Deceptive Appearances

Two weeks trapped together in the same safe house and it had finally come to a head. Duo's behavior was quickly eradicating what little there was of Heero's patience.

"Why do you act like such a baka?" Heero demanded of Duo, after watching the aforementioned pilot do an insane tap-dance to accompany Quatre's Moonlight Sonata.

Duo's reasoning behind his sudden enthusiasm for dancing? He was bored, but then, they all were.

Duo sighed, rolled his eyes, placed his hands on his hips, and glared back at Heero. "Because most boys our age are stupid," he declared. "I'm only living up to stereotype so the Ozzies don't look too close." It didn't need to be said that he needed to keep in practice even during 'down time.'

Heero blinked. He hadn't been expecting that as an answer. "What do you mean?" he asked suspiciously.

Duo gave another eyeroll and flopped down onto the floor. He rubbed his nose with one hand, waving away Quatre's concerned look with the other. "The Ozzies see me and think 'Oh, just another stupid teenager. He's no threat.'" Duo waved both arms in the air like he just didn't care that he was acting like a stupid teenager – which he didn't. Then, pointing at Heero, he said, "Whereas they see you, all grim and brooding and with a purpose and think, 'He's probably a punk looking for trouble; maybe in a gang, or just mad at the world. We should keep an eye on him.'" At Heero's confused expression, Duo sighed. "You don't act like a regular kid our age, Heero. You act like a soldier. And the Ozzies aren't quite so stupid that they can't see that."

The silence stretched as Heero digested that information, before finally giving a curt nod. "You…may have a point, Maxwell," he said gruffly.

Eyes widening ever-so-slightly, Duo just stared at Heero. He hadn't expected the other boy to admit that he'd been right. Hell, he hadn't expected Heero to realize that he was right.

Quatre, on the other hand…well, he saw the wisdom in Duo's words. But he could only keep out of the conversation for so long. "What about me?" he asked timidly. "Do I…act like a normal teenage boy?"

"You do the shy and quiet thing well, Cat, but that really only works in a library or something," Duo told him ruefully. "In crowds, you act pretty much like you're on the lookout for trouble, and the Ozzies'll notice that."

"Uhnn…" Quatre grunted, thinking deeply as he leaned back against the piano keys. "I'll have to work on that."

"Work on what?" Trowa asked as he and Wufei entered the room. They took in the sight of the disheveled-from-dancing Duo, the pensive Quatre perched on the piano bench, and the storm cloud that was Heero and each privately came to the conclusion that there had been a fight. In actions, not in words, so it surprised the both of them when Heero said, "Maxwell was just informing us of some…tips…for when we go undercover as 'normal' teenage boys."

"What kind of…suggestions…would you have for me?" Wufei asked with a dangerous tone to his voice. The idea that an idiot with a death wish could actually teach him something?


Duo didn't even pause to consider for a moment; it was obvious he'd been saving this up for a while. "Your personality is more suited to a crotchety old man," Duo said bluntly. "You wouldn't even fit in at a library, like Quatre. That glare you give to anyone who gets in your way promises dismemberment if they don't get out of your way, and the only people that can pull that off in a library are graduate students during finals, or harried librarians, of which you are neither."

Wufei blinked. "I…what?"

Duo sighed. "Most of the time you can manage to act your age, and you never act like a 'normal' teenage boy. The schools we end up infiltrating aren't really places where your 'serious scholar' routine fits in, anymore than there are places where Heero's 'I plan to be a soldier when I grow up' act fits. I may act like a do-nothing idiot that doesn't care about my future, but since most teenagers our age are like that, no one takes any notice."

Wufei thought about how Maxwell usually acted like he didn't have a brain in his head. He thought about Relena Peacecraft, and how she acted the same whenever Heero was near. He thought about the swarms of girls that giggled and flirted with him occasionally, all acting as if they had fluff for brains. He thought about the numerous times classes had been disrupted because someone was passing notes, or simply passed out from having partied too hard the night before.

He'd been treating school as seriously as he always had on L5, where it was about duty and honor, when in American schools… Wufei shuddered and gave a curt nod, not willing to admit aloud that Maxwell might have had a point.

"What about Barton?" Wufei asked, to deflect attention from himself.

Duo turned to Trowa, who raised his visible eyebrow, patiently waiting. Duo put his hand to his chin in a show of mock thoughtfulness. "You tend to stay in the background, a real wallflower type of guy. You don't get noticed, and that's good," Duo told him. Then he grinned. "When you do get noticed, you really work that 'shy, introverted, but secretly ogling girls from underneath your hair' thing."

"Actually, I ogle boys from underneath my hair," Trowa replied with a smirk. "Makes the Ozzies think there's another reason for me being so shy."

Duo snorted and jabbed a finger at Trowa. "Ah-ha! And here I thought you were ogling Quatre all the time because you like him."

"I do like him," Trowa replied calmly, causing Quatre's eyes to bug out. "But I like you more," he finished with a small smile.

Duo's own eyes lit up. "Really?"

Trowa dipped his head in a nod.

"Cool!" Duo bit his lip, eyes glinting mischievous. "Wanna go make out?" he asked.

Trowa smiled, not betraying any startlement – if, in deed, he felt any. "Sure," he agreed.

Duo grabbed his arm and they motored out of the room, Trowa somehow managing to look like he was just out taking a laconic stroll, while Duo looked like he was racing for his life.

Well…his sex life.

Heero, Quatre, and Wufei just stood there, dumbfounded. No matter what he acted like, they would probably never understand Duo – or Trowa.