Disclaimer: I don't own any part of the GW boys, nor profit from my rambling.

Warnings: none, humor

Duo's Dish Night
Duo's Friendship Arc 13
by Dyna Dee

The gentle tapping of the metal forks coming in contact with the ceramic plates was the principle sound in the brightly lit kitchen. The lack of talking signaled the state of appreciation the five boys at the wooden table had for the food that had been prepared for them as their dinner that night.

As usual, the pilot of Deathscythe was the first to finish. He ate his meals as if he were racing the others to see who would be the first to finish. To say that Duo Maxwell was very competitive would be over stating the obvious. He set his fork down, straightened his back, and looked up with a flashing grin to the others, signaling that he was finished. To him, it was a sign of victory. He had won the contest, again, even though the others had no idea that he was competing with them. Satisfied, he leaned back against the chair back, and patted his full stomach. "Ahhhh.....that was great, Wufei." he moaned in appreciation and stifled a belch, knowing the others would disapprove if he let it escape.

The Chinese boy looked up from his own plate, still half filled, to glance at the boy next to him and his empty plate. "You need to eat slower Maxwell, it's not good for the digestive system."

"Please..... not at the table!" The braided boy answered in mock disapproval of the topic. "Besides, that's how I had to eat as a kid or I didn't get anything, the bigger kids on the street would grab it first."

Trowa looked at his friend across the table. "We won't take your food from you, Duo." he gently chided the other gently.

"I know." he shrugged apologetically. "I'll try and work on it, just for you guys since it seems to bother you." Duo offered with a crooked smile.

Trowa's eyes lit up with an idea. "I know. Why don't you use one of us as a pacer of sorts. Quatre is sitting across from you, why not follow him." he suggested. "When he takes a bite, you take a bite."

Duo's large eyes widened in disbelief. "You've got to be kidding." he sputtered with astonishment at the suggestion.

"Why? What's wrong with that?" Quatre asked after patting his lips carefully with a paper napkin.

"Why?" Duo threw back the question. "Look at your plate." He demanded and pointed at the plate of food across from him and in front of the Sandrock pilot, still laden with food. All the eyes at the table looked at it in confusion, not seeing a problem. Duo continued. "My food would be cold by the time I finished, that is if I didn't starve to death first. I'm sorry buddy, but your habit of making sure every morsel of food you put on your fork is the correct size, according to society's rules of proper conduct, is a bit too time consuming for my taste." Duo lifted his nose in the air and gave a limp-wristed fling of his hand as his impression of the elite upper crust of society of which Quatre belonged. He then dropped his hand and winked at the blonde. "And besides, that napkin of yours is waaaay over used."

"How about Heero then?" Trowa spoke up quickly hoping to distract Duo from any further comments about the blonde.

"No way!" Duo laughed boisterously as if the question had been the most hilarious thing he'd ever heard as he looked at his roommate. The other three pairs of eyes settled on the Japanese boy at the head of the table and next to Duo. The Wing pilot sat straight backed with his fork mid-way between his plate and his mouth. Duo continued. "Heero studies every piece of food that goes into his mouth for composition, size of the bite and the nutritional value; fat, protein, salt, sugar, and caloric content, and then he weighs that information against the activity he's done that day to judge the proper intake for efficient consumption. Chh," he said in mild disgust. "I want to eat my food, not analyze it to death."

Heero shrugged in response to the comment. It was obvious he didn't take offense to what his roommate had said.

"Wufei?" Trowa's voice was beginning to get an edge to it, as it usually did when he engaged in any kind of banter with the braided boy. Duo could argue with a rock and win. Even with Heero he usually managed to verbally wheedle his twisted logic in order to get his way. He just had a way of reasoning everything to his way of thinking.

Duo shook his head, and clicking his tongue in a disapproving sound. "Wu-man has to first separate his food so that nothing touches, and then he balances his eating, one bite of each item on his plate, going in a clockwise direction, so that he finishes with each item in the final round. I've heard of eating a balanced diet before, but that's ridiculous. I'd have to be committed to a looney bin, straight jacket and all if I had to eat like that." He declared with a wicked smile.

Quatre snickered and then covering his mouth with his napkin, he coughed to cover it up as Wufei glared at him.

"Alright then, how about me?" Aggravation now laced the pilot of Heavyarms weary tone of voice. "What's the problem with they way I eat my food.?" he asked, anticipating a similar derogatory comment as the others had received.

"Knives." Duo answered simply and shrugging his black t-shirt clad shoulders, looking only slightly apologetic at the criticism. "You spend more time cutting your food than eating it. I know you have an affinity for knives Trowa, but really," his voice sounded a tad bit exasperated. "spaghetti doesn't need to be cut into little tiny pieces." He lifted his hand to show a distance of an inch between his thumb and forefinger. "You're the only guy I know that cuts the meat in his soup and a hamburger into bite size pieces and eats it with his fork."

Quatre stifled another chuckle, but his eyes showed his amusement at Duo's oh-so-true observations.

Trowa raised his hands up, resigning, giving up, and regretting ever bringing up the suggestion in the first place.

As Quatre carefully placed a perfectly acceptable small amount of food on his fork, he looked up through his blonde bangs to the boy sitting across from him looking quite innocent. "By the way Duo, you and I have dishes tonight." Though he had spoken the words in a matter-of-fact tone, there was a noticeable pause at the table. Heero held his raised fork, pausing in his analysis of protein in proportion to carbohydrates and fat. Wufei's fork stopped in its motion to push the chow mein away from his rice, and Trowa's sharp knife stopped in mid cut of the Mongolian beef.

"Again?" Duo asked, reaching an arm up and scratching the back of his head. "Didn't I..."

Quatre interrupted him. "We do dishes more often Duo because we're not allowed to cook anymore." he reminded the other and they both looked up at each other and shared an amused, pithy look, each remembering the last safehouse they almost burned down. That was a night for the journals.

The legs of the chair scraped loudly on the floor as Duo pushed it back and stood. "Well, okay. It's obviously going to take you guys a while to finish so I'm gonna go upstairs. Be back in fifteen minutes." He turned to leave, noticing the silent exchange between the others, the small smiles, and then in some silent, non-spoken agreement, they resumed their individual, habitual eating styles. Though they wouldn't say it out loud, everyone enjoyed Duo's dish night.

The Deathscythe pilot smiled to himself as he made his way up the stairs. He had seen and sensed the others pausing at Quatre's announcement of his chore. He chuckled softly knowing they all liked it when he was assigned to do the dishes. It had taken a little time, but after a few times of pulling them in, the others always came in on their own and joined him, never admitting to the fun they had on those nights, but it was clearly evident on their faces that the distraction was welcome.

Entering the bathroom, he paused and looking into the mirror, repositioned a few strands of hair to get his bangs to lay right. He quickly brushed and flossed his teeth. Looking at his reflection in the mirror, he feigned a weary sigh, even as a sly smile lifted at the edges of his mouth. "My, My, such a demanding life." he told his reflection. "Work on Deathscythe, take a long nap, eat, and entertain the troops." His smile broadened and his eyes sparkled. "Who knew life could be so good?"

With a quick turn, his chestnut braid flicked behind him as he turned and flounced off to his bedroom. "I will not disappoint." he declared in a dramatic voice as he entered the room and went to the small box just under his bed and began to shift through his music discs.

Heero and Wufei were sharing parts of the evening newspaper, and Trowa was surfing the t.v. channels when Duo descended the stairs fifteen minutes later. He carried his high-fidelity, compact stereo in his hands and a handful of music discs . He walked past them with a fleeting smile as he made his way to the kitchen door. None of the three in the living room displayed awareness of the fact that the braided boy had passed through the room, though each one was acutely aware of the fact and their ears were attuned for the sounds that would soon be coming from the direction he went.

Duo entered the kitchen just as Quatre finished scrapping off the plates. He turned from his chore and smiled at Duo even as he watched as he plugged in his small but powerful music system.

Duo looked back over his shoulder at the other boy. "Ready?"

A gleaming white smile and a short nod was the blonde Arabian's answer.

With a press of a button, the small room was suddenly awash with the boom of a bass guitar and followed by the steady beat of the drums. As more instruments joined in to fill the air with heady dance music, the braided boy whipped around, his braid flying behind him and walked in time to the sink and began to run the water, his fingers held under the flow to check the warming temperature. Quatre followed him, and the two stood side by side, their hips, heads, and toes bouncing to the upbeat rhythm. Duo washed and Quatre rinsed and stacked, and in no time, the dishes were satisfactorily placed in the drying rack. They would let them air dry and put them away soon, but first, Duo grabbed Quatre's hand and spun him in circles under his arm. Quatre's laugh sounded in the kitchen and beyond. Duo's dish night had only just begun.

Hearing Quatre's happy laughter trickle out from the other room, Trowa flicked off the television screen and put the remote down as he came to his feet. With an almost imperceptible nod from Heero at his intentions, he turned and went into the kitchen.

Soon, three voices were heard, one singing along with the music, and the other two laughing.

"That's my cue." Wufei said, neatly folding the paper as he stood and set it on the end table and gave Heero a knowing smile and an "Are you coming?" look. Again the slight imperceptible nod and Wufei was gone.

The song soon changed, but the beat remained relatively the same. Heero didn't recognize the group singing, but it was obvious Duo did as his clear tenor voice sang along.

"Come on Heero." Duo called out from above the music and laughter surrounding him. "We need you in here." he insisted.

Heero knew they really didn't, but this was how they always played out Duo's dish night.

Folding his paper and setting it on top of Wufei's discarded section, Hero walked to the kitchen and paused in the doorway to take in the sight.

Duo and Quatre were dancing in the center of the room. Both were incredibly light on their feet and accomplished dancers, and each moved with fluid, graceful motions. Quatre had a definite middle eastern flare to his moves, while Duo's hips and arms were as mesmerizing as his dancing braid. Not for the first time did Heero wonder where he learned to dance like that. To the side of the two dancers, but not ignored by the other two, were Wufei and Trowa, moving in a more modest mode of dance, yet their faces showed their delight in the movement and the music.

Seeing his entrance, both Quatre and Duo approached hm, dancing all the way, the happiness in the music reflected in their flushed faces and bright eyes as they pulled him further into the room to join the group, just as they always did on Duo's dish night.

The scientists and their enemies would have been astonished at the sight of the five notorious Gundam pilots as they shed their warrior skin to become teenagers once again. All clad in jeans and t-shirts of various colors, they danced in a circle, as a group effort to put the war and inner pain aside for the moment. They lost themselves in the steady pounding beat of the music, lost in the music and lyrics, and it seemed that time froze--just for a couple of hours, the war was forgotten, painful pasts were dismissed from the mind as were burdensome feelings of responsibility, duty, and the hollowness of being alone. All these were swept far and away as the five danced on into the evening that night, and every time that it was Duo's dish night.

Ahhhh! If only doing dishes was this much fun. *Sigh*


on to dfa 14: 'school daze: coming to an understanding'

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