Disclaimers: I don't own these characters and make no profit from my storytelling. Warning: none

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 6
Duo's Friendship Arc 4
by Dyna Dee

Four days later, on a breezy afternoon, Wufei arrived on his motorcycle, and once again the braided boy went silent.

Quatre pulled Wufei back outside the front door to explain the situation to him in hushed tones. Shenlong's pilot stood with his arms folded and his brows drawn together along with a frown as he took in what had happened between Duo and Heero. He turned his face into the warming spring breeze as he listened to Quatre's description of how he and Trowa had won over Duo's trust in them as his friends, and informed the Chinese boy that he needed to find his own way of showing Duo that his friendship was indeed important to him. That is, if it was important enough for him to prove it to the braided boy. At the end of Quatre's speaking, a faint smile appeared on his lips proof that an idea had come to him. "I'll be back by nightfall." he told the small blonde. He mounted his motorcycle and started down the long dirt drive towards the main road, leading to the closest town.

Because he couldn't leave his bed, the two pilots had taken to eating their meals with Duo, sitting on his bed, picnic style. The three were eating the penne with asparagus and white sauce that Trowa had prepared when they heard the front door open and close.

The rustling of packages announced the movement of Wufei as he approached the room. He smiled at the three sitting on the bed. "Any left? It smells great!" he said as he placed the bags on the floor next to dresser.

As hard as Duo strained, he couldn't see the bags nor their contents from his position at the top of the bed.

Quatre smiled knowing Duo had the curiosity like that of a cat, and taking pity on him asked,. "What's in the bags?" His eyes followed Trowa as he left the room to get the plate of food for Wufei that he'd placed in the oven to keep warm.

"Just something I thought would keep Duo occupied while you and Trowa run your errands in town tomorrow." he replied almost lazily.

Quatre smiled. He hadn't planned on going anywhere the next day, but he was glad to see Wufei taking charge of the situation between himself and Duo.

It was a quiet evening as Duo remained silent, and the three other pilots independently realized how much they missed the other boy's chatter and teasing.

Wufei moved into Duo's room that night saying he would take a turn at tending the Deathscythe pilot during the night so that the other two boys could get a good night's sleep.

The morning broke with bright sunlight streaming through the cottage windows, heralding another warm and breezy spring day. After breakfast was finished and Duo's bath taken care of, the Sandrock's and Heavyarm's pilots bid their friends a good day and walked down the drive to make their way on foot to the town several miles south. They waived the offer from Wufei to take his bike saying the day was perfect for a long, leisurely walk

Wufei left Duo to himself while he tidied up the kitchen and bathroom. Duo looked up from brushing his nearly dry hair as the Chinese boy entered the room they both shared the night before. Wufei glanced at him as he crossed the room to open the window, letting in the slowly warming fresh air. Duo looked tired. He hadn't slept well during the night. His fever was gone, and though his leg ached, it was the daily inactivity that kept the boy from sleeping soundly.

"Let me braid it for you." Wufei offered, holding out his hand for the brush. Duo looked up and a smile lit on his face. He handed the brush over to the other boy and gingerly turned himself to give the other a better angle to work with the mass cascading down his back. It took several tries, but Wufei signaled his satisfaction with the final product as he secured a band around the thick end of the braid. "Finished!" he announced sounding pleased, and gently flung the thick braided rope over Duo's shoulder for inspection.

The American turned to give him a disarming and grateful smile.

"Your welcome" Wufei answered handing him back the brush. "Now, what would you like to do? Play cards?"

Duo shook his head.

"Listen to music?"

Again, the negative head movement.

"Shall I read to you?"he offered with a knowing smile.

Once again, Duo shook his head, but this time looked towards the direction of the bags on the floor. Wufei smiled in response.

"You want to see what I bought for today?" He knew that was the question, but couldn't help but tease the American a little.

Duo's eyes light up with excitement and anticipation as he nodded his head affirmatively.

"All right." Wufei readily agreed and moved to where the bags were sitting and lifted them onto the bed in front of the other boy. One by one, and in a great dramatic fashion, the Shenlong pilot removed the objects from the bag, watching the other boy's facial expressions. First he pulled out a folded cutting board, then long, thin dowels, bright red fabric, paper, string, a small saw, scissors and glue. Duo surveyed the contents of the now empty bags and looked up questioningly at the black-haired boy.

"We're going to make kites." he explained and was rewarded by sparkling eyes and an enormous smile.

They spent the entire morning crafting five kites. Wufei explained how making kites was a tradition in his clan. Each kite they made was a different style or size.

As Duo bent his head to finish the last touches on the fifth kite, Wufei excused himself to make some lunch. Duo looked up and nodded his thanks, then returned to his task. Twenty minutes passed before Wufei reentered the room, empty handed.

"Hungry?" he asked.

Duo nodded and put aside the last and drying kite. Then, with a curious look, questioned the clothing in Wufei's hands.

"How about a picnic outside?

Duo's eyes lit up again. Wufei unfolded the clothing to show Duo a pair of wide legged pants that looked to be part of a gi, black cotton material with a draw string waist. He helped Duo slip them on and then cautiously scooped him up into his arms and carried him through the cottage and out the front door.

This was the first glimpse the American had of the cottage he'd been taken to days before. He saw that it sat on a small knoll with dotted with an elm tree here and there. And just to the left side of the knoll, was a large green, grassy field. His eyes wandered as his friend carried him towards a blanket had been laid out in the full early afternoon sunshine, well clear from the trees in the yard, with a large paper bag in the center of it.

Wufei carefully set his friend down on the blanket, then joined him and opened the bag to empty their lunch out onto the blanket. "I have roast beef or peanut butter and banana. There's chips, grapes, cookies and root beer." The Chinese boy informed him.

Duo's eyes sparkled as he smiled all the effort his friend had gone to, he'd even remembered what his favorite sandwich was. He listened as Wufei began talking lightly about the kites and the traditions of his family as they enjoyed their lunch and the sights, smell, and sounds of the late May afternoon.

Wufei cleaned up after they finished and put everything back into the bag. "I'll be right back." he said as he stood to take the bag back to the house.

Duo stretched out enjoying being outside and in the warm sunshine. He watched as the white scattered clouds above him were tugged across the sky by the spring breeze, leaving wispy trails behind them. He turned his head as his companion approached again, smiling as he saw that he carried all five kites in his hands.

"Want to see if they can fly?" he asked

Duo nodded eagerly and sat up.

One by one, Wufei would run across the field until the kite in tow took flight and soared in the wind high above them. Once up, the Shenlong pilot handed the string to the wounded boy letting him take over the ascent or descent of the colorful kite.

It was nearly four in the afternoon by the time they had tested each kite to their satisfaction. Both boys lay on the blanket, side by side. Duo sighed contentedly. Hearing it, Wufei rolled onto his side to look at the other pilot. "I hope you know, Duo, that I consider you my friend. I might not show it as much as I did today, but it's nonetheless true. I hope you will consider me your friend."

Duo turned his head as the other spoke, his face peaceful but serious. "I do Wufei, and I'd trust you with my life. Thank you for this wonderful day. I'll never forget it."

The Shenlong pilot smiled, maybe the biggest smile Duo had ever seen. "Neither will I." he replied.

It was late in the evening three days later, just as the rain began to fall, when Heero walked into the cottage. The rain continued on for two more days and so did Duo's silence.

on to part 7

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