‘I'm bored! Bored, bored, bored!!’ Duo shouted across the room at the four other pilots. ‘Bored!’
‘Maxwell, we heard you the first time. Read a book or watch some television. We’re on layoff for another five days.’ Wufei didn't look up from the book he was reading, but staying calm around the hyper-active pilot was hard.
‘I've already read everything in this dump! And before you ask, I've beaten all the games! At least twice! I want something new to do!’ Duo scowled at the others, he knew that the layoff was necessary, but he had hoped to be somewhere there was more to do, not the middle of nowhere in the country!
Quatre sighed. ‘Duo, we've been through all of this before. Do you want to play cards? Or one of the board games?’ Even he was becoming tired of Duo’s outbursts, even though he tried to find things for him to do.
‘Go work on Deathscythe, baka. Surely you have something that needs to be done on it.’ Heero continued typing, the last mission had some broader ramifications that he was still dealing with.
‘No, I don't want to play cards and 'Scythe is at 110%, thank you very much! Unless you’ve been messing with him again! I want to go out and do something!’
Quatre sighed. ‘Duo, you know that we were told to lay low!’
‘Low doesn't mean dead! Com'on, the rest of you have to want to do something different!’
‘Go fishing. Or swimming.’ Trowa didn't look up from the pistol he was cleaning but his meaning was clear.
‘Go lay in the hammock, baka.’
‘Only if you go with!’
There was dead silence as everyone froze. Heero slowly looked up at a suddenly nervous Duo.
Wufei looked shocked. ‘What!’
Heero shrugged. ‘If it keeps him quiet...’
‘Oi! I don't think so! I'm not a baby to be rocked to sleep! I want some action!’ Duo glared at everyone, then turned and stormed out of the house.
‘Oh Allah, he's getting worse! What is he going to be like by the end of the week?’
Trowa patted him gently on the back. ‘Quatre's right, we're going to have to come up with something, otherwise...’
Wufei sighed. ‘He'll come up with something worse than drunken Twister.’
Later in the afternoon, Quatre cornered Duo and made him help cook dinner.
‘Duo, you really...’
‘Do not start, Quat. I know that we need the downtime, especially to let the heat cool down after that last mission, but I wasn’t meant to lie around all day doin’ nothing.’
‘All right, but you need to tone it down, we’ll all sit down after dinner and figure out some things to do. Maybe a movie?’
Duo perked up at that. ‘Yeah, I'll check and see what's playing around here. At least it would get us out of this house, even if it’s just for the afternoon!’
They quickly finished fixing the meal and called the others to eat. At least this safehouse was somewhere they could get lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and everyone was more than willing to cook. It was so much better than the normal slim rations they were used to.
Duo chattered nonstop during dinner, wanting to know what type of movie the rest wanted to go see.
‘And yes, I know that we’re going to have to in separately, although I don’t see why. There’s probably lots of groups going in, we just need to go in with a bunch of kids. That’s called hiding in plain sight.’ Duo smirked over at Heero and Wufei. ‘And you’re going to have to lose the whole outfit, ‘Fei. No one out here dresses like that.’
Wufei looked down his nose at the other boy. ‘I think I can find appropriate clothing for a movie, Maxwell. You should be more worried about that braid of yours.’
Duo clutched it protectively. ‘No one touches the hair!’
‘No one said anything like that, baka. Just that you’re going to have to do something with it while we’re out. Calm down.’ Heero frowned over at him.
‘Yeah, like I’m not used to that!’ Duo grinned sheepishly at the other four. ‘So, which one of the movies do we want to see? Half of them are remakes of pre-colony ones.’
Quatre grinned back at him. ‘How about the Die Hard one, it says something about scenes from one of the originals, doesn’t it?’
Later that night, Trowa looked down at Quatre and said quietly, ‘You know that’s not going to be enough to keep him occupied, don’t you?’
‘Of course, but I’m thinking that maybe we can pick up more things to do while we’re out. There’s a mall not too far away, we can see what they have.’ Quatre sighed softly as Trowa’s arms tightened around him. ‘I’m amazed we’ve kept him quiet this long!’
‘What did you think about Heero’s offer earlier? Anything in that?’
‘Could be, but it’s so hard to tell with him. I do know that Wufei was not happy, however.’
‘Tomorrow’s another day. We should go in to bed.’
‘Why, it’s comfortable here and it’s a clear night.’ Trowa pulled a blanket out from underneath the hammock along with a pillow.
They both winced as a loud crash along with an aggravated shout echoed from the house.
‘You’re right, let’s stay right here.’
Trowa chuckled and cuddled Quatre a bit closer. ‘We’ll deal with the rest tomorrow.’
‘Duo, go to bed. Now!’ Heero glared across the table at him, with Wufei in complete agreement.
‘Hey! It’s not my fault the table’s wobbly!’ Duo frowned back at them.
‘No, but it is your fault that you tried to reach too far across and upset everything!’
Duo sighed. ‘Yeah, sorry, I’ll help clean it all up. It’s only fair.’
Both Heero and Wufei looked at him. And the minute they saw the glint in his eyes, they were moving.
‘I do not want any of that goop on me! We’ll clean it up! Get away from the table!’ Wufei was getting madder and madder, and Duo was not helping with his clowning around.
Heero just growled low in his throat, his hands flexing.
‘All right, all right! Jeeze, you people need to lighten up!’ Duo pouted, but backed up from the table. ‘Man…’
‘Just go to bed, baka, you’ve done enough!’
Duo shrugged and went up the stairs. The other two sighed and started picking up all the mess left by Duo’s mad reach across the table.
With it finally quiet, all the pilots bedded down and slept.
The next morning, Duo was up and moving quietly out to the hammock where Trowa and Quatre had spent the night. He gazed at the two, a wistful look on his face. With a quick glance back at the house, he went down to the stream to see if their fish trap had caught anything. He found that they had several nice sized trout, just right for breakfast. As he returned to the house, he heard murmurs from the hammock and grinned as he crept over to it.
‘Duo!’ Quatre jerked and almost fell out, Trowa grabbing him at the last minute, keeping him in the hammock.
‘You two are just too cute! And Trowa, your trap caught us breakfast!’
Trowa sighed and replied, ‘Then you should remember your lessons and go clean them. We’ll be there in just a few minutes.’
Quatre watched as Duo went up to the house. ‘He’s really lonely.’
‘Who is? Duo?’
'Hmm. I wonder…’
‘Oh, no. No matchmaking! If something is going to happen, then it will.’
They both winced as another loud crash echoed from the house.
‘Should we remind him that we are supposed to be lying low?’
‘Probably won’t help. We are in the middle of nowhere for a reason. We need to get Duo some new entertainment.’
‘Yes, today at the mall. There should be some games that he hasn’t played to death out. And maybe some new vids.’
‘And the movie! And maybe we could get some food out, too. Something we don’t have to cook would be nice.’
The two unwrapped themselves from the hammock and wandered up to the house.
By lunchtime, Duo was fit to be tied.
‘Come on! Let’s go! I want to check out the mall before the movie. And grab a burger or something!’
Heero frowned at him. ‘There’s no nutritional…’
‘Do. Not. Start. I want something that’s bad for me for a change. We’ve been eating all the fresh stuff out here,’ Duo interrupted him.
Quatre looked interested. ‘Are there any places that have food and games around here? That could be fun.’
‘A kind of Mom & Pop place?’ Trowa picked up the directory for the area, a piece of paper falling out of it. Quatre caught it and looked down at it.
‘What about this? It says that it’s fun for all ages. And there’s a restaurant attached. It would have to be after the movie, however.’
Duo grinned. ‘Have you ever bowled, Quat?’
‘No, but I’m sure it’s not that hard. You can’t tell me that you’ve done this?!’ Quatre grinned back at him, even though Wufei and Heero weren’t saying anything, at least they weren’t actively dissenting.
‘We could be on teams! That would be great!’
‘Maxwell, it’s a little hard to have “teams” when there’s five of us!’ Wufei looked down his nose at the bouncing idiot who just flipped him off.
‘Hey, we’ll figure something out. At least it’ll be something totally different. Just, let’s go!’
‘All right, all right, let me finish putting up the new perimeter alarms and then we can go.’ Heero typed for a few more minutes, then shut down his computer. ‘And we need to take weapons to hide in the woods for when we come back. We don’t need any surprises.’
Led by a very energetic Duo, the five piled into the old car they were using and started to town. Dup kept up a steady stream of chatter, pointing out places of interest and finally they were at the mall.
‘Let’s do a quick re-con and see if there’s anything of interest here or if we should just go on over to the movie.’ Heero looked around, wondering which way to go.
‘Yeah, Trowa, you and Quat take that end, the three of us will go this way. We can meet in the food court.’
The other two nodded and headed out, Quatre pointing out a clothing store and a game center that sold new and used games.
‘There, we need Duo to look in there, maybe there’s something he hasn’t played to death.’ Quatre was hopeful, a new game or two would keep his hyperactive friend busy for a couple days.
‘Maybe. Or we could get something more active, wear him down a little.’ Trowa glanced around. ‘Not much else at this end. Let’s head back.’
The other two had their hands full, Duo wanted to explore each little shop, but it wasn’t until they got to the bookstore that they realized they were in trouble.
Duo found several books he had to have and then manga to add to his growing collection.
‘We don’t need all of this, choose just a few things,’ Heero hissed at him.
‘Would you just chill, man. Look at ‘Fei, even he has found something he wants!’ Duo looked aggrieved. ‘Isn’t there something here that you’d like, a new tech mag or something?’
Heero grumbled but did find two new magazines, one on computers and one on weapons that he quickly bought.
Wufei shrugged as he paid for several books. ‘At least it’s things that will keep him quietly occupied.’
About then, Trowa and Quatre wandered in and soon they also had several new books picked out. They then returned to the game store and after some consideration, Duo bought two used games and a new one he’d been waiting for.
After dropping everything in the car, Duo made them go to a smorgasbord eatery.
‘This way, everyone can get what they want.’
‘And they have burgers?’ Wufei looked skeptical, remembering that Duo had been specific about getting one.
‘Actually, no. But they have fried chicken. And I’ve been wanting some. And look at all those desserts! And ice cream!’
‘And where else can we feed Maxwell and stay under budget.’ Wufei looked over the selection and made his choices.
Everyone laughed good naturedly at him and quickly choose their food.
After several desserts, they went to the movie, deciding later that some things just didn’t translate well from one time period to the next.
‘Maybe we should have watched the Die Hard they kept referring to? Would that have helped?’ Quatre wandered out of the theatre, looking perplexed. ‘The original guy in the flashback was more competent than this new actor.’
‘Not sure, the acting was just awful. And whoever heard of half the stuff they were doing? Really, technology is better than what they were portraying.’ Duo frowned. ‘I really expected better. Sorry, guys. Guess that wasn’t the best movie to go see.’
Looking around at the movie posters, Wufei shrugged.
‘Not sure there was anything better available. And the reviews were decent.’
‘Let’s go. There’s still bowling to do.’ Quatre suddenly looked nervous. ‘Umm, some of us do know how to bowl, right?’
Trowa smiled reassuringly at him. ‘Yes, I know how.’
Everyone else nodded, making Heero and Wufei look in surprise at Duo.
‘When did you learn?’
‘One mission I had to wait for a contact and while I was waiting, I got bored and it was something to do. Haven’t played since, though.’
‘Trust you to find a game to play on a mission.’ Wufei smirked at him and then looked surprised when Duo started to look upset.
‘You know, I’m getting tired of always getting put down. I was blending in and G told me good job.’ He whirled and went to the car, Quatre looking reproachfully at the rest of them.
‘Be nice. It’s been pleasant so far today. I would like to end the day on a good note.’
Wufei sighed and walked to the car. ‘I am sorry, Duo. It’s becoming too much of a habit to snark at you. Tell me to quit when I start.’
Duo smiled and shrugged, ‘That’s ok, Wu-man. We just have different styles, that’s all. Now, let’s go play some more!’
Once they got to the bowling alley, they found it fairly quiet due to it being a week night. Quickly getting shoes and choosing their balls, they got side by side lanes.
Quatre looked down the lane and swallowed. ‘Are you sure you can teach me how to do this?’ He looked at Trowa. ‘I mean, I know that you’re supposed to knock the pins down, but…’
‘Don’t worry. It’s not that hard.’ Trowa smiled at him.
Duo chimed in, ‘Yeah, it’s not like we’re competing or anything.’
‘Hmm. Maybe we should. Let’s bowl a couple of frames and see how we all do.’ Wufei smirked at Duo who grinned back. ‘Let’s see how it goes…’
It took Trowa a couple frames to get Quatre comfortable with throwing the ball but they were all natural athletes and so quickly got into the rhythm. Heero and Wufei had to argue with Duo into taking turns but for an hour they all played.
‘Let’s take a break and eat something.’ Duo bounced a little. ‘Then I want to have a competition. We’ve all played enough to see who can bowl the best!’
Quatre grinned. ‘You just want to prove that you can beat us! But I think it’s a good idea. Something to eat and then one game to see who’s best.’
‘No, a three game…’
‘Duo, it’s getting late. We still have to get back and check everything.’ Heero frowned at him. ‘One game.’
‘All right, but then we compete against each other. And no helping, either!’ Duo grinned at Quatre, who nodded.
‘Ok, let’s eat and then play one last game!’
Duo had already had scoped out the restaurant and knew he could get his totally unhealthy bacon cheeseburger there. Along with the chili fries, he knew that Heero would be frowning at him the entire meal.
Forty-five minutes later, the four walked back into the alley proper and checked out to see if they could have five lanes next to each other. Luckily for them, they caught a bit of a lull and were able to get all their lanes together.
They also decided that they should take turns in order, so that no cheating could be done. And since Trowa was first in the line, he went first.
‘Oh, a spare! Good start, Trowa!’ Quatre grinned as he picked up his ball. ‘You’re going to be hard to beat.’
‘No talking up the competition, Quat!’ Duo laughed over at the other boy, who just shrugged.
‘Whatever works, Duo.’ Quat got set and also bowled a spare. ‘Well, at least I’ve got the same score.’ He grinned ruefully at Trowa, who just smiled back at him.
Wufei snorted and proceeded to throw a strike.
‘And Wu-bear sets the standard!’ Duo clapped as Heero set up. ‘Go, Heero! Don’t let Wuffers show you up!’
Wufei could be heard muttering in the background as Heero also threw a strike. He smirked at Duo who just smirked back and proceeded to throw his own strike.
Quatre looked at the other three and just sighed as he quietly said, ‘We never even had a chance, Trowa. Those three were going to be more competitive in every way, then we were.’ Trowa nodded in agreement and then threw his next ball.
‘Go, Tro-man! A strike!’ Duo danced in place.
Heero looked at Wufei and asked quietly, ‘Did he eat more sugary foods than we did? Where is all this excess energy coming from?’
Wufei shook his head as he watched Quatre also throw a strike. ‘You saw what he ate, I have no idea where it all comes from.’
‘Oi! No talking behind our backs, guys! You might be planning something!’ Duo grinned and waved at Wufei as he picked up his ball.
By the time the first game was done, Duo, Heero and Wufei were clearly the winners.
‘You three keep playing. Trowa and I will go get some more snacks and refill the drinks.’ Quatre shook his head at them as they walked back into the restaurant. It was getting late, but this was the most fun and relaxation they had had in a long time.
‘Ok, you two are going down! This game is all or nothing. Since we’re tied at the moment, how do you want to decide who goes first?’ Duo was so wired that he could barely stand still. Heero and Wufei grinned back at him.
‘We’ll go by lane assignments.’ Wufei took a couple of deep breaths, Duo had never looked so good and his hands almost itched to grab the boy. And from the look on Heero’s face, he was having the same problem.
Heero nodded. ‘Sounds good. Winner takes all.’
Duo just grinned wider. ‘Then you’re up, Wu-man! Let’s see what you can do!’
With all the talk the three of them were doing, the bowling alley was quieting down. Whispers started as everyone started taking sides and placing bets.
By the time Quatre and Trowa were back with the food, there was a hush over the entire place.
‘Wow, what did we miss?’ Quatre whispered.
‘Shh, it’s a winner take all,’ whispered one of the bystanders. ‘This should be really great! Haven’t had one of these in a few years!’
Quatre and Trowa shared a look and sighed as they put all of the food on their table.
‘This is either going to be really good or a total disaster,’ Trowa muttered softly to Quatre.
The two got settled and watched as Wufei set and then threw his first ball.
No one in the audience was surprised when the giant scoreboard switched on and the owner started to keep score.
‘And it’s a strike for lane 5. Can we have some names to put up here?’
They all looked at one another and then Quatre shrugged. What were the odds of anyone knowing about them out here in the boonies, Even the tube channels hadn’t had anything to say lately.
‘Wufei on lane 3, Heero on lane 4 and Duo on lane 5.’
Heero and Wufei glared at him but Quat just glared back. They were having a good time and he was going with the flow.
‘Ok, and next up is Heero on lane 4.’
It quietened down again as Heero got set and threw… a strike. There was a kind of a huff of sound that quickly disappeared. Another X appeared on the screen.
‘And next, Duo in lane 5.’
Duo had gone all quiet as he watched the other two bowl, he was determined to win this game. And that meant he had to not only bowl a perfect game, but also keep the other two from doing the same.
As he walked up to the lane, he half turned and looked at them out of the corner of his eye. When he was sure that he had their attention, he looked down the lane, lined up his shot, and let go.
‘And another strike!’ The third X appeared up on the board.
The three looked at each other and walked over to get a drink. Quatre sighed. ‘You three just had to go there, didn’t you.’
‘Well, we are totally competitive. I don’t know why you’re so surprised.’ Wufei shrugged as he finished his drink and got ready to go back out. Heero and Duo nodded and followed him out.
The hush settled back over the crowd as Wufei got set and bowled again.
‘Another strike for Wufei!’
As the game went on, the betting got more intense and more people from the town showed up to watch.
Duo watched as Wufei got set and threw another strike. He was going to have to do something if he was going to win this. Heero was also watching and starting to wonder just what Duo was thinking. His eyes switched back and forth between the other two pilots. Wufei was also thinking about what was going on and side-eyeing the other two.
Heero got up to make his next to the last throw and as he went into his swing, his foot slipped just enough to throw off his aim.
‘Oh, bad luck! It’s a spare to take down. Two pins left for Heero.’
Heero gritted his teeth and took out the last two pins.
One of the onlookers came over with a cleaning rag and checked the floor where he had slipped.
Duo and Wufei watched as the kid wiped off the floor and shrugged at Heero, who just shrugged back.
Duo checked his lane and then set up his throw.
‘And it’s another strike for Duo!’
It was now down to Duo and Wufei, Heero was out and had conceded the game, even though he could have bowled his last frame, he decided that he was done with the whole thing and needed something to eat. It also gave him the chance to watch the other two and get a feel of the crowd that was now crowding into the bowling alley.
‘Don’t worry, Heero, I’m not getting anything but good vibes from everyone here. I think we’re the entertainment for the moment and everyone is enjoying it.’
‘Hn. For the moment. You never know…’
‘Nope, just relax. They seem to be all good people here and if we don’t start anything, I don’t think they’ll start anything.’ Quatre watched as Wufei got set for his last frame.
‘And it’s a strike! We have the makings of a 300 point game here, folks!’
The owner was loving this, business had been slow, but this was pulling everyone in from the surrounding communities. And he’d already told his regulars and employees to keep an eye out for any of the rowdies they sometimes got in. He wasn’t having any trouble tonight!
Duo was buzzing with excitement. He knew he could do this, if Wufei would just not hit his last strike, he could walk away the winner. He really didn’t want to have a sudden death overtime!
Wufei was humming to himself, he really wasn’t into all this displaying himself, but he was really enjoying the whole game. And showing off to Duo and Heero was an added bonus.
He almost stutter-stepped, then stopped to take a deep breath. Where had that thought come from? He was a Gundam pilot, he had no time for such frivolities. But… he side-eyed Duo who was cheerfully waving at the crowd, some of them waving back to him, and Heero, who was eating but keeping a careful eye on everything that was going on. He just needed to throw two more strikes and he’d have a perfect game. Of course, Maxwell also was within striking distance of a perfect game. Wufei sighed as the owner announced:
‘And it’s another strike for Duo! This could be epic, people! A chance for TWO 300 point games!’
The crowd was starting to hum with excitement and the owner quickly pulled them back down to earth.
‘Ok, people, I know this is exciting, but I’m not having these boys put off their game because y’all got rowdy at the wrong time! We’ve got folks outside firing up the grills and soda cooling off in the cooler, so save the celebrating for later!’
And with that, the crowd settled down and anyone who even looked like they were going to make some noise, were quickly moved out of the building.
Wufei took a deep breath, he could and would do this. Just two more strikes, that’s all he needed. He stepped up and let his ball go, and the whole bowling alley seemed to hold its breath, watching as the ball rolled down the lane, hitting just right, and then all but one pin went down, with that one tettering before righting itself.
There was an instance of silence before everyone who had bet on Wufei groaned. But it was brief, as Wufei silently picked up his ball and knocked down his last pin. He then turned to Duo and bowed before going to sit down with the rest of the pilots.
‘Too bad, Wufei, it was so close!’ Quatre whispered to him.
Wufei nodded, but was watching Duo as he centered himself for his last ball.
Duo couldn’t believe it! He could win it all! He bowed back to Wufei and then looked down the lane. He was doing this, he was so going to do this!
Taking a deep breath, ignoring everything that was going on behind him, Duo took his step and let his ball go.
Everyone watched, not a sound was heard as Duo’s ball rolled down the lane and took down every last pin.
There was still no sound as the ball returned and the pins reset. Duo stayed focused and once more sent his ball down the lane.
Everyone leaned forward, watching as the ball got closer and closer to the pins, and when it hit and they all went down, everyone was whooping and hollering and the rest of the pilots were out of their seats and congratulating Duo!
‘Everyone settle down!’ the owner blasted out of the speakers. ‘After a hard fought and righteous win, I declare this 300 point game to Duo! With a excellent second place win to Wufei and well earned third place to Heero! Ladies and gentlemen, your winners! And there’s food outside, along with drinks!’
All the townspeople wanted to congratulate the boys on their game and the owner quickly made up some award certificates for them. He then wanted to take some pictures of them but didn’t push when all five of them said no. He knew that there had been some picture taking from the crowd and he’d just get one from them.
The whole crowd moved outside and there was an impromptu party on the lot around all the cars. But pretty soon, the five pilots slipped away, full of food and good cheer.
‘Now, that is what I call a decent party!’ Duo was almost boneless in the back seat, full of food and exhausted from the game. ‘And don’t let anyone ever say that bowling is easy! My hand, arm and shoulder are killing me!’
Wufei nodded. ‘It is more difficult, especially when it’s a high stake contest. But you played well, Duo, I was sure I was going to have a perfect game until the last.’
‘Hey, all of you guys did excellent! Why do you think Trowa and I got out of the way? We knew there was no beating any of you!’ Quatre grinned at the three exhausted pilots in the back seat. ‘Relax, we’ll wake you when we get to our turnoff.’
Duo smiled at the other two. ‘Yeah, good game, I was sure that it was going to go to sudden death!’
It didn’t take very long to get to the turnoff, but when Quatre turned to tell the other three, he found Duo sound asleep, sprawled between two gently smiling men. He just grinned, then slipped out of the car to retrieve their weapons and handed Wufei and Heero theirs before Trowa drove on. By the time they made it to the house, Duo was still out and Heero and Wufei were determined to leave him that way.
‘He’s really exhausted. Heero, check the perimeter and we’ll get Mr. Octopus here to bed.’
Wufei and Trowa carefully got Duo up into the house and into bed. After getting his boots and socks off, they just left him curled up on his bed under a cover.
‘Well, that was more excitement than I anticipated today! And I think I ate way too much, too.’ Quat rubbed his stomach and frowned a bit when Heero came into the house. ‘Everything all right outside?’
‘We’re still clear. But I’m afraid we might have to leave sooner than we planned due to all the interest we stirred up.’ Heero shrugged when the others glared at him. ‘I know, but I never thought that we would cause such a stir by going bowling.’
‘True, I think it’s the Maxwell effect. Well, not much we can do tonight, we all need to recover from both the bowling and all the food they fed us.’
Trowa nodded. ‘At least we talked them out of giving us prize money. I think Duo was more thrilled with the certificates!’
Heero just shrugged. ‘I’m going to go put them in our gundams. That way they won’t get lost.’ Wufei agreed and followed him out.
Trowa and Quat just grinned and headed for bed, they were exhausted just from the excitement.
As Wufei and Heero walked out to the gundams, they kept side-eyeing each other. Finally, Heero said, ‘So, what do you want to do about this attraction to Duo?’
Wufei said nothing for a while. ‘I have to say, this downtime has shown me a different side to him. He’s still too loud and could drive a saint to drink, but I’m finding him more and more attractive. But I have to say, that since this is the first time that I have spent any time with you, I find myself conflicted.’
‘Aa. I am glad to find that I’m not the only one. But I feel that we need to concentrate on Duo, otherwise he’ll feel that he’s in second place and turn from us both.’
Wufei nodded in agreement. ‘We’ll have to be very careful with him. He has depths I hadn’t realized.’
After putting away the certificates, they returned to the house and went to bed, knowing that there would be questions in the morning.
Duo slowly stretched, wow, that must have been some pounding he’d taken, the whole right side of his body felt like he’d been through a meat grinder. Slowly, he started to remember the day before.
‘Wow! I’m the champion!’ Duo didn’t jump out of bed, that wasn’t going to happen, but he did do a short left handed pump in the air.
‘Duo, let me help you up and you can get a shower, then a massage to finish loosen up your muscles. Heero and Wufei have already gotten their treatments.’ Quat smiled at him and helped him upright. ‘Do you need help getting out of your clothes? Sorry, but we weren’t comfortable on getting you totally undressed.’
‘No, I think I’m good. I’ll just shuffle my way to the bathroom. Who know the throwing a ball for a few hours could make a person hurt so bad!’
‘Heero and Wufei said practically the same thing! Trow and I didn’t have near the problems you three have, but we didn’t play as long or as hard as you did. And Wufei was out doing kata to loosen up!’
Duo just moaned as he moved out of the room. ‘Of course he was. But I bet he felt better afterward.’
‘So he said. Breakfast will be ready when you are!’
After a long hot shower, Duo really did feel better and able to make the stairs down to the kitchen without feeling like a little old man.
‘I am starving! What’s for breakfast this morning?’
‘How can you be so hungry, baka! All the food we ate yesterday!’ Heero frowned at Duo until Wufei cleared his throat.
‘Have some tea first. Start slow and give your stomach time to wake up. You might not be quite as hungry as you think.’
Duo shrugged. ‘I’ve learned to eat whenever. But I’ll drink tea if you insist. But I want some solid food afterward.’
Quat laughed and said, ‘Pancakes? With blueberries?’
Duo grinned. ‘Quat still loves me! And what happened to our certificates? I don’t remember…’
‘I put ours out in Wing. I didn’t want them to get lost if we’d have to take off in a hurry.’ Heero shrugged at the look Duo gave him. ‘We were out in public, who knows how many people took our pictures and whether any of them try to figure out just who we are. I’m going to be prepared for anything.’ Heero was matter-of-fact about it, but even Duo had to agree.
After breakfast, Quat shook his head at the other three and gently pushed them outside.
‘Go, talk. I think the two of you have some things to talk to Duo about.’ Trowa sighed at Quat but just got a hunched shoulder in return.
The three headed out toward the creek to check the fish trap. As they walked, Duo glanced between the other two pilots. ‘What’s Quat talking about?’ He suddenly froze and frowned. ‘You two didn’t throw the game, did you?! That would really suck, you guys!’
‘No, baka, we all wanted to win the game. It was pure chance that I slipped.’
Wufei nodded in agreement. ‘Up until the end, I truly thought that I could beat you. You won fair and square, Duo.’
Duo relaxed a bit. ‘Ok, just making sure. So, what did Quat mean, that you two needed to talk to me? Did orders come in last night for us?’
Heero and Wufei looked at each other and there was some eyebrow talk between them before they turned back to Duo who was watching them.
Heero just shrugged and pulled Duo into his arms. ‘Because, we want this with you…’ and then kissed him.
Duo just froze for a moment, then melted into his arms. It was only a couple of minutes and then Duo found himself being transferred into Wufei’s arms.
After several minutes of this, Duo finally pulled away and glared at the two of them.
‘And it took you two this long to figure it out?! So much for you guys being observant!’ With that, Duo took off running, with the other two close on his heels.
The last few days were spent relaxing and the three pilots were often missing and would come back rumpled but happy.
All of them agreed that it had been the best layover/downtime they had ever had and that they would be sad to go back. But back to the war they would go.
But before they left, Trowa snuck back into town and got the local paper, bringing it back for everyone to read. And nobody was really surprised that someone had gotten a good picture of the entire group being congratulated after the game. But what floored them was the headline, along with the bigger picture.
And under the picture of a ginning Duo with a scoreboard showing a perfect 300 point game, was the headline:
DUO TAKES OVER BOWLING ALLEY.
This has been in a notebook for I don’t know how long, because it was an actual headline of our local newspaper when a couple bought the local bowling alley. And so a fic was born!