Disclaimers: I don't own any of the Gundam Wing Universe. I'm not making any money off this story. It's written out of love, so please don't sue me.

Written: March-May, 2001
Overall Rating: R
Pairings: (3+5) (1x2x1)
Category: Angst Yaoi Shonen ai Friendship Sap WAFF Lime AU {Beware: Darkness Descending!}
Enigma Story Category: G-Boys High Adventure!
Warnings: Angst, yaoi, shonen ai, language, friendship, sap, WAFF, limey hints, dark themes taking control, plus "AU-OOC" for those who canít cope

Notes: The priceless gifts of love and friendship that were exchanged by the Gundam pilots brought them closer together, but two of the team will soon be "hidden" as Trowa and Heero must infiltrate an OZ base. Wufei, Duo, and Quatre must share an apartment while the others are gone, creating a potentially explosive mixture. Are these new bonds strong enough to unite the circle in the face of the unexpected crises which arise as well as the approaching darkness?

//someone's thoughts//

<<flashback>>


Hidden Gifts
Part 8


Despite Duo's and Quatre's best efforts to the contrary, the trio sat and talked for over two hours without accomplishing much. Wufei tended to avoid allowing either boy to get too far with any of the more serious issues by either refusing to answer or by deliberate redirection. There are times that one's strengths can cause more harm than good.

Several times the three would even go off on tangents about past missions and once Wufei succeeded at steering the discussion towards the future they faced as a team. The Chinese teen would do almost anything to avoid the more pertinent, and painful, discussion they needed to share.

"What sorts of changes are we to expect soon, Duo? Besides my coming to live with the rest of you, that is?" Wufei asked in yet another skillful ploy to turn the conversation away from himself.

"I'm really not sure," Duo had remarked, a frown on his handsome features. "Heero and Doctor J talk about this shit a lot without me being involved, but if Heero thinks it's going to happen I'll back him up every step of the way."

Quatre looked skeptical, "But the whole thing about OZ splintering into pieces? Doesn't that sound a bit farfetched, Duo? I mean with all the victories Zechs Merquise has racked up already, they're well on their way to beating us sooner or later."

"Don't be so sure, Quatre," Duo frowned in annoyance. "The Lightning Count isn't their only operative to worry over. He was teamed up with that Noin chick for most of those battles, but word has it they've split-up."

"Nani?" Wufei asked out of curiosity, "Why do you say 'split-up', Duo? Were they a team in more than battle? And even if they were, what difference would that make to us?"

"They were a team, all right!" Duo snickered, "But not the kind you're thinking of, Wu. When Heero and Tro faced off against them in Antarctica it was pretty obvious to Heero at least that she was like a love-struck puppy but Zechs never even noticed. I teased Heero mercilessly about this until he pointed out that knowing an enemy's weaknesses was a good way to improve your chances of beating them later."

Annoyed, Wufei snorted, "And? You still have told us nothing of use here, Maxwell."

"Give me a chance, okay?" Duo took a moment to stare at the ceiling and then said rather softly, "See, Wu, when people are in love, they can fuck up trying to protect someone else or even to impress someone else." Violet eyes threw an unpleasant glare at Quatre, who looked away uncomfortably. Duo sighed and continued, "Do you remember when you trashed Lake Victoria Base?"

Amusement flickered on the bronze face as Wufei rolled his eyes. "Of course I do, baka! You should have heard Noin's voice when she realized that I was the one who had destroyed her precious school! She called me a child, imagine that!" He chuckled then quieted as he remembered that after the fact he had felt dismay over how he had handled some of that mission.

"Well," Duo continued, "that attack was what allowed those two to team up again after a long time apart and it improved their battle efficiency more than any of us like to admit. After that, she and Zechs were inseparable and unstoppable. Now though, something's changed. She's going solo somewhere or other and 'Sexy Zechsy's' been seen wandering from OZ base to OZ base doing rinky-dink little inspections and shit."

Quatre had been unusually quiet during the discussion but finally spoke up to ask, "Is he the one that always wears a mask, Duo? I've never seen him before and I was trying to memorize photos of their top brass on the off-chance I ended up with an infiltration assignment sometime."

"That's a good idea, Quatre," Duo smiled, "and yes, the silver half-mask is Merquise's trademark. Along with a tendency to wear red and generally show up piloting TallGeese trying to blow us out of the sky or whatever else might ruin our day!"

Wufei coughed diffidently, "Um, are you forgetting the hair, Duo? Perhaps it is not quite as obvious to you, but for the rest of us, that excessive amount of platinum blond hair is something of a point of identification."

"Oh, yeah," Duo snarled, "That damned hair! How he keeps it straight and smooth halfway to his ass like that is beyond me, but I'd never forget that either. I was just, um, well, ..."

"Jealous?" Wufei teased gently as he glanced at the meter-long chestnut braid laying on the couch between them and then smiled apologetically, "There is nothing to be jealous of, really, Duo. Your hair is far longer and much nicer than his appears to be. I am quite certain that Heero did not find Merquise's hair attractive in the least."

"Thanks, Wu," Duo smiled as it became clear this was indeed what he was thinking about.

"Of course," Wufei nodded solemnly then changed the topic again, "If Doctor J is talking to Heero about these changes, though, why are none of the rest of us being alerted to possible modifications to prepare for any upcoming changes in our strategies?"

This question sparked further discussions of strategies and issues that did *not* pertain to why Wufei seemed to be depressed or anything else more relevant to helping the three youths present cope with what they currently faced.

Quatre tried repeatedly to draw the discussion back on track without success. At some point, the blond teen had deduced that Wufei was manipulating the conversation and he knew all too well that they were getting nowhere.

Duo felt like they were close to some of the more key issues at several points but was getting frustrated when Wufei fell silent unexpectedly and Quatre finally ended the whole discussion.

Rubbing his head as if in pain, the Arabian teen rose to his feet. Looking at both of them, he apologized, "I'm sorry, guys, but it's been a long day and I must be more tired than I thought."

"What's wrong, Quatre?" Duo asked, his concern showing clearly and reassuring Wufei that perhaps some of the broken fences were becoming mended.

"I've got a killer headache," Quatre frowned adding, "I'm going to go to bed, I didn't really sleep at all last night, maybe that's what's catching up to me? Good night."

As he walked away, Wufei stood to follow him out of the room. The Chinese boy stopped him in the hallway.

"Quatre?" Wufei chose his words with care as he said neutrally, "I appreciate that you were concerned. Thank you."

Quatre stopped and looked at him closely. He let the false headache pain vanish as he answered in an equally neutral manner, "I understand, Wufei. Things aren't easy right now, but when you decide you're ready to talk to us, I hope that you will. Give Duo and me a chance to help instead of letting things build-up. Okay?"

A deep sigh rumbled through Wufei's chest as he answered noncommittally, "We shall see. I do not want to make any promises I might not wish to keep, Quatre."

"I understand that," the blond nodded seriously. "Well, I'll see you tomorrow. Maybe things will be better in the morning, right?"

"Only if Trowa is back then," Wufei remarked softly with a sigh of longing.

The Chinese boy was still worried that the mission his love and Heero had gone on was not going to come off as planned. Wufei made no claims to prescience or psychic powers, but he had good instincts and those were screaming at him.

Wufei felt like he should find out the location of the OZ base, retrieve ShenLong from their hidden mobile suit hangar, and use his Gundam to make enough of a disruption that Trowa and Heero would be forced to abandon the mission and leave. Wufei felt that even facing an angry Perfect Soldier would be worth it if he knew Trowa was back unharmed. However, he clamped down on his irrational fears and stayed where the HeavyArms pilot had left him hoping that his fears were all misplaced.

Eventually, he pushed all of this to the back of his mind as he attempted to re-enter a meditative state. Thoughts now filled with images of the Lightning Count and the TallGeese, Wufei gave up on meditation and took a hot shower instead.

Before long, he was curled up alone in bed in the room he was temporarily sharing with Duo, disconsolately staring at the darkness outside the window and wishing he was with the lanky teen who had previously not left his side since he was injured.

Depression was trying to sink its claws into Wufei and it was succeeding rather too well.

*****

Several hours later, feeling defeated and disheartened himself, Duo walked into the darkened bedroom. There was a double bed where Wufei was sleeping as well as a daybed against one wall.

As he pulled back the covers on the daybed, Duo groaned a little at the thought of sleeping by himself.

Even though he was a trained assassin and the killer of hundreds if not thousands, Duo still found that sleeping alone seemed to allow the nightmares greater access to him than he wished. With a half-smile he made a slightly risky decision and went to crawl in next to Wufei. He had his excuse ready should the other boy wake up and protest his presence but it wasn't needed.

"G'night, Maxwell," a sleepy voice said as Duo tried to carefully pull the blankets back up that had fallen when he got into bed.

"Goodnight, Wu," Duo smiled, rolling over to curl around the smaller boy with the intention of only giving him a brief hug. He was about to pull away and move back to the far side of the mattress when he felt an arm loop around his waist as Wufei snuggled closer.

"Stay? Onegai?" Wufei yawned and then drifted back to sleep never once seeing the happy little smile on Duo's face that this brought on. The braided boy thought that Wufei would reject his presence and instead the other boy had welcomed it.

The day had been one of tension and unresolved conflicts, but the night was a smooth one as all three exhausted youths slept soundly in the apartment.







Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.

End Notes for Parts 7 and 8:

Dedications: Tonight's dose of Gundam angst is brought to you in spite of the fact that the forces of Real Life ganged up in an unusual assault of the "elemental" variety and we had thunderstorms all evening that kept me from reading e-mail. So, it was send this without a "Hall of Fame" or make everyone wait until tomorrow for today's parts. I obviously chose to send it as is and now there's more storms headed my way and I'd better send this before I lose my up-link again!

on to part 9

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