Chapter 2:


By: Dyna Dee

Disclaimer: I don't own any part of Gundam Wing nor it's characters. My stories are written for my own pleasure and not for any legal tender, darn it!

Warnings: A.U., yaoi, shounen-ai, some language, some violence but not too bad. Maybe some OOC, but I tried to stay with the personalities of the original characters as much as possible.


Chapter 2

From an aerial view, the United Federation's Training Facility was a blight on what was once beautiful island in the Gulf of Mexico. Instead of the palm trees and natural flora that graced other such places, the island paradise was now changed forever by the touch of man. Only a few of the tropical trees near the beach remained and not fifty feet away from the shoreline and circling the outer perimeter of the island rose a multitude of white, sturdy hurricane resistant buildings that comprised the training school and the living quarters for the students and staff. The large center of the island had been flattened, having been used for a decade as the training ground for the large mobile suits the advanced students practiced in daily, honing their skills learned in the classroom and in hundreds of hours spent on the simulators.

The identical looking buildings, all designed plainly with sharp angles and dedicated to function more than form, were divided into quarters. Each section was identified by the color of the doors. The colors themselves were significant as they represented the level ratings of the students housed within. The Red doors, and subsequent red jumpers worn by the students living inside the Red buildings, was the indication of a newbie, an entry level student with a lot to learn and a long road ahead of him to the top ranks of the training facility.

The second set of buildings was identified by the color yellow. The students living in and taught within those bright doors were considered the mid-class trainees. When the rudimentary education had been successfully passed in Red level, the trainees were then advanced to Yellow where they were introduced to the more difficult science and mathematic courses with the bonus of eventually having the opportunity of logging onto the simulators that went along with the classes regarding battle strategy, tactics and command. The boys in the higher ranks of Yellow were allowed, in their second and third years, to try their hand in a leadership role by becoming a jr. officer, leading the Red newbies for a period of six months or more and giving them an opportunity to display their abilities to lead and command. All training in Yellow preceded and led up to further training in Green.

The building bearing the green painted doors was the third level of advancement for the Federation's young trainees, and the education received at that level included more officer and hands-on battle training. Not all of the island's trainees progressed to the Green building, but only those who showed potential in making snap decisions, showing good judgment, and proved that they had the skills necessary to become a Armed Mobile Suit, or AMS, pilot. The boys advancing to Green came with exceptional academic and performance skills and only by the recommendation of their teachers to the Base Commander. These were the privileged few who earned the right to train in the life-sized simulators, which would advance them into tactical training in the real AMS, which battled daily on the large practice field. Within those suits, the Green's trained to become the future pilots for the weapons of war that would be poised to protect their country's future.

The fourth set of buildings with the dark, navy blue doors were designated for Graduate Training and Administrative offices and living quarters. Any young man bearing the Blue uniform color was treated with the utmost respect and saluted by underclassmen. They were the ones that would go on, fully trained, to become a pilot for the Federation and take on any enemy that posed a threat to their country. Not only did the Blue buildings house the elite few upper graduate students, but also the officers and teachers who were trained and ready to act and go, at a moment's notice, where their government ordered, to fight and defend the country that had trained them for such a need.

"One color never ventures into an area that is not of his color. That rule has only one exception and that is entering by invitation and with a chaperone bearing that color," Quatre continued to speak to the two newbies walking along side him and they entered and began to walk through the Red building. He looked to his right to see if they were still listening to his explanation of the island and the buildings comprising the school and how they were set up according to achievement and rank. Heero was obviously taking in everything he said, his deep blue eyes were focused intently on him, almost uncomfortably so. Duo might have been listening, but his head was turning in every direction, trying to take in everything that was around him. "Each color is very territorial about their living space. It's not a good thing to be caught in another color's territory," he added as a precaution.

The two teens walking directly behind the new cadets and their captain, noticed immediately after Quatre issued the almost casual warning that the braided boy turned to look at his friend with a mischievous smirk on his face. The messy, dark brown haired youth had obviously recognized the look and vehemently shook his head in response to it. The long haired boy's smile didn't fade as he shrugged nonchalantly and continued his visual scanning of the Red building's interior.

The two young officers following them exchanged a puzzled look at each other after seeing the interaction between the two, and made a mental note to talk to Quatre about it later.

The door to the barracks they stopped in front of had the number five displayed boldly across the middle of the metal door. "This is our barracks and our unit number," Quatre said in explanation with a hand gesture towards the door. "You will find it placed on the right shoulder of your uniform and when you see it on any paper or posting board, it will be the first part of your identification. Your homework from class and work on your future lapdesk should bear the number five as well as your name. Any time you see a red five flashing on any vid screen, you are to report to the barracks at once."

Both boys nodded their heads that they understood the simple instructions.

Stepping forward the blond passed the palm of his right hand over a small portal and a red light immediately flashed onto his skin. The motion caused the door to swish open to the left. "Only members of our unit, Red 5, will have access to the barracks, other than our superiors, who rarely enter," Quatre said over his shoulder as he motioned the two to enter after him.

Inside the room, the two newbies stood shoulder to shoulder as they observed their new living space. Each quickly noted that there were boys of varying size and ages spread about the room. Some of them appeared about the same age at they were; most of them looked younger. All of them were lounging comfortably, singly or in small groups, either on their beds or on the carpeted floor. Seeing their captain come into the room, the boys comprising Red 5 jumped to their feet and stood at attention.

"At ease," Quatre ordered, and all the boys complied and gave relaxed smiles to their leader and his two lieutenant. It was obvious to the two new boys that this unit of trainees genuinely liked the blond teenager set over them as their leader. "We have two new trainees," Quatre announced and turned to motion to each boy he was about to introduce. "Duo Maxwell and Heero Yuy. I hope you'll be helpful in assisting them as they adapt to life here at the training center and our unit."

"Looks just like juvie," Duo said aside to the Japanese boy as he scratched his left side with his left hand. Heero merely nodded his agreement as the two of them took in the bunk beds that lined both of the long walls of the narrow room.

"A bit bigger though," Heero replied blandly after a moment of taking the whole room. He observed that the occupied space was approximately eighteen feet wide and he guessed a little more then one hundred feet in length. Down the long stretch of the room, the white walls were lined with bunk beds placed lengthwise against the smooth surface. The width of the bunks left an aisle down the middle of the room of roughly ten feet. There were twelve bunk beds lining each side of the long rectangular room, the length of each bed against the wall, all of which were covered with a thick, red blanket and white pillow case. The wall at the far end of the room from where they stood, at the rooms only entrance, had a large shuttered window that was open at the moment, letting the sun and late morning breeze filter into the enclosed space. The only other objects filling the rectangular shaped living quarters were double lockers, also set against the walls and between each of the beds. Heero noted with mild pleasure that the room itself was free of clutter or unnecessary items and the bunks were all made in military style, clean and the covers pulled in tightly over the mattresses. He liked that, and from this first observation he came to the conclusion that there was at least some discipline involved under Captain Winner, despite his friendly and gentle manner.

"In our barracks" Quatre continued, looking at the two newbies, "we're more relaxed and less formal than in any other place in the training facility. We don't follow a true military code, but we do recognize rank and show respect for others. This is your safe room and your home until you are advanced to Yellow."

As expected, Heero nodded, looking intense, and Duo gave the captain a goofy grin. "Find an empty bed and unused locker in close proximity to it," the blond continued."Trowa." The young captain turned to the taller of his lieutenants. "After they've selected a bed and locker, show Heero how to activate his locker. Wufei, I want you to take Duo and do the same."

After a nod from the blond captain to proceed, the two newcomers walked down the length of the barracks, ignoring all eyes in the room that were sizing them up as they took note of the three unmade and empty beds within the barracks; two were top bunks, one at the front of the room, and the other was halfway down the aisle, and the only available bottom bunk was all the way at the back of the room by the open window.

The two boys took a moment to stare at the last bunk in the room, then looked up at each other and seemed to exchange some wordless information. With a nod of his head, Duo turned to speak to the two lieutenants who had followed them in their quest for a bed. With his smile missing, the long haired boy placed his hands on his slender hips and shook his head. "This is not going to work," he told them, his manner serious. "Someone will have to move so that Heero and I can bunk closer to each other."

Wufei folded his arms across his chest and snorted in disdain. "You've got to be kidding me."

"He's not." Heero spoke up at last, a frown firmly in place.

"It's first come first serve here," Trowa told them calmly.

Duo pointed to the bunk opposite the one they had just scrutinized, the one with a startled looking boy sitting on top of it. "I want that one," he said emphatically.

"What don't you understand, Maxwell?" Lieutenant Wufei asked in a tone that suggested he was speaking to someone of lesser intelligence. "You were told to pick an empty bunk, do it now or I'll select one for you."

"Listen to me." The braided boy's eyes narrowed dangerously. "We can be your greatest ally or your worst enemy. We don't ask much, but there are a few things that we need. If ya fight us or threaten us, you'll regret it, and that's a promise."

"You think I'm afraid of you, you little snot nosed brat?" Wufei said in a haughty attitude, holding back his steadily rising anger. Yet when the smaller boy stood defiantly before him, anger sparking in his narrowed eyes, the lieutenant's patience broke. "You will take the upper bunk in the middle of the room," he said and grabbed the small framed boy by his right upper arm and began to forcefully pull him back towards the bunk in the middle of the room.

He got no more than two steps before he found himself suddenly knocked down and flattened to the floor taking the other boy, still firmly held in his grip, down with him. At the shock of the impact, he let go of the braided boy and felt a weight on his back as his arms were quickly grabbed and pinned high and painfully up against his spine in a torturous grip.

"No one touches Duo," Heero's said, his voice hissing with a tone of a dangerous threat as he leaned over the prone and stunned lieutenant, causing even more pain in the uncomfortably places arms.

"Let him up, Heero." All movement in the room stopped as Quatre's voice carried his commanded in a cold and even tone. The other boys in the room were staring, unmoving or breathing from their shocked positions on their bunks and around the room with wide eyes unable to look away from the scene that was being played out before them.

Heero looked up with narrowed, angry eyes into the blond captain's blue-green one. "No one touches Duo," he repeated.

"I understand, Heero," Quatre replied, though he really didn't. "But you can't attack Wufei, he's an officer and the consequences can be severe for such an offense. I'll consider giving you just a warning if you let him up right now."

There was something about the calmness in the boy speaking to him that radiated control and strength, even though his innocent face and large blue eyes seemed to deny the fact. Heero sensed that strength and authority in the young captain and instinctively respected it. He slowly stood and pulled Duo up from the floor with him and brought him to stand at his side. The braided boy bore a smug smile on his face as Wufei stood and turned to face them, his anger barely held in check.

"What's the problem here?" Captain Winner asked, looking to the two boys and his lieutenants for an answer.

Trowa, the calmest of the four, was the one to step forward and explain what happened, giving a full and concise account of the conversation leading up to the point where Wufei grabbed Duo's wrist and Heero's reaction to it.

During the oral report, the young captain's eyes strayed from his lieutenant to observe the two newbies standing before him. Heero's body seemed poised in a defensive position, deliberately positioning himself in front of Duo with the long haired boy's left shoulder resting just slightly against his back. Quatre mentally scratched his head. The commander had given him a brief synopsis of the background of these two newly released juvenile delinquents. Yet seeing the protectiveness of Heero and the seemingly necessary closeness these two maintained, he found himself with an unexplainable puzzle. He was baffled by the situation and felt compelled to figure out what was going on before jumping to conclusions.

At the end of Trowa's report, Quatre addressed the two. "First of all, this is not a juvenile detention facility. There will be no fighting, period. Not in class or the mess hall and especially in the barracks. Is that understood?" The blond was adamant but remained cool and controlled as he waited for an answer. After several moments of tense silence, Heero glanced at Duo then turned back to his new captain and nodded his head. Quatre took in a deep cleansing breath, then went on to address the next issue. "Is there a valid reason why you two can't bunk forty feet away from each other?" he asked.

The two stood silent, Heero glaring and Duo defiant, neither offering an answer to his question.

"Duo?" He turned to the talkative one.

"We don't know you," the braided boy replied in a clipped voice.

"And I don't know you either, other that a brief report that came from the facility where you've recently come from."

Duo rolled his eyes at the Captain's elusiveness. "Ya might as well come out and say prison. After all, it's kinda hard to keep that a secret with the clothing we've got on."

Quatre had been trying to be sensitive about their criminal background, but Duo was right, everyone in the complex had probably already heard about the two boys in the orange jumpsuits. "Let's not get distracted," Quatre said, wanting to get back to the subject at hand. "Unless you tell me there is a valid reason for the both of you to bunk near each other, I can't help you."

The two stood staring at him defiantly.

Quickly analyzing the situation, the blond captain felt there was something oddly disturbing about the two stubborn boys who stood closely together and appeared undaunted. The feelings he was sensing from them told him there was a genuine, deep-seeded need from both boys that made their request to bunk near each other was somehow... vital? He didn't understand what was going on, but he instinctively knew he couldn't just drop the subject, yet. "Are you telling me there is a reason, but that you're not comfortable telling me because you don't trust me?" he asked again, trying to wheedle more information from them. He was finally rewarded by a nod of Heero's head.

"Very well. I guess we'll need to learn to trust each other," Quatre concluded, realizing he'd have to do some bending if he was going to get them to trust him. He would start by offering them a possible solution. "I would suggest that if Duo really wants the bunk across from Heero, that he politely ask Trenton Goodman, the boy currently sitting on that bunk, if he'll trade for another bed."

The long haired boy's eyes widened just slightly at the suggestion then he promptly turned and moved towards the bunk in question, opposite the empty bottom bunk they had already designated as Heero's at the left end of the row, and the boy who was sitting with his legs crossed in front of him, watching a bit apprehensively as Duo approached. All eyes in the room followed the slight boy with the long braid that swished from side to side along his slender back as he walked.

Trenton shifted nervously as the boy in the orange jumpsuit with the large bright eyes partially hidden under long wisps of brown hair stepped up to him with a look of determination present in his body language. He told himself his nervousness was ridiculous. He was one of the brightest boys in level Red. Yeah sure, he was awkward and shy in social situations, but that was nothing to be ashamed of. After all, most A-type personalities had some type of quirk, and his was a social dysfunction that seemed to be part of some weird cosmic balance with being a genius. Forcing himself not to twitch, Trenton looked up into the blue-violet eyes that met his.

Duo studied the boy, seeing he was apprehensive at his approach but was masking it fairly well. As he reached the bunk, he stuck his hand out and with a winning smile and some enthusiasm, he introduced himself. "Hey Trent, I'm Duo." The boy on the bed looked startled as he stared at the boy, and slowly lowered his gaze to the outstretched hand. He glanced up into the other boy's sparkling eyes and managed a shaky smile as he placed his hand in the other boy's and they shook.

"Your friend won't beat me up because I just touched you, will he?" Trenton asked as he let his hand drop to his lap and looked around the boy in front of him to cast a worried glance at his dark haired and scowling companion.

Duo gave the boy a disarming smile. "Na," he chuckled at the question. "I gave ya permission when I offered my hand. He protects me but he's not a berserking savage. Well, at least most of the time he not," he amended with a crooked grin. He then moved forward and, uninvited, sat down on the bed next to the red headed boy, acting as if they were the best of friends.

Trenton looked decidedly uncomfortable, aware that every one in the room was staring in his direction and every ear was tuned to himself and the newbie. Refocusing his attention on the boy sitting next to him, he was startled to realize the smiling boy next to him was totally unaffected by the attention they were drawing.

"Listen Trent," Duo began quietly, but was immediately interrupted by the other boy.

"It's Trenton," the redhead corrected him.

"Sure, whatever." Duo shrugged, gave a non-apologetic smile and continued. He then looked intently into the bespeckled redheaded boy's face that was liberally covered in freckles, a definite bully magnet if Duo ever saw one. "I don't mean ta shake things up, but ya see, I need ta bunk close to my buddy. Would ya mind too much if I had this bunk and you took another one? I'll help ya move and all, and I know ya can't tell by look'n at me, but I can be a valuable friend to have around, an ally of sorts," he added with a knowing smile.

Trenton found he could only blink in response, mesmerized by the friendly manner and charm this Duo kid exuded.

"If I tell him to, Heero will protect you too, just like he protected me a minute ago." Duo continued in a low voice, intending to sweeten the pot.

Trenton's eyes widened at the unexpected offer. He glanced at the expressionless boy with the messy dark brown hair. He didn't look all that strong, but then he'd taken Lieutenant Chang down without a problem, and that had been very impressive.

"Heero and I will both be really grateful if ya can do this. But I have to be honest," Duo gave him a piteous look. "If ya don't trade, we'll both be unhappy, and that isn't something ya want ta happen." The friendly voice was still there as was the smile, Trenton observed, but there was a lingering hint of a threat to his words. "I've been in the juvie hospital a few times just because I pissed Heero off," he continued, using a soft voice so only Trent could hear his words. "And I'm his best friend. I wouldn't want him pissed off at me if I were you."

"I'll trade." Trenton's voice cracked at the suddenness of his answer, his voice loud enough for all in the room to hear.

Duo's brilliant smile lit his face again and he clapped the redhead on the shoulder then stood. "That's what I call a team player. Thanks Trent."

"Trenton," the boy managed to blurt out. But from the chuckle and the humorous glint in the other boy's odd colored eyes, Trenton Goodman knew he'd gotten a new nickname, and as nicknames go, he'd been called a lot worse. He could live with Trent if Duo insisted on calling him that.

Duo turned and with a wave of his hand he returned to the others standing a short distance away. He went directly to Heero's side, gave him a smug smile, then leaned his body against him, his elbow resting comfortably on Yuy's shoulder.

"Now that the bunk situation is settled," Quatre began, "find a locker. Duo, let Wufei show you what to do."

The Chinese boy nodded sternly, avoiding looking at the Japanese boy's murderous glare that was being sent in his direction as a direct warning.

"Trowa will show Heero," Quatre finished.

The tenseness that had permeated the room moments ago now seemed to lessen as the four boys moved to carry out their assigned tasks. The other boys lounging around the room tried to look busy and not seem obvious as they closely watched the newbies, knowing what was coming. Some boys snickered behind their hands or books while others looked worried, having seen Heero's earlier response.

Heero moved towards the locker next to his bed, while Duo dickered with Trenton for a few moments over his locker. Wufei watched with his arms folded over his chest and his eyes narrowed as Maxwell again began to try and bargain with the redheaded boy to get what he wanted. He wondered if this was the way it always was with the braided brat, to charm or cajole others into giving him what he desired. If so, Wufei became determined that Duo Maxwell would find his match in him.

"You can't have his locker as its locking mechanism is already calibrated to him." Wufei said snidely to the long haired boy. "You'll have to take the vacant one down by Trenton's new bed."

Duo took a quick look at Heero who gave him an indifferent shrug. With a lopsided smile, Duo answered. "Okay, that's fine by me," he chirped, startling the Chinese teen who had been expecting him to throw some kind of fit. "Come on Trent, I'll help ya move down to your new bunk." Duo bent and picked up the newly folded bedding the redheaded boy had taken off in preparation for the switch, then waited for the other boy to gather some of his other possessions. Together they headed back down to the other bunk with Wufei dutifully in tow.

After unburdening himself of the bedding, Duo stood in front of the white metal locker, noticing a light grey colored pad to the right side of the locker's door. Wufei placed himself just behind him and looked over the braided boy's shoulder. "Put you right hand, fingers slightly spread and in the center of the pad," Wufei instructed.

Duo complied, setting his hand as he was told and was surprised to find the vinyl-like material in a rectangular shape to be cool and pliant under his palm.

"Now press your hand down evenly and firmly into the softness and hold it there."

Duo looked up at Wufei, wondering what this was all about. Turning back to the pad, he did as he was told. Pressing in, his hand began to create a mold as the pad gave way to the pressure and pressed up and around the outside edges of his fingers and hand. Then suddenly Wufei's hand was on top of his.

"A little bit further," he said, then pressed Duo's hand under his further into the soft material

Duo cried out in alarm when a sharp stabbing pain shot into the palm of his hand. He instinctively pulled back his hand, trying to free himself, only to discover his hand was being held down firmly by the bronze hand above it.

"Just relax, it will only take a moment longer," Wufei said from behind him, and Duo could just feel the smirk on the other guy's face, even if he didn't turn around to see it.

"You don't learn very quickly, do you?" Duo asked snidely.

"Keep it there." Wufei slowly removed his hand from the other boy's. "When the ache stops you can remove it," he instructed, his frown returning at the veiled threat from the newbie.

A moment later the braided boy removed his hand and cradled it against his chest. After giving Wufei a murderous glare, he looked down to study his wound. At the base of his palm there was a puncture mark with a little drop of blood forming on top of it. Frowning, he brought the heel of his hand up and sucked on it, giving an accusing glare to the Chinese boy.

"It's an I.D. chip," Wufei motioned to the injured hand. "It will open the barracks door, start the simulators, open your locker and will serve as a medical alert."

Duo looked down at his hand again, studying it with a bit of disbelief on his face.

"Go ahead, try your locker." Wufei motioned to the metal door.

The long haired boy turned back to the metal container and was surprised to see the plaque where he'd pressed his hand in had retained a perfect mold of his hand print. Not seeing any knob or any kind of physical lock, he did what his instincts told him, he put his hand back into the mold. The sound of the metal bar locking the container snapping back was heard and the door shifted slightly, indicating it was open.

"Smooth!" Duo smiled as he opened it all the way and studied the contents. Inside, the top half was comprised of three separate shelves. The top shelf contained folded white sheets and a red blanket. The other two shelves beneath it held several perfectly folded, red jumpsuits. Near the lower half of the locker were three drawers, the two top shelves were smaller than the largest at the bottom. Opening them, Duo saw one drawer had several pairs of underwear and the other had socks. The deep drawer was empty.

"That's where your shoes will go," Wufei told him. "You'll pick them up at the gear and supply room."

Duo nodded and watched as Wufei reached over his shoulder and took out one of the red jumpsuits. "You'll need to change out of your other...clothes and give them to me," The Chinese boy instructed, giving a disparaging glance to the orange jumpsuit.

"Now? Here? In front of everyone?" Duo asked, taken by surprise, his eyes shooting around the room at all the boys watching him.

Wufei nodded. "Strip off all your clothes and I'll dispose of them. All rookies dress in red."

With a huff, the braided boy complied by bringing his hand up to undo the fasteners on his juvie jumpsuit. Before he reached the bottom fastener, he looked up through his long-fringed bangs to the boy showing him the ropes. "I just gotta warn ya," he said with a wicked smile, and he could tell the Chinese boy really didn't like those words coming from him as he stiffened and looked wary. "But I look really great in red," Duo finished with a grin.

The confused look on the Chinese boy's face at the unexpected statement was so humorous to the boy, that Duo laughed heartily for several moments at the other boy's expense, gripping his aching sides as he struggled to composed himself. With a deep satisfying sigh, he wiped at the moisture in his eyes and looked up to see Wufei standing in front of him with an impatient look on his face and still watching him; and that's when he noticed something he hadn't before.

"What's with those yellow stripes?" Duo asked, pointing to the two slanted bars sewn onto the right upper sleeve of the Chinese boy's red jumper, above the white number five.

"Yellow depicts that I'm a mid-level trainee. I'm in my second year, that's what the two yellow stripes signify."

"So why do you wear a Red jumpsuit?" Duo's head tilted slightly, being naturally curious and wanting to know.

"I wear Red because this is where I'm training to become an officer. Remember, one color doesn't go into another's without expressed permission. I'm officially a Yellow, but I'm also Red as this is now my unit until I finish my leadership training. I'm accepted in both buildings with this jumpsuit on and the yellow stripes."

Duo nodded that he understood, then slipped the overly large orange jumpsuit from off his slender shoulders and let it drop to the ground. He reached out to Wufei to grab the red jumpsuit in his hands, but the Chinese boy pulled it back and held it tightly until Duo looked up into his face again. Wufei cleared his throat, looking a bit uneasy.

"What?" Duo asked.

"Your socks, shoes and boxers too."

Duo shrugged and pulled off his government issued tennis shoes and dingy socks, then pulled out a folded white pair of socks and boxers from his locker. Then he quickly dispatched with the blue pair of boxers he wore as quickly as possible and donned the new one. Wufei motioned with a nod of his head that he needed to put on a tee-shirt, which he did, and only then did he receive the red jumpsuit and slid it on. Even before Duo finished fastening the front of the one-piece suit, Wufei could tell it was going to be too large for his slight frame and new suits would have to be requisitioned for the long haired boy. But the extra material didn't seem to phase the smaller boy as he looked up at with a disarming smile aimed at the lieutenant. "See, I told you I look great in red."

Despite himself, Wufei smiled at the braided boy. Even though they had a shaky beginning and he was determined not to soften to the boy's natural charm, there was just something about the smiling newbie before him that was strangely likeable.

"Where did you get all those bruises?" Wufei asked, referring to the many marks he'd seen on the boy's small framed body as he stripped down. He looked curiously at the younger boy as he bundled all of his discarded clothing together and watched as Duo bent and hopped around as he pulled on his new socks.

"I bruise easy," Duo replied, not looking up from his task. "Besides, juvie is not a place for sissies, if ya know what I mean."

Wufei could only guess that things had been rough for the boy, surely younger than other unlawful perpetrators incarcerated in the juvenile detention facility. Quatre had told he and Trowa that both Heero and Duo were estimated to be about thirteen years old, and he couldn't help but be curious as to how each of them ended up being imprisoned so young. But before he could ask, Duo stood up and his eyes searched out his friend at the far end of the room. The blue-violet orbs lit up along with his smile as they locked with Heero's eyes, and Wufei wondered what the scowling boy had ever done to merit the high admiration from the gregarious boy before him.

"Hey, Heero looks great in red too." Duo announced happily. "How about that?"

Wufei turned his head to see Heero finishing up with closing his jumpsuit, his eyes though, were focused on he and Duo, his face bore a grim scowl. "Does he ever smile?" He asked the braided boy.

"Not often," Duo answered. 'But when he does, it's unforgettable."

Wufei gave the other boy a startled look, thinking that was an odd thing to say. "Get the bedding and I'll show you how to make your bed so that it will pass inspection."

Duo did as he was asked and turned to walk back down to his new bed. "Oh, I already know how to do that, make my bed," he replied. "Heero's a neat freak and has always insisted I make my bed properly. He checks my bunk every morning ta see it's done right. Geeze, talk about being anal attentive," he added in disgust, obviously not liking the rigid standards the other boy forced on him. He then lowered his voice and with his eyes appealing to the Chinese boy he added, "But don't tell him I said that, okay?"

Wufei couldn't help the smile on his face. "The correct term is anal retentive, not attentive," he corrected the other boy, causing Duo to look at him in surprise, a smile beginning to blossom on his face.

"Well, that gives it a whole different meaning, don't it?" he said with a naughty snicker. "Still, anally attentive is what I call Heero's idea of how things are 'sposed to be done. Every thing has to be frigg'n perfect for him."

Wufei nodded, but he had noted before he'd corrected Duo that the odd look on the boy's face when he asked him not to repeat his statement about Heero was somehow off. There was something lingering in his eyes that left the Chinese lieutenant feeling that Duo was somewhat afraid of his friend. Deciding to think about it later and discuss it with Quatre and Trowa, he watched over the younger boy as Duo went about the task of making his own bed, noting that he did indeed know how to make it up in proper military form. When it was done, Heero came over unsolicited and checked the tightly folded corners of the bed and gave the braided boy a nod of approval, giving Duo the occasion to grin like an idiot.

After a quick trip to the gear and supply room to acquire shoes for both boys and request a smaller sized jumper for Duo, the four returned to the barracks to settle in. Everyone seemed to relax and slowly eased back into their enjoyment of the one day in the week that they had free from study and training.

The two newbies sat together on Heero's bunk, shoulder to shoulder, and spoke in quiet voices to each other about their new environment and assessment of it as the other trainees in Unit 5 surreptitiously watched them with curious eyes. Seeing everything calming and settling into place, Wufei, Trowa and Quatre left for the more private Jr. Officers' Recreation Room in the Yellow building, leaving behind the barracks of Red Unit 5 for several hours, allowing the boy's under their care to enjoy the rest of their Sunday afternoon.



On to Chapter Three

Back to Chapter One



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