grateful than he could ever say.

"Thanks, Wufei."

"Why?"

"For listening."

The Chinese pilot smiled, leaning down to press a kiss against the top of his head.

"Thank you for telling me."

"I've never shared these things with anyone else before," Duo told him seriously, as Wufei went back to braiding his hair.

Though his heart jumped and his hands shook, Wufei kept his voice steady. "I am glad."

Duo smiled, relaxing. "Yeah, me too."

They were both startled when there was a knock on the door.

"Shit! Scare ten years off my life..." The American bit out, pressing his hand to his bare chest.

Wufei rose fluidly, and with a grace Duo had yet to cease admiring, and padded across the floor. "Stay there. I will get it."

The Nataku pilot was even more stunned at who he found standing on the other side.

In his usual bland green tank top and black spandex, Heero Yuy stood, arms folded, and expression intense as he stared back at Wufei. More than a little put off guard at having been caught with his hair down and in nothing more than pants, Wufei returned the stare with equal acerbity. While Duo might have seen it differently, Heero saw only annoyance and cold arrogance in the Chinese pilot's face.

"What do you want?" Wufei demanded, and behind him, Duo rolled his eyes.

Wufei was such a gracious person.

"Where is Duo? His things are not in our room."

Wufei blinked, his stomach tightening at the way Heero said 'our'.

Turning, so that the door was still blocking his view, Wufei looked to Duo, who made a face at him and motioned for him to open the door. While Wufei was an intensely private person, Duo had no problems with letting the entire world know that he and Wufei were together. Which meant, starting with Heero Yuy, who he had once shared a room with, and once had feelings for.

Reluctantly, Wufei stepped aside and pulled the door completely open, giving Heero a clear view of Duo sitting on his bed, his partially braided hair trapped between his fingers, and wearing nothing but a towel.

Duo waved. "Hey Heero, how'd the mission go?"

Heero said nothing, only stared.

Tension leaving him feeling as pliant as stone, Wufei watched as Heero slowly turned his gaze back to him, prussian blue eyes burning into his face, before he spun on his heel and walked away.

"Well, that went well, don't you think?" Duo piped up cheerfully, earning a glare from Wufei as the latter slammed the door.

Deciding that it was time a few more things were addressed, Wufei crossed the floor, slapped himself next to Duo, and grabbed the braid from his hands, finishing the job he had started before he spoke.

"Duo, whether you know it or not, Heero does... or did care for you."

Sharp blue eyes focused on him. "Wufei..."

Wufei expelled a forceful breath, finding it did nothing to ease the tightness in his chest.

"He did, Duo."

Duo sighed, reaching out to slip his hand into Wufei's.

"Heero may have cared for me," he tilted his head back so that he could look at Wufei, "but you love me. And you show it."

"Duo..."

"And I love you. So we're even," he added, grinning to ease the seriousness from the situation.

"Yes, I love you..." Wufei agreed, sliding his arms around Duo and pressing his cheek against his hair.

And that made all the difference.

~owari


[part 8] [back to Singles a - k]