They ended up in a meeting in a big hall, with some other people, they did not know but who obviously were part of the program. All and all they could count six boys and nine girls besides themselves, which made a total of twenty participants. Heero felt kind of stupid, as if he was in a self-support-meeting which he didn’t think was necessary. First of all, he hated such stuff, and secondly, he had Duo. So what was the deal? He waited, his hands crossed in front of his chest. Wufei was found in a similar position, watching those stupid girls across from the Gundam pilots giggle.
A young, dynamic - awfully dynamic - woman entered the hall, taking the seat in front of them all, smiling crazily.
“Hi, my name is Barbara, and I’ll be your guide and helper for the seminar. You’ll have different people to turn to in the workshops, but I’ll be there if there’s any problem. For some of the workshops you have been assigned by your psychotherapists or whoever sent you here,” Barbara’s annoyingly sweet voice said, “Some of them you can choose.” Her looks wandered over to her left, towards the Gundam pilots, facing them eye to eye. “And you, Trowa, Quatre, Heero, Duo and Wufei, are our special concern. Tomorrow, Mister John A. Sharp will arrive to watch and help you. He’ll be the one concerned about you, so from tomorrow on you’ll turn to him, instead of turning to me, alright.”
“Perfect!” Wufei exclaimed.
“Glad you like the idea, it makes things easier,” Barbara answered sweetly.
“No, no,...” Wufei snorted, “It’s perfect that he’s no onna. Hope he’s no weakling, either.”
Barbara looked at him bewilderedly for a second, and the girls across from Wufei giggled. Barbara then turned to a board. “Here you see for which workshops you’ve been assigned and which you can still choose. Choosing one is obligatory, so don’t skip, please. Before you have a look at it, introduce yourselves. We start over here with Wufei. Tell us something about you, Wufei-chan,” she smiled artificially broadly in his direction.
“My name is Chang Wufei, I’m Chinese, I hate onnas and like martial arts. Any questions?” The girls giggled their heads off, but were shut by a serious glare from Wufei.
“Hi, I’m called Duo Maxwell, watashi wa shinigami, so don’t play dumb with me. Geez.”
“Heero Yuy. I’m a killer.” The girls across the room giggled again and whispered with each other.
“He’s serious, girls,” Duo interrupted darkly.
“I’m called Trowa Barton, I work at a circus.”
“Quatre Raberba Winner,” Quatre said and several heads turned around, “Yes, I am the Winner’s heir,” he added at the reaction, “and I recently sprained my ankle.” The girls started whispering again, one girl was whispering particularly loud “...and he’s cute.”
“We heard that,” Duo interrupted coldly and the girl blushed intensely red.
“Janina Khushrenada, I am eighteen and come from L3 colony. I used to work at a hospital.” Wufei almost fell down his chair at that name. The name Khushrenada was not quite common, so what was she doing here? And how was she related to Treize? Trowa caught Wufei’s reaction from the corner of his eye.
The rest of the girls introduced themselves as cheekily and stupidly as they had seemed first. Most of them were either staring at Quatre, the beautiful, young, rich prince, as they’d have put it, or at Heero or Duo. The pilots were all pretty uninterested at all the names, only Quatre politely tried to remember all of them. He was trying too hard, so they all slipped out of his mind immediately, causing him to remember not a single one.
When they had finished, Barbara ended the session and people stormed to the board to check out their courses.
8.00 am Breakfast
9.30 am Dance Class for all
11.30 am 1. Ensemble Choir 2. Fencing
Group I: Wufei, Quatre, Trowa, Heero, Duo Group I: ...
Group II: Janina, Meyra, Joseph,... Group II: ...
12.30 am lunch
1.00 – 2.00 pm noon break, silence please.
2.30 pm choose: Drawing or pottery (only every two days)
4.30 pm coffee and cake break
5.00 pm choose: voice & movement or swimming or orchestra
6.30 pm dinner
7.30 pm meeting in the hall for games, shows, etc... open end
Courses last 45 minutes, please be on time
“NANI?! I am supposed to SING?” Wufei yelled.
“I cannot dance with that foot!” Quatre complained.
“I don’t want to dance!” Heero muttered.
“POTTERY, DRAWING? What am I, an artist? Darn, I am used to kill people, not to draw or sculpture them,” Duo clasped a hand to his forehead.
“Hn,” was the only comment from Trowa’s side.
“If there are any problems, please tell me, guys,” Barbara smiled.
“Yes, there are!” Wufei snorted. “I won’t sing and I won’t dance.”
“Yes, they said, you’d say that,” Barbara sighed.
“This is for onnas!!!”
“Chang Wufei,” Barbara said, loosing her lovely sweet voice completely, “How will you ever go to a ball or anything, when you can’t dance at all. It’s not a woman’s sport, it’s about education and manners!!! Get yourself into that class, or you’ll do ballet!!!”
Wufei was quite surprised by this change of moods and looked at her with widened eyes, searching support from Quatre, who was standing next to him. But Quatre just confirmed Barbara: “It’s true. I had to learn standard dancing, too. As a male, you look foolish in society if you can’t dance, I learned that.”
“Alright, I’ll take that class, if I have to,” Wufei grunted, “but I won’t sing.”
“Wufei-kun,” Barbara purred, “you’ll only sing with your friends. And music is a very good recovery program. I bet you’ve got a sweet voice.”
“I’m, not sweet, you.... you.... onna! I won’t sing! No way! No frickin’ way, KISAMA!” People were staring at Wufei, Quatre and Barbara now.
“Shhh... don’t get upset, Wufei,” Barbara purred again, “Would you be happy to join a fencing group then? I think we can arrange that.”
Wufei shrugged, not showing how much he’d prefer to be in the fencing-group. “Guess so.”
Barbara nodded and turned to Quatre: “What about you, Quatre-kun? Any problems?”
“Er... yeah... my foot... I won’t dance, I guess...” Quatre was expecting to be yelled at like Wufei and cautiously kept some distance to Barbara.
“Oh.... I see, poor Quatre-kun. Well, as I heard you already had to learn these dances.” Quatre nodded. “Why don’t you just watch the class and give your friends over here some advice?”
“Great idea,” Quatre said smiling and limped away.
Meanwhile, Duo had talked Heero into not rebelling against dance classes by suggesting that he’d open his braid sometime and play the women’s part. Together, Trowa, Quatre, Duo and Heero had agreed to wait for the next day to see what singing classes would be like before they would protest against it.
“What else will you take, Quatre?” Trowa asked, pretending it was just a simple question, but secretly trying to get it out of him, so they’d take the same classes. Quatre’s eyes sparkled at him with joy.
“I always wanted to play in an orchestra. I want to go there. Will you and your flute come with me?”
Trowa was startled, he’d never played other than for himself and in the flute classes, but why not? He had no idea what voice & movement would be like, and he could go swimming on his own. And being close to Quatre... well... it was a great suggestion. “Sure.”
“Oh, great, Trowa-kun!” Quatre yelped, almost jumping into Trowa’s arms. It was too late that he noticed, he still had a sprained ankle, and landed painfully on his butt as the foot gave away.
“QUATRE!!!” Trowa instantly picked him up.
“Geez, I’m stupid,” Quatre said, winking. “It won’t get better that way!” he exclaimed. A few girls had surrounded them by then, asking Quatre whether he was okay.
“Hai... daijobu. Tehee,” Quatre smiled, blushing at all the attention directed at him, and also because he still clung to Trowa. “Y-you can put me down now.”
Trowa sat Quatre on a chair. “Don’t move until things get a little less exciting around here, okay?” he admonished his friend and sat down next to him.
“Uh... what else was there on the board to choose again?” Quatre asked.
“Drawing or pottery,” Trowa answered.
“What do you take?” Quatre asked, unable to decide between those two beautiful arts.
“I don’t know. I’m not very artsy, I suck at drawing.”
“Then you’ll take pottery.”
“I don’t think I can do this either, it will be very embarrassing.”
“We have to choose one. I can draw at home, so I guess I’ll take pottery, then.”
“You can draw?”
“Mind if I join you at pottery?”
“No, of course not.”
Heero, and Duo became the new center of attention by now.
“Hey Duo, what classes do you take?” a girl asked nosily.
“Guess I’ll go for that voice & movements thing, jump into cold water, so to speak. And drawing, cuz’ I always wanted to learn that.”
“Cool, than we’ve got drawing together.”
“Great...” Duo answered blankly.
“What about you, Heero-chan?” another girl asked.
“Don’t call me that,” Heero growled.
“Heero, you’ll come drawing with me, right?” Duo begged.
“Guess so. But you won’t get me into that movements-thing. I’ll go swimming with Wufei.” The girls giggled at that, causing Heero and Duo to shoot them an angry look.
“We have swimming, too,” the girls explained. “Can’t wait to splash you, Heero.” The others giggled even more.
“This is annoying...” Duo muttered and dragged Heero away. “Don’t let those girls bother you and don’t threaten to kill them. I believe they are just like Relena: They want to be killed by your hand.”
“Hn,” Heero answered with a hardly readable emotion, but Duo knew him well enough to understand.
“Don’t worry. We’ll make that week fun,” he assured Heero and brushed a strand out of the Japanese’s eye. Heero still didn’t look very pleased. A few meters away, about five girls were watching those two talking, unable to understand. Duo looked into Heero’s eyes. He could see how uncomfortable Heero was with the recovery-plan. This was not the right place for his koibito. And yet, they had been strictly told to participate and stay.
“We’ll skip some classes some day, okay, Heero? They have a beautiful garden, as far as I know, and we could just lay on the grass and cuddle.”
Heero smiled lightly. It was nice to feel how concerned Duo was about him. He was trying his best to cheer Heero up, and take that depression from him.
“Arigatou, Duo-chan,” he muttered and leaned forward. So did Duo and their lips met for a sensual, timid kiss. They knew they were not alone, so they restricted their kiss to something still suitable in public. Duo ran his finger tips through Heero’s hair, gently crawling over the skin beneath it. They’d be fine.
Jaws popped to the ground, giggles muted, and hearts stopped shortly. The girls couldn’t understand the world: The two most beautiful guys on this seminar were gay!!! They stared blankly at Duo and Heero kissing, and the world stopped turning. This was quite unexpected. So, well, it was time for a new target, then. Could they talk that Wufei guy into liking women? It seemed impossible, and a young, rich, injured, blond, blue-eyed prince seemed by far more attractive to them now, than either Duo, Heero or Wufei. And there still was the tall and skinny one with the long bangs... They’d never try to get any of the other boys, because they either knew these bores, or they were plain ugly. The get-Quatre-or-Trowa-contest was secretly made, as the cheeky usually understand the cheeky without words. Poor Quatre, poor Trowa... so much about recovery.
“Duo and Heero are really sweet,” Quatre mumbled.
“I think they’re acting stupidly,” Wufei answered, crossing his arms in front of his chest. “Anywhere else, but here.”
“Well, it keeps those girls from them,” Trowa yawned, stretching.
“They’re happy, the other stuff doesn’t count,” Quatre said thoughtfully, staring at the two lovers.
Trowa threw the bishounen a longing look which nobody noticed. “Right, Quatre,” he said silently. It was that moment, when they all realized a bunch of girls was coming towards them.
“Time to go,” Trowa muttered and picked Quatre up. Wufei followed wordlessly.
“See you later, guys!” the girls said and waved at them. Quatre waved back politely, having no clue what effect that had on the girls. Wufei rolled his eyes and let Quatre and Trowa pass through the door he held open.
“Let’s check out the castle, then,” Trowa suggested.
Meanwhile, Duo and Heero had broken that kiss and slowly disengaged. The girls still were befuddled, and stared blankly at them as they re-entered the circle of gathered people in front of the board.
“He waved at me!” one girls said, referring to Quatre, as the other pinched her silently and pointed at Heero and Duo who were now standing in front of the board, studying it.
“Hm... dinner in twenty minutes. Good, I’m starved.” Around them, there was dead silence. Heero looked around, pulling Duo on the sleeve to get his attention. Now Duo also noticed the questioning looks directed at him and Heero.
“Hinto ni? So we are gay? Got a problem with that?” Duo snorted annoyedly.
“N...no...” came the awkward reply from the girls.
“GREAT,” Duo groaned again and laid a protective hand on Heero’s hip. “Let’s go, Heero, these people are too strange to me.” Heero nodded and let Duo drag him away.
“Koi shiteru,” he whispered into Duo’s ear, purposely loud enough to let the others hear it. Duo snickered.
The castle was broad and interesting. Since the house they were living in was mostly filled with sleeping rooms, they had a close look on the other half of the building. The library was stuffed with all kinds of books, all German, though, two pianos and other instruments. There were two work rooms for arts like drawing and pottery, with high tables and strong wooden shelves. There was even workspace outside and a round lawn-area used as an outside-theatre. Quatre was totally happy with the garden, though it was small. There were three trees in a row which were so thick, they must have been older than 100 years. Not to mention the view over the country... Duo was more fascinated by the dining room, because it was big and held a big, promising kitchen. A thought, he spoke out, and for which Heero slightly pinched his back. “You’ll grow fat.”
Wufei found the room above the kitchen most interesting, it was big and flat, just good enough to train any sport, especially martial arts. They didn’t bother to look at the small conference rooms upstairs, since it was too uncomfortable for Quatre to be carried up the small stairs or even walk. Down the yard they found some sort of pub.
“Ah yes, I forgot to mention that,” Quatre said, still sitting on Trowa’s arms. “They said we can take anything out of the fridge there, it holds juice and water for us. And we can go there in the noon break or late in the evening to chill out.”
Across from that pub called “Torschenke” they found the remains of a tower with chairs and tables on top of them, another place to spend time at. It seemed to be the prefect place to gaze at stars here. Since they still had time, they went back upstairs, for Wufei and Heero had not unpacked yet
Wufei's loud shout was heard through the corridor. Trowa was the first to reach his room for Quatre had a hurt ankle, and a certain pilot was currently trying to make his koi feel better about this whole situation (from the noise, he had succeeded!). Trowa tapped lightly on the door before stepping in. His emerald eyes widened slightly.
A Chinese boy stood staring in utter shock at his opened suitcase. Everything, EVERYTHING in there had been soaked in the oil Wufei took with him everywhere that polished his blade. It had even gotten onto the shirt he wore now, and his pants too. It was an outstanding grease spot on the white fabric.
"That's not good."
"NO it's NOT!" Wufei lost it; his annoyance at this undignified mission, the huge population of ONNAS ALL OVER THE PLACE, the threat of ballet and the insidiously long car ride with Heero-Man of Little Words and Even Less Driving Skills finally snapped his temper. He whirled about hysterically, knocking over chairs and anything he could get his hands on.
Trowa, used to Wufei's fits of violence, calmly came over and grabbed him. Wufei struggled against him before screeching his anger and going limp. He leaned back into Trowa, breathing heavily, still muttering Chinese curses at anything and everything in existence.
"... Look like you'll need some clothes for tonight and tomorrow. I'm sure we can clean all this by tomorrow's nightfall."
"Fine, fine, damnit!!!!"
"Let's see what we can dig up. It'll be fine Wufei, these will be clean for you then."
Wufei calmed down at bit and nodded. Trowa let go of him and stepped back. The Asian sighed heavily. Life, for all intents and purposes, was always conspiring against him. "K'so...."
Trowa nudged him and the boy looked back to him. "Come on. I don't think anything of mine will fit you."
"Probably not." Wufei snorted, looking at the taller boy with an eyebrow raised.
Suddenly a bell rang loudly across the yard. ”Time for dinner, I guess...” Heero muttered, causing Duo’s face to light up with joy. “I’ll be there in a minute”
All conversation stopped as a sullen boy entered the dining hall entrance.
Wufei was blushing furiously; he was outfitted in spandex shorts and a slightly baggy, unbuttoned, pink and silk shirt. His hair was a bit disheveled and some strands of liquid black hung about his face.
He came over quickly, plopping down next to Heero. Quatre smiled encouragingly to Wufei and handed him a plate. Wufei was blushing too much to properly thank him. He kept his black eyes glued to the plate. Heero was the only one still eating. Duo, from a stern look by Trowa, was fighting gales of laughter.
Needless to say, those infamously form-fitting spandex shorts earned Wufei much more looks of the starry-eyed kind. They were up to mid-thigh on him, and showed off his long legs in a most instigating way. With the pink shirt unbuttoned, they caught glimpses of flat stomach and tight chest. Immediately, the dating pool for the trip opened up to one more.
Wufei tried to ignore everyone, blushing furiously. Trowa wordlessly plopped some mashed potatoes onto his plate, then added some beans. Duo added a muffin- his own personal joke that no one else got ("stud"-muffin! get it!??). Heero forked him a sausage then promptly went back to stuffing his face. Wufei wordlessly picked up his utensils and began eating in his polite and refined way.
Girls giggled and conversation returned, though most of the female population was busy whispering about how "cute-it-is-he-blushes-just-shy-get-him-he-loves-woman-bet-he-was-hurt-by-a-girl-that's-why-poor-thing-let's" and so on and so forth. Only one girl looked at the blushing Chinese with an interest other than carnal.
Not much else of interest happened during dinner. Well, during dinner dinner. Desert found Heero and Duo sharing a chocolate sundae. The two had sat across from each other and the mammoth pillar of dairy-goodness was set in-between them. Each were leaned forward in their seats, elbows on the table, spoon in hand. They stared into each other's eyes as they exchanged smiles and fed each other scoops of the yummy treat. Quatre watched them with a grin from how cute they were together, Trowa watched with a sigh, Wufei flat out ignored and held a napkin near his nose (just in case, you know!), and the girls watched with pain. Heero was even cuter when he smiled those soft smiles to the other bishounen. How cruel!!
The only thing annoying so far was, that all tables were arranged for eight persons, so they had to share their place with three girls who where late for dinner and didn’t find another place – they did of course not mind, especially the one next to Quatre didn’t.
“So... why are you on this seminar?” they asked kindly. Duo was happy he had his mouth stuffed and couldn’t answer, while Wufei just pretended his was stuffed, too. Heero and Trowa just went with the usual ‘I’m-a-mute’-tactic, leaving Quatre to answer.
“Er... we’re not supposed to tell. Those who sent us here, think we need some mental recovery, because our job is quite stressful. They also hope it will help my sprained ankle to recover some... but I’m living on the third floor, so I guess not.” He smiled timidly and took a sip from his teacup. The girls were delighted by the young prince.
“Really, Quatre? That sounds interesting. How did you sprain your ankle, though.”
“Uh... part of the secret. If you must know, I jammed it against something in a stressful moment.”
“Ohh... poor Quatre. Is it getting better? If we can help you – my mom’s a nurse, I know how to bandage a foot.”
“Me too...” Trowa said, annoyed by these cheeky girls, especially because they were trying to make Quatre interested in them – and he didn’t really notice!
“Yes... Trowa’s done a fine job, plus he lives just next to my room, so it’s quite practical to let him do the work,” Quatre answered truthfully.
“Oh,” one girl said, looking at the other. “But you’re not gay, too, are you?” she continued with a mixture of disgust and disbelief in her eyes. Trowa almost yelled something very inappropriate at this tastelessly direct question about Quatre’s sexual life (the poor boy was blushing by now). Wufei held a hand to his nose and grabbed for a tissue. Trowa, however didn’t and up scolding the girls for their inappropriate approach to Quatre’s privacy, because Heero had already jumped up from his chair and leaned across the table, holding the girl’s collar and pulling her close.
“Tasteless,” he growled into her face, “get out of my sight.”
The girls searched help by looking at the attacker’s koi, but Duo just nodded, signing them to better go. Heero let go of her and she and her friends quickly put their plates together and left the dining area. Heero eased up as Duo pulled him back. Quatre was muted with confusion - he had just been asked the question of the century... was he gay? Was he bisexual? He had no idea. He blankly stared as his plate, then at Heero and Duo.
“Gomen...” he said silently, not being able to look at either Trowa or Wufei, who still fought his nosebleed.
“I’m not hungry anymore,” Duo said, dropping his fork, as he felt about fifteen pairs of eyes on his back. “Let’s go.” The evening was over, everyone started to cling to his own thoughts and nobody wanted to talk about the incident at the table. So far, each of the pilots had acknowledge any kind of sexual preference, without judging. They would not do this now, either, but the experience that people might think differently about that, was thought provoking.
Heero locked his door before Duo could even enter, Wufei vanished as quickly as possible (not without letting Trowa hand him an extra-box of tissues) and so did Trowa and Quatre. Duo found himself alone on the corridor and gazed out of the window. He somehow didn’t like to go to his room now. There was nothing wrong with him, or was there? What if there was? Was it wrong to love Heero and be loved in return?
He gazed at the stars for quite some time, thinking things over and remembering those endless nights close to Heero and the moments his face would loose that severe, tight look. When all the world’s fear fell off of him... How could this be wrong or not real? It was only achieved through what they both shared.
Before we were one, I have seen his face like this only once. Now he shows his real character more often, also to the others. I remember that one day, because it was the day I realized what was wrong with either me, or the world.
Quatre had had a pretty bad day – he had just received information that three of his sisters and his mom had been seriously injured in a car accident. He could not go to the hospital and see them – we had a mission ahead of us and could not miss him... Everyone else could see worry and depression in the Arabian’s face, I think it was Wufei who comforted him most of the time... or was it Trowa? It didn’t help him much, anyway.
The rest of us, as far as I could tell, was quite sorry for Quatre, but we all had too much business at hand to be able to direct all our attention to him. I was sorry for that, too.
Heero and I were doing repairs on our Gundams, he seemed so engaged in his own machine, while I was quite disturbed and spared a look every now and then to watch him work, crawling all over the giant Mobile Suit, which was (just like my Deathscythe) laying on it’s back on the floor At the beginning he was working furiously, but suddenly he stopped, sat back on his heels and stared into space, vacantly...
“Heero?” I asked in astonishment at this quite untypical behavior for ‘the Perfect Soldier’. He sent me a glance and groaned annoyedly, and went back to work. Not for long though – the next time I looked up at him, his tools were resting beside him on the strong Gundam’s shell.
”Heero, daijobo desu ka?” I was quite confused now, since I had never seen Heero Yuy act like this before. So... sort of ... thoughtful and emotional; Quatre of course, and Wufei, even Trowa, but Heero?!?!
“Hn. Guess so...” he snorted, keeping that monotone touch to his voice which used to drive me nuts! I expected him, after succeeding to pretend he was alright, to go back to work, but the most unlikely thing in the world happened: Heero (and I a still can’t believe I am talking about him) did not succeed! He was lost in thoughts and emotions!
“Can I help you, Heero?” I offered, trying to be gentle and friendly. I know, how easily he hides in his shell again, once he had left it – well, at least I could imagine it didn’t take much for him to hide there again. Gimme a break, I had never seen him out of there before! My heart leaped as his dark blue eyes blinked at me from the shadows. He struggled some to bring the words out: “Isn’t it nice to have... someone?”
I almost let the screwdriver topple down five meters from my Gundam. I looked back – puzzled.
“W-what d’you mean?” I stuttered, cautiously sliding over to the edge of my Gundam and watching that unfamiliar expression, unable to take my eyes away from his face. The air was tense now, all because Heero did not break the look into my eyes.
“Like Quatre,” he said trustfully.
“Um... I-I guess. I cannot really tell,” I answered, regretting the words in the same moment I uttered them. “I mean, I never had a family, but I ... I guess I had more than you ever had, being the orphan I am.” Geez! It sounded as if I was pitying myself, though I knew, Heero had had the worst fate of all of us. Growing up as a living human experiment between scientist, trained to be cold hearted and without emotion... but you cannot destroy emotions in a human being! And here they were, displayed right in front of me. Well, ... that little bit that was left of them.
Heero nodded. “Was it good?”
“Yeah,” I shrugged.
“I wish Quatre could go and visit them,” he said, sitting on the edge of his Gundam. The gap between them, approximately one and a half meters, was separating us. I couldn’t do much else than nod.
“You shouldn’t miss taking care of something so precious...” his face was all thoughtful, but easy, almost friendly. I had never seen this on Heero and I promised myself to keep this picture of him in mind. He eventually closed his eyes and broke the gaze.
“Is... is there anything I can do for you? You seem shaken,” I asked. He shook his head silently and slid down from his Gundam, landing on the arms of Zero first, before jumping to the floor. He looked up at me from the darkness, his face somewhat glistening.
“I wished I knew what it is like,” he said, before turning around and leaving.
And as I watched his shadow vanish through the door, I knew that the world was perfectly okay. It was me who was wrong. It was me who was fond of this guy. It was me who loved him... not the world. The world seemed to hate us.
Duo returned to his bed with the thought on his mind, that he shouldn’t care about what peachy girls say because the love he was experiencing was more real and more true than any love these cheeky little kids would ever get!