The next day had a pretty bad start for Quatre. He woke up at seven because he slammed his foot against the wall. He groaned, preventing to yell out on pain and crawled out of bed, setting the boiler to make tea. While the tea was still not ready, he limped over to the closet and took out the photos as well as the stuff he was going to wear that day. He went for jeans and a shirt – they were on vacation, no need to look dressed-up. He plopped down waiting for the tea, the photos resting on his lap. Lots of pictures of his family, some of the Gundam pilots and one page with pictures of Trowa. He looked great on each one of them... he looked great on the group photos. Quatre reflected the care he had received from him the day before... Trowa was too nice, nicer than Quatre deserved. The tea was finished and Quatre absently picked up his cup, sipping on it and burning his tongue.
“Ow!” he complained to the tea, which was probably the most innocent in all of this. Quatre limped to the sink and drank some cold water from it. Great day. He decided to leave the tea standing there to cool some and take a shower. He figured he should hurry, since he would need some time, being as injured as he was. He grabbed his clothes and left his room, for the shower cabins were on the corridor, accessible for everyone.
After he had finished his shower and dressed (with some difficulties), he limped back to the corridor, wet hair falling into his face and slowly soaking his shirt from the top. He hadn’t really been able to dry them, he was a handicapped in a narrow shower cabin and highly incapable of violently ruffling his hair dry in there, without seriously hurt himself.
He had just left, as Trowa sleepily stumbled out of his room. As mention before, the day started quite unsuccessfully for Quatre, since this was just the moment he dropped the carefully rolled-up bandage onto the floor. All he could do was watch it roll down the whole corridor and bumping against the wall. He sighed. Trowa wordlessly walked down the corridor towards Duo’s room, in which direction the bandage had rolled, and picked it up.
His eyes fell on two naked ankles and the wet-haired attachment to them. “Need some help with the new one?” he asked.
“Actually... yes,” Quatre replied, taking the bandage back from the tall European.
“Mind if I take my shower first?” Trowa asked, yawning some.
“No. I’ll be in my room,” Quatre held himself to the wall and limped back to his room. His nerves finally got over tensed, as he slammed his foot against the doorframe.
“K’SO!!!” he yelled against all etiquette and closed his door. Trowa thoughtfully entered the shower cabin, Quatre had just left.
Breakfast was quite well – the three girls squished themselves on another table, rather than dining with the five pilots again, so Duo, Heero, Trowa, Quatre and Wufei had a table for themselves. Quatre spilled his morning-tea, got accidentally kicked by Wufei, as he tried to squeeze himself to his place on the table (“ITAI!!!”), and almost dropped the butter on his shirt.
Wufei grumpily chewed his eggs, still upset by having to wear whatever fit him from the others' closets, but wasn't blushing as badly anymore. He was, once again, in spandex, but he managed to convince Trowa he'd be better off in a way-too-big turtleneck from him. He looked almost gothic, in all that black, but it suited him better than the pink.
Trowa had had a restless night; the presence of the one he loved missing from the room was too strange for him to be able to fall asleep.
Quatre also looked weary, but was smiling as usual. His ankle had kept him up most of the night.
But all three of the pilots had made it down to breakfast on time.
Heero and Duo arrived twenty minutes late. That would have not bothered anyone, but both were rumply and were a little of an attention grabber. Well, you'd look too if Duo stumbled in carrying Heero piggyback, and the braided one stomping about. Duo went over to the table carrying Heero till they reached the spot the Gundams had unofficially revered for themselves. He then let Heero slid off his back and reached out to pull back a chair. Heero, still wanting a bit more affection before he was satisfied, snaked his arms around Duo's waist and kissed his neck. Duo literally purred and leaned back into the embrace before patting at his koi's hands. Heero got the hint and gave him one last neck-kiss. Then he let go of the boy and went around to the other side to sit down. Duo sat down, waving cheerfully to the staring girls. They blinked in unison and Duo chuckled. He was starting to acquire a taste for knocking the annoying females for a loop.
Heero stoically began eating. Duo watched him before starting on his own plate of food. Quatre watched Duo a moment, grinning, before turning back to his bread. Trowa watched passively as the two lovers exchanged meaningful looks while they ate. He sighed before looking back to Quatre. The blond was busy waving good morning to the girls he hadn't greeted yet, ever the nice diplomat. It was clear to Trowa. The European looked back to the couple. Heero was busily sucking on his straw, looking almost cross-eyed at it, trying to figure out why not tea was coming up it's length. Duo watched him dreamily, chuckling at the amusing but endearing sight. Heero looked up at him and withdrew his mouth from the straw. The braided boy simply reach out, pulled at it a little, then gestured with a grin. Heero tried again and was pleasantly surprised to taste the tea. When he drank his fill, he smiled slightly to Duo who beamed back.
It was amazing how close the two opposites were. It seemed the two didn't even need words. Such intimacy was just what Trowa wanted. He glanced at Quatre. But he was never going to get it.
Quatre’s final comment was “Shitty day,” as he hit his foot on the table again, and he limped away before the others had finished, cooling off on a bench. Duo, against all odds, was still cheerful and happy as always, dragging Heero along with him a little, and even Wufei got slightly inflicted by Duo’s unbelievable cheerfulness. Trowa was somewhere far away with his thoughts, especially after Quatre had left. So except for Duo’s constant jokes and an occasional snickering from either Heero or Wufei, the rest of the meal was silent.
Trowa was just about to realize, that the scientist had been perfectly right about the fact that all the pilots needed relief from inner tension, when a loud gong was heard. A check on the watch revealed that it was the demanding voice telling them they had only five minutes until the dance class would start.
Dance class was quite not of Heero’s taste. Especially after Barbara had told him, he was not supposed to dance with Duo, braid open or not. Quatre was the only one who could convince all of them to keep to this class, since he was the aristocrat who told them strictly, that on the next one of Relena’s birthdays they had to be able to dance, or it would be highly embarrassing. Heero gasped at the mentioning of Relena’s name.
Having learned the first few steps of a “Wiener Waltzer”, they eventually figured, that it could quite be some fun, to dash across the dance-floor, though Duo tended to add his own movements to the dance, sending his dance partner giggling. Trowa had the unfortunate luck to dance with Barbara (since there weren’t enough girls in the course, she had to dance with them), and Heero was lucky enough to have a silent, timid dance partner, who would not upset him and make him utter death threads. Unfortunately, Wufei ended up dancing with Janina Khushrenada, and he was not made to be a dancer. It was quite frustrating for him, but eventually, he picked the moves up with some effort. When they had been taught the basic movements, they were lucky enough to change partners, Trowa was wisely enough to take the silent girl Heero was dancing with and Duo ended up with Janina. Heero was left with the girl he had almost strangled at dinner last night, and she kept silent, she didn’t even dare to look into his eyes. Wufei was left with a quite good dancer, and the movements became easier.
“Quatre-kun,” Barbara asked, “have any comments?”
“Uh... yeah... Heero shouldn’t be so stiff, sorry. It looks weird. And the one over there,” Quatre pointed at a blond boy, who introduced himself as Marc, “you should slide on the dance floor rather than hop, even though a waltz is quite a wild dance. Look at Duo, he’s just in the limit.”
Quatre kept giving these and other hints to the people, he was watching from some sort of balcony, which stretched itself over three walls of the hall. Through Quatre’s nice and lovely tips, Trowa’s dance skills (it was astonishing!!!), Duo’s funny movements and comments, the pilots regained the trust of their fellow workshop-mates, the three girls from the dinner table excluded... People grew fond of Duo again and even more fond of Trowa and Quatre. Wufei and Heero were generally accepted, which was quite satisfying for them.
45 minutes later, they had gone through the basics of waltz and cha-cha-cha, except for Quatre, everyone was quite sweaty. It didn’t keep Duo from grabbing Heero for once and dance a waltz across the room – Duo in the girl’s role, of course. Heero found that quite embarrassing but had no choice, in order to not make them fall flat on their noses and make fools out of themselves in front of 21 pairs of laughing eyes.
“Omae o koruso for that!” Heero protested, and Duo just laughed, causing his koibito to smile a little as well.
Quatre wondered, watching from the balcony, whether this recovery program had some sense after all... After this dance class, even Wufei seemed more relaxed and Heero slightly smiled at his koibito. His eyes fell on Trowa, who was staring into space.
“Hey Trowa,” Quatre called lightly, “you are quite a good dancer. Learned that before?”
“No... it’s my first time on the dance floor,” he said, looking up and, amazingly, smiling lightly at Quatre. A warm feeling spread in the Arabian. He began to like the program.
The fencing sessions were quite strange to begin with. Wufei didn’t feel quite comfortable, since he didn’t know anyone. Even more, though, because that Janina-girl was the only girl in his group. He had had a close look on her during the dance classed... she had his eyes, even her eyebrows resembled his, and the thick hair, though it was long and tied to a ponytail. How distracting!
Wufei eyed the swords carefully, his arms crossed. Tapping his chin, the Asian wandered up and down the racks, completely engrossed in his task of choosing a blade. None were nearly as good as his katana, but they wouldn't let him use it, he knew. So he flung himself into the task, completely gone on the shining steel laid out before him. Partly to help him forget his ridiculous ensemble.
Finding an intriguing one, Wufei picked it up and carefully weighed the sword in his hand. Hm, it would do.
"Win goes to Chang Wufei."
"Yes. Seems we have about half an hour yet... Anyone feel up to going at it with the instructor?"
A single hand shot in the air.
"Alright. The rest of you can watch our practice separately. Let's have at it then, Chang."
Wufei only smirked and put the protective mask/helmet back on. He knew this style of combat form fighting with Treize - the man was a stickler for the delicate art of fencing. And from fighting against such a strong warrior many times, Wufei was very adept at dodging and countering attacks from these less worthy opponents. It was like taking candy from a baby.
The instructor held his blade loosely, waiting to give the youngster first attack. Wufei obliged him, dancing within the elder's range just enough to nip at his knee. The instructor easily blocked the small attack. He countered with a harder a stroke, for he had watched Wufei carefully and knew the youth could take it. Besides, he didn't want to embarrass him with a straight defeat, did he?
Wufei smirked behind the metal-linked mask. A little more, a little more and then he'd crush this weakling's pride.
Wufei danced near again, offering himself almost as a request to be attacked. The instructor obliged, intending this to be the winning pass. Wufei, with an ease that astonished the instructor, met his strong slice with his blade, and pushed back with strength that was also astonishing. The seemingly delicate wrists twisted in blinding speed, and the instructor's sword went flying out of his hands and into the floor nearby.
Wufei calmly stepped forward, lightly laying the balled tip of the fencing sword on the white-padded neck of the much taller instructor.
The instructor was too surprised to really move.
"Win goes to Chang Wufei." a nearby girl called out helpfully. Wufei took off his headgear and shook the unbound and shoulder length black hair out of his eyes. Only after his black eyes bore into the instructor's startled blue ones did he lower the blade.
"V-very good Wufei."
"Alright children, I'll let you out a bit early since it's the first day."
Wufei smirked to himself and turned, walking out alone to the hallway outside the class room. The other students watched him with a mixture of fear, adoration and jealousy. Wufei ignored them all. Sky blue orbs burned into his back intensely, having been focused on him the entire time.
Feeling better than he had in months, the boy bounded up the stairs and to his room. And he was smiling.
Singing was quite strange. At least Barbara did neither do that, nor the fencing. Instead, Quatre, Trowa, Duo and Heero were stuck in the great hall with a young, dynamic singing teacher, whose eyebrows went once across his face in one big stripe. He practically had one eyebrow, his hair was deep black and almost as long as Duo’s, hanging down in several inch-thick braids. Duo’s look didn’t allow anyone to make any comments about his own hair in that matter.
“Let’s see where we put you, then...” the tutor began, introducing himself as Antoni real quick. “Sing something, anything... you first, er...”
“Quatre,” Quatre said, “what am I supposed to sing?”
“Anything, just want to see where we fit you. You do know any song, right? A song that’s voice-wise easy to sing for you...”
“Uh-huh... Miagereba ikusen ni, Kagayita hoshitachi ha...”
Trowa shivered, trying hard not to blush while hearing that sweet and clear voice. So young, so innocent, so pure... He could have listened to this forever.
“Thank you... thank you,” Antoni interrupted, “tenor... uh .... counter tenor...! I’d fit you in soprano, really, but this is a male ensemble, so...” Quatre blushed intensely red at this and looked away.
“Duo Maxwell, and I can’t sing like that!” he pointed at Quatre with astonishment, “wow.”
“Doesn’t matter, sing anything.”
Duo smiled cunningly, straightened his back and swung a fast beat with his finger, as if he was conducting himself. “Mune ni kakushita tsubasa de, Ouzora e mai agareba, Wasure kaketeta kinou no, Jubun ni aeru...”
“Thank you, thank you. Beautiful. Bariton, I’d say, but we’ll fit you into base.”
Duo bowed, receiving not a single clap from any hand. He pouted at Heero, who kept a straight face and a stoic expression – he was next anyway.
”Aikitare no Heero mounte, babida sa oreti a....”
“Whew, Heero... rock it!” Duo yelped, getting pulled on his braid as a reward by his koibito.
“Itai!!!” Duo complained, sending Heero an angry glare. He knew though, that there was more in Heero’s voice than he showed right now... Well the line of the rock-song was enough to win Antoni’s joy.
“Tenor,” Antoni simply stated – with a broad smile on his face, for the voice was promising - and signed Trowa to begin.
“Trowa Barton. Tsumetaku, Kooritsuita tsuki no kakera ga, Furisosogu you ni, Hitori no yoru ga ochite kuru.”
“That’s a tenor to work with! My! Very good, Trowa.”
Quatre glared at Trowa with astonishment, he never had thought that boy could sing like that! Trowa caught that glance from the beautiful Arabian prince and both blushed as their eyes met. Quatre caught himself, “Wow... Trowa, that was amazing.”
Duo and Heero simply nodded, similar astonished. This recovery workshop revealed quite some interesting facts. Especially about Trowa. Trowa glared at Antoni, noticing that all the thought of his fellow pilots were drawn to him, but acting, as if he didn’t have the slightest clue.
“So, here’s what we work on,” Antonio explained, “We’ve got one piece for the four of you, and we’ve got two pieces ŕ two persons. So I guess, you guys just pick a partner to do the duets and I’ll hand you the music. We’ll rehearse the ensemble – thing right here, and we’ll split the lesson tomorrow in two so we can start on the duet ones. Alright?”
“Uh... guess so,” Quatre said.
“I’ll sing with Heero!!!” Duo yelped, hugging Heero from the side. Trowa glanced at Quatre, hiding his eyes behind his bangs as good as possible. “Uh...” he stuttered in a lightly moaning tone, “guess that leaves us two to sing a duet, Quatre-kun...!?”
Quatre nodded. “Uh-huh.” And then he smiled, taking the embarrassing awkwardness from Trowa. Antoni meanwhile packed them with a pile of sheet-music on their hands. Duo turned the sheets, which were upside down, around and read the text.
“ohh... for the longest time, ohh... for the longest time. If you said goodbye to me tonight...”
“Any of you know this song?” Duo nodded, Heero was clueless, as well as Quatre and Trowa. Antoni signed them to sit down, since learning this would take quite some time. He began with Duo (the base voice), playing the first line on the piano and making Duo sing until it was perfectly correct. “Usually this is for six voices, but I changed it a little. Quatre, you get the main voice and Trowa you’re second, Heero’s third highest voice.”
The next one to learn a line was Quatre, Trowa than Heero. Once they had this part memorizes, they were all put together. A single line in four voices harmonically playing together was heard, accompanied by a light play of the piano: Ohh... for the longest time... ohh.. for the longest time.
Once they had finished this short line, Duo, Heero, Trowa and Quatre just looked at each other. Wow! It sounded great! Their voices matched. Via eye contact, they figured they would like the ensemble-singing a lot, even though this one line already had been quite some work. Their eyes turned back to Antoni, practically demanding to go on. Heero was massively shocked by the interest he found in singing but eased up as Duo patted him on the shoulder. “Great.”
Once the fencing/chorus sessions were finished, each of the pilots headed for the showers before they would have lunch. Only Quatre was left downstairs, since he hadn’t been dancing and was in no need for a shower. He didn’t want to take the torture of either being carried or going upstairs once again.
Trowa was the first to come downstairs, joining Quatre on a bench outside. Heero followed quickly after, then Wufei and Duo was missing for quite some time. He came downstairs right before dinner, a wet, tight braid on his back. He answered the questioning looks of his teammates with “I needed to wash my hair,” before leading the way to their table.
Noon break they spent in the garden on some blankets. Duo simply fell asleep with Heero resting on his stomach, trying to read a book on how to learn German, he had found in the library. He fell asleep about five minutes after Duo. Wufei polished his katana, occasionally getting up and doing some movements with it. He didn’t care about the girls checking him out as he did so. Trowa stared into space, thinking or watching Wufei, while Quatre sat on a chair, his leg resting on another one, reading a book about Economics. The atmosphere was quite peaceful, mainly because the girls and the other boys had separated into their own groups, occupying other places in the garden. Quatre occasionally let the book sink to watch down the hills and enjoy the beautiful environment with it’s old trees and resting fields or the sheep strolling around right beneath the garden.
“Beautiful...” he whispered once and Trowa nodded, not sure what he was really thinking about.
Trowa carefully woke the two sleeping koibito before the next lesson would start. Duo sleepily rubbed his eyes. “What’s on?”
“Either pottery or drawing.” Quatre said, sliding down from his share, putting some weight on his ankle, just to notice that he still was not able to walk. He got up on his left leg and lead the way. Trowa followed right behind him until he caught up with him (which wasn’t quite hard) and Wufei left them quickly to bring the katana to his room. Duo and Heero shared a long, loving kuchidzuke before they, too, went to their drawing workshop. Fortunately it was none of Barbara’s workshops.
Wufei, Heero and Duo found themselves on a large, round table with a bowl of fruits in the middle, and about nine other students seated with them A woman in her mid-thirties pointed at it. “My name is Juliana Mikorido and every two days, I’ll teach you some drawing. We’ll start of with this fruit-assortment, trying to watch details and draw realistically, caring about proportions and shadows. At the end of this workshop, you will draw one of the other people in this workshop. We’ll see how far we can come to good drawing. You’ll also learn to add your particular own mark to your drawings... Now let’s start. Just draw what you see and try to be detailed and observe closely. Nevertheless, it is easier to start with a rough outline, so you can be sure, you don’t screw up the proportions. Than you can add particularly large marks, growing more and more detailed as you go on....” Juliana Mikorido kept on talking for quite a while before they could really start. Duo had begun anyway, humming, as he drew. Juliana was walking through the rows giving out tips and hints to anyone. “You should make the lines thinner, Duo, it will be more realistic and not look like a manga-drawing.”
“Can’t we just eat those fruits?”
“No.” She proceeded. “Very good, Heero and Wufei. Don’t be too cautious, Wufei, dare to make a line. You can erase it, if it’s not good.” And with that, she grabbed for Wufei’s hand, leading it to draw the round line of the banana. Wufei’s eyes grew wide! That women touched him, just like that!!! He didn’t protest, though. It seemed as if it was quite normal to be treated like that in this insane seminar. And, heck, he was a weakling! That woman was so much better in drawing, the line was perfect! His face darkened as he furiously drew an, wanting to produce the best drawing ever. Juliana watched Wufei’s efforts with delight and left him alone with it.
Meanwhile, Trowa had carried Quatre downstairs to the other workroom and placed him on one of the tables. He sat down next to him. Unfortunately for them, Barbara was responsible for the pottery-workshop and her annoying voice would stick to their brains for the next 45 minutes. She simply told them to make anything they like out of either brown, red or white clay, offering her help and pointing on some books, which should give them inspiration. Quatre immediately grabbed the red clay and flattened it, cutting out a circle.
“What is that going to be?” Trowa asked, very uninspired himself.
“A teacup!!!” Quatre cheered, proceeding happily. Trowa watched him a while before hesitantly grabbing for one of the books. Whatever he would find in this book, he’d just try to make it. Casually, he had just grabbed the right one: Masks of Clay. Now, that was an idea. Maybe Catherine would let him wear a more fitting one next time, if he gave her one.
He set things up as needed, measured the proportions with is hand and started on the mask, using white clay as the substance of his work.
The mask was not finished that day and the cup was left without a handle. The drawings were all finished though and Heero’s was crowned the best one, Duo’s wasn’t bad either but received a rather low ranking. Wufei’s followed right after Heero’s and it was clear that there would be a contest in future drawings between them.
The five met again for coffee and tea break, Duo munched the extremely sweet and good cake with great hunger, while Heero and Trowa just nibbled on some pieces and Trowa stick to a cup of coffee. Quatre skipped (!!!) the coffee break, sitting outside on his own, enjoying the sun. He was neither hungry nor thirsty and he didn’t want to sit inside either. It made Trowa worry about his blond friend.
“Hi, Quatre-kun. Are you in the orchestra?”
“Yeah. I play the violin. What was your name again?”
“Kioki,” the girl said, smiling. “Not hungry?”
“Uh, no. I haven’t really done anything that would make one hungry. What instrument do you play, then?”
“Cello, and I’m with you in the orchestra.”
“I figured that. ... ah! I have to get my violin. Or ask Duo or Trowa to do that.” He glared as his bandaged foot. He’d not make it in time for the orchestra if he tried to get up there.
“Can I get it for you?” Kioki asked nicely. Quatre asked himself whether there was anything against letting her do that and found nothing. He figured, he could trust her, so she dug for the key in his pocket and handed it to her. “Mh... it’s seventy steps upstairs... you don’t have to.”
“No problem. What room is it?”
“Oh, Brüssel. Arigatou, Kioki.” She nodded and headed off. Quatre enjoyed the friendliness of people here, not making any connections with his social status, of course. A while later, Kioki returned panting with his violin, the others were still eating.
“Will you play some for me?” she asked friendly.
“Nani? Now? ...” he blushed some, pointing at the dining room, “the others are still eating...”
“They won’t mind.”
He nodded and opened the case, taking out the violin. He tightened the bow and tuned the instrument quickly. He wasn’t sure this was the right thing to do in the middle of the yard, yet Kioki looked at him full of anticipation. He timidly raised the violin to his chin and sat up straight on the edge of the bench. Then, he took a deep breath, closed his eyes and started one of the many songs he knew by heart, the one that just came into his mind. It was part of a Symphony and quite cheerful. Kioki stood by his side, watching him and swinging with him. She more or less gazed at the beautiful boy and his violin, enjoying his good playing. The music from outside made the cake-eating people nosey and one after the other cleaned up the table and silently joined the two youngsters on the yard. Neither Kioki, nor Quatre took any note of the tip-toeing mass approaching. Trowa watched Quatre, his eyes glued to him. Yes, beautiful was the right word for the baiorinisuto (violinist) playing out there. He breathed flatly, a ray of light was reflected from the polished wood of the violin, as Quatre swung with the music. He ended in a cheerful, short note, lowering the violin and receiving a cheerful applause from the watching crowd. He opened his eyes in surprise watching the twenty people standing in the door of the dining area, clapping. He smiled timidly and nodded his head in restrained thanks. Fortunately that was just when the gong was heard to invite them for the next workshop. Trowa hurried upstairs to get his flute and picked Quatre up on the way back, who was just about to walk to the library on his own. Duo was headed for the Great Hall and accompanied the two others to the building. Wufei and Heero were waiting on the yard with six other people, waiting to be lead to the swimming area. A man and a woman introduced themselves as Mrs. and Mr. Kajuhara, and lead the way to a nearby public pool, where they had an area for themselves.
“We’re starting off with a race, please form two groups,” Mr. Kajuhara announced and quickly the girls shoveled together. It ended up to be a girls against boys race, Wufei and a slender girl named Aika were at the start, waiting for the sign.
“Three, two, one ... start!” Mrs. Kajuhara announced and both dived into the pool with a long head-first jump.
“WUFEI! WUFEI!” the boys called as he came back to the surface, closely followed by Aika. To Wufei’s unpleasant surprise, she started to catch up. He tried even harder, panting heavily as he reached the other end of the pool. He turned around and found her a tip ahead of him on the way back. What was this? He was going to be defeated by an onna?!?! No way!!! Wufei dived under water, holding his breath and struggled ahead. Down here he was faster. Before he reached the end, he came back to the surface and hit the wall with one hand, allowing Heero to dive in, shortly before the next girl followed. Wufei climbed out of the pool, breathing heavily. One of the boys helped him up.
“Who... who was... faster?” he asked, still catching breath.
“You were,” Marc assured him, “but she was close. Well, she’s in our local swim team, and she’s crazy.” Wufei nodded and sat own the lawn. Heero, meanwhile was on his way back, quite a bit ahead of the girl after him. Expressionlessly he swam on, monotone, as if he didn’t loose strength, all in the same speed. The girl behind him didn’t even get splashed, so smooth were his movements. Marc jumped in, taking the lead gladly and increasing the gap between him and his female follower. It left the rest an easy game for Leo, who was last in the male team. Cheerfully, the guys jumped up in the air. Wufei felt strong, he had beaten a sort of professional swimmer. It would have been even greater if she had been male, but he’d have a chance to race against Marc some day.
Duo had the time of his life at the voice & movements project. He could let his insanity hang out by making funny sounds and movements. They had started off with yelling their names in different ways (though Duo had preferred to yell ‘SHINIGAMI’ instead of ‘DUO’) and now they were being parts of a big machine, making rhythmical noises. It was damn relaxing. And even the partner-work was fun because the others could hardly wait to know more about the braided American, who gladly joked with any of them. He was the star of the troop, and he liked it! It was the silliest stuff to do, running around the hall, pretending to be a robot or picking up a sound from someone else, imitating it, but they laughed their heads off and relaxed easily.
To Quatre’s and Trowa’s surprise, the conductor for their orchestra introduced himself as John A. Sharp and he threw a glistening glance at the two pilots in his troop. He asked for their names and gave a knowing nod as he heard them. Quatre and Trowa exchanged glances and shrugged. Their project were a waltz and a Symphony with a solo part for flute and violin. Everyone pointed at the blushing Quatre for the violin part. Trowa was the only one having a flute.
“Trowa, would you be able then, to do the flute part? If not, we might try it on another violin or a clarinet...”
“Can I see the sheet music?” he asked stoically. John handed it to him. It was an easy piece, nothing he wouldn’t be able to at least learn. He nodded. Quatre smiled broadly. Now he didn’t only have a duet with Trowa, he also played his solo with him. However, they would only practice the waltz today. Mr. Sharp was quite surprising, though, including an electric guitar and a drum-set in his orchestration. It was generally liked and accepted, but what they were working on would require quite some time.
When they met later that day, assembling in the great hall, their was undeniable relaxation on the pilots face. Quatre and Duo had gladly accepted the program, it had visible effects on Trowa and Heero, although they struggled to accept it. Even Wufei found some positive things in the recovery-program, yet he didn’t want to let it come through. He wouldn’t be able to defeat this much longer, though. The assembly, however, had a rather negative effect, since it held the atmosphere of that insidious life-support meeting and muted the pilots completely. They just didn’t like to answer questions like “What did you like on the workshops so far, what should be different?” And when they finally were allowed to go, their mood had wandered into the cellar of their souls again. Silently, everyone went his or her own way. Heero went to the empty room above the dining area, doing some exercises to keep himself in condition. Trowa wandered off to one edge of the garden, watching the stars and thinking about the aoi me tenshi (blue-eye angel), he was so fond of. Wufei had taken his beloved katana downstairs to the lawn which used to be a theatre and exercised in the sunset. Quatre was left on the yard again, watching people pass by. The sheet music for his solo was clutched in his hand and he mentally studied the notes, humming and memorizing them. Duo had strolled off into the chapel beneath the great hall, accessible through the yard, and pulled out the cross around his neck, praying.
One after the other returned to their beds. Quatre carefully started upstairs, when Heero came and picked him up wordlessly, carrying him to his room.
“Uh-thanks,” Quatre brought out and received a nod. Heero pointed at Quatre’s dirty bandage and offered to fix that for him. Finally, Quatre was set with a fresh, tight bandage and got ready to go to bed. Duo didn’t even bother to enter his own room, he simply knocked on Heero’s door and was wordlessly let inside. Wufei, who just returned from the shower (the third one that day), took note of that and slumped into his own bed, bad-tempered. Trowa was the last one to return, he was worried about Quatre; he wondered how the aoi me tenshi had made it up here. He had checked the whole castle before he went upstairs, unable to find him, and now softly knocked on Quatre’s door. There was no reply. He knocked again, lightly, and still nobody answered. He carefully opened the door and wandered inside the enlightened room.
“Quatre-kun?” he whispered and peeked around the corner. The angel was sleeping in his bed already, clutching his diary, the light on his bedside still burning. He looked just too beautiful in his sleep. His cheeks were slightly red, his head rested half on the pillow, half on the diary, which was bound in light brown leather. Trowa gently pulled on it, taking it out of the boys arm and placing it on the bedside table. He then took a last glance at the bishounen and switched off the light, making sure, Quatre was well covered.
“Sleep well, aoi me tenshi...” Trowa whispered and closed the door.
The next day was not much different from the day before. Except, that this day the duet sessions started...
Showered and dressed (well, reluctantly...), a fresh and still good-feeling Wufei found his way downstairs. He wandered around, taking to halls less used than others (he didn't want to bump into anyone, looking like this!). Absently he tugged down on the hem of the long turtleneck, which hung just to the end of his borrowed short, affording him a bit of modesty but no more skin-coverage.
The black-eyed bishounen wandered a bit before meeting big, oak doors. Curious, he opened one and softly slipped inside. He was in a big auditorium, but on the level of the balcony. Down on the floor stood the groups of kids appointed for duets and solos this morning, going through exercises. He sat on the corner of the balcony, trying to pick out his pilot friends. Even his sharp eyes blended the kids together and a sweet tenor caught his attention. He watched closely as a single file line was made. One by one the kids sung solo a couple lines from a song provided, to be classified into voices and then part for their separate duet/solo sessions. Quatre was the one currently singing. The teacher (strangely, it wasn’t the one Quatre had described as Antoni) looked at him with amazement and the blond just smiled. Wufei echoed the other's movement. Who but Quatre would have the best voice of the class?
Oh wait, something amusing. Heero was prodded and poked, then finally shoved by his over-zealous lover up to the piano. Wufei chuckled. Had he ever seen such a panicked, upset and unwilling expression on anyone's face before? At first Heero glared timidly at the music in his shaking hands. But Duo softly whispered something into the pilot's ear and the boy relaxed considerably. He nodded to himself and took a deep breath.
The teacher began to play. Wufei waited curiously to hear something from the normally silent boy.
Heero's lips parted and he breathed in again. Duo watched him amusedly, but a bit worriedly.
"Zankoku na tenshi no thesis, ma no mangii ta iia ta toretateba tetsu..."
Everyone's, including Wufei, jaws smacked to the floor. Heero had the most beautiful voice they had, collectively, ever heard. It was a sweet tenor, like Quatre's, but vastly different. Heero had more range lower, and his voice was almost hypnotic but strong. Simply put, there was only one word for the radiant voice: beautiful. The sad, slow song chosen for this excursive fit the almost melancholy voice perfectly, the voice wrapping around the notes, the words sounding so much more heart-wrenching then ever before.
Hell, EVERYONE stared!
Duo looked knowingly satisfied. Finally, Heero had shown his true voice.
The teacher recovered first and kept playing, her fingers luckily knowing it well enough to play without her concentration. She stared at the youth in front of her as he sang.
Heero glanced about as he sang and noticed the strange looks he was getting and stumbled, stopping halfway through the last line he was supposed to sing. Duo stepped up next to him and sang smoothly where Heero left off. His voice was pleasant, a bit deeper than Heero's, and nice, but not as breath-shatteringly amazing as his koi's. He smiled encouragingly to Heero as he sang. Heero watched him before taking the hint and started singing with him. No matter how earth-shakingly beautiful Heero's voice was alone, it couldn't touch the wondrous sound of their two voices joined as one. The teacher kept playing the long song, not stopping at the cut off. No one cared, they were all busy watching the pair and listening to their conjuring melody.
As the song spiraled and danced, Wufei's mind wandered with it, swept away in the foreboding words.
It was one of our foughts. Treize was infuriatingly out of my reach. I was so angry... I was consumed. All I could see was his smiling lips, encouraging me into my fury and carelessness. I didn't care at all... I was so reckless. I wanted to lose it all... Lose myself, lose my life...
But then he changed. Sometime during the battle, he changed. His eyes sparkled with something other than amusement, and suddenly he was as passionate as I was...
"Can't you hear it, Wufei? They play all around us."
"This is why I seek conflict - to hear these heavenly voices. I appreciate music as few can, it is simply astonishing to me. Such music that shouldn't be able for us unworthy to hear."
"But I HEAR IT, Wufei! Everywhere! Such sparkling melody... strikes me deep within!"
"And I can't help myself! I want more, crave more! I need more! In time with our bodies, attacking, growing soft, growing stormy!"
"I often go to operas, and I cannot lie that I do enjoy them. But nothing, nothing can touch the music made when blades crash! Hear that, Wufei? The strings, the baritones! Deep, commanding!"
"It brings me to my knees, till all I can do is surrender and cry myself sick! And still they are there! As we battle! Can you not feel it, Wufei? The resonating deep within your core outwards, to your skin??"
"I am nothing without it! This is what life should be! In peace should honorable men allow themselves to hear such things, feel them! This is what I fight for! The orchestra of all life!"
"Tell me you hear it, Wufei!"
I... I was in awe. I had tripped up, and the man before me had removed me of my sword. His own blade was at my throat, as I was sprawled on my backside, holding myself up on my palms. I stared up at him, into those blue eyes.
I realized then... there was so much more to this enemy than met the eye. Cold cruelty was only a small part.
He stood there, shaking from emotion, a vulnerable and at the same time impassioned expression on his handsome face.
I could barely hold onto my soul as his blue eyes sparkled into mine... Yes, he was pulling my very being from me, but all I could do was return the gaze in silent awe.
His soul begged to mine to be released to his wonderful music, to be held, to save him from what he had to pretend to be. To let him be himself and be loved the same...
But then his cold face returned. It was an amazing transformation to witness...
He let me go, as he had all the previous times, and times after that.
I was changed though. I couldn't have been drawn into those pools and not change. My fury, my anger with Treize was misplaced all along...
Part of that fiery emotion belonged to a whole other.
I cried myself to sleep that night, and almost all nights after that.
I had realized that fight that I was in love Treize.
After they had been sorted into classes, leaving the others in astonishment, the duet sessions could begin and Wufei had to join his fencing classes now. So only Quatre and Trowa were left with the two duet-singers, Heero and Duo, waiting for their own practicing to come up.
The duet sessions were quite interesting, though. Duo and Heero started to learn the first part of the love song assigned for him, which was called ‘True Love’. It was a song for male and female, like all love-songs, but Antoni had rewritten it, so it could be sung by Duo and Heero. Heero quite liked it, though he got the minor part (the one the guy usually sang). Duo was only halfway satisfied, the song was too slow for his taste.
“See the Winter Days,
they’re so cold and gray, oh Heero
I can write your name on the icy window pane
I miss you.” Duo started, rather passionately.
“I can feel your smile
across so many miles,
I long to be together,” Heero answered in the same, chilling voice he had displayed in the session before.
“With a sanctuary deep inside out hearts
we’re living for
our true love” they continued together, and Heero carefully avoided Duo’s eyes. This songs was making him quite shivery.
“A shelter form the storm” Duo sang on.
“our true love” Heero entered Duo’s singing, suddenly feeling... something. This song was about something he shared with Duo. The lines didn’t perfectly match, but there was – well – something. “A place to keep us warm” Heero kept on.
“Like a candle burning bright
like a miraculous breakdown every year” Heero’s voice slightly shivered, Duo took note of it, while Antoni had no clue.
“And that’s forever young...” Duo winked at Heero before he concentrated on the music again.
Quatre and Trowa got to sign “What are We Waiting For”, also assigned for male and female, which was no problem with Quatre’s voice. They did like the song, so the version, Antoni had (and he knew that) had two crappy singers. Trowa and Quatre decided to make it better, though the text was quite heart-raping to both of them. They didn’t show it, though.
“Long ago a little child
dreamed about a gallant knight
It’s funny, how a dream comes true,
that gallant knight was you.” Quatre sang clearly, sending Trowa an unbelievable chill. It was too bad, that this was just a song, to hear that from Quatre was so thrilling.
“I never dared to show my feelings,
are you aware my heart is bleeding?” Trowa answered passionately.
“What are we waiting for?
What are we doing here?
There’s no one there beside you,
There’s no one knocking at my door!” They both resumed, and Trowa’s heart was really bleeding. Quatre watched the other’s eyes, bleeding himself, so to speak. This song was so intense, so true. They left the class rather bewildered, not having finished the song yet. They ways parted in silence.
Nothing else happened, except that they had no drawing or pottery lessons that day. Heero and Duo decided to go to the forest instead and have their coffee and cake at a picnic. The kitchen was willing to give them plates, food and drink for that little journey without hesitation. Wufei joined them and Trowa stayed with Quatre, who was unable to come with them, due to his injury. Wufei quite enjoyed the picnic, he didn’t even feel as if he was disturbing the two lovers. They talked a little about each others’ workshops before they returned for the late-afternoon sessions. Trowa and Quatre ended up practicing their solo in the library, when Kioki poked her head in, bringing a friend, Nadja, and ask whether they would enjoy some ensemble-playing. She unpacked her cello and Nadja opened a box, revealing a viola. They found something useful in a pile of sheet music and spent almost the whole day playing and practicing, quite enjoying themselves.
There was nothing going on in the evening, so they all met on the lawn of a small hill, watching shooting stars, and there were quite a lot.
“Did you see that one?” Trowa pointed at the sky, where just a second ago a shooting star had crossed the darkness.
“Yes, it was really bright,” Quatre nodded.
“Make a wish, then!” Trowa advised Quatre, and Quatre did make a secret wish, doubting that wishing would help him at all to clear up the confusion in his head. Duo eventually got up and wandered through the garden, to have his five minutes on his own. Heero followed him, catching up with him half up the garden.
“Where are you going, Duo-chan?” he asked.
Duo smiled, knowing his lover wouldn’t quite understand his answer. “Praying.”
“Can I come... and watch?” Heero asked cautiously. Duo threw him a surprised look. “Only if I don’t disturb you, Duo.” He was curious, how Duo prayed, and what it gave to him. He couldn’t quite imagine his shinigami praying. Duo nodded after a while. “Okay, but don’t disturb me. Leave silently if it’s too creepy for you, okay?” Heero nodded and followed Duo to the chapel.
Heero sat down on one of the benches on the wall in the back of the chapel, while Duo took out a lighter and lit the big white candles around and on the altar. Finally, he calmly stepped down the steps and kneeled down there, taking down his hat. He took the cross around his neck, the one he refused to ever take off, and held it to his mouth. Heero could only see his back. There was dead silence, Duo held his eyes closed, thinking out his own prayer. Heero was patiently watching, leaning against the wall. His lover started wincing and sighing some, he even moaned slightly, as if in pain. Heero was confused. He wanted to ask Duo whether he was alright, but remembered being told not to disturb. He anyway slowly got up and kneeled down next to Duo, waiting.
Duo’s shaking increased some, making Heero feel helpless and confused. What could he do? Did Duo still feel well? He softly dared to lay a hand on Duo’s back. The black shinigami eased up and relaxed some, finishing his silent praying. He looked up to his side, whispering to his koibito: “You’re still there...” and placing a light kiss on his cheek. Heero nodded. “Did I scare you?” Duo asked carefully. Heero shook his head. Duo got up and blew out the candles, before cuddling into his lover’s arm and letting Heero lead him outside.
Heero felt all happy now. He simply let this praying-thing be Duo’s personal disorder and enjoy the rest of the time with him. Nobody ever had been so himself than Duo. Heero adored his lover’s characteristic and the way, Duo could pull something out of him, Heero, he’d never known. How could he have ever lived without that?
“Heero, daijobo desu ka?” he had woken me one night. I don’t even know what I had dreamed. His braid was falling down his shoulder as he pulled me out of sleep. His brows were narrowed in concern. I nodded, staring wide-eyed at him. I was too confused to catch myself. “Hn.”
“Okay. I was scared,” Duo said. His face visibly eased up, but he didn’t let go of me. He just held me up and watched me. “I’m going to eat something,” he said, “do you want to come?” My eyes flickered to the clock in our room, it was three thirty in the morning. A strange time to eat. But then, Duo is doing what he likes, whenever he likes it. I figured I couldn’t sleep and I needed company. I got up slowly. Duo was wearing his striped pajamas, while I was in nothing but navy spandex shorts. I quickly threw the green shirt over me and followed him silently. Duo had his head in the fridge when I entered.
“Today’s menu for Heero Yuy,” he whispered, “bread, salad, tomatoes, eggs and cheese.” He looked at me questioningly. I nodded.
“For Duo Maxwell the same thing without eggs,” Duo stated whispering. His pajama had slid down one of his shoulders, since they were much too big for him, revealing the blank skin. It glistened in the darkness. He cheerfully slammed the bread onto the table and buttered it in an incredible pace. I was leaning against the counter, trying to reflect my dream. I knew it featured Duo, but that was all I remembered.
“Don’t know what you dreamed?” Duo asked, as if he could guess my thoughts.
“Iie,” I answered, hardly able to catch myself. How did he know?
“I don’t know whether you like to hear this,” he said, placing salad on the bread, “but you were sobbing. Was it okay that I woke you up?” He looked at me, a sheepish smile trying to cover the concern in his face.
“Mh... okay. I really hate to see you like this, you know?” It seemed as if he was holding something back, something on the tip of his tongue.
“Don’t be worried about me,” I stated simply. “There’s no reason to worry about someone like me.” And it was true. What was I...? ... a machine. And compared to that lively, astonishing free bird Duo Maxwell, I was nothing.
“Don’t say that,” he said earnestly. “You are you. That’s enough to be worried about.”
“Perfectly right,” I said, purposely misunderstanding him.
“No, I mean your person is enough to care about,” he finished the bread to hand it to me. I placed it on the counter next to me. He turned around, leaning against the sink. We faced each other, eye to eye. His deep purple jewels stinging mine, and I felt as if I was all pale and shaggy, while he glowed like fire.
“Hn. I am a killing machine.”
“Aw, Heero. You are so much more!” Duo protested, a little affected by how directly I put it and how stoic and emotionless I acted.
“No. Not really. But that’s alright, I was meant to be that way.”
“Heero...!” he protested, at a lack of words. No wonder... it was true. What could he say against it?
“I can’t believe there’s nothing inside you, even if you tell me.”
“No, Heero. You are the way you are, you are special and deep there inside,” he came over and put a hand on my chest, patting it, “there’s so much more. Someone tried to hide it, but it is still there.”
I looked at him and was quite bewildered. No, there was nothing within, except for maybe the wish that there was something. I shook my head. “I wished it was as you tell me.”
“I know it is,” he said, still standing right in front of me, still having his warm hand on my chest, and something was lightening in there. Only with Duo so close.
“Huh?” I gasped, not quite able to put his words and my feelings into sense. “What are you doing?” I asked nervously.
“Nani? I’m just telling you that you should try to find yourself inside.”
“No! You hand, what’s with your hand?”
He looked at his hand, not understanding and took it off my chest. “Nothing, I just ... I just touched you...” he was confused himself now.
“You didn’t do that on purpose?” I asked, the strange fire in my chest still fanning.
“No. What should I have done?”
“That... that feeling,” I brought out, unable to describe what it was. And worse than that, it wasn’t the first time it had occurred. But the long touch on my chest was the worst way I had ever felt it. I hated not to understand or be understood. Both was the case, because how could I make Duo understand, if I didn’t comprehend anything myself? I was highly confused, my eyes flickered across the room, searching for something to support myself on. There was a rushing in my ears and my eyes hurt. My body was acting wildly out of order, as if I was about to faint.
“Heero, are you okay?” he was in serious concern again.
“I... I don’t know. This is so confusing...”
“Nani?” Duo tried his best to understand what was wrong with me, but what chance did he have? I didn’t even know myself why I was so shaken by now. Had that something to do with my dream, somewhere still hidden in my sub-conscience?
“I don’t know Duo... your hand. That- that fire,” I babbled, seeking help from the only one present: Duo.
“Goodness, Heero! What’s up with you?” he cried helplessly at my confusion, “How can I help you, for hell’s sake?” He grabbed me by the shoulder holding me tight, as if I was about to go insane, which I probably was. Things tumbled down on me... pictures of Duo sleeping, eating, looking at me, walking across the room... I was totally confused like I had never been before. And then a vision of Duo going away, having his things packed, ready to leave, waving at me cheerfully. Was that the dream returning?
“It’s you, Duo!” I said, swallowing hard. Duo was muted, unable to find his words, though his mouth was trying to form something, but nothing escaped. No sound.
“Duo! I don’t know why, but I need you.” I felt the urge to hug him and lean my head on his chest, especially because my legs seemed to give away. I succumbed to it. Duo gently ran his fingers through my hair, letting me calm down. There was a sensation to be in his arms. It was clear to me now, why I needed him. He was the part of me, I missed, he was the other half. I needed him, because only he could help me discover what he had spoken about. I held my arms to him tightly, not letting go. We stood there for a while, my head resting on his shoulder, until I eventually pulled away.
“Better now?” he asked, caressing my back.
“Iie...” I answered. Everything was even more confusing now, since I didn’t understand how this was supposed to go on. It was all locked inside me again, needing to be freed. Maybe by Duo’s hand again. But the last time it had hurt, and I was afraid it would hurt me again.
“Y...you need me?” he picked up the conversation.
“Somehow I can’t be myself without you, Duo.”
There was a long pause in which I was trying to find words. He looked into my eyes, setting that fire aflame again without realizing it. If he didn’t want to be there for me, what would happen? Would I always stay the way I am, myself locked inside me, as he had said?
“I will never learn to be myself without you,” I said, not knowing where these words came from and why I had repeated myself. It was as if I was walking on a new planet.
“Uh...” Duo gasped, still watching me, his hands closed around my lower back. I kissed his chin, my eyes closed. I couldn’t really help it.
“Heero...?” Duo asked confusedly, his arms on my back were trembling, as far as I could tell. On reflex I pulled away from him. I lowered my head.
“Gomen nasai. I... Is this love?” I asked him, or myself, or whatever.
“Heero?” he whispered faintly, “You love me?” A hand moved up my arm to my bare shoulder, the long sleeve of his pajama tickling my skin.
“I don’t know,” I said sadly. Duo held his hand there and gently lifted my chin with the other hand, forcing me to look at him. I did look; I was conjured by this face.
“Would it help you, if I told you ai shiteru?” he asked, his eyes slightly watering.
“Do you mean it?”
“Yes,” he said. I think my eyes or something in my face told him everything. He leaned forward, meeting my lips, his arms holding my back. I could feel the cloth of his pajamas on my naked feet. I let him hug me. I knew all this was true and I felt it! I felt the sensation of love.
He didn’t leave my side that night, nor the next morning. He was there, supporting me to go though this, trying to make me feel emotions. He sometimes succeeded and sometimes didn’t. But when we were alone, I was myself...
Heero and Duo spent half of the night under an old tree on their own, until Trowa, with Quatre on his arm appeared, telling them they’d go to sleep since it was late, and they had to get up early. Duo nodded and dragged Heero to follow them. Wufei had been left behind on his own will.
“Chang Wufei, right?” a voice said.
“Janina Khushrenada,” he said, recognizing the voice. He was leaning on a banister, watching the stars. “What do you want?”
“Nothing. I just saw you standing here, and I wondered why you are so dismissive towards women.”
“Is that your business?” He picked up an apple from the lawn and threw it up and held it in his palm.
“No. It almost seemed to me you were afraid of women, but I cannot believe that. You seem to strong and determined on your aims for that.”
She sounded just like Treize, which was even more disturbing. He squashed the apple in his hand, letting it’s remains fall onto the floor. “I don’t have any intentions to talk to anyone from the Khushrenada family,” he stated coldly, his eyes still fixed on the stars, knowing somewhere out there was Treize...
“Because of uncle Treize?” she asked, piercing his heart.
He groaned, letting his eyes sink and rest on the crown of a nearby tree. “I don’t want to have anything to do with the unjust intentions of OZ.”
“I don’t care,” she said, “I just want to survive peacefully, no matter whether I control, I am controlled or I am free.”
“How can one be so stupid, so senseless as you?” he asked, hate glaring from his eyes as he turned around.
“I’m just reasonable. What if there’s a dictatorship? It’s better than this war.”
“Tell your uncle, I’ll kill him.”
She laughed lightly. “Ha! Another death thread? This is so boring. He gets a hundred of these!”
He let out an angry growl at her remark. “You don’t know me, but you can consider me a serious opponent. Treize knows me, and Treize knows that, too.” He grabbed another apple and turned away from her, heading for his room.
He wondered, whether he really was a serious opponent. Treize made him weaker than anyone else. For a moment, he had forgotten with whom he had been talking. Was it Janina or was it Treize? Where the heck was his katana?