Category: AU, Gundam Wing, Yaoi
Pairings: will be 1x2, 3x4
Complete Archive: www.geocities.com/arigatomina
Divide and Conquer
The showers were in the back of the room, lining the far wall. The tiling was pale gray, not quite white, the floor covered with squares of navy blue. A foot wide porcelain gray barrier separated the showers from the actual changing area, three openings allowing people to travel between the two. It was a large room, designed to allow interviews after games, so everything was well made. There were three aisles lined with lockers on each side as well as short benches covered in dark blue paint. In keeping with the school's colors, the room was almost too colorful. The lights made the pale gray bright, but the dark floor stood out in defiance of typical rooms. Even the small desk the coach used during games was dark blue, the contrast being done so he was the first thing seen when people entered the double doors.
The man who taught the morning basketball course was Robert York, however, and he never entered the locker room. He was actually something of a joke at the school, rumors had it that he was being replaced soon. As a result, his previously lenient hands-off style of teaching had become worse. Now he simply made certain all of the students on his lists were present and then sent them onto the court. Shoddy, he usually showed up less than two minutes before class started, so he wasn't there when the morning students showed up.
There were nearly thirty students in the room by fifteen till eight since tardiness was not excusable. Whether the instructor was present or not didn't matter, the students were expected to be there on time. And as a rule, they generally were; anyone who was going to be late to a class didn't show up at all. Since the locker rooms were used often, the lockers themselves were three high, the bottom for the morning students and the middle for the afternoon classes. The top rows were, of course, reserved for games. The lockers were fixed with removable locks issued to each student. The keys used were the same ones that unlocked their rooms, so two roommates could gain access to their lockers. As a result, few risked leaving possessions inside the lockers. The boys carried their athletic uniforms to class with them, and the locker room was accepted to be off limits during classes to prevent anyone from tampering with their clothing. Though few bothered, since they all wore the same dark blue suits during school hours, the same uniforms for gym classes.
The boys piled through the double doors with talking and revelry that might have seemed odd considering the sober lines of their suits. But they were from the same backgrounds, and most were around sixteen years old. The few silent ones were eclipsed by those who had made friends during their time in the school. These had either chosen to avoid being taken into any of the groups, or were dismissed as wanting. Heero was one of the former. His first year, he'd proven himself to be one of the better basketball players, and he was definitely not wanting in the eyes of his fellow students. Unfortunately for them, his view of them was not so accepting. The few boys who made a daily greeting to him received a vague nod as he passed by on his way to his locker near the showers. He came empty handed to class, his key attached to the slim chain each student kept. Since he shared a room with Trowa, he had no reason to worry about his roommate taking his things. Crouching to unlock his locker, he took his folded outfit. Then he put his back to the rest of the class and began dressing. It was the sound of a loud laugh that made him glance over his shoulder to the two boys who entered into the bustling room of teens.
"Damn! What happened to you?" Hazel eyes shone, roving over the dark bruise that colored Donald's neck and a grin passed the boy's face. "Don't tell me that blonde did that." The tall boy glared at him, his pale skin flushing with embarrassment and Mike scooted over just a bit so he could get to his locker. "Well? Give."
"I don't want to talk about it," Donald muttered. He didn't have to look to know his friend was smirking at him. Mike would never let him live it down, having been taken down so easily by someone so much smaller than him. But he didn't actually feel as bad as he might have, after all, Travis had come in with him. The tall boy may not have had such an obviously mark of his loss, but he had been just as humiliated.
"On the contrary," Travis murmured, as if reading the boy's mind. "They should hear this." His pale blue eyes flicked to Mike for a moment, assessing the boy's interest as well as his mocking of Donald. Then he shrugged off the midnight blue jacket of his suit, dropping it on the dark bench. "Boys, we have a problem here." Movement caught his eye, and he nodded when Nicholas raised his head, odd grayish brown eyes glinting. He was usually the silent one, but Travis knew he was always up for a challenge. Undoing his white button up shirt, he sighed and waited as Mike laughed and made much of the light bruise on his stomach.
"Who did you guys go up against?" Mike asked, looking from Travis to the still embarrassed Donald. His hands curled into fists and he flexed his arm, tensing his muscles as a grin curved his lips. "Next time you're getting your ass kicked, send him my way." Despite his talk, he was impressed. He liked to think of himself as being the strong one, but Travis was much quicker than him. His bulky muscles may work to intimidate people, but even he couldn't stand in a fight against their leader.
"This isn't a joke," Travis said coldly. "He questioned our authority. I don't have to tell you how bad it would look if this got out." Dressing as he spoke, he kept his voice low enough so only the three other boys could hear him. General discussion and movements kept his words from drifting, not that anyone was near them. The other students knew better than to enter their space and they had almost the entire aisle to themselves. "It was Maxwell, last night."
"You're shitting me." Mike's eyes flitted from Travis to Donald, then around the room. "The chick?"
"Damn American," Donald cursed suddenly. "That bastard."
"Hey! I'm an American." Standing, Mike took a threatening step toward Donald, glaring until the tall boy shuffled back. "You got a problem with that?"
"Shut up," Travis said. The large teen turned to look at him and he smiled slowly, his pale blue eyes glinting when Mike quickly closed his mouth. "Better. And yes, it was him. But don't let that hair fool you, he hit hard, and he knew exactly what he was doing. He's a street-fighter."
"What does that mean?" Donald asked, bending so he could tie his sneakers. "A street fighter?"
"He fights in the streets, dumb-ass." Mike snorted, shaking his head. "So what? We're supposed to be afraid of him?"
"No, we pay him back, of course. But carefully. Don't underestimate this one." Travis paused for a moment, then Nicholas stood and he glanced at the boy.
Donald ducked his head, and Travis nodded slowly, taking in the boy's continued embarrassment. "Later. Maxwell's made himself his...protector. So we go along with it. Besides," he smiled, "he's going to be fun to break. There's just one problem, he's rooming with Wufei."
Boys were leaving the room, and their eyes were drawn to the same figure. Dark unruly hair hung down over the boy's forehead and midnight blue eyes were glaring at them. They didn't have to wonder if he'd heard them, the fact that he walked down their aisle told them enough. Heero slowed as he moved between Mike and Travis, his eyes flicking from one then to the other and he stopped with his back to them.
He didn't look like much; the Japanese boy was slender, not very muscular and nearly two years younger than them. But they'd had their problems with him in the past. Travis looked at the boy's stiff back, his eyes narrowing slowly. "Yuy. Is there something we can do for you?" The boy turned sharply, his narrowed glare boring into him and Travis straightened. "This does not concern you." They stared at each other, neither willing to concede, and Travis knew better than to look away first. Those dark eyes continued to narrow until they were slits, then the boy nodded sharply and turned away just as quick.
"He marked you," Nicholas said suddenly, stepping up next to Travis. "Why?"
"Maybe he's competition," Mike smirked, shaking off the cold sheath that seemed to have closed around him. He would never admit to being intimidated by the slight boy, even to himself. "He may have beaten Craig, but there isn't shit he can do against the four of us."
"Let's go," Travis said, not glancing at his friends. His statement remained closed, and he left the locker room, the four of them the last ones out. The rest of he students were in a general group just outside the doors and to the right of the bleachers. Their instructor had yet to make his appearance, and Travis didn't fail to notice where Heero was standing. The boy normally sat on the bleachers, being his usual antisocial self. Today he stood in front of them, his stance tense and his glare directed directly at Travis. And the two new boys were seated behind him. They didn't seem to notice their self-proclaimed protector, but Travis understood the statement Heero was making. He understood very well.
* * *
"He sure is taking his time."
Duo was leaning back, his elbows propped on the seat behind him. He was speaking of the teacher, and Quatre noted that the boy still wasn't looking at him. In accordance to what Duo had told him, he'd dressed in his room, and he'd been reluctant to venture out. Somehow, he doubted anyone else would walk through the halls in the gym outfits, except for the players. He had seen them dressed out the day before, but he was still uncomfortable with the thought of standing out so much. His worries had turned out to be groundless. When he'd opened his door, he'd found Duo leaning against the wall waiting for him. They'd walked to class together, but neither had mentioned what happened last night. Quatre still wasn't sure exactly what had happened, but Duo was avoiding his gaze.
"I want to thank you," Quatre said, smiling a little when Duo glanced at him.
"I thought you'd know it was me," Duo smiled, touching the back of his head in a bashful gesture.
"It couldn't have been anyone else. You know, at first I though it might have been you knocking on my door, but when no one said anything I didn't want to open it."
"It's good that you didn't." Duo folded his arms over his chest, his eyes moving to the four boys who stood a few feet from the group of students. "You see them?" Quatre looked over and nodded. "I want you to do me a favor, if you see them, any one of them, following you make sure you stay with a crowd. Don't let any of them get you alone, okay?"
"Then they're the ones who were knocking last night? Why? I haven't been here long enough to have people angry with me."
The blonde obviously had no idea. "They were just looking for a fight," Duo said. This wasn't exactly a lie, and he stood slowly, catching sight of their teacher. "We can talk about it after class."
Crossing the wide court, York blinked lazy eyes at the students. With a wave, he directed them toward the court, tossing the ball to Heero. "Same teams." Nothing more was necessary, and he sat on the bleachers as the boys separated into their teams. There was a minute or two of discussion, then the extras sat down a few feet from him and the others began to play. His gaze drifted away. They didn't need him to play. For the one-hundredth time since being hired, he wondered what the point was of having a teacher if the only thing being taught was basketball. Every student who entered the school knew how to play; many of them were even better at it than he had been in his youth. He just didn't see a point in even trying anymore.
The game was much different from the day before, and Duo found himself sitting on the sidelines after a few minutes. The four boys had yet to even glance at him, and no one had attempted a foul. They hadn't looked at Quatre either, nor had they gone after him when he had the ball. The blonde boy seemed oblivious, no doubt concentrating on the game. He was doing well, but Duo wasn't really watching him. His mind was set on measuring his new opponents, off the court. The fact that they were obviously ignoring Quatre and him didn't fool him for a second. It wasn't over. In fact, he was convinced they had already begun to plot some sort of revenge on him. But he was ready for that.
The boy who'd started things, Donald, was obviously an accomplished basketball player. Tall and thin, he was a good shooter, and fast. But he didn't look to be that strong, Duo marked him as a follower. The only danger from him would be if he managed to get behind him, or caught him off guard somehow. As long as that didn't happen, he wasn't a threat. He was too self-conscious, Duo had noticed that by the way the boy had acted before, as if he were performing before an audience and was used to being ridiculed. The boy looked to be about sixteen, maybe seventeen. His short black hair was almost spiky, standing straight up with too much hair gel in it, a sign that he tried too hard. It didn't flatter him at all with his long face. Duo was well acquainted with his type, the fact that he'd gone after Quatre was another proof that the boy followed the other three because intimidation was his only chance of looking good. And he wasn't at all intimidating.
Travis was the obvious leader, and Duo knew he would never again take him as easily as he had in the hall. The boy had been confident then, but he had an intelligence about him that made Duo doubt he'd be so careless again. His voice was soft, his words said carefully, meaning he thought before he acted. And he didn't have any bad features that Duo could see. In fact, he was almost attractive with his reddish blonde hair and blue eyes. Also tall, he wasn't scrawny like Donald, and he was even better at the game. He didn't dominate people because he had to, meaning he enjoyed it.
Duo didn't know the other two, but he was sure they were a gang as much as any one he'd seen before. The short teenager was not a very good player; he was too slow. But he had obvious strength, his muscles large enough to make him look like a wrestler. More likely, he was a football player. But Duo didn't really feel worried about him. Sure, he might lose in a close fight, but the boy didn't look particularly intelligent. The smart ones were more of a threat.
The last boy was remarkably unremarkable looking. His hair was a bit odd, thin and brown, it was cut in an arc around his face and hung straight to his shoulders. Duo couldn't really see his eyes from where he sat, but they looked pale. The boy was nearly a head shorter than Travis, though he looked older and was about as muscular. He wasn't a very good basketball player, but he wasn't bad either. If he hadn't seen the boy with the other three, he would never have given him a second glance. But Duo wasn't going to dismiss him just yet, he'd have to keep an eye on him the same as the others.
* * *
Despite its focus on athletics, the school had a huge library. Wufei was seated at a table in the far corner, books open in front of him. Usually he did his studying in his room, but he didn't want to try that with Duo sharing it. The boy confused him, and there was no way he'd be able to concentrate. It had been odd enough when the boy had been friendly, and his later anger had definitely distracted him. But now just the thought of the boy's odd behavior was enough to make him forget what he was reading. He had finally managed to concentrate when someone approached him and he looked up, glare firm on his face. Heero's glare was darker.
"What happened last night?"
The Japanese boy was definitely furious and Wufei shook his head. He didn't know what he'd done, but Trowa was also looking angry and he waited until the two boys sat down before leaning forward. "What's wrong?"
"The Rauders were talking about you, about your roommate. What happened?" Heero had lowered his voice, but it was hard to keep his anger under control. That Wufei would have let so much time go by without telling him was infuriating. If the gang had tried to attack Duo, then they should have been told about it immediately. They'd agreed to prevent things like that.
"Duo?" Wufei leaned back in his chair, frowning at Heero. Trowa was watching him carefully, and he shook his head again. "I don't know what happened, if anything did. Someone was knocking on a door, but it wasn't ours. Duo did go out," Wufei frowned, "but he came back in after only a minute or two. I don't think anything could have happened in such a short amount of time."
"According to Travis," Heero's eye twitched when he said the name, "Duo managed to overpower them. He and Donald, the other two weren't there. Duo must have realized they were going after Quatre. And he didn't say anything to you?"
"No." It was inconceivable, that he slight, longhaired boy could have `overpowered' Travis. Wufei just couldn't see it. "He didn't say anything, in fact, he smiled at me when he came back in. He did write a note or something and leave, but he came right back. Are you sure he fought them? He didn't look as if he were injured."
"I saw Donald earlier," Trowa said quietly, "He had a bruise on his neck. It's possible that Duo did that. They wouldn't have expected him to retaliate, so he may have taken them by surprise."
"And they plan to retaliate. We'll have to make sure they don't get a chance. That means we need to keep an eye on Duo." Heero looked at Wufei, his anger no longer directed at the boy. "If he goes out at night again, he'll be a perfect target. I think you should tell him, you said he liked you before, he should listen, and he needs to be warned."
"Yes." Wufei dropped his eyes, his hands tightening into fists beneath the table. Heero didn't seem to blame him, but he felt that he should have realized what was happening. Duo had recognized the knocking, but he hadn't even thought of it. The Rauders had been quiet lately, the loss of their former leader had done damage to their pride as a gang. And Wufei knew that they were afraid of Heero for having taken the boy out. Obviously, the quiet months had caused them to forget the past confrontation. That, or they felt it was worth the risk. Either way, he hadn't expected trouble, but he should have. Heero was right to be angry. After the last time they'd made a nonverbal pact to keep a watch on the four teens, and he hadn't kept his part. "I'll tell him tonight."
"Good," Heero said. "Because Travis knows I heard them. They won't do anything with witnesses, they'll be waiting for an opportunity to catch him alone."
"We should watch Quatre as well," Trowa put in, nodding sharply. "They may have had their attention turned, but he's still at risk. If they know we're expecting an attack on Duo, they may decide to go after him instead. It's best that we watch them both."
"His room is next to mine," Wufei said, "but he doesn't have a roommate. And he isn't in any of my classes. He'd be harder to watch."
"He changed classes." Trowa nodded when the black-haired boy looked at him in surprise. "Yesterday he wasn't in any of my classes, but he was in my music class third period. And Duo walked him to the door. Obviously, Duo knows the danger."
"Duo managed to take down both Donald and Travis, he must think he's capable of protecting his friend." Heero's eyes flicked away from the table as he remembered the American's behavior during their basketball game. He'd been watching the Rauders, almost as if he was taking account of each. But Heero knew the slender boy wouldn't be able to take them all on, even he didn't have the strength to do that. Separate, the four boys could be beaten, but they fought dirty when they were together. "He is watching Quatre, and we'll watch him."
* * *