12-18-2002

Category: Anime, Gundam Wing, Yaoi, AU, 'School-fic'
Warnings: minor angst
Pairings: will be 1x2, 3x4
Author: Arigatomina
Email: arigatoumina@h...
Website/Complete Archive: http://www.geocities.com/arigatomina

 

Divide and Conquer
Part 4

 

Despite Duo's warning in gym class, Quatre hadn't caught a glimpse of the four teens. At least, he hadn't seen any of them in the halls between classes. One of the boys Duo had pointed out was in his last class. The course counted as a history credit, but its focus was on world wars, making it seem more like a psychology class to him. The brown-haired boy sat in the back of the class, so he hadn't gotten the opportunity to see if he was being watched. And the other boy had been one of the first to leave when they were dismissed. On the whole, he didn't see much reason to be worried. He went back to his room without any incident, and he was disappointed to find that Duo wasn't waiting for him. The American boy had walked with him to every class, so he'd been a bit surprised when he hadn't met him after the his last course. Although, he couldn't really complain. Duo had classes, too.

Since it was about the time when they'd eaten the day before, Quatre waited outside his room, leaning against the wall as he watched the students passing him by. They really were a mixed group. He wasn't sure where they all came from, but he spotted a few Asians, and others who looked like they might have been of Spanish descent.

He was positioned between his room, and the door to Duo's room, and he glanced at the other door. Time would pass much quicker if he had someone to talk to, but he didn't think Duo would appreciate it if the boy showed up to find him talking to Wufei again. Remembering the story Duo had told him, he wondered if nationality was the problem. Whatever the problem was with the two boys, it was obviously a misunderstanding, of that he was certain. Quatre was distracted by his thoughts, his eyes on the door to his left, and he jumped when a hand landed on his shoulder.

The blonde boy jerked back against the wall, and Duo let out a small laugh. "Nice reaction time, Quatre, but you should have seen me coming." Pale blue-green eyes blinked as his friend sighed. "Sorry to keep you waiting. The professor had a little trouble with one of his theories. He tried to tell me Europeans introduced slavery to North America, when everyone knows the natives took war captives as slaves when they didn't want to adopt them. I don't know where he got his information from, but I had to set him straight."

"That's all right," Quatre said, moving toward his door. "I haven't been here long."

Turning to his own door, Duo unlocked it so he could leave his books. The room was dark when he entered it, and he glanced at Wufei's empty bed before shrugging. He didn't have a single class with the Chinese boy, but they'd left at about the same time that morning. He tossed his books on his desk and grabbed a few dollars, shoving the money in his pocket as he left the room. Quatre was waiting in the hall when he locked his door. "Well, let's eat." The blonde fell into step beside him, meeting his curious glance. "Any trouble while you were waiting for me earlier?"

Quatre shook his head, not missing the glint in Duo's eyes. "Not at all." The longhaired boy frowned, looking away as they approached the cafeteria. Even though it was good news, Quatre had the distinct impression that Duo was disappointed. "What are you expecting?" he asked quietly. There wasn't a line, the cafeteria as empty as it was yesterday, so he grabbed the same thing he'd gotten before.

"Nothing," Duo admitted, a tight smile pulling his lips. "They probably won't do anything until I let my guard down. I know how it is, I just don't like the wait." They paid for their food and took the same table they'd used before. It wasn't until they sat down that Duo wondered again where his grumpy roommate was. Wufei had eaten at the same time as them before, and he'd actually been thinking about inviting the boy to join them. Oh, he didn't expect Wufei to do it, but it would have been fun to ask and watch the reaction. But there was no sight of the black-haired boy.

Duo sighed across from him, and Quatre looked him over curiously. "Duo, why are you so sure those guys'll cause more trouble?" His friend shifted in visible discomfort at the question, making him sigh. "I'm really missing the picture," he said, eyes dropping to his food, "aren't I."

Duo didn't like the blonde's expression, but he wasn't going to lie to him. "Yeah," he said, patting the boy's shoulder, "you are." A frown crossed the pale boy's face and Duo grinned.

Quatre's frown deepened into an actual scowl and he directed it at Duo. "Well, if you'd explain it to me, I'd know."

"But I like how naïve you are," Duo smirked. Quatre continued to frown at him and he sighed. "Okay. It's not like I was hiding it from you or anything. I just couldn't believe you didn't know. I mean, how sheltered do you have to be not to know-"

"Duo-"

"Sorry, I know how that sounded." The blonde boy was looking past him with wide eyes and Duo closed his mouth suddenly, a familiar and cold sensation passing over him. Pale blue-green eyes met his a second before they reached the table and Duo looked to the side, not bothering to turn his head. This was too public a place for him to make the fist move, and that, as he was sure Travis knew, put him in a tight spot. And judging by Travis' smug expression, the creep planned to take advantage of that.

"Duo. I've been wanting to talk to you," Travis said smoothly, "you don't mind if we join you."

He didn't have to look to know one of them was standing behind him, but Duo's eyes remained on Travis, his own voice just as calm. "Actually, we were just leaving. Quatre." The blonde boy's eyes were still wide, but he nodded sharply, grabbing his tray. But he didn't rise more than an inch before thick hands pressed down on the Quatre's shoulders, effectively holding him in place. Duo's eyes sparked dangerously, his gaze raking over Mike. "Do you mind."

"What's your rush," Travis smiled, moving to sit next to Duo. Mike smirked at him from across the table, waiting until Donald and Nicholas sat down on either side of the blonde before joining him. The violet-eyed American was fairly fuming, but he didn't offer any resistance. Within less than a minute, they had both boys flanked. Leaning his right elbow on the table, Travis turned to look at Duo, his expression darkening instantly. "What did you think," he murmured quietly, "that we'd wait until we got you alone?" Dark eyes glared at him and he smirked back. "I've been playing this school for five years, there's no way I'd lose to you, no matter what street you came from. The way I see it, you have a choice. You can guard your boy there until we take you out, or you can sit back and accept your lot. It's just a matter of how hard you want to make this for yourself." The longhaired boy didn't so much as blink, and he looked past him, catching Mike's eyes.

Duo's eyes remained locked on the leader, but his shoulders tensed when he felt his braid drawn to the left, the tension just enough to send a bolt of pure fury down his spine. If it weren't for Quatre, he would have paid the large fool for that insult immediately. Instead, he refused to even glance back, his glare taking in Travis' smirk. This was bad. Any move made by him would only hurt his own cause, especially if the boy had been telling the truth. Quatre obviously had a high rank in the schools' 'food chain,' but he was nothing. With a room spotted with possible witnesses, he would be the one expelled, and that would leave his new friend completely vulnerable. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the blonde boy flinch, his gaze snapping to him when the table jerked. The blonde's face was ash white, pale eyes staring at the table in visible shock. It only took a second to see why. The coward, Donald, had his hands on the table, but the other one was pressed against Quatre's side, only one hand visible.

"Don't mind them," Travis smirked, taking in how rigid Duo had gone. "You have your own problems, remember?" Violet eyes snapped to him and he glared suddenly, feeling something press against his stomach.

"Call them off," Duo whispered, his voice very low. The taller boy's eyes turned down and his lips curved into a tiny smile as he trailed his knife a bit lower, pressing the blade close to Travis' waistline. "I can geld you quicker than you can move."

"If you did, you'd be expelled," Travis said back, anger hiding his brief flash of fear. "You wouldn't risk it, not with him all alone here."

"Try me." The tension on his hair increased and Duo pressed the knife closer to Travis, the sharp blade easing through the boy's shirt with just the slightest pressure. "I don't bluff."

Flicking a hand over the table, Travis caught Nicholas' eye, no other movement needed. The pale-eyed boy looked at him for a second before lifting his hands and folding them carelessly on the table. Duo smirked, not removing the knife. Staring at the boy, Travis shook his head slowly, holding his body still. "You really think you're capable of taking all of us on, don't you."

"I aim to please," Duo drawled, his own voice calm despite his steady fury. It was a good thing Travis had listened, because he had been about three seconds away from proving his words, regardless of the consequences.

"No," Travis muttered, his own voice a low whisper, "but you will. We don't have to catch you alone. You aren't as safe as you think you are. And your little friend, well, he's going to be getting a new roommate, very soon. Just wait and see."

Duo's eyes widened and he turned suddenly, jerking his braid out of Mike's hand and standing abruptly. The knife was already hidden away, but he kept his arm close enough to pull it if necessary. "You-"

"Travis, company."

The brown-haired boy next to Quatre rose, and Duo's eyes flicked to him, blinking in surprise. Travis looked past him with a dark curse and rose as well. Not sure what was happening, Duo started to turn but paused, jerking his head back when Travis brushed a hand over his cheek. The boy smiled at him before turning and walking away without a backward glance, the other three following. Quatre slumped over the table with his face in his arms, and Duo moved to the boy. It wasn't until he touched his friend's shoulders that he saw the three teens crossing the room, and he frowned at their furious expressions. If he hadn't known better, he'd have sworn they were the ones who'd signaled Travis' departure. But now wasn't the time to wonder why Travis would be afraid of Wufei's friends. Sitting at the table, he rubbed Quatre's shoulder lightly, condemnation burning his face when the boy turned wide, upset eyes to him. "You okay?"

"Duo, they..." Cheeks burning suddenly, Quatre pressed his hands over his eyes, shaking his head. "I feel like such a fool. I just never thought-people at the schools I've gone to never even talk about stuff like that. I mean-" He'd glanced up, and he swallowed when he caught sight of Wufei standing next to the table. He didn't know when the boy had shown up, but surely they hadn't seen anything. His face flamed anyway, the Chinese boy's dark gaze not helping at all. "Hello."

Wufei's hands curled at his sides and he could feel the anger coming from his friends. They'd obviously shown up far too late. "I never thought they'd try something in the open." Duo's head jerked and he nodded to the boy, taking a seat across from him. "They're called the 'Rauders."

"Nice name," Duo snorted, his eyes following Wufei's friends as they, too, sat down across from Quatre and him. "I take it you've had dealings with them in the past?" The dark-haired boy nodded, and Duo looked at him for a minute, recognizing him from his gym class. Looking back to Wufei, Duo's eyes narrowed. "From the way they cut out when they saw you, I'd guess you were rivals. Am I wrong?"

At first Wufei wasn't sure why the boy was glaring at him, but he understood after a second and he blanched, shaking his head. "Not like that. We keep an eye on them, mostly, so they can't do what they tried last night."

Duo blinked, raising an eyebrow at his roommate before glancing at the other two boys. "And how do you know what happened last night? I didn't think they'd brag about it."

"I heard them," Heero said, his gaze straightforward. "I don't know the specifics, but you have to realize you won't be able to stand against them alone." He was angry that they hadn't come in earlier, but he really hadn't expected the `Rauders to move in with witnesses. It was a tactic they'd never used before, and it told him they'd have to watch the boys even in the open from now on. That would be easier to do if they had cooperation. Duo was looking at him and he nodded sharply. "We can protect you."

Duo's first thought was that he'd managed to stumble into some old gangster movie, and he smirked. "No one fights my battles for me," he informed the dark-haired boy. "Besides," he drawled, looking over the three, "what makes you qualified to be...bodyguards?"

"As you said," Heero returned, not bothering to answer the boy's bold claim of capability, "we've had dealings with them in the past. They know better than to force a confrontation around any one of us. If they're attacking in the open, you won't be able to counter them, even if you were capable of fighting for yourself. They-"

"Wait," Duo interrupted, his smirk widening as his eyes sparked, "I am capable of fighting for myself, as you so eloquently put it. I don't know who you are, but you seem to think I want your help." Wufei frowned at him, but Duo kept his gaze on dark blue eyes, noting that the dark-haired boy's expression didn't change at all. "I admit that I'm out of my element here. We seem to have a common enemy, and that's fine. We can join forces, take them out, and both get what we want. But don't think I need anyone to protect me." His eyes flicked to Wufei now and he smiled at his roommate, enjoying how that simple expression managed to make the boy visibly uncomfortable. "Because I don't."

"No?" Heero commented, his dark blue eyes catching Duo's gaze, "and what about him?"

Quatre flushed beside him, and Duo's eyes narrowed dangerously when the blonde boy dropped his gaze. It was one thing to remind him that he'd failed to protect his friend, but to make the boy feel guilty for needing protection was uncalled for. The blonde simply had no preparation for something like this, he'd obviously been sheltered in the past, and he wasn't to blame for that. Glaring at the dark-haired boy who'd spoken, Duo leaned forward. "I don't know you, but you're doing a really good job getting on my bad side fast. My guess is, that's not the route you want to take."

"It isn't," Trowa said suddenly, his calm voice seeming to catch Duo by surprise, judging by the startled violet eyes that turned to him. "What Heero means is that there are four of them, and one of you. The odds are in their favor. We want to even them." Heero's gaze flicked to him, but Trowa kept his own eyes on Duo. He knew very well that wasn't what his roommate had meant, but he was also aware of their position. Guarding the boys would be much easier if they went along with it. Pale blue-green eyes glanced up and he gave a slow nod to the blonde boy, including him in the statement. "Five is better than four."

Although he was mortified to not have realized what the `Rauders wanted, Quatre had an idea he understood what the boys were talking about perfectly. He didn't know if they were planning an outright battle of some kind, but he knew the he was the cause. Last night Duo had protected him, and today... He hadn't been able to see or hear what passed between Duo and the tall `Rauder, but his friend had obviously done something. As far as he could see, he was the cause of all the trouble and he shook his head at Wufei's green-eyed friend, vaguely recalling his name from their introduction the day before. "I could eliminate the problem, just by leaving," he said quietly. It wasn't that easy, and he knew he'd be in a very difficult spot with his father if he did so, but it could be done. Trowa frowned at him, but Quatre's attention turned sharply when Duo shoved his shoulder.

"Don't be stupid," Duo frowned, his hand still on his friend's shoulder. He gave him another light prod to emphasize his point. "What good would that do? You'd be gone, I'd get my idiot self expelled, and then they'd win. You really want to leave them around to go after someone else?" Quatre's brows drew together in an uncertain expression and Duo shook his head. "If you're afraid, then I won't say anything to stop you from leaving the school, but don't do it just to keep me, or them, from fighting. That's stupid. Those jerks need to have their asses kicked. Don't you think so?"

Quatre dropped his eyes again, frowning at the table. "I just don't want to be the cause of-"

"It started years before you got here," Heero said, cutting the boy's words and drawing pale eyes to him. "Another student. We couldn't save him, but we took out their former leader. This time, maybe we can take them all out."

"Took him out," Duo repeated, his violet eyes narrow. "What do you mean, `took him out?' How could you get away with something like that and still be here?" He was thinking about what had just happened, and how he'd been forced to passivity to keep from being expelled. If Heero had managed to kill, or at least incapacitate a fellow student and get away with it, Duo really wanted to know the details for further reference. Dark blue eyes blinked at him and he frowned back. "Seriously, how did you get away with something like that?"

"It was self-defense," Heero said, his expression darkening into a scowl. "The officials here tend to look the other way, but the `Rauders all have connections with the school board. The key to fighting them is to make certain they can't argue with a claim of self-defense. That's one of the reasons we didn't expect them to try anything in the open, too many witnesses who could testify against them. That's another benefit to having us with you."

The boy was far too vague about the actual encounter to satisfy him, but Duo nodded anyway. "You have a point. But what do you have in mind?" Heero frowned at him and he shook his head. He knew the boy probably thought he'd already explained, but Duo wanted specifics. As far as he was concerned, he'd already taken steps to protect Quatre as well as he could, staying with the boy, even in the open. That was why he'd walked him to class, after all, just in case one of the `Rauders tried to snatch him from the busy halls. It was a move he could well imagine from the group. "Details."

"Now," Wufei said, nodding at Duo. "We'd planned to talk to you about this later, but obviously we could have been useful earlier. You were vulnerable here because there were only two of you. All of us have this period free, so it would be better if we ate together. You and Quatre walk to his classes together, so there's no improvement there, but you walk to yours alone, don't you." The violet-eyed American frowned at him and Wufei shook his head, his eyes dark. "Even if you can take on two of them, they aren't honorable. They wouldn't think twice about ganging up on you, using whatever means necessary. What we need, is to go through each of your schedules and see if we can arrange an escort to-"

"Don't call it that," Duo smirked, shaking his head at Wufei, "it hurts your cause." The black-haired boy blinked at him and he sighed. "Go on."

"So we can set things up where neither of you would be alone in the halls," Wufei said, still frowning at the correction. "The `Rauders haven't shown any interest in picking direct fights with us, so you're safe rooming with me. But-"

Grinning, Duo interrupted again. He couldn't help it, there was so much confidence in the boy's statement that he had to comment. "What makes you think they wouldn't take you on? Didn't you guys say that even a person `capable' of fighting could lose if the odds were bad? If it's four against two, that's the same as it is right now."

Heero shook his head. "They won't try anything with you rooming with Wufei. I heard them this morning. The problem is Quatre." The longhaired boy's eyes clouded over and Heero paused, frowning at him.

Not sure how he'd managed to forget, Duo gritted his teeth and leaned back suddenly. The three boys across from him frowned in response, but he shook his head at them. "You just reminded me. How hard is it to get a change of room assignment here?"

Wufei blinked, his brows drawing together. "Are you planning to move out? After what we just said you should realize that-"

"That Quatre has a room to himself," Duo interrupted, his eyes dark. "How hard would it be for someone with connections in the school board to get switched into his room?" The blonde boy stiffened beside him and Duo glared, shaking his head. "If they can do that, there's no point even discussing a `team' effort. There's nothing we can do if he's living with one of the bastards."

"They can't do that," Quatre said quickly, looking at the boys across from him, "can they? I specifically requested a single room. They can't just change that, right?"

All it took was a glance at Duo for Wufei to know that they could, just as easily as the school had turned his single room into a double. "They could," he admitted, "but it isn't likely they would be able to do it on such short notice. New students are the only ones who get assigned so quickly. If you already have an assignment, it takes a week to be moved, and even then you'd have to petition for the relocation. They might be able to get around the petition by pulling in favors, but Quatre would be notified at least a day in advance before anyone received the key to his room."

"Then we have time," Duo murmured, relaxing a bit. "I'll have to see about this petition thing. If Quatre requests a roommate, it would go faster, right?"

"You can't move in with him," Wufei said sharply, dark eyes wide. "That would be a liability. With both of you in the same room, they could get to you just by breaking in." He was aware of Heero and Trowa both looking at him and he frowned, glancing from one to the other. "What?"

"One of us could move in with him," Heero said, exchanging a nod with Trowa. "That would eliminate one risk."

"No," Duo said, raising his voice so the three boys looked at him, "I don't think so. Sorry guys, but I don't know either of you well enough to agree to that." Two pairs of eyes glowered at him and he shrugged, giving them a light smile. "No offense. I may be new to this school, but I wasn't born yesterday. For all I know, you could be in cahoots with the `Rauders."

"We're not," Heero frowned.

"So you say," Duo smirked, "but I don't have any way of knowing that for sure, now do I. No, that idea's out."

Quatre looked at the boys across from him, taking in their varying degrees of insult before glancing at his friend. "Duo, I really don't think they-"

"You're too trusting," Duo shrugged, smiling when the blonde boy frowned at him. Lifting his chin, he looked back across the table. "I think you're right about me, though." This caught their attention, and he nodded sharply. "It would be dangerous to have us both in the same room, like putting all your eggs in one basket, right? But that doesn't leave many choices. Either I move in with Quatre, or we switch rooms."

Wufei blinked, suddenly aware of intense stares coming from either side of him. It only took a moment to understand why and he frowned at Duo. The boy had confused him from the start, and he honestly didn't see why he would be more trustworthy in the American's eye than Heero or Trowa. Duo didn't know him any better than them, even if they had roomed together for a two days. The blonde boy was looking at him and he frowned darker, staring at Duo. "Why would you let him room with me if you think we might be in...cahoots...with the `Rauders?"

"Not you," Duo smiled, "just your friends. And I don't really think that. I was just saying that if they were, I'd have no way of knowing."

"But why would you trust me?" Wufei scowled. The gazes to either side of him made the hairs on the back of his neck rise and he barely kept from glancing at his friends. He just knew he was going to get teased for this.

"Because," Duo shrugged, still smiling at his roommate, "I know people like your `Rauders. They don't know any kind of restraint. But you, well, rooming with you was like rooming with a homophobic eunuch." Wufei choked, his cheeks darkening suddenly and Duo smirked when Heero and Trowa both let out low snorts. "No offense, but you didn't even look at me, and when you did, you either ignored me, or yelled at me. No one who was teamed up with the `Rauders could have done that, they aren't smart enough."

The Chinese boy looked to be more than uncomfortable and Quatre frowned at his friend, shaking his head when Duo raised an eyebrow at him. The American really was blunt. "Duo, I think you're forgetting something."

"What's that?"

"You," Quatre said, frowning when Duo blinked at him. "If I'm in danger rooming alone, how would it make things any better to have you be the one alone?"

"Oh," Duo shrugged, smiling and patting a hand on Quatre's shoulder, "You don't have to worry about that. I wasn't planning to room alone. After all, if they're willing to room with you for purely `protective' purposes, there's no reason one of them couldn't room with me instead."

Glancing at Wufei, Quatre shook his head. "But I thought you didn't trust them." It felt so odd to be talking about Heero and Trowa as if they weren't present, but Duo was starting to confuse him.

"Not enough to stick you in a room alone with one of them," Duo admitted, glancing over at Trowa, and then Heero. "But I'm not worried about myself." His eyes glittered merrily when the Japanese boy raised an eyebrow at him and he tilted his head to the side. "If one of them tries anything, I'll just `take him out' and claim `self-defense.' Right, Heero?"

His lips twitched despite himself and Heero snorted softly. "Right."

"See?" Duo smiled, looking to Quatre. "There's nothing to worry about. You and I can go down to the office tomorrow morning and see about getting some room changes." The blonde boy nodded slowly and Duo relaxed even more.

It really was a good idea, as far as Duo could see. He already knew Quatre got along well enough with Wufei, the boy had admitted that, and he much preferred the idea of his friend rooming with the stoic Chinese boy than living alone. Though he was fairly certain neither of Wufei's friends were the type to try anything, he wasn't going to take any chances. Quatre was too trusting, and he had to admit the boy was sweet enough to tempt even someone with the best of intentions. Luckily, he'd never been the kind to make a play after his friends. Once he'd decided the boy was as sweet as he looked, he'd marked him as off limits. It simplified things.

* * *
TBC