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

Chapter Six

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 - 2669 words

And in that dream I dreamt-how like you this?-
Our first night years ago in that hotel
When you came with your deliberate kiss
To raise us towards the lovely and painful
Covenant of flesh; our separateness;
The respite in our dewy dreaming faces.
-from Seamus Heaney's "Glanmore Sonnets"

Chapter Six

"A Preventer, huh? I thought they didn't hire people with criminal records."

Trowa just stares at him for a moment, before looking at Quatre, who smiles lightly, and shrugs a little, saying, "I'm sure Miss Une will over look something like that. They were wrongful charges anyway-." And he snorts, cutting that statement off, because it's a damn lie, and they all know it.

He twirls his fingers over the grain of the table, and shrugs one shoulder. Quatre claps lightly, and he knows the lean blond is smiling, at least a little bit, and that frustrates him, at least a little. Slowly, he looks back up at them, over at Duo, and finally at Heero, who carefully just doesn't look at anybody.

Later, as Heero traces some absent kanji onto his back, he utters, "I don't think you should." He turns onto his back, and snorts.

"Trying to protect me, Yuy?"



I woke slowly, and listened for a very long time. There was no music playing, no quiet conversation directed at nobody, no sound of food cooking on the stove. Almost gratefully, I sighed, and slipped out of bed, wandering on silent, naked feet out of my room and towards the kitchen.

Duo lay asleep on the couch, his head pillowed on his arms and his mouth slightly agape. His hair was beginning to escape the braid, and had curled around him in the night; his clothes were horribly rumpled from the cramped position and the tossing he no doubt did in his sleep. I stared at him for a very long moment, and then continued into the kitchen.

The refrigerator had been restocked at some point that I had not noticed. I pulled out whatever I felt like, setting things up around the stove and organizing as quietly as I could, somehow devilishly considerate of the second house guest inhabiting Trowa's small apartment. But when the silence of the apartment became too much, even for me, I ducked back into Trowa's sitting room, and quietly messed with the stereo, managing to find a classical music station; that I turned down fairly low, not wanting to wake Duo-at least not consciously.

I continued to cook, and at some point or another, I heard Duo wake up on the couch and grumble quietly to himself. He stumbled into the kitchen without looking around, and didn't even notice me until after he'd grabbed the tangerine juice, a glass, and begun to drink.

He smiled ruefully. "Finally decided to come out of the den of woe, huh?" I shrugged a little, and he finished his little glass of juice, before proclaiming that he 'had to piss like a racehorse'. To be honest, I wasn't overly surprised by the rash proclamation-or perhaps I was just that tired after everything else-and I just kept cooking like my life depended on it.

When he came back, he had showered as well, and was wrestling with the tangles in his long hair, muttering swear words under his breath. I slid the latest group of sausage onto the paper-towel covered plate, and strode over to him, extending a hand.

He slowly handed over the brush, and turned his back to me. I quickly and methodically worked the knots out, and went through a few extra times for good measure, before handing back the implement and returning to breakfast.

"Thanks . . . uh. Actually, Tro' never explained the whole no-longer-Fei thing to me." I peered over my shoulder, and stared at him for a second. He had his hair over his shoulder, and was tying off his braid absentmindedly.

"It's Zhang An now," I offered, and he nodded a little, circling around the bar and sitting quietly.

The strains of Vivaldi wormed over us. Duo quietly murmured, "Was that an alias you used during the wars?"

"No. I . . . had a friend named An." I dished him up a plate of scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon, and a single pancake-there wasn't enough batter to make more than three, and I didn't want the eggs, so I justified the greater quantity of fiber for my diet.

"Good friend? From before the war, I'm guessing." I cocked a brow at him.

"Why do you care?" He shrugged, and munched on a link as I watched him closely. After he swallowed, he shrugged again.

"Just trying to make conversation." I shifted behind the counter a little, and poked at my bacon absently for a moment, before picking up a piece and chewing it thoughtfully.

After a long time, I asked, "Do you know when Trowa will be back?" He shrugged, and the swift cacophony of 'Night on Bald Mountain' moved over us with supple tones. Duo tapped his foot absently, twirling his fork to the music and humming softly; I'd never taken him for the classical music sort. But, then again . . .

"Hey, you've been cooped up in this house way to long," he suddenly blurted. "Wanna go out with me this afternoon? I have to run some errands and make sure my neighbor's actually taking care of my cat."

"When did you get a cat?" He shrugged, and smiled a little.

"Quatre gave her to me. Random 'Have A Nice Thursday' present." He leaned on the bar a little, his braid half slipping onto his shoulder. "Wanna come around with me? You've gotta be so bored locked up in here."

I shrugged, explained I had homework I should be doing, and got only a scoff and roll of the eyes. He said, "When we're done, you get dressed, and we'll go out, ok? Just us kids."

"Duo, I don't know-."

"What'll it hurt?" He was going to great lengths for such a small thing, and I realized, however belatedly, that this was his new start, that perhaps he needed me to come out with him, because I wasn't that man any more, and he could maybe let a bit of that animosity go.

It was perhaps at that exact instant that I should have figured everything out. But I didn't.


Duo slipped into his apartment and caught a small tan cat easily, before opening the door and welcoming me quietly in, stating that he'd only be a minute-he had to grab some stuff from his bedroom and bathroom, since he didn't have anything for himself over at Trowa's, and he'd been wearing the same clothes for three days-and handing the little cat over to me.

She stared at me with large orange eyes, and purred softly, managing to wriggle out of my grasp and up onto my shoulder, before deciding that my head had a better vantage point. I sighed, and looked around, picking things up at random as I inspected the apartment. And she never even dug in her claws.

On an end table, there was a picture of the five of us. The memory of the afternoon was vividly hazy, like someone walking through a mirage. We were all smiling-as best as any of us could, which meant that Winner and Duo were both buoyant grins, while Yuy and Trowa were basically staring down the photographer, and I-/not you/, some small voice snarled deep within my gut; /not you/-was hazarding half a wondering smile without really looking at anything.

I picked it up, and noticed the time stamp, half blocked by the frame. The picture was old, outdated by almost four years, and I set it back down with a quiet reverence, noticing the dust that had collected around it without daring to touch the frame, and wondered over that silent diligence.

Duo came back into the room, and chuckled at seeing his cat sitting on my head. He snatched her down, and baby-talked her for a moment, before tucking her under his arm casually, as though she were some little rag doll. Then he smiled a little shyly, looking at the picture as well.

"It, uh . . . it fits the frame best. The composition, you know? Very asymmetrical." He gave up after that, and set his cat onto the floor; she scurried off into his small kitchenette, and he sighed a little, stating, "I'm as ready as I'm gonna be. You ok?"

"Yes," I assured, "I'm fine." And he nodded a little, smiling gently. We walked together out to his little beat-up car, and folded ourselves into it. He turned on the radio-respectfully changed it from its ever-present Country station to something that vaguely resembled classic rock-and pulled out of the parking garage.

We didn't really talk much. The city had changed a little in my absence, and I was more than willing to ignore my driver and simply stare out at the street like an idiot, watching the buildings go by with quiet adoration for a city I had never admitted to enjoying much of. But perhaps that was the joy of such a venture-I could leave, now, and return to my bustling, multitonal city in China when this was all over, and forget again the salty air of Seattle.

We pulled into a pay-and-park in Little Asia. I curled into my coat a little, and breathed deeply of sharp spices leaving restaurants on either side of us, my eyes closed slightly. After a moment, I peered over my shoulder at Duo.

"Did we ever go and have Dim Sung together?" He blinked, and shrugged.

"I think we might have as a group, once or twice, but I don't really remember." I pointed to the south of us, at a corner restaurant, and smiled softly. He shrugged, and agreed without actually saying anything.

We worked our way through a filling lunch, and when that was done, adjourned throughout the rest of the shops, talking as easily as we could, and some times just falling into a companionable, gentle silence.

A trinket shop, three blocks up from our parking area, was the final stop-"My feet are starting to hurt a bit," Duo proclaimed just outside the store, but I figured it had more to do with the rain storm that was gathering quickly over us.

I picked up a couple of things, watched Duo fool around with the intricately painted paper fans, and finally, after nearly an hour of perusing the tiny shop, inspecting every last detail, we stepped back out onto the street.

Duo grumbled at the sky, and we hurried down the blocks towards the pay-and-park, where our car was the last, seated in the growing dark and looking forlorn in the heavy rain. I kicked at the gravel idly, turned my face up to the drops, and only looked back down when Duo swore loudly, and returned to me, carrying his duffle bag and an umbrella, which he opened right over our heads.

"The battery's shot," he grumbled. I laughed softly, and moved out from under the umbrella. "Damnit, come back here. You're gonna catch your death."

"So worried, Duo?" I cradled the back of my head, and stared up at the sky, letting the rain gently kiss my cheeks. "It's nice though. There isn't much wind any more, and it's fairly warm."

"It's /wet/, is what it is," Duo grumbled, and strode up beside me. I kept carefully out of reach of the umbrella's sprawling berth, and kicked at the air as we walked, glad for the rain.

After a while, I asked over the thunderous sound of the downpour why he lived in Seattle if he hated the rain. He was quiet for a very long time, before saying, "I don't hate the rain itself. I just don't have a lot of good memories tied to the rain."

"This won't make a good memory?"

He looked at me, his eyes wide and serious and shining in the half-light. I chuckled at myself, and carefully didn't look at him for a very long time, trying to figure out why I had said something like that in the first place.

We rode a rail-car up to Trowa's condo, and shook ourselves off in the tiny mudroom adjacent to the kitchen. I stripped off my clothing without any thought, and trudged through the house, tossing the clothes into the laundry room, and returned to the kitchen to find Duo peeling out of his boxers. I tossed him a towel.

"Better get that hair dry." I wasn't entirely sure if I had said it out loud. I wandered back to the room I was staying in, and dried myself off, pulling on some comfy sweat-clothes.

Duo was wearing similar, sitting on the couch and rubbing his hair as dry as he could, swearing under his breath. I sat beside him, and took both hair and towel, slowly unraveling the braid and rubbing the towel with swift moves over the soaked tresses.

"That's gonna be a bitch to get back up," he muttered, half peering over his shoulder at me. I shrugged a little, and smiled very softly.

"Good thing you have your very own groomer, isn't it?" The brush was sitting on the end table, where Duo had put it that morning, and he handed it over again now. I brushed, more languidly than I had in the morning, and for a while after, we just sat there.

My hands were unsure with the first folds of the braid. But Duo's slid back, and guided them, and by half way down the plait I was sure and steady with my rhythm-even if the clustered strands weren't nearly as nice as Duo made them.

He traced the length of it as I tied it off, and our hands bumped a little. Shyly, he smiled over his shoulder at me, and softly proclaimed, "You're the third person to braid my hair, ya know?"

The strains of some slightly more modern song wove over us, and his eyes glimmered with gentle little tears that made his dark blue eyes sparkle a bit.

I touched his cheek, and he scoffed at himself, leaning back against my shoulder and the back of the couch. And we sat there, the rain half drowning out any other sounds.

/"/Date you?"

He stares at the other man for a moment, as though trying to decipher the plot behind those words. Blue eyes, dark and normally so out of place for his Asiatic features, glimmer a little bit, and Yuy shrugs one shoulder in that generously graceful fashion of his. He picks at his rice absently.

After a while, he murmurs, "We might as well make it an official relationship. After all, we spend so much time together, we live together-."

"So we're good friends." He is uncomfortable with the idea, if only because he has grown to realize his failings in anything that has to do with a romantic aspect; he has a hard enough time when the 'relationship' is non-romantic. But Yuy is watching him, so he says, "I'd make a horrid partner anyway. We'd never agree on anything. Our personalities are too alike, and we'd end up in a fist fight."

There is no response to that. Yuy snatches a dumpling from the plate between them, and stares at it in his chopsticks for a moment. He frowns a little.

"Are you going to eat that?"

"Are you?"

He thinks about it for a moment, before shrugging. Yuy munches on it absently, and he watches in silence, before focusing on his wantons.

He says, "Suppose we were in a relationship. Would this"-he waves around at the quaint ethnic restaurant-"be a date?"

"I suppose."

They are quiet, and eat their food in companionable silence. It takes him a moment, before he finally murmurs, "I haven't been with anyone since I was fourteen. I suppose it can't hurt to try something new."
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