Asuka squinted behind his sunglasses as he stalked across to the Gundam Hangar, stubbornly refusing to slow down or walk softly, despite the fact that every step was sending a dagger of pain through his head. He'd be damned if he was going to let a stupid hangover win.
Loud music throbbed as he opened the personnel door, and he stopped short, his habitual scowl deepening.
Fuck. I can't find the prick when I want to break his oversexed, hormonal little neck, but as soon as I give up on the idea, here he is!
For a moment, he considered either turning around or going back to Plan A ('Kill Dan'); then he tightened his jaw and stepped into the hangar, closing the door behind him. If I wouldn't let a hangover change my plans, I'll be screwed before I let him change them! And I don't get screwed; I'm the one who does the screwing.
Argh! I don't need to start thinking about that! I'm pissed off, not horny!
Hoping that the Gaulish pilot would take the hint and leave him alone, Asuka walked straight to his Gundam. He really didn't need Dan's style of teasing just now, and might be forced to do... something... if the other teen started in on him. What that 'something' would be, he had no idea.
"Hey, Suka-babe," Dan carolled in a disgustingly cheerful voice. "What? No 'hello, Dan' or a good afternoon smooch?"
Oh, you know you're pushing it, Asuka seethed, starting to unlock the access panel on Morkeleb's right leg. New record; less than ten seconds before the innuendos begin. If the little tease just meant them, I'd have a decent reason to beat him up, or... whatever.
"Here I am giving you my best wink-and-wiggle, and you aren't even going to look?" From the sound of Dan's voice, he was mock-pouting.
"Shut up and let me work."
"Like you need to tweak Morkeleb's systems any more!"
"Like you need to tune Starthrasher," Asuka retorted, not looking around. "Hide out in here all night, did you? Coward."
"Geez, you're still moody. Guess you still didn't get some, eh, Suka?"
Dan sauntered over and leaned on Morkeleb's leg, apparently deciding to tempt fate-- and Asuka's temper-- as far as possible.
I am in no mood to put up with this shit. Briefly, Asuka considered the various tools (and hidden weapons) he had available, debating which would be best to throw. He was actually reaching for a large adjustable wrench that was already looking a bit battered, thanks to previous attempts at Dan-killing, when he paused and thought again, mouth curving into a smirk. No. That's what he expects me to do-- hell, it's what he wants me to do. He wants me to blow up at him, so he can taunt me some more and then walk off laughing while I'm stuck in a shitty mood for hours. Fuck that.
What's the last thing he'd expect me to do?
The smirk widened.
"You're the one who acts like he's hard up for some, Dan," Asuka purred, voice low and dangerous as he turned to fix the other pilot with a narrow-eyed stare.
"EH?" Dan almost choked, eyes wide. He'd been poised to either dodge or deliver another single-entendre line, and was definitely not prepared for the look on Asuka's face. He's... he's actually smouldering at me! he thought incredulously, standing frozen in shock as the Glacin pilot took a long, slow step towards him. Damn, I didn't know he could look so... so deliberately sexy! Accidentally sexy, sure, obliviously sexy, dangerously sexy, but sexy on purpose?!
"What's wrong, Danny? Can't handle it when someone gives back the same as you hand out?" Grabbing fistfuls of Dan's shirt, Asuka shoved him against Morkeleb's leg and kissed him, hard and demanding; then he pulled back and looked at him, surprised to discover that he was feeling vaguely disappointed and hurt by the stunned Gaul's lack of response. "Tease," he growled, starting to push away.
Dan's hands clutched at Asuka's shoulders, holding him in place. "It's not teasing if I follow through, Suka," he whispered, leaning forward as if to return the kiss. "Gonna make me happy?" he murmured, grinding slowly against Asuka's groin. "Gonna fuck me until I can't sit down?"
Asuka growled wordlessly, hands yanking open the fastening on Dan's slacks and diving inside. Okay... pissed off and horny...
"I say, Christy!" Jay waved cheerfully as she and Quatre approached the hangar doors. "Going to work on Hades? We're visiting Dyscalculia, so we could make a sort of group study session if you like. Or group maintenance session. Group show and tell? Explode and tell? Whatever!"
Christy blinked, then looked at Quatre and raised an inquiring eyebrow.
"Jay offered to show me the Division By Zero system," he translated politely.
"Yes, that's what I said!" Jay pouted, slightly miffed. "At least, it's what I meant."
"Right. I'm not actually planning to do much," Christy said, waving her cast in explanation as she typed a code into the keypad and opened the door. "I'm just going to run the automatic-- WHOA!"
"What? Oh. Oo-er!"
Quatre 'eep'ed and backed up a couple of steps, blushing furiously.
"Hey! Guys! Get a room!" Christy yelled, grinning.
"Fuck," Asuka growled, directing a full force 'Glare of Death' at the unwelcome arrivals as he extracted his hand from Dan's pants.
"Looks like not yet, Suka" Dan said breathlessly, licking at Asuka's ear and slowly pumping his hand a few more times before reluctantly removing it from the Glacin's pants, eliciting a quiet groan from him. "Not long, though... come find me later, hm?"
"Hn!" Asuka yanked his jeans into place and stalked out of the hangar, reddened bite marks standing out against the pale skin of his throat, totally oblivious to the fact that he was leaving his Gundam with several access panels hanging open.
Dan took a little more time and care over getting his clothes adjusted, then strolled casually towards the door. He was smiling calmly, but a certain strained look around his eyes indicated that he was not happy about the interruption.
"You have such bad timing, Christy," he sighed, brushing past her with a wink and then grinning at a very embarrassed Quatre.
Jay looked expectantly at Christy, humming something cheerful under her breath.
"What? Oh! Oh, damn, that's right..." The Theran pilot scowled and dug into her bumbag, pulling out a crumpled wad of credit notes. "Fifteen... twenty... here," she growled.
"Thank you, love," Jay said brightly, snatching the notes and stuffing them down her non-existent cleavage. The lack of pockets in her outfit (knee-length bike pants and a lacy chemise, tucked in) was obviously not going to be a handicap. "I must remember to find Mel; she owes me twice as much. Don't bet against the psychic, what?"
"If they'd just held out for one more day..." Christy moaned.
"I think you might all have a gambling problem," Quatre said, trying to sound stern and not succeeding.
"Well, you wouldn't let us coach them," Jay pointed out reasonably. "What else were we going to do? Holding up score cards would've been a bit obvious, don'tcherknow."
Christy abruptly chuckled, a considering look appearing in her eyes. "Tell you what, Blondie... I'll bet twenty that Wufei gets Mort into bed first."
Jay snorted, folding her arms and producing crinkling paper noises from her chest area. "Have you not been looking at pilot 01? My money's on Heero getting Beautiful first. Quatre? Care to put some dosh in the pot?"
There was a long pause.
"...I'll bet that Heero will be the first to self-destruct," Quatre offered.
"You're on," Christy chuckled.
"With the proviso that you can't win if you self-destruct before him," Jay added quickly, glaring. "Unless everybody else agrees that it was a necessity!"
"HEY! I would not blow up Hades for a lousy twenty credits!"
Around a couple of corners and in a relatively private spot, Asuka was relieving stress by swearing viciously and banging his head on a metal pipe. I should have just stayed there and kept going! he snarled to himself, headbutting the pipe one last time, producing a small dent. They would've left soon enough! And if they didn't, I could fix that. I could still fix them, I've got my knives... no, psycho girl would find some way to take me with her, and Jay runs too fast. Quatre then... no, his boyfriend throws knives too. Damn. An 'accident'? Hmmm... not satisfying enough. Screw it, they can all live. I have better things to do.
...so why the HELL am I standing here and getting all pissed off when I've got someone to stalk?!
'Later', huh? he thought, stamping out onto one of the base's main thoroughfares and glaring around. Soldiers scattered as the look on his face registered. It's been five minutes; that'd damn well better be 'later' enough, because as soon as I get my hands on Dan I'm going to see if he really can deliver. Even if we're in the middle of the Officers' Mess.
Hm. Now there's an idea... or in Trei's office. On the desk. While he's having a meeting!
'Not teasing if I follow through', is it? Asuka picked a direction at random and stalked off, beginning a mental list of Dan's possible hiding places. And what do you call making me look for you instead of just turning up naked in my room, hah? You're not going to be able to sit down for a week if I have anything to say about it!
* * * * *
Wufei sighed in relief as he pulled open the hangar door and stepped inside, out of the bright sunlight that had been doing such a good job of restarting his headache. It was early afternoon now, nearly eight hours since he'd woken up, and a couple of extra-strong painkillers and a lot of water had done a pretty good job of getting rid of his hangover. Even so, he was still feeling a bit... 'fragile' was a good term, he thought... and he wasn't stubborn enough to stay outside when he could be inside, feel better and do something constructive.
It was fairly obvious that someone had been doing something with Dyscalculia-- Jay, he thought; the maintenance crews would never have left it with the cockpit and half of the access hatches open, wires and cables forming a lopsided web between it and the hangar's diagnostic equipment-- but nobody was in the hangar now, and Wufei relaxed a little, one hand rubbing lightly at his temple. And some people deliberately inflict hangovers upon themselves on a regular basis, he thought incredulously. How could any sane, rational being continue a pattern that has such painful consequences, no matter how much fun being drunk is?
...I think I just answered my own question. He chuckled quietly to himself as he moved across to Nataku.
He'd intended to power up Nataku's systems and run some diagnostic programs, more because it was something he always did than because he thought it was actually necessary. Instead, he found himself just standing in front of the Gundam, looking up at its calm metal face.
I used to do this a lot. Every time a mission went wrong, every time I failed somehow, I decided that I wasn't worthy... that I shouldn't fight any more... and I'd stand in front of Nataku and tell her to reject me. Part of me seriously expected an answer. I honestly did think for a while that Meiran's spirit...
Was I begging her to reject me, or daring her to, I wonder?
A faint smile appeared on his face. Then Fa'shien seduced me, and actually got me to start believing I had a right to live my own life and enjoy it. I still have no idea how he managed to keep a straight face, the first time I woke up in bed with him; my expression must have been absolutely priceless!
I also have no idea how he got me there in the first place. I can remember everything that happened that night, but I still can't work out how he got from asking my opinion of an old manuscript to kissing me... let alone how he did it without me putting him through a wall. He always could get me to relax.
The smile faded. Then he died with the rest of my clan, and I closed myself off again. And now I'm trying to open up, but this time I'm trying to seduce instead of being seduced, and I've got no idea if it is going to work!
Is this how Fa'shien felt when he kissed me that first time? Before he knew whether I'd kiss back or try to kill him?
I wish I could work out how he got me into bed. I could try the same thing on Duo. And Heero... I think I startled him yesterday, when he handed me the can. At least, it looked like startlement, not rejection. A bit of embarrassment, too... Perhaps I should try to get him alone?
"So this is where you got to," Heero said from behind him.
Wufei managed not to jump or yelp, but he was positive his heart skipped at least three beats. How did he do that?!
"You looked pretty serious," the Japanese pilot continued, walking towards him. "What's up?"
"...Just thinking," Wufei managed, swallowing past a lump in his throat. I think of getting him alone, and here he is! Kuan Yin, bodsitthava, I know you like to smooth the path of lovers, but this is a bit much!
Heero smirked. "You do a lot of that, don't you?"
"It does tend to be a good idea," Wufei said dryly, starting to relax. "Besides, I seem to have fallen into the habit." He doesn't seem to be upset or angry--
"It's a habit I'm trying to develop myself," Heero purred, reaching a comfortable conversational distance and then taking one more step. "For example, I spent a fair amount of time yesterday thinking about this."
Taking Wufei's face gently between his hands, he leaned in and kissed him.
The surge of relief was so strong that Wufei's knees nearly buckled and he swayed forward, clutching at Heero's shoulders for support as he returned the kiss. I didn't ruin it-- I didn't scare him off-- I got it right!
"Yeah," Heero whispered, breathing raggedly as he wound his arms around Wufei and pulled him closer. "I definitely need to think some more if this is what it gets me."
Wufei laughed breathlessly, one hand sliding down Heero's back to caress his rear. "I'm sure you'll have plenty of opportunities to practice--"
"Geez, did someone let a hormone bomb off in the hangar today or something?!" Christy exclaimed, pushing the door open. "And what is it about guys that they can't get a room and snog in private?"
"You have to admit, it'd be much less fun if we couldn't watch," Jay pointed out, peering around Christy as the interrupted couple leapt apart. "Oh, foo! They stopped..."
"I have only one thing to say," Mel announced, walking in behind her teammates with a huge grin on her face. "Ladies... pay me!"
Jay shook her head sorrowfully as she stuck her hand down the front of her chemise and rummaged around for some cash. "Heero, if you'd just shown a little resolution and gotten Pretty Face into bed first, I'd have enough money to buy you all the sake you wanted!"
"I want to know why 'Fei-fei didn't get his act together first," Christy grumbled, unzipping her bumbag. "This makes twice today I've lost-- hey, that's right! The bet said 'in bed'! They aren't screwing, so the bet's still on!"
"You three were laying bets?!" Wufei exclaimed, aghast.
They ignored him.
"I say, good point," Jay said happily, stuffing notes back into her lingerie. "Heero, be a good boy and get Duo first, would you?"
"No way!" Mel insisted. "The bet on Asuka and Dan said 'in bed' too, but we paid off on kissyface! If this bet's still on, that one is too!"
"Yeah, but there was groping involved in the other one," Christy pointed out. "They had their hands down each others' pants! That was more than just 'kissyface'!"
"So, we walked in on this pair too early, that's all," Mel said stubbornly. "Another ten minutes, max, and you would have seen all the gropage you wanted."
"She may have a point, too, what?"
"Jay, whose side are you on?"
"Well, both sides end up with me losing money, don'tcherknow, so I'm actually kind of neutral here. Unless the boys want to keep going with the kissyface, in which case I'm on the side that stays here and watches."
"I'm not sure whether I want to just drop dead right now, or kill all the witnesses and pretend nothing happened," Wufei growled, covering his eyes with one hand. He wanted to turn and look at Heero, to see how badly the Japanese pilot was taking this, but somehow he couldn't summon up the courage. I think this is the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to me. I'll be lucky if I can get Heero to speak to me, let alone kiss me again; it's got to be at least as embarrassing for him! he thought despairingly. And the moment was going so well--
"Heh heh heh." *snicker*
That sounds like... Heero?
Wufei dropped his hand and watched incredulously as Heero burst out laughing. The three female pilots also stared, completely forgetting their argument over the bet.
"I say, that's not at all the reaction I was expecting," Jay muttered, blinking uncertainly behind her smudged glasses.
"Yeah," Christy agreed. "It doesn't involve a gun pointed at us..."
It's the first time I've ever seen him laugh for real, Wufei realised. Not a snicker, not a snort, not just 'hn' and a smirk... not that weird cackle he does sometimes in battle. He's really laughing!
Well, at least somebody thinks this is funny.
Heero wheezed slightly as the laughter trailed off, still snickering occasionally as he wiped his eyes. "Just ignore them," he advised, reaching out to snag Wufei's hand and pulling him close again. "It won't make them go away, but it might make you feel better." He planted a quick kiss on Wufei's mouth, then moved towards the door into the pilots' quarters, tugging the Chinese teen along with him. "Come on. We need to talk... again."
"And anybody who thinks they're just going to talk is welcome to buy a couple of major public landmarks from me, cheap," Mel said, grinning. "Pay up!"
"Bugger," Christy muttered, digging into the bumbag again.
"You know, Christy, I'm going to have to charge you for using my trademark," Mel told her, holding out her hand.
"How'd you know they'd grab each other first?" Jay asked curiously, passing Mel her winnings. "I was sure Heero would grab Braid Boy first; they both really want him, but Heero comes across as more, um, forceful, don'tcherknow."
"Hormones," Mel said happily, starting to count her money. "Never underestimate the power of hormones."
"I say, I like that!" the Vaterean girl exclaimed. "It needs something more, though. Hmm... I know! How about 'Never underestimate the power of hormones in people who have really big stompy machine thingies with guns'?"
The other two pilots just looked at her for a moment, then turned and started to walk away.
"I know, I know," she grumbled, trailing after them. "I should stick to 'Don't bet against the psychic'..."
"You realise they're going to assume we jumped straight into bed," Wufei muttered.
"Let them," Heero shrugged, shutting the door to his and Dan's room behind them. "There's nothing we can do to prevent it, short of killing them, so why worry about it? Besides," he added, reaching out to cup Wufei's cheek gently, "they'll be right soon enough. Won't they?"
Wufei could feel a blush heating up his face and neck as he nodded wordlessly, one hand lifting to cradle Heero's hand against him. "When did the roles change?" he asked softly, half to himself.
"Well, I was under the impression that I was the one chasing you," he explained, trying to keep his voice dry and amused. "I took you by surprise. Now you're the one surprising me..." ...and I'm blushing! This is ridiculous!
"Well, you know me," Heero replied, grinning wickedly. "Once I decide on a target and finish my preliminary tactical evaluation, I can be very aggressive." The grin softened as he continued, bringing his other hand up to brush a fingertip over Wufei's lips. "Like I said, I finally got my act together and did some thinking, yesterday. I decided... I don't mind sharing Duo with you. I don't mind sharing you with Duo, either. It's an attractive idea, actually. It, er, certainly made for an attractive mental picture... Did you know you're blushing?"
"Yes, I know," Wufei growled, feeling his face heat up even more. "I was hoping it wasn't visible!"
"I like it," the Japanese pilot chuckled. "Duo's probably going to say it looks cute."
"Assuming we ever get him into a position where he's likely to see it!" Wufei groaned, tossing up his hands and sitting on the edge of Dan's bed. "I thought it would be harder to convince you to consider a relationship, but at least you know one's being offered!"
"That is our problem, isn't it?" Heero sighed, sitting on the floor and leaning back against his own bed, deliberately putting a little space between them so they could concentrate on the problem at hand. "I think we have two options. One, keep going the way we have been and hope he works it out, or two, get him alone and just tell him."
"If we go with option two, do we leave him room to bolt?" Wufei asked, half-seriously.
"I think so. If he bolts, either he'll think it over and come back, or it wouldn't work anyway."
"I prefer option two," Heero admitted, "but it's possible I'm being too impatient. After all, a week and a half-- less than that really-- isn't a very long time to spend trying to gently seduce someone!"
Wufei coughed, half-hiding a grin behind one hand. "Well, I've seen it done in three hours, but..." Heero raised an eyebrow, and Wufei waved his other hand dismissively, coughing again. "I'll, ah, tell you about it some other time. You're right, it is faster than what's usually considered 'normal', but is this really a normal situation? We were shocked into realising how we felt about Duo because we were afraid he was going to get killed. We're going to start missions again soon, so any of us could be killed, we've always known that. I'd rather tell Duo and hope he takes it well than keep wondering if we're going to lose our chance before he works out what we're trying to do. Even if we just tell him then back off, we'll have a better chance of 'gently seducing' him if he knows what's going on!"
"...Right. So. How exactly are we going to do this?"
"After dinner?" Wufei suggested. "The temperature drops around then, so he usually ducks into his room to get changed. We could follow and get him alone. It's more private than the hangar at least," he added wryly.
"Good plan." Heero nodded decisively. "That's what we'll do."
"Now we just have to work out what we're going to say."
There was a long pause as they both thought; then Heero let his head drop back onto the mattress, draping one arm over his eyes. "Ugh. Can't we just draw him pictures?"
* * * * *
"Tell me again so I can be sure what we're checking for, Mel," Christy said flatly.
"Why?" Mel poked at the hangar's keypad, typing in the long security code. "I've already told you three times!"
"Tell me again, so that I can be sure I have all the details right when the nice men in white coats come to take you away."
"What details? We're checking for a trend!" Mel carefully eased the door open a crack, then flung it open with a crash. "A-HA! ...Damn. They're not here."
Folding her good arm over her cast, Christy started tapping her foot. "An explanation would be good about now."
"I was hoping to catch Trowa and Quatre necking," Mel sighed, looking at the empty hangar. "You know the saying, 'Once is chance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is a trend.' If we walked in here three times in a row and found cute guys making out, that would be a trend, and the thing about trends is that they continue. See?"
"So... you were hoping that we'd eventually get to the point where there would be cute guys making out every time we walked into the hangar?"
"Well, apart from the fact that the version I heard of that saying goes 'three times is a conspiracy,' and your logic is weird by even Theodorian social theory standards, it's a good idea."
"Hey, Chaos theory mathematics proves weirder things true all the time!" Mel protested, pulling the door closed as they walked off. "Just ask Jay!"
"You're lucky you didn't lay a bet with her about this..."
Behind them, in the hangar, everything was quiet; then there was a faint sound of machinery, and Heavyarms' cockpit hatch opened. Quatre peered out, hair and clothes slightly mussed.
"I knew it was a good idea to get out of sight," he muttered. "They never would have let us live it down..."
"Never mind that now," Trowa told him, taking his hand and pulling him back inside. The hatch closed, and there was silence in the hangar once again.
* * * * *
After dinner, Duo was shivering as the pilots got back from their mess. "This is ridiculous, you know?" he complained, rubbing at the goosebumps on his arms. "You bake during the day, and then as soon as the sun goes down you could make ice cubes on your window sill. Can't this place make up its mind what temperature it wants to be?"
"This sort of thing happens in deserts, Duo," Christy pointed out. "I don't like it much either..."
"I know, I know," he grumbled. "Low humidity, no clouds to trap the heat, no large bodies of water to reradiate it, yadda yadda yadda. It's still ridiculous! I'm going to get into something warmer, guys; back in a sec."
As Duo jogged out of the common room towards the bedrooms, two pairs of eyes tracked him; then Wufei and Heero exchanged a quick look, and got up to follow.
End 'Warped Mirrors'
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