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

Chapter Ten

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 '06, Best Novella Adult!)

Category: Gundam Wing - Rating: R - Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Duo, Trowa, Wufei - Warnings: [!] [X] - Published: 2007-03-13 - Updated: 2007-03-14 - 2662 words

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
for breakfast
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.
-William Carlos William's "This Is Just to Say"

Chapter Ten:

He looks around slowly, his arms crossed over his chest, and takes in the sight of the bay and the people milling on the street below, and the sharp yet pleasant smell of car exhaust and perhaps just a bit of fishy smell that stings his nose. Maxwell works the lock as though unsure of the key, and swears just a little, until he finally gets it open.

"C'mon in," he commands, and he does as he is told, though somewhat begrudgingly. "Tro' and Quat' won't be back for a little while, I think; they went out shopping. Can I get you something to drink?"

"I am fine, thank you." He doesn't want to thank Maxwell, doesn't want to be in his presence, doesn't want to be looking around the large condominium's front room when he should, rightly, be where he just was.

He asks quietly, "Why am I here?"

Maxwell ducks out of the kitchen, and cocks a brow in confusion. His smile is bright and smart and generous on his thin lips, and he frowns a little at the expression, repeating himself: "Why am I here?"

"You want me to take you back? I'm sure the bail hasn't been filed all the way down the chain." He thinks about it a moment, and then shakes his head. Maxwell smiles, and reaches out, grabbing his shoulder and squeezing gently; he almost flinches away and smacks the other youth.

But Maxwell just keeps smiling gently, and then pulls away when the door opens. He hurries down the steps to 'help', he assumes, and leaves Winner standing in the doorway staring at him, large blue eyes startled and his bag of groceries slipping from his grip.

He grabs them before they fall, and takes them into the kitchen, Winner following him as though he is a figment of his greater dreams, and he carefully doesn't look at those pale blue eyes, because he knows what that would do.

But then Barton is there too, and Maxwell is just smiling, just being proud of himself, because he somehow succeeded, or something. And he can do nothing to fend off or dissuade the homecoming they give to him, as though he were some estranged relation.

He tries to enjoy it. And fails.

Brin wasn't all that surprised, I found, when he came in much later and found me laying in bed with Duo wrapped in my arms, soundly asleep and naked except for the towel haphazardly draped over his long, lean body. He smiled a little, and sat on his bed, flopping back and simply watching us both for a very long time.

When he did finally speak, it was of simple enough things. "This a friend of yours?"

I hesitated for a second, trying to figure just what Duo was to me, before nodding a little, then more firmly. "From the war," I offered by way of a simple explanation. Brin nodded as well, and then sat up, leaning over his knees and cradling his chin in his palms as he watched Duo for a moment. My arms instinctively tightened around the long-haired brunet, and he made an odd little sound in the back of his throat.

He blinked himself awake, first at my chest, and then my face, and then over his shoulder at Brin, who smiled very softly. There was a tired, watery little smile in return, and then he did that full-body stretch that I had made synonymous with Trowa-but perhaps that made some sense; Trowa probably taught it to Duo, for those long days and nights when there was no need or want to leave the close comfort of a soft bed and warm caress.

"You a friend of 'Fei's?" I blushed darkly as Brin blinked, and looked up at me in confusion. Duo swore under his breath, and shook his head, rubbing his face. "Sorry. Sorry, I just . . ."

"It's alright, Duo," I excused, before anybody could continue to muddle the confusion. I waved absently at Brin, and performed cordial introductions. Duo reached across the space between our beds with his left, holding the slightly damp towel more wholly over his body with the right as he shook hands with my roommate.

"How long have you guys known each other? Just since the war?" I nodded swiftly. Duo was nestling absently against my ribs in a manner most distracting, and had turned onto his other side to better face Brin. It took a great deal of self-control-control I hadn't known I'd need around the older man-not to tell Brin to leave and see where things led.

That vengeful little voice was back, snarling of what happened when I became emotionally entangled with /any/one. They died, be it soon after or far in the future, and my wayward conscience sought it necessary to remind me that I didn't need another death on my hands.

I had missed Brin's question, but Duo was answering quietly. Apparently, something about why he was here. It was a simple story, nothing too complicated or telling of the situation. Brin apologized for our loss, and asked if we'd like to be left alone for a while to sort things out amongst ourselves.

I had seen that twinkle in his eyes before, more than once, when he'd managed to get me to do something particularly stupid. My arms tightened around Duo again, and I thanked him for his understanding, nodding discretely towards the door and frowning at him darkly. With my luck, it would be around campus in an hour, that I had an attractive young American stranger in my dorm.

"'Fei . . . you can let go now. I can't breath." I jumped, released Duo and managed to get off the bed without trampling all over him. He yawned, and flopped against my pillow in mild dejection. The towel shifted over him slightly, and I tried desperately to retain that small iota of self-control that I had cultivated. What sort of freak was I, anyway? Here, on my bed, lay a man whom I had fought with and against; a man whose lover I had taken into my bed behind my own partner's back; a man who, until very recently it seemed, had had every wish in the world to have my head. And I was trying my damnedest not to take advantage of him in the midst of his anguish at losing a friend and former lover? Surely I was mad.

He was watching me with half slatted eyes, and sat up slowly, until he was barely covered and draped over his raised knee. I looked away, fidgeting absently and nearly searching for some way out.

All of a sudden, he was laughing raucously, and I was looking at him. He flopped back against the pillows, covering his face as he laughed and his shoulders heaved. And slowly, he dissolved into sobs. Holding his hands high above him, staring at his palms, he began to speak slowly.

It took me some great, long stretch of time before what he was saying began to sink in, like I was hearing some ancient fable and translating it far slower than he was speaking. I was lagging in his dialog, in his story of two young men who had tried so desperately for the same youth without knowing it, and how the one had so hated them both, because he had not been fast enough or bright enough or there to catch and take what he wanted.

It took me a great, long stretch of time before my sluggish brain registered: me. He's talking about him and Trowa and /me/.

He was watching me closely at the end, tears rolling sluggishly from his dark eyes, and I gaped, pawing desperately for words that refused to come. Finally, he laughed again, and covered his face, turning his back to me.

"That was stupid of me, wasn't it?" he asked, and I could hear the tears on his voice. There was nothing I could say though, really. Slowly, I approached the bed, and slid in behind him. My arm draped slowly over his waist, and my arm ghosted sluggishly up his torso, until it rested over his heart. He sighed, and leaned back against me, turning a little to look at me from the corner of his eye.

"What do you want me to say to that, Duo?" I pondered, my fingers idling. He shrugged a little, his eyes slipping closed and his weight resting comfortably against me.

"I'd like something, at least. For you to be mad that we were doing such a thing, or to finally understand why I was so upset."

"I don't want to understand that, though," I gritted, feeling the tears in my eyes as well. I swore, in Spacer and Mandarin and English, and finally ground out, "I don't want to be him any more."

He looked at me out of the corner of his eye, almost incredulous, and let out a watery laugh that turned into a barking sob. Slowly, he shook his head. I didn't know why he was crying, or why he was suddenly sitting on my hips, hitting my chest and shouting at me unintelligibly. I simply lay there, prostrate and still, waiting for his anger or resentment or whatever to abate.

Finally, he simply collapsed against me, sobbing into my shoulder. I lifted my hand slowly, stroking it along his ribcage and murmuring softly, trying to sooth him. Words would slip through-curses and reprimands and things he didn't really mean, I knew, but which sounded like perfectly reasonable things to us both at the time.

He pulled away a little, just far enough to meet my eyes, and stared at me for what felt like ages before he finally kissed me. I did not fight, nor respond, except to wrap my arms gently around his waist as I felt his tears wet my cheeks. When he stopped kissing me, he choked on his sobs, and hit me in the chest and shoulders, again and again, until finally I grunted from the pain.

"What the fuck is wrong with you!?" he barked, all cold and distant and haughty, grabbing my shirt and manhandling me up into a sitting position, so he was towering over me in my lap. He kissed me again, almost desperate, and demanded when he broke, "Are you even /human/?"

"You're upset," I observed, shaking my head. He laughed incredulously, shaking me by the shirt a little. The tears on his face were brilliant and nearly handsome, in some obscure way. Squeezing his eyes shut, he shook his head, his hands slowly loosening from my shirt.

He shoved me back down on the bed, and just stared at me from his perch on my hips, shaking his head a little, as though not quite understanding the distance I had placed between us. But I had to, I told myself; above all things, I could not do this, not after I had worked so hard to leave everything behind. Not after forcing myself to become something and someone new.

He kissed me again, more tenderly, and I wiped the tears from his face as he sobbed and pulled back to gasp for air. There was something in me that told me to snatch love up by the wings, to take it where I had found it-Duo had, after all, waited many years to work up the courage and ability to tell me, that was an honorable and respectable thing. But my greater self was forceful in its resolve, and I lay passive to him, until he crawled off me, and went about, looking for his clothing.

"They're in the laundry," I uttered from the bed, and tried to ignore that I was painfully attracted to the sight Duo was, stark nude and tear-flushed in the middle of my room. He nodded a little, and shrugged one shoulder. "I'll ask Brin to get them for you. Would you like to sleep for a little while longer?"

"That . . . would be nice, thank you." His voice was stiff now. He waited until I was nearly to the door to slip into the bed, crawling under my covers and curling onto himself on some invisible fulcrum, his back pointedly towards me. I tried to convince myself; this is the right thing you're doing, you know. You are saving yourself. You are saving /him/.
He stayed for three more days, ironically holed away in the apartment Trowa had rented for his stay in Beijing, and I did not see him, until he arrived at the door of my dorm once again, swaying slightly and looking like he'd stood under a waterfall for a few hours. I opened the door, and did not speak, only digging out a towel and trying not to look at him as he stripped and sat on my bed to dry himself off.

"You're going to kill yourself one of these days," I reprimanded. He shrugged.

"I had to think," he offered halfheartedly, toweling at his head after unraveling his braid. I handed him a pair of boxers to hide his meager decency, and rummaged through my things to find a brush to work with his tangled hair as he simply wrapped himself in the damp towel.

I stole it away, and handed him my dressing robe as I sat behind him, pulling his hair back and beginning to rake through it slowly. We did not speak, nor make any sound at all. The sound of rain on the windows was loud and heavy in our silence, but well forgiven; it distracted us both from whatever might be on our minds.

As I ran my fingers through his long tresses and began to set about braiding them, he stilled me, and turned a little. I knew, without looking at him, what the look in his eyes would be. So I closed my own long before he lifted my chin, and bent me slowly to a will I was not entirely adverse to.

The rain crashed against the windows, sending obscure patterns across the plush carpet, drowning out all sound to leave behind that repetitive cacophony.

It was no big thing to offer myself up to the brunet, smiling and breathless and just that little bit shy as I ran my fingers through thick, dark chestnut strands and tugged a bit, my eyes squeezing shut as Duo did his damnedest to make me forget my trepidations. I simpered quietly, keened a little, moved against that fullness as Duo murmured nonsense into my ears, kissed me, touched me as I could not remember being touched in quite some time.

But when it was over, and we lay in the silence that was interrupted only by the crashing sound of rain, I was not surprised by the unease in my gut. Duo seemed to know, and smiled slightly, leaning over and kissing me gently.

"You'll write, won't you?" I nodded, and he did as well. He dug through my things, found some things that were Trowa's and dressed in those, and I watched him idly.

Some small part of me told me what a fool I was. I did not doubt it.

"Duo," I blurted, just as he was opening the door. He stopped as I sat up, draping over my knees a little. "If . . . if Trowa hadn't gotten to me first. And if Heero hadn't been a problem. Do you think . . . ?"

"I try not to, now," he admitted, tracing a line on the door, shrugging a little. I nodded.

"Of course."

"I'll see you around, An." And with that, he stepped through the door, and left me to the sounds of rain on the windows.
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