disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing, etc, etc.
"Well, guys, here we are!" Duo exclaimed excitedly. "We finally made it!" He turned to the four other pilots and grinned. It had taken them a good hour to make a fifteen minute trip. First no one would drive, then everyone wanted to, then they stopped for food, filled up the jeep's large gas tank, and pulled over so that Duo could be told to be quiet.
It had been quite a ride.
Heero just glared at the pilot with the long, shiny brown braid. He had been the one who was driving and who had pulled over to promptly tell Duo to shut up. Apparently he was still angry.
Wufei looked at the gates and sighed. He had better things to do than stare at a bunch of caged animals.
Trowa quietly looked around the outskirts of the zoo. Seeing exotic animals was nothing special to him, as he worked in a circus. His gaze rested on a small number of pigeons who were pecking crumbs off of the ground near a small wooden bench. He continued to stare blankly at the birds until he was jolted back to reality by a light tugging on his arm. He looked over to see Quatre gripping his wrist.
"C'mon, Trowa!" the blonde Arabian said impatiently, pulling him towards the gates. "Let's go!"
Trowa smiled and Quatre stopped pulling. He smiled back. Trowa turned to the three other Gundam pilots. "Well, Quatre and I will be heading off now. We'll meet you at the Zebra cafe for lunch at noon."
Heero nodded. "Right. Rendezvous in one hour. Stick to the plan." As Trowa and Quatre wandered off, they heard Duo loudly complaining to Heero. "Aw, Heero, we aren't really going to stick to a plan, are we? We just all want to meet for lunch. This isn't some mission! God, I even bet you're armed..."
"Always," the dedicated young man replied evenly.
Trowa smiled slightly as he heard Heero's response. He then turned his attention back to the wide-eyed Arabian next to him, who still had a light grip on his wrist.
Duo placed his hands on his hips. "Well, that's a huge surprise."
Heero glared at him.
Duo stood facing Heero for a moment more before finally sighing and reaching out his hand to grab Heero's arm. "Well, at least I'll be safe here."
"Why?" Heero sighed as he waited for what he was sure to be a stupid response.
"Well," Duo began, giving Heero a big grin. "You're armed, and I'm walking around with you."
"Since when?" Heero asked as Duo began dragged him into the zoo.
"So, where do you want to go first?" Duo inquired of his reluctant companion. Without waiting for a reply, Duo ran over to the nearest exhibit, bringing Heero with him. "Oh, look, seals! Aren't they just adorable?" He gushed.
"This is going to be a long hour," Heero muttered to himself.
Back at the gates, Wufei glanced at their parked car. "Damn," he cursed aloud. "Heero still has the keys."
Shenlong's pilot looked at the zoo and sighed. "Guess I'm stuck walking around by myself, as usual."
Not that he minded. Being dragged along by either of the couples wasn't exactly his idea of fun.
Wufei glanced at his watch. "Hmm. Five after eleven. I've got fifty-five minutes until I have to meet everyone for lunch. I'd better check this place out. Knowing the floor plan and security system could come in handy later..." mumbled to himself as he walked over to an area closed off with a rope and a sign saying "Authorized Personnel Only."
He was about to go into the area when a scream followed by a splash came from the seal tank. He turned in time to see a soaking- wet Duo climbing out of the tank shouting "HEERO! I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!!!"
Wufei chuckled quietly to himself as he quickly hopped the rope and entered the off-limits territory.
"Oh, look at that one big one, over there," Quatre said excitedly, pointing to a fluffy gray wolf sitting alone a corner of the large area it and four other wolves shared. "It's just like Wufei!"
"Huh?" A surprised Trowa asked.
"And those two that are fighting are like Duo and Heero," Quatre continued, gesturing towards two pups who were rolling around nipping at each other.
Watching them wrestle around Trowa agreed. "I'd say you have that one right. What about the other two?" he asked with a barely detectable, sly smile.
Quatre's eyes lit up. The remaining to were curled up next to each other, sleeping. "Oh, well, those two would be us."
Trowa slipped his arm around the smaller pilot's waist. "Mmm," he murmured in agreement.
"HEERO!" Duo yelled again as he jumped out of the seal tank, clothing and hair completely saturated in water. Heero was rapidly moving towards the reptile house. Duo quickly ran off after Heero, his thick braid slapping his back, spraying people as he went by them. "Gomen!" he found himself continually apologizing to the people he passed.
Finally Duo made it to the Reptile house. "Great," he muttered upon entry. "It's freezing in here."
The reptile house was cold and dark, and as Duo began to walk further into it, he began to feel a little uneasy. The place was deserted, but he was sure that Heero had gone into the building. As he turned a corner, it became even darker. Duo had entered the section that was full of the nocturnal animals.
"Heero," he whispered, wrapping his arms around himself. "Heero, where are you?"
Duo continued slowly, glancing at the cages full of slowly moving animals. Their eyes seemed to glow as they peered out at the cold, wet, scared boy who had wandered into their home.
Duo stopped in front of the cage of a large snake. Duo shuddered as he thought of what it would feel like to have that snake crawl up his leg and wrap around his waist, squeezing the life out of him. Suddenly, Duo felt two warm, slender, arms slide around his waist. He let out a blood-curdling scream.
Then he heard the person behind him laugh.
"Heero!" Duo exclaimed, wrenching free of his friend's grasp. "Why you little-"
"Scared, Duo?" Heero snickered.
Duo scowled and turned away. Wrapping his arms around himself, he responded, "No. You just startled me." Duo's rapidly beating heart said otherwise, and Duo was glad that Heero couldn't hear it. He didn't want the Wing pilot to know that he had been close to panicking as he wandered through the dark building alone.
Duo was jolted out of his thoughts when he again felt Heero's arms around him. What was this? Heero had pulled him against himself, holding Duo's wet head to his chest.
"Duo," He whispered, gently stroking the back of his friend's soaking chestnut hair. "You're shaking."
Duo was too shocked to move for a moment. Heero sounded almost...concerned.
Then he remembered his pride.
Duo quickly pulled out of Heero's warm, strong arms and growled, "I'm just cold."
Heero's face fell. "Gomen. I shouldn't have-"
Suddenly Duo began to regret his swiftly pulling away from his solemn companion. Heero had reached out to him. Heero Yuy had acted as if he cared for him and what had he done? He had pushed him away and said something rude.
//Nice job, Duo,// he told himself. //Now your only chance to get closer to him is lost. He'll never try that again.//
Duo looked up. He hadn't realized that he had been looking at the ground. Heero was standing right next to him again. "Oh, um, sorry. What did you say?" Duo asked sheepishly, avoiding his friend's large, cobalt blue eyes.
"I asked if you were sure that you're all right."
"Oh, yeah." Duo responded off handedly. "I'm fine." He began walking towards the next section in the reptile house. He felt a strong hand gently grip his shoulder. Duo stopped and faced his companion.
"Duo, I'm really sorry. It's not my place to...that is, I..."
Duo gave Heero a small smile. "Heero, you shouldn't be the one apologizing. I'm the one who made the mistake." Duo averted his eyes from Heero's beautiful ones. He didn't want to have to face them as he said, "I pushed you away, and I shouldn't have."
"I think that your reaction was perfectly justified," Heero responded quickly. Duo looked up at him in surprise. A small grin tugged at the corners of Heero's mouth as he added, "After all, I pushed you into a tank."
Heero took off running as Duo remembered why he had chased Heero into the building in the first place. "You'd better run, Yuy!" Duo yelled after the dark haired boy in front of him. "Because when I catch up to you, there's gonna be no mercy!"
Wufei sat huddled behind a group of small bushes. He eyed the door that was only a few meters in front of him. He glanced at his watch.
"Okay...now." The minute hand clicked to reveal that it was eleven-thirty.
The door promptly opened and short blonde woman stepped out. "Well, it's my break!" she exclaimed to no one in particular.
She started to leave when she turned and looked around. Wufei held his breath.
"Oh well," she sighed. "Ken will get here in a couple of minutes." With that she was gone.
Wufei immediately stood up and ran to the door. "Judging from the conversation between that woman and the person in the shift before her, I've got two minutes before Ken shows up," he mumbled to himself. "I'd better act fast."
Once inside, he looked around at the place. The only thing in the large room was hay. Piles and piles of hay.
"Where the hell are the computers? The elaborate monitoring system so that I can see everything in the park?" Wufei asked aloud. "What the hell is going on! Why on earth is this off-limits to the public?" Wufei glanced at his watch again and cursed.
11:33. He was late.
Thinking quickly, he dove out the window.
Right into a middle-aged man wearing a zoo uniform. Wufei looked at the name tag pinned to the man's shirt.
Silently Wufei cursed as he jumped off into the bushes, leaving Ken bewildered. He could faintly hear Ken speaking into the walkie-talkie that had been clipped to his belt.
"Security? I think we have a situation here..."
Quatre looked at his watch. "We have a half-hour before we have to meet up with the other guys. Where do you want to go, Trowa?"
His arm still around the smaller boy's waist, Trowa began walking towards a sign with the zoo map on it.
"Well, the bird sanctuary is near the cafe...We could go there and then we'd be on time for lunch."
Quatre beamed up at his friend. "Great idea!"
Trowa gave him a slight smile, and the two headed off in the direction of the sanctuary. Suddenly, Quatre stopped.
Looking up to meet Trowa in the eyes, Quatre quietly asked, "Um, Trowa? Do you realize that you still have your arm, um-" Quatre began to blush deeply.
Trowa's smile appeared once again as he nodded.
Quatre continued to look up to the tall young man, his wide blue eyes shining with delight. "Oh, well then. In that case, let's continue."
As the two happily went on their way, Quatre quietly slipped his arm around Trowa's slender waist.
//He'll never catch up to me,// Heero thought smugly, glancing back at the American who was running several meters behind him. As he focused again on the path in front of him, Heero felt a cold feeling tightening around his chest. Shaking his head, Heero charged foreword, trying to forget what had happened in the dark room.
//He rejected you. Get over it!// he told himself, but that didn't make the pain go away. //I never should have tried...//
Suddenly, Heero heard something land behind him. He hadn't realized that he had stopped running as he reflected upon what had passed between himself and Duo in the reptile house.
Duo's strong arms wrapped around him. "Gotcha! Now it's time for some serious payba-"
Heero quickly twisted out of Duo's grip. Turning to face the braided warrior, Heero raised an eyebrow. "You were saying?"
Duo's head dropped. Throwing his hands up he sighed. "That's it. I'm done. I can't keep chasing you around. I surrender."
Heero could feel his heart flutter hopefully. //That's not what he meant, you idiot,// Heero chided himself. //He was never chasing you in the first place! Not the way you were chasing him. He made that much clear earlier.//
Duo reached out his hand and grasped Heero's in it. "All right," he said to the other pilot, smiling warmly. "I even forgive you for tossing me in with those seals."
Heero glanced down at their hands. "Huh?" he whispered to himself. "I thought he-"
"Heero, let's go!" Duo called, beginning to walk off towards a big building labeled "Ape house."
Reading the sign, Heero muttered, "Ah, I see you need to stop home before lunch."
Duo raised an eyebrow at his friend. "Well, look who's mister funny guy all of a sudden!" Duo laughed as he continued, "You're coming, too, so hop-to-it!" He tugged at Heero again, but Heero quickly caught up to him, and the two walked into the building hand- in-hand.
"I hope they like the table," Quatre told Trowa, who was pulling out a chair for the small blonde pilot.
After Quatre sat down, Trowa gave him a reassuring pat on the back. "I'm sure they will. After all, it's secluded, so it's unlikely that we'll be disturbed."
Quatre smiled as Trowa sat down next to him. "Of course, you're right." Scooting closer to the green-eyed pilot, the Arabian whispered, "I think that I'll enjoy the seclusion as well."
Trowa raised a delicate eyebrow at his companion.
Quatre blushed and turned away. He soon felt Trowa's gentle hand turn his head back towards the tall pilot.
"Later," he whispered to the flushing boy.
Quatre giggled. Nodding slightly, he repeated, "Later."
The doors to the Ape house suddenly burst open. Duo and Heero came running out, hands to their faces.
Once they were several feet away from the exit of the large building, Duo stopped and turned to his companion. "Man, it stinks in there!"
Heero reached out and grabbed the thick braid hanging down Duo's sloping back. It was still moist from the seal incident. Before Duo could ask what he was doing, Heero lifted the braid to his nose and took a whiff.
"Hmm," Heero mused, dropping the braid. "So do you."
"What?!" Duo exploded.
Heero chuckled. "You smell like a cross between fish and apes, Duo."
"Well," Duo huffed, folding his arms across his chest and turning away from Heero. "It's not my fault I got thrown into a tank with a bunch of seals!"
Duo felt Heero's arm gently reaching around his waist. Heero leaned foreword and whispered, "Duo, I'm really sorry about that. It was uncalled for."
Feeling Heero's hot breath on his neck, Duo closed his eyes. Heero actually sounded sorry, too. Unconsciously, Duo lifted his hand up to cradle the side of Heero's face. He gently ran his fingers down the line of Heero's jaw until he reached his friend's soft lips.
Suddenly, Duo realized what he was doing.
Glad that he wasn't facing the cool cobalt eyes, Duo hastily withdrew his hand.
"Well, uh, I, forgave you already anyway," the flushing Shinigami mumbled quickly.
Heero now had both hands around Duo's waist. Gently leaning foreword, his cheek resting against his companion's neck, Heero quietly reminded Duo of reality.
"Time for lunch."
Quatre sipped his tea thoughtfully before saying, "I wonder when the others will get here."
Trowa gestured to the doors at the front of the large room.
Two young men had just entered the cafe, and were talking to the matredee. The matredee laughed at something the boy with the long, chestnut hair had said, and the two pilots sitting at the table saw the other, darker-haired, young man give his companion a light slap on the back of the head.
Quatre laughed. "That's them, all right!"
As the matredee lead the two boys to the table Trowa and Quatre had chosen, Duo lightly elbowed Heero in the stomach.
"I wouldn't do that when you're walking in front of me," Heero growled.
Duo turned around, still walking. Blinking his wide, violet eyes innocently at his companion, Duo asked sweetly, "Why not? You're not going to hurt me, now are you?"
Heero narrowed his eyes and opened his mouth to say something when he suddenly lunged foreword and grabbed the other pilot and pulled him to his chest.
"What the-" Duo mumbled, his voice muffled by the fabric of Heero's loose shirt.
//Third time today,// the self-proclaimed Shinigami noted with a smile.
Heero quickly pushed Duo away and turned him around. "Watch where you're going," he hissed, before shoving Duo foreword.
It wasn't until Duo caught up to the matredee that he realized that he was going to walk into someone. He had heard someone mutter "Excuse me" but he hadn't really been paying attention. Well, that is, he hadn't really been paying attention to anything but Heero.
"Thank you," the young man said to the matredee as they reached the table.
"You're welcome," she responded with a smile and a giggle. "Enjoy your meal."
Duo was about to sit down next to Trowa when, to his surprise, Heero pulled out his chair for him. Duo was again about to sit down when he turned to the Wing pilot and gave him a suspicious look. "If you even consider pulling this chair out from under me-"
Unflinching and totally serious, Heero responded, "It never crossed my mind."
"I've got to make it there in time!" Wufei mumbled to himself as he crawled, commando-style, towards the edge of the bushes. He could see security officers scouting around the building he had just been in.
//Great,// he thought. //They're searching for me.//
He glanced in the opposite direction of the hay-house. Zebra cafe.
"I've got to stick to the plan," the Chinese pilot told himself. "Heero said to rendezvous there at noon. Well, I've got thirty seconds. I have to make a break for it."
With that, he set off running towards the cafe.
Slightly stunned, Duo sat down and allowed Heero to push him closer to the table. Then his blue-eyed companion sat down next to him, ignoring the bewildered looks on the faces of the two other pilots. Heero glared at them, and they both quickly looked away.
Breaking the awkward silence that followed Heero's menacing look, Quatre clasped his hands together and said, "Well, now, the only one who's left is Wufei."
Duo raised an eyebrow at the empty seat. "It's not like him to be late."
Heero glanced at his watch. "He's still got ten seconds."
Duo laughed. "You don't actually expect him to make it here in ten-"
Suddenly, the doors to the cafe burst open, and in ran Wufei, covered in leaves, dirt, and hay.
At exactly twelve o'clock, the Chinese pilot took his seat between Heero and Quatre.
"Whew," he said, breathing a sigh of relief. "I just made it."
The other pilots, even Heero, stared at him in silence.
"What have you been doing, man," Duo finally asked, referring to the various leaves stuck in Wufei's hair and clothing. "Romping around with the animals?"
Wufei grinned slyly, "At least I wasn't swimming with the seals."
"I thought I smelled something!" Quatre exclaimed triumphantly. "It was Duo!"
Duo just glared at the Arabian.
Turning towards the object of his affection, Duo muttered, "Well, it wasn't my fault that someone decided that I should go for a swim."
Ignoring him, the Japanese pilot took a sip of his water.
Duo shrugged. With a laugh, he added, "Ah, well it's all right. I've already forgiven him for it twice."
Heero turned to the amethyst-eyed pilot and raised an eyebrow. "Then why do you keep bring in up?"
The American smiled suggestively, "Because I like the reactions I keep getting from the guy who pushed me in." Duo held Heero's gaze a moment more before turning to the other pilots. "Anyway," he said, rubbing his stomach. "I'm starving! When do we get to eat?"
Quatre laughed at Duo as the Deathscythe pilot licked his lips, and Trowa and Wufei quietly chuckled at the look on his face. Heero continued to stare at his friend, blazing blue eyes locked on the smiling pilot's beautiful face.
//He...liked my reaction?// Heero thought in disbelief.
"But I thought-" the Wing pilot accidentally blurted out.
Everyone turned to Heero. Duo's deep purple eyes settled their gaze on his own blue ones. Heero didn't say anything else, sitting in silent amazement that he had slipped up.
Heero was jolted out of his shock by Duo's hand, which came to rest softly on his shoulder.
"You all right, Heero?" the long-haired boy asked gently. "You seem a bit shaken up."
Heero glared at his concerned companion. "I'm fine."
Looking hurt, Duo retracted his hand. "Sorry, Heero. I was just-"
Suddenly, the doors to the cafe burst open, and a throng of security people came pouring in.
"K'so!!" Wufei cursed. "They've found me!!"
With that, the young Chinese pilot was up. He rushed off into the kitchen,
followed by twenty or so armed guards.
"Well," Quatre said quietly, after the commotion had died down. "That was...interesting."
Duo just shook his head in amusement. "What has Wufei gotten himself into this time?" he wondered aloud, rolling his eyes.
Heero was grim. "I just hope he's armed. Those guards were loaded."
"I noticed that, too," Trowa added. "Why would a zoo need such a heavy security system?"
"For the animals?" Quatre ventured.
"The types of guns the security guards were carrying aren't used for animal control," Heero stated, as he glared at Quatre.
"Oh," the blonde meekly returned.
Trowa patted his leg, and Quatre gently rested his soft hand over Trowa's, lacing their fingers together.
Duo gave them a knowing smile before turning to Heero. "Kind of makes you jealous, ne?" He asked, lightly poking his friend in the ribs.
Heero glared at him. Again.
"That's it!" Duo snapped, standing up. "I just don't get you, Yuy! One minute you're holding me in your arms asking for forgiveness, and the next you won't even speak to me! What did I do this time? Is it so wrong that I want to have a relationship with you? Is it so wrong that I'm trying to move foreword, to progress to the next step, to-"
Heero grabbed Duo's shirt and pulled the talkative American back into his seat. "Duo," he said, looking straight into the brilliant eyes of the out of breath American.
"For the love of god, shut-up!!"
Duo twisted out of Heero's grip. He closed his large violet eyes, but not before Heero, not to mention Trowa and Quatre, caught a glimpse of the pain in them.
Heero sighed. "Duo," His voice was so soft, so gentle, that Duo's head snapped to him in surprise, his wide eyes sparkling with unshed tears. "I understand what you're saying. It's just that...I don't really think that I'm ready for everyone else to."
Duo slowly turned around in his chair. The entire cafe was silent, their eyes locked on him. Feeling a blush creeping up his neck and into his cheeks, Duo smiled weakly and waved to the spectators. As they slowly turned back to their meals, Duo sank down in his chair.
"Uh, sorry if I embarrassed you, Heero."
To the surprise of the three other Gundam pilots at the table, Heero took Duo's hand. "If anyone should be embarrassed, it should be you, baka," he told his chestnut-haired companion. Looking deep into Duo's eyes, into the open pools of emotion that they were, Heero continued, his voice low, so that only Duo could hear him, "But I think it was very brave of you to announce your feelings to the entire room. And very sweet." Heero gave Duo's hand a squeeze.
Duo straightened, his usual grin returning to his face. "You know," he said, staring deep into Heero's beautiful eyes. "just hearing you say that makes it all worthwhile."
Heero looked away. "Just having you near me makes my life worthwhile," he whispered, intending to keep his comment to himself. When he looked back at the table, however, he could see that he was a little too loud.
All three Gundam pilots were staring at him, their mouths hanging open.
"Oh, Heero!" Duo breathed, reaching out and wrapping his arms around the embarrassed boy's neck. "I don't care if the entire cafe hears me: I love you. I've loved you for so long, Heero..." The chestnut-haired pilot's voice faded away as he nuzzled gently against Heero's neck.
Slowly, Heero reached his arms up as he returned his companion's embrace. Kissing the top of Duo's head, his soft lips lingering for a moment on the damp hair, oblivious to its fishy tint, Heero replied, "I love you, too," his voice barely audible. "I always have, and I always will."
Leaning against his lover, Quatre let out a quiet "Aw! How adorable!"
Trowa smiled at his koibito and reached up to stroke the blonde's smooth hair.
The two couples were sitting contentedly when suddenly they noticed someone standing at the table, watching them.
"I'm gone for five minutes and what happens?" Wufei's voice boomed, causing the four other pilots to wince. "Where the hell is the food? I'm *starving* here, people! God, I finally loose those brutes, only to return to find a bunch of..." Wufei's voice trailed off as he plopped onto his chair and folded his arms across his chest.
Ignoring him, Quatre smiled at the newly formed couple across from him before turning to Trowa. "Well," he said cheerfully. "So much for this table being secluded!"
Duo laughed. "Yeah! I think the only person whose attention we've failed to get is the waiter's!"
The other pilots, save Wufei, who was still sulking, chuckled. Suddenly, Heero got an evil glint in his eye. A wicked smirk crept over his lips.
"I bet I can get the waiter's attention."
Duo's eyes widened. He had been watching the idea as it formed and appeared across his koi's face. Whatever it was, he was sure that it wasn't good.
"Now, Heero," the violet eyed pilot began nervously. "Don't go doing anything that will guarantee that we don't eat."
Heero ignored his braided companion and got out of his seat. Watching him pull a gun out of who-knows-where, Quatre buried his angelic face in his hands. "We're doomed!" he sobbed, throwing himself onto Trowa's chest.
Stoic as ever, Trowa tenderly caressed the delicate blonde's back in an attempt to soothe him. It was futile, as Quatre -along with everyone else at the table- was certain as to what Heero planed to do with that gun.
Wufei sighed in frustration. Rolling his eyes, the Chinese pilot muttered, "Great, now we'll never eat."
Duo continued to plead with the Wing pilot, but it was useless. Heero didn't hear a word he said. With great determination, he set off towards the kitchen, where he had observed several waiters coming in and out.
Watching the dark haired pilot march off towards the kitchen, Duo questioned, "Uh, don't you think we should do something?"
"Yes," Wufei agreed. "Run!"
The others quickly glanced at one another before coming to a hasty agreement. They had to get out of there before something disastrous happened and those gaurds were called in. They'd already run into them more than enough as it was.
Heero was at the kitchen door, and was about to open it, when he heard a commotion behind him. He turned back to the table that he had been sitting at with the other pilots.
To his surprise, the Wing pilot found the area deserted.
Except for Wufei, who was stocking up on the bread. After he piled as much bread as he could fit into his shirt, the raven-haired boy moved to leave. Catching Heero's eye, he shrugged guiltily before diving out the window.
Heero sighed and moved to catch up with the others, whom he could see running towards the parking lot.