Ch 4: "Heartache and Revelations"
"The rain's finally stopped," Quatre observed as he walked into the kitchen.
"Finally," Duo grumbled, leaning his head on the table as he moodily played with a die with his forefinger. His good mood had gone rapidly downhill- partly due to the weather, partly due to boredom, mostly due to Heero's conspicuous absence. He heaved a gusty sigh and rolled his head to look at Quatre. "Where IS everyone?"
"Mm.." Quatre dug a coke from the cooler as he thought. "Wufei went out to exercise as soon as the rain stopped falling so hard, Heero's still in his room, and I'm not sure where Trowa is. I think he said something about checking on the dirtbike an hour ago."
"Saa..." Duo sat up and stretched. He rose to his feet and pocketed the die. "I think I'll go see what Mr. Perfect is up to. You need help making dinner?"
"No, I'm fine," Quatre said with a smile. "Will you tell Heero dinner will be in about half an hour?"
"Hai hai," Duo said as he walked towards the stairs, waving over his shoulder. He ascended the creaky steps, humming softly to himself. The carpet on the floor of the hallway upstairs was threadbare, but muffled his socked feet as he strolled towards the room Heero and Trowa shared. He passed Wufei's room- the boy had insisted on his privacy -and felt a smile tug at his lips as he thought back to Wufei's short burst of laughter earlier. Maybe tomorrow's mission wouldn't be so bad, if they kept their truce. He had actually enjoyed hanging out with the other boy on their shopping trip. Wufei wasn't such a bad guy once you got to know him.
He paused before Heero's door, a little hesitant. He ran over in his mind what he was going to say to the other boy as he shifted his weight nervously. Pasting on a big grin, he reached for the doorhandle before realizing it was already open a crack. Grinning mischieviously, he nudged it open a little further, hoping to creep up on the other boy and startle him.
Someone was in there with him. Curious, Duo silently pushed the door open another few inches.
Heero was sitting at the desk, of course, laptop in front of him. But he wasn't typing. Trowa stood behind him, talking to him in a voice too quiet to hear as he gazed at the screen over Heero's head. 'Must be discussing the mission,' Duo thought, and strained his ears. Trowa, however, was quiet-spoken by nature, and he couldn't catch a single word, only the steady, calm tone of his voice.
Heero said something back to him, his voice a little harsher than the other boy's- but not in anger. It was just the way his voice sounded when he was being serious. Duo had come to know the different tones to Heero's voice, and the other boy certainly didn't sound angry to him.
The ghost of a smile flitted across Trowa's features, and he bent his head slightly, his bangs hiding his eyes from view as he lifted a hand to place it on Heero's shoulder. Then slender fingers were sliding downwards to cup the shorter boy's chin, tilting it upwards with no resistance. Heero leaned his head back to gaze up at the other pilot soberly, Trowa's murmur almost inaudible.
Then the solemn clown was bending slightly, pressing his mouth to Heero's. Heero reached up, fingers tangling in auburn locks as he kissed the older boy back.
Duo's world came crashing down around his feet like shattered crystal.
He gave an involuntary noise, somewhere between a whimper and a gasp, and both pilots broke apart abruptly, turning quickly to find him staring at them from the doorway.
"Duo-" Trowa said, sounding surprised.
Heero's emotionless mask slammed into place, his jaw twitching in what could have been irritation or nervousness. "Duo," he started slowly, "what-"
Duo gave a choking noise, whirled around, and fled.
He almost tripped down the stairs as he pounded down the protesting staircase, his vision suddenly blurry and air coming only with difficulty into his lungs. His heart was pounding right in his ears, and something deep inside of him felt like it had just been torn into pieces.
He was too upset to see Wufei staring quizically at him from the bottom of the stairs until he ran into him.
"Hey!" Wufei yelped, stumbling back, reaching up instinctively to grab Duo by the shoulders. "Maxwell, what the hell-" The irritation washed away, replaced by blank surprise as Duo looked up at him quickly, his eyes smarting with unshed tears and his face a mask of agony.
"Get out of the way," Duo shouted, and wrenched free. He dashed past the other boy, ignoring his cry to stop, and hit the screen door with both palms, banging it open as he raced out into the cold evening air, his socked feet quickly getting soaked as he ran through the wet grass as if the devil were on his heels.
He stumbled as he ran up the hill he had seen Wufei climb so many times to go exercise, nearly slipping in the soaked grass and the mud. His heart was pounding madly and his insides were shredded. He could barely see, didn't even care, where he was going.
Ever since that day on the harbor... "Saving" a seemingly innocent girl from a cold-eyed boy with dark hair and bottomless eyes. Finding his curiosity piqued enough to bust the guy out of the building Sally Po had been holding him in. Getting more and more attracted to the mysterious soldier with shielded eyes and a hidden heart.
So long had he been watching Heero Yuy, slowly developing a stupid girly crush on him.
He had never felt so stupid or so humiliated in all his young life.
His feet slid out from under him as he reached the crest of the hill and he fell without a sound to his hands and knees, fingers digging into the mud. It had started to drizzle again, but he barely felt it. He crouched there in the mud and the cold shaking with the effort to hold back unmanly tears as he listened to his heart break within him.
'Heero cares for another.'
He laughed abruptly, a short, vicious sound that grated on his ears. He tightened his grip on the limp grass, his head bowed and his arms trembling. "Stupid," he murmured to himself, rainwater trickling down his face and over his lips. "You are so stupid, Duo." He laughed again, the sound catching on a choked sob. He blinked rapidly, furiously forcing back the stinging tears behind his eyes. I will not cry. I will not cry.
Boys don't cry.
'Boys don't like other boys, either,' an inner voice said snidely, and he felt like screaming at it.
His head jerked up at the call, and he looked around wildly. For a split second he thought it was Heero, running after him with an excuse, maybe even- yeah right -an apology.
"Duo!" Wufei appeared, running over the top of the hill, damp from the rain and not even out of breath. He came to a halt before the other boy, dropping to a crouch. The back of his eyes were puzzled and even- concerned. "What are you doing?" he demanded, his voice harsh. "What's wrong with you?"
Duo turned his head away, fingers still buried in the mud. "Leave me alone," he whispered hoarsely. 'No WAY am I going to break down in front of Wufei,' he thought fiercely. "Go away."
Wufei fell silent for a moment, as if giving Duo time to compose himself. Duo reached up, swiping wet, ragged bangs angrily from his eyes, turning to glare at the other boy, even as doing so he knew the other boy would see.
See the shattered look to his eyes, the fury and the humiliation written plain on his face for all the world to see. He had never been very good at hiding his emotions.
Unlike a certain spandex-wearing soldier.
"I said GO AWAY," he repeated, louder, suddenly angry. The feelings of self-loathing and misery bubbled up inside of him, and he directed all of his anger at the nearest target with the blast of a flame torch. "Get away from me! Leave me the hell alone, asshole!"
Wufei's eyes narrowed, irritation flickering in their dark depths. He reached out suddenly, seizing Duo's arms, and rose, dragging the startled boy to his feet.
"Stop! Let me go," Duo shouted, wrenching himself free furiously. Wufei grabbed for him, but missed- forgetting once again that Duo was not as weak as he looked. 'I'm damn strong,' Duo thought fiercely, 'and I'll kick your ass if I have to.'
"No, YOU stop," Wufei said sharply, giving Duo pause. "Calm down and tell me what the hell is wrong with you."
"Why don't you go ask Heero?" Duo asked snidely, speaking before thinking. "Or Trowa. Same story either way."
Wufei didn't snap back, as Duo had been expecting him to- had almost been hoping he'd do. A fierce argument would probably do him good right now.
Wufei's eyes suddenly grew very cold, his gaze darting downhill at the safehouse, and his jaw clenched almost imperceptibly. "Yuy, again?" he asked softly, almost as if talking to himself.
Duo stared at him, a little thrown by the anger that seemed directed not towards him, but towards the source of Duo's current state. He regained his anger an instant later, scowling darkly at the Chinese boy. "Never mind," he snapped. "Just leave me alone, I don't feel like duking it out with you right now." He turned away and started towards the woods in long, angry strides.
Wufei caught up to him easily, grabbing his arm again, turning him forcibly to face him, looking frustrated. "Will you knock it off?" he demanded. "What the hell did Yuy do this time?"
Duo opened his mouth for a sharp retort.
Duo stared at the other boy silently for a long moment, bangs plastered to his face, slowly beginning to realize that he was soaking wet from the softly falling rain.
He had been pretty good at hiding his hurt resulting from Heero's cold attitude in the past, so far as he knew. Quatre seemed suspicious of his inner torment, but certainly no one else seemed to have picked up on it: the way a little piece of him died with every cold word, every irritated blow that Heero sent his way.
Had Wufei, who had oftentimes appeared to be one of the most dense men on the face of the earth, actually noticed his silent grief over Heero's coldness?
He shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. Impossible. He was jumping to conclusions again, his head weak with his recent humiliation. "Never mind," he muttered rebelliously, glancing away. He reached up to wipe his wet bangs away again.
A tanned, slender hand beat him to it, brushing back wet locks. Startled, Duo looked at the boy staring somberly at him, wondering at the turmoil of emotions in the backs of those ebony eyes. Wufei lowered his hand and grunted, his nose wrinkling a little as a raindrop hit it. "Come on," he said gruffly, "it's too wet out here." He turned towards the house, glancing back at Duo, an invitaion.
Duo hesitated, glancing from him to the small house below.
Fuck it. It was too cold and wet to wander around feeling sorry for himself. Taking a deep breath, he silently followed the lean boy back to the safehouse.
They said nothing to each other on the short trip downhill, and Wufei held the door open for Duo, watching him walk by with an unreadable expression on his face. Duo stepped into the kitchen, looking down numbly at the puddle he was slowly making on the cracked linolium floor. Wufei let the door shut behind them, glancing towards the kitchen door as he heard footsteps in the other room. "Don't talk to him," he said quietly, and Duo looked up at him without comment.
Wufei walked over to the counter and opened a cabinet, pulling out a handtowel. He wiped his own face and arms dry before tossing it to Duo. Heero entered a moment later, his face as cold and inpenetrable as ever. His eyes went to Duo, who stiffened, but otherwise refused to acknowledge his precense, rubbing the towel against his face and his arms and then walking stiffly over to the sink to wring his braid out over it. Wufei and Heero exchanged a brief look, and Wufei tilted his head towards the other room. Heero hesitated, glancing suspiciously towards Duo before following the other boy out of the kitchen.
Duo was morbidly curious despite himself, and edged towards the door, eavesdropping shamelessly, hands still twisting at his hair. Fuck the puddle, he'd clean it up later.
"What did you do now?" Wufei's voice was low, but there was a thread of anger underneath it.
Heero's voice was cold. "He walked in on something and took it badly. That's all there is to it." There was a brief pause, then, "And it's none of your business, so don't bother asking." There was a barely veiled threat to the words.
"I think I can guess." Wufei's tone was deadpan. "He walked on you and Trowa."
There was another pause. Duo edged a little closer to the doorway, peeping stealthily around the doorframe.
Heero's jaw was clenched just slightly, his eyes narrowed as he looked at the boy glaring at him.
"I'm not stupid," Wufei said quietly but harshly. "Duo is probably the only one blind to the attraction between you and Barton."
Heero's eyes were chips of ice. Duo suddenly felt very stupid.
'Heero cares for another.'
"How could you do that in this house when he was here?" Wufei's voice was low and furious. "You have to know how he feels-"
"I'm not stupid, either, Wufei," Heero said in steel tones. "But it means nothing to me how Duo feels about me or what he thinks about me and Trowa. It's none of his business because he's not part of the picture."
Wufei's jaw twitched, his fists clenched at his sides. He was rigid, eyes locked in a death glare with the other pilot, and Duo was nearly taken aback by the warrior's sudden defense of him. Why should Wufei care that Heero had hurt him? His fingers tightened on the wood of the doorframe, and he bit his lip. Each uncaring word Heero spoke was like a rusty nail driving into his stomach. He felt like he was going to be sick.
"You're a cold bastard, Yuy," Wufei murmured.
"I've heard that many times before," Heero said blandly.
Wufei spat what sounded like a foreign curse and turned sharply on his heel, starting to stalk away.
Duo stepped into the room, unable to keep silent any longer. "So what?" he said loudly, and both boys turned quickly to look at him, seeming startled by his sudden entrance. Duo's hurt was almost smothered in his humiliation and fury as he glared daggers at the perfect soldier. "Fuck you, Heero Yuy. Oh, wait," he said nastily. "That's Trowa's job."
Heero's eyes flashed. He raised his hand, almost as if by instinct.
Duo flinched, knowing he had opened his mouth at just the wrong time, but already his fist was flying back for a retaliation.
Wufei was behind Heero faster than should have been humanly possibly, grabbing Heero's wrist in a death grip, tugging hard so that Heero was half-turned to face him.
Wufei's eyes were dark with a smouldering fury, teeth clenched. "Don't," he growled menacingly. "If I ever see you hit him again, I'll break your arm, I swear it."
Heero glared at him, his temper sparking, and the muscles in his arm flexed in preperation for a fight.
"Stop it," a voice said suddenly, sharply.
They looked up in surprise as Trowa appeared in the room on silent feet. His face was emotionless but his eyes were hard. His gaze flicked from Wufei to Heero. "Wufei," he said quietly, "let him go."
Wufei hesitated, glaring at the taller pilot, before reluctantly releasing his grip. Heero's arm dropped to his side, his narrowed eyes on his slim lover.
"Duo." Trowa turned jade eyes on the shorter boy, who was shaking with adrenaline, eyes still lit with fierce hurt and anger, body humming for a fight. "I should have told you earlier. I didn't know you still liked Heero." His eyes fell on his lover. "That's enough, Heero," he said softly. "You're letting your anger get away with you again. We both know you never meant to hurt Duo. Which is why you never told him about us." He glanced past Duo at the puddle on the kitchen floor. Just then Quatre came walking down the stairs, eyes troubled. He had heard the angry tones and was coming to investigate. "Quatre," Trowa said calmly, "could you get a towel? The floor's wet."
"Uh, hai," Quatre agreed, shooting his partners an anxious look before hurrying to the closet.
Wufei turned abruptly and walked upstairs without looking back. Heero hesitated, then, at a glance from his partner, followed Trowa with a brief, unreadable look towards Duo.
Duo numbly took a towel from Quatre as the blonde joined him, deaf to the smaller boy's worried, tentative inquiries. He knelt to wipe up the puddle at the doorway as Quatre helplessly gave up questioning the other boy and headed over to the back door to clean up the puddles there.
Too many things had happened too fast- too many shocks to his system.
Finding Heero in Trowa's embrace had shaken him badly, crushed his hopes, his feelings, his pride.
But seeing Wufei stand up for him, defy Heero and threaten him for Duo's sake, had rocked him to his core.
Duo was reckless, he was foolish, but he was certainly not stupid. Even as he mopped up the wetness on the floor, his mind was whirling.
After their trip to the gas station earlier today, he had begun to wonder if Wufei had never meant to be his enemy, had realized that Wufei's taunts were more teasing than spiteful the majority of the time. He had just always taken them the wrong way and sparked the other boy's temper.
"Wufei yelled at me after the wreck because he was mad that I took the glory from him."
'Wufei yelled at me after the wreck because he was worried about me.'
His hand slowly stopped moving, and he rested his weight on the balls of his feet as he stared blankly at the worn floor, lost in thought.
He had assumed that Heero's blow right after the crash had been a result of frustrated worry. Instead, it appeared that Wufei's angry tirade had been out of worry, not impatience. He had followed Heero to the ground before the fight was even finished-- hadn't Trowa said Quatre destroyed the remaining dolls? He had rushed down to see if Duo was dead or alive, and Duo had snapped at him. He suddenly wondered if Wufei's snide offer to fetch a hose had been a genuine offer of help to put out the fire.
Wufei was always ragging him for doing hardheaded things, now that he thought about it. Always bitching like a mother hen, which had been amusing at first but had quickly gotten on the American's nerves, his sights too focused on Heero to wonder at the meaning behind the constant warnings and scolding.
He reached up to touch the fading bruise on his jaw, memories of a napkinful of ice swimming in his mind.
His thoughts drifted back to that day, when he had flinched at Heero's angry words, half-expecting a blow. Wufei's eyes had narrowed, and he had assumed it had been out of disgust at Duo's reflex.
But just now he had stopped Heero from hitting him, had threatened him if he ever caught Heero striking him again.
Had he looked angry that day because he knew the reason for Duo's wince and secretly disapproved of Heero's often violent reaction to Duo's remarks and actions? Heero *had* taken to hitting him more frequently, finding it an effective way of getting Duo to think sense. And Wufei had been witness to at least some of these instances, if not the bruises that were a result. The disapproving shadow to his eyes had not been directed at him, after all. It had been a smouldering, silent resentment of Heero himself. But he had known about Duo's feelings for the stone-eyed pilot and had been tactful enough to stay silent.
My own personal secret protector, Duo thought with a sudden laugh.
Quatre looked over towards him, startled by the sound, a flicker of a hesitant smile on his rosy lips. Duo smiled weakly back at him, rising to his feet and wadding up the wet towel.
Suddenly he felt a little better.
Something deep in his chest still felt cracked and bruised, but, he realized, it was not the end of the world if Heero Yuy was not meant to be his. Trowa suited him much more than an energetic, talkative bundle of energy, in hindsight. And he had never let Heero know how he felt, so how could he expect the other pilot to return his feelings?
"Ne, Quatre, what should we make for dinner?" he asked brightly, pinning on a wide grin that didn't quite reach his eyes. It was a mask he retreated behind often.
Quatre beamed at him, reaching for Duo's wet towel. "How does soup and sandwiches sound? It's the perfect weather for it."
"Sounds great," Duo chirped, handing over his towel. "You make the soup, I'll make the sandwiches."
"Just don't spit in Wufei's," Quatre said, only half-joking.
Duo laughed. "Don't worry," he said honestly. "I wouldn't for all the money in China."
Author's Notes: Yes, Heero is an asshole in this chapter... ^^;;; Sorry lol I do like Heero, but I wanted to flex his jackass personality a little because I so rarely do.
Oh, yeah, the "goat" joke will be in the next chapter, for those of you who asked. ^^
*pounds fists against forehead* So much for 5 chapters.. -___-;; There's still a couple more to go.
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