Disclaimer: I don't own GW nor do I make any money from my rambling.

Warnings: none

Take Me Out to the Ball Game - Quatre's List 3
Duo's Friendship Arc 11
by Dyna Dee

You could not have asked for a more perfect day. The early autumn sun shone brightly in a blue, cloudless sky. A gentle breeze blowing in from off the bay carried a whisper of relief from the dry, warm day, tempering for brief moments the heat of the blazing sun.

The five teenage pilots shuffled along with the crowd in the long entrance line, each holding a ticket that Quatre handed them moments before. Duo's eyes danced with excitement. He'd never been to a professional baseball game, but when Quatre suggested it, he had convinced the others that this was an opportunity they couldn't pass up. This was, after all, the great American past time; an beautiful afternoon spent at a baseball game. He told them it was a great way to celebrate their latest successful mission in California.

The bored looking, heavy-set, and middle aged woman at the turnstile lackadaisically took their tickets without comment or smile. "Not too friendly, is she?" Trowa frowned, hoping not everyone was as dismal as the first stadium worker they encountered.

"Na," Duo spoke up smiling, "Her feet probably hurt." dismissing the incident as not worth thinking about.

They followed the crowd of people up a wide cement ramp and then another until they came to a promenade that led to the lower seats of the stadium. The stopped at the top of the stairs as their position offered a spectacular view of the green field and baseball diamond, along with the sparkling water of the bay visible just over the rim of the stadium.

"Man, this is going to be great!" Duo gasped in awe and grabbed hold of Heero's arm. "Can you feel the excitement? And smell the food!" Turning their heads in the direction of the strong aroma that assaulted their senses, their eyes all lit on the area and saw a sign that defined what their olfactory senses detected., GARLIC FRIES.

They studied their ticket stubs and the signs above them indicating the sections the seating was divided into. Heero was quick to act and led them around the promenade and down the stairway to their assigned seats. Duo was impressed as their seats were found to be on the front row seats situated just above the dugout between third and home plates. Quickly turning to his friends Duo explained their tactical position and its advantage as they took their seats. The American sat on the end with Heero next to him, Wufei, Trowa and Quatre fell next in line.

"These are great seats, Quatre. How'd ya get them anyway?" Duo called down to the other end.

The smallest of the group shrugged. "Money talks." he answered shyly.

"Well, thanks again, Q-man. This is great!" Duo all but gushed, his face near to bursting with excitement. Using some of his energy, he immediately turned and engaged in a lively conversation with a group of guys next to him.

The other four pilots took in the scene around them in a much calmer manner. There was definitely an excitement in the air. Heero looked at the printed white hand towel they had been given as they entered the stadium. "What's this for?" he asked Wufei who in turn studied his own towel. It had printed in black letters around the orange lined ball, "The State of Northern California, San Francisco Giants."

"If it's not to wipe the seat off, I have no idea." The Chinese pilot answered him, clearly baffled.

Duo got their attention by jumping to his feet. "Who wants to come with me and get some food?"

Quatre stood to follow. "Any requests?" he asked as he passed the others.

Not knowing much about the food available, the others let the two buying make the decision.

A Jamaican band was announced and began playing some lively music to entertain the fans as the stadium continued to fill. The big guy that Duo had been engaged in a conversation with, moved over into the absent pilot's seat and, ignoring Heero's warning glare, stuck out his hand and introduced himself.

"Hi there. My name is Big Dave. I guess you could say I'm a Big Giant's fan." Heero looked at the offered hand dubiously, then back to the large face and friendly smile. "Your friend said you didn't know much about the game and asked if I'd explain the rudiments of it to you while he was gone."

Heero sat up with a spark of interest. Wufei and Trowa leaned closer to listen. He took the still offered hand and shook it, returning the firm clasp. "Heero." he introduced himself and motioned to the other two. "Wufei and Trowa." The other two nodded as their names were pronounced.

Big Dave smiled and began to explain the layout of the field, the objective of the game, and then some of the elements of the game such as strikes, balls, forced outs, home runs, walking, and the position of the players. Heero got the jest of the game as basically hitting the ball, running around the bases-careful to avoid being tagged with the ball while doing it, and to score by reaching the base where you began. The three teenage boys now had a basic understanding of how the game was played by the time Big Dave finished and the announcer came on the P.A. system to announce to the crowd the importance of the playoff game and to introduce the players of both teams.

What's so special about today, " Big Dave leaned over and continued. "is that if our team wins, we advance to the playoffs."

"And that is important." Wufei guessed.

"Hell yes!" Big Dave laughed loudly. Heero studied the strange American next to him. He was large in stature, and looked to be in his late twenties. He wore a signature Giant's black tee-shirt and hat. His biceps were easily three times as large as his own, and he had stringy, dishwater blonde hair that stuck out in a pony tail from the back opening in his cap. He looked like a construction worker and Wing's pilot wondered if maybe he was representative of a typical baseball fan.

"Ladies and Gentlemen." the woman's pleasant voice boomed over the public announcing system. "Will you please stand for the National Anthem."

All fourteen thousand people in the stands stood just as Duo and Quatre ran around the corner with their arms full of food and fan paraphernalia.

"Made it!" Duo announced flushed and breathless.

The Jamaican band that had sung previously began singing the newly adopted American National Anthem, "America the Beautiful", in a perfect five-part harmony. At the end, the roar from the crowd momentarily startled the five pilots as excitement and energy coursed through the huge outdoor stadium.

"Damn, my hands are full." Duo looked dismayed at Heero. "Quick Heero, wave my towel for me." He turned slightly and indicated the white terry-cloth towel hanging from the back of his jean's pocket.

Heero looked up to see the entire stadium of people still on their feet cheering and waving their hand towels above their heads. The stadium appeared to be filled with flowing whiteness. Pulling out Duo's proffered towel, he followed the crowd's example by raising his right arm and began waving the towel while looking over to Wufei. "This is what its for." he informed him calmly. Wufei nodded and, raising his towel, joined in.

Big Dave had moved back to his place while the anthem was being sung, giving Duo his place back. As the crowd settled, Heero turned to help unburden his arms. "Who gets what?" he asked raising a questioning eyebrow.

"Doesn't matter." Duo smiled warmly. "Whoever wants it can have it. We can share."

They quickly disbursed the mass of garlic fries, the Philly steak sandwiches, and the five large sodas that Quatre carried in a cardboard box.

"They wouldn't sell me any beer." Duo pouted in apology.

"Just as well." Heero answered honestly. Duo excited and under the influence of alcohol would be.....difficult. Kinda scary.

Duo produced three black hats with the Giants trademark symbol on the front. He handed them down to the others. He and Quatre were already wearing theirs. "This will keep the sun out of your eyes." he explained, and Heero, seeing the logic of it, adjusted his to his head and sat back to wait for the first pitch of the game.

The Deathscythe pilot was in his element. The energy of the crowd matched his own. He critically studied those around him for the proper reactions to each hit, miss, strike, ball, foul, or catch. He jumped out of his seat when the ball was hit and yelled with enthusiasm as the crowd booed the field empire on an "unjust call" against their team.

As the second inning began, Duo took off his hat as the people in their section took their seats. Still standing, he wiped the moisture from off his forehead and in a quick decision, he reached down to the hem of his t-shirt and drew it off over his head. The large group of people around them began cheering and giving cat calls. The braided pilot turned around and seeing he was the object of their noise and attention, gave an embarrassed smile, and bowed.

The other pilots watched him with amusement. Duo now stood with only a ribbed, white wife-beater t-shirt tucked into his low on the hip, black jeans. He carelessly threw his discarded shirt to Heero. The crowed, pleased with his antics, urged him on. Duo smiled broadly and flexed his arm muscles. Finally, Heero reached up and grabbed hold of a loop on his jeans and pulled him down to his seat.

"Hey! I was having fun!" Duo mildly protested, a fake pout on his face.

"Baka." Heero smiled even though he was tempted to scold his friend. "You're drawing too much attention to yourself." He lightly warned.

"Man, there are fourteen thousand people here. Who is going to single me out?" Duo sputtered.

Who indeed." Heero snorted and motioned to the large group behind them.

Just then, the sound of a popular rock song boomed over the sound system. "We are the Best In the West." Duo jumped to his feet and moved quickly to Quatre. He pulled the startled Arabian from his seat and began to dance to the overly pronounced beat of the drum and bass. Turning with a smile, Duo motioned for the large group of people behind them to join them, soon the whole section was up on their feet dancing.

A television camera scanned the audience as the sportscaster, in the glass air-conditioned booth behind home plate, narrated to the watching and listening audience the scene before him. The camera stopped on a section of dancing fans just to the left of third plate. They seemed to be focused on the two young people in the front row.

We've been watching the antics of a fan and believe she should be designated "Fan of the Day." The announcer chuckled as the camera now zoomed in on the blonde and brunette with the long braid. Both teens turned around to face the field, their faces towards the camera with identical beaming smiles. The producer of the show placed a computer image of a flashing frame around their picture stating "Fan of the Day." The picture showed up on the giant screen in the outfield, and on television sets all over the country.

"Whoa! That's a guy with that long braid." the other announcer said, obviously surprised at the discovery.

"Yeah, a true Northern California fan." the other laughed. The camera lingered for a few moments on the handsome, beaming pair.

As the batter stepped up to the plate, the music faded and the audience sat back into their seats, ready for the game to resume.


Lady Une heard the words "guy" and "long braid" and turned to look at the television screen that was on in the emergency operations room. She had arrived just this morning, twenty-four hours after the New Travis Air Base had been all but destroyed once again by the gundams.

The morale on the base was at an all time low. It had just recently been rebuilt after a similar attack months before when the Gundams first arrived on Earth. Obviously, the new weapons built for defense were still grossly inadequate, and the gundams prevailed once again.

She allowed the junior officers a couple of hours to watch a local sports event that the General in charge of the base said was important to the men, and in the long run would boost the sagging morale. Now, she was grateful she had given in to such a frivolous request. There was little doubt in her mind that one the two fans pictured in the flashing "Fan" frame fit the description of pilot 02. She didn't recognize the boy with him, but by his size and age assumed he too might be a gundam pilot.

"General." She barked out sharply and all the men in the room snapped to attention. "I need a troop of men sent immediately to this stadium."

Confused, the general followed her finger to the television screen where he saw the picture of the two happy young men.

"Let's capture us couple of gundam pilots." she explained with a feral smile.

Seventh inning stretch, the stadium was alive with white towels waving wildly in the air to the booming music. The large vid screen in the right out field showed two large mobile suits. Duo grabbed Heero's sleeve and pointed to it. "Hey! That's Tallgese and Wing." he blinked his large eyes in amazement.

The announcer declared loudly the contest that was about to take place. The noise made by cheering fans in the stadium would determine the speed of the two suits. The loudest decibel recording would determine the side that would win. It was declared that the left side of home plate cheered for Tallgese, and the right side for Wing. Duo scowled and folded his arms in protest.

"Hey come on and cheer for our side." Big Dave leaned over and urged their participation.

"No way!" Duo pouted. "If I can't cheer for Wing, I'm certainly not cheering for the enemy."

"Enemy?" Dave asked clearly perplexed . "What enemy? It's just a game."

Duo looked him steady in the eye, no hint of a smile on his face. "It's not just a game." Dave obviously didn't understand, but his enthusiasm was definitely more subdued.

As Wing crossed the finish line first, the five young men jumped up and cheered as their section sat down in minor disappointment. The four of them pounded Heero on the back as if he had literally brought about the victory.

"I don't get it." Big Dave said, removing his hat and scratching his plastered down blonde hair.

"Ah, you don't have to man." Duo turned to him with a smile, his good natured disposition having returned.

Before they sat, a woman's voice called down to them from several rows up. "Hey, sweetie!" Duo turned around to see who she was referring to. She was obviously looking at him. "You're getting red, honey. Need some sun screen?"

Duo lifted the strap of his shirt from off his shoulder and sure enough, he was turning pink.

"That's going to hurt." Heero observed dryly.

"Sure, got some?" Duo looked up and shouted back with a teasing smile plastered on his face.

"You bet!" She held up the bottle and waved it. "Come on up and I'll help rub it on." she taunted playfully.

The section of people overhearing the conversation broke out in laughter and jeering. Duo scrutinized the woman. She was middle aged, mildly over weight with slightly greying black hair, wearing what looked to be a jersey much like the players on the field. Her smile and eyes were bright with merriment.

"O.K." he laughed after determining her harmless. He climbed onto the back of his stadium chair and balanced effortlessly on the top of it. "Here I come." He warned loudly, and the section of observers cheered and moved to make way for him as he balanced on the top of the backs of the chairs going up eight rows to the older woman.

Wufei sank down into his chair completely embarrassed while Quatre and Trowa laughed at their friend's antics. Heero watched his assent upward before he turned around to watch the game.

"Look out below!" came the warning five minutes later. Quite a few heads turned to see the braided young man return via the same route. The women behind them were crowing with delight. Duo jumped down from the back of the seat to the walkway with a broad smile and his skin shining with a liberal coating of sun screen. He turned to face the row behind him he had just visited. "Thanks Maddie, Carol, Hanna." he called out and nodded to each woman who returned his friendly smile, looking like they had just received manna from heaven.

"Your welcome, Duo." they chorused.

"Sit down, Casanova." Big Dave laughed and handed him a full cup of beer. Duo gratefully accepted it and drank half of it down before handing it to Heero who was glaring at Dave for his alcohol contribution

"You're contributing to the delinquency of a minor." he said sternly just as Duo flopped himself back into his seat.

"Yeah!," Duo agreed with a smile. "Thanks, man." He high-fived the big laughing blonde.

Heero sighed and shrugged. Looking at the half cup of beer in his hand, he raised it to his lips and emptied the cup.

The game was close and the innings seemed to move by quickly. The score was 5-4, Giants leading. Wufei, Heero, and Trowa studied the program as it listed the teams averages. They studied the pitchers style and analyzed the pitch, then they looked at the batting averages of the batter currently up at bat.

"He should be able to hit the pitcher's curve." Trowa suggested.

"Then the pitcher would be wise to choose a different pitch." Wufei offered.

"Hum." Heero added. "He's been pitching changes. I'll predict a fast ball to the right corner, and as number 34 can hit that also, it's either going to be a home run or a double hit." He sat back looking quite satisfied with his conclusion.

"Crack!" The wooden bat sounded off as it hit the ball high into the air.

"Foul. This way." Big Dave shouted. Everyone in the stands surrounding them stood as the ball sallied upward above them.

"Catch it for me Heero, and I'll do your dishes for a week." Duo quickly promised, his eyes trained on the incoming ball.

"Hmn." was all the perfect soldier replied as he studied the current trajectory of the ball and adjusted his position to stand in front of Big Dave. "Hoist me up two feet." he ordered the surprised man.

Dave to his credit moved instantly to obey, and with his arms stretched upward, the baseball slapped into the perfect soldiers cupped hands.

Cheering erupted around them. Dave lowered Heero, who then turned to hand the ball over to an overly-excited Duo. His smile threatened to split his face in half. "Thanks, Heero." The Deathscythe pilot pounded his friend on the back.

"Dishes for a week." Heero reaffirmed the agreement.

"You got it! This is the best souvenir ever!" Duo gushed as he held the ball up high for the crowed to see, his face beaming.

Another crack of the ball turned the group's attention to another high flying ball going towards the right field.

"Its going... going....." Dave yelled in anticipation. ".... GONE!!" The stands erupted as the Giants gained two runs. The runner on second base was batted in along with the home run hitter. The loud booming music sounded and Duo began the celebratory dance.

Wufei high-fived Heero's guess as Trowa and Quatre gave him a thumbs up.

Everyone settled in their seats for the next batter up. Duo stood a moment to turn and harmlessly flirt with the women behind them, waving and winking at them. Just as Heero reached out to grab hold of him to force him into his seat once again, the expression on the braided boy's face changed abruptly. In a second, his eyes narrowed in scrutiny of a distant object, his smile dropped to a compressed line. Then suddenly, he crouched low, crawling the few feet over to Heero's knee.

"Duo." Heero growled out in warning against whatever the Deathscythe pilot was up to, like another surprise attack on the now rattled cotton candy, churro, and/or popcorn peddlers.

"Oz soldiers, on the promenade." he warned, motioning upward with his head.

Heero slid off his seat to crouch next to his friend and looked upward, his eyes quickly scanning over the other spectators' heads and across the stadium. "They know we're here." he said with assurance.

The game continued as a pop fly caused the third out and the teams switched positions on the field. Wufei having been alerted to something being wrong by their positions and whisperings, leaned over to hear their conversation and eased off his seat to study the situation with them.

"No way! No fricken way!" Duo hissed. "How could they?"

"Well we certainly couldn't blame it on our low profile, now could we?" Wufei snorted sardonically.

Duo gave him his imitation of Heero's death glare.

"Duo." Heero interrupted the warm, fuzzy exchange. "Get your shirt on and tuck your braid in it."

The braided boy nodded and pulled his shirt off the back of his seat and put it on. He retrieved his hat he'd discarded several innings ago and placed it firmly on his head.

"What's going on fellas?" Big Dave leaned forward. He wore a slight smile on his face not sure what these atypical teenagers were up to now.

Heero nodded to Duo giving him permission to make up a story. Duo turned to the big blonde. "We're AWOL from our military school, and the soldiers are here looking for us. Man, Dave," he let his worry of their situation show on his face. "If we're caught, we are in the biggest pile of shit you can imagine."

"They know you're here?" he looked doubtful.

"Yeah, somehow..." Duo looked to his friends. "Sorry guys, it's my fault." he said sincerely as the crowd rose to its feet with a roar as the batter-up was walked.

"There's fourteen thousand people here. How are they going to find you?" Dave looked incredulous.

Heero met Dave's gaze. "We kinda stand out in a crowd." he answered seriously.

Big Dave laughed at that, but sobered when he saw the serious faces on all the five boys. The little blonde at the end looked skittish.

"What do you need?" Big Dave asked with a conspirator's smile.

"Outta here." Duo replied.

"We need to blend in to hide, and escape with the crowd after the game ends." Heero told him. "Right now, we need to get out of the front row."

Big Dave looked around, then stood up. "Back in a minute." he turned and headed for the stairs leading up the section of seats. Heero pulled Duo into his seat as he and Wufei returned to theirs.

The crack of the bat sounded again, and the crowd stood up. Heero pulled his partner to his feet. "Now is not the time to be different from the crowd." He put the white hand towel into Duo's hand. "Cheer!" he ordered in his monotone voice.

Duo nodded and raised his arm to wave the terry-cloth towel.

The crowd groaned in unison as the pop-up fly was caught, signaling the third out.

Big Dave returned as they sat down. "OK, gotta plan." He carried two beers, drank one down and passed the other to Duo. He took a sip and passed it to Hero, who drank a couple of large swallows before passing it down to the others, his eyes never leaving the big Giant's fan.

"We're switching with the group several rows up." He informed them. "They've agreed to help. If your not together, it'll be easier to blend in with the crowd."

The five pilots nodded in agreement.

The sound of a ball hit hard brought the crowd to their feet.

"Now!" Dave led the first two designated pilots to the isle. Two women brushed past them and Duo jumped as one pinched his butt.

"Hey!" he squeaked.

Dave ushered them to the row and they were sent to sit in the two vacant seats, three excited women between them.

The ball was caught and everyone sat down. Heero spared a glance at Duo and was surprised to see his friend bearing an embarrassed and shocked countenance. It was quite obvious that the two middle-aged women sandwiching him were thoroughly enjoying his presence. A smirk crossed his face at Duo's uncomfortable, but most deserving predicament.

The Giant's pitcher struck out the next batter and the crowd rose in approval. Heero watched from a distance as Dave moved Wufei to a row several rows above their own, and sat him next to a group of Chinese men.

Dave returned to his seat. Quatre was moved to sit between he and his friends. The women that traded places with Duo and Hero fussed over Trowa who now sat between them.

The crack of the bat again brought the entire stadium to its feet. The ball sailed into the stands in the right field. The batter rounded the bases, but this fact went unheeded by a few in the stadium. Their eyes were trained on the red coated Oz soldiers as they came in twos down the steps of the stands, scanning the rows as they descended to the seats just above the dugout.

"Move out of the way!" Big Dave shouted as the soldiers studied those in the front row. "You're blocking my view." He complained loudly and others in the vicinity joined in.

One of the soldiers gave the blonde Giant fan a contemptuous glare. His gaze moved to the small teen sitting next to him, waving his hand towel. "Who is this?" he asked nodding to Quatre.

"My little brother. Why? You got a problem with that?" he glared.

Quatre and Trowa had both tucked their distinctive locks inside their caps, changing their appearance drastically. Both looked younger and deceptively innocent.

The soldiers continued to move down the row. They paused briefly, silently studying the young man standing between the two middle age women.

"Last inning, Aunt Beth." the boy was heard to say to one of the women as another batter popped a fly ball, easily caught. The crowd rose to its feet and cheered their team as they came to bat once again.

The five pilots each felt a small measure of security as they were surrounded by the mass of excited people. Yet Heero felt uneasy at not being able to see his teammates through the crowd. Even Duo, who was the closest at hand, was obscured from his view by the larger people standing between them. Having completely lost interest in the game, he concentrated on his surroundings and the movement of Oz soldiers through the stands. The crowd remained on its feet as one, two and three batters were out, signaling the end of the game, the home team winning. The music boomed and the crowd went wild in celebration of their victory. For a long while it seemed as if no one was willing to leave the euphoria of the stadium, but slowly they began to move towards the exits. Heero allowed himself to be pushed forward by the crush of bodies around him. Not soon enough, he found himself out of the stadium and standing in front of it. Cars, busses, and trucks on the road in front of the stadium honked their horns as the people of the city joined in the victory with the emerging fans. Even a fire truck came by with its lights flashing and siren going off sporadically.

Heero looked around for a short while for his friends on the slight chance that he could spot them in the chaotic swirl of people and traffic around him. Not seeing them, he decided to make his way to the hotel room and wait for them to show up there.

One by one, the other pilots came to the room within a half hour from the time Heero did, with the exception of the Deathscythe pilot.

"Do you think he's alright?" Quatre asked, as two and a half hours passed and Duo still hadn't made an appearance. Worry was etched on his sunburned face.

"Duo can take care of himself." Wufei reminded them.

"But what if they captured him?" the Arabian asked.

"Then we go in and retrieve him." Heero stated simply.

Trowa glanced at his watch. "I'll give him ten more minutes, then I'll go look for him. They all nodded their agreement.

Hearing a fumbling at the door a few moments later, Wufei, standing closest to it, pulled it open to reveal Duo, who leaned heavily against the door frame looking tired. His long hair lay in large loose strands over his shoulder as half of it was pulled out of his braid. His t-shirt was torn in several places and his jeans even looked askew Within his arms was an assortment of clothing, souvenirs, bags, and a large, square white box. He stumbled through the door and Wufei lent a supportive hand to steady him, leading him to one of the twin beds. Reaching it, Duo turned and dramatically collapsed backwards onto it, his arm full of stuff scattering about him.

"Check the hall. I might have been followed." he whispered urgently.

The other three pilots had watched his entrance in mute shock at his bedraggled appearance. Trowa went to the door to open it and peer down the hallway.

"What happened to you?" Heero demanded. "Were you captured?"

"Captured?" Duo replied looking dazed. Suddenly his eyes turned and focused frostily on the Wing pilot, then narrowed. "Hell yes I was captured! You deserted me and left me helpless."

"Helpless?" Wufei snorted. "Since when are you helpless?"

The narrow, angry gaze turned to the Chinese boy.

"Yes, helpless. I couldn't use a weapon, nor could I fight back. Man..... it was a nightmare." He threw an arm over his eyes to try and block out the memory of it all.

Quatre sat on the bed next to him with a comforting touch to his friend's shoulder, giving what comfort he could as his other hand curiously began to pick through the assortment of items scattered across the distressed pilot. He opened the lid of the large white box. "Hey, these are donuts." he said surprised.

"Crispy Cream Donuts." Duo clarified in a weary voice and without moving. "The very best." he said in a high sing/song voice as if imitating someone.

The four other pilots exchanged puzzled looks. Curious, Quatre peeked inside the Macy's bag. He pulled out a dark blue silk shirt and held it up for the others to see. Heero picked up another bag and opened it. He pulled out five pairs of fine silk boxers. Wufei likewise picked up a bag and removed a teal and a black tee-shirt.

"Explain." Heero demanded of the pilot on the bed.

Duo removed his arm from over his eyes and let it flop against the bed. "You left me at the mercy of eight, middle-aged women. They were only too happy to help me elude the Oz soldiers, but they exacted a price." He shuddered at the thought. "They were worse than a bunch of horny sailors at a strippers convention. They dragged me through the city buying me stuff. They held everything up in front of me to see if the shade was right, if the fit would be a good one."

Quatre's face turned even more red than the sunburn on his nose and cheeks, his lips compressed as he held in his laughter. Trowa stood behind them, visibly shaking with barely contained mirth. Wufei's eyes were watering as he stoically held in his own amusement.

"I only escaped because I broke free of their clutches and ran between two passing trolley cars. Thankfully, the women were too slow to follow." he sighed deeply. "You should have heard their screeches behind me as I ran down the street." he shuddered at the memory.

An odd sound came from Heero's direction. Duo's eyes flew to his partners face to see it struggling.....with suppressed laughter.

"Don't you dare laugh." Duo warned him slowly easing up on his elbows. As other sounds emitted from his other friends, he glared at them also. "It's not funny." he insisted and Wufei was the first to crack, laughter erupting from within him, and like a wild fire, it quickly spread to the others who burst out in raucous laughter also.

"Stop it!" Duo demanded trying his best to glare at them. "It's not funny." he insisted again, even as his mouth began to turn upward into a smile.

Trying to ignore the others as they continued to laugh at his expense, the braided boy turned his attention to the pink box and opened it, bringing out a large round doughnut with chocolate frosting slathered generously over the top. He took a bite and moaned in ecstacy. "Cream filled." he announced in an whisper, his eyes closed in ecstacy. Slowly, the laughter around him subsided.

"Ummm...... Duo?" Quatre called his name tentatively. "You gonna share those doughnuts?" he asked

Pausing to look into the box to count eleven scrumptious treats left, Duo sighed. "Sure, but one each." he warned. He opened the box and held it out for each of the other pilots to pick one.

Before taking his, Wufei bent down and picked up a heavier bag that had slipped off the bed and onto the floor. "What's in this bag?" he asked

Duo put down the box of doughnuts and set his half eaten one on top as he moved to take out what was in the bag. He pulled out a pair of high grade, black leather pants.

Trowa whistled in appreciation. "What did you have to do to earn those?" He asked suggestively as he reached out to feel the smoothness.

"Do?" Duo asked confused. Suddenly his eyes it up in shock. "What do you mean "do"?" His eyes narrowed dangerously as he challenged the Heavyarm's pilot.

Trowa held his hands up. "I'm not insinuating anything. For all I know, you carried in someone's groceries."

"Well, I didn't "do" anything wrong!" Duo insisted. "She said I was entertaining and she enjoyed the show at the ball game. I tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted that I'd look good in these. What could I do?" he asked looking innocent. "After all, she was right, I look damn good in those pants, and I couldn't hurt her feelings now, could I?"

"Baka." Heero smiled.

"Hey!" Duo protested. "If I'm such a baka, how come I got all these cool things for free?"

"Lucky." Wufei answered.

"A woman magnet." Quatre added.

"Consummate flirt." Trowa concluded.

"Everybody loves a clown." Heero snorted derisively.

"Hey!" Trowa protested. "No clown comments.

"Well," Duo stood and stretched, wincing a bit at the beginning of the pain from the sunburn on his shoulders and arms. "I need a shower after being woman handled. I smell like Giorgio Perfume." He grimaced and turned to face Quatre, and gave him a sincere smile. "Thanks man, that was a great afternoon, despite the last few torturous hours. I've always wanted to experience a real major league baseball game."

"You're welcome." Quatre smiled, mentally checking off another item on his list of things to do for the other pilots.

Duo gathered up his new belongings and held them tightly to his chest. "And no, I am not sharing the clothing. I earned every last one of them." he said in parting as he rubbed his sore and overly pinched behind.

As the door shut to the bathroom and the water was turned on, the other four pilots looked at each other for just a moment before diving for the box of Crispy Creams.


on to dfa 12: 'breaking free'

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