8-10-2000

And Never the Twain Shall Meet
Part XVII

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Quatre wrapped his arms around Catherine as he said his goodbyes. "I wish you didn't have to leave so soon."

"Sorry little brother... I was only allowed a two-day leave. Besides, I'm sure I'll see you again very soon." She placed a tender kiss on Quatre's forehead before turning her attention to Trowa.

"Well... I guess this is goodbye..." She didn't have time to finish as Trowa moved in and wrapped his arms around his sister.

"I will miss you, sis."

Quatre swallowed the lump in his throat as he watched unshed tears well in his lover's eyes.

Catherine was a bit overwhelmed. She hadn't expected such sentiment from him. She closed her eyes and allowed her head to rest against his shoulder. "Trowa... my brother... I will miss you too. You take good care of yourself." She moved away and held Trowa's hands in her own, making every attempt to muster up a cheery smile. "You boys... take good care of each other."

"Until next time," Trowa nodded solemnly.

Catherine grabbed Trowa's head and kissed him on the cheek, surprising the sadden boy. "Cheer up, Trowa! We will see each other again!"

Trowa smiled.

Satisfied, Catherine headed for the plane. When she arrived at the gangway, she turned and tossed them a final kiss, waving happily in their direction.

They both waved back and smiled, watching for a moment as Catherine made her way up the stairs.

Trowa draped his arm around Quatre's shoulders and gave the blonde a crooked smile. "Let's go home."

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"Kaylin." Duo gently shook the sleeping man's shoulder. "Kaylin," he said a bit louder, shaking a bit harder.

Kaylin's blue eyes slowly opened to find Duo's ever-smiling face hovering over him.

"You gonna sleep all day, man?"

Kaylin blinked, trying to clear his sleep-fogged vision. "Why? What time is it?"

"Almost noon. Here, I brought you some coffee." Duo set a steaming mug on the nightstand.

"Noon?! Good grief... I never sleep this late." Kaylin sat up in bed and rubbed the sleep from his eyes before giving the mug a wary look. "You make the coffee?"

Duo shrugged. "Wufei said you like the way I make it. It's fresh."

"Thank you. I should be bouncing off the walls in no time." Kaylin took the mug and sipped tentatively at the steaming contents.

Duo slowly sat on the edge of the bed. "You ok?"

The blonde lowered the mug and his gaze. "I... I really don't know yet, Duo. I have trouble sleeping. I've been having nightmares. I'm extremely depressed... even I can see that. I suppose that's normal for someone who just put a bullet through his own father's head."

"Kaylin!" Duo did not look at all pleased with the way Kaylin's tone had turned.

"I know, I know... it wasn't my fault. I've heard it all already."

"Is any of it sinking in, though?"

Kaylin shrugged. "Logically, it makes sense. I can't argue with it. Nevertheless, I can't help but imagine that there was something... some way of preventing things from happening the way they did."

Duo arched an eyebrow. "Oh? Such as?"

Kaylin opened his mouth as though he were going to respond but ended up just shaking his head.

"Listen to me, Kaylin. You need to pull yourself out this funk with a quickness. You're only hurting yourself by continuing this self-torture."

Kaylin snorted. "Now you sound like Wufei and my sister."

"Maybe they're right." Duo gave the other man a long look. The mention of his sister brought another question to mind. "Kaylin... why didn't you go home?"

Kaylin's eyes immediately fell away. "My... my mother."

Duo suddenly looked angry. He hoped to high heaven that Kaylin was not about to tell him what he, himself, was thinking. "What about your mother?"

Kaylin shook his head. "Nothing just... just leave me alone, Duo."

Duo slowly stood. Realization blended with his angry expression. "She... she's blaming you for this, isn't she?"

Kaylin quickly placed his mug on the nightstand and crossed his arms over his chest. His chin trembled as he refused to say anything.

"If I'm wrong, Kaylin, you had better tell me now; otherwise, I'm about to become really pissed off for no good reason."

"Yes."

"Yes, I'm wrong... or yes, she's blaming you?"

"Yes... she's blaming me."

Duo stood there, blinking several times. He couldn't believe that someone's mother - something he had so often wished for - something he had even prayed for at one time - could treat their own child like this. "Fuckin' bitch," Duo said in an amazed and angry whisper.

"Duo!" Kaylin barked, glaring at the other man.

Duo threw his hands in the air. "Fuck that, Kaylin! What the hell kinda mother is that?! Look at you, you're a mess! You probably don't even know what day of the week it is! You've got so much self pity and anger pent up right now, you can't even think straight. And it's all your damn mother's fault?!"

Kaylin's face was a pallet of emotion. He was surprised, angry, and hurt by Duo's words. "Get out!" Unshed tears of anger were welling in Kaylin's eyes.

"Kaylin, I'm not the one f..."

"I said get out!"

Duo looked at Kaylin with a stunned expression before turning to leave. "Fine." Duo shook his head as he headed for the door. "You know, I thought I knew you, Kaylin. I guess I was wrong. How can I know you when you don't even know yourself."

A blue coffee mug barely missed Duo's head as it audibly whooshed by and shattered against the door.

"Fuck you, Duo! I hate you!"

Duo turned to find Kaylin looking at him with wild, angry eyes.

That was when Kaylin just seemed to... collapse. His shoulders folded in on themselves as his eyes filled with tears. He suddenly grabbed his pillow and buried his face in it... and began crying uncontrollably.

Duo walked back and sat down, wrapping his arms tightly around Kaylin's shoulders.

Kaylin stiffened... but only for a moment before allowing himself to be pulled into the warm circle of Duo's embrace. He wept so hard that he couldn't even draw a breath of air.

The door to the room slowly opened and Heero stuck his head in. He had heard the shattering of the mug and wanted to make certain that Kaylin wasn't hurt. He was briefly disturbed by the sight of Duo with his arms wrapped around the other man until he realized that Kaylin was in a great deal of distress.

Duo shook his head, indicating to Heero that everything was fine and not to interfere.

Heero nodded and quietly closed the door.

Duo smoothed his hand over the top of Kaylin's head. "Now... that's more like it. Let it all go. Let it all go," he soothed as he gently rocked the boy in his arms.

"Oh, God, Duo... what have I done? What have I done?!" Kaylin pounded the bed with his fist and wailed. "I want my father back!" Kaylin's shoulders continued to heave and shudder as the wetness from his eyes soaked the pillow.

"Yes, I know, Kaylin, I know." Duo continued to calm in soft, noncommittal phrases. He could vaguely remember Sister Helena doing this for some of the other children from time to time. She never had to do this for him - boy's don't cry. Yeah, well... we're men now... so it's ok. He continued to hold the distraught young man as he spent a good third of an hour crying himself out.

Kaylin sniffled as he slowly regained control of his emotions. "You bastard... you did this on purpose didn't you?"

Duo hugged the boy tighter. "Maybe I did. Feel better?"

Kaylin nodded. "But I still hate you."

Duo smiled and patted Kaylin's shoulder. "Good. Maybe you can stop hating yourself now. Want some more coffee?"

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Heero stood outside the door and listened. Never in his life had someone else's pain been so tangible. Anger and sadness so thick, it oozed from under the door and crawled up his legs and arms. When it reached his heart, he blinked his watering eyes. "Damnit." Scrubbing the wetness away with clenched fists, he turned resolutely on his heel and went back to his room. He stood inside the door for a moment considering his options. He didn't have too many. He crossed the room and picked up the handset of the telephone... and hesitated for several moments. "It's the only way." He dialed a number. The phone rang once.

"Hello, how may I direct your call?"

"Yes... he... hello, I need to speak with Relena Peacecraft please." Heero could almost hear the woman's eyebrow arch.

"I'm sorry sir, she is in a meeting at the moment. May I take a message?"

"Yes, please. Ask her to contact me at the Winner estate in Montgomery. The name is Heero Yuy. The number is..."

A slight gasp. "Mr. Yuy, my apologies. She will take your call immediately. Can you hold for a moment?"

"Yes, of course."

Heero didn't have to wait two seconds. "Hello, Heero?!"

"Yes, Relena. Hello. I am sorry for disturbing your meeting."

Relena chuckled. "That's how my calls are screened, Heero. There is no meeting. It's good to hear from you. Did... ah... Duo get his message?"

Heero had to smile for a moment. "Yes, he did... and he intensely and indirectly thanks you for it."

There was a moment of silence before Relena began laughing quite hard. She had never heard Heero make a joke before. It took several moments for her to gain control over her laughter. "Hoooo boy." Relena cleared her throat. "Well, I'm glad you called. It's been a madhouse here since I returned - mostly media people wanting to interview you and Kaylin."

"Kaylin?!"

Relena shrugged even though the gesture could not be seen. "He is a hero. After all, he did kill the assassin. Anyway, I've told them that you are all being... debriefed for the next two weeks at an undisclosable location. Dr. J has been looking for you as well. He says you haven't been answering his electronic messages."

Heero started. "I... I left my laptop back at the school. I don't work for Dr. J anymore - I don't need the laptop anymore."

"So... what should I tell him the next time he calls?"

Heero thought for a moment. "Tell him to wait in line with the media."

That seemed to silence Relena for a moment.

"Listen, Relena, the reason I'm calling... it actually concerns Kaylin."

"Oh?"

"I need a favor from you..."

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"Is he up?" Quatre asked as Duo walked into the garden's gazebo.

"Yeah, he's up. You might want to warn Rashid and the others to be careful when they go to clean his room. There are still bits of broken ceramic on the floor."

"What happened?!"

Duo gave Heero a look. "He... he dropped his coffee mug."

"Oh. Well... don't look so worried about it, Duo. It's only a coffee mug." Quatre got up to go find Rashid.

Trowa was leaning back in his chair with his feet propped on the railing, looking out across the gardens. "We are going swimming at the lake shortly... if any or all of you would care to join us."

Wufei was contemplating the man with the braid. "Duo... would you care to take a stroll through the garden?" he asked as he stood and stretched. "I know you would appreciate the beauty."

"Uhh... sure, why not." Duo took the stairs first, leading them into the colorful array of foliage.

"Now... what happened?" Wufei asked calmly once they were out of earshot of the others.

"Nothing. I just had a talk with Kaylin."

"How did the mug get broken, Duo?" Wufei asked with an underlying tone of impatience.

"He... he threw it at me," Duo admitted.

"Why?"

"I made him angry."

Wufei gave the other man a glance. "You make it sound as though you did it on purpose."

"I did."

Wufei stopped and turned to face Duo. "I will say this only once. Do not meddle in Kaylin's mind. He is fragile at the moment."

Duo placed his hands on his hips and gave the Chinese man a somewhat defiant look. "You're damn right he's fragile, but he's not weak!" Duo whispered heatedly. "He's like a... like a festering wound ready to pop!"

Wufei shot him an angry look.

Duo closed his eyes and lowered his head for a moment, crossing his arms over his chest. "He needs cleansing, Wu. He needs to get angry." Duo opened his eyes, revealing a mutual understanding and a deep, deep sadness. "He needs to grieve."

Wufei was dumbstruck.

"Don't deprive him of that just because we never had a chance to."

Coffee colored eyes cast to the ground. "You're hitting below the belt now, Duo."

Duo placed his hand on Wufei's shoulder. "I know I am... but... am I right or am I wrong?"

Wufei nodded his head and looked up at Duo. "You are right... once again. Thank you for your insights, Duo."

Duo wrapped his arm around Wufei's neck and headed back toward the others. "Hey... what are friends for?"

Trowa could not tell what Wufei and Duo were saying, but he could see their actions. He glanced in Heero's direction. "Kaylin didn't just 'drop' the mug, did he?"

Heero shook his head as he watched the two come back up the path. "Nope."

As Duo and Wufei came up the stairs on one side of the gazebo, Kaylin almost tripped up the stairs on the other side. He recovered and looked at everyone with an embarrassed grin. Some of the dullness was definitely gone from his eyes. "You guys ready to go swimming?"

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Wufei watched as Kaylin climbed out of the water, his body glistening in the hot sun. Kaylin was cut like a diamond and, from all appearances, just as indestructible. He was lean, hard muscle stretched over six-and-a-half feet of bone all covered in skin that shimmered like tawny colored silk. With a handsome face containing eyes as blue as shadow darkened snow and a head of hair that shone like the finest spun gold silk, Wufei thought that Kaylin might very well be the model of physical perfection.

Kaylin sat on the lakeside rock with Wufei. "You should get in. The water is nice and warm."

Wufei shook his head. "I am content where I am." Wufei paused. "I hear you were the subject of one of Duo's infamous counseling sessions this morning."

Kaylin continued to towel his hair and arms dry. "Eh? He told you, huh?"

"I didn't leave him much of a choice. I'm sorry, Kaylin. I thought our late night talks were helping you."

Kaylin stopped rubbing and gaped at Wufei. "They are! Wufei, I faced some of my emotions on a very raw level this morning, but that doesn't make our discussions any less important or effective. I need those talks just as much as I needed what happen this morning. Duo's tactics are just a little more... 'in-your-face'... that's all."

Wufei nodded. "Yes, he does have a way with words, doesn't he?"

They both looked out to where Heero was chasing the topic of discussion through the water as Duo backpedaled and splashed at Heero from several feet away. Duo squealed and giggled more and more as Heero gradually closed the gap between them.

"Look at them play," Wufei implored wistfully. "It's as though they are making up for lost time." He watched as Trowa moved toward them with Quatre sitting atop his shoulders. Duo promptly stopped his splashing and lunged toward Heero, climbing to sit on his shoulders as well.

"Quatre doesn't stand a chance against Duo."

Wufei smirked. "You may be surprised."

Duo gave Quatre one good push and the blonde slid into the water.

"Or... perhaps not."

Kaylin nudged his companion. "What say we go even up the odds a bit?"

Wufei saw it as an opportunity to exact some justice... and Kaylin's devilish smile might have helped a bit as well. "How can I refuse?"

Kaylin charged through the water with Wufei perched on his shoulders as Wufei let loose a battle cry. "Shinigami, you are mine!!!!"

"Go, Wufei!" Quatre cheered.

Duo gulped. "Oh, shit! Heero, move! Move your ass!"

And the six men... no... the six children... played until exhausted.

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"Ok..." Quatre stepped into the parlor holding a large manila envelope, "... I have everyone's purchase cards here."

Glances were exchanged between the three still reluctant men.

Wufei cleared his throat. "Quatre... we still haven't come to a decision about this."

The blonde eyed the other three for a moment. "There really isn't a decision involved. The money is there, in your names, and nothing can be done about it. The only choice you do have, is whether to actually use it or not."

Reluctant glances were again exchanged.

Quatre sighed and tossed the envelope onto the piano, shoving his hands into his pockets. "This is a pride thing, isn't it?"

Duo sat forward with his elbows on his knees. "I don't think it's pride. I think we're all just a little worried about how... how we'll act with a few bucks in our pocket. To be honest, I'm already thinking... 'car' - 'clothes'..."

"But, those are things you need, Duo," Quatre pointed out. "There is nothing wrong with that."

"For me it is a pride thing," said Wufei. "I can't get past the feeling that I'm accepting a hand-out."

Quatre turned his attention to Heero. "What about you?"

Heero shrugged. "I am going to take the money and run."

Everyone looked at the decreasingly stoic man with shock.

Heero continued. "Trowa and Quatre are right. I can not continue to hack into computers to keep us in school. The war is over and doing so would be dishonest and far worse on my conscience than accepting this... this gift. I am assuming we all have intentions of finishing school. I don't know what resources you have at your disposal, Wufei... but I do know that there is no way Duo or I would be able to afford it. I have no desire to search for a job right now. I have spent almost my whole life working already."

Heero stood and began walking about with his arms crossed over his chest as he continued to reason aloud. "If, as Duo says, 'a few bucks in my pocket' affects the way I behave - although, I doubt that it will - then I will accept the consequences of that behavior. As for the issue of pride... I don't believe it plays a part in this decision. Trowa was correct when he stated at breakfast yesterday that we have all worked very hard." Heero stood by the window, gazing out across the grounds. "We have all led a difficult life. We have all concerned ourselves with doing for others. Now, for the first time, I am going to do something... for myself."

Quatre raised an eyebrow, looking to the other two men for a response.

After a period of contemplative silence, Duo finally shrugged. "I can't argue with that logic." He turned his attention to the Chinese man. "Wu?"

Wufei turned his mouth down at the corners and begrudgingly nodded his acquiescence. "Yuy, I must admit, you make a compelling argument. I will, however, hold you personally responsible for any... frivolity on my part."

Heero smirked but said nothing.

Quatre smiled and began extracting documents from the envelope. "These statements..." Quatre began as he handed a packet of papers to Duo, "...are about three weeks old. There is actually more than this in the account now."

Duo flipped through the financial statement unable to make heads or tails out of the stream of numbers. "So where's the bottom line, Quatre."

Quatre grinned. "At the bottom of the next-to-last page," he informed as he handed the final packet to Heero.

Duo gasped and came out of his seat. "Quatre! Th-th-th-this is a lot of money!"

Heero and Wufei were both blinking to make certain they weren't seeing double.

Quatre chuckled. "Well, if you say so. Keep in mind that right now about a third of that represents your tuition for the next two-and-a-half years... but there is more being put into the account every day."

"So... so, we could be, like... rich... by the time we graduate?"

Quatre shrugged. "Rich is a relative thing, Duo. I would be more inclined to say you'll be... comfortable. Also, remember that it depends on the continued success of the cereal."

"... and how responsibly we act," Wufei added.

Quatre held a chip encoded plastic card out to Duo.

Duo eyed the card nervously. "Give... give mine to Heero."

Quatre wrinkled his brow. "Why?"

"Because... because it's already burning a hole in my pocket."

The blonde grabbed Duo's wrist and slapped the card into his palm. "If you want to spend some of it, then by all means, do so. That's what it is there for. Just don't get carried away and spend your tuition money."

Heero flipped his card over several times, examining it.

Wufei raised an eyebrow. "You had better keep an eye on him, Duo," he said, nodding toward Heero. "He has, after all, been acting quite unpredictably the last several days."

Heero raised his head, looking a bit dazed. "I have no idea what to do with this."

"You hand it to the clerk and say 'put it on my card'."

"I know that, Duo. I mean I don't know what to do with all of this money."

"Buy whatever you want," Quatre suggested.

Heero gave Duo a brief look and turned his gaze back out the window, wearing a small smile. "I will buy what I need... but I already have everything I want."

Duo was managing a furious blush as two sets of eyes settled on him.

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The early evening found Duo and Heero in their new favorite spot - in the front porch swing. Duo sat with his legs curled up, resting his head on Heero's shoulder.

"Heero?"

"Hmmm?"

"Have you... have you thought about what you want to do?"

Heero smiled. "What... when I grow up, you mean?"

Duo snickered. "Yeah... when you grow up."

Heero shrugged. "I haven't really given it much thought. I've considered the possibility of a computer oriented career... but... I don't think that's what I want. I need a challenge. Like... like running my own business or... or becoming a musician... or..."

"A musician?!"

Heero nodded and grinned. "I know... a bit crazy, isn't it?"

"Surprising, yes. Crazy, no. I didn't know you could play an instrument."

Heero snorted. "That's why it's crazy, Duo. I can't."

Duo shrugged. "So, go for it. If all else fails, you can always fall back on your computer skills."

Heero shook his head. "Then I would be trapped." Heero stretched his legs out in front of him. "No... I need to choose something a bit more... practical."

Duo sat up and looked at Heero as though he were talking nonsense. "Why? Why more practical?"

"Because, Duo, I have to be realistic. I don't want to be... a failure."

"A failure?! Heero, the only person you're failing is yourself if you don't do what's in your heart."

"I'm afraid of failing you."

That gave Duo pause. He suddenly realized that Heero wasn't thinking about himself... he was thinking about him. "Heero, in case you haven't noticed, I can fend for myself. If you're worried about failing, then you should worry about you." Duo was not being unkind with his words... he was being practical. "What did we always do when we feared a mission might fail?"

Heero thought for a moment. "We formulated a backup plan."

"Bingo! Can you say 'double major'?"

"What?"

"If you want to run a business, then be a business major. If you want to be a musician, then be a music major. Nothing says you can't do both. Your grades are more than adequate. Your counselor would allow it."

Heero nodded. "You... you're right." Heero wrapped his arm around Duo's shoulders as the other man settled back into his embrace. "I never thought of that."

"Heh! Now you see why you put up with me. So what instrument you wanna play?"

"Piano... I think."

Duo drew in a surprised gasp. "Kaylin could help you with that! He can play with his eyes closed! I've seen him do it before!"

"Really?"

Duo nodded. "Yup. And he's really, really good... better than Quatre, even!"

Heero had to think about that for a moment, because Quatre was pretty damn good. "Kaylin must be very nearly..."

A taxi pulling into the driveway stopped their conversation.

"Who's that, I wonder."

Heero pushed Duo away. "Go greet them, Duo."

"Me?! Why me?!"

"I need to find Kaylin."

Without further explanation, Heero rose and trotted off to find Kaylin.

Duo sat and watched as a woman climbed out of the taxi. He immediately recognized the shapely figure and the shimmering red hair. Duo jumped off the front porch and hit the ground running. "Megg! Megg!" Duo waved his arms in the air.

He was halfway there when a second form emerged from the other side of the taxi, stopping him in his tracks.

Kaylin's mother.

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Heero found Kaylin, strangely enough, in the parlor, pecking out a melody on the piano. He stopped and looked down as Kaylin's index finger moved from key to key. Heero's mouth curved into a wry smile. Surely it's easier than that. "Kaylin, there is someone here to see you."

Kaylin looked up as he finished off the tune. "See... me?!"

"Yes." Heero paused. "Kaylin... I have to warn you ahead of time. It's your sister... and your mother."

Kaylin sat and looked at Heero with his mouth hanging open for a moment... and then took off like a bat out of hell.

Heero leaned against the doorframe and smiled as his eyes followed Kaylin's quickly retreating form. 'Ah! Vous Dirais-je, Maman'. He also knew the English name for the song Kaylin had been playing. 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'... I've heard Duo's vocal rendition... which he usually follows by making a wish on said star. I wonder if Kaylin has the same habit.

If so, for your sake, Kaylin... I wish... too.

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The redhead flung herself into Duo's outstretched arms. "Duo!!!! It's so good to see you!" She emphasized it with a kiss on Duo's cheek.

Duo chuckled and hugged the girl thoroughly. "It's good to see you too, Megg.... and... ahhh... who is our other guest?"

Megg spoke softly into Duo's ear. "Now, you know damn well who that is."

"Just checking," he whispered back as he proceeded to glare at the older lady.

Megg released her grip on Duo's neck and saw the look on the man's face. "Don't be too hard on her, eh, Duo? She's here to make amends."

"Megg! Let the man glare at me... I deserve it," a gruff voice sounded. The woman was obviously a bit older than she looked.

"Mom, I'd like you to meet Duo Maxwell." She turned and whispered conspiratorially to Duo. "That is your real name, isn't it?"

Duo gave her a surprised look and started laughing. "You've been watchin' too much television. It is my name." He saw no reason to elaborate.

The woman tossed the driver of the taxi a roll of bills. "Keep the change, son." She watched as the cab followed the driveway back onto the road. She shook her finger at Duo. "You know, I've heard a lot about you, boy. My son writes about you in almost every letter I get from him."

As the feisty woman came closer, Duo could see both the wisdom of age and the tenacity of youth in the woman's eyes.

"He said you had fire in you! Well... not in those exact words... but then... Kaylin isn't so eloquent as I." She melodramatically motioned toward herself before shaking her finger at Duo again. "But I can read between the lines! You've been a damn good friend to him..." The lady dropped her pointing hand to her side and allowed her shoulders to sag. "... and I've been nothin' but a fuckin' bitch."

Duo couldn't help himself. He started laughing.

The mother smiled before everyone's attention was drawn to a clamor on the front porch.

There stood Kaylin. "Mama?"

She motioned for Kaylin to come down.

Kaylin was across the yard and doubled over with his arms wrapped around her in record time. "Mama, oh, God, mama, I'm so sorry." Kaylin was crying again.

His mother kissed him on the ear. "I know you are, baby... and so am I." She took Kaylin's hand in her own. "Let's walk and talk. You can tell me about this Wolfey boy."

Kaylin managed a snort. "Wufei, mom."

"Whatever."

Duo and Megg watched as the two walked off across the front lawn. "Wow... what a cool mom."

Megg shrugged. "I knew she would come to her senses."

Duo looked at Megg and blinked. He still was a bit confused as to why, or more accurately... how... they were even here. "How did you find us?"

That was when Heero stepped onto the front porch and waved at Megg.

Duo watched as Megg waved back and smiled at him, exchanging something more than the obvious with the man. A silent 'thank you'.

That was when Duo saw the light.

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Wufei looked up from his reading material as he heard feet hit the stairs leading into the gazebo. "Kaylin?"

"Wufei, I would like you to meet my mother and sister, Anne and Megg."

Megg waved and smiled.

"How do you do?" Wufei nodded.

"What, you can't stand up when you greet a lady?"

"Mom." Kaylin and Megg both warned.

Wufei slowly stood. Interesting.

"What?! If my son's gonna have a boyfriend he damn well better have some manners."

"Ma..." Kaylin whined.

"Pshh. Anyway, I just came back here to tell ya' Wolfie..."

"It's Wu-Fei, madam," the Chinese man corrected.

"Whatever. I just came to tell ya' you better take damn good care of my son or I'll put my foot where the sun don't shine."

Wufei's eyes and mouth rounded in astonishment as the two ladies left the gazebo.

Kaylin looked at Wufei's expression and smiled. "It's her way of saying... she approves... for now."

"Interesting woman."

The blonde watched as his mother and sister followed the path back to the front of the house. "Wufei, I... I'm going to spend the night in the city at the hotel with them."

Wufei nodded. "I understand."

"I'll... I'll see you tomorrow, ok?"

Wufei nodded again.

Kaylin hesitantly leaned in and kissed Wufei on the cheek. "Bye."

Wufei threw his book on the table and grabbed Kaylin's face in his hands, kissing him properly and thoroughly. After a few moments, the two withdrew from the unforeseen encounter with flushed complexions. "Kaylin, I... I wasn't expecting to do that."

Kaylin pulled Wufei close and shrugged. "S'ok. I definitely needed it."

The coffee colored eyes held a hint of a smile. "So did I." Wufei placed his hand over the other man's heart. "Kaylin... I hope you find some peace in the company of your family this evening."

Kaylin could only nod as he unwrapped his arms from around Wufei's torso and headed down the stairs. He stopped and turned for a moment. "Wufei, I..."

"Go!"

Kaylin hesitated and smiled sheepishly before taking off in jog to join his family.

Wufei's heart was soaring.

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Shortly after dinner that evening, Heero walked into his room to find Duo changing clothes. "Duo, I have some good news and I have some bad news."

"What's the bad?"

"We will not be able to go up to the hill this evening. There is a severe weather warning out."

Quatre poked his head through the open door. "Batten down the hatches, boys and girls! We're about to get walloped!" he announced joyfully before closing the door and running off.

Duo quickly walked to the window. Even with the storms still several miles away, he could see flashes of lighting repeatedly splitting the horizon over the city to the west. Even as he watched, the bank of towering clouds was overwhelming the low hanging sun. "Damn." Duo sounded very disappointed. "They're moving fast too."

Heero wrapped his arms around Duo from behind. "We can go tomorrow night."

Duo sighed as he squeezed Heero's arms tighter around himself. "I suppose you're right. We've got all the time in the world."

Heero playfully nuzzled at his companion's ear causing Duo to giggle.

"Hey! I have an idea!" Duo unwrapped himself and ran to the small love seat sitting against the opposite wall. "Let's move this in front of the window and watch the storm!"

Heero moved to one end of the smallish couch and helped Duo carry it across the room, positioning it just so in front of the window.

A light tapping was heard at the door. "Come in," Duo chimed.

Quatre came baring gifts. "I brought you guys a heavy duty flashlight and a large candle in case the power goes out." Quatre looked up from his armload to see that the love seat had been moved. A rueful smile slowly played across his mouth. "Copy cats."

Duo smirked. "Great minds..."

"...think alike." Quatre finished. What surprised them both was that Heero had also finished the phrase.

Heero modestly shrugged off the looks and took the offered supplies from the blonde. "Thank you, Quatre. Do you think we'll need these?"

"Probably. The radio is saying there are already a couple of areas of the city where the power is out."

"Ooooo. I hope Kaylin and his mom and sis don't end up having to sit in the dark all night. What's Wufei doing?"

Quatre shrugged. "He's in his room reading something Kaylin loaned to him. I'm going to take the rest of this stuff to him now." He started to turn to leave but the secretive grin on Duo's face prevented him from doing so. "What is it, Duo?"

"Guess who I saw kissing in the gazebo today." Duo singsonged.

"You were spying on us?!" Quatre asked incredulously.

Duo rolled his eyes. "Nooo... not you and Trowa. Wufei and Kaylin."

"Duo, you shouldn't be telling things like that," Heero admonished.

Quatre looked Duo up and down for a moment. "Heero's right... so... are we talking... a quick peck on the cheek or a real kiss?"

Heero just shook his head.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A bright, distant flash of light was the only evidence of the approaching storm. Heero reclined against a pillow he had propped against the arm of the love seat as he absently brushed a few strands of Duo's hair against his own lips. Duo lay back, resting his head against the other man's bare chest, delicately raking his nails and fingertips along Heero's thigh and calf. Every pass of his fingers over the back of the man's lower leg would find the muscle quivering involuntarily.

Duo chuckled softly. "Are you doing that?"

Heero shook his head as another flurry of fire illuminated the distant sky. "No. It tickles."

Duo bent his neck back so he could see Heero's face. "I didn't know you were ticklish."

"I'm not." Heero drew his eyes from the window and met Duo's playful, upturned gaze. "In case you haven't noticed, you have a way of evoking things in me that are... unlikely."

A small smirk found its way across Duo's lips. "Oh... I've noticed." A low, distant rumble pulled their attention back to encroaching storm. "It's getting closer." Duo listened as the thunder rolled away. "Heero... how did Kaylin's mom know to come here? Did you contact her?"

"No. I contacted Relena and told her of Kaylin's situation. I thought she might be able to... enlighten Mrs. Braithwaite regarding his actions."

"Why Relena?"

Heero shrugged. "When the Queen of the World talks, a person is inclined to listen."

A brief gust of wind set the window's curtains to fluttering. Duo pushed himself up on one elbow to better see his love eye-to-eye. "You were listening at the door... weren't you?"

Heero nodded and a sadness settled over his features. "For the first time... I actually felt another person's despair... and it... affected me. I had to do something."

Duo placed his palm on Heero's cheek. "You did a good thing, Heero. Kaylin will be fine now, I'm sure of it. Not to mention the fact that you've succeeded in surprising me yet again." He eased himself up a bit further and placed a tender kiss on the other man's lips.

Behind his closed eyelids, Heero sensed another flash of light followed more quickly by rolling thunder. He trembled slightly as another sustained gust found its way through the open window, bathing his bare skin in cool, moist air.

Duo slowly withdrew and observed as Heero's eyes fluttered open. Even in the gray, cloud-covered light of late evening, Duo could see the intense blue of Heero's eyes. "Heero, I..." Duo stopped himself and laughed softly.

"What is it, Duo?"

The smiling man gave his head a shake. "I... I was about to say I love you, but... even that doesn't seem like a strong enough word."

"Duo..." Heero smoothed his thumb across Duo's cheek bone, struggling to come up with a response.

Even if Heero had been able to formulate an answer, he would not have had time to vocalize it as Duo once again closed the gap between them. This time Duo's mouth was more demanding - more needy.

Heero answered the need as he allowed the other man to plunder his mouth. He was amazed that, although they had only managed to be together like this a couple of times in the last few days, Duo had already found several methods of causing intense and immediate arousal in him. Another rumble from the heavens accented his soft groan as Duo's tongue played repeatedly across the roof of his mouth.

Duo could feel the man for whom he held such intense feelings become more pliable under his insistent but gentle touch as he allowed his hands to wander over Heero's smooth skin. Duo finally broke the kiss, leaving Heero softly panting as he nuzzled Heero's neck and let his hands travel lower.

Heero cracked his eyes open in time to witness a colorful flurry of sheet lightning race across the sky as the other man used his mouth to find the sensitive spots on his neck and just behind his ear. He drew in a slow shuddering breath as Duo allowed his hand to find its way into his briefs where delicate fingers lightly grazed the surface of the fevered flesh there.

Duo continued by trailing hot, wet kisses across the other boy's collar bone as he loosely closed his fingers around Heero's erection. He slowly moved down the Japanese man's body, seeking out the bud of flesh that rested atop one of Heero's pecs. He slathered the pebbling protrusion before giving it a gentle nip.

Heero gasped as Duo's teeth grazed the sensitive flesh. He shivered slightly as Duo's mouth moved to the other side of his chest, leaving his heated, saliva moistened skin exposed to the increasingly intense wind blowing through the window.

Duo interleaved the fingers of his free hand in Heero's grip as he gave Heero's other hardening nipple similar treatment. He smiled slightly as he felt gooseflesh rise under the attention of his lips and tongue. He used their joined hands to pull Heero into a sitting position as he slowly slid to the floor between Heero's legs.

There was no movement for a moment as Duo's face was illuminated by several successive flashes of light. Heero saw bright, adoring eyes framed by a beautiful face gazing worshipfully up at him. Heero shook his head as he could almost feel the vision imprinted in his memory like a physical thing. Those images would stay with him the rest of his life. He reluctantly allowed Duo to unravel their fingers.

Duo begrudgingly released Heero's tumescence long enough to slide the fabric of Heero's briefs down his muscular thighs and calves.

Heero kicked the cotton material away and watched in horror as they almost flew out the open window. "No!" Nature heard the plea and the wind blew them back in. Heero covered his mouth with a hand and started laughing.

Duo, of course, was rolling. "Oh, God! Could you imagine Quatre finding your underwear in the shrubbery tomorrow morning?"

Heero reached down to where Duo lay giggling on the floor and quickly removed his only remaining article of clothing. "Be glad they didn't make it... for yours would have suffered a similar fate," he warned playfully, tossing the boxers over the back of the couch.

Duo rose to his knees and ran his hands up the other man's thighs. He leaned in and captured the former pilot's mouth as his hands busied themselves with Heero's equipment.

Heero's eyes went wide for a moment at the sudden sensation of Duo's hands. He scooted himself closer to Duo and deepened the kiss, letting his eyes fall shut and letting his hands roam down the slender, muscular back. It took a few seconds for him to realize that one of Duo's hands was pushing gently at his chest, urging him to lay back.

Duo made no pretense as to what he wanted. As soon as Heero's head hit the back of the couch his own head was buried between Heero's outstretched legs. He nuzzled and licked mercilessly, sending Heero into a fit a uncontrollable squirming and gasping. He looked up and smiled secretly. Heero was definitely becoming more noisy in his lovemaking.

Heero's whole body was being assaulted by one sensation or another. The strengthening wind was causing his bangs to tickle at his forehead and face while it also licked playfully at the increasingly heated flesh of his chest and abdomen. Duo was busily bathing his midsection with a wet, slippery tongue. From there, Duo's hair took over as it cascaded to fall like liquid silk over his thighs and calves. As if all this weren't enough, Duo was gripping one of Heero's feet in each hand as he roughly stroked the soles with long, slender fingers. From head to toe, Heero quickly became a writhing mass of nerve filled flesh. He very nearly lost control when Duo finally, mercifully took him in his mouth.

The storm was quickly growing in intensity.

Duo looked up in time to see Heero's face bathed in the glow of another flurry of light. Heero's expression was distant and rapturous as thunder cracked noisily outside. As the sound rolled away, he could hear Heero's tormented moans of pleasure. This only served to encourage him to double his efforts.

Heero had to forcibly reel himself in. He wasn't about to let something this incredibly intense get away from him. He took Duo's wrist in a loose but unbreakable grip and stood, pulling Duo up with him. They briefly looked into each other's eyes as another line of fire split the sky.

As soon as the flash subsided, Duo found himself being led across the room. He distantly wondered, with all that was going on outside, why it hadn't actually started raining yet. He slowly lay on the bed as Heero released his grip and moved to the closet where he briefly rummaged through his duffel.

Heero returned moments later and straddled Duo's chest, dangling his member in front of Duo's mouth.

Duo needed no coaxing. He took Heero between his lips and sucked hungrily and greedily. The sudden feel of Heero's cool, lubricant-slickened hand sliding along his shaft set his head to spinning. Duo shook his head wildly with Heero buried deep in his throat, causing the man on top to throw his head back and let loose a guttural cry of pleasure.

Lighting and thunder continued as Heero had to, once again, extract himself from Duo's incredible mouth. Duo had a way of driving him to the edge and he found it difficult to control his own body's reactions. That, in and of itself, wasn't necessarily a bad thing; however, he wanted to take the time to give Duo as much pleasure as he gave. With that goal in mind, he slowly scooted his way down Duo's torso and covered Duo's mouth with his own. Without so much as a wince, he lowered himself onto Duo's throbbing pole. Oh, it hurt like hell, to be certain, but at this point in time he really didn't care. He allowed the momentary pain to mingle with Duo's moan of ecstasy before swallowing both.

All of Nature's fury was being unleased outside their bedroom window. Stroke after brilliant stroke of electric fire illuminated the otherwise darkened room. Duo gasped in awe of the shear beauty of their union reflected in the mirrors overhead. Duo grappled for Heero's hips when the dark haired boy started his movements. "Heero wait!"

Heero had to wait for the thunder to subside before he could ask his question. "What's wrong?"

"On your back. I want you on your back," Duo panted. "I want you to see how beautiful you are for a change."

Heero's verbal reply was drowned out by more thunder, but he complied by rolling them both onto their side. Duo almost slid out of his lover as he used their momentum to come to his knees between Heero's legs. Heero let loose a cry as Duo again buried himself inside the blue-eyed man.

Duo hastily lowered his mouth to Heero's ear so he could be heard over the unruliness going on outside. "Did I hurt you?!"

Heero shook his head emphatically as he reached down and lifted his shaft for Duo to see. His belly was covered with a clear, slippery fluid.

Duo smiled knowingly at the other man. He had hit Heero's mark. Duo again righted himself and, grabbing one of Heero's ankles in each hand, began a slow steady rhythm.

Heero was briefly aware of his reflection in the overhead mirror before his eyes rolled back into his head. Things were getting crazier outside as the wind whipped through the room and wrapped itself around the entangled couple. The lighting and roll of thunder had almost become constant.

Duo allowed the bottom of one of Heero's feet to rest against his shoulder as he reached down and smeared the stickiness on Heero's belly over Heero's shaft.

Heero's eyes came partly open at the touch of Duo's hand. His head buzzed as though he were being affected by some sort of drug. Heero watched in the mirror as flashes of light strobed Duo's movements, making it appear almost as if Duo wasn't moving at all. The maddeningly steady beat of the beautiful man's hips and slick hand were the only assurance Heero had that Duo was indeed screwing him senseless. He wondered for a moment if he wasn't really inside the mirror looking down on himself. Regardless of his perspective, there was one thing he knew for certain - Duo was right... he was gorgeous... especially like this. The moment of vanity was washed away on a wave of unforeseen ecstasy. Heero again closed his eyes... and let himself lose control.

The look on Heero's face was all Duo needed to see to know that the other man was completely lost. He smiled contentedly and let his head fall back as the wind continued to lap at his fevered skin. He altered his strokes into his lover's body to match the mayhem going on in the skies above. The change in rhythm had the desired effect as he felt Heero tighten around his shaft. That was all he needed. He wasn't certain whether the flashes he saw behind his closed eyelids were from the lighting or not, but he did know the incredible joy that tore through him at that moment had a singular source. "Heero!"

Heero felt his own already fragile reality shatter as he was overcome by the searing heat of his own climax. Through the haze of overwhelming lust and undeniable love, he reached out and grabbed Duo by the shoulders, pulling him down to cover his mouth with his own as they howled into each other's throat.

Duo, in one final burst of strength, pulled the other man from the bed so Heero was now seated in his lap with his legs wrapped around Duo's waist.

Heero continued to ride out the dwindling waves of pleasure as Duo's hips gradually slowed their movement.

Becoming dizzy from breathing someone else's air, Duo unlocked their mouths and rested his cheek on Heero's heaving chest, gasping for oxygen. "Sweet mother of all that is."

Heero allowed his head to fall to his mate's shoulder, panting and trembling. "Duo..."

The violet-eyed youth tightened his hold on the other man. "Heero... God, do I ever love you, Heero."

Heero lifted his head and allowed his forehead to rest against Duo's. "And I will always love you."

The rain started falling as though being poured from a bucket.

Both men looked toward the window. Heero pulled the other boy's head to rest on his chest. "I need to get up and close that... but I don't want to move."

Duo sighed. "One of us has to. I'd hate to see anything get water damaged."

Heero slowly removed himself from Duo's member.

Duo gritted his teeth as the sensitive flesh raked past Heero's opening. He watched as the dark-haired man moved across the room to stand in front of the open window. Duo raised an eyebrow when Heero didn't make a move to close it. He crawled from the bed and eased to Heero's side. He was a bit shocked to find Heero standing there grinning ear to ear. "Heero?"

Heero shook his head and chuckled. "Do you remember earlier, when I told you I had good news and bad news?"

Duo looked out at the rain. He couldn't even see the ground it was pouring so hard. "Yeah, you never told me the good news."

Heero wrapped his arm around Duo's waist and pulled the beautiful boy closer. "It's supposed to storm... all - night - long."