It was the familiar call of his old nursemaid's voice that stirred Wufei from his doze.
His brow furrowed in a small frown as he refused stubbornly to open his eyes. It had been a long day, and if he wanted to take a brief rest in the gardens without disturbances, then no one was going to tell the young Lord of Yeong otherwise.
Except maybe one man.
"Wufei." A hard finger prodded him in his shoulder, and he scowled in response, eyes still shut. "Wufei, you're going to ruin your clothes if you lie on the bench like that, and I'm not going to listen to your aunt complain about it again." Another rough poke. "Wufei. Are you liste--"
Wufei cut off the stern chiding abruptly, snaking out and arm and groping until he seized a fistful of cloth. With a firm yank, he pulled the other man down, opening his eyes at last to glare in mock anger at the unimpressed face hovering over his own. "Tell her to bite me," he suggested.
Heero's brow lifted sardonically. "I'm not suicidal."
"Hmph." He was comfortable, but he didn't particularly relish one of his aunt's disapproving stares, either, so with great reluctance he released his consort and pushed himself into a sitting position. Heero took a seat beside him on the bench, leaning back slightly on his hands, eyes drifting aimlessly about as he took in well-tended garden in the failing light. Wufei stretched, muffling a yawn and following the other man's gaze.
One could never tell by looking that the gardens had once been a battle ground. Meticulous care had been taken to heal the deep furrows and uprooted trees, and slowly both grounds and architecture had been restored. There was still construction going on in certain parts of the palace that had taken more damage than other areas, but a lot had been repaired in the past five years, and Wufei found himself taking in the sight of his palace with pride.
"Weimin!" came the faint cry, reminding him of what had awoken him in the first place. "Weimin, you come here this instant!"
Heero snorted under his breath. "That woman never gets a break," he observed, glancing slyly at his lover out of the corner of his eye. "She had to deal with you when you were young, and now she's run ragged keeping track of another toddler who's just as disobedient."
Wufei shoved him, getting to his feet. "Shut up. I was a well-behaved child," he lied loftily, straightening his overcoat. He tilted his chin in the direction of the pond, indicating the figure circling the water's edge in a harried manner. "We'd better go help before Duo loses his cool."
Smirking slightly, Heero also got to his feet and followed the other man across the grounds.
Duo threw his arms up in the air and turned towards them with an expression of worried frustration stamped on his face the instant they were in hearing range. "He's like a god damned weasel!" he snapped. "You take your eyes off the kid for one second, and POOF, he's gone, wiggling through some crack in the fence, climbing up some tree, or--" He tugged at his braid, casting his gaze about with obvious concern. "That kid's more trouble than two of ME, and that's saying something."
"Who do you think he gets it from, Maxwell?" Wufei drawled, amused at the other's expense.
Duo ignored that. "Yingtai's been looking for him for almost an hour; she just got me a few minutes ago. She remembers all the places you and Heero used to hide. He's not in any of those places! How can a kid with such little legs move so quickly??" He pointed accusingly at Wufei. "You're his legal guardian. You're a bad influence."
"You're his father," Wufei shot back. "And he gets every ounce of attitude from you, so don't go pointing fingers, Maxwell." He placed his hands on his hips, wracking his brain. "What about Harriet?" he asked suddenly. "Is she missing, too?"
Duo stared at him for a long moment, then threw his arms up in the air again in disgust. He was working himself into a fine fit of panic. "AAGGHH, I'll kill both of them! Troublemaking little twerps! She's the bad influence, you know. Every time Milliardo comes here with that little punk, there's trouble. She's the one who's always talking him into doing all those stupid little pranks--"
"She's four, Duo," Heero pointed out patiently.
Wufei fought not to roll his eyes, turning his back and beckoning. "Yes, let's blame the girl. It of course has nothing to do with the fact that Weiman's the son of a legendary trickster. Come on, quit screeching like a fish wife. We'll get Quatre to ferret them out. Harriet's too young to hide her emotions from him."
"Fine but let's, uh, keep this between us guys," Duo said quickly, following the other two. "Hilde's busy studying those history books Mingzhu brought her, and uh... well, she'll wring my neck if she realizes I let him get loose again."
"He's not a stray dog."
"No, he's a kid who needs to get his butt whooped," Duo muttered fervently.
Wufei fought back a grin with some amount of success. Striding beside him, Heero managed to keep a straight face, though the brief glance he threw Wufei spoke volumes. Duo seemed to sense that they were having a private laugh at him, and grumbled something about lousy heartless friends under his breath.
It was easy enough finding the remaining Guardians. Trowa spent most of his evenings in the dojo for at least an hour or two, doing simple warm-ups and acrobatics to keep himself limber. And where Trowa was, Quatre was sure to be found nearby.
The blonde looked up from where he was sitting against the far wall, leaving the floor clear for his lover. The empath smiled in greeting, lowering the spear haft he'd been repairing. "What's the problem?" he asked, cheerfulness faltering as he caught a feeling of the tension coming off of Duo in waves.
Wufei flicked a hand dismissively. "Weimin has slipped off again. Harry's probably with him. Could you find the little brats before Duo has a conniption?"
Trowa had been doing a series of flips and cartwheels across the floor, and rolled to his feet, barely breathing hard at his exertions. He wiped sweat from his brow and padded over to retrieve his shirt from where it was hanging on the wall. "He can't get off the palace grounds," he pointed out reasonably. "The guards have learned to keep an eye out for him."
"That doesn't mean he can't fall from a tree and break his neck, or fall down the well or--"
Wufei cut short his friend's retort. "That well was covered up when we were kids, so quit worrying so much."
"You don't see Wufei worrying," Quatre pointed out encouragingly as he and Trowa followed the other three out into the false sunset. "Weimin is fine, you'll see." He fell silent, reaching out and probing at the emotions of those people housed behind the palace walls.
"Wufei doesn't have to deal with Hilde," Duo pointed out. "She'll blame me before she goes after him. She said she won't hold him responsible for crap like this until he officially takes over Weimin's training."
"Touche," Trowa murmured, lips quirking in a small little smile.
"Did you check with the others?" Heero asked, glancing back at his friend.
"Others? Oh. They got shipped off yesterday, remember? For their training." Duo shook his head. "I have no idea where Kang is. He's the well-behaved one, remember? I'll bet Wei told him to stay inside, and he's doing just that. Kid needs to learn when to be a little more disobedient, if you ask me."
Quatre led them unerringly to one of the few places on the grounds children were not allowed: a construction site on the other end of the palace, where repairs were being made to one of the buildings demolished during the Gundam fight. With all the sharp tools, loose wood, and general chaos of the site, it was a dangerous place for small children with little hands and clumsy antics. Heero deftly seized a foot apiece and dragged both sheepish children out from under the stack of freshly-hewn wood they had claimed as a "tent". Covered in sawdust and pitch, they stood shuffling their feet and staring at their bare toes as both Wufei and Duo gave them a tongue-lashing for their foolishness. It was Duo, predictably, that eased off first. He was often teased for his overprotectiveness of his little son, but all it took was one look from those dark eyes to earn instant forgiveness. Weimin stopped scowling at his toes long enough to offer his father a contrite look, and that was all she wrote.
Duo muttered something about "just kids" and "chip off the old block", promised to give him a spanking later, and lifted the delighted boy up onto his shoulders for a ride back to the palace. Wufei scowled at his friend's lack of a backbone, but let it go. It was hard to be angry at Weimin for long. He may have gotten Hilde's looks, but if there was a way to squeeze every bit of mischieviousness from Duo and every drop of bullheadedness from Wufei, surely someone had done so and come up with Weimin. He was a little terror who got into trouble without even trying, but everyone in the palace was fond of him.
Wufei quirked a brow at the little girl hovering by his side, reaching down and finding her grasping hand in the failing light. "And I suppose it's all Wei's fault?" he guessed.
"Yes," she said promptly, little legs moving quickly in an attempt to keep up with Wufei's longer stride as the little party made their way back to the palace.
Wufei fought back a grin. Harriet may not go actively looking for trouble like Weimin did, but she tended to think up the majority of their "ingenious plans". Wufei wasn't sure which side of the family to blame that on. Milliardo was a well-known tactician, but Noin was no fool herself. At least they had the decency to be embarrassed when her little plots got herself and her friend into trouble during their visits, unlike a certain braided moron.
Trowa came up behind them and scooped the little girl up; she squealed in happy surprise as he swung her up in the air before placing her on his own broad shoulders. Heero reached out and claimed Wufei's freed hand, a habit he'd developed in the past few years that he barely noticed anymore. Wufei's Mark, as always, warmed slightly at the touch, sending a pleasant shiver down his back.
Kang was waiting anxiously for them just inside. A sturdy little boy almost two years Weimin's senior, he was still obediant to his bossy little charge almost to a fault. Wufei swallowed a reprimand at the last instant. This was something better left to the others. Duo spotted the miserable looking boy as well and lowered his son to the ground.
"Wei," he said, stern again, "what did I tell you about leaving Kang behind? He needs to stay with you. You can play with Harry if you want, but you need to get used to keeping Kang closeby, all right?"
Weimin scowled rebelliously at the other child. "He's no fun," he complained. "He just tattles and whines all the time."
"He's trying to keep you out of trouble," Duo cut him off. "He's your Primary Guardian. It's his job to be a worrywart."
Wufei flicked Heero a meaningful glance, and earned a slight frown in return.
"And you need to learn to trust your own judgement, Kang," Trowa spoke up quietly, lowering Harriet to the ground as well. "There's such a thing as blind obedience. You need to learn to tell the difference between it and loyalty, like I did."
Kang nodded, embarrassed at the lecture and visibly upset with Weimin for leaving him behind again.
Duo spanked his son on the behind once, so lightly it was barely more than a pat. "Go find Yingtai, you little monkey. And you'll let her give you a bath without any shouting this time, or I might have to tell your mother where I found you."
"Awwww," Weimin complained, but he set off obediently in the right direction, with Harriet and Kang hurrying after him.
"And stop picking at it!" Duo shouted when he caught sight of the boy reaching automatically to scratch through the cloth at his Mark. Weimin yanked his hand away from his back and ran off, already arguing loudly with his friends. Duo watched him go with a frown of worry. "Nezha put that damned thing on him when he wasn't even a year old," he pointed out. "I don't get why he still scratches at it so much. You don't think it's infected, do you?"
Heero shrugged. "Wufei used to mess with his when he was little. He said it was like having bugs crawling on his skin. It went away eventually. He'll be fine."
"Duo, why do you worry about him so much?" Quatre asked, fighting to keep a smile off his face. "He has plenty of people to keep an eye on him, and he's pretty smart for his age."
Duo scratched at his scalp roughly, scowling weakly. "I dunno. I just do. Maybe cuz the little runt reminds me too much of myself when I was a kid, and hell knows I got into a lotta scrapes that woulda killed any normal kid. I didn't exactly get banged up when I was little. When I did, I healed real fast. He's..." he hesitated, unwilling to say 'human', though the unspoken word hung in the air like a physical thing. "He doesn't have that luxury. If he breaks a leg, it's not exactly gonna heal over a day or two."
Quatre chuckled affectionately. "Let him get his scraped knees and bruises, Duo. It's part of growing up. He's safe here; nothing bad will happen to him."
"And you'll spoil him," Wufei grunted. "If you keep fawning over him, he'll be useless when it's time for him to take a hit in the dojo. Kang is afraid to so much as wrestle with him, and those two are going to need to be sparring partners when they get older."
"Hmm, speaking of wrestling," Duo mused, rubbing his hands together and casting a quick glance in the direction his son had gone, "maybe I should go take advantage of Hilde while the little rugrat's in the bath. You know--"
"Spare me the details," Wufei warned, giving him a disgusted look. "You're lucky I let you anywhere near my sister, you little thief."
Duo laughed, offered a mocking salute, and hurried off.
"I'd better get back to the dojo," Trowa announced, but stopped when Quatre caught his hand and calmly led him down the hall.
"It can wait," the blonde assured him, a small smile playing at his lips.
Trowa evidently had no argument, because he followed the other boy without a word.
Wufei snorted, crossing his arms over his chest. "Did someone slip something in the drinks at dinner while I wasn't looking?" he demanded. "Or is it mating season and I missed the memo?"
Heero didn't smile, though his eyes were wickedly amused. "Are you suggesting you don't want to retire early for the night?" he asked, voice serious as the grave.
Wufei hesitated, then strode down the hall in the direction of the royal bedchamber, nose in the air. "If you're tired from your important day of Doing Nothing, I suppose we can go to bed," he declared.
They barely waited until the door was shut behind them, then hands were pushing impatiently past cloth, skimming over familiar planes of muscle. Wufei managed to tear his mouth away from Heero's long enough to gasp a quick question, "How long's it been?"
"Dunno," came the mumbled response from somewhere around his collarbone. Wufei hissed breath through his teeth as fingers slipped around his waist, digging in hard before brushing feather-light against his Mark. The touch, as always, sent a dizzying wave of pleasure through his body. "Week, maybe... Since before Milliardo got here. Why?"
"Just wondering-- hmmph-"
They stumbled in the general direction of the bed, still struggling to disrobe. It was a race that Wufei won. Heero was still trying to kick off his pants, practically hopping on one foot, when Wufei stripped off the last of his own clothing and gave his lover a hard shove. Caught off-balance, the other man stumbled back and landed awkwardly on the matress. Wufei was straddling him in an instant, gloating openly.
Heero finally succeeded in kicking the pants away, and started to sit up, only to have a hard hand on his chest shoving him back again. "Stop wiggling," Wufei muttered, smirking against Heero's throat. "Save it for later."
Heero started to attempt another escape, then let himself fall back with a muffled grunt as Wufei's hand dipped low and began doing very distracting things that killed whatever argument had been half-forming in his mind. He settled instead for seizing the other man's skull and dragging him in for a hard kiss.
Wufei muttered something unintelligable against his mouth and moved away briefly to fetch the lube. Heero scooted further up onto the bed and waited, still unsure of how things were going to play out. Wufei could be as aggressive on bottom as he was on top, so it was usually not until the last minute that roles became clear.
Not that Heero was complaining.
An eager mouth found his again, a strong hand gripping his knee and giving a firm shove. Heero immediately retaliated, brushing his palm against the other's Mark and grinning into the mouth that opened under his lips in a gasp.
"Stop cheating," Wufei panted with mock irritation, fumbling with the lube.
"Stop teasing," Heero retorted, then pressed his head helplessly against the pillows as a hand wrapped around his erection.
Preparation was quick and sloppy, but patience had never been either man's strong point. Hands clutched desperately at the sheets at first breach, breaths harsh on the air, teeth and tongue and lips scraping against whatever was closest. Wufei shuddered as Heero's mouth skimmed across the shell of his ear, mumbling a barely coherent order to get on with it.
Breathy laughter sounded against Heero's cheek, hands tightened around his thighs, lifting them, and Wufei obliged.
Heero hissed a curse, reaching up blinding and pressing his hands against the headboard to keep himself still as his lover pounded into him. Soft and slow was nice every now and then, but secretly Heero preferred this raw near-violence. He opened his mouth to suck in gulps of air, and found it gagged with an enthusiastic tongue.
The headboard creaked in protest as he shoved against it with most of his considerable strength, rocking his hips up to meet Wufei. "Fuck--" Wufei hissed against his chest, fingers tightening painfully against his thighs.
The edges of Heero's vision were going alternately black and white, and he closed his eyes tightly, struggling to breathe. Pleasure, with spikes of pain, more addictive than any drug, were quickly bringing him to the edge. Abruptly he clamped down, earning a startled yell from the other man. Wufei shuddered, drove into him a few more times, and practically collapsed against him, panting for air.
Heero took the brief respite to catch his own breath, a small smirk playing at his lips.
Wufei kissed him sloppily, then pulled out with a slight wince. "Impatient, much?" he muttered.
"Hn." Heero tried unsuccessfully to banish his smirk.
Wufei arched a brow at him, then glanced down. His own mouth tugged into a grin, and abruptly he disappeared from sight. Heero started to lift his head to see where his lover had gone--
Then there was heat and suction and... Heero found his head pressed against the pillows again, eyes gazing blindly at the ceiling as a strangled groan tore itself from his throat. He reached down desperately, fingers clutching at dark hair, and fingers splayed against his abdomen in response. Wufei's mouth was merciless, and Heero could feel himself nearing the edge again with frightening speed.
Then fingers were slamming into him, hard and fast-- one, two, three times--
Heero came with a shout, arching off the bed as his vision whited out.
It took him several moments to come back to himself, chest heaving, body limp and unresponsive as he stared dazedly at the ceiling. Wufei's face hovered into view, looking decidedly smug. "Still breathing, Yuy?" he taunted quietly, reaching up to wipe his mouth and chin as an afterthought.
Heero glared weakly, unable to voice a suitable response just yet. Wufei chuckled, wincing as he rubbed at his scalp. "Try not to pull my hair out next time."
Heero gave a huff, tugging the other man down so that they were lying side by side. He reached up to tug the tangles out of his lovers hair with careful fingers. "I wasn't aware we were having a competition," he noted.
Wufei arched a brow. "Everything's a competition with you," he pointed out.
Wufei laughed despite himself, then shivered as Heero's hand swept down his side and lightly brushed the edge of his Mark.
Heero blinked drowsily, already feeling sleep tugging at him. He wriggled a bit until he could reach the sheets. Twitching them until the wet spot was out of the way, he pulled the top sheet over them both. He could feet Wufei's chest rising and falling against his side, his breathing deepening as he, too, started to doze.
"Do you ever regret it?"
Heero looked curiously at his lover at the murmured inquiry, but Wufei's eyes were already closed. "...What?"
"That I returned ruyi. That I broke the deal." Wufei's eyes opened slightly, gazing at his hand where it was lying comfortably on the other man's stomach. "That when we die, that's it."
Heero shrugged slightly, careful not to dislodge Wufei. "Everyone has to die sometime," he pointed out. "I don't really have any regrets about this life."
"...Yeah," Wufei breathed, eyes falling shut again. "Me neither..."
Heero twisted his head to look at him, but Wufei was already asleep. He rubbed a lock of ebony hair between his fingers almost pensively, blinking drowsily as he watched Yeong's young lord sleep.
"Wufei." There was no response, save for a slight crinkling of the nose. Heero let his eyes slide closed, the hint of a smile tugging at his mouth.
All around the palace, lights were being dimmed and voices were calling soft good nights. Squealing and laughter came from the bath chambers as the Chang heir and his friends terrorized their nannies.
Yeong slept on, a tiny insignificant colony lost in the vastness of space, at peace and safe.
And somewhere far away an ethereal dragon looked down on her people
and was content.
Author's Notes: I won't bore you with winded babbling and so forth.
Only, thank you thank you thank you to everyone who read and reviewed and kept me going with this. <3 <3
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