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 15


Evening at the apartment was quiet *after* Duo teased Quatre about the excessive quantity of mashed potatoes until Wufei was tired of hearing about it and put an end to it with a one word reminder of a similar incident.

Wufei looked at Duo and in a dark yet mockingly serious tone he had said simply, "Rice."

Duo's thoughts almost immediately tracked back to the incident in question and he had to smile because of it.

<<flashback>>

Heero was running late on returning from a solo mission leaving Duo alone in the apartment the pair would be sharing while Deathscythe was receiving an upgrade on its communications equipment and the long-haired teenager was hungry. For dinner, Duo had chosen to prepare some rice "the old fashioned way" as he referred to anything that didn't involve the bagged rice he usually bought.

Singing to the radio, the braided teen grabbed the one pound bag of rice and a large pot. With a grin, he poured what looked like a reasonable amount of rice into the pan and then added water to it stirring the mixture with one finger as he tossed in some salt.

Duo frowned at the mess he'd made commenting to himself, "Well, that can't *possibly* be enough! I'm a growing boy after all!"

And without measuring anything since he "didn't believe in measuring cups", Duo tossed more grain in and topped it all with still more water and salt. Going back to singing happily, he dropped the lid onto it, turned on the stove, and left the pot to cook unattended for awhile.

About twenty minutes later, the American heard a hissing noise and he glanced at his watch before shouting, "Oh shit! I forgot the rice!"

He raced to the kitchen to find the pot boiling over, sticky starch-laden water bubbling down the sides and onto the burner. Duo grabbed the handle and moved the pan off the burner allowing the mixture to cool as he turned down the heat before putting it back on again.

"I think Sister Helen always said that regular rice took an hour or so to cook, seems reasonable to me!" He shrugged and wandered off to amuse himself until his dinner was ready.

Stomach growling, Duo finally returned to the kitchen. "I'm really hungry," he commented to no one in particular, "Hope I made enoughÖ" his voice trailed off as he lifted the lid only to discover that the large soup pan was now filled almost to the brim with sticky white rice.

"Aw man!" He exclaimed, pushing his bangs out of his eyes, "I'll be eating this stuff until Heero gets here! Oh well, at least I won't have to cook again if I don't feel like it!"

With a delighted grin, Duo attacked the first bowl of rice and consumed it quickly before going back for more. The second bowl was eaten more slowly and he added some Tobasco sauce with a smirk. By the time he was full, though, Duo realized he might have more rice than he needed.

Duo dug through the cupboard and pulled out the largest mixing bowl he could find. He poured the sticky mass of leftover rice into it and covered the whole thing with plastic wrap before cramming it into the refrigerator.

"Nope, I won't need to cook again for quite some time and won't that be a relief?" He tried to convince himself that this really was a good thing and not the disaster his conscience was whining about.

Growing up in the Maxwell Orphanage had taught him any number of valuable life lessons one of which was that wasting food was wrong. So the American teen forced himself to eat from the large bowl for almost every meal in the hopes of using it up.

By the third day, however, he realized that even his own healthy appetite wasn't putting much of a dent into it and he was getting sick of rice. "Rice for breakfast, rice for lunch, rice for dinner? ARGH!" Duo glared at the bowl midday on the fourth day after his "guestimate" cooking disaster had occurred.

"I am so fucking sick of eating rice! I'm sorry, Sister," he apologized to the memory of the woman who had raised him even as he pulled out the hated bowl and got ready to throw out the remaining rice, "but this shit has got to go!"

"Hn," a low voice grunted as the front door opened and a heavy duffel bag was dropped onto the floor, "Yo, Duo? Anybody here?"

"Heero!!" Duo cried excitedly, putting the bowl down and launching himself towards his lover. "You're home! Hot damn, but I've missed you!"

Heero opened his arms and gathered up the laughing Shinigami with a smile. The pair embraced and even as they lost themselves in a deep and impassioned kiss, the Japanese teen's stomach growled.

As they separated, Heero smirked, "Got any food in the house, koi? I'm starved."

"As a matter of fact, I do," Duo remarked ruefully, "Way too damned much of it actually!"

Skeptical, Heero glanced at him with a smirk and then made his way to the kitchen where he discovered the bowl on the counter. "Rice, Duo? *You* made rice? From scratch?"

"Yeah, yeah, I did," Duo groused as he walked out to join him. "And I fucked up on getting the right amount cooked and I've been eating it for days on end! I'm sick of it!"

"Oh?" Heero remarked, scooping some into a bowl and grabbing a spoon to eat it. The first bite into his mouth, though, brought a slightly disgusted frown to his face. "I can see why, baka, it's stale!" Heero glared at the bowl before adding a half dozen items from the refrigerator and dumping it into a skillet.

As the Gundam pilot turned chef stirred the new combination over the heat, a delicious scent floated to Duo's nostrils and he came a bit closer. "What'd you do to it? That smells great!"

Cobalt-blue eyes crinkled in humor as Heero snickered softly and held the pan towards his lover, "I just made a little stir-fry, that's all. Nothing fancy, Duo."

"Seems fancy to me, koi. I've been eating it plain or with Tobasco, I had no idea that you could put other stuff in it like that! Um," he looked at Heero hopefully, "think you could teach me how to do that sometime?"

"Sure," Heero smiled and wrapped one arm around his narrow waist. "And I can show you a half-dozen other ways to make this taste better, too, if you want. But for now, how about you let me eat and then you can 'show' me our bedroom for a few hours, ne?"

"You've got it, lover!" Duo agreed happily. "If you can rescue that rice you're more than entitled to a few hours of fun. Then again, I was thinking of trapping you in there for the rest of the week, but I want to see the other ways you can cook this damned rice!"

"Baka!" Heero laughed and finished off his stir-fried rice before dragging his more than willing partner off to bed.

The pair had indeed used up the rice within a few days. Duo learned a new respect for measuring cups and the incident with too much rice would be a fond memory for what came of it in the end even if the beginning was less than spectacular.

<<end flashback>>

Now appropriately chastened by his own memories, Duo apologized, "Hey, sorry about giving you so much grief, Q-Ball, but there's not much we can do with a ton and a half of left-over mashed potatoes!"

"I know," the blond moaned, crestfallen.

Wufei glanced at both in turn then shrugged, "Perhaps Heero has some recipes for these like he did the rice?"

Duo laughed, "Stir-fried mashed potatoes, Wu? I don't think so! Just thinking about adding a beaten egg to this makes me nauseous!"

"Baka!" Wufei gently laughed back. "Who said it would be the *same* set of recipes for mashed potatoes as it was for rice?"

"That's true," Quatre commented with a hint of a smile on his face. "Maybe there's something he can suggest when he gets back tomorrow morning? Um, he *is* still scheduled to come back on time, right?"

Duo nodded, unconcerned. "He and Trowa *both* should be home before lunchtime. I haven't gotten any notification from them to the contrary, but you never know until they actually walk in the door!"

"Regrettable, but true," Wufei added in an unhappy tone. Then he stopped and thought it over a minute before asking, "Do you as a group usually stay in touch more than this? I'm a little surprised none of us has heard anything from Trowa."

Duo smiled at him reassuringly and put a hand on his arm. "Hey, Wu, don't worry about Tro! He's a pro at this stuff and no news is good news, right?"

"If you say so, Duo." Wufei sighed, unconvinced, before rising to go to the kitchen to take a turn at clean-up duty.

As he began to wash and dry the odd assortment of dishes and cutlery the three had used, both Duo and Quatre silently joined him. After a few minutes of peace, though, the radio was turned on and the trio argued over which station to listen to and generally enjoyed the lighter mood.







Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.

on to part 16

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