Author: June
see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Through the Furnace, Unshrinking + Part 16
Dick: The Heist


16. Wufei


I might be wrong
I might be wrong
I could've sworn I saw a light coming on
I used to think
I used to think
There was no future left at all
I used to think

- "I Might Be Wrong" Radiohead

"I still don't quite understand why I'm the one who's going on this particular adventure, Maxwell." Wufei adjusted his knit hat, pushing it further back on his forehead. He scowled over at the young man sitting next to him on the park bench. But his friend didn't appear to want to answer his question. "Why not take Yuy? He's your usual partner in crime. He'd be glad to do it, I'm sure."

Duo glanced over at the grumpy dragon, then straight ahead. "Does it matter? I asked you. I didn't think you'd mind." Wufei sucked in a breath, about to retort, but he could see Duo wasn't joking and he realized any snotty remark he made would add nothing to the mood. The simple truth was that he felt uneasy. Ever since Duo had come to his room that night several weeks ago, things had been different... awkward and tentative, exciting. Wufei hid an involuntary smile at the memory of the small, uncertain, intimate and intensely private looks Duo gave him when no one was looking, when they had just a few seconds of privacy. He held those seconds close to his chest, the only evidence he had of late that his life had deviated at all from the routine of 'wake up, go through morning stretches, run, eat, work, meditate, eat, work more, go to sleep.' Some days he went through his forms instead of running, but, really, his days were much the same... except for this new tension with Duo.

"It'll be easy, Wu," Duo continued, jerking him out of his thoughts. "All you have to do is cover my back. I'll do all the hard work."

Wufei snorted. "Right. I know theft has always been very difficult for you."

Duo rolled his eyes and turned to his friend in a huff. "The theft itself will be difficult. Grabbing an extremely expensive violin out of the bedroom of the Winner's supposedly MIA heir won't be easy, especially with the kind of security I'm sure they have. But you're right, I have no moral or ethical compunction about stealing from these people."

"I'd never presume that you would, Maxwell," Wufei sniffed. "Morality and ethics have never been your strong suit."

"And consistency has never been yours, Mr. I-hate-my-life-until-I-meet-charming-sex-god-Duo-Maxwell-and-suddenly-have- an-epiphany-at-which-time-I-embrace-my-sexuality-and-try-to-glean-some-plea sure-from-my-formerly-miserable-existence." Duo looked smug.

"That's not what happened."

"It is, too."

"It's not."

"It is, but my point is even though you, with your infinitely complicated and befuddling sense of justice, may not think that I have a sense of what's right and wrong, but you'd be wrong." Wufei folded his arms across his chest and waited, eyebrows raised. "Breaking into and stealing from the Winners is a totally acceptable action because they wronged their son. And besides that, they have more property than the law should allow. Some of it needs to be redistributed."

"Commie."

"Bourgeois pig." Duo flashed a wicked and playful grin. "And anyway, the violin was Quatre's to begin with. Trowa told me he missed playing it. And besides that..." He paused dramatically. "Remember that drawing of Trowa playing the accordion?" Wufei nodded, curious in spite of himself. "Do I even need to tell you how good it would be for the two of them to play together?"

Wufei caved. "No, you don't," he grumbled. "But what happened to finding Dick Craven and ripping his balls off? I liked that plan. That plan made sense."

Duo huffed a sigh. "Dick disappeared. Q and I snooped around the work address on the card and we think it's a fake. We've been looking elsewhere but we shouldn't draw attention to that fact. He and I agreed to put Dick's castration on hold for awhile." He turned to Wufei. "But I had to do something to get Q to feel better. He's been real down."

Wufei looked down at his hands. "I know."

"But anyway," Duo chirped, enthusiasm back with alarming speed, "now the two of us get to have an adventure!" And with that reassuring statement, Duo rose from the bench and marched across the street to the gates of the Winner estate.

Wufei looked up at his partner's back and shook his head. "Alright, Duo, but let's keep this quick."

Duo smirked. "Don't worry, Wu. I don't want to hang around that den of iniquity any more than you do. In and out; that's the plan."

+

"In and out, right?" Wufei hissed. "Do you remember the 'in an out' part?"

"Yes, I remember," Duo whispered back. "Just let me think for a minute."

They were lost -- had been for almost an hour -- wandering in search of Quatre's room.

Much to their surprise, when they'd arrived at the gated driveway, they'd seen groups of varying sizes crisscrossing the grounds, examining out-buildings, gardens, pools, and ornate playgrounds. Duo's jaw had dropped down to his knees. "You're kidding," Wufei had muttered. "They give tours?" Duo, struck dumb by the size of it all, had only nodded, making no attempt to hide his astonishment. Neither of them had ever seen wealth of that magnitude, but Duo, who'd never even been close to leaving the poverty line behind, couldn't seem to get his brain around the amount of money the Winners possessed. "Shit," was all he could muster.

It had been no trouble latching onto a tour group and just walking inside the mansion. Duo had been embarrassed at how easy it was. But they both saw the cameras hanging in almost every corner. Wufei was sure that someone had noticed two young men join up with one of the larger groups. As they'd walked through seemingly endless hallways, not really listening to the drone of their guide's voice, they'd both been struck by the enormity of their task.

"We can't very well ask where their MIA son keeps his prized possessions, now can we?" Duo had hissed when Wufei asked how they would find Quatre's room. "Give it time, Wu. Stick to the group. Don't look suspicious. When the time's right, we sneak off on our own. I doubt the bedrooms are all in one wing, but they're probably on the same side anyway. We find one bedroom; it shouldn't take too long to find the rest."

Or so he'd said. Almost an hour ago.

"This is not going well," Wufei said again.

"You want me to stop and ask for directions, honey?" Duo ground out sarcastically.

"No."

"Then just be quiet. How was I supposed to know they designed the house by interest? Talk about spoiled -- they get to live inside their own hobbies. Playrooms the size of France, greenhouses that contain entire geographic regions, entertainment centers that need their own zip code... it's absurd." They came to an intersection and glanced up at the security camera. "And no privacy. Christ, I couldn't stand it. Boss did Q a favor getting him out of this zoo."

"Why doesn't anyone come for us? They must see us on those cameras."

Duo shrugged. "Probably waiting for us to prove we're more than tourists, to see if we try to steal an heirloom or something."

"I've changed my mind. Let's ask for directions. All we have to do is ask where the music wing is, right? That's logically where his stuff would be."

"I know I can find it," Duo gritted stubbornly.

+

Finally, when Wufei began to wish for a flare gun and emergency rations, he heard the soft notes of a flute drifting on the well-circulated air currents of the mansion. Both their heads snapped up and they glanced around like hounds on a scent. Duo caught Wufei's eye and then took off down the hallway towards the gentle strains of music. After a few wrong turns and more mumbled curses, they stumbled upon an enormous conservatory. A large group of onlookers stood inside as the guide skillfully demonstrated the quality of the instruments the Winners possessed. The two young men stood in the back, scanning the walls in awe. Guitars, violins, cellos, flutes, clarinets, trumpets, drums, several pianos... it went on and on.

The guide explained "young Master Winner's" love of music. His parents had bought him the best instruments money could find, but he truly loved his old violin. Which was not on display. It awaited his return in his bedroom. In fact this entire wing was devoted to Quatre. It was kept the way he kept it. It was a constant reminder of his absence. It was constant incentive to keep up the search for the missing heir. Wufei wanted to puke and Duo looked like he was having a hard time hiding a sneer of contempt.

The dragon jumped when Duo grabbed his hand. "Let's go. The violin's in his room.." Duo's voice was soft in his ear as the group began to file out of the cavernous room. The two friends fell to the back of the line and then slipped inside the first door they came upon. Duo still held onto Wufei's hand, tugging him along and then softly shutting the door behind them. Wufei pulled his hand free, fiercely ignoring the flush that slight contact ignited.

This thing with Duo was spinning out of control in his own head. He felt it escalating all the time even though Duo had made no overt move since they'd... since Duo had come to him, flushed from the cold, flushed with need. He just... was more and more familiar, closer... and more serious. He saw less of the joker, more of the devoted friend, the survivor and the fighter. Now, as they searched the room, confident that it was Quatre's, Wufei felt certain that things were changing between them, and he liked that change. He just wasn't sure of the consequences of their actions -- how it would affect the balance the five of them had achieved. Specifically what it would mean if Heero found out about it. It'd taken months for Wufei to determine that Duo and Heero were not and had never been together, but their bond was intense and Wufei knew Heero would want to know if... some sort of relationship developed, if... But did Wufei want something to happen with Duo? What would that mean for their jobs? How would he and Duo negotiate a relationship when every day they had to be with other-

"Well this is definitely Q's room," Duo smirked. Wufei jerked himself out of his useless speculation and looked up from his examination of the boy's bookshelves. Duo knelt in front of an old skateboard leaning against the wall, long fingers running over the worn deck. In his other hand, Duo held up a handful of magazines. Wufei squinted in an effort to see the covers. Then, blushing on Quatre's behalf he turned back to his scrutiny of the bookshelf, even though the violin was clearly not there. "Nudie magazines!" Duo crowed before flopping on the bed to leaf through them. Wufei turned back to his friend, voice hushed but urgent.

"Duo... violin? Someone must have seen us come in here. Security could be here any second. Put those down!"

Grinning evilly, the young man opened one and disappeared behind it. Scowling, Wufei turned away and headed for the closet door.

Less of the joker. Right.

Pulling it open, his mouth dropped open in shock. Rows and rows of clothes disappeared into the recesses of the gigantic closet. "Good grief," he muttered stepping inside. He pushed his way through the hangers of sweaters and button-down shirts, into the t-shirts. The light faded behind him until he stood in darkness, surrounded by a cotton jungle. Again he felt the need for a flare and emergency rations.

He stifled a shout of surprise when Duo careened into him from behind, nearly knocking him to the floor. He heard the closet door shut just as the bedroom door opened. His eyes widened and he tensed for flight in the instinctual gut response to being cornered, but then he scowled as he wrestled Duo off him.

"Were you seen?" he hissed. Duo's large hand covered his mouth as they stumbled to the back of the closet. They hit the wall and slid to the floor, pulling the racks of clothes together in front of them. Wufei felt stifled and smothered in cloth and his lungs fought for breath, the rest of him fighting off panic. He pulled Duo's hand away and sucked a quick gasp of air, eyes wide, searching for any light in the pitch darkness. Gradually his senses adjusted and he could begin to make out shapes. He heard Duo's hushed breathing as well as the shuffling movements of the person in Quatre's room.

"Security?" he whispered, his voice deadened by the wall of fabric in front of him. He felt Duo shrug, a raising and lowering of lean shoulders. They waited for several minutes, ears straining for any sound from outside, silence heavy. They both jumped when a vacuum roared to life, drowning out all other sounds. Wufei sagged in relief and resolutely set off in search of the violin in the recesses of the closet. Duo muttered something inaudible and headed off in the opposite direction. The vacuuming continued as they felt around the carpeted floor for the instrument case.

Finally, Wufei's fingers ran into a hard rectangular shape covered in canvas. Searching blindly, he ran his hands along the sides, smirking in satisfaction as he discovered straps and metal clasps. He flipped open the case and gently felt inside, fingertips encountering four strings, a delicate wooden body and a slim neck. He felt around some more and found the bow strapped into the top.

"Psst!" he hissed. "Duo, I found it." He heard the rustle of clothing and the creaking of hangers and then a rope of hair landed in his lap as Duo bent over the instrument, fingers feeling out the contours of the wood and strings.

"Nice work, Wu," he whispered directly in his ear. Wufei jumped, startled at his friend's proximity.

"Let's get out of here," he whispered back.

"Can't. Not til the help is done tidying up. Looks like we're stuck for the moment." Their hands gently brushed together as they both closed the case. Now that they had what they came for, Wufei breathed deeply and allowed himself to relax slightly. He sat back against the wall, holding in a flinch when Duo sat next to him, body flush with his. This wasn't the time for... They should be thinking of an escape plan.

But all thoughts of that nature fled his mind in one swift exodus when Duo's hand found his where it lay in his lap. Long fingers squeezed his and he sucked in a breath. "Duo..."

"Thank you for helping me," came the quick interruption.

He hesitated. "You're welcome."

A few moments of droning vacuum filled the silence between them, Wufei utterly at a loss as to how to proceed. He didn't remove his hand from Duo's grip, but he didn't squeeze back. "Um..."

"Wufei?"

He held his breath.

"Can I kiss you again?"

The voice was barely audible, but it cut right through any protests he had ready. "Why?" was all he could manage.

Duo laughed quietly, a warm puff of air on his cheek. "Because I want to."

Wufei turned to face him, frowning. "That's not a-"

"Do you not want me to kiss you?" Duo's voice sounded amused but Wufei heard the vulnerability in that question and his brain flashed through images of Duo's tentative smile, his hesitant touches. This was not the savvy hustler who took everything in his long easy stride; this was his best friend stumbling through a delicate negotiation of space and intent.

"I- this isn't really the time or place for..." But his mind was already made up as he leaned forward in search of Duo's lips. It was the smallest of touches, chaste and unsure. And like all their previous kisses, his heart thudded in his ears and his fingers trembled a bit as they carefully traced the line of Duo's jaw. Duo's hands came up, stilling them with a calm touch. His lips touched Wufei's again, an open-mouthed kiss. Duo's hand slid down the dragon's chest, resting at his belt. With a sudden, graceful shift, Wufei found Duo, as before, in his lap, knees on either side of this hips, arms around his neck, mouth laying soft kisses on his forehead, eyelids and cheeks. "I would feel better if you had a reason for wanting to do this," Wufei whispered, hands sliding up underneath Duo's sweatshirt. "Again. And under these circumstances."

Duo chuckled low in his throat. "This is the first time I've had you alone in weeks. But I'll think of a better reason than that at some point; I promise."

"Okay."

They kissed again, tongues touching lips and teeth. Wufei pulled his hands away from Duo's ribs and again sought his face, fingers running along a sharp jaw covered in stubble.

"I wish I could see your face," he whispered, wondering at his own admission. The darkness was making him fearless.

"No you don't," Duo laughed. "I'm all sweaty and dusty."

'Even better,' Wufei thought.

"The maid doesn't ever clean back here."

"Fortunately," Wufei murmured.

Duo's thumbs pressed against his temples, massaging lightly. "And you see me face all the time, Wu. We do live together."

"Not this close, not touching like this. I want to see you." Wufei surprised himself with these words. They brought memories of Duo pressed close against him, asking him to... wanting to watch him... He flushed and ducked his head, resting it against Duo's chest.

They both looked up in the same instant, the intimate moment temporarily pushed aside, ears tuned to the sounds outside. Wufei could hear one female voice and two male.

"Not just the maid," Duo whispered. "Security?"

"It's a safe bet. Someone must have seen us come in here." Duo remained silent for another moment before slipping off Wufei's lap. He heard the sound of nylon sliding against cloth. "You've got the violin?" he asked.

"Yup. Let's hope it's a well-padded case."

Nodding to himself, Wufei calmly tried to think of an escape plan. But before he got very far, "I'm totally snagging that skateboard for Quatre. You disarm the guards; I'll make a run for it and we'll meet up at the train." Wufei shook his head.

"This place is a maze. What if one of us gets caught?"

He could hear the smirk in Duo's voice. "We won't."

"But-"

Light flooded the closet as the door swung open and clothes were ripped off hangers. Harsh voices shouted. "Come out of there with your hands where we can see them."

Wufei felt his mouth twisting into a snarl of excitement. Battle. "Be nice, Wu," Duo murmured half a second before the dragon sprang from where he was crouched on the floor. Without a sound he pounced on the security officers. Duo emerged from the closet a moment later, a lithe streak of black that snatched up the board leaning against the wall and then disappeared around the corner, even as the maid shrieked and pointed after him. But the men were in no shape to give chase. Hands moving with deadly efficiency, Wufei dropped one guard with a blow to the temple. The other, he flipped neatly onto his back, pressing a point on his neck until the man lost consciousness. He grabbed both guns from limp fingers and then yanked the chargers from their belts.

Down, head down, he told himself. Damn, where are the stairs? Exit signs? He hoped Duo had made it out alright, but if there was anyone who could extricate himself from a sticky situation, it was that braided loony. Ah... fire escape. He slammed through the door and leapt down the metal steps before he heard the alarm sounding from inside. Great. And waiting at the bottom of the escape were seven more security guards, on their smoke break by the looks of it. They'd barely reached for their weapons before they found an armed dragon in their midst, feral grin turning up the corners of his mouth.

+

Quatre sat staring at his battered old violin, a blank expression keeping his fine features still. The case had suffered a few knocks, but the instrument was in tact. Duo leaned against the wall, chewing on his lips, trying to hide his eagerness and the natural high he experienced after a good heist. Wufei held some ice to his left cheek bone, not trying at all to conceal his annoyance that one of the officers had socked him in the eye when he'd been down on the ground. Well, there had been seven of them. And they were all unconscious now.

Quatre reached tentative fingers toward the neck of his violin, touching the strings with a feather-light caress. He picked it up and turned it over in his hands, stroking the wood grain and gently plucking a few notes. He slowly let out his breath and brought the instrument up to rest between his chin and shoulder. His stitched mouth, the cut finally beginning to heal, pulled downward in a frown of concentration as he ran the bow over the strings. The sound sent chills up their spines. Wufei watched his flat-mates instinctively try to cover up their reactions, but he still caught Heero's widened eyes, Trowa's faint smile, and Duo's violet eyes disappearing behind trembling lids. And Wufei felt the music too. It made his chest ache just a little. When Quatre coaxed the high string into a piercing, mournful wail, the ice nearly slipped from his fingers. Abruptly, Quatre stopped playing, carefully placing the instrument back in its case. He looked up at his friends and Wufei saw tears running down his cheeks.

[part 15] [part 17] [back to Singles a-k]