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Erin Cayce

The pilot came flying into the room, braid trailing out a meter plus in back as he recklessly navigated a mine-field of pizza boxes and piled laundry. He crash-landed on the couch and skidded to a stop on his stomach with his feet waving in the air, and a crooked grin on his face.

"Look what I've got!" he cried.

Quatre looked up politely. "What is it, Duo?"

"Love horoscopes!" he crowed, triumphantly holding up a sheaf of papers.

Wufei snorted, and went back to his rice bowl.

Trowa regarded Shinigami with paternal amusement. "Is that so?" he said quietly.

"Yeah! There're terrific! They're perfect! It's sooo cool! Guys? You guys listening to me?"

Quatre tried unsuccessfully to hide his growing smile. "Yes. We're listening."

"Want me to read yours?" Duo asked eagerly.

The blonde Arabian exchanged a glance with Trowa. The green-eyed pilot merely raised an eyebrow. No help there.

Quatre sighed, stood, and perched beside Duo on the couch. "Sure. How does it work? By birthdays?"

"Naw, this is sooo much cooler. This goes by the first letter of your name." He began to rifle through the papers. "Q, Q, Q--here we go." He sat up, and assumed what he must have thought was a mysterious and mystical pose. In his deepest, most solemn voice, he began to read.

Everyone but Heero stopped what they were doing to listen to him.

"`If your name begins with Q - You require constant activity and stimulation. You have tremendous physical energy. It is not easy for a partner to keep up with you, sexually or otherwise. You are an enthusiastic lover and tend to be attracted to people because of their ethnic groups. You need romance, hearts and flowers, and lots of conversation to turn you on and keep you going." Duo laughed at Trowa's carefully neutral face. "Hear that, Tro-chan? You mind telling us if this is accurate, ne?"

Quatre was flushed bright pink. "Duo," he reproached, embarrassed. "You didn't tell me it was that kind of horoscope." Duo laughed maniacally, nearly falling off the couch. Quatre swatted him, still blushing.

It was a minute or so before Duo was able to calm himself, and he immediately began to shuffle the papers again, determinedly pointing a long finger at Trowa, who began to wonder if he should really allow Duo to continue with this.

"Let's see--T. If your name begins with: T - You are very sensitive, private, and sexually passive; you like a partner who takes the lead. You get turned on by music, soft lights, and romantic thoughts. You fantasize and tend to fall in and out of love. When in love, you are romantic, idealistic, mushy, and extremely changeable. You enjoy having your senses and your feelings stimulated, titillated and teased. You are a great flirt. You can make your relationships fit your dreams, all in your own head."

Duo snickered madly. "Tro-chan? Flirt? I wanna see that. Quatre? Does he get turned on by music? Is that why you two are always off working on your `duets'? Quatre--hey! Back off! I'll stop!" He shrieked as he fended off Quatre's tickling fingers. "I'll stop--whooh! Is this what you and Trowa do when--eep! Stop, stoooop!"

Once again, it was a while before everything was calm. When a twinkling amethyst eye turned on a certain young Chinese pilot attempting to cautiously sneak out before his humiliation came, Wufei winced.

Time to face the music--figuratively speaking, of course.

He had known that having a weekend with no missions and a Duo with a computer on his hands was a bad idea waiting to strike.

"I accept my fate," he muttered. "I must have done something damn awful in a past life." He sat again, and fixed Duo with a steely gaze. "Keep it to a minimum, Maxwell."

"Oh, sure. If your name starts with W--You are very proud, determined, and you refuse to take no for an answer when pursuing love. Your ego is at stake. You are romantic, idealistic, and often in love with love itself, not seeing your partner as he or she really is. You feel deeply and throw all of yourself into your relationships. Nothing is too good for your lover."

Quatre looked at Wufei in some surprise. That sounded pretty accurate--the first two sentences, at any rate, were right on mark. Wufei was blushing, and desperately trying not to.

Strangely, Duo chose not to tease Wufei as he had Quatre and Trowa. He shared a brief, knowing smile with the Chinese pilot, then turned to Heero.

"Heeeeeero," he crooned. "Your turn."


Trowa was still looking at Wufei, who was picking at imaginary dust on his pants and oblivious. Why had Duo looked as if he knew something about Wufei that the others didn't? That would require some deep thought.

"H--You seek a mate who can enhance your reputation. You will be very generous to your lover once you have attained a commitment. Your gifts are actually an investment in your partner. Before the commitment, though, you tend to be frugal with affection, and equally cautious in your sexual involvements. You are a sensual and patient lover." He lingered over the last bit.

Quatre thought, You'd have to be blind not see how he feels about Heero. Unfortunately, it seemed Heero had forgotten to wear his glasses. He merely turned back to the laptop. Duo sighed.

Gently, the Arabian said, "Read yours, Duo." Maybe it would get him past that moment. Honestly, Heero could be awful sometimes.

Duo tossed the papers down, and put his chin on his folded arms. "Nah. This is stupid. Forget about it."

Trowa picked them up. "You read ours. Now we're dying to hear yours, Duo. You don't get off that easy." He quickly scanned the papers--out of order, of course--and located the "D" section. Mimicking Duo's earliest performance, he dropped his voice, stressing his French accent to make it sound sexy and seductive.

"If your name starts with D," he read, "then once you get it into your head that you want someone, you move full steam ahead in your suit. You do not give up your quest easily. You are nurturing and caring. You are highly sexual, passionate, loyal, and intense in your involvements, sometimes possessive and jealous. Sex to you is a pleasure to be enjoyed. You are stimulated by the eccentric and unusual, having a free and open attitude." Trowa looked up, and wiggled an eyebrow at Duo, who blushed faintly.

Then his eyes went to Heero.

Who, unnoticed, had left the room. The laptop was turned off, and the chair was shoved back impatiently.

Duo sighed. "Oh, well," he said. "I guess it was a waste of time."

"He's a bastard," Wufei said fiercely. Surprised, Duo looked at him; Wufei flushed. "Well, he is."

Duo's grin was slightly apologetic. "Was it too obvious?"

Quatre laughed. "A little, maybe."

He sighed again, and rolled onto his back, hanging head-first off the couch, stretching his arms out into empty air. "Nothing works. All I want is for him to see me, really see me . . . "

Quatre stroked Duo's bangs away from his face. "It'll come, Duo. These things take time."

Duo shook his head. "Not this long. Damnit." He let himself fall off the couch, and sat up, burying his face in his tucked up knees. "I'm stupid. I'm so stupid. I'm just stupid, that's all there is to it. He doesn't want me. He doesn't even like me."

Wufei and Trowa exchanged glances. Duo was like this more and more often now; his mood swung from manic cheerfulness to deep melancholy with no warning.

"This calls for drastic measures," Wufei announced. He stood in one graceful motion, and threw out a hand in an all-encompassing gesture. "Maxwell, get your coat, I'm taking you out."

Duo looked up. "To where?"

With a gleam in his dark ebony eyes, Chang Wufei said, "Ice cream."

Duo laughed.

Heero, standing hidden in the shadows, heard everything. The whole scene was absurd, of course. They were all talking like--like Duo loved him.

Which was impossible, of course. Duo was a boy.

Heero snorted quietly, firmly pushing everything out of his mind. As soon say that Quatre and Trowa's relationship was anything more than friendship. Absurd. Hah.

With that comforting thought, Heero went to take a nap.


Quatre and Trowa had opted to stay behind, privately agreeing that Wufei would be best able to pull Duo out of his mood. Neither was exactly sure when the friendship between the justice-obsessed Chang Wufei and fun-loving Shinigami had grown, but it had been proven strong. Whenever Duo was in a funk--more and more often now--it was Wufei to the rescue. If Duo hadn't been completely obvious in his feelings for Heero, they might have wondered.

Wufei grabbed them a spot by the railing, tugging on Duo's braid to get his attention. Together, they leaned on the lake-side walkway and stood licking their ice creams.

"Want to feed the ducks?" Wufei asked.

"Nah. They look too vicious for me." Duo giggled. Actually, the ducks were disgustingly tame and waddled from loving duck-watcher to loving duck-watcher for generous handouts.

Wufei agreed. "Wanna go back to the carousel, then?"

"You know, I kind of like it right here. Do you mind just staying for a while?"

"Not at all." Actually Wufei was glad. The carousel made him nauseous.



Duo had to move fast to keep a chocolate-mint drip from hitting his hand, but once that near-disaster was averted, he continued. "You seen him lately?"

Wufei looked sharply at him. "Duo," he started warningly.

"Look, no one's around, right? And I'm not asking `cause of some ecchi reason." He gazed out at the lake with wistful eyes. "I just want to know that my friends are happy."

Even if you're not, Wufei thought. He sighed, and bent his own eyes to the process of drawing a smiley face in the dirt with the toe of his shoe. "Yes, I saw him. About a month ago."

"So long?"

"It isn't like he's an hour's drive away, Duo." Wufei shrugged uncomfortably. "And I have to be careful not to go too often. If I were detected--" He didn't finish the thought.

"Do you and he--do you ever talk about what you'll do after the war?"

"No." Wufei brushed the smiley face out of existence. "Never. We don't talk about the war, about the end of the war, about after the war. It's just something we avoid."

"That's sad," Duo whispered.

Wufei said nothing.

After a long time, Duo sighed. "Treize is lucky," he murmured. "I wish I had someone like you, Wu-chan."

Wufei hugged him around the shoulders. "You deserve it. Don't give up hope, Duo. Someone will come along. You're only sixteen."

"I feel sixteen-hundred." He turned into the embrace, laying his cheek against Wufei's chest and toying with the tip of his braid. "I worry that I won't make it out of the war, Wufei. I worry that I'll die, and I'll never have told him how . . . how much I love him."

Damn Heero Yuy. How a man can be so smart and so--so--so HEERO is beyond me. Wufei gave him an extra-hard squeeze, then straightened. "Want another cone? They had strawberry and vanilla swirls."

Duo giggled again. "I'm gonna get a major sugar-high, Wufei."

"That's a yes?"


Duo did, in fact, feed the ducks with bits of his waffle cone while Wufei went back to the counter to order again. An older woman gave him a wink as she handed over two swirls. "You and your little girlfriend look so sweet together," she said, sotto voce. "Is this your vacation, honey?"

Wufei flushed very bright red when he realized the woman thought that Duo was a girl--and that he was dating her. "Um, yes," he managed. "Here." He shoved a pile of money at her, trying to control his color. The woman laughed as he fled.

"Stupid onna," he muttered. "Maxwell better like this damn ice cream."


Heero printed.

If your name starts with D . . .

This was absurd. He had better things to do. He could be planning to blow something up. Or to blow something up.

You are highly sexual, passionate, loyal, and intense in your involvements . . .

Eck. Maxwell and sex. It didn't bear thinking about.

Or at least, not too much . . .

Aw, hell. Since when had he ever thought about anyone and sex? Sometimes, in his especially frivolous moments, Heero wondered what it was like--but, thank God, those moments never lasted long.

What could possibly be so great about it, anyway? Physical, biological reactions, chemicals and sweat.


If your name starts with D . . .

Heero snorted, and firmly put it out of his mind.

Unnoticed, Quatre smiled.


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