Categories > Anime/Manga > Gundam Wing > Shades of Gray

Chapter Three

by sumthinlikhuman 0 reviews

It took me a great, long stretch of time before my sluggish brain registered: me. He's talking about him and Trowa and me. (Winner of KumoriCon '07, Best Novella Adult!)

Category: Gundam Wing - Rating: R - Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Duo, Trowa, Wufei - Warnings: [!] [X] - Published: 2007-03-13 - Updated: 2007-03-13 - 3697 words

You come from parents wanton
A childhood rough and rotten
I come from wealth and beauty
Untouched by work or duty
And oh, my love, my love
And oh, my love, my love
We both go down together.
-excerpt from The Decemberists' "We Both Go Down Together"

Chapter Three

"Fei, c'mon. Stop being such a hard up."

"I already told you, Maxwell, I don't want to go with you." Large, nearly violet eyes suddenly come far too close. He bats at the other man, frowning, upset that his personal space as been breached. Duo frowns slightly, and flicks him between the eyes.

"Heero's going."

"Good for Yuy. I'm not." He settles back into his chair, curls his legs under himself, and slips his glasses onto his nose, intent on starting his book. Duo settles in front of him, and snatches the book away.

"An hour. You can drive?"

"Why would I want to do anything that involves taking you shopping?" Duo rolls his eyes, and flips his wrist absently, negating the question. Then his eyes are almost serious, but sparkling with mirth.

"Come on, Fei. Don't tell me you don't want to go shopping."

"Why would I? It's so . . . effeminate." The word seems to sting suddenly, but maybe that's because Duo's eyes suddenly reflect his shock. But then the brunet laughs slightly, and reaches out, tugging on his ponytail; he yelps, and swats the hand away.

"Dude, you and me? We may be the tough, manly type in battle, but we kind of epitomize the definition of 'effeminate'."

"If you would cut your hair-."

"See? You're talking about hair! Come be a homo with me, Fei! Just for one afternoon? Just for me?" And he's pouting. He doesn't wonder why Trowa cannot deny that pout, though he is loathe to admit that, even in his mind. And he's lightly flushed; he doesn't want to 'be a homo' with Duo, even for just an afternoon. He isn't gay.

After all, gay men don't have wives. They don't sleep with women, don't think of them.

And heterosexual men don't think of sleeping with our romantically attached comrades. He sighs, and finally bends to the braided brunet's will.

"How long are we . . . shopping?"

"I knew I'd get to you eventually, Fei. Come on. I'll buy you a dragon or something."

"A double date?"

"Sure! Why not? You, me, Lingyei, and you're buddy. It'll be fun. Just the four of us."

"I'm not dating him." Brin rolled his eyes at me, and gabbed his jaw in time with one hand; it was a remarkably familiar move, and made me shiver slightly, before returning my attention to my book.

"Lingyei and I aren't dating either. So it's not a double date then. It's a mass exodus of generally well behaved people to a similar location. There; ya happy?" I glared up at the young man whose hair was no longer iridescent chartreuse, but a striking mix of electric blue and a inky black that matched his skin-his eyes were still that neon color. Brin grinned winningly, and extended his hands to either side of him, doing a little jittery dance. Finally, I sighed.

"Where are we going?"

I never did get a real answer, just 'change into something decent', and followed Brin as he went to collect Lingyei and Trowa-I only wondered for a second how Brin knew where Trowa was staying while I didn't.

Lingyei rode up front with Brin, talking loudly with him about stupid things, and leaving Trowa to sit in the back with me. I had to admit that Trowa looked nice-black and red and other simple clothes that were more reminiscent of Duo than Trowa, who had always seemed like blues and purples and soft, cool colors. Who had always seemed like winter in an evergreen forest, as Winner had described him once, idly, looking almost pointedly between them.

I . . . well, I just stared at the window and regretted agreeing to come. After all, there were many things I could be doing. All of them somehow involved avoiding Trowa, though none were down-and-out avoiding him. I felt uncomfortable, sitting there and looking foolish, like I had somehow always managed to do after the war, when Duo would somehow convince us to go out to dinner with him and Trowa. Even after 'hooking up' with Yuy, I'd felt like a third wheel. A fifth, actually. Completely useless.

"We're here, boys!"

"A karaoke bar?" I could hear the laughter in Trowa's voice. Lingyei simply squealed and bounded out of the car. For a moment, I sat very still, staring at the building incredulously. Then, Trowa's hand was on my shoulder, a concerned look in his eyes. I climbed out of the car, and grabbed Brin's sleeve as we began to walk.

"I'm going to hurt you one of these days," I vowed quietly, my eyes showing how serious I was. Brin grinned.

"Love you too, An. C'mon, don't be such a spoilsport. It'll be fun!"

Brin didn't seem to understand subtlety. By the middle of the night, he and Lingyei had both conveniently excused themselves, and when I went to check the parking lot, Brin's car was gone; I returned to Trowa's side cursing and muttering and generally looking frustrated and vengeful.

Trowa offered a brief smile, and stood from our booth, depositing the money for our karaoke, and the meals and drinks we'd consumed, before striding up to me. I crossed my arms over my chest, and stared up at the older man.

"The trams don't run this late, and the dorms will be locked by the time I get back," I uttered simply. Trowa's smile grew just a little bit, and a light flush appeared just on the top of his ears, nearly hidden by his hair.

"My apartment isn't far. We'll walk, if that's ok; I'll make sure you catch a tram back to campus for your classes." I nodded, slowly, grudgingly, not entirely sure I wanted to stay with Trowa an entire night; it would be awkward, and, considering how much we'd drunk just between the two of us, it had the potential of becoming more than awkward.

But, sure enough, we were soon walking down the road, back towards where Trowa had holed himself up for his stay in Beijing. The tall youth was humming under his breath, his hands shoved deep in his pockets; I silently envied the larger young man, and tried to suppress a violent shiver. Failing, Trowa looked over at me worriedly, and removed his coat in a wide flourish; despite objection, the warm jacket draped over my shoulders, and I brought my hands slowly up to tug at the zipper until only my fingers showed, below my neck. I muttered a thanks, but refused to look up into sparkling green eyes.

Trowa's building wasn't much to look at, outside, or in, I soon found. The elevator didn't work, and it was as cold inside as it was without. But by the time we'd mounted the landing of the third flight of stairs, I managed to warrant the removal of the coat, which I slung over my arm as we climbed the last two flights, and finally came to the floor holding the tall European's shabby little apartment.

I had to admit, it was better than some of the safehouses. That didn't say much. A tiny kitchenette, minuscule living/sitting/dining-room/study, and an area nearly partitioned that passed for a bedroom. At least the bathroom was it's own entity, even if it was at the other end of the floor.

A pile of dishes in the sink drew my attention. Trowa groaned suddenly, tossing his newly retrieved jacket towards his mattress.

"I-I've been meaning to do those," he assured, looking childishly abashed as he rubbed the short hairs at the nape of his neck, and stared almost accusingly at the dishes, as though we would miraculously begin to wash themselves. When they didn't, Trowa sighed slightly, and trudged into the kitchenette, shucking his shirt on the way and pitching it the way of his jacket.

I joined the tall brunet swiftly, rolling my sleeves up to my biceps.

"You wash, I'll dry. It'll be done soon." My voice was quiet and sure. Trowa offered a small smile, and began the chore.
I awoke with sore hands, a slight hangover, and a warm weight pressed into my side, and over my legs. Refusing to open my eyes, I relished the feeling for a moment, before allowing the logical half of my brain to jut in and destroy my well-earned euphoria, screaming something about honor and dignity and old promises.

/Screw honor/, I felt like muttering. But, instead, I pushed against the yielding warmth pressed against me, my eyes still closed.

It became slightly less yielding, and there was a very soft moan of discontent as a hand scrabbled at my back for a moment, before finding my hair, and digging into the soft tresses. I studiously informed honor and dignity that I had tried my damnedest, and settled back into the satiation.

I had never spent early mornings like this with Yuy, who had always been up before dawn to run or wander aimlessly. And my wife and I had never shared a bed, except that first night after our marriage was made completely formal. But once, during the war, when I had stayed with Trowa . . .

Trowa had stayed with me, through the night and into the morning, possessively wrapped around me and murmuring in his sleep.

I wondered, idly, if Maxwell missed that. It was the thought that finally woke me. My eyes sluggishly blinked open, focused on the chest I was pillowed against, rising and falling in even, full breaths, before darting up to the angular, beatific face that I hoped to find in the repose of sleep.

Half-lucid green eyes stared down at me, filled with mirth. Trowa stretched without removing his arms from our comfortable position. Just like the cat he was.


"Barton, I need to get to school," I mumbled. Trowa growled deep in his throat-or perhaps it was a purr-and nuzzled the top of my head slightly; I blushed, and pressed a hand against the brunet's naked chest.

"Five more minutes?"

"You have to get me on a tram-."

"Three more minutes?"

"I still have to get breakfast-."

"One more minute?"

"I need to get dressed-." A soft, airy chuckle that became a tired, slightly confused moan. Trowa did that whole-body, non-moving stretch again, and managed to make eye contact; he was smiling.

"When did I get you naked last night? I don't remember that part of dish washing."

"Idiot," I growled, but it was affectionate. I pushed against Trowa's chest. "Come on, let me up. I at least need to see what time it is-."

"Too early," Trowa mumbled, tightening his hold yet again. His lips grazed over soft caramel skin, and laved at the pulse evident in the nearest temple presented to him. A sharp inhalation through the nose, and my hand on Trowa's chest pressed almost hard enough to break ribs.

"Let go. Now."


"My name," I growled, slamming a fist into Trowa's chest and making the brunet grunt and loosen his hold, "is Zhang An. I don't know who this Chang Wu Fei you're always talking about is." I stood, and strode about, collecting my clothes. Trowa was watching me intently, still prone under the sparse covers of his futon; it was clear he was wearing even less than me.

He opened his mouth to object, than cursed, and finally shook his head, sitting up.

"Fine. You want to be called 'An', fine. I can do that. But I didn't have an amazing romance with An-."

"You didn't have one with Wu Fei, either, Barton," I reminded crisply, fixing my watch and finding a small mirror amidst the clutter. I straightened my hair. "There was no 'amazing romance'. You and he, you cheated on your significant others. You had an affair."

"He wasn't exactly objecting at the time," was the obvious observation. A sharp glare, and a pointedly raised brow.

"Maybe he should have."

It was a cold statement, and not at all lightened by my, "Get dressed and buy me breakfast before I go to classes." Trowa grumbled under his breath, and handed over a bit of money for the tram ride, before turning onto his other side, and drifting back off to sleep.

I didn't really blame him. That hadn't exactly gone over as well as it could have. With a muttered thanks and good bye, I slipped out of the brunet's flat, and made my way to the closest tram stop, where I loitered aimlessly for a moment before buying a ticket and wandering through the turn-style.

I wondered, as I rode back to campus, if I had expected Trowa to follow me. The logical voice in my mind told me a reassuring, forceful 'no', but it was the only part of me that thought as such. Groaning, I let my head fall almost painfully against the window I was sitting beside, and proceeded to tap my temple against it for a while, well aware of the confused and startled stares I was getting from the other passengers.

Brin caught up with me at the campus cafe, leering slightly as he whirled a chair around and collapsed into it seemingly boneless. I stared at the bluenet intently for a moment, before raising a brow in question; Brin only laughed slightly, and leaned onto the table a little.

"So," he began, still grinning that slightly menacing grin of his-all teeth and far too much knowledge, "how was the rest of your night?"

"You know what, Brin? Screw you. You set me up!" Brin had the decency to look aghast. His eyes widened mockingly.

"Moi? You must be mistaken. I would never set you up, Zhang. You're too cute!" I cringed at that. Brin laughed, and inspected his fingers, continuing, "Besides, if I were setting you up, I would have left with Lingyei before I did. And I would have-Hey! Trowa!"

For a moment, I thought the other student was mocking me again. I raised my head to glare and snap something scathing, only to see that the blue-and-black haired youth was looking in the other direction.

And waving over one tall, slightly abashed looking young brunet. Cursing, I collected my meal, and tossed what was left into the nearest trashcan. Brin looked up at me, startled.


"I've gotta go . . . study, or something," I snapped, and walked pointedly away from the table.

Duo's music is too loud, but he doesn't have the energy to tell the other young man to just shut the racket off. He's too tired, and cold, and aching.

And then he realizes that it isn't Duo's music, because Duo isn't there. It's Trowa, and he's singing softly in the bathroom, the door open and the light on. He hangs just outside the light spilling from the bathroom, and watches from there, perfectly angled to see the tall young European youth in the mirror.

He wears only low slung jeans, and they look more like Heero's or Duo's than his own, because they're too tight and not quite long enough. And his soft, pleasant tenor rings true enough with the voice of some before-colony singer that Duo and he must both love, because it's constantly played around the house.

He watches Trowa, somehow frozen on the edge of light spilling from that room, as the young brunet shaves a mostly nonexistent dusting of stubble, and as he suddenly begins to dance around to the new song that's playing, and cuts himself.

Trowa curses creatively in a couple of languages. The eyes that watch him, however, are locked on the bead of bright crimson that trails slowly down the column of his throat.

It is as Trowa is turning around in the bathroom in search of something to stanch the blood that he spots him. There is a flush on his cheeks, and he smiles, ducking out into the dark hall, and suddenly the blood is concealed in the shadows.

"Hey Fei. When did you get back?"

"Just . . . just a little-when did you start singing?" Trowa seems taken back, but he smiles amiably and chortles a bit, ducking back into the bathroom.

"I'll be out in a minute. Soon as I find-ah. Okay. It's all yours."

He tries not to shiver as Trowa bumps his shoulder as he passes. The music is still on.

"Wu- . . . An? Can I sit down?"

"It's a free world," I muttered, flipping a page in my book. Trowa sat down on the bench beside me, and looked out over the gardens silently, leaning over his knees a bit. We sat as such for a moment, before I sighed, and slammed my book shut and down onto the bench, making Trowa jump.

"What do you want?"

"I just wanted to sit down," the brunet uttered softly. A scowl, and I retrieved the book, opening it back up to my page. Trowa was quiet for a moment, picking at a broken nail, before he said, "I'm going back to America soon."

"That's nice."

"I want you to come with me." Sharp, dark eyes met insistent green, and I sighed, almost mockingly, rolling my eyes as I shook my head.

"And why would I do a thing like that? I left for a /reason/, Barton, and you're part of it." Trowa shrugged a little bit, before giving me a sharp little look. "What?"

"I thought you weren't Wu Fei."

"I'm not. That doesn't change the fact that . . ." I trailed off, and scowled, closing the book again, this time to hit Trowa in the shoulder with it. "Be quiet. Stop skewing my logic. It was perfect, until you showed up."

"Must not have been that perfect then. Come on, why not come back? Just for a holiday or semester or something. You could see everybody again-."

"Why would they want to see me again?" Trowa worried his lip at that, and looked away, picking at his broken nail again. With a sigh, the book fell into my backpack, and I leaned back, surveying the gardens.

"You've been so out of touch though. Sally-."

"She has two kids. I know. We correspond." Trowa looked accusingly at me, frowning as his eyes sparked with hurt. "Don't give me that. She found me during a mission, and I requested that she not tell you four. Unlike you, she accepted that I had needed to move on from the boy I was during the war. We correspond as friends; she likes to know how my health is."

"I'd like to know how your health is too, you know," the brunet pointed out. He sighed again, and ran a hand through his hair, tugging it for a moment. "Why won't you come back with me? I live alone now, so it's not like there would be a problem with Duo or Heero-Heero's in a relationship-Quatre's not there-."

"And that's part of the problem," I murmured towards the sky. "We'd be alone together, and I don't like how I act around you when we're alone. You make me /weak/, Barton."

"Why do you have to be strong now? You're not fighting anything-."

"I'm fighting you!" I snapped, glaring at the brunet, who huffed a little. "Why can't you just give it up?"

"Because I-."

"Don't say it." I stood, and left.
"I don't see what the big deal is, An."

"You wouldn't. You're loose." Brin glared at that term, and tossed the tennis ball he'd been flicking at the wall towards me, hitting me in the stomach. I tossed it back, hitting Brin in the head. "All right, not loose. Just not monogamous."

"Thanks for making me sound like a whore, but I don't see what that has to do with going to America with Trowa." His eyes, now claret instead of chartreuse, flashed slightly as he sat up, tossing his tennis ball into his laundry hamper. "Why does he want you to go to America with him?"

"We're, uh . . . . We knew each other during the war." Brin raised a brow at that, and leaned forward, looking expectant; I had never mentioned the war before, never had a reason to. Mildly, I cursed, and waved a hand. "Don't give me that look. It's something I don't like to remember."

"Did you have trouble with him during the war?"

"What? No. No, we were . . . we were companionable, when I could be companionable, which wasn't often. We spent some time together. Why are you asking me this?" Brin sighed, and ran a hand through his black-and-blue hair, shaking his head a little bit.

"I'm trying to understand you, An."

"Well /don't/."

We fell silent as I flopped back on my bed. Brin's soft sigh was the only warning given before he was sitting on the edge of the bed, and then sitting atop me, pinning my shoulders down and frowning, licking his teeth behind his lip.

"Get off me!"

"Go to America with him, and get over whatever complex you've got, Zhang." I raised a brow, shoving at Brin's chest a bit harder than I had been a moment before.

"Are you ordering me to be miserable?"

"No, I'm ordering you to get over yourself! I'm ordering you to take that stick outta your arse and get something else shoved up there!" I flushed a little, and beat a fist against Brin's chest; he barely flinched, and bared down on me a little harder, snarling. "What's so bad with admitting you have feelings for him?"

"I /don't/. I never /have/!"

"Stop lying!"

"I'm not lying!" I snarled, and finally managed to shove Brin off. With a sneer heavy on my lips, I threw my arms up in disgust, snapping, "Do you want to know what happened? I was the other man, Brin. He slept with me while he was with someone else, and I the same. I can't go back to him!"

And Brin was silent, and let the subject drop.
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