Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, nor do I profit at all by my storytelling.

Warnings: PG, humor, suggestive themes

Synopsis: The first mission together for the five gundam pilots proves to be a fumbling affair. Heero takes on the job to train the group to act as a unit. Duo, in the meantime, finds a diversion from the training. Can Heero take a practical joke?

First Mission Fiasco
Duo's Friendship Arc 3
by Dyna Dee

Half way through the second week that followed the gathering of the five gundam pilots, they received orders for their first mission together. The mission directive: Cripple the large Alliance base near Toronto.

The mission started out smoothly enough, each boy having a specific target and goal. Moments into the attack, however, they found themselves battling heavier ground resistance and in greater numbers than their sources had reported possible. Coupled with that, was a coordinated pincer move by ground and air troops. The five soon found they were surrounded on three sides and were battling fiercely.

Duo sprung high into the air, his voice loud in a battle cry as his gundam leapt almost effortlessly upward, his thermal scythe a spinning blur above its head. Deathscythe extended its arms and weapon as its body spun around with incredible speed, effectively slicing through various parts of the Leo's surrounding him. "The God of Death is alive and happy!" he crowed triumphantly as his gundam landed solidly on its feet on the tarmac.

The COM board was open, and he could hear the others muttering and straining as they battled. No one ever seemed as openly vocal as he was in battle. It didn't bother him, he just paused for a second and puzzled at the difference. 'How could they hold all that in?' he wondered.

Aware that the seemingly countless enemy was beginning to surround him again, he leapt into the air once more. Yet, before he reached the height he deemed necessary for the same maneuver that he had just accomplished with satisfactory results, thank you very much, he was hit by a volley of blasts from several of the Leo's. His position in the air and the hit, aimed with some strategic coordination to the same spot, sent him flying uncontrollably into Heavyarm's line of fire.

Before he could register what was happening, Trowa had sent several of his missiles towards the hanger in the distance, aimed to go between some of the mobile suits attacking them. One of the missiles slammed into the black gundam as it fell into it's path. The scythe, in the falling gundam's hand, went spinning up and out from it's grasp.

"Aaah......... oops!" came the familiar voice of the Deathscythe's pilot. That was the last repeatable word uttered over the COM as events dominoed from there.

The scythe flew a fair distance and coming down on the large sickle in Sandrock's raised hand, knocking it out and away from the white gundam. Trowa quickly turned his firing away from the area where Duo's gundam lay on the tarmac and moved backwards quickly trying to avoid the large white blade that spun wildly in his direction. In doing so, he inadvertently turned into Wufei, hitting his gundam at the same time as the Leo's got in a few lucky shots, knocking that gundam backwards. Shenlong's dragon arm flailed out wildly as Wufei struggled to regain his balance, the powerful dragon head hit the back of Wing's legs, causing that gundam to buckle backwards, landing on its back like an upended tortoise.

The Deathscythe pilot chanced a look up through his long bangs to watch the others. The moment they had returned to the safe house, tired and stunned, Heero had herded them all into the kitchen. Here they had been silently sitting, drinking water and juice to rehydrate their bodies, and waiting for Heero to come down on them for the sloppy mission.

Varied emotions were on display around the table. Looking first at Heero, Duo felt a shudder go through his body. Wing's pilot's face was like stone, cold and impassive. He was ticked, and every once in a while, his left eyebrow twitched. Not a good sign.

Across from him, Quatre rested his forehead thoughtfully against his upraised fists, He was obviously troubled and deep in thought.

Trowa sat back in his chair, hands resting in his lap with a look of cool calmness on his features. Sensing someone's eyes on him, he looked up with a questioning glance towards the braided boy.

Duo smiled as their eyes connected. Well, only a slight twitch at the corners of his mouth. He knew his regular smile was out of place in this atmosphere.

He turned his head slightly to observe Wufei to this left. The Chinese boy sat with his arms folded across his chest, his eyebrows were pinched together in what appeared to be anger, his half lidded eyes showed that he was definitely brooding.

Duo Maxwell wisely realized that there was no way on earth he was going to be the first to speak, so he folded his arms and lay his head down on them, closing his eyes.

The back of his head was soundly thumped as Wufei's glaring voice cut through the silence. "No way Maxwell. This was your fault. You're not going to sleep through this."

Turning his head, the braided boy gave the other his best threatening glare. "Hey! It was not my fault!" his voice was adamant in his defense.

"Of course it wasn't." Wufei snorted with sarcasm.

"You did get in my line of fire and knocked Quatre's weapon from out of his hands." Trowa added to Wufei's claims with a eyebrow raised smugly.

The American abruptly sat up bristling and with anger blazing in his amethyst eyes. "If this is going to turn into a 'Slam the Braided Guy' fest, then I'm outta here." He rose to his feet, his chair scraping loudly on the floor as it was shoved back.

"Sit down, Duo." Heero ordered, the tone of his voice clearly brooking no resistance."

The Deathscythe pilot planted his fists on his hips looking defiant.

"Come on, Duo." Quatre spoke up calmly. "It wasn't your fault, but we need to work this out if we're going to work effectively as a team."

Duo's stormy gaze moved from Heero's glare to Quatre's soft aquamarine eyes. The blonde smiled slightly at him. "Please." he added as a nice touch. Duo made a mental note to try that look and pleading word when he wanted to get his way.

The anger seeped out of the boy in black at the blonde's soft smile and pleasant tone. Pulling his chair up and behind him, he sat, and avoided looking in the direction of the other three pilots who were, in his estimation, treating him unfairly.

"It was presumptuous of me to assume that the five of us could come together and work effectively." Heero began.

"Hey! We took out the base." Duo cut in defensively at the other boy's criticism, something he had never taken well to.

"And each other." Wufei said snidely.

"This was a good training exercise for us." Quatre piped in his face brightening.

"It was?" three of the pilots asked in varying degrees of surprise. Heero caustically turned his gaze to the blond and looked at him as if he had just grown another head.

"Yes." he answered, meeting all their startled gazes. "We learned that we need to train to know each others moves, to choreograph our battles, and set the perimeters of our movements until we know what to expect from each other.

Heero slowly nodded his agreement. Wufei sat back thoughtfully. Trowa looked non pulsed, and Duo smiled with hope-that the group wouldn't split up because of their blundering.

"Heero," Quatre turned in his chair to face the Japanese boy. "you're the one trained in all forms of combat, can you use this week to train us, to work together as a team?"

"A week?" he asked looking skeptical.

Quatre nodded and the four waited for the perfect soldier to reply.

"Hai." he nodded solemnly. "If everyone agrees to wake up early and follow a routine I'll layout for us each morning. We'll work and train as a team."

"It's either that or we go back to working once again on our own." Quatre added and looked at the others. "I, for one, would like to work together."

Duo enthusiastically nodded his assent. "I'm in." he smiled.

"And I." Wufei spoke up, his voice lacking Duo's exuberance.

Trowa merely nodded.

"Very well." Heero stood signaling the meeting was over. "I suggest everyone go to bed after the evening meal. We'll be waking up early." he warned.

Heero was true to his word. Duo woke up to his roommate's incessant prodding and having his covers pulled away and off his bed. Curing up in a ball against the early morning cold, the barely braided boy forced his eyes open to look disbelievingly at the clock. "Please tell me that doesn't say 5:10." he croaked groggily and rubbed his bleary eyes.

"It does." Heero replied. "You have fifteen minutes to get down to the kitchen dressed and ready for the day."

"Damn, Heero." Duo found his voice as he struggled to sit up. "It takes me that long just to wash my hair. I need at least a half hour in the bathroom.

Heero shrugged. "Then you should have gotten up when I first woke you. Deal with it, or cut your hair so you won't take so long. It's impractical." He turned away from the boy on the bed and crossed the room to the door satisfied that the sleepy boy wasn't going back to sleep. He stopped at the door. "Be down in fifteen minutes and don't make me come back up to get you." There was a definite threat in his tone of voice.

Being the mature fifteen year old terrorist that he was, the boy who called himself Shinigami stuck out his tongue at his roommate and raised his middle finger, silently showing what he thought of the threat.

"Grow up, Maxwell." Heero said derisively as he turned and exited the room.

"Not bloody likely," Duo muttered. "At least until I'm twenty one, or thirty one, or forty one..."

Seventeen minutes later, Duo tripped blindly into the kitchen, his bleary eyes blinking at he bright light and activity before him.

"Morning, Duo! Your kitchen chore is posted on the refrigerator." Quatre chirped happily.

The freshly braided boy slapped his forehead in dismay. "Oh man, you're a morning person." He groaned.

The blonde blinked. "I guess that means your not." Quatre replied an impish smile on his face.

Duo shook his head in misery. "A night person myself. Is there any coffee ready?"

"Not until after you set the table." Heero answered looking up from the stove and pointed to the list on the refrigerator.

"Why so early?" Duo complaint came out as a whine as Quatre moved behind him and pushed his reluctant body towards the cabinets were the dishes were housed.

"Heero's formulated a schedule for us to work together as we do daily chores. In fact, he has a whole day of training outlined for us. Just look at the schedule." The blonde nodded his head towards the two sheets of paper tacked onto the refrigerator with two flower shaped magnets.

"But why so early?" Duo was clearly whining now.

"Set the table, baka." Heero barked out the order.

The room settled into a quiet and efficient work space within minutes.

"Music?" Duo asked hopefully.

"No!" replied four voices simultaneously. They had all been exposed to the large and loud music Duo preferred when he worked.

Heero noted with a small degree of satisfaction that Duo did indeed perk up and discontinued his whining after he'd had his coffee and a large breakfast. Both seemed to bring the morning-grumpy, whining boy back to life.

Their morning was filled with a long run followed by strengthening exercises. Wufei then led them in a series of martial art exercises followed by a period of training in self-defense techniques. They worked together to prepare and clean up after lunch, and their improving efficiency brought the meal quickly to the table.

After lunch, Duo taught them how to pick locks and hot wire a car. They each took turns on cars in the neighborhood, never taking, but breaking in and hot wiring then repairing any damage done. After all, they wanted to be good neighbors.

Heero ended the majority of the afternoon in a game of hide and go seek, although he called it "Get caught and you're dead". They each took a turn hiding within the confines of the house and yard. The others had to use their tracking skills to find their target.

By the time dinner was on the table, the five seemed quite satisfied with how the day had progressed. After dinner, Duo did voice a strong objection at having the training continue into the evening, thinking they deserved a little R & R. But he quieted down and listened intently along with the others as they watched over Heero's shoulder as he hacked into an Alliance bank account and transferred a substantial amount through several links and channels to a bank in Detroit. "Tomorrow, I'll withdraw it and deposit it some where safe." he explained. The other four were impressed.

They retired to their rooms. Duo, having been the first to the shower, lay in his bed with an air of expectation. One by one he heard various degrees of exclamations of surprise as the other pilots got into their beds. He watched as Heero entered the room, shut out the light and went directly to his bed. The sound of the covers being pulled back and a slight creek of the bed announced that Heero was attempting to get in under his covers when all sounds stopped.

"What the?" Heero's voice cut through the dark. His footsteps were not at all stealthy as he moved to turn on the light. He stalked back to his bed and lifted up the offending covers. "What happened to my bed?" he asked obviously irritated.

A snicker from across the room turned him around. "Oh man, Heero!" Duo's eyes were dancing with laughter even as he tried to suppress his smile. "Have you never been short-sheeted before?"

"No." Heero replied. "What is short sheeted? What is the purpose?"

Duo's laughter erupted even as he stood up . "Gad's Heero." He chuckled . "You almost take the fun out of it." He threw back the covers and showed Wing's pilot what he'd done to his sheets.

"But why?" Heero studied his sheets and then his roommate clearly perplexed by the whole incident.

"It's a joke, Heero. It's funny to be surprised. It's called a practical joke."

Wing's pilot's eyes narrowed. "I see nothing practical nor funny. I just have to re-make my bed."

Duo sobered, just slightly. "Man," he scratched the top of his head. "You've got a lot to learn about fun."

Heero still watched the other, his face looked slightly puzzled. "I thought our game today was fun, as well as hacking into that bank account."

"I know." Duo patted him on the shoulder. "But this is a different kind of fun--to make you smile at something silly.

"You mean the way the others smile at you?" Heero looked serious as he said it.

"Hey, did you just crack a joke, at my expense, but a joke nonetheless?"

Not answering, Heero motioned to the bed. "Then you did this?" he asked and Duo's nod confirmed it.

"Yeah, but I did the other's beds, too. I couldn't have them feeling left out."

"Fine, you remake it. I'll sleep in your bed." With that said, Heero turned and climbed into Duo's bed, turning on his side facing away from the American.

Duo shook his head. He just couldn't quite figure out the Wing pilot, but he wasn't about to give up and throw in the towel. With a sigh, he turned to the bed in front of him and bent to remake it.

The following days continued in a similar manner and routine. Yet as weary and tired as they were at the end of the day, there never failed to be at least one practical joke waiting for one or all of them. Quatre fell into the toilet bowl due to a well-oiled toilet seat, a plastic bowl of water fell on Trowa's head when he entered the kitchen, Wufei woke up howling at being covered with a sticky substance that Duo later admitted was powder sugar. None of them escaped urinating blue, the doorbell buzzed when the toilet was flushed, and their milk was spiked with jalapeno juice.

Heero worked them harder each day in hopes of keeping the Deathscythe pilot occupied--too occupied to repeat the ice water thrown over the shower door stunt.

At last, a mission came in . They were to leave in two days to infiltrate an Alliance security building. The objective was to steal computer codes and base information. It would require all their skills and an exact timetable to pull it off. Plans were studied and made and studied again. Heero scheduled a final meeting for the next morning, after breakfast so that Duo would be alert.

Duo and Quatre prepared the morning meal. The consensus of the other three was that, single or combined, they were undoubtedly the worst cooks, and that the two of them should not be allowed to cook together again. After chocking down slightly burnt scrambled eggs, limp and cold toast, and half-cooked hash browns, the table was cleared by Heero, then Trowa and Wufei did the dishes.

The four pilots were seated and patiently waiting as Heero entered the room with a brown paper bag in his hands. Four sets of eyes watched him expectantly.

"Because tomorrow is our first infiltration as a team, there is an area of training we have yet to touch on." Wing's pilot studied the faces of the others as he paused for a moment. "Because we will be out of our gundams, the chance of capture increases." The others all nodded their heads in understanding. Heero continued, his face a mask of seriousness. "Trowa and Wufei know what to expect if they are captured, and I've received training to resist any coercive or invasive techniques of torture for information."

"But Heero," Quatre spoke up softly. "There are rules observed by the Alliance in treating prisoners of war humanely, and we appear to be simply children to them. Surely they won't..." he faltered in finishing the rest, letting the thought trail off.

"Let's be realistic, Quatre." Heero's eyes narrowed and his voice turned stern. "We're the Alliance's enemies. They hate us, no matter who we are or what age we appear to be. Besides, you and Duo here are a couple of pretty boys that some soldiers would gladly take a turn at."

The two boys in question lost all face coloring as they exchanged horrified looks.

"Hey!" Duo strangled out fiercely. "What do you mean by pretty boys?" he demanded.

Wufei snorted. "Like you two don't spend enough time in front of the mirror each morning to realize what's staring back at you."

"I am not a pretty boy," Duo growled as his fist slammed into the table as he looked to the Sandrock pilot for support. "am I Quatre?"

"Well," Quatre looked up apologetic. "I think your prettier than I am."

Duo sputtered at the others answer. "Am not!" he demanded.

Quatre shrugged in reply.

Heero leaned his hands on the table and looked from the blonde to the braided boy. "The purpose of our lesson this morning is to prepare you two for what might happen if you are captured. Since Trowa and Wufei have had some experience, they have agreed to help me out this morning."

"W... wh.. what do you mean Heero?" Quatre stammered as Duo looked too stunned to utter a word.

"It means just what you think it means." Heero actually sneered at the blonde boy and then continued. "Since Trowa is your friend, he's volunteered to work with you first. Then Wufei or I will lend our knowledge to the training exercise."

"Exercise?" Duo managed to find his voice, even though it squeaked.

"Yes" Heero answered. "Duo, you'll get to choose whether you want to start with myself or Wufei."

"What's in the bag?" Trowa asked in his quiet manner, seemingly unfazed by the two smaller boy's reactions to the suggested activity.

Heero picked up the paper bag and upended it, spilling the entire contents on the table. "Training implements." he stated.

Both boy's who were to receive the training gasped, their eyes fairly bulged out of their sockets, and Quatre's hand flew up to cover his mouth. Duo's mouth hung open as if his jaw was broken. Laying on the table top were packages of condoms, lubrication gel, an assortment of dildos, handcuffs, a whip, and various items the two boys couldn't even imagine how they were to be used.

Heero straightened with his hands on his hips, the sneer still on his face. "Take your pick, Duo. Wufei or myself....to start.

Duo's glazed eyes looked up to see Quatre looking like he was going to pass out. Before anyone could utter another word, or for that matter bat an eyelash, Duo Maxwell displayed to the entire room his agility and quickness as he jumped from his seat and escaped out the door into the living room.

"Pick me, Duo." Wufei shouted through his cupped hands around his mouth, facing the direction the retreating figure had gone. "I'll be gentle." The front door slammed tight and the Shenlong pilot turned to look at the others and burst into laughter. "By Nataku, that was priceless!" he roared.

Trowa had bent his head forward onto the table, his shaking shoulders mimicked the laughter spilling from his lips.

Quatre looked at both of them and then to Heero who was....smiling, and looking quite pleased with himself. "You guys are soooooo bad." The Arabian declared as a small smile began to grow on this face as realization dawned. At his words, even the stoic Heero began to laugh, surprising all with the unusual sight and sound. "You really had me scared for a while." Quatre admitted.

"I'd say the whole time." Wufei paused to say before he began to laugh again at the memory of the two boy's faces.

"Yeah, your right." Quatre agreed. "But why couldn't you let me in on the joke?"

"Be.. be... because we needed you to look as shocked and horrified as Duo did for us to pull this off." Trowa answered, his laughter slowly coming under control.

Quatre's eyes returned to the objects on the table. "Where'd you get all of this..... stuff?" he motioned to the unseemly pile in the middle of the table.

"It's amazing all the things you find in the garage of a furnished house." Heero replied, the smile still on his face.

The four laughed a little longer before Quatre wiped the moisture from his eyes. "You do realize that Duo's gone for at least the day?" he said.

"At the rate of speed he was traveling." Trowa smiled, "he's half way to California."

"Or his gundam." Wufei said, and then suddenly, the group sobered. The thought struck all four at once that Duo might just take off in his gundam in panic without them being able to explain the practical joke.

Hero's face took on the look of "I've got a mission", all laughter gone. "Next assignment as a group today is to seek out and recapture the missing pilot." he ordered, his voice once more as serious as his facial expression.

"It will take all our skills." Wufei sighed as he stood up. Duo was second only to Heero at hiding in their daily game of Hide and Capture.

Heero nodded his agreement. "This will be a perfect training exercise. If we separate, we meet back here at 1700 hours. Quatre," The boy straightened at Heero voice, prepared for his orders. "you devise a strategy. Wufei, secure the house. Trowa, gather supplies, mainly food and money. We may be gone all day." The four became a unit, and turned to complete the tasks assigned. Five minutes later, they left the safe house together. After canvassing the neighborhood for fifteen minutes, they expanded their search to Duo's favorite haunts, the arcade, which wasn't open due to the early hour, and the park. Coming up empty handed, they expanded the perimeter of their search and headed out to where Deathscythe was hidden.

Four discouraged boys returned to the safe house at 1730 hours, their mission failed. Wufei produced the key and put it in the lock to open the door. "If he doesn't return, will it change the mission tomorrow?" he asked turning his head to look at the others behind him as he opened the door and took the first step in....just as a bucket of water above was tipped over, emptying its cold contents onto the Shenlong pilot. Wufei gasped at the coldness and the shock of being surprised.

"I take it the Baka's back." Heero voiced calmly behind him.

"Watch yourselves." Quatre cautioned, worrying about what other tricks the prankster had up his black sleeves.

They advanced into the house as a group, cautiously eyeing for any suspect string or catch.

"I smell food." Heero reported.

They moved to the closed kitchen door. Even Heero's hand seemed hesitant as it reached out to place his hand on the swinging door. The three other pilots huddled behind Heero as he stood at the hinged side of the door and gently pushed it forward, the door slowly opening.

If a picture had been taken at that moment, it would have shown four very stunned teenagers as they gazed at the sight before them. The kitchen table was set, and the room was awash with soft candlelight. The subject of their day-long search was standing at the stove, his long chestnut brown hair was loose from its usual confining braid, only caught up now at the very end, resting on his leather clad butt. Turning and looking at the gawking group, he smiled in welcome.

"You're home!" He said casually. "Where have you been all day?" He turned back to the contents on the stove and bent to open the oven to check on whatever was in there.

Turning back to look at his friends, the same smile on his face, he continued on. "I made dinner. Sit down, it's ready." He nodded towards the table and the four cautiously inched into the room looking for any booby traps.

Reaching over for a kitchen towel, Duo grabbed it and tossed it to Wufei. "You're dripping." he explained as the Chinese caught it and began to dry himself.

"Need any help? Quatre asked automatically.

Duo shook his head even as he emptied what looked like gravy from the pan into a bowl and brought it to the table, setting it next to a large bowl of salad greens. "Nope." he answered as he straightened and stood next to the blonde. He clasped his hand onto the others shoulder with a look of apology on his face. "Sorry to have deserted you like I did this morning. I....I hope your training went well." The amethyst eyes studied the blushing boy up and down. "You don't look any worse for wear." he observed.

"Ah...... Duo," Quatre began to explain about the practical joke when the American silenced him.

"No.... don't say a word. I feel guilty enough." the braided boy said emphatically.

"Guilty?" Trowa asked. He hadn't seen Duo like this before. His hair, though secured at the ends, billowed around him, he wore tight, low hipped leather pants and a ribbed wife-beater tank top. He looked.....dangerous and beautiful. The Heavyarm's pilot could tell the others were warily studying the picture Duo was presenting and wondered what he was up to.

"Yeah." Duo replied and turned moving to the oven again and taking up two towels, he opened the oven door. With the towels protecting his hands, he pulled out a large pan containing a roast with fresh roasted potatoes and carrots. The others sat down and waited quietly as he put the contents of the pan onto a serving dish and brought it to the table.

"Why do you feel guilty?" Heero asked studying his roommate.

Duo sat down next to him and thoughtfully began to fill his plate while the others eyed him. "Well," he paused to took up at Heero, "I should have trusted you more. You were only trying to help me prepare for a possible difficult situation and I panicked. Sorry about that, but I've come to my senses." He smiled crookedly, looking contrite. "After all," he continued, "I figure if little Quatre here can under go this training, then so can I."

"But, Duo.." Quatre began only to be silenced a second time by the American.

"You don't need to say anything, Quatre. I can see that you're all right, so I should be quite safe in Heero and Wufei's hands. Right guys?" He looked back and forth from one to the other. Wufei's face bore the look of confusion and Heero looked.....unhappy.

Duo continued to look at his roommate intently. "Heero, I know we've been roommates for a short time, but would you be offended if Wufei started?" He turned his head to at the Shenlong pilot and placed his hand gently on the others forearm. The Chinese boy looked stunned as he flinched at the gentle touch. He gazed mutely aghast down at the hand resting on his skin.

"Duo..."his voice was strained.

The braided boy looked up at him from under his long bangs, his eyed wide and beseeching. "You did say you'd be gentle, right?"

"Eeeep!" Wufei's voice squeaked as he shot to his feet and did a great impression of Duo's earlier disappearing act. They heard the staccato of his feet as he ran through the house to the stairs and upward.

Duo turned to the others, his shoulders shaking as he slapped his hand over his mouth.

Quatre's gaze lowered on the Deathscythe pilot. "You've been scamming us again, haven't you?" His voice was low in accusation.

"One good turn for another, buddy." Duo said quietly as he tried to control his mirth. "But wait." he raised his finger to his lips to indicate silence. They all heard the distant slam of a door from upstairs as Wufei entered his room. A strangled scream of outrage filtered down to the kitchen, followed by Duo's loud laughter.

It was Heero's turn to look questioningly at the braided baka. "What was that about?" he asked in a raised voice to get past the noise Duo was making.

Struggling to catch his breath and get his laughter under control, Duo gasped his answer. "Rooms.... de... corated... with.... your b.. b.. bag.... of ..... tricks."

The other three looked towards the laughing boy, their eyes one by one lighting with understanding.

"How did you know?" Trowa asked even as his lips turned up in a smile.

"When I lit out of here, I climbed onto the roof." Duo answered smiling broadly. "I was going to stick around to help Quatre if he needed it." he explained. "I saw all of you exit and start to look for me, and I realized something was up when I saw Quatre and Trowa relaxed and at ease with each other. I figured it out that you guys finally pulled one over on me. Whose idea was it anyway?" He asked.

Trowa pointed to Heero at the head of the table.

Duo looked to his roommate, a smile of appreciation on his face. "Heero! I never would have suspected you had such a wicked streak in you."

The stoic pilot raised his eyebrows and bowed his head in acknowledgment.

The sound of Wufei's feet stalking with purpose down the stairs alerted the others of his imminent arrival. Sure enough, a moment later the kitchen door opened with a bang to reveal an agitated Chinese boy , his arms full of sexual paraphernalia.

"Christmas already!" Duo exclaimed and clapped his hands, his face wearing a broad grin.

The look on Wufei's face caused the four at the table to burst out in laughter.

"You defiled my room, Maxwell!" Wufei moved towards the table, ignoring the raucous laughter.

"Come on Wufei, can't you take a joke?" the American leaned away from the approaching pilot knowing the other could clean his clock if he wanted.

Wufei walked past the braided boy to drop the miscellaneous items onto Heero's lap. "Keep your toys in your own room, Yuy." he said with a note of scorn in his voice. Turning, he took a seat in his chair next to Duo's without looking at the boy. "You can't cook, Maxwell. How did you prepare this meal?" he asked observing the platter of delicious and cooling food and managing to change the subject.

"There's an old woman who lives down a few doors who baked it for me in exchange for yard work." he explained as he speared a piece of roasted potato into his mouth. "Ummmmm. Wonderful!" he murmured as his eyes closed to appreciate the taste sensations. Seeing by his example that the food most likely wasn't booby trapped, the other pilots quickly cleared the platter and silence filled the kitchen as the five ate the delicious home cooked meal.

Feeling full, Duo pushed his empty plate away and looked to his right. "Hey, Heero? Can I borrow those handcuffs?" he asked.

Heero's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Why?"

"There are some very interesting things I could show you regarding handcuffs. Want me to show you?" he asked mischievously.

"No!" all four pilots answered automatically in unison after their day of pranks and innuendos.

Duo looked unabashed and shrugged. "Ah, you guys are all talk and no fun. Well," he stretched his arms up over his head. "Your loss is my gain."

"What would you show us?" Quatre asked, curiosity getting the best of him.

"I'll show you later." Duo wagged his eyebrows in a suggestive manner to the blonde across from him.

"I don't think so." Trowa scowled protectively.

The Deathscythe pilot smiled as he scooted back his chair and stood up, turning to leave the room. "All right then, have it your way, oh friends of little faith. But there isn't a pair of handcuffs made that I can't get out of." he drawled even as he disappeared from the room through the swinging door.

Taking them up from his lap, Heero lifted the offending metal and held it up for all to see. A glint rose in each of the four's eyes and in an unspoken agreement, they all shot to their feet, taking off to chase after the boastful pilot. Tonight he would have to prove his boastful claim.


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