of Change (cont)
He fell silent then and I felt
an odd warmth in my chest. "I am... honored," I said quietly
and gave him a grave inclination of my head, as close to a bow as I could
manage sitting in a car. His face was still stained by his blush, but
he nodded in return.
"I have to admit," I said after a moment, "that I was thinking
about speaking to Une about it. Getting a little more information. I'm
just not sure about Duo..."
Wufei cut me off with an uncomfortable little cough. "Sally has said
that it would be against policy for a... couple to be partnered on the
same team. Too much conflict."
I grunted and thought about that one. I could see the wisdom of it, but
it made me stop and think. If Duo did decide to join with us... assuming
we joined up, ourselves, who would he end up partnered with? I didn't
like the idea of someone I didn't know being there to guard my lover's
back. I suppose it sounds a bit conceited, but I wouldn't trust just anyone
to do the job I would.
I suppose I was quiet, thinking about it, for just a bit too long because
Wufei cleared his throat and broached the silence with, "There is
a great deal to what Trowa and Duo where talking about this afternoon.
We are, by circumstances, warriors. Soldiers of fortune, so to speak.
Whether you choose to admit it or not, fitting into normal society is
going to be difficult for us. We don't think the way civilians do, our
lives have depended on that for far too long."
I sighed. "I just... want a little piece of 'normal', I guess,"
I told him softly. "I want... some of what I lost. And I want to
give that to Duo." I was a little surprised I had actually said that
out loud and it was my turn to do the blushing.
"I honestly think this is our way to have 'normal'," he said,
and the tone of his voice told me that this idea meant a great deal to
him. "Where else are we going to take our... abilities? There are
going to be a lot of ex-soldiers involved in this project. We will be
surrounded by people who went though at least some of what we did. And...
we would be doing something that... mattered."
I chuckled at him. "You might consider becoming a used car salesman."
He quirked me one of those sardonic grins of his. "Stop the hard
"I think you've just about convinced me to test drive the idea,"
I agreed, "but I'd have to talk to Duo first."
He nodded. "Of course."
Then he was pulling into the mall and I raised an eyebrow. "Shopping,
"I need some damn clothes," he growled at me. "It's your
own fault for not asking me where I was going before you decided to tag
I laughed at him as we got out of the car and he gave me a half-hearted
glare. "You could benefit with an article or two more in your own
wardrobe, Yuy," he informed me, his eyes raking over me. "You've
been wearing that same pair of jeans for three days."
I snorted. "Have not. I just happen to have two pair that are just
I was expecting more of the verbal sparing, but we were nearing the entrance
to the mall and Wufei sudden grew quiet. I glanced over at him, as we
walked, and found a grim little frown on his face. He was staring past
me and I turned to follow his gaze toward the delivery entrance ramp,
but saw nothing. "What is it?" I asked softly, my eyes scanning
He seemed to give himself a little shake and blinked at me. "Nothing,"
he said, a little too fast. "Just... thinking."
I frowned at him, wondering, but let it go.
I trailed after him as he headed for the nearest department store, waiting
while he quickly picked out a couple of pairs of pants, then turned to
look at the dress shirts. I did no more than raise an eyebrow, but it
got me banished.
"I am trying to prepare to enter the work force," he told me
somewhat haughtily. "Now go find something else to do, and choose
someplace to meet when we're done."
I couldn't help laughing, but informed him, on a sudden thought, to come
and find me in the music store when he was done.
I shook my head at him, he shook his head at me, and we went our separate
He found me there, a half an hour later with a stack of CDs in my hand,
puzzling over the difference between Celtic Rock and Celtic Folk.
"What in the hell are you doing?" he asked me as he walked up.
I flushed guiltily and frowned down at the CD in my hand. "Trying
to replace Duo's CD collection. Does this look familiar to you?"
"Damned if I know," he muttered, and took the case from me to
look at the cover. "Heero... Duo's never owned more than four or
five CDs, you must have ten of them there!"
I scowled at him, taking the CD from his fingers and defiantly adding
it to the ones in my hand. "I don't care," I growled and moved
to the next bin. He followed me with a sigh.
"What is this all about?" he asked gently while I busied myself
looking through the rest of the Celtic Rock CDs, the more I thought about
it, the more I was sure the rock ones were the right ones.
I caught myself with my lower lip between my teeth and made myself quit.
"Duo is just very... off-balance. I thought this might... help."
I told him lamely.
"Heero, just give him a little time..." he began and I turned
a glare in his direction.
"Have you forgotten your conversation with him this morning,"
I snapped. "Tell me he wasn't acting... upset."
His _expression became uncomfortable and he glanced away, but continued
doggedly. "I still think you're over-reacting just a little bit.
It seems perfectly understandable that all of these sudden changes..."
I whirled on him and hissed, "Don't tell me I'm over-reacting. You're
not the one who held him this morning while he sobbed his heart out..."
I almost bit my tongue getting the words stopped. I'm not sure which one
of us was blushing harder. "Forget I said that," I blurted,
horrified that I had betrayed that confidence... again. What the hell
was wrong with me? "Just fucking forget you heard it." I brushed
past him and headed for the cashier's, feeling like I was going to spontaneously
combust. Gods, what had made me tell him that?
He didn't immediately follow me, for which I was very glad, and by the
time the line moved forward, making it my turn to checkout, my face felt
like it was its normal color again.
I felt Wufei's familiar presence at my elbow and he suddenly reached around
me to place something on the counter with the rest of my order. "Here,"
he said gruffly. "He's going to need something to keep all those
things in." Then he walked away to wait for me by the door, his sack
twisting agitatedly in his hands.
I alternated looking at the CD rack on the counter and at the back of
Wufei's head. I wasn't sure if I was pleased or annoyed. I finally settled
on mildly amused and flashed a grin; I knew he was watching my reflection
in the front glass of the store. I paid for my purchases and went to join
"May we go now?" he grumbled and I refrained from laughing at
"I just need to stop off at a grocery and then I'm done," I
appeased and got a long-suffering sigh and a roll of his eyes. We began
"You'll be buying flowers next," he groused.
"Not a bad idea," I teased, just to watch him twitch in disbelief.
"Roses," he informed me, calling my bluff. "If you feel
you must carry through with this ridiculousness."
"Oh?" I questioned, giving him a sidelong glance.
"Yes," I was told with a great deal of dignity. "A single
white and a single red, bound together. Flowers have meanings you know."
I frowned at him. "They do? What would that mean, then?"
"Unity," he informed me with a sly little smile and the son-of-a-bitch
had me. I sighed. He laughed. Thankfully there was a florist section in
the grocery. He laughed all the way back to the car.
Duo was still in the hanger when we arrived and I took my purchases straight
up to the room we shared, while Wufei put the groceries away for me. I
left the CDs and the storage rack in the sack and just set it on the desk,
then stood with the stupid flowers in my hand trying to decide where to
put them. On the desk with the gifts? On the bed? Bedside table? I suddenly
heard an exasperated little sigh behind me and turned to find Wufei standing
in the doorway with a small crystal vase in his hands.
"Yuy, if you don't put them in water, they'll be wilted before he
even sees them," he informed me with a roll of his eyes.
"Ok Chang," I grunted, moving to take the vase from him. "Mind
telling me how you know so damned much about flowers?"
I was honestly expecting him to get flustered and start sputtering indignantly,
instead his face softened, but he didn't immediately speak. He relinquished
the vase to me, but took the flowers from my hand, expertly pinching off
the stem of the white rose so that it was just a bit shorter than the
red one, then arranging them both in the crystal bud vase.
"Gardening and the art of floral arrangement was something of a hobby
of my mother's," he told me gently, giving the ribbon that bound
the roses together a last touch before leaving the room.
I sat the vase on the bedside table and went down to fix dinner.
Trowa consented to give me a hand when he wandered through the kitchen
and realized I was attempting liver and onions. Duo had developed a strange,
almost-craving for the dish after Trowa had fixed it for him the first
time, but I had yet to master the skill that made the damn stuff edible.
It was far from my favorite food, but it was one of the few things I could
count on Duo eating a decent portion of without being prompted. Sometimes
I wondered how he managed not to waste away to nothing.
Right before it was ready to go on the table, Duo came in through the
back door, adhering to the normal dinner hour we used when we were all
together. I looked up to meet his eyes and was a little appalled at what
a rush of relief I felt to have him in the room with me again. He offered
up a strange little embarrassed grin that told me he felt the same. He
came over to the counter where I was working, filching a slice of carrot
from the salad as cover to whisper to me, "We are so pathetic, Yuy."
Before moving off to help Wufei set the table.
Quatre even had Rashid bring him down to try eating at the table instead
of in his room. Rashid and Trowa took turns hovering over him, and I think
Quatre was regretting the idea fairly quickly. With the imposing Maganac
sitting there at the table with us, conversation was kept to a rather
dry, almost dinner-party minimum. Polite complimenting of Trowa's and
my cooking efforts. Requests for this or that dish. Pass the salt, please,
and other mundane pleasantries. Not uncomfortable, but not one of the
more open, somewhat personal conversations we'd been having lately. I
wasn't sure whether to be disappointed or relieved.
It didn't take long for Quatre to tire, or for Trowa to move in to take
him back to his room when he did. Rashid went with them. Wufei rose when
he finished and informed us that it was our turn to clean up, since he'd
done the breakfast dishes.
It was actually something of a relief to find myself alone with Duo even
if we were stuck with the dreaded kitchen duty.
Duo moved in quickly to claim the spot by the sink, taking the washing
portion of this chore without question. He knew I hated washing. I nudged
him in the ribs as I passed, carrying a stack of dirty plates, to let
him know I noticed. He grinned at me.
"So," I ventured after the water was run, "looks like all
your knuckles are intact; you skip the Gundam repairs?"
He snorted softly and ducked his head. "I ended up dozing off in
the cock-pit," he murmured, voice chagrined.
I glanced at him while I took the first hand-full of clean silverware
from him to dry and put away. "You fell asleep?" I said intelligently,
thinking about how long he had slept the night before.
He nodded, looking embarrassed. "I started a data dump from 'Scythe's
system to my laptop and it took a little while."
"A backup?" I questioned, wondering what had prompted him to
do that. There wasn't much in a Gundam's systems that would be usable
anywhere but in a Gundam.
"I had some... personal stuff on the system," he said, his face
flaring hotly, making me wonder. But I decided not to push, he was obviously
uncomfortable with something and I didn't want to make it worse right
"What made you decide to back stuff off now?" I asked instead,
thinking it was a completely neutral question. Expecting him to make some
joke about it being easier than repairing stabilizers.
His _expression went a little pensive, and his hands slowed in their scrubbing.
"You realize they won't let us keep the Gundams, don't you?"
"What?" I murmured, not sure how we had arrived at this conversational
"The Government," he explained, handing me another clean plate.
"The people. Society in general. The Gundams were the most feared
things during the war. People won't be comfortable until they're destroyed."
I mulled that over, my hands drying and stacking without needing my conscious
brain for help. He was right. And it probably wouldn't take long before
it came up. It was quite probably a very hot issue on the table at the
peace talks right now. I wasn't at all sure how I felt about that. Relieved?
Apprehensive? I think I was leaning towards relieved, but a glance at
Duo told me he was more firmly on the apprehensive side.
Duo thought of his Gundam as something of a sanctuary. Almost a... friendly
presence. I had heard him talk to the thing before. Hell... I had talked
to his damn Gundam before.
"We'll deal with it when it becomes an issue," I soothed, knowing
he would do what needed to be done, but knowing it wouldn't be easy for
He snorted softly and glanced sideways at me with a crooked grin. "Never
had you pegged for the Scarlet O'Hara type."
I blinked at him, realizing that this was another of his strange references
that I didn't understand. His grin spread and he put a soapy hand to his
forehead in an exaggerated gesture of distress, "I'll think about
it... tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day."
I still didn't get the reference, but I could appreciate the ridiculous
southern accent, and leaned over to lightly kiss the side of his neck.
"That's kind of... sexy," I grinned at him and won a sharp laugh.
We dropped the subject then and I told him a little bit of what Wufei
had told me about the Preventers, not actually telling him yet that our
partner had asked me to join with him. Just carefully feeling my way,
trying to judge how Duo felt about the whole thing. It didn't appear as
though he had thought about it all that much, seeming to only have a faint,
lingering distrust of the idea in general.
We finished the dishes and though it was still a little early, I gave
his arm a tug, getting him to follow me upstairs. He looked at me quizzically,
but didn't question, just following me lead. I let him go into the room
first, shutting the door behind us, and by the time I turned, he had found
the roses. I waited expectantly, feeling the heat begin to creep up my
neck as he just stood there and stared at the vase. His _expression was
dancing around between so many emotions I couldn't half figure out what
was going on in his head. I started to feel the utter fool.
"Heero," he breathed after a moment. "This is... this is..."
a grin finally burst across his face. "This is so cheesy!"
The blush did a full frontal assault and succeeded in taking over my entire
face, but I didn't really care; he was smiling. "I know," I
chuckled. "You can blame Wufei."
He raised an eyebrow in total disbelief. "Wufei?" he asked skeptically.
I stepped toward him, taking the roses from his hand. "Yes, Wufei,"
I confirmed. "He says that flowers have a language, and when he started
talking about it... I couldn't resist."
He bent and inhaled the scent of the flowers in my hand. "So... what
are these saying?" he teased lightly, as he straightened.
I brought the roses around and brushed them lightly along the line of
his jaw and watched him shiver, his eyes widening slightly. "They
feel like... velvet," he exclaimed and brought his hand up to reverently
touch the soft petals.
"Wufei says that the two of them together, the white and the red...
mean unity," I told him softly and watched while his grin faded to
something warm and tender.
The roses went back on the table and I was suddenly being kissed quite
When he drew back, he couldn't resist another chuckle. "My poet,"
I snorted softly. "My heart," I murmured in return and kissed
"Is that what you brought me up here to show me?" he asked.
"No," I informed him with a hint of mock defensiveness in my
voice. "That was just the... trimmings." I took his hand, reflecting
on the fact that we couldn't seem to keep our hands off each other today,
and led him to the desk. Picking up the sack from the music store, I held
it out to him.
"What's this for?" he asked, managing to sound suspicious.
"Because I felt like it," I said and waited while he took it
from my hands, holding it for a moment with an air of... embarrassment?
Uncertainty? I wasn't sure. "I just wanted to give you something,"
I told him, trying to ease his discomfort.
"A gift?" he teased, still seeming unsettled about it. "Nice
wrapping job, Yuy."
I put my hand over his, where he held the sack. "I didn't mean to
make you feel uncomfortable, love," I told him gently. "I want...
I just want to be able to give you so much."
He blinked at me, eyes a little wide. "Heero, I don't need..."
he began, but I didn't let him finish.
"Shhh," I chided. "It isn't about needs any more. The war
is over and we're allowed to have wants now. This is just something that
I've seen make you smile. That's all I want in the world... is to see
your smile... to know you're happy."
His eyes took on a suspicious gleam but his fingers finally moved to unroll
the top of the sack. "Heero!" he gasped, as he pulled out a
handful of CDs. "You must have spent a fortune! I can't..."
"You can," I said firmly, taking the sack and pulling out all
the purchases. "I won't argue about this. Duo, love... this is such
a small thing. Not a drop in the ocean of things I want to give to you
someday. Please... can't you just accept that it's ok to want? It's ok
He opened his mouth to speak, then seemed to think better of it. His fingers
moved to ghost over the jewel cases scattered across the desk, as though
he couldn't quite believe in their reality. I turned to throw the now
empty sack into the trashcan and when I looked again, Duo had the CD rack
in his hands, turning it about and frowning slightly.
If nothing else can be said for Chang Wufei, it should be noted that he
has discriminating taste. The rack was a lovely thing, and had been as
expensive as hell. Solid wood, stained and buffed to a rich hue, it had
an elegant Celtic design carved into the end pieces.
"What is this thing?" Duo asked, puzzling over it and I grinned,
moving to take it from him. I set it down on the desk and stacked his
little budding music collection in it.
"Wufei said you were going to need someplace to keep your CDs,"
I wasn't really prepared for the strange... pole axed _expression that
came over him then. "K...keep?" he whispered softly, looking
up at me and I saw his fingers lift to touch the little gold cross under
I understood in that moment that Wufei might ride me about the way I cared
for Duo, might tease me about over reacting, but deep-down inside, he
understood a lot more than he would ever admit to. Saw some things more
clearly than I could.
"Yes, love... keep," I told him gently and just watched him
turning it over and over in his head, trying to come to grips with a concept
that seemed very foreign to him. His eyes had that feverish look to them
again and he seemed to want to speak, but didn't quite trust his voice.
"I..." he tried, but stopped, looking from me to the rack on
the desk. Gods... it was such a small little thing to have been the catalyst
for this moment.
With a strange, frustrated gasp, he suddenly had me in a bear hug. "Thank
you," he finally managed and I wrapped my arms around him in return.
"You're welcome," I breathed next to his ear, listening to the
sound of something I had never quite identified, slide away from between
us. His body shivered next to mine.
"Believe in it, Duo," I told him fiercely. "No more fighting.
No more running. No more hiding. There is no one to hand us orders to
do things we never wanted to do in the first place. We're free, love.
We're finally free!"
His arms were tight around me and I felt him draw a shuddering breath.
I thought for a moment that he was crying again and I drew back to look
at him with concern. He met my gaze unflinchingly.
"It's all right, Heero," he told me softly. "I think I'm
done with the tears." Then he gifted me with one of his rare, true
smiles and I felt all my concerns melting away.
"That's the smile I want to wake up to every morning for the rest
of my life," I breathed, and felt the truth of it clear down in my
He lay his head back down on my shoulder, but his embrace didn't hold
the desperation that had been fueling it all day. It felt comforting and
filling me with tenderness instead of worry. "I can believe in you,"
he told me, his breath washing warm across my cheek. "You lead me...
and I'll follow."
"We'll do this together," I scolded gently, holding him close.
"From now on... we stop breaking the rules, and start making our
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