Ch. 5 ~ "Just Wild Beat, Miscommunication"
"Heero likes someone."
Wufei shot the other boy a sideways look, but continued sharpening his blade with deliberate, practiced sweeps of the stone, the grating hissing sound a familiar and oddly comforting one to him. It had taken awhile to find a place on the school grounds where he was not likely to be stumbled upon to put an edge to his sword, but it hadn't taken Trowa long to find him. The little gazebo had seen better days, and was all but forgotten by the campus population, but it was on the edge of the grounds, and well away from the more populated areas of the school. "You hunted me down just to gossip like teenage girls?" Wufei finally grunted. He held his sword perpendicular to himself at eye level, judging the edge before lowering it and scraping the well-worn rock against it again.
"You don't seem surprised," Trowa noted. He was leaning against one of the only sides that hadn't collapsed over the years, arms crossed as he watched Wufei with an impassive face.
"He's with that Aubrey girl all the time," Wufei muttered, eyes on his work. "And there was that slip about a girl at the party." He shrugged, a quick jerky movement that betrayed the lie in his casual voice. "I have my suspicions. But it's none of my business."
"Lesa told me," Trowa admitted, shifting his gaze towards the main building. "I don't know how she found out, but she brought up a valid point. This is the first time Heero's ever shown interest in another human being. Even with Relena constantly vying for his attention, he never seemed to realize she was female."
Wufei cursed in Mandarin. "Not you, too," he growled. "You sound like Yuy or Une. Next you're going to spout some nonsense about how it's good for him and we should encourage it." He scowled at his sword, scraping the stone with more force against the blade. "It's not our business, or our place to do anything. You of all people should know that. Relationships are better forged individually, without outside interference."
Trowa tensed slightly. "What is that supposed to mean?"
Wufei snorted quietly, but didn't respond.
Trowa gazed at him in silence for a long moment. "Why did you agree to this?" he asked abruptly.
"What are you talking about?"
"This. The school. I was sure you were going to put up a fight when Une got it into her head to send us here. But you just took it in stride."
Wufei shrugged again, more casually this time. "She's right. For once. A proper education is valuable. And we can't be soldiers or mercenaries for the rest of our lives."
"Your education was almost as thorough as Quatre's," Trowa pointed out.
"I was thirteen the last time I did any official studying, Barton," Wufei reminded him shortly. "I've spent the last five or six years with a sword instead of a book in my hands. There are a lot of things I never got to learn."
"You and Heero are arguably the best team in the Preventers. Une has said so herself. Don't tell me that didn't play into your decision at all. Being here ensures you'll continue to get missions with him."
"It hadn't occurred to me," Wufei snapped. "Unlike Yuy, I was more than willing to jump at the chance of a free education."
"Hm." Trowa's gaze wandered across the grounds once more. "This girl, Aubrey. She doesn't really strike me as the type to interest Heero."
"I could say the same about your taste in women," Wufei muttered.
Trowa shot him a quick look, but Wufei never looked up.
"I don't care who you're kissing behind everyone's backs, Barton," Wufei grumbled in annoyance. "It's none of my business. And Yuy is too dense to figure it out."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Fine." Wufei tested the edge of his blade against a sliver of wood, then wrapped the blade carefully in a cloth to conceal it. "My point is, I don't care about your questionable love life, or Yuy's blunted emotional attachments. I don't know why you bothered to bring it up. I'm not going to play matchmaker, if that was your demented idea."
Trowa shifted uneasily. "Heero's emotions aren't just blunted, they're practically buried under years of training," he said quietly. "I don't even know if he's aware of his own feelings. I'm not saying we should force the issue, but I don't see what harm there is in helping them out a little."
"Aubrey seems like the type to get what she wants," Wufei said, getting to his feet. "She'll bludgeon some sense into him without any outside help. I am not having this conversation. Anyway, how the hell did Lesa figure it out? She's never here."
"She didn't say who it was," Trowa admitted, following the other young man across the grass. "But I made an educated guess. Girls are better at picking up on things like that. Maybe he said or did something that tipped her off."
"Well good for her. But I am not getting mixed up in this. I don't give a rat's ass who Yuy might or might not like. I almost pity the girl. She's going to have to be a lot more obvious than she's being now if she expects him to get a clue."
"Why don't you take your own advice?"
Wufei stumbled. "What??"
Trowa frowned at him slightly. "You're not much better off than Yuy. If you like someone, you should tell them."
"Who said I-- What nonsense are you blathering on about, Barton?" Wufei sputtered angrily.
Trowa blinked, taken off guard by the other's reaction. "That girl, Penny. I thought you were interested in her. Heero seems to think so."
Wufei gaped at him.
"I'm starting to think Lesa has spies at the school," Trowa mused, privately enjoying the young man's surprise. "She hinted that Heero was trying to help you and her get to know each other better..."
"FOOL!" Wufei exploded.
Trowa watched as the boy stomped away, mildly perplexed. Perhaps it had been a mistake bringing up the touchy subject of romance with the normally abrasive man. Wufei obviously did not have the patience for it.
Heero's hand shot automatically towards the gun he'd stashed in the desk drawer as the dormitory door was thrown open, jolting him out of his studies. He started to relax on seeing it was only Wufei, then tensed again on getting a good look at the other man's expression. Wufei was in one of his more explosive moods.
"Yuy!" Wufei slammed the door behind him and stood rigid with indignant anger, concealed sword clutched tightly by his side. "Just how incredibly thick can you get?"
Heero hesitated, unwilling to give a thoughtless answer. Sometimes Wufei's bad moods could blow over within moments. Other times he dragged Heero into a fight that could escalate to full-on physical violence. He was not exactly in the mood for the latter. Especially since if they arrived to class covered in fresh bruises, it would raise some uncomfortable questions. "What are you talking about?" he finally asked in a carefully neutral tone of voice.
"Has everyone gone insane?" Wufei demanded. "Why is everyone so determined to play Cupid? Have you no pride? No sense of propriety? No COMMON SENSE?"
Heero stared at him blankly, wildly trying to find an explanation for Wufei's accusations. "I don't--"
"In all the years you've known me, have I ever shown any interest whatsoever in a female?" Wufei snapped in exasperation.
Heero opened his mouth, then shut it again. "...No?"
"Then why in the shit are you trying to shove me together with that girl?"
Heero's eyes widened. Wufei was angry. No, more than that, he was frustrated. Now that he'd finally revealed what it was he was angry about, however, Heero was at a complete loss. "Penny? She likes you. You like her," he insisted.
Wufei threw his sword onto his bed and placed his fists on his hips, pinning Heero to his chair with a stern look. "Is that so?" It sounded more like a threat than a question.
"You like her," Heero repeated stubbornly.
"She is one of the few girls I've met here who is worth the breath it takes to hold an intelligent conversation, yes," Wufei said through gritted teeth. "Meeting on friendly terms with a woman does not instantly equate to hand-holding and wedding bells, Yuy, you thick idiot."
Heero's own temper was beginning to stir. Wufei being Wufei, his indignant anger was a bit predictable, but Heero did not appreciate being talked to as if he was an empty-headed boy. "I never said it did," he said shortly. "All I did was give you the opportunity to spend more time with each other. If I was wrong, then it doesn't really change anything, does it?"
"That's not the point!"
Heero was completely lost now. "Then what is the point?" he snapped. "And why are you so angry?"
"Because you're dense! This isn't about her, you- blind- ignorant- stunted-" Wufei was practically stuttering in furious exasperation, which was usually a sign that he was three seconds away from storming out or two seconds away from hitting Heero in the face.
Heero wanted to demand why Wufei suddenly thought so lowly of him in the first place-- and what the hell the point WAS --but there was only so much his patience and temper could take. He got to his feet, eyes narrowing, voice hard. "If you don't stop name-calling like a child, I'm going to make you stop. I don't know why you're so angry, but I'm not in the mood for one of your tantrums, Chang."
It turned out Wufei did not like being patronized any more than Heero did, and they both ended up in class with bruises and lame excuses half an hour later. By the time Heero cooled down enough to be confused again, Wufei-- who could stay angry for what seemed like days --was already avoiding him. He wasn't in their shared room after class, and he didn't return that evening.
Annoyed all over again, Heero decided to dump the majority of the blame where he felt it belonged.
"You were wrong," he growled into the phone before Duo could even get all of "Hello" out.
"Wufei has half a mind to put my head on a stake in the school lawn, and it's your fault."
"Boy, that's mature," Duo drawled. "What the hell are you on about, Heero?"
Heero curbed his petulant anger and put a note of cold indifference in his tone. "As Wufei made quite clear-- loudly and violently --he's not interested in Penny. Or girls, I think was the general gist, but he wasn't making much sen--"
"What??" Duo sounded much more alert now. Almost giddy. "He said that?"
"He thinks she's smart, but--"
"Not that," Duo interrupted impatiently. "Though yeah, that's definitely a reli-- er, good to know. But he said he didn't like girls?"
Heero paused, going over the convoluted argument in his head. "Sort of."
"What do you mean sort of?"
"It wasn't important," Heero said impatiently. "He was just angry that I'd been trying to put him together with Penny."
"Uh, no, buddy, it's actually very important. Depending how he said it. Now what exactly did he--"
"He was too angry to make much sense. He spent most of the time calling me names."
"Yes. Uh oh. It's your fault."
"How is it my fault??"
"How is it not?" Heero demanded. "It was your idea to 'help' them in the first place."
"Hey, you asked for my help, buddy," Duo was quick to remind him. "You're the one who wanted to give Wufei a little helping hand. Don't blame me cuz Wufei found out and blew a gasket. Anyway, that's not the important point now--"
"That's what Wufei said," Heero said, grumpy at being left out of something only he couldn't seem to understand.
"Ye-- Wait. Since when did you call him anything but 'Chang'?"
Heero frowned impatiently, at the same time trying to remember if he'd ever called Wufei by his first name to his face. "That would sound strange here where everyone calls him by his given name," he pointed out.
"Yeah, I guess so. Anyway, I'm glad you called, buddy."
"Hmm I guess there's still some hope after all." Duo sounded infuriatingly smug. "I knew it. Hmm."
"Duo, stop muttering to yourself," Heero snapped. "You're getting on my nerves."
"I'd worry less about how annoying I am and more about how long Wufei's patience will last," Duo advised dryly. "Someone needs to hit you with a clue bat. Hard."
"I have to get to class," Heero interrupted, and hung up on the other boy's protests. He tossed the phone onto the desk in frustration. He disliked riddles, and despised being given the run-around. And it especially rankled him when he didn't recognize the more subtle human emotions and instincts that seemed to be bred into everyone but himself.
But mostly he hated the thought that he'd somehow managed to alienate Wufei and had no idea how to fix it. Wufei could be immature when he had a mind to be, and Heero had suffered through his cold shoulder routine in the past. Usually there was nothing he could do but wait for the proud young man's temper to cool on its own. He resigned himself to a few days' worth of stony silence.
Wufei surprised him by returning later that evening, acting as if nothing had happened. Heero, relieved and deciding that bringing up their strange argument would be too big of a risk, took this as a cue to behave normally.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd swear men get PMS," Aubrey muttered.
Heero frowned at her. She had insisted on accompanying him to his next class, and Wufei had disappeared the instant she attached herself to his hip. Bathroom break, probably, Heero mused, ignoring the twinge of annoyance.
"Wufei. He's been avoiding Penny like the plague, and he's been acting moody all day. Did he get a bad grade yesterday or something?"
So perhaps Wufei hadn't gotten over the previous night's argument so quickly, after all, Heero thought with an internal wince. "No," he explained in typical blunt Heero Yuy fashion. "He found out that Penny likes him."
Aubrey gaped at him in horror. "Wha- Are you kidding?? What a jerk! He could have just let her down nicely. She's going to crawl under her rock again when she figures out that he's deliberately avoiding her. You two are horrible with women. Well, with people."
Heero decided not to answer that.
Aubrey fumed for a little while, then gave an explosive sigh. "Oh, well. At least he didn't lead her along too badly. Though I still kinda wanna hit him. I mean, how dense can you get? Okay, it wasn't glaringly obvious she liked him, but you'd think he'd have figured it out after spending that much time with her."
Heero shot her a sharp look. Her words rang a little too close to Wufei's from last night for comfort. "You think he's 'dense' because he didn't know we were trying to give them time alone?"
"Pay attention, numbskull," Aubrey chided. "He's dense for not noticing she liked him."
"Penny doesn't like me, does she?"
Aubrey stared at him as if he'd grown a second head. "You kidding? I think you scare her a little bit."
So that couldn't have been what Wufei was getting at. He must have been talking about something other than emotional landmines. Maybe Wufei had meant Heero was dense for not noticing that Wufei wasn't interested in Penny? That sounded like it fit with the rest of the venom he'd been spouting.
"Good lord, Heero, will you stop glaring like that? You're freaking people out."
Heero quickly smoothed his face. "As you pointed out, neither of us is very adept with handling females," he said in a monotone. "I don't think it's fair to think Wufei is 'dense' for not noticing her feelings."
"Whatever. No one can be that dense. He had to at least have suspected. The way she opens up around him, the way she gets kinda flustered when he gets too close even in innocent ways. You know, the little things."
Heero was beginning to feel twitchy, but couldn't quite put his finger on the reason.
"Here's your class." Aubrey gave a little wave, continuing down the hall. "See you later. And tell Wufei I'm gonna punch him in the arm next time I see him!"
Heero frowned at her retreating back. All this talk and thinking about teenage romance was giving him a headache. He was tired of it all. From now on, he was going to follow Wufei's example, he told himself firmly. He was here to learn. He'd fulfilled Une's "order" of making a connection with other students. There was no need to get any deeper into it.
He still thought he would feel better if he had something to shoot, though.
"I need to shoot something," Wufei said firmly, glaring at the monitor where Une's face was twisting in a grimace of long-suffering. "You had better have a mission ready."
"Who taught you to talk to your boss like that, you impudent punk?" Une grumbled, eyes lowering as she flipped through the paperwork on her desk. "You two are pathetic. You can't even last two weeks without violence. All right, I think I may have something for you. Where's Yuy?"
"Pair me with Barton. He needs to get some action in the field or he'll get soft."
Une stopped and glanced up, brows up somewhere around her hairline. "You don't want to be teamed with Yuy?"
"Yuy has a test to study for. Barton hasn't gotten a mission since we got here. It isn't rocket science, woman."
"Watch your mouth or I'll send Notch over to staple it shut." Une squinted at him. "Did you and Yuy have another blowout? You didn't put him in the hospital again, did you?"
Wufei's eyes narrowed in impatience.
"All right, all right. I'll send you and Barton the information. Notch will pick you up Friday night at seven. Please try not to get yourselves killed. You're expensive to replace."
Wufei arched an eyebrow at her and switched off the computer.
Author's Notes: Forgive the dorky title. I couldn't help myself. And the OOCness running rampant in this chapter >>;;
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