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

Through the Furnace, Unshrinking + Part 26
Escape I

26a. Quatre

So Tonight,
A drink to the last of us
Raise a glass
To all our friends
A toast to the knives
The knives in our hands
Here's where it ends

- Idatel "The Well"

He rubbed his eyes sleepily and took a large swallow of his coffee, blinking at his flat mates as they clustered together in their cluttered living room, talking softly and excitedly. It was about three in the morning and Quatre had not been expecting the brisk shake of his shoulders that had roused him from sleep. He hadn't expected Trowa's somber green eyes so close to his, or the whispered, "It's started."

He sat in the armchair, legs drawn up to his chest, coffee resting on one knee. He watched as Trowa carefully stitched up the gash on Heero's cheek, one more scar to mark dark skin. The dark-haired hustler did not flinch as the needle pierced his skin, but kept his eyes hooded, relaying the events of the evening. Duo sat beside him, nearly vibrating with nerves. Quatre didn't think the large mug of coffee resting on the table was really necessary for him. Wufei sat at the far end of the couch, clutching a cup of tea to his chest with one hand, resting his head in the other. He massaged his temples and swallowed convulsively. He didn't look particularly pleased to be there on the couch. He glanced at the front door every few minutes.

Quatre didn't want to hear the details of his two friends' evening any more than Wufei wanted Heero to tell them. But he had to admit, it was an exciting tale, one filled with loud music, tight costumes, villainous clients and heroic deeds. If he had been about a year younger and hadn't known any of the four young men around him, he might have liked to have seen it from a safe distance.

Judging by Wufei's pained expression, the things they had done were not heroic or righteous. The slightly older and definitely wiser Quatre knew that tonight had been grisly and unspeakably dangerous. He was willing to bet the sex was pretty amazing, however, judging again by Wufei's fierce blush as Heero gave a brief, perfunctory rundown of that part of the evening. Quatre's scarred mouth twisted in a small smile as Duo pumped Heero for details that, with a quick glance at Wufei squirming at the other end of the couch, he refused to give.

He looked around their small flat and sighed into his mug. The floor was littered with cloths, books, scraps of art, and CDs, all of it Duo's. By the time Trowa had awoken him, Heero, Duo and Wufei had their emergency duffel bags waiting in the living room. They had the fake IDs, passports, and Visas they'd made arrangements for months ago. They had their switchblades and a few other choice weapons. Heero even had his gun - much as he disliked it. They had sleeping bags and a change of clothes. They were all ready to go, except Duo appeared to be having a crisis about the rest of his stuff.

"But, Heero, I've never had stuff before. All my books and music..."

"It's replaceable. You can't take it with you."

His attention returned to the conversation swirling around him when he realized that they'd actually begun to discuss what they would all do now that six men were dead, two by Heero's hand - now that Heero had finally decided that he and Trowa would make their move.

"Wufei and I need to leave immediately. We're only endangering our lives and yours by staying here. Duo will come with us." There was no question about this. Even though Duo hadn't been on the job, even though he'd done nothing to warrant running away, he would not be left behind. Quatre thought that it would probably be safer for him if he stayed. Or he did until Heero spoke again. "Even though he wasn't involved tonight, Gael would use him to bring us back here." He didn't look at Duo as he spoke these words. "Gael has never liked Duo, and without me or Chang here, he would-" His throat closed on that sentence. And the subject was dropped. Duo would be going with Heero and Wufei.

"We'll hide out until the worst of the commotion dies down. That's where both of you come in." Quatre met Heero's dark eyes and kept his expression blank. "You both should make every effort to sever ties with us. Establish distance between us so that Gael doesn't question you too closely. We're not telling you where we'll be so you couldn't tell him even if you wanted to. But learn all you can about Gael's search efforts for us, specifically who he goes to in the police department. Who is he relying on to find us? I've already chosen a contact at the station; she seems clean, but I've got to be sure that when we go public with everything we've gathered that it will actually see the light of day and that we won't end up dead." That could have been the most Quatre had heard Heero ever say in one go. "Will you do this?"

Trowa nodded immediately. This was old hat for him. He'd been hip deep in Gael's business for months now. Quatre felt a thrill of fear go through him. He glanced at his best friend and swallowed hard. Trowa had been guarded and reticent around Quatre since they'd found out about his illness and its cause. And for the most part, Quatre had been grateful for the space. When he'd started working his new job, he hadn't wanted Trowa hovering and questioning him about his safety and his health and when was he going to start treatment and did he need any help planning any of his jobs and- But Trowa hadn't said any of those things or offered any help. He'd backed off as soon as Quatre had shoved him away that first night he'd come home. But he'd not vanished. He appeared and disappeared like some apparition, by Quatre's side when loneliness and exhaustion and fear crept into the boy's heart and body; gone when he turned to look for him. They still played music together, still went for long runs through the park. Trowa stressed the need for Quatre to maintain his physical health as well as his nutrition, so the Frenchman often cooked for Quatre, though they did not often eat together. He was there and he was not. Quatre was comforted by his elusive presence. And he did not ask for more; he didn't think he could handle it, not until they escaped Gael's Family and ran some place safe, away from the violence of his new job, away from the danger of Trowa's. When he could rest and go in for treatment and recover his health and Trowa could be free from the Family and his obligations to Heero's escape plan, then perhaps they could pick up where they left off. And that had been a good place, he remembered with a small smile. A chilly bedroom and a warm body beneath him, shuddering and gasping his name as they hastily touched each other. His smile got a little bigger at the memory of-

He looked up sharply when he realized four sets of eyes were watching him, waiting for his answer. "What was the question?" he asked fuzzily. Duo snorted and Wufei rolled his eyes. Heero smirked and repeated himself. "Will you help us by helping Trowa find out who Gael relies on within the-"

"Oh, right." He shook his head quickly to clear it. "Of course. But, Heero, how long do you think we'll need to hang around while you three hide out?"

"No more than a week. Probably less. You'll be given plenty of warning."

"And we're just supposed to act normal?"

Heero hesitated, sensing something in Quatre's tone that made him uneasy. "As normal as possible. I really don't think you want Gael sniffing around here too much. And you don't want him interrogating you."

"Certainly not," Quatre replied calmly. "It's just that I have a job this week. I have to find this girl, who apparently looks a lot like me, who does what I do for some other boss in this town, and who either needs to be brought to Gael for god knows what reason or killed if she won't go." Silence hung heavily for a moment. "So that's what I have to do on Wednesday while you three are on vacation." Wufei raised an eyebrow and suddenly looked a whole lot more interested in the conversation. Duo chewed nervously on his lower lip; Trowa looked down at his hands and Heero's face hardened into a mask of determination. "I'd appreciate it if Trowa and I could be out of here sooner rather than later, for my sake and for this girl who I'd really rather not murder."

"Quatre, I'll do my best, but I just think that-"

"Hsst!" All eyes turned to Wufei, who had his head tilted to the side, eyes closed in concentration. When he opened them, Quatre felt the hair on his arms stand up. "They're coming. I can hear them."


26b. Wufei


London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared - and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls
London calling, now don't look to us
Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain't got no swing
'Cept for the reign of that truncheon thing

The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
Cause London is burning and I, I live by the river

- The Clash

Since he'd positioned himself closest to the door, he heard it first - the heavy tread of booted feet attempting to be silent, cursing the fact that there was no elevator in the building and that they had to get to the sixth floor on foot. He stood abruptly, glad to interrupt the escalating tension between Heero and Quatre. "We have to go now," he said firmly. They all looked up at him, startled, until Heero quickly rose to his feet. Duo glanced around the room at the familiar lines of their home and at his belongings strewn about the floor.

"Now? Already?"

Wufei stepped into his shoes and quickly tied the laces. "Yes. We have maybe twenty seconds."

Heero tossed his bag over his shoulder and pulled a thick cap over his wild hair. "Let's go, Duo."

Quatre and Trowa were on their feet, looking like they wanted to run, too. Wufei didn't blame them. Duo stood up. "But I'm not ready. I mean - is this really it? We're never coming back-"

"Come on, Duo," they both growled, grabbing him by the arms and lifting him over the back of the couch.

Duo sputtered in protest but quickly got his feet under him and then shook off the hands dragging him toward his bag and then the fire escape. "I can walk," he snapped.

"Then do it," they both said, their voices again in sync. Heero cast a sidelong glance at Wufei, but the dragon kept his expression blank. Wufei quickly returned his gaze to Duo as his lover shrugged into his lined hooded sweatshirt, leaving the braid inside. He then pulled a cap over his hair and fingerless gloves over his hands. He bent down to pick up the skateboard Heero had found for him.

"Duo, n-"

"Save it, Heero," he said lightly. "I'm not leaving it."

Quatre suddenly took two quick steps toward the door, throwing dagger in hand. "Would you three go already?" They could all hear footsteps now and a heavy sense of impending violence fell on Wufei's heart. After what he'd witnessed a few short hours ago, the thought of another fight didn't arouse much enthusiasm. Quatre turned to look at them, blue eyes bright. "Go!" he hissed.

Heero nodded quickly. "Stall them for as long as you can." Then they filed silently into the kitchen. Wufei threw open the window out to the fire escape and stepped through onto the cold metal stairway. Immediately buffeted about by harsh winter wind, he ducked low and went down a few steps clinging to the rail. He watched as Duo and then Heero climbed out after him, Heero shutting the window behind them both, just as they heard Quatre let in the men pounding at the door. Almost immediately they heard voices in their home, Trowa and Quatre's rising to meet them, indignant and annoyed.

"So glad you're here... they all ran out of here hours ago... in such a rush... no they didn't say where they were going... I hope you find them... honestly, they've been like strangers lately... we haven't had much to do with..."

They huddled together in the shadows for a few moments, getting their bearings and scanning the streets below them, half-listening to the heated conversation inside the flat. Duo took hold of Wufei's arm and squeezed once, his eyes wide with excitement. Wufei offered a small smile in return, mindful of the sharp words they'd exchanged earlier, but also caught up in the rush of near- freedom. They were so close.

"Down. Now," Heero whispered.

The soft rubber soles of their shoes made very little sound as they descended, though Wufei had to look up every few steps to assure himself that Duo was still there, because his feet made no sound at all. Above them, their kitchen window slammed open and voices shouted. "Search the roof! They may be hiding up there." The three hustlers froze as eight men emerged onto the fire escape and began to climb upward. Pressing themselves into the shadows, they held their breath and waited. Wufei found Duo's arm stretched protectively across his chest, holding him back and keeping him still. He succeeded in not being annoyed by this only because, as he looked down, he saw the streets teaming with Muscle and his heart thudded to a halt. He nudged Duo with an elbow in his ribs and the two looked down, then back up at each other. Wufei's brow creased with worry and Duo gave him a small nervous smile that the dragon took to mean many things rolled into one, mainly, "We're going to have to fight our way out of this one, aren't we; please don't die doing it - I'd be very upset; I'm glad we're here together, even if 'here' means doing this," and finally, "Make sure you save some for me." Duo's shadowy violet eyes were lit up with anticipation as they turned upward to meet Heero's gaze. Wufei thought he saw a similar look pass between them. Then Heero reached around Duo and shoved Wufei's arm downward, jerking his chin toward the street.

"Go," he mouthed.

Wufei swallowed and nodded, vaulting over the railing and drawing his sword in one smooth motion. He landed silently, knees bending to absorb the impact. He knew Duo and Heero were behind him because suddenly the men leaning against their cars as well as those patrolling the rest of the city block froze, looking at him in surprise, but also behind him. Many began to approach, slowly and carefully, gazes darting between his sword and his eyes.

"Hey, the Boss only wants to talk to you. We're not looking for a fight."

In spite of his exhaustion and the fact that he'd already witnessed plenty of violence that night, Wufei felt his senses ignite with the promise of more. He felt Heero's breath in his ear. "Head to the south. We'll meet up Downtown."

He nodded once and took off running.

+

Dodge back, spin, half a step forward, thrust, turn, thrust, block. Wufei let his years of training take over as he fought off the men who'd surrounded him. His blood sang in his veins and his limbs hummed as he cut his way free, sword flickering in the dim light of the street lamps. His body knew this fight even if his mind was still screaming at him that he was heavily outnumbered, that while he knew how to fight, he'd only really ever sparred before. Only once had he fought with lethal intent, when he'd been defending Meiran's honor. Even the massacre earlier that night had not really been his fight. He'd been pinned for most of it. Heero'd done the dirty work. Wufei was a fighter, but not a killer.

At least that's what his brain was trying to get him to believe. But his body and his heart knew this fight and so he let his muscles guide him.

He spun again, blocking a heavy blow on his forearm. His bones groaned, the limb going numb, and he took a step back under the force of it. Sensing another's approach, he kicked out behind him and felt his foot connect with an attacker's gut.

He went down under a large man, skillfully tackled to the ground, but the Muscle never stood a chance as Wufei flicked open his switchblade, burying it in his throat and ripping outward. But now he was on the ground and the remaining bodyguards took advantage of the opening. He kicked and snarled and bit and then suddenly stilled as he heard the unmistakable sound of a skateboard running over the cracks in the sidewalk. He grinned lopsidedly around a split lip as the men clutching his sweatshirt were scattered by a lithe body shooting through their midst. Wufei ducked as Duo shot overhead. His lover landed a few paces away and then turned back, kicking his board up into his hand and using it like a cricket bat, knocking aside two more of Wufei's assailants. He was grinning like a fool and Wufei found himself mirroring his expression. He flipped back to his feet, and sliding his sword back into its scabbard, he went after the remaining men, foot scything out in a vicious arc, snapping one man's head to the side. His fist closed and he backhanded another. Then he watched in surprised admiration as Duo -- using the Japanese short sword that he'd only ever seen out of its scabbard once or twice for polishing -- attacked with frightening speed. His blade gleamed as he dodged between the two remaining men, his body seeming to flicker in and out of existence as he ran circles around their attackers, moving faster than they could see. They were on the ground in seconds, bleeding or unconscious, but not critically wounded.

Duo grabbed his arm and dragged him down the street. "Come on, lover," he said a bit breathlessly. "We've gotta meet Ro Downtown."

"Where did you learn to use that sword? I've only ever seen you-"

"Polish it?"

"Right."

They started running with long easy strides, as though they were taking a jog along their usual route. "Well, Wu, sometimes it pays to sleep around."

"You had sex with someone in exchange for lessons?"

Duo shoved his shoulder and he almost stumbled. When he met Duo's eyes, he met a mask of forced humor. "Hooker, hello?" Then Duo lengthened his stride and pulled ahead of him.

Head still ringing, blood still pumping furiously, Wufei ran, brain coldly tallying his body count. At least five. Perhaps more. He heard hesitant footsteps behind them and he turned to see a few of Gael's muscle pursuing them, holding various injured body parts as they went. "We have to get off this street," Wufei gasped out just as Duo jerked him to the right, down an alley.

Wufei's lungs burned in the frozen air and he was pretty much numb from the waist down, but they ran until he saw the scattered lights of Downtown spread out before him. It was a maze of abandoned warehouses and office buildings, many with broken windows, many housing dozens of homeless kids. Windows flickered with dim light, probably barrel fires. Wufei shivered and glanced sidelong at his companion. Duo took in a deep breath and turned a cruel grin on him. "Welcome home, Wu. Ro and I'll give you the tour tomorrow, but you won't see the old factory he and I grew up in 'cause it's a pile of rubble over there." He gestured vaguely toward an inky space of darkness to the east.

Wufei found himself nodding, feet rooted to the sidewalk. How could they have lived here for years on end? How could they possibly have survived? "You... really grew up here?" he said softly.

Duo, now halfway across the street, turned back and swept his arm wide, encompassing all of Downtown. "You want real freedom? This is where you go." His face was twisted in that ugly grin again. "Freedom to live how you want, freedom to die without anyone giving a shit." Wufei rarely saw this side of Duo, his darkness as well as his unflinching acceptance of all that he'd been through in his short lifetime. He started forward, needing to stand by Duo in his memories, to meet them head-on.

He saw the car the same time Duo did, the moment its headlights cast the braided hustler in blinding white, lighting up his dark clothing and making his pale skin glow.

"Du-"

The car hit him, tossing him up onto the hood, before Wufei could shout his useless warning,. The skateboard flew into the air and skittered loudly on the sidewalk. Wufei stood frozen as Duo rolled up against the windshield and then slid off onto the pavement, body limp, voice silent. He heard a hoarse shout behind him and turned in a daze to see Heero running toward them, eyes wide in fear. Swallowing thickly, he turned back to the accident scene. The car was black and, stepping out of it were four men. They picked Duo up off the pavement and moved to put him in the back seat. Wufei couldn't understand why they would want to do that. They should call an ambulance, not put him in the-

"Chang! What are you- Don't let them take him!" Heero's panicked words jerked him out of his daze and he felt the numbness spreading outward from his chest vanish. His sword came free from its scabbard in one swift motion and he stepped off the curb. One of the men spotted him and came forward, raising a gun.

"Come quietly, Chang. We'll patch him up. He's just unconscious. Just put away that sword and come with us."

Wufei's lip curled and he answered the man's request, ducking low and then surging upward, blade glinting red in the dim light. The gun flew from dead fingers and air rattled noisily through exposed vocal chords. Wufei didn't pause as the man fell. He leapt onto the hood of the car and then somersaulted off, blade slicing through the next man. The third managed to fire a shot and Wufei's sword arm suddenly burned. Switching his blade to his left hand, he shoved his elbow into the man's gut, then quickly drove upward, breaking his nose. The man fell backwards and Wufei mechanically finished him off, his brain filled with static. He looked up in time to see Heero taking out the last man, kicking out his knees, blocking an elbow aimed at his middle, then drawing his serrated blade quickly across the man's throat.

They pulled Duo from the car without a word to each other. Heero cradled his best friend's head in his lap while Wufei felt for broken bones. Miraculously there were none. There wasn't even any blood. "I- don't think he's hurt, Heero. But his back... I can't tell." He leaned in close and touched his lover's face, smoothing hair and street dirt from his skin. He felt soft breath on his hand when he held it over the young man's mouth. He pulled open Duo's eyelids and found that the street lamp above them caused the pupil to dilate like it should. "We probably shouldn't move him." Heero grunted, dark eyes never leaving Duo's face. "But we can't stay here. We just killed four people." They glanced up when sirens started up in the distance. "People do live here," Wufei said, mostly to himself, looking up at the dark buildings surrounding them. Even though the neighborhood was on the edge of Downtown, families still lived there. "Someone must have called the police."

He looked down to see Heero vigorously rubbing Duo's cold hands, then gently slapping his cheek. He called his best friend's name softly, begging him to wake up. Wufei took Duo's other hand and began to do the same, glancing up when he heard the sirens getting closer.

Then shadowy eyelids blinked rapidly and fluttered open. Wufei let out the breath he was holding, and he heard Heero huff a small laugh.

"Jesus Christ, Duo," Heero breathed. "How the hell did you get hit by a fucking car? What were you..."

Duo smiled up at him, eyes a bit unfocused and Wufei saw Heero's sharp features soften into a more gentle expression. "Hey, babe," he whispered. "I was just restin' my eyes for a minute. No big."

Heero hiccupped another laugh. "I saw you get hit, Duo. It looked bad."

Duo blinking slowly and shook his head. "Nah. Wu was with me. I was safe." He started to sit up, but Heero pressed him gently back into his lap. "Hey, where is Wu? He was right-"

"I'm here," he murmured, squeezing the chilly fingers he still held.

Dazed violet eyes briefly focused on him. "There you are, lover. Would you tell Heero to let me up? We've gotta get off the street. Can't you hear those sirens getting closer?"

Wufei froze at Duo's words and before he could stop himself, he raised his gaze to meet Heero's eyes. But his partner was very carefully not looking at him and his face was blank. Forcing his body into motion, Wufei took one of Duo's arms, and waited for Heero to take the other. "I think we can move him," the dragon said softly. Heero nodded sharply and the partners hoisted their friend to his feet, each draping an arm over their shoulders. Bending to pick up the skateboard as he went, Wufei looked back at the four bodies on the street. His count was up to eight now, and they probably wouldn't be the last. As lights began to flash in the windows of apartment buildings and store fronts, they disappeared into the crumbling warehouse district, Heero leading them as surely as though he'd lived there his entire life.

As they walked, Heero and Wufei spoke softly, asking Duo questions, trying to keep him awake and alert. Even at such a soft volume, their voices echoed in the empty spaces between factories and warehouses. And every time Duo stumbled, the sound of crumbling pavement mocked them with their inability to stay silent. Wufei could see Heero growing increasingly uneasy, and he knew it had everything to do with the experience he'd related to Wufei earlier that night. He knew his partner was remembering the sound of children predators' feet shuffling through the cluttered crumbling streets. On more than one occasion, Wufei found himself glancing quickly over his shoulder, just to be sure that there in fact was no one behind them. He hoped that their ragged state did not make them targets. He hoped that any eyes watching them could plainly see his sword strapped across his back and that the gun on Heero's hip glinted in the occasional street lamp.

Sometimes Duo answered their questions. Mostly he mumbled 'yes' or 'no.' Then, as Heero murmured that they were nearing their destination, Duo lifted his head and turned to his oldest friend, placing a gentle kiss on his jaw. Wufei instantly flushed and looked away, but he couldn't block out what was said.

"Hey, Ro?"

"Hn."

"You shoulda seen Wu fighting tonight. He was bloody brilliant - took out these two thugs like they were nothin'. You'd think Gael would hire better bodyguards." He paused. "Actually, I think Wu's just that good. He was like...like a moving painting or something."

Heero's mouth twisted in a small smile as he looked at Wufei over Duo's head. "I know what Chang can do." Heero held his gaze for an uncomfortable stretch. "I've seen him. Though I think moving artwork is a bit of an exaggeration." Wufei found himself smiling in return.

"Well, you'll forgive the guy who's just had a run in with a two-ton metal box. My metaphors might be a little off." Wufei found his smile getting wider. He realized that Heero was watching him smile with a strange, considering tilt to his lips. Wufei looked away first.

Duo withdrew again after that brief conversation and the friends made the rest of the trek in silence, finally stopping to rest against the dilapidated brick wall of a huge factory. Heero ducked out from under Duo's arm and drew his blade, turning towards the side entrance to the building. The door hung on its hinges and swung gently back and forth in the brisk wind.

"Heero, wait," Duo mumbled, managing with Wufei's help to right himself and stand away from the wall. "You can't go in there alone. Take Wu to watch your back."

"I'm not leaving you alone."

"Then we'll all go."

"I'm just making sure the building's safe. It won't take long."

"The whole thing?" Wufei hissed, glancing upward at the looming wall. "That'll take an hour at least."

Next to him, Duo shook his head. "Most kids like the smaller buildings 'cause they're easier to claim and defend, not so many hiding places. They stay out of places like this for the most part. It should be pretty easy to figure out whether this one's occupied. But you shouldn't go in there alone, Ro."

Heero was already pulling open the ruined door and stepping inside. "I'll be fine. If I don't come out in fifteen minutes, run."

Wufei tensed, but Duo weakly squeezed his arm. "Don't worry. I always take his instructions as the opposite of what he really wants. We wait ten minutes and then we go after him." Wufei nodded, slightly confused, then jumped when Duo's knees buckled. "I have to sit down now," he whispered. Wufei helped him into a sitting position, pushing his knees up to his chest, trapping as much heat over his heart as possible. Then he stood quickly and scoured the area for any signs of movement. He felt a small tug on his pant leg and looked back to Duo, finding him shivering and ghostly pale in the near darkness. "Sit with me for a minute, lover. My legs are made of jelly and I'm fucking freezing."

Wufei quickly obeyed and knelt in front of Duo's hunched and shivering body. He rubbed the young man's arms and then his thighs, trying to massage life and warmth into his limbs. The words were out of his mouth before he could yank them back. "You said that in front of Heero."

"Said what," came the tired response.

"Before, when you woke up. You called me... you said 'lover' in front of Heero."

He got a raised eyebrow in reply. "I did?" Wufei nodded. "Damn. Guess our secret's out." Sleepy violet eyes rose to meet his. "Is that bad?"

Wufei looked away quickly, then up to the night sky. Clouds hung heavily over them; it looked like snow. The first hints of dawn lent the air a lighter blue tint. It'd been a very long night. "I- don't know, actually."

"I think I'm glad he knows. He probably already knew."

Wufei nodded and again started rubbing Duo's arms and legs. "Everything's different now. After tonight, it got all fucked up."

"Hey, Wu?" The dragon paused and met his lover's shadow-filled eyes. "After your wild and crazy sex night with Heero, do you still like me? Boring, can't-get-out-of-the-way-of-a-moving car, Duo Maxwell?"

Wufei heard tired humor and tangible insecurity in Duo's voice - simultaneous confidence and hesitance. The many layers of Duo's emotions had fascinated him from the very beginning. Only recently had he grown to love them. He leaned forward over Duo's drawn-up knees and kissed his chapped lips. "If only you were boring," he said with a smirk.

Duo laughed.

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