Disclaimers: I do not own these characters nor do I profit in any way from my rambling.

Warnings: mild angst

Synopsis: The five pilots come together in a private school to prepare for a mission. An incident between Heero and Duo has the Deathscythe pilot questioning the other pilots' friendships. He decides to put them to the test.

A Test of Friendship - Part 1
Duo's Friendship Arc 4
by Dyna Dee

The commotion in the study hall roused him from his book. He'd had a hard time concentrating as it was with the throbbing headache he'd been suffering from for the last three days. Even the small whisperings, constant in the room, were a distraction. His pain had stemmed from the last mission and the furious battle he had engaged in with a large group of Leo's and their well trained pilots. In the course of the battle, he had wrenched his neck and was having a difficult time setting it right....hence the headache. Tonight, he'd ask Wufei to make an attempt to adjust it, in hope of some relief.

Following the direction of the other students in the study hall who were staring with open curiosity, he snorted in recognition. Duo had finally arrived. He was late, yet from the looks of him, he was no worse for wear. All eyes in the room gravitated to the new student who was not yet in his uniform, but clad in his black jeans, white tee shirt, a worn leather jacket, and was being escorted through the room by the school's secretary. Heero had received the same tour of the elite and exclusive private school for children of the filthy rich about ten days ago, during which time to the present he had successfully carried out two missions.

The other pilots, needed for this mission, had staggered into the school over the last two weeks and gave the public appearance of naturally forming new friendships with each other. Duo was the last to arrive having been detained on a mission of his own.

Heero watched the "new student" who smiled broadly at the openly admiring students he passed as he obediently followed the school's secretary through the study hall. No doubt he would be very popular, again. He was perplexed at how the Deathscythe pilot seemed a natural draw to everyone. His friendliness and open smile, not to mention his physical appearance and charm, drew people in like flies to dung. Despite his head pain, Heero smiled slightly to himself at that thought. Those same flies had no idea of the maniacal killer that lay beneath that attractive exterior. Nor did they at this moment know his greatest fault.....his mouth.

"Mr. Odin!" He started, only slightly of course, as the secretary, Miss Stringer, called out his name. She approached him, Duo in tow smiling broadly. "Allow me introduce you to your new roommate, Max Harriwell."

The braided boy held out his hand to him. "Nice to meet you." their hands clasped. Without bothering to stand, Heero gripped the other's hand tightly and shook it fiercely.

"Odin Yuy" he introduced himself even as he ground the other boy's fingers together.

"Yow!" Duo managed to wrench his hand back and laughed even as he shook it, trying to get some relief some from the ache. "That's some grip you've got there. You must play the flute or knit to have such strong fingers." he joked, and nervous laughter sounded around them. It seemed as if the other students instinctively knew that Odin was not the kind of kid you made fun of.

Heero noticed the crowd of students surrounding them and thought that, as usual, everyone hung on the words of this baka, and he knew that there was more where that came from. "Neither." he answered narrowing his eyes in a warning. Duo was fortunate that Trowa didn't hear that line about the flute.

The secretary took note of the chilly reception Mr. Odin gave his new roommate and decided to move on. "Mr Harriwell will not start his classes until Monday morning since its so late in the afternoon." she told the taciturn boy. She then turned to address the friendly, smiling boy at her side. "I'll show you which classrooms you'll be attending and then you can return to your room to unpack." He nodded his understanding and she turned to lead the him out of the room and to a safer distance from the glowering young man behind them.

The braided boy paused and turned back to smile at his roommate with a twinkle in his eye. "See ya roomie." he called out as he turned to follow Miss Stringer. As he turned, his long and thick, chestnut-brown braid that fell well past his waist, swung out behind him and rhythmically bounced after him as he left the room. The rope of hair seemed to mesmerize the entire room. At the sound of the door clicking shut behind him, the spell that Duo wove and cast in his wake dissipated, and the room exploded in conversation regarding the newest student. Well, explosion is what it felt like to the Wing pilot's aching head.

It was Friday, and as he approached his dorm room he had passed many of the dorm's occupants leaving the campus in search of weekend pursuits. He waved weakly at those few who called out to him. All he wanted was to take some pain pills and try to sleep off the headache. He paused, his hand poised on the door nob, as voices from the inside of his room became more clear, especially one in particular. He lowered his head and groaned, steeling himself as he turned the nob and opened the door.

Trowa and Quatre were sitting on his bed, still in their school uniform minus ties and jackets. Duo was sitting on the previously vacant bed in his jeans and tee shirt. The three greeted him as he entered and went to his desk, setting his pack down and sitting in the chair. Obviously, Duo was in the process of interrogating his friends, firing off questions about their month of separation. After asking a question, the braided boy then answered the same question in regards to himself. He inquired about their missions, school, and then went onto current events, movies and music. He then turned his curious attention on his roommate. Question after question was relentlessly hurled at Heero regardless of his lack of response.

To Heero's relief, a knock sounded at the door and Duo opened it to cheerfully allow the fifth member of the team to enter with two extra large pizzas and two six packs of root beer in hand in honor of their reunion. Duo's teasing and questions began anew.

After what felt like endless days instead of hours of torture, Heero's head felt like it was about to split in half. The laughter and gaiety in the room had created an increasing and steady throb enveloping his entire head. Wufei noticed Heero rubbing his neck and head. "Are you alright, Heero?" he asked concerned.

"Neck's out." He replied simply, and even that felt like too many words.

The Chinese boy went to stand behind Heero's chair and began to massage his neck to loosen up the impossibly tight muscles. After making sure the muscles were sufficiently loosened, he took a firm hold the Wing pilot's head and with a quick jerk, snapped the out-of-alignment neck back into place.

"Thanks." Heero mumbled as he rubbed at the painful spot on his neck. He was pleased, the sharp pain was gone though the headache and sore muscles remained.

Finally realizing Heero's aloofness that evening was due to discomfort and not just his usual personality quirk, the others soon excused themselves, first Wufei, then Trowa with Quatre lagging behind for just a moment to ask Duo if he would like to join them.

"Thanks guys, but I have to unpack. I'll see you in the morning though, okay?"

Quatre looked to see the untouched suitcase next to the bed. "Alright Duo, see you in the morning." He paused to see Heero still sitting stiffly at his desk. "Hope you feel better, Heero." he added as he waved himself out of the room.

No sooner had the door closed, when the braided boy turned to his bed and hefted his suitcase and black satchel onto it. He began to unpack his belongings chatting amiably to himself sensing that Heero was not going to add to the conversation. He began reciting to his silent roommate the events of his journey to the school, obviously finding it quite humorous in the telling.

After securing his gundam in a safe place and camouflaging it, he walked to the highway and hitchhiked to the school. A truck driver was kind enough to pick him up.

".....and it was obvious that he thought I was a girl when he stopped, but only until I climbed in and told him where I was headed." Duo chuckled reliving the experience. "After a while, the guy, a big ugly dude, tried to hit on me regardless that I was an unwilling male. So when he pulled off the road, I knocked him out, a great sucker punch" he rubbed the knuckles of his right hand as if they still hurt from the impact. "..then I tied him up." Again he laughed with amusement. "You should have heard him when he woke up and I was driving his truck. You thought I could swear, I learned a few new expletives from him for the future. Anyway," he paused for a breath. "Just outside of town, I pulled the truck over at a rest stop and untied him. He threatened me every which way you could imagine and only my gun kept him from trying to make good on those threats. Can't say I blame him though," he began to put his shirts on hangers. "..if someone tried to take my Deathscythe from me I'd feel the same. So, I told him if he reported this incident to the authorities, I'd have to report how he molested me, a juvenile, my word against his, and I could produce bruises to prove it. I showed him I had plenty of those left from the last battle. He was still swearing when I walked away, but he was scared. He won't say anything."

He turned his head to his silent roommate for just a moment. "So, Heero, how'd you hurt your neck?"

"That's it!" the Japanese boy muttered to himself and before the braided boy could react, he launched himself across the room and body slammed the startled boy into the wall. "Shut up!" he hissed into the Duo's ear as he held him firmly against the wall.

"What'd you do that for?" The imprisoned boy moaned in protest, the side of his face and chest pressed forcefully against the cold, rough surface of the wall. He found himself abruptly spun around to face the well known death glare and winced as the top of his arms were gripped painfully tight, keeping him forcefully pressed against the wall.

"Your constant talking is driving me crazy." Heero gritted through clenched teeth. "In fact, it drives all of us crazy. Why can't you just shut the hell up?" his voice and facial expression were venomous.

"But......" Duo squeaked as Heero pulled him forward only to slam him back to the wall, his head and shoulders hitting hard.

"We all just want you to shut" his head was banged back again, "the hell" and again, "up." even harder. "Understand?"

The braided boy flinched as the other pressed his angry face closer to him.

"Understand?" he seethed in a low threatening voice in his demand of an answer. To Heero's angry satisfaction, the boy in front of him answered with a slight nod, his blue/violet eyes reflecting a look of shock and fear. Wing's pilot flung him once again into the wall as he let go of his bruised upper arms. "Finally, some quiet!" he threw out in mock triumph as he turned and stalked to his bed. In turning, he missed the change in the other boy's face to one of hurt as his knees buckled underneath him and he slid down the wall, his hands coming up to touch the tender back of his head.

Duo sat on the floor his back supported by the wall feeling..... numb,...... confused, and hurt. His mind went over what had just happened, what his teammate had just said and done. Slowly, the look of hurt turned to one of dawning realization and then a look of determination crossed his features as he decided on a course of action. He eased himself up and off the wall and went slowly into the small bathroom and prepared for bed. A short while later, he returned and without a word he went to his bed, put away the remainder of his clothes, setting a few items aside for the next day. Stripping off his clothes, he climbed between the cool sheets. His clock showed the time to be 9:45 p.m. A first for him on a Friday night, he mused sourly as he turned to face the wall.

"I could get use to this." the boy across the room said unkindly, regarding the silence. He received no reply and before long both boys were asleep.

on to part 2

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