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

Chapter Five

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 - 2721 words

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I shall fear no evil
For thou art with me
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me
-from Psalm 23

Chapter Five

Waking up, it took me a moment to realize where I was, why I was there, and why, in all the names of the gods, somebody was playing country music in the next room. I groaned, thought about getting out of bed to complain, and settled instead to smothering another groan of despair in the pillow closest to my face.

Duo had stayed over, then.

I moved the pillow away from my face, and looked over at the clock; it was nearly noon. With a quiet little curse, I climbed out of bed, and dressed, grumbling under my breath, trying to figure out what I'd say when I got out there to the longhaired brunet.

The music wasn't actually that unpleasant, if you just sat there and listened to it for a while. Still, I had no such compulsion to do so. As I passed the stereo, I flicked the cd to the next disk over, and hummed to the soft strains of altra-rock, a band now classic, which seemed much more the genre that anybody I knew-/had known/-would listen to.

Duo stuck his head out of the kitchen, smiling softly as though ready with a ribbing, and blinked at me. I carefully didn't meet his eyes, and stepped passed him, opening the refrigerator and digging through absently.

"There's not much in there," he uttered gently, as though if he spoke too strongly one of us might break apart. A heavy strain colored his words, told of his annoyance at seeing me and the way he was so desperately trying not to cave in my skull.

"Trowa doesn't shop much." I practically slammed the door shut, and leaned heavily against the counter.

As the comment sunk in, I blinked a little, and finally looked up at Duo, asking, "Where is Trowa?"

I got a good look at him as he deliberated over answering. He'd cut his hair back a bit, but not too much-it was probably a recent cut, because he kept seeming just a bit startled when his braid would hit higher than it used to. And he looked good, all things considered; a bit red in the eyes, like maybe he'd been drunk very recently, or he hadn't slept much last night.

I didn't need to be thinking about anything like that. And then he was talking.

"Une called him out." It took a moment for the words to sink in, and then I was cocking a brow, sneering just a bit.

"He /left/?" Duo nodded a little. His fingers were twitching absently, ticking against his thumbs; it was a distracting movement, but not so distracting that I got over my annoyance. I strode passed him, grumbling under my breath.

I was tense when he grabbed my arm, and thought about caving in his skull, but decided that the mess would be hell to clean up. Plus, Trowa wouldn't have been terribly pleased with the knowledge that I'd murdered his ex in his apartment.

I wouldn't think about that, about them. I /couldn't/.

"He asked me to watch the apartment. And to keep you here."

"What the hell? I'm under house arrest or something!?" I yanked my arm away, and stormed off. But I could hear Duo following me, quiet in the wake of my noisy anger. I slammed the door, and leaned against it, and thought about locking it, but thought better of it. Even if Duo didn't have lock picks, he'd figure out a way to get in here if he really wanted to.

He always could.

Through the door, he snarled, "Look, Chang. This isn't exactly a paradise match-up on my side either. I'm doing this because Trowa asked nicely."

I thought about barking some cruel back at him, about how Trowa had asked nicely for me to come to bed with him, how Trowa had asked nicely that I stay after Maxwell had found out about us. I thought about reminding Maxwell that Trowa had been our enemy on more than one occasion in the wars, that you didn't bend to the enemies will just because they /asked nicely/.

Until I remembered that I was not Chang, and that I didn't have to take this crap. I stomped away from the door, and sat heavily on the bed, rubbing my face.

Duo came in, and stood in front of me for a good, long time, just staring at me. After a while, he snorted, and I could practically hear him rolling his eyes. He growled, "You're acting like some sort of rebuffed lover or something. Isn't that my job-?"

"Do not start that argument!" I snapped, glaring up at the brunet sharply. He met my gaze sternly, cocking a brow, as though daring me to be upset by his audacity to bring up the subject. I scoffed, and looked away, shaking my head. "I don't have time for this. I have to get back to Beijing."

"Trowa told me not to let you leave."

"/I don't care what Barton told you/!"

Maxwell seemed almost to rock back on his heels, and he stared at me, wide-eyed, in the face of my hideous roar. I rubbed my throat, almost angry, and cleared it a bit as I toed open the bottom-most of my drawers. His eyes were on me, and I could practically feel the incredulous frustration that whirled around him.

"Don't you get it?" he hissed. I kept throwing my things onto the bed, an angry haste coloring my movements. He stormed in fully, and grabbed my arm; he threw me against the dresser, and scowled at me dangerously. "I'm doing you both a fucking favor here, Chang."

"How do you figure?" I tore my arm away, and dug my bags out of the closet, trying to ignore his very presence.

He shoved me down onto the bed, and straddled my hips, despite my struggle. His hands were heavy and hard on my shoulders, holding back my fitful thrashing. I snarled at him, angry mixes of Chinese and Spacer curses I'd grown up hearing.

"He loves you."

"Shut up!" I growled, grabbing his wrists and pressing hard on the pressure points I knew were there. He didn't budge, didn't even flinch.

"He brought you back here because he's been fucking miserable since you left. You promised him you'd come back, Chang. You /promised/. What happened to the kid I knew who didn't even know what it meant not to keep your word, Chang-?"

"/Don't call me Chang/!" He blinked at me, and I huffed, growling under my breath, swearing creatively. I harshly ordered, "Get off me." It took a moment for him to comply. I lay there then, rubbing my shoulders and staring at the ceiling.

I couldn't quite understand what was going on.

"Since when have you stopped being Chang?"

"Since I /left/, because you and Yuy were about an inch short of killing me," I grumbled, glaring over at the brunet haughtily. He seemed almost sheepish for a moment, but the expression fled in the face of his long-festered frustration.

"We had damn good reason, ya know. You don't really expect to come home to that." I hadn't thought of it either. Which was entirely part of the problem. I sat up a little bit. He was staring at me, like I was some odd thing he couldn't quite comprehend. "How could you do it?"

"Why are you dumping this on me?" I bit, nearly incredulous. Some small part of me tried to remind me that this wasn't my battle; this had been Wu Fei's problem, and I had no right to intervene on either side of the argument. My vindictive conscience snarled, clawing at my chest like it might erupt through and consume me. "I wasn't exactly keen on the whole idea."

"Then why keep it up?"

"What does it /matter/?" He gave me a look, level and burning, that boiled with anger and resentment. I sighed, and shook my head. "I'm not going to apologize, because, for one, it wouldn't do any good. And for another, I'm not Wu Fei, so I'm not going to acknowledge his mistakes." And with that, I returned to packing.

Duo scoffed harshly, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. He crossed his arms over his chest, and tapped his foot impatiently.

"If you were any sort of man, you wouldn't be running from this."

He left, and I stared at my shaking hands.

Duo is just standing there, and that's unnerving enough, but it's more the blind determination that unsettles him beyond belief.

He strikes, fast and hard, and is just barely deflected with a grunt and swift counter, which makes him stumble back a little bit, chuckling and bouncing on the balls of his feet, all manic energy that seems completely out of place.

He wonders how he got wrangled into it all this time, but he moves through his motions, far more fluid than the longhaired brunet, and doesn't worry too much of things like that. If he wanted to, he could hurt the larger young man, teach him a lesson. But he doesn't really want to.

Instead, he gets him on his back, a foot in the middle of his chest, and he cocks a brow.

"Are we done?"

"Yeah, yeah. Sheesh. You don't pull your punches much, do you?" Duo cringes a little, and favors his stomach with a hiss of pain. He pulls the brunet to his feet, scowling a little.

"I'll get you an ice pack."

"Thanks Fei."

I could hear, if I listened hard enough, the sound of Duo rustling about in the kitchen, working over something or another. Chipper and perhaps too enthusiastic and filled with poorly sung songs that I didn't really recognize, but I didn't have to listen. It was an easy stretch to the pillows sprawled around me, and I could always burrow away and try to whittle away the hours until the insufferable brunet left for one reason or another. At least until he gave up on his latest 'ballad'. But moving would involve rising from my peaceful stupor, where I could contemplate the wiles of this strange fate; and wonder over when I had become so spineless in my resolve. I didn't wish to wake up, and I wasn't at all interested in facing more of Duo's contemptuous ramblings.

He knocked on the door, and I groaned quietly, pitching one of the pillows in that direction when the door opened and he stepped in. Of course, he caught it, and I just stared at him, my stern expression a pitiful excuse for a glare as I peered over my covers.

For a moment, he stood there, staring at me, before shaking his head and rolling his eyes a little. He grumbled, "I don't know what Heero and Trowa saw in you. You're like a fucking girl; get over yourself. And come eat."

"I'm not hungry," I grumbled, and huddled under the covers. Then again, I wasn't really tired, either. Just lethargic now, lulling in and out of attention as I contemplated the best way to deal with the situation.

Duo tore the covers from my bed, and smacked me, as hard as he could, with the pillow. He scowled at me as I jumped up, nearly falling into stance, and sneered a little. The pillow landed in my face.

"It's not my fault if you starve yourself to death, but Trowa'll have a fit. Get over yourself." I just flopped back on the bed and stared at the ceiling, scowling almost, and listened to him swear and storm out of the room, grumbling under his breath venomously. Somehow, however, I pulled myself out of bed, wrapped in the fluffy white comforter, and wandered out into Trowa's sitting room, where I sprawled over the couch, and tried to look as unswayed as possible by Duo's presence.

He placed a plate of spaghetti on the coffee table, and returned a moment later with a cold beer as well. I looked up at him dully, and then back at the pasta; he scoffed a little, and grumbled as he walked back into the kitchen, "I didn't poison it."

After he'd left, I grabbed the plate, and pillowed it between my knees and my chest, twirling the fork through the long strands, watching the butter and sauce glisten against the pale yellow of the pasta. Duo returned, and took over the chair placed towards the other end of the couch. I munched thoughtfully at the pasta, and watched Duo for a long moment.

It was good, if still a little undercooked. Duo had never been a master chef; he was more of a baker.

I quietly pointed out, "You made the sauce I like."

"Yeah, well, screw me for feeling like being considerate," he grumbled, as though my words had been a mortal insult. I cringed a little, and shrugged one shoulder. The beer looked rather nice as well, just sitting there.

I grabbed it, and successfully managed to open it with my teeth. Duo stared at me, his nose wrinkled a little, and asked, "Doesn't that hurt your molars? That's gotta be shit on your enamel."

"Just have to grip it right," I informed him, and took a swig; it was Sapporo, rather than his American swill, and I was appreciative, however begrudgingly, of that as well. "I learned from some of the guys I work with. You learn interesting ways to open bottles when you've lost a thumb or finger. Or an arm."

He looked mildly interested, but I didn't say anything else after that, focusing on the cool sharpness of the hops, and the warm, smooth flavor of the sauce and spaghetti So, instead of pressing the issue, he turned on Trowa's small TV, and flipped through the channels absently, keeping the volume respectfully low.

After a very long time, I hazarded, "Are you still going to school?"

"I dropped out after you left. No point, when I knew I was gonna lose my scholarship." I mentally cringed at that. After all, it had been me who had found him the scholarships after he'd spent the money he'd illegally gained during the war on charities or non-profit organizations or any number of other things, including Hilde Schbeiker's scraping business. I'd helped with the essays and keeping his grades up.

Still, I knew he was smart enough to keep those scholarships; I wasn't overly upset over his guilting words. I ignored them, then, and focused on my food once more. After a while, I quietly asked, "Do you know when Trowa will be back?" He shook his head, and turned up the volume on a particularly violent-looking flick flashing across the screen, pausing his channel surfing to lean forward and wonder over the picture for a moment.

He left it on that, and sprawled back into the chair comfortably. I noted, perhaps randomly, that it was not one of the ones we'd had in the apartment we'd shared before I'd left America-chastised myself a little for thinking of myself like that again-and finished my plate of pasta, setting it aside. Absently, I watched the beer swirl in the dark brown bottle as I swung it between my index and middle finger.

After a good, tense silence, I stood, dealt with my dishes, and finished my beer in the kitchen. Duo was carefully not-watching me from the chair, and I said little, feeling even more like I was under house arrest than I had felt when Trowa had first convinced me to come back to America-though that been strictly self-imposed; I had no right blaming that on the tall brunet.

"There are ginger snaps in the cookie jar," Duo suddenly called, jumping me from my introversion. "If you want some."

I shook my head, hiked the comforter up around my shoulders absently, and wandered back down the hall into my room. As the door shut, I heard the TV turn off, and thought I heard the distinct sound of Duo hitting his head against something in frustration. I locked the door.
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