8-10-2000

And Never the Twain Shall Meet
Part XVIII

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Despite the fact that Wufei had slept later than normal this morning, he found himself to be the only living creature moving about the sunlit kitchen... which was just fine with him. He was still tired and in none too good of a mood. He had been kept awake 'til the wee hours of the morning by the tempestuous storms and other things that 'went bump in the night'.

"Good morning, Wu!" Duo sang as he walked into the kitchen.

Wufei looked Duo straight in the eye and noted, with no small amount of satisfaction, that he too looked barely eligible for the land of the living. "Go to hell, Maxwell," he grumbled.

"Ohhhkaaayy... sounds like someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning."

"My bed is in a corner. I can only get up on one side."

"Good morning, Duo - Wufei," Quatre sang as he walked into the kitchen.

Wufei growled deep in his throat. Why the hell are the two songbirds the first that I have to deal with this morning?!

"Go to hell, Quatre," said Duo.

"Ex-cuse me?!"

Duo shrugged. "That was the greeting I got when I walked in!" he said, crossing his arms and giving Wufei an accusative glare. "Just thought I'd share."

"I have every right to be in a foul mood, Maxwell!" Wufei defended. "In addition to putting up with nature's tumult, I had to listen to the incessant moaning, groaning, bumping, and howling coming from either side of my room last night! Aaaaand, as if that were not enough..." Wufei limped to the counter and threw his right foot onto the countertop, pointing at the smallest digit, "... I broke my little toe!"

"Wufei!" exclaimed Quatre. "How in the world did you manage that?!"

Duo was not having much success at keeping a straight face.

Wufei crossed his arms, leg still perched on the wooden surface. "Are either of you even remotely aware of the fact that the electricity did go out last night?"

The other two men looked at one another and shook their heads.

Wufei dropped his foot back to the floor and briefly winced in pain. "I thought not. Allow me to enlighten you both. Searching for a quiet place to sleep in less than familiar surroundings with nothing but a flashlight to guide your way can be quite a painful experience!" Wufei said angrily before limping out of the kitchen, his makeshift splint clacking noisily on the tiled floor.

Heero and Trowa walked in moments later to find their respective mates wiping tears from their eyes.

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Kaylin, Megg, and their mother sat eating breakfast in the hotel's restaurant.

Kaylin eyed first Megg and then his mother as he smoothed a pat of butter over his toast. "Mom, how did you know about me?"

Mrs. Braithwaite lifted a brow. "Why, whatever do you mean, Kaylin?"

"Don't be coy, mother. You know exactly what I mean."

The older woman sighed. "It's just a mother's intuition, I suppose. You weren't exactly writing home telling me about all the beautiful girls you had met. On the contrary, you wrote more about the boys you had met. I thought, for a while, that you might be involved with this Duo fella. That's when I decided to ask your sister about you."

Kaylin gave Megg a surprised look. "You told her?!"

Megg was shaking her head defensively but couldn't speak around her mouthful of food.

"No, she didn't tell me... but she may as well have. Her response was, 'I think you had better ask Kaylin'."

Kaylin waited for Megg's explanation

The red head had finally manage to swallow her food. "What else was I supposed to say? Was I supposed to lie to her?"

Kaylin thought for a moment before allowing himself to smile slightly. "Wouldn't have done any good... even if you had lied."

"Damn right," Kaylin's mother confirmed.

"OK... so... how did you know about me and Wufei?"

"Treize."

"Treize?!"

"I asked him about you too."

"When?!"

Anne Braithwaite shrugged. "Couple of days ago. He called to offer his condolences and we started talking about you... how much you've grown... and I don't just mean physically. Needless to say, having known Treize since he was knee-high to a grasshopper, and having had the opportunity to observe him as an adult, his preferences aren't exactly a secret. I just figured he would know about you."

"Mom... did you ever think about asking me?"

"Kaylin, when was the last time I saw you? Two years ago?"

"Three," Kaylin corrected.

"OK, three. I was tied up in that damned war. I just wasn't... it wasn't the kind of thing I wanted to discuss in a letter. I wanted to talk to you about it face-to-face... mother-to-son... but, this old lady's curiosity tends to get the better of her at times... so I was being nosey." She looked defiantly at her youngest. "I am your mother. I have every right to be nosey... but it's only because I worry about you... and because I love you."

Megg grinned as she chewed a mouthful of waffles. Those were words that weren't often said by their mother. The sentiment was shown and felt, but rarely spoken.

Kaylin cleared the lump in his throat. "Well... I suppose I can find it in my heart to forgive you... this time," he said with a slight upward curl to his mouth.

"If you know what's good for you," she warned with a smile of her own. "Now... about Wufei..."

"You said it right!" Megg exclaimed, quite impressed with how quickly she seemed to have caught on.

"Always could! I just wanted to get a rise out of him... although... I suppose I should leave that particular task to you, eh, Kaylin?"

The siblings gaped at the older woman. "Mom?!"

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Duo stepped from the front porch into the midmorning sun. It was already becoming hot and the rains from the previous night were doing wonders for the humidity. Staying cooped up inside the house was not an option he entertained, so he headed for the coolest place on the grounds - the garden's gazebo. Not surprisingly, Wufei had also found it to be the most comfortable out-of-doors location as well. Duo shrugged and walked the path leading to the stairs, hesitating for a moment before climbing them.

"I can hear you back there, Maxwell," said Wufei, without looking up from where he was reading.

"Damn... must be losing my touch."

Wufei snorted. "Given the sounds emanating from your room last night, I would say that is unlikely."

Duo chuckled as he climbed the stairs. "Sorry about your toe, man..." Duo tried very hard to sound sincere... and he was sincere... but he couldn't help but laugh.

"I'm glad you find my injury humorous."

"Awww, Wu, come on. If it were me you'd be laughing your ass off."

Wufei looked up from his book. "Yes... I suppose I would. Apology accepted, despite the fact that you can't offer it with a straight face."

Duo laughed harder as he plopped into one of the cushioned loungers.

"Duo... can I ask you something personal?"

Duo shrugged. "Depends on how personal."

Wufei cleared his throat. "Well... very personal, actually... but... I ask more out of analytical interest than perversion."

Duo waited as Wufei hesitated.

"Is Heero... is he really that good?"

"What?!" Duo was amused and shocked by the question.

"Duo, please, understand. There was an inordinate amount of noise coming from your room last night... most of it made by you... I think. Now, the Heero Yuy that I know is not capable of evoking those kinds of reactions in the Duo Maxwell that I know. So, either you're... exaggerating... to encourage him, or he has changed more than I am aware. I prefer to think the latter... but..."

"Exaggerating? You mean faking? Heh! Believe me, Wufei, there is no faking involved," Duo said with a chuckle. "Heero's got a lot of pent up feelings. He might not be able to vocalize 'em, but he ain't afraid to show 'em physically... at least in private. He likes to touch... and he does it very... very well."

Despite Duo's uncharacteristically tactful description, Wufei could tell by the slightly distant, dazed look in Duo's eyes that he was replaying the events from the night before in his mind. Wufei found his own face becoming warm. "I see."

Duo gave the Chinese man an odd look as Wufei went back to reading. Duo rested his head on the cushion and closed his eyes. Well... that was... weird...

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Strangely enough, Trowa found that his... activities... of the night before had energized him instead of tiring him. The simple presence of Quatre invigorated him, but after last night, he had far more energy than he knew what to do with. So, he had decided an intense workout in the lower level recreation area was in order. He had been exercising for a full hour before he stopped to take a breather. As he sat toweling the sweat from his face and neck, the sound of someone playing the piano filtered through the ventilation system... and it definitely was not Quatre. He wrinkled his brow and listened more closely. It was the same tune that Kaylin had been playing yesterday, but Kaylin was still in the city with his family. "Who on earth... ?"

Trowa moved quietly up the stairs and toward the parlor. He was nothing short of stunned to find it was Heero sitting at the ivories. "Heero?"

Heero jerked his hand away from the keys and gave Trowa a look. "Trowa. If it were in my nature, you would have given me a start."

"Did you learn to play that by simply hearing Kaylin play it yesterday?"

"No, but I did memorize which keys Kaylin pressed and in what order."

"Ah... well... keep going," he urged as he moved to stand next to the bench.

Heero began to play again.

"Heero... you're only using one finger."

Heero shrugged. "This is how Kaylin played it."

"It's much easier if you learn to use all of them."

Heero nodded. "That very thought occured to me yesterday, but I don't know how."

"Then perhaps you should start with the basics."

The former Wing pilot looked up to find an unspoken offer of assitance written on Trowa's face. "Show me."

Trowa smiled and sat on the edge of the bench next to his friend. "OK. Hold out your hands, palms down, with your fingers extended."

Heero did as he was told.

"Now, think of your fingers as being numbered one through five, starting with your thumbs."

"Got it."

"Do you know where middle C is on the keyboard?"

"Yes."

"OK, put your right number-one digit on middle C."

Heero placed his right thumb on the indicated key.

"Good. Now what you're going to do is..."

"What do you want me to do with this hand?" Heero shook his left hand which he was still holding out.

"Ah. You can put that one away for now."

Trowa continued to teach Heero the mechanics of playing the C-major scale for several minutes, explaining why finger positions were the way they were. Heero stumbled one or twice while trying to tuck his thumb under the rest of his fingers, but after a few minutes of practice he could play the C-major scale perfectly... and at a surprising velocity.

Trowa raised an eyebrow. "You're a quick study."

Heero finished off the last run and allowed his hand to rest for a moment. "Trowa, I just... I wanted to say... thank you."

The emerald-eyed man considered Heero's profile for a moment. "Getting a bit sentimental over a C-scale, aren't you Heero?"

"No... I mean... I wish Catherine hadn't left so soon because I really wanted to thank both of you... " Now, Heero met Trowa's eyes with his own. "... for saving my life. For believing I was worth saving."

Trowa breath hitched for a moment. He suddenly realized what the other man was talking about. "You... you mean when you self-destructed?"

"Yes. I must have been a terrible burden. I am sorry."

Trowa lowered his gaze and thought about how he should respond. He decided it was time for Heero to finally know the truth.

"You were... in a very serious state, Heero. The back of your skull was mush. Your back was shredded from shrapnel. We almost lost you several times. How in God's name you managed to heal... well... it was nothing short of miraculous. Catherine and I would take turns watching over you, tending your wounds, bathing you. The whole time I just kept wondering why. Why did you do this to yourself? At the same time, I knew you had your reasons... and my admiration for you just kept growing. You were faceless, fearless... the perfect soldier... not to mention, one hell of good pilot. I couldn't very well leave you there to die. We needed you. The war needed you... but, honestly, my motives for saving you were not entirely unselfish. I liked you... a lot."

It took a moment for the full meaning of the other man's words to settle with Heero. His eyes grew round for a moment before transforming into mere slits, a knowing grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. "Trowa Barton... you developed a crush on me," he said softly.

Trowa looked up to find the cockiest expression on Heero's face. Trowa grinned and nervously ran his fingers through his hair before replying. "Well... maybe... a small one."

Heero shook his head and laughed to himself.

"You don't seem terribly surprised."

"I'm not. Well, I am... but, I'm not. I haven't thought about it in years, but now that I have... in retrospect... I knew."

"It doesn't bother you?"

"Was it the only reason you saved me?"

Trowa drew in a sharp breath. "No! Heero, please don't think like that. There were many reasons for my actions... and, yes, some of them were personal, but I would have done the same for any one of us."

"Then, to answer your question - no, it doesn't bother me... so long as you're over it."

Trowa snorted. "Heero, I admire you more now than I ever have... and you were definitely worth saving... but, yes, I am over it."

Heero smiled. "Good. I do not cherish the thought of facing Quatre's wrath were he to ever find out about this." Heero stood and moved toward the door before stopping briefly. "Thank you, Trowa. I owe you my life."

"Heero." Trowa called just as he was about to disappear around the corner.

Heero stopped and turned. "Yes?"

"I just want you to know... you were never a burden... and... ehh... Quatre... already... knows."

Heero thought for a moment before turning and leaving.

Trowa could have sworn he heard Heero's laughter echo in the hall.

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Duo sensed a commotion of some kind in his vicinity. As he involuntarily cracked an eye open, he saw Wufei move quickly across the gazebo and jump over the railing, not even bothering to use the stairs. He blinked his eyes sleepily, yawning and stretching as he watched the Chinese man move across the lawn. Then he saw where Wufei's path would lead him - to the taxi from where Kaylin was extracting himself.

Duo chuckled softly to himself. "Yep... he's hooked."

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Wufei waited patiently as Kaylin made his way up the driveway. I don't want to seem too anxious... oh, who the hell am I trying to kid. I am anxious... I just don't want to seem to be. Look at him. He is magnificent... especially with that smile lighting his face.

Wufei jerked his head around as a fast-moving figure dashed past him. He watched as Duo ran across the lawn and launched himself at Kaylin, capturing his large frame in a bear hug that would have squeezed the wind out of someone smaller.

That bastard!

"Hey, Kaylin! What's up, man?! How'd things go? You OK, now? Where's your mom?"

"Geez, slow down, Duo!" Kaylin chuckled as he slung an arm around Duo's shoulders, making his way up the driveway. "I'm fine. Mom and Megg are still in the cab. Do you think Quatre would mind if they joined us for dinner?"

"I'll ask 'im. I'm sure he'll be glad to have 'em though."

Kaylin wrinkled his nose and stopped, looking at Duo with an amused gleam in his eyes. "Duo, you could use a shower, buddy. You smell like sex."

That was when Duo got a really good look at Kaylin. His face was bright and unworried - he was in good humor - his eyes were sparkling and clear - and he was standing straight, tall, and proud. Yes, the Kaylin that he knew was definitely back. It took a moment for him to realize that Kaylin had just insulted him. "Oh! Eheh... I was gonna take one after Heero got out of the shower, but I fell asleep in the gazebo. I'll go take one now." Duo glanced toward the house where Wufei was standing with a none-too-happy glare focussed on him. "I think he's looking forward to seeing you, Kaylin."

Kaylin looked in Wufei's direction and hoisted his bag over his shoulder. "Good... because I'm definitely looking forward to seeing him."

Duo watched Kaylin walk off before heading for the taxi. He excitedly stuck his head through the open window. "Hey, Megg - Mrs. B. Come on in! Leave your bags though. I'll go find Rashid and have them brought in for ya'." Duo dashed off before either of them could even say hello.

Mrs. Braithwaite snorted as she handed a wad of bills to the driver. "He's an excitable lad, isn't he?"

Megg giggled. "Duo? He's wonderful. So full of energy. If I thought I had a chance with him..."

"Oh? And what makes you think you don't?"

Megg laughed out loud as she and her mother climbed out of the cab. "Because, mom, he's Heero's boyfriend."

"Heero? That's the dark haired Gundam pilot I saw on television, right? The one who got the Peacecraft girl to call me?"

"Yep, that's him."

"Ah... I'll have to thank him for that." Mrs. Braithwaite cleared her throat as she walked next to her daughter. "Megg, are they all... that way?" She asked the question as she pointed to where Kaylin had his arms wrapped around Wufei.

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Wufei melted into the unexpected but welcome embrace that Kaylin offered. That does it... I am smitten. He reluctantly withdrew from the circle of Kaylin's arms. "It is good to see you. I take it things went well."

"I found out that my mother doesn't hate me. It helped... a lot." Kaylin looked to where his family was walking up the driveway.

Wufei watched as Quatre, Rashid, and another servant came out of the house. Quatre stopped in front of the two ladies and spoke to them as Rashid and the other man continued toward the taxi.

"What is going on?" asked Wufei.

"My mom and sister are staying for dinner," Kaylin announced happily.

Wufei paled visibly.

Kaylin noticed. "Don't worry, Wufei. Her bark is much worse than her bite. Just don't piss her off."

Wufei snorted. "Nobody ever worries about pissing me off."

Kaylin smiled. "That's because you're so cute when you get angry."

"I am not cute!!" Wufei shouted.

That drew looks from Quatre and the ladies.

Kaylin watched as Wufei's cheeks flushed and his bottom lip pouted just a tad. Oh yes you are, Wufei... cuter than you give yourself credit for. "Come on... you can help me unpack."

Wufei was so embarrassed, he turned without a word and began to move toward the front door of the house.

Kaylin chuckled and shook his head as he followed. "Wufei... why are you limping?"

Wufei stopped at the front door and waited for Kaylin to catch up. "You really... really do not want to know."

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Duo bounced into the room to find Heero stretched out on the bed.

"Hey, Heero! Whatcha doin'?"

"What does it look like I'm doing? I'm resting. What are you doing?"

Duo blushed. "Kaylin says I... ah... smell a little too much like you. I'm gonna take a shower."

"Kaylin's back? How is he?" he asked, propping himself up on his elbows.

"He seems fine. Megg and his mom are stayin' for dinner. You should go say hi to 'em."

"I will... shortly." Heero watched as Duo began to undress. "Duo, can I ask you a personal question?"

Not only was it a strange question coming from Heero, but Wufei had asked the same exact thing earlier. "By default... go ahead."

"When did you realize that you... liked me?"

Duo thought about it as he pulled his shirt over his head. "I've always liked you, Heero. If you mean, when did I realize it was more than 'like'... well, last weekend is when I realized it, but I also realized that I had... more than 'liked' you for quite a while. I really don't know when it happened. Why do you ask?"

"I was just curious. Things happened so fast between us."

Duo eased himself to the edge of the bed and slowly sat down. "Are you having... regrets, Heero?"

Heero immediately grabbed the other man and pulled him down to lie next to him. He looked down at Duo with a mildly angry expression. "Absolutely not, Duo. How could you think such a thing?"

Duo shrugged. "Except for you guys, I've lost everyone I've ever cared about. I'm naturally insecure, Heero."

"Well, put it out of your mind."

"I'm trying to, but it's been a constant in my life."

Heero was slowly beginning to understand. "Duo, listen to me. You are now a constant in my life. If you doubt that... then I doubt myself and...."

"... and that's not what I want to happen." Duo brushed his fingers across Heero's cheek. "I'm so sorry, Heero."

"You don't have to be sorry... just... have faith... in me - in us."

Duo smiled at those words. "I love you, you know."

Heero nodded. "Same here... despite the fact that I still have trouble saying it."

Duo wrapped his arms around Heero's neck and pulled him close.

Heero wrinkled his nose. "Duo... about that shower."

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Heero walked into the parlor to find Mrs. Braithwaite, Megg, Quatre, and Trowa engaged in conversation.

Megg immediately bounced to her feet. "Hi, Heero!"

"Hello, Megg. Good to see you again."

Quatre stood. "Heero, this is Mrs. Braithwaite, Kaylin's mother."

"Hey! I thought we agreed to drop the 'Mrs.' crap!"

Heero's surprised expression sent a wave of laughter around the room.

Mrs. Braithwaite rose demurely to her feet and extended her hand to Heero... which he took somewhat hesitantly. "Heero, I am glad to finally meet you. You can call me Anne... actually, I insist you call me Anne. My goodness, you are a handsome devil! Even more so in person!"

"The pleasure is mine, Mrs.... err... Anne. Thank you... I'm sorry, but, what do you mean, 'in person'?"

"She saw you on television at the peace talks," Trowa clarified.

"Ah. Mrs...." Heero stopped to correct himself yet again. "... Anne..."

Anne chuckled. "Not Mrs. Anne... just Anne."

"Anne... I am very sorry about the loss of your husband. It was a tragedy."

Anne nodded her head solemnly. "A necessary tragedy, young man. I hold no ill will for what transpired."

"Thank you for your understanding."

"No, Heero, thank you. If it hadn't been for you contacting Ms. Peacecraft, I would not have come to terms with the what happened so quickly. You brought me back to my son... my family... and for that, I am indebted to you."

An uncomfortable silence fell over the room as words failed Heero. Fortunately that was when a freshly showered Duo came bounding into the room.

"Hey, Mrs. B.! Are ya' stayin' for dinner?" he asked as he poured himself a glass of iced tea.

"Duo," Heero admonished, "don't be disrespectful."

"Psssh! He's fine! Yes, Duo, I will be staying for dinner."

"Cool! Oh, nice ta' meet ya' by the way."

Megg fell to her seat, giggling.

Anne looked down at her chortling daughter. "Something funny, sweetie?"

Megg shook her head. "You two are peas in a pod."

"How true, how true." Kaylin said from the doorway.

A small smile curled Anne's lips when she saw Wufei peek over her son's shoulder from behind. "Wufei, you can come in here. I promise not to bite your head off this time."

Kaylin stepped aside, allowing him to enter.

Anne moved forward and took Wufei's arm with her own, leading them toward where she had been seated. "I'm sorry for being so crass yesterday. I was not in the best of moods. Can we start over?"

Wufei gave Kaylin an 'aren't-you-going-to-get-me-out-of-this-mess' look as Anne pulled Wufei down to sit next to her.

Kaylin just grinned and shrugged. He knew his mother was playing with Wufei.

"I... well... yes."

"Good! Would you like some tea. Oh, do have some! Quatre's servants went to such trouble. It would be such a shame to see it go to waste, don't you agree?"

Everyone in the room was having trouble keeping a straight face as they watched the events unfold.

"Would you like hot or iced?"

Wufei was already suspicious. "Iced would be fine, thank you."

He watched carefully as the older woman poured him a glass of tea with a surprisingly steady hand. "Here you are then," she said handing him the glass.

"Thank you." Wufei hesitated briefly before sipping tentatively at the liquid. It tasted fine. This whole situation had made him nervous and his mouth had become somewhat dry, so he decided that it seemed safe enough to take a nice big drink.

"So, Wufei, have you bedded my son yet?"

Wufei coughed everything he had in his mouth back into his glass, sending a shower of tea back into his own face.

"Mother?!" Kaylin shouted, barely able to keep from laughing.

Quatre was in a mild state of shock.

Heero had turned his back to the room, so no one could tell what his reaction was.

Trowa was sitting quietly enjoying his tea. Very well executed.

Megg had turned a healthy shade of red, but was unable to speak.

Duo was on his knees, laughing so hard he couldn't even breathe.

Anne looked around the room. "Was it something I said?"

Wufei stood coughing, sputtering, and dripping. "I knew it! I knew it! Woman, you will pay dearly for this!" He set his glass down and limped out of the room.

Duo was just managing to get his breath back. "Oh, shit... that was perfect!" he cried.

"I think he likes me," said Anne.

Kaylin turned from where he had watched Wufei storm off. "Mom... why in God's name did you do that?"

Quatre shakily sat his tea cup on the piano. This is going to be an interesting night.

Anne smiled sincerely. "Because, son... I like him already."

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Kaylin tapped lightly at Wufei's door. "Wufei... are you in there?"

"Go away."

Kaylin barely heard the muffled reply. "Wufei, either you come out, or I'm coming in."

There was no answer.

Kaylin tried the door and found it unlocked. He slowly cracked it open and stuck his head into the room. Wufei was lying on his belly with his face turned toward the wall. "Are you OK?"

Wufei rolled and sat up on the edge of the bed in one smooth motion, glaring at Kaylin. "No, I am not OK!!! I am humiliated beyond words! That woman is... is... psychotic!!"

Kaylin came the rest of the way into the room, closing the door behind him. "She is not psychotic, Wufei. She is just... very playful... with a slightly twisted sense of humor."

"Slightly?! She belongs in an asylum!"

"Wufei... if you would just give her a chance..."

"I just did give her a chance, Kaylin!"

"Did you?"

"What do you mean?"

"I think you walked in there already having judged her."

Wufei opened his mouth to defend himself, but couldn't think of anything to say. The other man was right on the money.

Kaylin moved across the room and sat down next to him. "She really is harmless, Wufei. I think you'll like her once you get to know her. She already likes you."

"How do you know that?"

"Because she said as much... and she only plays around like that with the people she likes."

Wufei stuck his nose in the air. "That is ludicrous. She does not even know me."

"Well, that isn't necessarily so. My mother... she has this uncanny ability to... read people. She can almost just look at a someone and tell what kind of person they are. She calls it her sixth sense."

Wufei looked at Kaylin. His last words had caught his interest because he could think of one other person who had that very same ability. "Duo seems to be able to do the same thing."

"There, you see?"

Wufei shook his head stubbornly. "That still does not excuse her actions."

"Can I make a suggestion then?"

Wufei looked at Kaylin out of the corner of his eye. "What?"

The blonde leaned on one hand and brought his mouth close to Wufei's ear, speaking softly. "Don't get angry. Get even. She will respect you for it."

Wufei's eyes grew wide as he gave the other man a surprised look. "Kaylin! Are you suggesting that I plot revenge against your very own mother?!"

Kaylin smiled. "I am."

"I see." Wufei thought for a moment before his mouth broke into a wide, wicked grin. "Would you be willing to assist me in this endeavor?"

Kaylin's smile matched Wufei's. "I would."

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"... and just beyond that line of trees... " Quatre pointed to the east, "... are the stables. No horses though."

"Oh, why not?" asked Megg.

Quatre shrugged. "We've never had a chance to stock them."

Anne's attention was still on the flowers. "These gardens are beautiful, Quatre. So... serene."

Trowa nodded. "It seems to be one of the more popular gathering spots for all of us. The house shades the gazebo for most of the day, making it the most comfortable location on the grounds to just... relax."

Anne smiled. "And those dulcet tones of yours are almost as relaxing. Has anyone ever told you how soothing your voice is, Trowa?"

Trowa smiled bashfully. "Well, actually, yes. Quatre has."

She raised her head from the lounger cushion and looked first at Quatre then Trowa. "Do you boys sing... or play a musical instrument or anything like that?"

Quatre's jaw dropped open and he slapped the arm of his chair with his palm. "How in the world did you know that?!"

Anne just shrugged.

"You'll have to forgive my mother," said Megg. "She just has a knack for knowing these things."

"I can spot a serious musician a mile coming. Having a concert level pianist for a son helps as well."

"Kaylin?!?!" Both Quatre and Trowa were floored.

Anne wrinkled her brow. "What? You mean you didn't know?"

Quatre was close to stammering. "I... I had no idea! It never even occurred to me that he might be musically inclined."

"Oh, you would have found out, I'm sure. He loves to play, and with that piano sitting in your parlor, he would be giving in to the urge soon enough. He gets antsy if he goes too long without playing."

Trowa shifted in his seat. "Does he teach?"

Anne nodded. "He tried to teach me for years, but I just didn't have the patience for it. Why do you ask?"

"Because I think Heero wants to learn to play," Trowa informed.

"Heero?!" This was just too many surprises for Quatre.

"I'm sure he would be happy to teach him. I'll talk to him about it."

"Trowa, we're talking about Heero, right? I mean... our Heero. Heero Yuy." Quatre still could not believe it.

"No, we're talking about my Heero," Duo corrected as he climbed the stairs.

Quatre blinked and looked at Duo as the braided boy dropped himself into a lounger. "Did you know about this, Duo?"

"Yeh. He told me about it a couple of days ago. I think it's kinda neat, really."

"Well, he'll be a quick study, that much is certain. He mastered the C-scale in matter of minutes."

Everyone looked at Trowa.

"Oh. I caught him at the piano earlier today and showed him how to play the scale." Trowa raised an eyebrow. "He was playing it with increadible speed and accuracy in a matter of minutes."

Duo sighed and smiled. "That's my Heero. I shouldn't be too surprised though. His reflexes and agility have always amazed me."

Quatre was making odd gestures with his hands. "Wait. Everybody... just wait a minute. Now, I'm sorry, but Heero wanting to learn to play the piano is just a bit far-fetched, even for me to accept. Where did this come from, Duo?"

"He just wants to try something different, that's all. He wants to try his hand at something he thinks he might actually enjoy... something that will challenge him."

"But... a musical instrument, Duo? That's not something you just pick up this late in life and start... doing. It takes years of practice and hard work and dedication... "

"He can do it, Quatre." Duo's look and tone left no room for further argument.

"Now, boys... " Anne's stern, motherly tone drew everyone's attention. "Let's not fight over this. There is no point in it. One of you is right and one of you is wrong. Which one is which... will be up to Heero."

Trowa smiled and nodded. I could not have said it better myself.

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"What are they doing?" Wufei whispered from behind Kaylin.

The blonde pulled his nose from around the corner of the house. "They're just sitting in the gazebo, talking."

"About what?"

Kaylin rolled his eyes. "I don't know. I can't hear them from this far away."

Wufei thought for a moment. "Come on."

"Where are we going?"

"Around to the other corner of the house. The breeze out of the west may carry the sound waves so we can hear them."

"I... I didn't know it worked like that," Kaylin admitted as he ran to keep up with Wufei.

"Most people don't. It's part of something you learn as... an information gatherer."

"You mean a spy?"

"Call it what you will. Shh, we're here." Wufei got down on all fours and eased his head around the corner of the house.

-- "How in the world did you know that?!"

-- "You'll have to forgive my mother. She just has a knack for knowing these things."

-- "I can spot a serious musician a mile coming. Having a concert level pianist for a son helps as well."

Wufei immediately rose to his feet and turned to face the taller man, saying nothing.

Kaylin looked from one of Wufei's eyes to the other. "What?"

"Do you have any brothers, Kaylin?"

Kaylin almost laughed out loud. "No, why?"

"Then you have been holding out on me."

"What are you talking about, Wufei?"

Wufei crossed his arms over his chest. "I asked you - the day before yesterday, I believe - if you were hiding any other abilities from me."

"OK."

"A concert level pianist, Kaylin?"

"Oh! Eh... it just... sorta... slipped my mind."

"Slipped!" Wufei stopped and covered his mouth, fearing someone may have overheard him. He grabbed Kaylin's arm and began leading him back around the house. "Slipped your mind?! How could such a gift slip your mind?!"

"It just did. I wasn't exactly thinking about it at the time."

"Well... think about it now," Wufei said as he led Kaylin around the front corner of the house and headed up the stairs.

"Wufei, where are we going?"

"To the parlor. I want you to show me this... ability."

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Heero nearly fell down the stairs, he was moving so fast. Someone was playing the introduction to Grieg's A-minor piano concerto... and it was no amateur. He rounded the corner into the parlor and slid to a halt in his stocking feet.

Kaylin was sitting there, with his eyes very much closed, playing with his very soul. "Kaylin," Heero whispered. It was in that moment - when he saw the emotion... when he felt the emotion pouring forth in Kaylin's music - that Heero made his decision. He eased to Kaylin's side and watched in unsupressed awe as Kaylin's fingers moved languidly over the keys. A chill ran down his spine at the unnatural ease with which the man was playing. It was as though Kaylin's spirit had taken control of his hands and fingers and he was just letting the music 'happen'. Heero knew his own face was awash with emotion, but he made no effort to conceal it.

This whole scene fascinated Wufei. Heero was so taken with Kaylin's abilities that he was apparently unaware of Wufei's presence in the room. He watched with no small degree of astonishment as the former pilot of Wing allowed his features to convey his very deepest feelings. Wufei almost wished he could get out of the room without Heero noticing. He knew that once Heero became aware of his presence, he would not only clamp down on those feelings, but he would be ashamed of having allowed them to surface in front of him. That was when Wufei noticed the small crowd gathering in the doorway.

Duo moved to Heero's side. "I told you he was fantastic," he whispered.

Despite the fact that the room was now filling with people, Heero still made no effort to clear his face of the rapturous expression. "Fantastic? Duo... I had no idea... "

Wufei, needless to say, was surprised by the reaction.

Kaylin's playing trailed off as the sounds in the room began seeping into his consciousness. He slowly opened his eyes, looking as though he were coming out of a trance. "Oh, I... I'm sorry. I didn't realize my audience had grown."

Duo leaned down and whispered something into Kaylin's ear.

Kaylin nodded and began playing again as Duo led Heero away from the piano to sit on the small sofa.

Heero smiled and took Duo's hand in his own. "Rachmaninoff.... C-sharp Minor Prelude."

Anne leaned down from where she stood behind them and spoke softly. "Just a tad angsty if ya' ask me... but... whatever floats your boat."

They all sat quietly as Kaylin took them on the emotional roller coaster ride.

Heero closed his eyes and listened. I want to do this. I want to be able to play like this. Funny thing is, I honestly believe I can. Kaylin puts a lot of feeling into his playing. I'm still coming to terms with my own emotions, but I think this would be a... safe method for me to explore them. I can do this... I know I can do this. I just need... a mentor.

Everyone apllauded once the last, somber note to faded away.

"Kaylin, can I talk to you for a minute, son?"

"Sure, mom."

Everyone watched as Kaylin and his mother moved across the hall into the library.

"He's increadible!" proclaimed Quatre.

Wufei cleared his throat. "Well, I am not terribly familiar with piano music, so I will have to take your word for it. He does sound good, though."

"Good?! He plays with his eyes closed, Wu!" Duo threw his hands in the air for emphasis. "I think 'good' may be a bit of an understatement."

"How long has he been playing, Megg?" asked Heero.

"Since he could sit in our... our father's lap. It was the only way he could reach the keys."

"Heero, get your butt in here!"

Heero goggled at the doorway through which Anne's voice had come, sending a fit of chuckles about the room. He, needless to say, complied.

Duo cocked his head, still smiling. "Megg, I really do like your mother."

Wufei snorted and looked ceilingward. "Why, oh why, does that not surprise me in the least?"

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"Hey, Quatre! Got any leftovers from lunch," Duo asked as he whirled into the kitchen.

"Duo, we just ate lunch forty-five minutes ago. Why didn't you eat then?"

"I wasn't hungry then."

Quatre gave him a skeptical look.

"OK. I wasn't as hungry then." Duo opened the refrigerator, peering inside. "So, what's for dinner?"

"I don't know. Rashid and the others are in the city, shopping for it right now... so, you're on your own if you want to heat something up."

"Nah... I'll just throw together a sandwich or two... or three."

Quatre smiled and shook his head. "Don't ruin your dinner."

"Yes, mother."

"Duo, have you seen Kaylin?"

"Not recently," Duo answered as he started pulling sandwich fixings from the refrigerator. "He and Wufei have been hangin' around together all day." Duo stopped what he was doing and slung an arm over the door of the fridge. "I think they're about to do it."

Quatre flushed slightly. "Do it?"

Duo went back to digging. "Yeah, you know... the horizontal bopp... the huchie cuchie... the nasty... the..."

"Duo! Please... you're giving a case of the vapors."

Duo popped his head up again to find Quatre fanning himself melodramatically. "What, didn't get enough last night?"

The blonde's expression turned predatory. "Never enough, Duo."

Duo finished extracting his armload of supplies and pushed the door to with his foot. "Well, anyway, I bet'cha any money that Wufei, moves into Kaylin's room before this weekend is up."

"Do you think they'll work out, Duo. I mean, Kaylin seems like... well... like he might have a wild side."

Duo dropped his armload on the counter and perched his hands on his slender hips. "Look at me and Heero and ask me that question again."

Quatre thought for a moment before nodding. "Point taken."

"B'sides... Wufei ain't all that tame, either. After all, he was doin' Treize."

"Oh my! I had almost forgotten about that."

Both men fell silent for a moment.

"Quatre, are you wonderin' what I'm wonderin'?"

The smaller man smiled out of embarrassment. "Probably. Who was topping who?"

"Quatre?!"

"What?! That was what you were thinking... wasn't it?"

Duo chuckled. "Yeah, I guess it was. Knowing those two they dueled first to see who would get the position they wanted. I could just hear Wufei now. 'But Treize-bear, I always lose! Is there no justice?!'."

Wufei chose that moment to walk into the kitchen. "Maxwell, you dare to speak of justice?!"

The other two men looked at one another... and completely lost it.

Wufei glared at the cackling boys. "What?!"

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"Kaylin, have you thought of anything at all, yet?" asked Wufei.

"Nothing that isn't juvenile," Kaylin admitted.

"Well, we must come up with something quickly. They will be leaving right after dinner, I assume."

"We could... fill her handbag with shaving cream." Kaylin suggested.

"Juvenile."

"Put salt in her drink?"

"Juvenile."

"Crank phone call?"

"Juvenile! Juvenile! Juvenile! Grrrr... this is frustrating!"

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"So, Kaylin is gonna teach ya' how to play the piano?" Duo was so excited he could hardly contain himself.

Heero nodded. "Duo, I hope you understand that it will take some of my time... away from you. I made a promise to practice two hours a day as a bare minimum."

Duo thought about it for a moment. No, he didn't like the idea of giving up that time with Heero, but Heero really wanted this... and he wanted this for Heero. "I'll be waitin' for ya' every day with open arms."

Heero leaned in and kissed Duo on the cheek. "Thank you. I really mean that... but we will not be starting until we get back to school."

"Why?"

"Because I made you a promise, Duo... and I intend to keep it. No studying or practicing while we are on vacation."

Duo nodded and gave Heero a crooked smile. "By the way, I heard what happened with Trowa in the parlor earlier today."

Heero's features grew angry. "He told you?!"

"Well, yeah. What's the big..."

Heero's agitation was instantaneous and explosive. "Shit! Why the hell does everybody have to have their nose in everyone else's business?!"

"Heero I'm not sure..."

"Isn't there a single, solitary secret between anyone?!"

"Heero, I was just..."

"I suppose he told you he had to strip me and bathe me every day too!!"

"HEERO!... "

"WHAT?!"

"What the hell are you talking about?!"

Clinically speaking, Heero looked like an idiot. He stood there with his mouth hanging open while Duo watched his eyes glass over. "What... what are you talking about, Duo?"

"Well... I'm talking about Trowa showing you how to play a scale on the piano." Duo smiled mechanically. "Your turn."

Heero closed his eyes and sat heavily on the edge of the bed, burying his face in his hands. "Oh, damn."

Duo placed his hands on his hips, still wearing a plastic smile. "Ahem... I'm waiting... and not very patiently."

Heero uncovered his face and interleaved his fingers. He rested his elbows on his knees as he looked at the floor. "Duo... do you remember... when I self-destructed?"

The smile fell away from Duo's face. Heero had rarely spoken of the incident so Duo knew this conversation was going to be difficult for him. "Yes, I remember it clearly," he said sitting next to Heero.

"Trowa and his sister were the ones who saw to my recovery." Heero hesitated. "Duo, I am so... glad to be alive, and to... be with you. Before a few days ago, I had no idea how rich my life could be... if I would just let someone in. I just had to thank Trowa for giving me that chance."

Duo smiled warmly and ran his fingers through the hair on the back of Heero's head. "How? By letting him undress you and wash your back?"

"Duo!!"

Duo chuckled. "I'm just teasing, Heero. I would guess that he had to do it while he was taking care of you. Actually, I should probably thank him too... but it still doesn't explain what you thought I was talking about."

"Trowa... while he was taking care of me... he had a... a crush on me."

Duo's fingers stopped their movement through Heero's hair. He sat gaping at the other man, his jaw working but his voice failing. When he realized he wasn't going to be able to get any words out... he started giggling uncontrollably.

Heero blinked several times as he watched Duo hug his sides and roll around on the bed laughing. "Duo, I fail to see the humor."

Duo wiped tears of laughter from the corners of his eyes and sniffled. "You thought I would be upset about that?"

"I thought you might be jealous."

"Jealous? Jealous, of what? It happened years ago." Duo sat up and wrapped his arms around the former pilot's shoulders. "Listen to me, Heero. I love you, and it would take a hell of a lot more than teenage infatuation to upset me. B'sides, I can't say that I much blame him. After all, you are the handsomest man on Earth."

Heero turned his head, his nose almost touching Duo's. "Do you really think so?"

"Yes. Yes, I do." Duo moved in and claimed Heero's mouth with tenderness and passion.

"The two of you are at it again?"

Both men looked to where Wufei stood in the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest.

"Can't you knock?" Duo asked.

Wufei huffed. "The door is wide open, Duo. I just came to inform you that dinner will be ready in an hour."

"Thank you, Wufei," said Heero. "Please close the door on your way out... and tell the others... " Heero looked at Duo with a slight smirk. "... to start without us if we are late."

Duo gave Wufei a dismissive, shooing gesture.

Wufei rolled his eyes and sighed as he left the room, pulling the door closed behind him. He listened for a short moment outside the couple's room. He could hear Duo moan softly and start giggling. "Unbelievable." Wufei shook his head and walked away.

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Quatre had had the foresight to seat Anne to his left, at the head of the table, with Wufei at the opposite end - Kaylin seated to his right.

Megg looked across the table to the two empty seats next to Trowa. "Where are Duo and Heero."

Wufei cleared his throat. "They are... occupied. We have their permission to start without them."

"Occupied?" asked Megg.

Her brother leaned over and whispered something into her ear.

Megg's eyes widened and she started giggling.

Dishes of food started circulating around the table as Duo and Heero entered the dining room.

Anne grinned as she placed a piece of baked swordfish on her plate. "Must have been a quickie."

Duo stopped in his tracks, causing Heero to run into him from behind. He looked at Anne with a mildly shocked expression. "Did you just say what I think you just said?"

"So what if I did? Got a problem with it?"

Duo shook his head. "Nope! Just wanted to make sure before I started laughing." Duo started laughing as he took his seat. "You're a trip, Mrs. B."

Anne shrugged and smiled. "I've been called worse."

"No doubts about that," said Wufei under his breath. A pinch on the leg from Kaylin caused him to yelp, drawing looks from everyone. "Sorry, I... hit my toe on the leg of the chair," Wufei grumbled.

"Shouldn't be wandering around the house in the dark, Wu," Duo teased. A pinch on the leg from Wufei caused him to yelp, drawing looks from everyone. "Well, he pinched me!"

"Don't pinch Duo, Wufei," Heero said with a smirk as he spooned mashed potatoes into his plate.

Megg looked at Quatre. "Did your electricity go out last night?"

"That is... what I've been told. Didn't the electricity go out in the city?"

Megg shrugged. "I heard it went out in parts, but it stayed on where we were."

Anne sighed. "I almost wish it had gone out. We all stayed up far too late, talking... although, we definitely needed to talk. After all of this food I know I am going to want a nap, but we have a plane to catch."

A thought suddenly occurred to Quatre. "Anne, why don't the two of you just stay the night? There are two unoccupied bedrooms, so you and Megg can share or have your own. I can have you flown home tomorrow."

"Yesssss..." Wufei hissed.

Everyone gave the Chinese man an odd look.

"Err... yes, Kaylin, I will have some of the peas, thank you."

Kaylin wrinkled his brow for a moment before it hit him. "Ohhhh, right... the peas." Kaylin smiled and passed Wufei the peas.

Anne turned her attention back to Quatre. She was none the wiser. "I wouldn't want to burden you, Quatre... we really should..."

"Oh, no! It's no bother at all. I insist."

"Well... Megg, is that all right with you, sweetie?"

Megg nodded her head enthusiastically. "Sure! I think it would be a lot of fun."

"Oh, very well then. Thank you, Quatre. We'll be no trouble at all."

Wufei could barely contain himself. You may not be any trouble... but you are certainly in for a great deal of it...

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"Kaylin!" Wufei whispered, pulling the blonde aside as the remainder of the group made their way back into the parlor.

"What's up?"

"Your mother staying the night has given me an idea."

Kaylin raised an eyebrow. "I gathered that much."

"I have... a plan... but it's going to require a performance on both of our parts."

"Oh? What type of performance?"

"Well... it's a bit... risqué... but I will have my revenge, not only on your mother, but everyone else as well."

Kaylin gave him a playfully suspicious look. "What exactly are you planning, Wufei?"

Wufei grinned evilly. "Oh, nothing more than a bit of a post-lights-out disturbance... from your room."

Kaylin thought for a moment. "Ahhhhh... " he said softly before smiling suggestively. "What exactly did you have in mind?"

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After dinner, Kaylin, Quatre, and Trowa put on a small concert for everyone. They stayed away from the melancholy and performed three 'fun' pieces... at least that's what Quatre called them.

With the end of the final piece, Anne found herself fighting down the urge to yawn. She lost the battle.

"Tired, mom?" Kaylin asked.

Anne quickly covered her mouth. "I am so sorry. Trust me, it's the time, not the company or the performance."

Trowa nodded to where Duo had his head resting against the back of the couch. His eyes were closed and he was snoring softly, his fingers loosely entwined with Heero's. "I think we may all be a bit tired."

Wufei saw his opportunity. "I don't think it is an unreasonable hour to turn in for the evening. I, for one, could use some sleep."

"Duo, wake up." Heero gently shook him.

"Huh... sounds great... " Duo sleepily rolled his head to the side, nuzzling Heero's neck.

Anne smiled warmly. "He is so adorable."

For some reason, Heero found himself blushing. "Duo!" He nudged Duo again.

Duo suddenly came fully awake, sitting straight as a board on the edge of his seat. "What?! Is it over already?! Awww... man!"

Everyone laughed at Duo's comically abrupt awakening.

Quatre smiled and shook his head, waving his bow at the crowd. "OK... I can take a hint. All you sleepyheads... to bed!"

"Bed?! No way! It's too early!"

"Duo... you were sound asleep." Heero rose to his feet and headed for the door, pulling Duo along behind him.

"Errr... g'night all!"

Everyone bade their goodnights to the couple.

"You'll get no argument from me," Anne promised. "You ready, sweetie?" she asked looking at Megg.

Megg nodded.

Trowa latched the case of his flute closed. "Quatre and I will show you to your room. Goodnight, Kaylin - Wufei."

Wufei nodded.

"Goodnight, you guys," said Kaylin.

The two remaining men waited for the voices to diminish. Wufei stood and walked to the door, insuring everyone was out of earshot. He turned to Kaylin with, what Duo would have described as, 'a shit-eating grin'. "It is time."

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Duo lay in bed, softly humming to himself as Heero readied himself in the bathroom for a good night's sleep. As Heero scrubbed his teeth, the violet-eyed man listened and smiled, remembering the night of the concert when Heero had made a mess of himself with the toothpaste. Duo sighed and rolled over... when he thought he heard giggling in the hallway. He sat up and listened more carefully. A moment later, he could clearly hear Wufei's voice... only... it didn't quite sound like Wufei.

Heero came out of the bathroom, foaming at the mouth. "Did you hear that?"

Duo nodded. "It sounds like Wufei and Kaylin," Duo whispered loud enough for Heero to hear. "Wufei sounds... strange." Duo jumped out of bed and tiptoed to the door, pressing his ear to the wooden surface.

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"Wufei, I just can't help myself. I can't keep my hands off of you any longer," Kaylin giggled.

"Ooooo... Kaylin, you make me so hot! Would you like to... ahhh... play a game?" Wufei cooed.

Kaylin clapped his hands together like a child. "I love games!"

"Good. Now, you go to your room and I will be there shortly with some... props."

Kaylin rolled his eyes and gave Wufei a look. 'Toys' was the word Wufei should have used, but he continued to play his part. "Oh, yes, Wufei baby. I can't wait!"

"I'll be right there." Wufei giggled.

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Quatre unglued his ear from the door in a mild state of shock. "Oh my! Did you hear that, Trowa?!"

Trowa nodded and then shook his head. It was an odd gesture. "It is getting to the point that nothing really surprises me any more."

"But that was Wufei!"

Trowa shrugged. "Maybe he acts differently when he's being intimate with someone. I do." Trowa smiled.

Quatre thought for a moment. "Well... you do have a point there. I just thought it was a little... unusual. I don't think I've ever actually heard Wufei giggle before."

"Wufei giggled?" asked Trowa.

"Uhh... yes."

Trowa seemed at a momentary loss for words. "I... I didn't hear that."

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Megg came out of the bathroom in her nightgown to find her mother sitting on the bed with a contemplative expression. "Something wrong, mom?"

"Megg, you've seen quite a bit of Kaylin in the last three years. Do you think he might be... a half-bubble off plumb?"

Megg mentally smirked. The show had begun and her mother was falling for it hook, line, and sinker. "Not that I know of. Why would you ask such a thing?"

"I just heard the... strangest exchange in the hallway between him and Wufei... "

"Mother, were you eavesdropping on those boys?"

"Well... yes," Anne answered as though her daughter should already have known the answer to that particular question.

Of course, Megg did already know the answer to that particular question. "Mom, Kaylin is a grown man. He's got a good head on his shoulders regardless of what you..." There was the distinctive sound of chains being dragged across the hallway's wooden floor.

"... heard... in the... hall."

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A chill ran down Duo's arms and legs at the next sound he heard coming through the door. He eased the door open slightly and watched with one big eye as Wufei dragged a set of manacles toward Kaylin's room in one hand - and a whip in the other. Duo closed the door and started jumping about in circles, grabbing at first his head, then chest, then abdomen.

Heero crossed his arms as he observed the display. "Duo... calm down."

Duo's voice started coming out as a squeak. "Ohmygodohmygodohmygod." Duo stopped and grabbed Heero's forearm. "Oh - my - GOD!" he exclaimed quite clearly now.

"What did you see, Duo?" Heero asked calmly.

"Wufei... he... the... he had... and... oh my God!"

Heero, seeing he was going to get nothing coherent from Duo, moved to the door to take a peek for himself. He managed to catch Wufei just as he was stepping into Kaylin's room. He quietly closed the door and moved to stand in front of Duo once again. "You were right, Duo."

Duo looked near tears. "Oh my... "

"Yes, Duo," Heero interrupted. "Oh my God."

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Wufei and Kaylin were now truly giggling like children.

"I think we got their attention," Kaylin couldn't speak without snickering.

Wufei, too, was having difficulty maintaining his composure. "Oh, we definitely have their attention, Kaylin. Now it is time for the real show. Are you certain you want to go through with this?"

Kaylin squealed so everyone in the other rooms could hear. "Weeeee! I can hardly wait!"

"Nice improvisation," Wufei said quietly.

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"That does it! I'm going over there!" Anne started putting on her house slippers.

"Mom, you can't do that! They're not kids!" Megg argued.

"I don't care! Kaylin, is still my son and I'll not allow that... that pervert to put his hands on my son!"

"Did you hear Kaylin complaining?!"

Anne whirled to face her daughter. "Well... no... but... !"

"No 'buts', mom. Leave them be."

"Of all the unheard of, twisted... " The older woman was grumbling as she removed her slippers.

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"Quatre, are you all right?"

Quatre was sitting on a trunk at the foot of the bed, his face beet red, eyes as round as coasters, pointing at the door with his mouth agape.

Trowa waved his hand in front of the blondes eyes. "Quatre?"

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"Are you ready to play, Kaylin?"

"Yes, Master Chang!"

"Oooo... I do like the sound of that. Your enthusiasm is making me want you even more, but first we need to put these on." The sound of metal on wood could again be heard followed by the chink of an iron binding. "There, now. Are you comfortable?"

"Yes, Master Chang, very comfortable."

"Good. Do you know what I'm going to do now, little boy?"

"No, Master Chang. What are you going to do?"

"I am going to tickle the piss out of you."

Kaylin's laughter filled the hall at about the same time people started to.

"What the hell is going on down there?!" Anne whispered heatedly.

The other four boys shrugged.

The older woman shot her daughter an angry look.

Megg shrugged too.

"Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhaaaaaaahahahahah.... oh... OH... OH... STOP IT!"

Kaylin's screech was like nails on a chalkboard. Nevertheless, everyone moved several steps closer to the door.

Quatre looked ill. "Anne, I am soooo sorry about this. I had no idea... "

"This isn't your fault! This is that... that heathen's fault!"

"Oh, to hell with this! I can't stand it anymore!" came Wufei's voice.

The next sound from behind the closed door was the rhythmic grunting of the two men, with the springs in the bed playing counterpoint.

Anne seemed to calm down a bit. "Well... at least they're doing something.... normal, now."

*CRACK*

Quatre flinched at the harsh sound of the whip. "Oh, my."

Anne's head was threatening to burst. One could clearly see the veins leading from her temples, down the side of her face, to her neck. "Let me through! I'm going in there!"

Duo grabbed her arm. "Waaaaaiiiiit a minute. Somethin's fishy."

"What?!" Anne had little patience at this point.

"I'm wonderin' just what the mechanics are of crackin' a whip while you fuck someone senseless."

"Duo... language." Heero admonished.

"He's right." Trowa announced. "Their rhythm is too steady and exaggerated. This is a deception."

Anne pushed the sleeves of her robe up and moved to the door, listening closely as another crack of the whip sounded. She smiled and threw the door open.

Kaylin and Wufei were jumping up and down on the bed, making strange noises and panting from the exertion. Upon seeing that they had been found out, they dropped to the edge of the bed, heads lowered, smirking, looking at one another out of the corner of their eyes.

Anne was hotter than an autumn day in Montgomery. "Why you conniving, underhanded, sneaky, contorted little... tricksters!!"

"You tell 'em, mom."

Anne gave her daughter a suspicious glare. "You! You were in on this, weren't you?!"

"Us kids gotta stick together." Kaylin winked at his sister.

Anne crossed her arms, targeting Wufei with her harsh look. "And you... I suppose you are behind this whole thing."

Wufei inclined his head proudly. "I am."

The remainder of the crowd had slowly made its way into the room.

Duo was shaking his head, smiling. "Man, Wu! I didn't know ya' had it in ya'!"

"You, of all people, should know better than to underestimate me, Maxwell."

Everyone fell silent.

Kaylin couldn't hold it any longer. He snorted and fell over laughing.

Quatre was giggling, too. "Wufei, were did you get those old, rusty manacles?"

Wufei shrugged. "From the stables, of course. This used to be a plantation, after all. I barely managed to get them to closed."

"It's a good thing you didn't actually use 'em on Kaylin," quipped Duo.

Kaylin rolled his head sideways and blinked his watering eyes at everyone. "It's nothing a little lubricant couldn't have fixed."

That sent a groan through the group. Even Kaylin's mother rolled her eyes. She turned to face the people standing behind her, making shooing motions with her hands. "Out, out, out."

There was scattered muttering and laughter as people made their way back to their rooms.

Before Anne pulled the door closed behind her, she briefly stuck her head back in. "Wufei."

"Yes?"

"No more whips and chains for my son, eh?"

A small smirk wrinkled the corners of Wufei's mouth. "Agreed. Goodnight... Anne."

The older woman smiled. "Goodnight, Wufei. Goodnight, son."

"G'night, mom."

Both men watched as the door closed.

Kaylin lay his hand on Wufei's knee. "Wufei... would you... like to spend the night?"

Wufei's head shot up, eyes as wide as they could be. "What?!"

Kaylin leaned in, his nose almost touching Wufei's. "I asked... if you would like to spend the night," he said softly.

"I... uh... well, I..."

"Nothing has to happen... if you don't want it to. We can just... hold each other... touch each other."

Wufei suddenly stood. "I... I know my own hormones too well for that, Kaylin. I would... I would..."

"... take advantage of me?" Kaylin finished.

The Chinese man clamped his mouth shut.

Kaylin shook his head. "It wouldn't happen that way, Wufei. This whole thing with my father is over. I still have some healing to do, but I'll have to do that on my own. Don't you understand?" Kaylin reached out and took Wufei's hand. "We had so much fun together today... sneaking around like a couple of kids - plotting against my mother and your... well, our friends. I've never felt so close to anyone outside of my own family. I want you in my life, now."

Wufei smiled slightly. "And in your bed, I presume."

Kaylin smiled back. "That's part of the plan, but only a very small part."

Wufei thought for a moment. "You do recall that we have a date tomorrow night, don't you?"

Kaylin nodded. "I've already asked Quatre if I could use one of the cars. I was going to take us for dinner and dancing."

"Considering my injury, we will have to forego the dancing, but dinner sounds like a good idea." Wufei pulled Kaylin to his feet and wrapped his arms around the blonde's waist. "You wouldn't mind terribly if we at least waited until after our first date, would you?"

Kaylin kissed Wufei right on the nose. "I can wait... forever."