Quatre walked alongside Heero and Duo as they made their way from the sick bay to the mess hall and made their entrance half way through the evening meal. The other Yellows were seated and eating their supper, but everything seemed to stop abruptly when it was noticed that who it was that had entered the room. Ignoring the questioning stares aimed in their direction, the three went to the food counter and filled their trays, Duo asking for double portions even as he stomach growled. With their trays filled, Quatre then led the other two to their usual table where Trowa and Wufei sat with several other Greens they were familiar with, their food trays nearly empty.
"You okay, Duo?" Davis, one of the boys who usually sat with them asked, concerned by the rumors he'd heard all afternoon of the two friends staggering into the infirmary with their three friends having to help them get there. He would have asked Heero how he was as well, but the intense dark haired boy was always far too intimidating for him to address outright.
"Yeah," Duo waved his hand in dismissal of Davis's worry. "Just a bad reaction to something we ate at breakfast. I'm surprised none of you guys got sick."
"That's too bad, guess we were lucky," the other boy answered, easily accepting Duo's explanation. It was a regular enough occurrence in the mess hall to be a legitimate excuse.
After taking several rapid bites of his food to sate the gnawing hunger in his belly, Duo looked up timidly at Wufei sitting across from him. "Hey Wufei, did I miss anything important in class this afternoon?" he asked.
"Nothing critical," the Chinese boy answered quietly with his eyes fixed on his food, purposely not looking up at the blue-violet eyes that were displaying the confusion and hurt Duo was beginning to feel at his friend's aloof manner.
Duo quickly looked away, interrupting Wufei's manner as repugnance at learning about his and Heero's true relationship. He felt Heero's hand lightly touch his knee hidden beneath the table, and in his mind he could hear soft assurances from the boy he loved that everything would be alright. Knowing his friendship with Wufei was important to his lover, Heero whispered into Duo's mind that he should give Wufei time to deal with the information he'd been given that day. After all, it was a bit overwhelming.
Finishing their meal and chatting with their friends for a short time before the buzzer indicating evening classes would begin in ten minutes, the two bonded Greens went back to the infirmary where Heero was promptly sedated so that Quatre could work with an undistracted Duo. The braided teen waited for Heero to fall asleep before he left to meet with Quatre in his and Heero's quarters to begin to build his own mental blocks.
Duo walked briskly on his way back to his room, anxious to learn whatever it was that Quatre could teach him. Yet his steps slowed as he approached the familiar door of his Chinese friend. Coming to a stop just outside Wufei's door, Duo stood there for several moments, hesitating to signal for an entrance as he fought with his own internal fears of any further rejection by his friend. That Wufei wouldn't look at him during the evening meal hurt him more than he cared to admit.
"Duo!" The braided boy jumped slightly at the abrupt calling of his name from close behind him. He promptly turned his head to see Wufei standing behind him, a frown accompanied the perplexed look on his face.
"Do you need something?" Wufei asked in a short tone of voice, his eyes narrowing unhappily.
Duo nodded and forced a grin. "Can we talk for just a minute?" he asked timidly.
"I don't think there's anything to talk about," the Chinese teen said, his manner stiff and the words he spoke were cool and clipped as he put his hand over the identification panel and opened the door to his room.
"Please, Wufei. Don't you have any questions to ask me?" Duo asked and rushed to put his hand on his friend's arm to stop him from walking into his room. Wufei stopped at the tough, his shoulders as stiff as his manner.
After standing like that for a long, silent moment, the Chinese teen's shoulders slumped slightly as he gave in. "Come in then," he said brusque manner. Duo was quick to react and do as he was told, afraid that his friend might change his mind.
The door closed with a swish behind them and there ensued several moments of awkward silence that passed between them before Wufei moved rigidly to sit on his bed and Duo proceeded to sit across from him, on his roommate's bed. Looking up through the long, chestnut colored hair hanging over his forehead, Duo studied his friend with a sense of sadness at the gulf that was growing between them with each passing minute. "Do you hate me now that you know?" he asked unhappily.
Wufei found he could not look into the eyes of the boy across from him. "Is Heero listening to our conversation?" he asked.
"No, he's asleep," Duo answered without his usual smile.
"No, I don't hate you, I just don't fully understand how all of this came about. I mean, Judas Priest, is what Quatre told me really true?"
"About our pasts?" Duo asked.
Wufei nodded, and after Duo confirmed it with a nod of his own, he went on to ask, "What's it like?" Wufei finally looked up to see Duo was startled by the question.
"What do you mean?"
"Your connection with Heero. What's it like?"
Duo shrugged. "It's hard to explain," he answered, his eyebrows furrowing together as he thought of a way to best explain it. "I guess you know about our genetically engineered births and the link between us?" he asked.
Wufei nodded. The commander had ordered Quatre to inform himself and Trowa regarding the unusual situation and circumstances of the two boys he'd known for several years. The commander deemed that the little information they had gleaned from the conversation in the sick bay that morning was dangerous to his two star trainees without the two of them knowing the full story and understanding the reason for the continued secrecy that surrounded Heero and Duo.
After leaving the sick bay together that morning, the three long-time friends had walked in quiet contemplation to Quatre's room where he and Trowa sat and listened as their friend told them all that he'd understood of the story behind the two boys who had been genetically engineered, carried in the womb of a surrogate mother, operated on during the gestation period and linked together as some form of government experiment to produce a team of perfect soldiers for future battles for the Federation. Quatre admitted to hearing the story not long after Heero and Duo had first come to the training base. The two had confided in him after Heero had been advanced to Yellow and he'd kept their secret until it became imperative that the commander and doctor know about and understand their unique bond.
Wufei felt stunned and skeptical at such a fantastic tale, but now, after have some time to think back and remembering some of what had gone on between the two who had been a curiosity to him and many others from the time of their arrival at the training facility, it all made some kind of crazy sense.
"Then you know that Heero and I are designed and destined to be together." Duo continued. "It might have been a different story if we'd never met in the detention center, but I don't think either one of us would have lasted long. We both had a growing void within ourselves; something was missing, in here." Duo pointed to his chest, indicating his heart, and his eyes narrowed at the acute remembrance of the empty feeling he'd known most of his young life. "I was horrible, Wufei," he whispered. "There's no doubt in my mind that I would have eventually sought anything to fill that void, even for a short time. And the chance of that 'anything' turning out to be something bad was pretty damn high, especially with me living on the streets."
Wufei looked up, shocked at the picture that Duo was painting in his head with his words.
"I was restless," Duo continued, shaking his head and looking down to the spotless, gray carpeted floor. "From my earliest memories, I can remember my moods had been variable and I was, for the most part, unhappy. I didn't know why at the time, I only knew that I needed something I didn't have. I'm told I was a horrible baby, throwing temper tantrums, stealing as I got older, breaking things and fighting with other kids and the adults who had the unfortunate job of watching over me. No one could figure out what I needed, though a lot of social workers, doctors and psychiatrists tried. They couldn't possibly have known that I needed Heero; I sure as hell didn't." A deprecating snort of laughter erupted from him. "I probably would have turned to harder substances than what I could easily get off the streets as a little kid in order to fill that void when I got older." He gave Wufei a sad smile as he admitted the rest of his thoughts. "I might have even given myself... my body to someone," he looked nervously at his friend, "maybe a lot of someones in order to escape the feeling of emptiness that felt at times as if it was consuming me, even more than the feeling hunger that was part of my everyday life on the streets."
He sighed and shrugged his shoulders. "Heero, too, filled his life with computers and training in order to drown out his own void. He had loving parents, a good home and everything he needed or wanted, but still felt bereft of something he couldn't name. Heero turned inward and cut off his emotions and people around him."
Duo stood from the bed he'd been sitting on and moved to the other boy's side and sat next to him on his bed. Bringing his legs up and crossing them before him, he looked at his friend as Wufei's dark eyes studied him, trying to understand. "We were both pretty hard to live with throughout our childhoods. You see, we were both missing each other."
Duo sighed and a faint smile came to his face. "I'll never forget the first time I touched Heero's shoulder in the detention center," he continued, with a soft smile as he reminisced. "He was sitting at the table in the juvie mess hall when I first sensed him." He brought his hand up to his right shoulder, his mind going back to that fateful day, "You see, I could feel a pull to him from across the room. I didn't understand it, but from deep within me it felt like a magnet drawing me across the room. I followed it and found myself standing next to Heero with a feeling I'd never had before. It was a sense of... coming home. No one sat next to Heero because he was new and had this killer look in his eyes, so I took a seat on the bench next to him, wondering if he was experiencing the same things I was feeling. Then sensing an unexplainable need to get closer, to somehow touch him, I let my upper arm come into contact with his and instantly, we both felt it." Duo's body shuddered involuntarily in re-telling the story of the moment that changed his life forever. "There was a feeling that was something like an electrical pulse that shot through the both of us and, instantly, I realized I had found the missing part of me, the void I'd always felt but couldn't explain had been momentarily filled. I knew, at that very instant, that Heero was vitally important to me, but I didn't understand why. He felt it too, but having shut his emotions and needs away, and because the contact I'd made with him felt too personal and intrusive, he reacted by jumping to his feet, grabbing hold of me and throwing my body half way across the room."
Wufei was listening intently to the braided boy, hearing the story from a more personal viewpoint than how Quatre had related it to him earlier in the day. "What happened then?" he questioned, filled with curiosity.
"Well," Duo drawled with a returning smile. "I knew I'd found something that I desperately needed and I'm pretty damn tenacious when I need to be. I began following him everywhere and found any occasion, any reason at all, to brush my hand or arm against him whenever I could, needing that momentary contact to temporarily ease the ache of the ever present void." He shook his head and his smile began to ebb. "I was black and blue by the end of the week because every time that spark went off between us Heero retaliated with his fists.
After a while," Duo paused to take a breath and pulled his braid back over his shoulder to toy with the end of it, "he got fed up with my constant presence and the touching he was unaccustomed to and hit me really hard and knocked me out. I woke up in the infirmary where they kept me for a couple of days because of a dislocated jaw and rising concern about all the bruises on my body." He raised a hand to his jaw, as if he could feel a bit of the pain he felt from the retelling of that injury. "I had to drink from a straw for a couple of weeks because my mouth hurt so bad and my teeth were loose." Duo frowned at the memory, but continued on with his story.
"On my third day in the infirmary, Heero broke into the room and set his determined sights on me. The nurse freaked out as it looked like he was going to kill me, but as he approached me, lying pretty much helpless on my bed, I could see a look of desperation in his eyes. Knowing that look too well because I felt it too, I opened my arms to him. Reaching the bed, he literally fell onto me, collapsing into my arms and held me in a vice-like grip. Neither of us could understand what was going on, how we had become inexplicably dependent on each other, needing each other's touch that either eased or completely diminished the feeling of a void within us nor the growing ache that began and increased when we were apart. All we could understand at that point was that we needed each other. It didn't make sense to us, but we knew it was a fact. At first, it was just a physical need that somehow blended and assuaged the emotional need as well. We've been pretty much inseparable since then and our bond appears to be growing stronger with time."
"So you have no choices in your life?" Wufei asked with a frown. "You have to be Heero's partner because of this...genetic link?"
Duo blinked. "Well, I don't look at it that way. I physically need Heero and he needs me. Our lives depend on each other. But, Wufei I..." The braided boy hesitated, studying his friend's face, worrying about his reaction to what he wanted to say.
Seeing the look, Wufei urged him on. "Go ahead, Duo. You can tell me."
"Really?" Duo looked unsure. "You won't hate me if I tell you?"
The Chinese boy's face became serious. "I swear to you, by my clan's honor, that I won't ever hate you."
The braided teen nodded and swallowed with some difficulty. "I love him, Wufei," he said quietly but unapologetic. "I don't think they could genetically design who I can love or not, but I love him. My love and devotion are the only gifts I can truly give him."
"Except for your body," Wufei said sullenly.
"Doesn't that come with love?" Duo queried. "I'm Heero's for life and our physical connection brings us even closer to each other. Isn't that was making love is all about?"
"Does he love you?" Wufei asked, looking up into the blue-violet eyes.
"I ...think so," Duo replied softly. "We haven't spoken the words out loud to each other, but I think he heard me say it in my mind last night and I can sense he cares deeply for me."
Wufei turned himself to face his friend fully. He raised his hand and pushed a long strand of brown hair away from the large questioning eyes. "I care for you too, Duo," he said, finding himself not able to hold back from revealing his heart any longer.
Duo looked shocked and troubled. "Wufei, I.." Duo began, but before he could continue, his words were quieted by his lips being captured by the other boy's mouth and he found himself in Wufei's firm embrace. After a moment of being stunned by the sudden unexpectedness of it, Duo turned his head and broke his mouth free from Wufei's lips.
"Stop. Wufei. This can't happen. Please," Duo gasped.
Slowly the Chinese boy loosened his hold and rested his forehead against Duo's. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I just couldn't keep it in any longer, especially with you sitting so close to me."
Duo sighed, his face and eyes reflecting his sadness. "I'm sorry Wufei," he said in quiet sincerity, bringing his hand up to place it comfortingly on his friend's back. "I really didn't know you felt this way." Pulling back, he looked into the other boy's dark and sad eyes. "You're my closest friend next to Heero, but you have to see that you can't hold onto this infatuation with me. Heero is very... possessive, and now that we're in each other's minds, I don't know if I can keep this from him."
Wufei nodded and replied sadly, "Then tell him I made a mistake. It's just that I've come to care so deeply for you, Duo."
"I care for you too, Wufei," his eyes looked remorsefully into his friend's sad face, "but we can only be friends."
The Chinese boy nodded, yet drew his face closer to his violet-eyed friend's once more. "Just please," he whispered in a soft, pleading voice. "Let me kiss you once more, and kiss me back. I swear it will be the last time I ask."
"But Heero..." Duo began nervously, only to be cut off by the other boy.
"He has you for the rest of his life, Duo. I only have this one moment," Wufei said as he leaned forward and his lips brushed lightly against the other boy's mouth. His argument must have reached the braided boy's heart, because Duo gave in to his request by tilting his head to the side and accepting the seeking lips to his own. With that acceptance, the kiss immediately deepened and Wufei moaned his pleasure as the braided-haired boy opened his mouth to him.
Duo allowed the kiss to last only a few moments before once again turning his head in order to break it off. "I need to go now," he said a bit breathless as he stood from the bed. "Quatre is waiting for me in my room." He walked to the door and paused, turning back to his friend still sitting on the bed with an expression of heart wrenching loss on his face. "Can we still be friends, Wufei? Or has this ruined it?"
Soulful eyes looked up into his. "I'll always be your friend Duo, yours and Heero's, because he means so much to you."
The braided boy nodded and gave his friend a grateful smile before activating the door and leaving the room without looking back.
As the door slid shut behind the long-haired boy, Wufei lay back on his bed to re-live the last few moments. He could still feel a lingering ghost of the kiss he'd just shared with the boy he'd cared about for so long now, still tasting Duo on his lips. He sighed deeply with regret, not for having been bold enough to finally kiss Duo, but for losing his heart to someone who could never be his. There was no question about it in his mind that he would be forced to regret his act of spontaneity. He had no doubt that Heero would learn of it. He shook his head at his stupidity. Duo and Heero shared more than just a connection or a bed; they now shared each other's thoughts. He could never compete with something like that and, from what he'd learned this day, he never stood a chance with Duo in any way.
He snorted in disgust at himself. He told himself to forget Heero's predictable reaction, though he knew it would probably prove to be very painful, but instead, think about what his family would think of him, falling in love with another boy. He had been the pride of his family and of his clan. They'd been puffed up with pride and honor when he had been selected and taken away by the government at the age of nine to be trained as a warrior for the Federation.
He sighed deeply, thinking over his predicament. Maybe it was because there was a shortage of girls in the training facility that he found Duo, with his long hair, slight built and beautiful face and eyes so attractive and appealing. Maybe his attraction to Duo was due solely to hormones and having no natural outlet. For some reason the Federation trained conscripted girls separately from the boys. But in even thinking of the lack of females around as a possible reason for his falling in love with the other boy, it somehow diminished what Duo meant to him. To say he lusted for sexual gratification at the hands of that one boy and not take into account that he cared deeply for Duo, maybe even to the extent of loving him, would reduce his feelings for him as being trite, insignificant and temporary. He knew what he felt for the long haired boy went deeper than that.
"Let it go!" He firmly told himself. "Let him go," he rephrased the thought. Closing his eyes, all he could see was the object of his affections. "Pathetic," he declared himself, then forced his body up and off of the bed to begin his evening's study to distract himself from his thoughts.
Quatre continued to work separately with the two linked teens each day. Because Heero was more advanced in his studies than his counterpart, it was deemed prudent for Duo to continue with his academic classes during the day with Heero being sedated and sleeping in the sick bay. The slumbering teen was awakened in the afternoon and the two were allowed to train in the advanced sims and mobile suits that they had both qualified to compete in tournaments against the other trainees. When the two boys were paired together, with the aid of their mental link, they proved impossible for any other person or team to overcome on the simulated battle ground or in actual suit to suit combat.
When it was Duo's time to sleep, Heero caught up on his studies for that day's classes, after which he spent time with Quatre, building mental blocks that were designed to be removed at his discretion. Of the two, Heero proved once again to be the more adept student and was quick to follow Quatre's instructions.
Two weeks of this routine proved difficult to the bonded two; their connection with each other had strengthened so much during the last few months that their hours of separation became physically uncomfortable. The need for the boy who was awake to ease the growing discomfort became an urgency after six hours, forcing him to go to the infirmary to hold the sleep induced boy in order to re-connect. Of the two, Heero seemed to tolerate the internal ache better than his counterpart. Duo obviously had a lower tolerance for pain and though the reason was unknown as to why he was more physically affected, Heero suggested it was because Duo was more in touch with his emotions than he was.
Quatre yawned, his own energy depleted at the end of another long day. His mornings began early with Duo, working with him before breakfast and classes, and his day ended around midnight, after working with Heero for an hour or two in his and Duo's bedroom. He smiled at the Japanese boy who was concentrating on the task he'd given him. He tried to touch the other boy's mind, but found it successfully blocked yet again.
"Okay, Heero. That's great. You've built a very strong shield."
Heero opened his eyes and smiled at his achievement and the blond's praise. "It was a lot easier that time," he reported.
"I think it's time we work together with Duo," Quatre said as he stood and stretched, going into another yawn.
Heero's eyes lit up at the suggestion. It was clear he missed the other boy who had been a constant presence at his side for the last couple of years.
Quatre finished his stretch and accompanying yawn and checked his watch; it was just after midnight. Duo was scheduled to be awakened at four a.m. to begin his day. "Why don't we take a rest and I'll wake you when Duo gets up," he suggested to Heero.
The dark haired boy nodded his agreement and came to his feet. "I'll go to him now so we can connect," he informed the blond, knowing he would understand what he meant and that it would save time in the long run if he bonded with his mate while Duo was asleep.
"Alright," Quatre turned to walk to the door. "I'll see you in a couple of hours."
Heero woke to the feel of lips pressing against his own. Raising his arms up, he pulled the slender body, partially resting on his chest, closer in order to deepen the kiss. He opened his eyes a moment later as their lips parted. Even in the dim lit room, Heero could see the blue-violet eyes sparkling with happiness from above him.
"Morning," Duo chirped happily.
"Morning." Heero's voice croaked out, causing them both to smile for a second before Duo flopped down on top of him to give him an enthusiastic, almost desperate hug.
"I've missed you," the braided boy whispered into his ear.
Heero kissed the side of Duo's head. /Missed you, too./
"So we get to work together today," Duo said excitedly as he lifted himself up, bracing his body with straightened arms on either side of the boy beneath him as he looked into Heero's deep blue eyes.
Heero nodded, noting that Duo was already dressed in his green jumpsuit for the day and took a moment to appreciate the beauty of the other boy, his clear complexion, large sparkling eyes, filled with life and laughter, and the hair, only slightly mussed from sleep, with his long braid trailing over his shoulder to rest on Heero's chest. Heero knew that many of the people he'd known in his life felt he was unemotional, detached from the feelings others felt on a daily basis. But the emotions that welled up inside his chest when it came to the boy poised like a vision above him were almost overwhelming. To think that Duo was all his and was completely devoted to him seemed unbelievable. If it wasn't for their bond, he knew Duo could have anyone as his lover. He was alluring and desirable without even trying to be. With those thoughts and feelings coursing through him, he acted the only way he knew how. Pulling Duo down, he pressed their lips together again, showing Duo how much he cared and desired him.
The sound of a throat being cleared behind them ended the kiss abruptly.
"Oh yeah," Duo smiled against the lips beneath his. "The good doctor is here too." He pulled himself up, allowing Heero to see the doctor glaring at them with a strong look of admonishment.
"Sorry, Doc." Duo smirked as Heero watched him turn on his most winning smile as he looked at the older man in the white lab coat. "Heero thought we were alone."
"You two need to be more cautious about your displays of affection," he advised them, pulling his glasses out of his breast pocket and putting them on his nose. "There are already some rumors circulating about the nature of your relationship. If someone should catch a glance of the two of you in a repeat performance of the scene I just witnessed, life here probably won't be quite as pleasant for you as it has been."
"We've been careful," Heero scowled at the man, taking his warning as criticism. He never reacted well to that form of directness.
"It's probably going to come out sooner or later, don't ya think, Doc?" Duo shrugged, seeming uncharacteristically unconcerned at the prospect of his and Heero's relationship becoming public knowledge.
"There are many who are not comfortable with your lifestyle. They might react in a hostile manner," the old man reminded them.
"I can handle anyone who threatens us," Heero said as he rose from the bed and began to dress in the clothing he had neatly folded on the chair earlier when he had crawled into bed with Duo.
"And it's not like it's our fault that we're like this," Duo said, looking at the man with a frown on his face. "We were made to be life partners and we can't be separated without hurting. You know that, so what's with the attitude?" The boy was decidedly unhappy and put his balled up fists on his slender hips, glaring at the doctor. "Is it you that has a problem with us?" he challenged.
The middle aged man looked from one boy to the other, both appearing unhappy and waiting for an answer to Duo's question. "I'm not comfortable with any aspect of your situation at all" he replied shortly. "Not with the experiments or genetic engineering, or the fact that scientists used two innocent children who were conceived in unnatural circumstances with the intent to make them future weapons; soldiers to serve the government, given no choice in sexual preferences or even in selecting a companion of your own choosing. There is nothing right about it and I find everything about your very existence challenging my beliefs in the system."
Duo blinked in astonishment. He looked from the doctor to Heero and tilted his head in confusion. /What does that mean? Is he against what we are or who we are?/ he asked Heero.
/Probably a little bit of both,/ Heero replied. Duo's frown deepened as he moved to stand next to Heero, now fully dressed, their shoulders lightly touching. The two stood resolute as they returned the doctor's gaze in the form of a formidable glare.
Unused to the boys under his care behaving in such a challenging manner, the doctor chose to turn away, breaking eye contact first.
Heero stepped forward and moved to stand only inches from the man who knew almost everything about them and was in charge of their well being. "Regardless of your personal feelings regarding us or how we came to be," he began in a tone that sounded like a threat. "You will put aside any prejudice or rancor you feel towards us and treat our physical needs as you would any other trainee."
The doctor's eyes narrowed on the intense boy standing defiantly before him. "I am a doctor first and foremost and a man of freewill second. I'm under oath and subscribe to a moral code to heal without prejudice and bring no harm to any one that I may treat. You have no fear of getting anything but the best treatment from me. I'm allowed my own thoughts and personal judgment, just as you are entitled to yours, but you never need fear any harm will come to you from me."
Heero watched the man's face intently, looking for any sign of falsity, but the man seemed sincere. He may not like them, but he didn't think he would hurt them on purpose. /Do we continue to trust him?/ he asked Duo.
/I don't think we have much choice,/ the other boy replied.
Coming to the same conclusion, he nodded to the doctor and returned to Duo's side. "Let's go," he said, and putting his arm around the slender shoulders of the other boy, he led them both out of the infirmary and towards Quatre's quarters.
The two bonded boys met their blond friend outside of the quarters he shared with Trowa. Quatre immediately noticed the somber countenances of the two and felt a wave of emotions coming from them that was hard to read. He did sense some residual trepidation and barely controlled anger and asked, "What's wrong?" Motioning them to walk with him while they explained, the three of them went in the direction of the rec room, walking through the silent corridors that would be bustling with the other trainees in a couple of hours.
"The good doctor has just informed Heero and I of his disapproval regarding us?" Duo said a bit sullenly.
"Of your relationship?" Quatre asked, surprised that the doctor would admit to such a prejudice.
"No," Heero spoke up, looking grim. "Of us, and everything about us."
"Are you concerned about how he'll treat you professionally?" Quatre questioned further.
Heero shook his head. "He said he'd treat us no matter who or what we were; that it was his job as a doctor to heal and not cause harm."
The three entered the empty rec room and turned on the lights which then displayed the brown fake leather couches that were set around a television on a high metal wall mount. Against the far wall were several tables and chairs set around them. This is where the three went and sat down, Quatre sitting across the table from Heero and Duo who sat as they usually did, shoulder to shoulder.
"He said that things will get ugly here if the other trainees find out about our relationship," Duo continued, looking worried as he labored in his mind over the subject. "We've been cautious Quatre, even Wufei and Trowa didn't know, did they?"
"If Trowa knew, he kept it to himself. Wufei, however, was flabbergasted when I told him of your beginnings," the blond answered with a slight smile in remembering his more sober friend's wide-eyed expression when he learned of Heero and Duo's 'connection'. "But the doctor's right. I've heard some rumors going around about the two of you. Your new schedules and close friendship has brought some speculation as to the true nature of your relationship. I mean, look how close you guys walk and sit next to each other." He motioned to their upper arms that were pressed together. Guys don't naturally sit that close to each other. It's considered invading someone's personal space."
"What's natural about us Quatre? Anything?" Heero asked with one raised dark eyebrow.
The blond opened his mouth to answer then shut it. He repeated the motion several times with a perplexed look on his face. Looking up into the eyes of the two sitting opposite him, he sighed and gave them a small, crooked smile of apology. "Lets just say you're... unique, not unnatural."
"I like the sound of that, unique!" Duo smiled, the grin a bit forced, and reached for Heero's hand under the table. He felt Heero squeeze it back to signal he agreed.
"That was very diplomatic, Quatre." Heero addressed the blond. "You should be a politician or businessman."
"Who knows, maybe I will some day," he smiled back. "But right now we need to get back to work before the others wake up. Duo." He looked at the boy with the long braid. "I want you to begin a continuous conversation or dialogue with Heero in the form of thought. Heero." He turned his gaze to the other boy. "I want you to go through the steps I taught you to block out Duo's voice in your head and signal me by raising your hand as you complete each step."
"Got a favorite song, Heero?" Duo asked with a wide smile, obviously eager to begin the session.
"Anything by Mozart or Beethoven," the more somber of the two replied without a moment's thought.
Blue-violet eyes rolled up towards the ceiling. "Geez Heero, how about something from this century?"
"Well you asked," Heero said with a confused look on his face.
Quatre's amusement at the two was obvious as he chuckled. "Just sing or say whatever you want," he said to Duo. "Just do it in your head."
Duo nodded and bobbed his head a little to keep the tempo of the silently sung song, his eyes half closed as he concentrated on not humming out loud.
Heero winced and a look of distaste crossed his features. "I hate that song, it's obnoxious." he said sourly.
"Then block it out," Quatre advised. "Step one," he directed the Japanese boy. Heero gave a brief nod and closed his eyes to concentrate.
Putting up a mental block was like building a strong wall. Several steps were taken to form a structure to hold the mental wall in place. Heero worked on the first wall, a foundation for what was to come. After a moment passed, a slight smile appeared on his face. "Got it," he whispered as the first step was completed.
"Second." Quatre said, watching the two before him; Heero was a picture of concentration and Duo was smiling, obviously having a good time.
It took a bit longer than the first step, but it was less than half a minute before his hand rose to indicate he'd accomplished that task.
Heero's brows pinched together for a moment as the more difficult task was worked on. Moments later, an amused smile appeared on his face, and his raised hand slapped firmly down onto the table. "Silence is golden!" he announced, definitely looking pleased with himself.
"Hey! Is that an insult?" Duo asked with a pout.
"I told you I hated that song." Heero answered blandly.
"What was it?" Quatre asked, unable to keep the smile off his face.
"I sang the longest song I knew, not knowing how long it was going to take Heero to set his blocks. It was Ninety Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall."
Quatre laughed out loud. "Heero's right, it's the most obnoxious song on the planet.. I hate that song, too." Duo and Heero both joined his laughter, all in good humor at Heero's success.
With a sigh, the blond composed himself and turned back to his friends. "Now it's Heero's turn to return the favor," he said.
"Does he have to sing?" Duo asked, looking somewhat alarmed. "Heero's tone deaf."
"Then you'll also have an incentive to put the blocks up quickly," Quatre chuckled and Heero gave a smug grin.
Duo gave a wary glance to his partner and Heero nodded. "I'm ready if you are," he stated. "And I won't sing," he announced and received a warm smile from the braided boy. "I'll just tell you about a dream I had last night." The expression of relief on Duo's face quickly turned to worry.
"Just focus, Duo." Quatre admonished the other boy who looked at him for a moment, nodded and closed his eyes, ready to begin. "Step one." Quatre began again, hoping for the same results as with Heero.
After a moment, Duo smiled. "K"
Like Heero, it took Duo longer than the first step to put up that second barrier. After a minute and a half of watching the boy's face twist and turn, Quatre heard the braided boy let out a long sigh. "Got it," he whispered, his voice sounding strangely strained. Quatre wondered what was going on that made it so difficult for Duo this time. Sure, Heero was usually more quick and adept at putting up the blocks more rapidly than Duo, but Duo seemed much slower today than usual.
Quatre watched with fascination as Duo's cheeks began to pink, a blush slowly rising on his cheeks. The blond began to worry if Duo was under too much of a strain, but a quick glance at Heero showed him to be sitting still, calm and with a leering grin on his face.
Duo squirmed in his chair, his face going through all kinds of comical contortions as he worked on the final barrier. Then after several minutes, he opened his eyes and barked out, "Done!" The braided boy was breathing faster than usual and the color in his face was heightened. He turned with a glare to the boy next to him. "That was mean, Heero," he scolded his friend.
"I know," Heero replied smugly.
"Are the blocks holding?" Quatre cut in, having no clue as to what the two were going on about.
"Yes," Heero answered.
Duo shifted in his chair. "Damn," he muttered under his breath even as he nodded his head in answer to the question.
"What's going on?" Quatre asked, sitting back in his chair and observing the two who would always be an enigma to him.
Duo's eyes shifted from Heero to the blond. "Let's just say Heero was telling me all about his dream, his very wet dream and I'm not talking about water." A sharp elbow in his side caused the braided teen to utter an "Oof," as air left his right lung.
"It was a dream about you and it's private." Heero said looking embarrassed as he corrected his partner.
Duo recovered quickly to smile evilly at the dark haired boy.
"Okay," Quatre put his hands up to bring a halt to any further discussion, knowing it was going to end up being way more than what he wanted to know about his two friends and the more intimate side of their relationship. "We need to practice this until it comes quicker and with more ease. Duo's got the idea; we just need to get it to happen faster. Take down the barriers and let's start again."
Both boys sighed and did exactly as the blond requested. One hour later Quatre was very pleased with the results. Heero proved to be an apt student and Duo dramatically lessened the length of time it took to put up the barriers after practicing several times.
After the last run through, Duo stood abruptly. "I'm going to the restroom," he declared and shifting his pants slightly, walked quickly to the adjacent restrooms, breaking into a jog just before he got to the door.
"That wasn't very nice Heero." Quatre sat back and grinned, sensing Duo's area of discomfort.
"Couldn't resist," Heero replied with a strained smile and a shifting of his eyes towards the restroom Duo had made a dash for.
"I suppose you need to use the restroom too?" he asked with a smirk and a blond eyebrow raised in question.
"Be right back." Heero stood abruptly and quickly moved to follow his partner. Quatre could only imagine how much restraint Heero was displaying in not running to his goal.
"Wufei and Trowa will be here soon for an early breakfast with us," he called out after the retreating teen.
Heero raised his hand, indicating he'd heard, and rushed into the bathroom, the click of the door shutting sounded loudly in the nearly empty rec room.
Checking his watch five minutes later, Quatre leaned back in his chair. There was no sign that Heero and Duo would be coming out soon, so he stood and began pacing the area in front of the television as he tried not to think about what was happening between the two in the restroom. He hoped they wouldn't be too long because there was no way in hell was he going in there after them.
On to Chapter eleven
Back to Chapter nine