Writing from experience. My hair…. ::pouts::

Shounen ai comments.

Stay Calm

He sat down at the table, hands folded loosely on his lap, and Quatre carefully unbraided his hair, chatting about how it was almost like a sleepover – wasn't that something normal teenagers did? Of course, he wasn't sure, he said, but it would be kind of fun anyway. The tortilla chips were set out on the table, and a bowl of salsa, and even a Cosmo magazine about which Hiiro and WuFei had been making… interesting comments.

"We'll put it to about here, is that OK?" Asked Quatre, drawing his fingers in a line across Duo's back that was too close to his shoulders for comfort. Duo's hands almost twitched into fists, but otherwise he was calm.

"Whatever's best for you," the longhaired boy managed to say. Quatre nodded, though Duo couldn't see him, and grabbed the scissors.

Truthfully, it hurt. His chest felt cold every time he thought of what was happening – but he wouldn't have trusted anybody else but Quatre and the other three to do the job. Maybe Hilde – then again, maybe not. And that made it even worse, that somebody he trusted so much was going to be the one to do it.

The call had come at 1 AM – "Duo," Quatre's voice came on. Duo grumbled wordlessly, and the soft-spoken teen continued. "Are you awake?"

"Yeah," Duo said, running his tongue along his teeth. Damn, he hated morning mouth, and he'd only been asleep for a few hours.

"We have lice."

The phone line was silent for a while. Then, "You're shitting me," Duo said, voice wavering. "Tell me you're joking."

"I wouldn't joke about that," Quatre said, trying to reassure him. "Hiiro, Trowa, and WuFei are over here. We're going to come pick you up." His voice was soft and it's usual comforting tone, and Duo figured that was why Quatre had been the one to make the call.

Duo's free hand pulled his braid over his shoulder and held it, while he said in a voice that had suddenly become very flat, "Please say it's a joke."

"Duo – we're going to have to cut your hair."

The teenager was silent, still holding the phone to his ear while Quatre became increasingly more worried, telling him to calm down and that they would be there in 10 minutes. But he was calm – he wasn't throwing a fit or crying or anything. He was just sitting, staring at the desk, and loosely gripping his braid. Just staring – and feeling that cold explosion in his chest every so often.

After a while he hung the phone up and pulled on some clothes, gaze shifting to the pile of dirty clothes in the corner. Shit, he'd have to do all laundry, including the reds and the socks, and totally clean his apartment – shit, shit, shit.

Dressed, he paced the living room anxiously, scratching his head occasionally. He was aware of the itching now – how often had he been scratching his head before? Had people thought he had lice, or fleas, and that he was a slob? Well, sure, the apartment was a mess, but most bachelors couldn't keep clean, could they?

Finally getting sick of the living room, and even feeling his stomach clamp up and his hunger disappear, he locked the door behind him and went to wait on the front steps. Sitting there, under the orange glow of the porch light, he flipped his braid back to the front so he could hold it again and waited. Hadn't it been ten minutes yet? Where were they? Then again, if WuFei was driving, it would take a half hour for them to get to his place.

Fortunately for his nerves, they pulled up within the next few minutes, Hiiro driving. Duo stood up and (calmly) walked toward the car, seeing Trowa in the back lean over and unlock a door for him. He settled in, and from the front passenger seat Quatre turned around to look at him. "You OK?" he asked.

Duo mutely nodded – his throat felt fine and he could have spoken, but he didn't feel like it.

"We're all going to cut our hair," Quatre offered, as though it was any comfort. Though it did mean that Trowa's bangs would be gone. He looked to WuFei and Trowa at his side. The Chinese teen was frowning, his arms crossed – he looked fairly pissed off. Probably the connotation of having lice – the fact that there were dirty, icky, unclean little bugs running around in one's head was fairly bruising to one's self confidence.

Trowa looked apathetic to it all. Then he reached up and scratched behind his ear, realized what he was doing, and frowned deeply.

One stop at the supermarket and five bottles of RID later, the boys were at Quatre's place and lathering up their hair. Hiiro had just shaved his, opting for efficiency, and WuFei had only allowed an inch to be taken off. Trowa looked normal for once, without his hair hanging in his face like a blinder, and Quatre now had hair possibly a little longer than a buzz-cut.

The scissors went through Duo's hair, and he closed his eyes and (calmly) breathed.

Quatre finished, and Duo had just enough time to see his chestnut tresses sitting in the trashcan before the blond ushered him to the bathroom.

Once there, where the other two boys were lathering their hair up (Hiiro applying the poison straight to his scalp, for good measure), WuFei had to do a double take at the American teen. "It looks good," he said, with a small grin. "And we still qualify as having long hair, so don't worry." The cold feeling returned to Duo with a vengeance, spreading like water through a sponge, freezing up his chest and abdomen.

That was when the tears came, leaking out his eyes though he tried his hardest not to blink and let them fall, and he (calmly) cried a few before Quatre set him on the toilet seat and began to lather up his short hair. "It'll grow back," the blond whispered. "Don't worry." His hands moved forcefully, but not enough to cause pain, and he poured more of the stuff on.

"I can do it," the brunet weakly protested, but Quatre just shrugged and continued massaging the shampoo in.

Finished with his own hair and just letting the poison sit for the recommended ten minutes, WuFei joined the blond in scrubbing Duo's scalp. "It's difficult," he informed the brunet. "The shampoo doesn't want to lather or spread at all." Quatre nodded in agreement.

Then, from the blond, "You may kill me for this, but you look like a little elf from old movies, with your hair like that."

WuFei coughed, "What?"         

"Like the lollipop guild from The Wizard of Oz," Duo quietly supplied.

"Yeah!" Quatre agreed, pouring more poison into Duo's locks.

The feeling of four hands massaging his scalp wasn't unpleasant, and Duo closed his eyes. No more tears came, and he thought that he could possibly get through the night.

Hiiro left the bathroom to find a different shower, since Trowa had taken the one they were in, and eventually Duo's hair was covered in the gel-like poison. It sat atop his head, and Quatre made another elf comment before lathering up his own hair.

The recommended ten minutes passed for Duo, WuFei having gone to share a shower with Hiiro (and ignoring Quatre's lewd suggestions of what he do with the other Asian boy), and Trowa exited the shower, holding the curtain open for the brunet.

"Shampoo's there," Quatre indicated, before asking once more if Duo was all right. Getting a confirming nod from the other teen, the blond and Trowa left. Duo could just hear Quatre making a comment about how he'd hoped to share a shower with the quiet, green-eyed boy, before he turned the water on and he couldn't hear anything outside of the bathroom.

He (calmly) stepped under the scalding hot water and rubbed the poison from his shoulder-length locks, feeling it turn soapy under the shower water. And after a long, long stay under the steaming water, scrubbing his head vigorously and getting upset at how difficult it was to get his hair free of the poison, which turned slimy after the lather had been rinsed off, he turned the water off and stepped out of the shower.

The mirror was fogged, and so he reached a hand up to wipe it clear. Then he saw himself, and saw what WuFei had seen when he complemented the new style. The brown locks, shiny and sticking together from the water, fell in gentle waves to just below his shoulders. His tresses now framed his face, his bangs having grown out to long enough that they were indistinguishable from the rest. In all, he looked rather nice – almost cute, and perhaps even more feminine than when it had been longer and pulled back into a braid.

Very calmly, he took the fresh, clean towel that Quatre had provided, and dried himself off. Then, wrapping it around his waist, he went off to join the nitpicking party.