Genre: Action, Drama, Humour (some)
Pairings: 1x5x1, others tba
Warnings: Violence, language, sex, adult situations
Spoilers: Yes, quite a lot for end of series (no EW though)
Feedback: Please! Particularly what you like/don't like about the fic.
Disclaimer:Gundam Wing belongs to its owners (Bandai, Sunset, and a whole
host of others, none of which are me) and I'm not making any money off
of them. Not a single peanut.
Huge thanks to Dawna, who beta-ed this latest offering of this monster-sized
fic in record time! Any remaining errors are due to my usual last-minute
bouts of doubts. Thanks to Sol for giving my bunnies a hearty shove in
the right direction, as well!
Big thanks to all who reviewed using the GWAddiction review boxes! I love
to hear your comments. This fic wouldn't be half as good without all the
great feedback and constructive remarks I received throughout its writing
(can you believe I only started writing this last November?? I'm faster
than I thought)
Epilogue, Part I
are to be tried"
Heero came awake in one adrenaline-drenched second, muscles clenched and
The words were quick and cautious, but Heero had already been relaxing.
He'd set his mind like an alarm clock, to recall the essentials of what
had happened - 'you're sleeping in the same bed as Chang, wake up quickly
without any sudden moves' - to avoid any unpleasant incidents.
But he'd slept remarkably deeply. Considering. Heero let a trickle of
warmth flow through him, a sort of 'mission successful' buzz; then he
wondered if that was appropriate. Well, if nothing else, it was a good
training tool. He could teach himself to get used to this, and not wake
up with a cardiac clench after a few weeks.
He could grow to like it, too. The thought poked its head up unexpectedly
as he focused. Wufei was propped up on one elbow; he'd actually moved
around in the bed and Heero had not woken up, the latter realized with
another small rush of pride/success. This sleeping together thing might
work out after all.
Wufei's dark skin contrasted with the sheets. He looked sleepy but not
exhausted, Heero judged, automatically scanning his partner for signs
"I was expecting to find you wrapped up in one of the sleeping bags on
the other side of the room," Wufei murmured, rubbing his eyes with his
free hand. He sounded pleased.
Heero let his head sink back into the pillow. For some reason, he wasn't
in any hurry to get up. Normally he was out of bed three seconds after
waking, once he'd done a visual check of the room and ensured nothing
had been moved or looked suspicious. "I slept fine," he confirmed.
There was a funny tone to Wufei's voice. Heero realized, with a small
flash of surprise, that his eyes had drifted closed again. He estimated
he'd slept about four hours, which was more than sufficient even after
a five-day mission of cat-naps and sleeping with one eye open.
His gaze focused on Wufei, trying to analyze that strange note in his
partner's voice. Amused? Exasperated?
"...I'll get used to it, eventually," Wufei elaborated without further
prompting. "Sharing the bed with you. Well, with you and your gun." Heero
followed Wufei's pointed gaze, and he realized that he'd scrunched up
against the wall during the night, defensive even in his sleep. He'd pulled
his pillow with him. His Glock had been left stranded on the sheets by
the retreating pillow.
Heero glanced at his partner obliquely. Wufei knew he slept with a gun
at hand, and hadn't said anything last night. Heero always had a weapon
at his fingertips, even back when he was sleeping near Odin - well, as
near as the other man would let him, which was never so close that a single
attacker or grenade blast could incapacitate them both.
He and Wufei were considerably closer. Heero automatically checked the
window behind them and wondered if they should move the bed. The proximity
sensors would detect a car bomb or someone close enough to lob a grenade,
but they weren't ranged for a shot from a mortar. They should probably
move- he hadn't even thought of this last night, but now-
"Yes," Heero answered, turning away from the window. He'd gotten used
to Wufei's ability to read his reactions, to feel the tension that had
suddenly sprung up in his body, where nobody else, not even Odin, had
been able to.
Wufei didn't look convinced.
Heero's eyes dropped back to the Glock, lying between them like a sword.
How much of a problem was this going to be...? It had taken Heero nearly
an hour to get to sleep with his partner so close, if he had to try to
do it without a gun-
"As I said, I guess I'll get used to it," Wufei smirked, rolling onto
his back and putting his hands beneath his head.
"I always have a weapon beneath my pillow when we sleep in the same room,
during a mission." Heero said slowly, wondering why this was bothering
Wufei now. And wondering how he could talk his partner into letting him
keep his security blanket.
"Yes, but..." there was the usual tight, controlled smile on Wufei's lips.
The smirk was trembling on the edge of something warmer though, as if
it couldn't decide whether to be sarcastic or sincere. "I've never been
close enough to observe you properly in those circumstances. You...have
an interesting twitch when you sleep."
Heero frowned, puzzled. Wufei slipped his right hand from beneath his
head, holding it up where Heero could see it. The hand was held loosely,
fingers slightly curled. And the trigger finger was flexing spasmodically,
"Oh," Heero stared at the imaginary gun being fired, and he scowled anxiously.
He...wasn't happy about that gesture. He wondered what he'd been dreaming
"You watched me sleep?" The words slipped out involuntarily and caught
Heero off guard. That had been something that had started to happen to
him in contact with Wufei, and he was at a loss to explain it. He'd opened
his mouth to speculate about removing the Glock's charger while he slept,
and instead that question came out, uneasy, slightly...defensive. The
trigger-action was already something that had startled him; he was wondering
what else Wufei had seen of him while he slept, while his barriers were
down. What his partner would think of it.
"I didn't think I had much choice in the matter," Wufei pointed out with
a wry grin. "I woke up ten minutes ago, and I rather wanted to get out
of bed and visit the bathroom, but that twitch made me decide to stay
exactly where I was until you woke up. Speaking of which..." Wufei levered
himself off of the bed and stood up stretching.
Wufei's stretch hitched and he stared down at Heero in surprise, his arms
still in the air. "What? Good god, man, I'm not about to hold you accountable
for a reflex twitch while you sleep! I'm sure I have the same."
"...that I listened. Yesterday. While you were having a nightmare." Heero
had become suddenly acutely aware of why this had bothered Wufei. Up until
now he'd put it down to his partner's hyper-sensitivity due to drugs and
fatigue. As far as Heero was concerned, it had been a legitimate and harmless
way of getting information about Wufei's state of mind when neither of
them had wanted to address the problem directly. In hindsight, and in
view of his own vulnerable feelings at being scrutinized while he was
sleeping and defenseless, he could understand why Wufei had reacted so
badly. He'd been lucky his partner had only punched him quickly on the
Heero fingered the bruise on his jaw, checking the state of the swelling,
and caught Wufei's wince from the corner of his eye.
"Let's just forget about yesterday. We both screwed up," Wufei muttered,
turning away. Heero nodded at his partner's back. That's what they usually
did when they had a serious fight. Once the original cause was resolved,
the snarled words, the insults, and the blows were deleted from memory.
Unimportant, a product of anger, of the tension that lived with them,
like a third tiger between them.
"Hey, don't you have to get to work?" Wufei had glanced at his watch while
heading towards the door. "It's past ten."
"No, I finished my report yesterday, and I asked Armand to do the follow-through."
Wufei spun around, looking surprised. "I have the day off," Heero added.
The surprise doubled.
"Day off?" Wufei echoed as if these were foreign words he was trying to
"I was going to go to L4. I thought that was where you might be. If you
hadn't come back last night."
"You were going to come looking for me?" Wufei seemed caught completely
Heero nodded. He wanted to ask Wufei if he really had been on L4, but
he wasn't going to go anywhere near that question. He wasn't sure he would
know what to do with the answer. Anything to do with Quatre and Wufei
seemed to elicit an unusual degree of anger these days.
"...well...L4? Would have been a wasted trip, I wasn't there," Wufei said
Oh. Winner's call yesterday must have been a coincidence after all. He
certainly had looked surprised when Heero had told him about the argument,
but that could have been easily feigned.
Wufei was looking at him - you had a lot of bladder control when you'd
done as many ops and surveillance mission as they had, Heero thought with
a touch of amusement which was also something he had cultivated through
his contact with Wufei. His partner looked like he expected questions.
Heero wondered if he should ask them. He didn't give a damn where Wufei
had been, where he'd gone to get his space and calm down, who he'd talked
to, if anybody. Heero understood now why it hadn't been him. And as long
as it hadn't been Quatre - as long as it had been just anybody, and Quatre
did not have some kind of privileged status as the man Wufei confided
in when he had problems - then it didn't matter.
A slight tension left Wufei's shoulders with a minute shrug, and he headed
towards the door. Heero watched him leave; movements as graceful and deadly
as a well-balanced blade. He's back, Heero realized. He really came back
and he's staying.
Heero rolled onto his back as the door shut, and he rubbed the grit of
sleep from his eyes, felt the bruise at his jaw again - the swelling was
all but gone today. More details of last night were coming back to him.
What the hell have I gotten myself into...?
...what if I'm not up to this...?
No, kid. Wrong. Odin's voice in Heero's head was phlegmatic, as usual,
with a tinge of exasperation and amusement, maybe. You're getting it wrong
again, kid. Don't think like that, because it'll lead to 'how can I be
up to it', which just comes down to 'how can I fix it', pretending and
manipulating Chang's feelings again. Just be yourself. It appears to be
enough for him, strangely enough.
Odin had always been a part of him, something big and fundamental that
he never questioned. Only this last month, particularly these past few
days, had he been thinking about Odin a bit differently. He remembered
the man's distance, but also his smiles, the care he took with Heero.
He remembered their contract: Odin would protect him and train him, and
in exchange Heero would pretend to be his son and give him a cover story
and some backup. That contract had set the distance between them. But
it had also been comforting, tangible proof of the need between them,
something that would guarantee that Odin wouldn't discard Heero without
very good reason.
For the first time, Heero wondered if Wufei had considered their arrangement
like that...if he had, too...
He thought he might have grown up to be a bit like Odin - a circumstance
which didn't displease him; he could have done a lot worse. But Odin had
cut Heero off, in the end. Even before his death, the contract killer
had planned to abandon his 'son'. Probably for the latter's sake, so Heero
could lead 'a normal life'. Not that that had worked out. Heero hoped
he could manage what Odin had been unable to do: cross the distance between
himself and the only other person he'd ever let close to him.
He'd distantly registered the flush, and he opened his eyes as Wufei closed
the door behind him. His partner walked into the room slowly, with maybe
a trace of uncertainty as he glanced quickly at his clothes, folded on
the dresser, then dropped his gaze to his bare feet. He wandered over
to the bed as if pulled by a string. Heero watched him. He could feel
it, too. A lot of walls and barriers had been knocked down a few hours
ago. That left a whole lot of wide open space to get lost in.
Wufei stared down at the mattress, and then he nudged it with his foot.
"I'm still on sick leave until I show up at Sally's office and get my
papers," he announced abruptly. "Might as well take the day off too."
The words had come a bit awkwardly out of his mouth. "Let's go into town
and get a bed."
Heero looked at him inquisitively.
"I am not sleeping on a mattress on the floor," Wufei announced imperiously.
"I got enough of that during the war. We are going into town, and we are
buying a bed. If you want to."
The last words were muttered, and Wufei had turned away a bit abruptly
to stare at his clothes on the dresser. After a couple of seconds he seemed
to kick himself into motion and walked in that direction; Heero noted
the stiffness of his neck, the way his body had lost some of its grace.
"That sounds good," Heero agreed quickly. Wufei's body lost a bit of that
edgy coil; Heero, relieved, hesitated to add the obvious objection, he
didn't want Wufei to think he had any doubts about- but since this was
a question of basic security, his mouth was already forming the question.
"Do you think we can find a bed big enough?" Big enough for what was obvious;
Wufei knew Heero's safe distance like he knew the blast radius of a grenade.
"Yes," Wufei replied, with a small smile over his shoulder that reassured
Heero somewhat; despite the abruptness of the question, it had not been
taken badly. "The place I bought my bed had some really big sizes. Not
quite that big," he added, glancing at the mattresses, "but close enough."
Heero merely nodded, it seemed safer; the slightly vulnerable look that
had brushed his usually resilient and arrogant partner for a moment there
had made him nervous. The air between them still felt sensitive and fragile,
like the skin over a newly healed burn. Buying a bed seemed a safer occupation
than talking right at the moment.
The music managed to take harmless notes and scales, and pound any sort
of melodiousness out of them. Heero wondered just how much trouble he'd
be in if he whipped out his gun and shot out the store's speakers. Probably
a lot less trouble than if he shot Miranda. Did that make it alright?
Heero tried to mentally run that line of reasoning past a judge, and decided
to keep it in his holster.
Wufei had been Miranda's first victim, by reason of being the first in
the store, and being probably more immediately approachable. He'd done
something Heero could never hope to imitate - peeled Miranda off in about
five sentences without being rude or frightening her. He'd explained he
wanted to buy a bed, introduced himself, then Heero, and before he knew
it the latter had caught a bad case of Miranda. A warning look from black
eyes over her head indicated that Wufei had done this on purpose, and
he wanted Heero to take care of her and keep her off his back. They'd
done this before, Heero distracting people while Wufei, the more observant
investigator, ferreted around for clues. Heero was up to that sort of
mission; when he talked, most people listened to him assiduously. Some
witnesses forgot to blink for several minutes in a row. But he didn't
understand why he was required to do this today, when, as far as he could
tell, Miranda's only crime was to have a shrill voice.
She was talking constantly - it was almost as annoying as the music -
her hands fluttering from her arms, to her chest, to cover her mouth as
she giggled. Every time Heero stepped back, she'd move right into his
personal space again; granted, his personal space was pretty large, but
he rather wished she'd figure it out.
It was strange; Heero had caused mass murderers to drop their weapons
with one glare and a menacing gesture. But it never seemed to work on
young female civilians. He had tried giving Miranda a watered-down version
of the same treatment, but she'd only asked him if the air conditioning
was bothering him, and then started talking about the problems she had
with her contact lenses and how she was considering eye surgery. Heero
had caught a minute grin from that rat he had considered his partner up
until now, as Wufei wandered by to look at mattresses without coming to
Miranda was wearing perfume; it wasn't a lot, and it wasn't unpleasant,
but it was there, as slightly aggrieving as her presence as she moved
again to bridge the gap he'd tried to put between them. She also wandered
between him and the door on a regular basis.
Heero was multi-tasking, as usual. A small part of his mind kept a suspicious
watch on Miranda; wouldn't be the first time a pretty bottle had contained
a potent poison, and maybe Wufei knew something he hadn't shared. Most
of Heero's mind was on his surroundings, though that was so instinctive
that it didn't require all that much active attention. Each time Miranda,
himself or Wufei moved, a strategy board evolved automatically in his
mind, so that he knew, a second later, exactly how he'd react to an attack
from one of the three entrances to the store, where he'd shove Miranda
to get her out of harm's way, in which direction he'd dodge to not get
in Chang's line of fire, and a host of other reactions, all primed and
waiting for a starting signal.
And Heero was also watching Wufei as the latter walked around. He'd been
doing that a lot these past weeks, and the habit was hard to break. When
their partnership first started, Wufei was part of Heero's mental and
physical space, like his right hand, or his gun. He knew his partner's
habits, his fighting style, his warning signals. Then Susan Wu's little
tricks had shown him there was a whole side to Wufei he didn't know at
all. Since then, he'd been trying to learn this aspect of his partner
like an anthropologist studied wild animals - and just about as carefully
once he realized it was making Wufei paranoid.
Wufei had walked right past most of the beds, and he was lingering in
the deluxe section. Heero was rather surprised - in the background, Miranda
changed the subject, but she was still talking about something unimportant;
a customer walked in through the main door, was scrutinized and assigned
a position in Heero's unfolding mental strategy - true, the deluxe section
contained many big beds, but there were others of correct size in the
normal price ranges. Heero didn't care about money; the only things he
spent his salary on were computer parts for his personal network, and
his bike. He didn't know how much he had in the bank account they'd set
up for him at Ops, but he thought it was probably more than sufficient
to indulge in an expensive bed, if Wufei wanted it. He was assuming they'd
share the costs; it was going to be their bed after all. Though Wufei
could be funny when it came to matters of money and 'imposing his presence
in Heero's house', whatever that meant, so Heero hadn't said anything;
he was hoping he'd be able to play it by ear when they got to the cashiers.
Miranda started talking about this great bar she went to regularly - Heero
told her, when she asked, that he'd never heard of it. Wufei sat down
on a big bed that was very low off the floor, bouncing on the mattress
a few times in a way that took up a few percent more of Heero's attention.
"Oh, that's a very popular model," Miranda supplied, switching gears seamlessly.
"We have several types of mattresses to go with it, too."
Wufei didn't look satisfied; he shrugged off her bright attention, got
up, and moved on.
"Were you looking for anything in particular?" Miranda chirped, finally
bringing a bit more of her attention towards clinching a deal, which seemed
a reasonable attitude for a vendor, Heero thought.
"As I said, big, solid frame, no-...fancy stuff." Wufei waved a dismissive
hand towards a four-poster. "I'll look, don't worry. You keep talking
with my friend," he added with a slight smile and a warning look at Heero,
indicating the latter was to keep her busy without being rude.
Miranda turned a brilliant smile at Heero who could feel the Glock itching
in its holster. He normally wasn't so twitchy. Something about Miranda
was making him watchful and irritated, though he wasn't sure why, she
was being quite nice. And then there was the way Wufei had said 'I'm looking
for a bed' when Miranda had zeroed in on him at the door. 'I'm looking'.
It was logical; Wufei was the one who cared about this kind of comfort,
who wanted a bed; he'd run his choice past Heero before actually buying
it, it was to be hoped. But...for some reason that irritated him too,
and Miranda was making it worse, by hanging around him and not letting
Wufei put his hands on his hips as he appraised yet another bed. He looked
at it for a few seconds, then sat down near the cushions and bounced on
it again. Heero actually lost the thread of Miranda's conversation for
a few seconds.
"...the band playing tonight is absolutely fantastic. What kind of music
do you like, Heero?"
"Jazz," Heero lied; he had no musical preferences whatsoever, most forms
of art bored him and puzzled him in equal measure, but he'd long ago figured
out that a banal or expected answer was much preferable to the truth when
trying to not stand out too much. Duo had taught him that.
"Ah, well, this is more modern, but they use a trumpet of some kind, so
that's very much the same, right?"
Wufei stiffened and shook his head minutely as if he were trying to clear
tinnitus. Then he reached over to the headboard of the bed he was sitting
on, feeling it thoughtfully. It was solid wood, with thick joins. To Heero
it looked big and bed-shaped, like every other bed Wufei had examined;
what the hell was his partner looking for?
Wufei cast a quick look at Miranda over his shoulder and then gave the
headboard a quick, discreet but very hard tug. Wood creaked a bit, but
even from where he was - distracting Miranda from Wufei's tests, if Heero
had read his partner's body language correctly - Heero judged the bed
to be very-
...a flash...shoving away from the headboard with all his might, back
onto the hardness of Wufei's erection stretching him wide - his partner's
strong hands making the wood groan under his fingers - just like he was
doing now - on either side of Heero's hands, using the grip to slam into
Heero, sending him crashing back into the wood, pinned-
"What?" he asked a bit weakly. He was horrified to discover he'd almost
lost his mental awareness of his surroundings. He'd definitely missed
more of Miranda's words, but that wasn't such a loss.
"I was saying, it was nice of you to come help your friend to choose his
bed," Miranda had gotten nearer again. Closer up, her perfume's scent
was slightly different, warmed by her skin. The fluttering hand landed
on his arm briefly, and it was gone again so quickly that Heero, frozen
in indecision about how to react, was left to stare at it helplessly.
"You said you two worked together?"
"...yes. We work for the Preventers." He normally didn't add that detail,
but he'd known that to make people back off.
"Really?" Miranda didn't back off. A mother and child entered through
the side entrance; more innocents to fit into his mental map and defensive
strategy. "That's so interesting!" Wufei moved over, in a graceful fluid
movement, and tugged at the footboard. It was a solid piece like the headboard,
but it had rectangular cutouts in it that made it look like prison bars,
in Heero's mind.
Until Wufei thoughtfully slipped his fingers through one of the large
openings and tugged at the piece of wood left between, slightly rounded
at the edge-
- Wufei's hands catching and holding in the wood, anchoring him, as Heero
pounded into his body; he could feel strong legs curling around his waist,
pulling him in hard-
"Hn," Heero grunted weakly, aware Miranda had ended her latest monologue
with a questioning note.
"That'd be great! I'm sure your friend would love to come too!"
I certainly hope so. Er, what?
Wufei got up from the bed - Heero's confusion was lost in a flash of disappointment,
he'd rather liked that one - and looked at the next one thoughtfully.
He sat down on it heavily, and a slight moue crossed his features.
"That one is also a very nice model," Miranda chirped up. "Somewhat expensive,
but you get a very good bed for your money! The quality-"
"It squeaks," Wufei interrupted. Ah, so that was what he was testing?
A rhythmic squeak would be annoying enough while they were having sex,
but it would be even worse if there were noise at each toss and turn from
one of the partners while they were trying to sleep; both of them had
the hearing and twitchiness of male tigers sleeping on a bed of brambles.
Peaceful nights would not ensue. Wufei eyed a few more beds. Heero glanced
back at the one Wufei had been trying before; that one hadn't squeaked.
Not until Wufei had tugged on it hard, and surely anything made of wood
would creak under those conditions - maybe Heero could build a frame out
of solid metal in the Ops toolshop? Then they could get out of here and
away from Miranda and this music. But would he manage to make a headboard
and footboard like that...? Worth trying.
Heero glanced at Wufei to judge if he'd be amenable to that suggestion,
and found black eyes watching him.
"That one," Wufei announced, pointing at the bed Heero had been looking
at. "Now, the mattress-"
"Oh, that's a very good choice. Isn't it, Heero?" Miranda gave him a brilliant
smile; her hand fluttered to his sleeve and stayed there this time, until
Heero went to examine the bed more closely, the first reason for moving
away that came to his mind that didn't involve breaking any parts of Miranda's
wrist. Wufei had asked him to distract her after all, not harm her.
He noticed Wufei looking at Miranda's hand fixedly, as it started its
butterfly path from her chest to her mouth again.
"Oh, Heero said that you two might show up at this club I told him about,
this evening," Miranda dimpled at Wufei. Her smile lost some wattage as
he stared back. He wasn't scowling, in fact his eyebrow was raised inquisitively,
but for some reason it seemed to take the wind from her sails. "Erm, I'll
be there with some friends, just a couple of girl friends from work-"
"Really? Yuy and I might be busy. We work for the Preventers," Wufei said
"Oh, I know, Heero told me! It's amazing, you're both only my age!"
"Actually a few years younger," Wufei murmured, to Heero's surprise. It
was a good thing when people misjudged their age, it avoided awkward questions.
"Oh?" Miranda's eyes had narrowed a bit. "Ah, but my friend Lisa is only
eighteen, if you're looking for a date!"
Heero's mental world screeched to a momentary halt. Date?!
"Unless you've already got a girlfriend? Is that why you're getting the
big bed?" Miranda inquired saucily, while Heero stared at her, aghast,
irritated...but not, after all, all that surprised.
"No girlfriend, no." Wufei had gone to sit down on the bed he'd selected.
"Yu- Heero, what do you think?"
"I think we'll be working tonight," Heero said tightly. Now he knew why
his instincts had been putting him on guard against the giddy twit from
"Oh, but you said you'd try to come!" Miranda interjected in a charming
voice - with a hint of whine that put her dangerously close to the speakers'
"I meant the bed," Wufei interrupted her before Heero could ask when the
hell he'd said that. "What do you think of the bed?"
Heero had thought his preference had been obvious, and had influenced
Wufei's choice. But if his partner needed it confirmed- "It looks fine."
"Come and try it though," Wufei insisted, patting the covers next to him.
"I don't want to get something you won't like."
"...Okay." Heero moved forward. Miranda didn't follow him this time.
"This isn't the mattress we'd pick, but you can still test the frame.
Make sure it doesn't creak under both our weights," Wufei murmured, smoothing
the covers in a distracted gesture.
Heero sat down cautiously, bracing against sinking into the mattress that
might unbalance him and make him momentarily vulnerable. The slight lapse
of his guard was made easier by the fact that Miranda was out of his immediate
aggression zone now; she'd actually taken a few steps back and crossed
her arms over her chest.
"Miranda?" Wufei asked, raising his voice. "For the mattress. Both Y-
Heero and I are light sleepers. We'll need one of those mattresses you
have on demo near the front of the store, the kind that absorbs shocks
Heero looked from Wufei's expression to Miranda's. He'd figured out what
she'd been trying to do - it never ceased to amaze him that some people,
women or men, were blind enough about his true nature that they were sexually
interested in him. You'd think human beings would have a greater sense
of preservation. Wufei often ran interference between Heero and those
deluded people, to avoid Heero having to be rude or hostile to get the
point across. In terms of Wufei's usually polished diplomacy, this had
felt rather crude and forceful though.
Miranda's face had smoothed, and her smile was as artificial as the music.
"Yes, I know the kind - weight distribution and patented spring-like material
ensure that however much one person tosses and turns, there won't be any
movement to bother the bed's other occupant." The words sounded rehearsed.
The next ones did not. They sounded regretful in a way that somehow wasn't.
"However, I'm not sure we have that type of mattress in these sizes."
Wufei was looking at a point an inch above her head. "Would you mind finding
"I'll go check. I'll be right back," Miranda murmured professionally.
She turned on her heels in a gesture that was almost regimental and marched
off towards the office.
Heero watched her leave, automatically correcting his mental map of the
store. Then he glanced at Wufei, who was leaning back against his hands,
a tight smile on his face. He was curious but he wasn't sure how to ask
"She was annoying me," Wufei answered him curtly before he even had to
open his mouth.
She was annoying me from the start, but I still managed to be half-way
polite, Heero wanted to point out, but he didn't. One reason being, he
couldn't exactly point out how Wufei had been rude; nothing in that conversation
should have caused that much tension.
"I've been getting better at understanding the way people react," he said
instead, slowly, "it was necessary for our job."
"Yes, we're supposed to manage human relations without the aid of semtex,
these days," Wufei agreed calmly.
"But I rather missed her interest in me until it was blatant. And I don't
think I could have gotten rid of her that quickly without..." being openly
rude, he meant to say, but he wasn't sure how Wufei would take that remark.
A small smile brushed Wufei's lips, but he didn't say anything. He just
let himself slide back until he was lying on the mattress, hands beneath
"This mattress is way too soft," he announced. "Feels like a water bed.
How do people sleep on these? I'd prefer the floor."
Heero gave the mattress a judicious poke with a finger. There was no way
he'd be able to lie back like that, relaxing in an unsecured location.
Part of him was amazed that Wufei could. Intellectually, Heero knew the
chances of being attacked here were remote, but the only place he could
let go like that was back at the safe-house.
"Hopefully Miranda will be able to get us the kind of mattress you were
talking about." Heero had never slept on a water bed, and, if this was
anything like it, he didn't want to.
"Not if there's the slightest chance she can get away with telling us
it's not possible for this frame, I'm afraid," Wufei muttered, looking
a bit annoyed with himself. "If you want to learn more about human interaction,
write this down: never annoy someone who's supposed to perform a service
for you. I probably should have just ignored her, instead of getting her
Heero ran that scenario in his mind and decided he liked the one where
Wufei got rid of Miranda much better, though he wasn't sure why. He shoved
the feeling aside to address the problem instead: "If she comes back with
that answer, we'll just go talk to her manager, to make sure," he announced
The mattress beneath him shivered as Wufei laughed silently. "See? You
have a much better grasp of this 'human relations' thing than you give
yourself credit for!"
"Really?" Heero glanced obliquely at his partner, his lips twitching.
"I must have learned from the best."
[chap. 39] [epilogue, part ii]
[back to Maldoror's fic]