see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
the Furnace, Unshrinking + Part 9
The hazy fog over the bull ring,
The lazy ways the birds sing
A new baby's born every day
Few men may be spoilt today
But look at things the other way
Cos it may well be your final day
-- "Turn the Page" The Streets
Their departure had not been an easy one -- not that he'd expected
it to be. He watched Duo glance over his shoulder again and again,
eyes seeking their sixth floor apartment, looking for a pacing silhouette
in the windows. Wufei even looked back once, just to see if Heero
was still there. And he was, back and forth, pacing around the bedroom,
stopping every few rounds to press a hand against the glass. Wufei
shook his head and shoved his hands into his pockets. 'Such drama,'
he thought. He tried to put the image of Heero and Duo's parting out
of his mind, embarrassed that he had stumbled upon it in the first
Duo's normally loud voice had turned quiet and reassuring. "Ro, it's
only for one night. Not even. We'll be home by morning. And then it'll
all be over. And I'm not goin' alone. Wu's gonna be with me the whole
Somehow Wufei didn't think that Heero found that particularly reassuring.
And they hadn't made it two steps out of the apartment before they
heard his voice through the door, calling after them.
"Duo!" The braided man was back inside in under a second, wide violet
eyes darting around the room looking for the emergency. Wufei stayed
in the hallway, but he saw everything. Heero grabbed Duo's shoulder
and looked him over once more, taking in every detail. It looked to
Wufei like he thought he'd never seen his partner again. Finally,
he took hold of Duo's braid and, with great care, wrapped it around
his fist. He looked down at the thick rope of hair for a moment, then
gave it a gentle tug. Their eyes met briefly, then Heero release the
braid and walked straight to the bedroom, shutting the door behind
And now Duo wasn't saying anything. Such drama. And so unnecessary.
They really just need to go at it like rabbits and get it over with.
The whole flat will be a happier place for it. Wufei's thoughts continued
on this bent until they were seated on the train, side-by-side, speeding
toward their destination. Then he could not keep the voices silent
any longer. He felt surrounded, the entire counsel of elders walling
him in, buzzing in his brain like a swarm of angry hornets.
'How will you do this, Chang? How will you work with Duo Maxwell?
Go ahead and say it. Not just work with him. 'Work' is a cowardly
word. You have to touch him, let him touch you. What if he has to
fuck you? You're a solitary dragon. Can you surrender, give your body
to someone else? Will this be the time you get one of their diseases?
What will you do if you can't wear protection? What will you tell
Duo? Be honest with yourself, Chang -- you want to touch him. Have
you been waiting for this day? We know your weaknesses, Chang. You
may have escaped with your life, but we will always be with you. We'll
always know what you do. Your wife will always-'
Duo looked at him sharply, eyebrows raised. Belatedly, he realized
that he'd kicked and dented the pole in the middle of the train car,
and while it had shut up the voice of his clan, it had also scared
away the other passengers. Well, good. Now they had room to breathe.
"You okay, Chang?" He knew Duo was worried when he called him by his
"I'm okay. I just... have a few concerns." He avoided Duo's eyes,
not wanting his brain to flash forward to what they'd be doing in
a few short hours. He couldn't bare it.
"I have concerns, too," Duo muttered, voice barely audible over the
noise of the train.
"Wu-" He raised his voice a bit, over the roar. "I don't want to do
this any more than you do. It feels wrong." Then he quieted a bit,
and Wufei leaned closer to hear him, keeping his eyes on Duo's hands
where they rested in his lap. "Up til now, I've been doing a job that
I thought... was my lot in life. I played the cards I was dealt, you
know? Wufei, look at me, please." Reluctant onyx eyes rose to meet
violet. "This feels wrong to me. Working with you, forced to ...do
things to you that I only ever... I'd rather you were a stranger.
Hell, that fuckhead from a few weeks ago would be better."
Wufei frowned. "You'd rather be with someone who would purposely hurt
and humiliate you than someone you know and trust?" He didn't want
to admit it, but that hurt quite a bit.
"Yes, because I can hate him and make jokes about what a dick he was.
I live with you. We have to go home from this guy's place. Home --
the same home! We'll know things about each other. We'll have seen
parts of each other that... are better kept secret."
"What do you suggest we do?" Wufei asked stiffly.
"Beats me," Duo said with a shrug. "Things'll probly get messy tonight,
go south real quick. This'll screw with both of us, but, Wu, we're
friends and it should take more than a job to fuck that up." Their
gazes met again and Wufei saw fear but also determination in his friend's
eyes. Duo shook his head and frowned. "Maybe that was a mistake, becoming
friends with coworkers. Maybe we're to blame for this mess, but I
don't think so. I think Boss Man is trying to scare us, to screw up
our balance. But we can't let'im, Wu. We've just gotta prove to ourselves
that we're not intimidated or scared. The Boss can think whatever
he wants about us. I want to know if you and I will still be able
to... to look at each other after this."
Wufei considered his friend carefully, marveling at this moment of
honesty between them. This was new and intense, and Wufei liked it.
He nodded and reached over to wipe away a smudge of kohl from Duo's
eye. "Don't get too worked up, Maxwell. Your eyeliner will smear."
And that was the end of the conversation. They got off at the next
stop and walked two blocks to the loft. Standing outside the posh
apartment building, Wufei straightened his slate gray dress shirt
and saw Duo do the same with his dark blue button-down. "You look
nice," he murmured and was rewarded with one of Duo's genuine smiles,
though it was a little nervous. The braided man reached over and pulled
a few strands of black hair out of its ponytail.
"So do you." He rang the buzzer. "Here we go."
Wufei didn't know why he'd hoped that the john would be a nice normal
guy. So rarely did it work out like that. Did it ever? But, maybe
just for tonight, their client would be a clever, sophisticated, amusing,
intelligent... Hell, boring would have been acceptable too. He would
have taken boring. Just not...
Ralph. He was a good looking guy. Wufei could admit that. He was on
the small side, about their size actually -- under 170 centimeters.
He had attractive silver hair and was dressed well in a slimming black
suit. This was about all Wufei could report on his appearance. He
tried not to get a good look at his face. He wanted to remember as
little of the night as possible.
It was Ralph's manner that made Wufei uneasy. He didn't say much.
He just...watched. And he smiled a lot. He sat back in his chair and
watched them eat. The food was excellent. Stir-fried vegetables with
marinated tofu for him and a plate of spaghetti and salad for Duo.
The fact that Ralph knew what kind of foods they liked did not make
them particularly nervous. Of course he would have inquired after
their preferences. That was a given. But an elaborate dinner usually
meant elaborate after-dinner activities. And this was all Wufei could
really think about. So, he had absolutely no appetite and watching
Duo tuck in all that pasta made him a little green. He knew Duo's
philosophy on food: "Better to have a full stomach. A) You can hold
your liquor better. B) You never know when it'll be the last mean
you ever eat." He understood why Duo held this philosophy, given his
upbringing. Wufei had quite a different relationship with food in
circumstances like these, with men like Ralph sitting across from
him. "The less in your stomach, the less you'll have to throw up later."
Wufei thought he'd get a good chuckle out of the double meaning in
their client's name after this was all over. Maybe he'd bring it up
to Duo on the train home.
Thankfully, Duo carried on most of the conversation -- about the food,
the wine, the furniture, the wallpaper, the dishes, Ralph's clothes.
It was nonstop. Wufei hardly had to say two words, until they retired
to the living room with the wine. Duo started in on another round
of compliments. "Your place is just great and I'm havin' a real great
time, Ralph. This couch is so comfy! Don't you think so, Chang?" The
slim body next to his bounced up and down a few times on the soft
leather, jostling him out of his reverie. He looked up and found both
men looking expectantly at him. He cleared his throat.
"Yes. This is very pleasant. The food was very good. And... the flat
is tastefully decorated. Thank you for your hospitality...Ralph."
Their host began to chuckle and Wufei flushed. "So polite, so reserved,"
he murmured. "It's a pleasure to have you in my home. You're welcome
any time, though next time perhaps you'll do me the honor of actually
eating the food I provide."
Wufei stiffened and looked down at his hands, concentrating on not
balling them into fists. This man was... off. Duo laughed easily enough,
throwing a companionable arm across his shoulders. "Oh, he's just
tryin' to keep his boyish figure. Plus we're not used to this fine
treatment. This is a real treat for us. He's just shy is all."
Wufei nodded and attempted a smile. "Oh, I know," Ralph said quietly.
"That's why I like him." Even though he refused to look up, Wufei
could feel Ralph's eyes going over his body. He held up the wine and
offered them more. Duo accepted, taking a large swallow of the dark
"I need to use the restroom," Wufei said abruptly, standing up quickly
and ignoring the proffered wine glass.
"Ah, of course," Ralph murmured. "Down the hall and to the left. Don't
be long. I've got a lot planned for he evening." He glanced significantly
at Duo, the young hustler flashing his most seductive grin. But Wufei
could see how tightly he gripped the arm of the couch and violet eyes
locked with his in a plea for him to hurry.
"No..." he muttered. "I won't be a minute." He fled to the bathroom,
locking the door behind him. He leaned back against it, eyes closed,
breathing slowed. Then he faced his reflection in the mirror. He looked
pale. Placing his palms flat on the countertop, he tried to find his
center. "You are Chang Wufei of the Dragon Clan," he murmured. "Your
true self can never be breached. Your soul can not be compromised.
Your body is temporary. Your pride is just vanity. Duo Maxwell is
your friend, and you will stand by him. You will live through this
and the next obstacle and the next. And if you do not, your soul will
still exist, will move on to the next life. Your soul can not be compromised."
He took a few deep breaths and turned to go, not wanting to leave
Duo alone with Ralph. Then he remember why he'd come to the bathroom
in the first place. Dropping to his knees over the toilet, he threw
up everything he'd just eaten and drank. Even though it had only been
a little bit, he didn't want that man's food tainting his body. Plus
he had a clearer head on an empty stomach. He got to his feet and
pushed a steady hand through his hair. Much better.
Ralph had mirrors on his ceiling, big ones, right over the bed. Wufei
groaned upon seeing them. He'd never been one for porno, and he still
knew this went beyond cliché. But Duo was grinning. "Nice touch,
Ralph. Like to see from all angles?"
Wufei didn't want to see or hear Ralph's response. He wished he could
plug his ears. "I'm an observer by nature."
"Clearly," Duo teased.
Ralph motioned them toward the bed, a giant four-poster affair with
a thick dark corduroy cover. Wufei eyed it nervously, picturing himself
on it, Duo with him. His heart nearly leapt out of his chest when
Duo was very suddenly behind him, long arms sliding around his waist
and spinning him around to face the rest of the room. They stood nose-to-nose
for a moment before he realized that they were alone.
"Where's Ralph?" he whispered, glancing quickly around the room.
Duo shrugged. "In the can or something. Didn't you hear him say, 'Excuse
me gentlemen, but I must freshen up.'" His imitation was quite good.
"No, I didn't," Wufei said faintly. "I was..." he turned to look back
at the gigantic bed.
"Yeah, I was checkin' that monster out myself. If you roll over to
the other side, I'll have to send a search party." Wufei thought the
cocky smile looked a little forced. The arms around his waist dropped.
"Look, Wu," his friend interrupted. "While you were in the bathroom,
Ralph explained a few things to me. I think this'll all work out pretty
easy. The guy's a voyeur; he's totally hands-off. It's just you and
"He's going to watch us?"
"I don't have to touch him?"
Wufei felt his knees wobble with relief, then he went rigid as their
host returned. He'd removed his jacket and now took a seat in an armchair
about five paces from the bed. He rolled up his sleeves and turned
a small smile on his guests. "You may have guessed that I was there
with you that night a few weeks ago. I watched you dance the whole
night and I enjoyed the two of you so much that I thought I'd invite
you to my home for an encore performance. I found you both so strikingly
different and so beautiful that I wanted to see you again, and I want
you to be just as you were then. I want you to writhe and bend and
throb like you did then. I want you to dance for me."
Wufei tried not to grimace. 'Oh, gross,' he grumbled internally.
Knowing he was blushing, Wufei turned his attention back to Duo, who
still stood so close that he could hear his soft breathing. He wondered
if his partner could hear the way his heart drummed frantically against
his ribs. "He means on the bed, Wu," Duo said quietly, gentle hands
taking him firmly by the waist and pushing him until the backs of
his thighs pressed against the mattress.
Wufei knew he was getting redder by the second. Ralph chuckled at
his embarrassment. "Perfect," he murmured. "You're both perfect."
Duo leaned in close and whispered, "Just follow my lead." Then he
began to undo the buttons of Wufei's shirt, violet eyes lowered, a
seductive smirk firmly in place. This was Duo At Work, someone Wufei
had never encountered. This Duo made him uneasy. But, not one to be
left behind, Wufei hurriedly reached up to do the same. They worked
around each others arms until all the buttons were open. Then Duo
gently pushed the shirt back and down over Wufei's shoulders. His
eyes roamed over the dragon's chest and torso and when he looked up,
they held a certain amount of admiration. Wufei swallowed thickly
and refused to look away. Duo leaned in close and brushed a feather-light
kiss against the racing pulse at his throat.
"Trust me, Wufei," he whispered.
"Good," Ralph purred from the armchair. "Trust him. Let him lead you."
Duo subtly rolled his eyes and ran his hands over Wufei's chest, finally
sliding one arm around his waist and the other around his neck. Duo
pulled them together for another kiss, this one right on the mouth.
For the first time, Wufei tasted his best friend. His tongue touched
teeth and firm lips and then retreated. Duo tasted like wine and salt.
He began to return the kiss and he felt Duo smile into his mouth.
Then everything was moving faster than he could fully comprehend.
They were pulling off clothes, kissing, biting, and gasping, grabbing,
pushing and twisting, all the while whispering questions and commands.
"What should I-" "Lie down." "No, I-" "Does this feel good?" "Yes.
Should you-" "Take them off." "Are you ok?" "Yes." "Are you?" "Yes."
It happened in a blur of soft cloth and skin, and suddenly Duo had
him pinned on the gigantic bed, whip-thin body poised over him, rope
of hair resting on his chest. Wufei felt as though his breath had
been stolen. Violet eyes bored into him, paralyzing him.
Duo was naked. This was it; the first time he'd seen his good friend
exposed like this. And he was beautiful. In surprised awe, Wufei ran
his hands over the long, lean muscles of his arms and shoulders. His
creamy white skin felt like silk stretched tight over sinew and bone.
But the muscle felt strong, like corded steel. He traced the lines
of spidery scar tissue that threaded along his abdomen. Where had
these come from? They looked old.
"Duo..." he breathed.
"Shh." They kissed again, mouths pressed hard together, tongues tentatively
touching lips and teeth. Wufei rolled them over, so he could get a
better look at his friend. The braid snaked across the cover, a glistening
chestnut rope against black. Wufei tried his best to forget the john
over in his chair, watching their every move. If he could just focus
on Duo, this surprising man beneath him... Duo's eyes met his and
Wufei was startled to see unclouded affection and trust and want staring
up at him. Somehow even the At Work Duo had been stripped away.
Wufei did not do blow jobs. It was all but in the contract. He didn't
want the male organ anywhere near his mouth. This was his policy.
But now... Duo intrigued him. Hard and soft. Graceful and sad. Beautiful
and unsure. He trailed kisses down a tight stomach and Duo arched
into him, moaning softly. "Duo," he said again, kissing his thigh.
He moved his mouth closer. Maybe just a taste. He imagined heat and
"No, Wufei. Submit to Duo's great expertise. Let him lead you."
They both flinched but obeyed, a small voice in Wufei's mind whispering,
'But... he's perfect.'
"Take off his underwear," Ralph ordered, and Duo immediately grabbed
the elastic waistband of Wufei's boxers. He tugged them down, sparkling
eyes never leaving his.
"Just relax," he murmured.
Wufei didn't know what was lust and what was just part of the job,
what was real and what was acting. He found he didn't need to act
much at all. His underwear now nowhere to be seen, Wufei felt Duo's
hands on him. This was generally against the rules. If he had his
way, he'd do it all. But tonight was different; Duo was different.
He could make an exception. This was a meeting of equals. And that
hand was very talented. He closed his eyes and let a moan escape,
telling himself it was for Ralph's benefit. Right. Try to forget Ralph.
Ralph isn't here.
"Ah! Duo!" he started, propping himself up on his elbows. The hustler
had his mouth dangerously close to where his hand had just been. "You
shouldn't... you don't have to do that." But Duo just gave him a small,
mischievous smile and ignored him. Wufei had only received oral sex
once, and it was bad. Sure, he'd had an orgasm, but he'd also seriously
bruised the john's jaw. And he'd felt... violated for a week. He got
himself off. He took his own pleasure. He gave it to others but they
were not free to give back. He refused to be manipulated. At least
that was the original policy. But like he said before: this was different.
And once he climaxed maybe they could go home. He wasn't the fuck-all-night-long
type. Once was enough. More than. God, this job was getting to him.
And now Duo was getting to him. Shit, he had him. Duo was doing the
impossible -- he was turning Wufei, warrior and scholar of the Dragon
Clan into a whimpering, writhing mush of muscle, bone and compromised
integrity. Oh, god, just a little longer. Wet, warm and slippery.
He could feel it, coiling up inside him, the buildup of pressure.
He was almost-
'No, please...' Wufei groaned his frustration, pushing his hips upward
toward Duo's retreating mouth. Duo looked up in confusion, wiping
his lips with the back of his hand.
"What's wrong?" he asked, voice tinged with irritation.
Ralph smiled and Wufei felt his arousal evaporate. Oh right. There
was fucking Ralph in his fucking armchair. "Duo, you have to teach
him. He's new at this -- clean -- not like you."
If it weren't for the weight of Duo's body keeping him on the bed,
Wufei would have been in front of that armchair and making so many
threats to Ralph's body parts, the fucker's ears would be smoking.
But as it was, they both raged internally at the blatant insult. Duo
swallowed convulsively; Wufei pictured himself carrying out his planned
"What do you want us to do?" Duo asked sweetly enough.
"I want you to take him."
Bells, whistles, sirens, alarms, red flags and road signs reading
'Wrong Way!' blared in Wufei's brain and they both exchanged a horrified
glance before Duo cleared his throat and tried to mediate. "See, Ralph,
sir, my buddy Chang, here, doesn't take kindly to that sort of thing.
He's just not the type." Wufei could only scowl and focus on not crushing
Ralph's windpipe. "So," Duo continued as casually as if they were
talking about window replacements, "We could go the other way round.
He'd be happy to-"
"No," Ralph interrupted. "I discussed this with your superior and
he said that my preference was perfectly acceptable. I quote. 'It'd
take him down a few notches.'"
Wufei felt his insides turn to ash. The Boss had finally decided he'd
had enough of Wufei's strict preferences. His grace period was over.
"However," Ralph continued, "I prefer not to think of this as bringing
you down, but rather raising you up to be a better and more perfect
whore. And Duo will teach you." Duo made a small choking noise in
the back of his throat and abruptly sat back on his heals.
'That was the wrong thing to say,' Wufei thought darkly, knowing that
any second, Duo would fly off the bed, Lola gleaming in the reflected
light of the mirrors, an angel of vengeance, poised to remove Ralph's
poisonous vocal chords. Instead, the young man took hold of his braid
and clutched it like a security blanket. His eyes closed and he rocked
himself back and forth, as though a phantom mother were comforting
him. When he next looked at Wufei, his eyes were flat with resigned
"I'm sorry, Chang. We can't fight Gael, not here."
"But-" The dragon back-pedaled until he was pressed against the headboard.
"Yes," Ralph purred. "Learning is a struggle; it is painful."
Duo crawled toward him. "Please, Chang. I just want to go home."
Wufei shook his head quickly. "No." This he could not do. It would
be the end of him. Chang Wufei would die and in his place would grow
a filthy, foul insect with no soul, no sense of right or wrong. In
the time it took Duo to reach him, he'd gone over all his options.
1) He could run out of the room and the loft, hopefully with clothes,
and never go back to the place he shared with the others. He could
leave town. But that would endanger his friends. They might be punished
for letting him escape. And, if he was honest with himself -- and
this moment required brutal honesty -- the Family would find him.
Even if he left the country, they would find him. And he couldn't
go back to his clan. They would kill him.
2) He could try to talk Duo out of it, and they could try to talk
Ralph out of it. But any problems with their job would be reported
directly to the Boss. He would know they'd left a customer unsatisfied.
And they would be punished.
3) They could kill Ralph. This was Wufei's favorite option so far.
But again, serious repercussions if they were tied to the murder.
Would the boss give them an alibi if they were questioned? Had anyone
seen them come in? Most importantly, would the boss care if one of
his clients was found dead in his armchair?
4) Go through with it and kill himself after it was over.
5) Go through with it and try to survive the ordeal, try to put himself
back together again.
He knew he wasn't alone anymore, knew he had friends. His best friend
was now kneeling in front of him, braid clutched in white-knuckled
fingers. He said it again, "I just want to go home, Chang." Wufei
turned to Ralph where he sat smiling in his armchair. He would not
beg for mercy. No, Wufei was memorizing the man's face so that he
could kill him on sight the next time they crossed paths. Until this
moment, he'd been avoiding even looking the john in the eye, hoping
that if he never got a really good look, he could somehow forget that
this whole thing ever happened. Now Ralph was marked.
He turned back to Duo and nodded once, sliding back down along the
bedspread until he lay with his legs spread, Duo kneeling between
them. 'Option 05 it is, then.'
[part 8] [part 10] [back
to Singles a-k]