Duo's Friendship Arc 8
by Dyna Dee
"THUMP!" "SLAM!" "BAM--WACK!"
The sound of doors slamming shut somehow seemed funny to the braided boy sprawled on the floor. Chuckling again, he eased himself up on his elbows from the carpet and winced in pain as his smile faltered. Raising a hand to his fast swelling and bruised face, a slight moan escaped his throat. From out of the corner of his eye he saw a hand come over the top of the couch and clutch at the worn fabric for leverage.
"What the hell was that all about?" Trowa's voice sounded from behind the old brown couch that was the main, and only whole piece of furniture in the living room that was still in tact. Still looking in that direction, Duo saw the other boy's head slowly rise up from behind the back of the couch. Trowa looked to have the beginnings of a large bruise on his chin, but otherwise appeared to be all right.
Duo shrugged and despite the pain, started to laugh again.
"This is all your fault Maxwell." The other glared at him as he spoke the accusation and slowly pulled himself up, clutching his ribs as he moved around the ugly piece of furniture to sit on it. The other articles of furniture in the room lay in broken heaps.
"Felt good." Was all the boy on the floor replied with a slight, painful shrug.
"You're a damned masochist." Trowa grumbled. "And you have exactly five seconds to get your sorry, skinny ass out of here before I do it for you."
Duo studied the green eyed boy for a moment and determined quickly that he meant what he'd said. With a grunt, he got to his feet and slowly made his way into the kitchen. Though he wasn't angry, he slammed the door loudly behind him to mimic the actions of the other pilots only moments before. 'Humm, that felt pretty damn good.' he thought. Opening it again, he gave it another heartfelt slam, once more, just for good measure. He was quite pleased, it slammed surprisingly well. Feeling smugly satisfied, he made his way to the archaic grey colored refrigerator and opened the freezer compartment. Moving a few things around, he grabbed hold of an ice pack, one of several, and placed it along the right side of his face. Shutting the door and walking to the table, he pulled out a chair and sat down heavily and leaning his elbows on the table, he gently lowered his head in his raised hands, the ice pack in place on his face, numbing the growing pain.
Trowa was right, it was his fault. But he couldn't feel too guilty right now, maybe tomorrow, but not now, when the pain brought some relief. "How sick is that?" he thought out loud. "When pain is a relief, a distraction. I am a masochist." he chuckled and flinched at the pain it brought.
He thought back on how he had taunted and teased each of the other four mercilessly that morning, finally picking his ultimate target, Heero. He could always depend on Heero to follow through.
Boredom was the main culprit, he knew, and in effect, he was responsible for that, too.
After their last mission, crippling a base used for launching mobile suits into space, he had made the mistake of sneaking out, when no one else wanted to and celebrated. With the help of some local college students, he got rip-roaring drunk. To his dazed and befuddled amusement he found himself under arrest for drunk and disorderly conduct. Evidently hanging upside down from a traffic light in the in the middle of a busy intersection was frowned on in that town. It seemed fun at the time though, he reflected. The guys had to hire an derelict adult male, clean him up and give him a wad of cash to pose as his father to get him released from a tightly guarded juvenile detention facility.
Not only were the other pilots angry with him, but so were the "Powers That Be", namely, the guys that issued attack orders to them. He knew he had screwed up royally this time.
New orders came just after that, and they were forced to relocate to a remote safehouse because of the incident. Oz was making an all out push to discover the whereabouts of the pilots and their Gundams to eliminate them from off the face of the earth. Evidently their missions to destroy and disappear were very effective and getting on the military's nerves. The Gundams were carefully hidden and the pilots were ordered to lay low in their current, in the middle of nowhere, hideout. No one was to leave it's confines except Trowa, who looked and indeed was the oldest. Only he could go into town to secure any food or necessities they needed. The rest were ordered to ensure that the Deathscythe pilot stayed inside and sober until further notice. In other words, he was being sent to his room for being a bad boy.
This morning had marked two and a half weeks that he had been housebound and something inside him had snapped. Having lived most of his young life on the streets, he wasn't use to being confined, other than in his Gundam, and even then, he was usually working or moving about. He was going stir-crazy. So today, he decided he couldn't take it any more. He had tested the waters, so to speak, and aimed his sights on the one person he knew would give him what he needed.
The others watched warily as he began in earnest on Heero. He ignored their attempts as they tried to distract him away from the perfect soldier. He pursued his course, undaunted, making comments on the Japanese pilot's every move, criticized his clothing, hair, taste in music, even his lap top. Heero, to his credit, managed to ignore him, maybe sensing the other's need to vent, but choosing to disregard it.
Two hours later, the Wing pilot abruptly stood from his chair to face the braided boy. "What do you want, Duo?" he demanded as his eyes narrowed dangerously, his voice low in an unspoken warning that he had taken all he was going to take.
Duo smiled a feral grin and licked his lips in anticipation. Victory was in his grasp. "I want you to take a swing at me."
Heero didn't smile as he answered the request with a clarifying question. "You want me to hit you?" he raised an eyebrow in disbelief and looking for confirmation to the other's request.
"I want you to try." Duo challenged him, the grin still in place.
"Duo?...." Quatre's voice questioned in alarm. Very few or sane people would want to challenge the Perfect Soldier. But then again, this was Duo.
"Stay back." Heero warned, his tone low and menacing.
Duo thought that his roommate was hesitating too long. He might not do it. "Come on." he crouched down in a readied battle stance and motioned to the other with his fingers in a beckoning manner. "You know you want to."
"This is ridiculous!" Wufei sneered from the side. "Stop this now!" he demanded hands on his hips.
"Shut up!" both boys squaring off yelled back without taking their eyes off of each other.
When Heero finally threw the awaited punch, Duo was ready. His training on the streets and some of Wufei's training as well had taught him to be aware of an opponents moves, to anticipate, duck and dodge. It actually took Heero several swings before his fist made contact with the side of his face.
"Good one." Duo managed a wicked smile again after quickly recovering from the stinging blow. He immediately launched himself at the other boy knocking them both down to the floor, breaking a wooden chair in the process.
They rolled on the floor. Arms, legs and fists flying. A lamp fell over and broke unheeded by the two as their battle continued. A rule on in-house fighting stated that neither opponent in a fight would go for any area that might kill or permanently disable the other. That wasn't the objective here, and both boys would be careful not to damage each other too seriously.
Suddenly from above and behind him, Duo felt himself being forcibly lifted from his just obtained and hard fought for position on top of his roommate and set on his feet. He immediately turned and belted the owner of those hands in the stomach. He did feel a twinge of guilt as it was Quatre who was the recipient.
Trowa stepped in and pushed the winded and bent over Arabian aside, anger flashing in his green eyes. "Enough!" he yelled.
"Yeah, right." Duo shot back and ducked as he saw in his peripheral vision Heero springing to pounce on him. His quick movement spared him, but saw Trowa knocked over, thanks to Heero's fortuitous momentum, and onto an antique looking chair that crumbled under the combined weight of Trowa and a surprised looking Wing pilot. Thus, the demise of yet another chair.
"Perfect timing!" Duo crowed, then launched himself to land on top of the two now struggling on the floor amidst the scattered wooden debris. The melee continued.
"Wufei!" Quatre called out in alarm. "Help me get Trowa out of there."
After only a moment's hesitation, both boys still standing angled for a position to grab the Heavyarm's pilot. He was now as deeply engaged in the brawl as the other two. Quatre received a few rather painful kicks from his close proximity to the three on the floor, and then made the mistake of getting a little bit too close. Duo reached up and grabbed hold of the blonde's arm as he had reached down for Trowa, and pulled the Arabian down on top of Heero. Wufei winced as Heero blindly punched the smaller boy in the face.
After watching the wild scrimmage for a few moments longer and seeing no end in sight, the Chinese boy shouted in an angry growl, "All right, that does it!" He reached down to Trowa, who had just gained the momentary advantage over the braided baka and was crouched over the top of him. Picking him up by his shirt and the waistband of his jeans, he heaved the taller boy up and flung him over the back of the couch with a slight grunt for his efforts. Turning back again, he then grabbed Heero, wrestling with both Quatre and Duo on the floor and, in a similar fashion, threw him onto the cushions of the couch. With a "Oof!", the Chinese boy was surprised to find himself on his back and on the floor, thanks to a well executed scissor kick by Duo's quick moving legs. He looked up as a sudden weight settled on him, surprised to find a battered-looking Deathscythe pilot sitting atop him, straddling his stomach, pummeling him. The strange thought came to him that Quatre must have been forgotten for the moment, and from the corner of his eye he could see the blonde backing away in a crab-like fashion on the floor.
Being fresh into the fight and as Duo was tiring, it didn't take too long or too much effort for Wufei to turn the tables, and soon, the American was under him and at his mercy.
Duo was breathing hard, his chest heaving as Wufei now straddled his waist and clasped the wild-looking boy's hands above his head in an attempt to make him capitulate. "Have you had enough?" he growled leaning over and into the braided boy's face. His black eyes looked deeply into the violet ones only inches away.
"Not.... just..... yet!" Duo said and leaning upward, licked the tip of his captor's nose.
Wufei pulled back in shock at the unexpected move. Unfortunately, he had loosened his grip enough that Duo managed to release his right hand and with surprising force, slammed Wufei's jaw with his closed fist, knocking him from off of the top of his body. Quickly rolling over, the American was on top again. As they wrestled and punched, Wufei managed to get up on his knees and pull the both of them to their feet. With one final, well placed and executed blow, he knocked Duo back to the floor, dazed enough to not get back up.
Having learned his lesson, the Chinese pilot hesitated to get too close to the sprawled pilot. He stood glaring down at him from a safe distance, his hands on his hips, and surprised to find himself a little breathless. "Enough?" he demanded to know.
Duo raised his head and with eyes not quite focusing yet, looked at Wufei glowering over him, and nodded his head. "Enough." he managed to gasp out as his chest heaved for oxygen from his exertions.
There was only a few moments of silence before the braided boy made a sound. It started out as a snicker, worked its way to a chuckle, and soon made it's way to a full-blown belly laugh. He curled up on his side and into a ball on the floor, hugging his aching ribs, and laughing hopelessly.
"Very funny!" Quatre spat out. He had made it to his feet and, after looking at the boy on the floor with disgust, turned and stomped up the stairs to his room. "THUMP!" His door slammed shut.
Heero gave a snort and a death glare to the unheeding boy and made his way to his room. "SLAM!"
Wordlessly, Wufei made his way to the front door. The screen door slammed open, "BAMM!" and closed, forcibly. "WACK!"
Duo managed to gain his composure and flopped onto his back, not quite ready to get up, when he saw Trowa's hand come up from behind the couch.
He was brought back from his reverie when the door to the kitchen flew open and banged against the wall. He winced at the sound as the beginning of, what promised to be a whopper of a headache, started to grow behind his eyes to add to the list of other aches he had acquired and was now starting to really feel. He looked up to accept the glare Quatre offered as he made his way to the freezer and grabbed an ice pack. Duo heard a cupboard door bang open, and a moment later the sound of water being poured into a glass. The Arabian sat at the opposite end of the table. Duo's blurred vision registered the bottle of aspirin, a glass of water, and Quatre's nose with dried blood at his nostrils and the discoloring bridge swelling. The blonde gingerly put the ice bag on it. "That's gotta hurt." Duo mumbled to himself and cringed at his friend's discomfort.
They sat in silence, each tending his own wounds and thoughts. He saw from the corner of his eye as Quatre opened the bottle and swallowed down a couple of the pills.
Trowa entered a few moments later and was followed by Wufei. Both gave him their best glares of disdain and contempt to the American as they passed by him on their way to the freezer. "If you laugh, you die." Wufei threatened in passing.
Duo nodded and shifted the ice pack to his eye. He watched with his other eye as the last two to enter the kitchen took a chair at the table and sat. A moan and groan came from them as ice packs were carefully placed.
Quatre passed the bottle of aspirin to Trowa sitting at the head of the table and furthest from Duo. He opened the top and taking a few out, popped them into his mouth. Grabbing Quatre's glass of water, he swallowed them down. He passed the bottle of pills back to Quatre who passed them on to Wufei, sitting to his left and across from the person worthy of their glares. Wufei followed Trowa's actions, and then the room fell silent, with the exception of an occasional moan.
Another ten minutes passed in relative silence. Though he came in without a sound, the four at the table were very much aware of Heero's entrance. No one turned around to follow his actions as the freezer door opened. There was a shuffling of packages and a pause before the freezer door closed. Without fully raising their eyes, they watched Wing's pilot go to the head of the table and sit next to Duo.
Duo forced himself not to laugh as he chanced a glance up to see the left side of his roommates face covered by a plastic bag of frozen peas, but a stifled chuckle passed his abused lips. Heero turned his head slightly to glare at the American. With stubborn determination, Duo returned it and refused to look away first. After a few moments and the tension in the room mounting, the Japanese boy reached out a hand and pulled Duo's hand holding the ice pack against his face away, and observed the bruised side of his face, the right eye almost swollen shut and purpling nicely.
"Nice shot, if I do say so myself." Heero said smugly, and Duo thought he saw a hint of a smile, just a hint mind you.
He mimicked Heero's move and reached over to pull the bag of peas away. "Likewise." he replied seeing Heero's face looking about as bad as his own felt.
"You're a real baka, you know that?" his roommate informed him, and not for the first time.
"Yeah." Duo almost managed to sound humble. But a crooked smile revealed him. "But thank heaven for bakas."
The grunts from the other side of the table seemed to disagree.
Heero accepted the bottle of aspirin from Wufei and the almost empty glass of water. He took a couple and passed it to Duo who quickly poured several in his hand and threw them into his mouth. "Thanks." he mumbled as he dry swallowed them and reaching for the now empty glass, stood and went to the sink to refill it. He let the cold water run from the tap as he downed the first glass completely and then refilled it. Bringing it back to the table, he set it before Heero, then turned to leave the room. He felt his wrist firmly grabbed. 'Oh why am I not surprised?' he thought as he turned to face Heero once again.
"Oh, no you don't." the Japanese boy said pulling him back down to the chair he had vacated. "You'll sit here until we work this out."
Duo sighed. He recognized this was the time of reckoning. He sat and waited. They all did, with their ice bags, and one frozen pea bag strategically placed, and hoping for the aspirin to kick in soon.
It felt like an hour, but in reality, it had been only about ten minutes before Heero spoke again, his voice calm and controlled. He looked directly at Duo, who could see there was no anger in his eyes, but a seriousness that was coupled with concern. "We all realize this is hard on you Duo. Hell, it's hard on all of us." Heero began. "I knew you were building up to something, but we need to not let this happen again. It's detrimental to our team and could be to our health."
Duo nodded, guilt slowly seeping into him.
"Don't you have something to say to us?" Heero asked, giving him the opportunity to apologize.
Duo inwardly struggled. He knew it was only right to apologize, but he truly wasn't sorry. The fighting had helped to burn out of him all the pent up emotions and frustration from being confined for so long. He didn't want to lie. That was something he tried never to do with his friends. He slowly looked up, his long brown hair fell in front of his eyes. His braid was barely that, as large portions were pulled out and falling all around him. From his one open eye, he could see the others looking expectantly at him. Well, far be it for him to let them down.
His course set, Duo turned his head to address the blonde. "Quatre," he began, and noticed his friend's wide, blue eyes, just starting to darken underneath, stare back at him in anticipation of an apology. "I'm sorry it was you that got punched in the stomach and that Heero smacked you a good one when I ducked. You were pretty brave to try and interfere." The Arabian's mouth began to slack open, his eyes looked....stunned.
Satisfied, Duo turned next to the boy at the top of the table. "Trowa, I...... I'm sorry you got tackled by Heero, but I'm glad you joined us on the floor. Heero was about to get the upper hand on me." Trowa looked shell shocked. "Oh," Duo brightened as he remembered something else and his battered face took on a look of surprise. "And man, you really flew gracefully through the air. It was like.....graceful." Trowa's expression now matched Quatre's.
Next, he looked across the table to the Chinese boy. "Wufei," he looked appreciatively at him. "I am impressed, man. It was beautiful, poetry in motion to watch you fling Trowa and Heero across the room. And that last punch," he moved his jaw painfully. "That was a real winner."
Wufei snorted in reply, but didn't seem disappointed with what he had heard.
Lastly, Duo turned to face Heero. His eye sparkled with humor and his half smile was sincere. "You know I didn't mean any of the things I said to you, right?" he asked and was relieved to see a slight nod. "And Heero," he paused for just a second. "you're the greatest. Thanks."
The other three groaned, but the Japanese pilot smiled and reaching over ruffled Duo's bangs affectionately.
"We're not going to get a proper apology, are we?" he asked Duo.
Duo smiled crookedly. "I can't lie." he answered. "That was waaaaaaaay too much fun."
More groans came from the other three at the table, even though the aspirin had finally begun to kick in.