Surviving Friends With Tails
Duo gets used as a guinea pig by a revengeful scientist, so why is Wufei the one who keeps getting the short end of the stick? 2x5x2, War time. (Dedicated to all the cat lovers out there.)
Another part of my fanfiction cliché project. This time it's the Neko theme I'm taking on.
For those who don't know, Neko is Japanese for cat and is often used to describe a person with cat ears and tail, sometimes even paws.
And when I said "dedicated to all the cat lovers" I had a specific cat lover in mind. Kichikoneko who wrote a side story in Wufei's POV for her story 'If Only' when I asked.
'You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats. - American proverb
The transmitter made a sharp beeping noise before Quatre's exhilarated voice rang out in Nataku's cockpit, drowning out the vibrating rumble from the engine.
"04 to 05, the reaper is in the meadow, shake off the snow and return to the three house."
"Acknowledged. 05 out." Wufei responded before giving in to the luxury of closing his eyes in relief for just a second. They found him. They finally found him.
They had been so sure that Duo was dead and to know that they had been wrong was beyond pleasing. To have him back was beyond words.
Duo had been given a relatively easy mission, at least for someone of Duo's skills. It was a simple assassination. A scientist, working for a private company was on the verge of selling a biological weapon to Oz that could be devastating for their side of the war.
Orders were: Kill the target, destroy all the research in the building.
All had gone according to plan. The scientist had been found by authorities the next day in the burned ruins of his house and private lab. The official story was that the cause of the fire was an electrical malfunction and that Dr Emerson had died in his sleep from smoke inhalation.
The only problem was that Duo did not show up at the safe house the next day as planned.
Deathscythe had been hidden exactly where Duo's log had said it would be, but there was not a trace of its pilot.
That had been six month ago.
'Nothing had been the same without him,' Wufei admitted to himself. The war had never felt as dark and hopeless as when there was no one there to take your mind off it, to crack an inappropriate joke or just plain piss you off.
Wufei never realized just how much he depended on Duo's presence, his optimism, and his distractions, to keep himself on track, to keep him focused. That was until he lost him.
But they had him back now.
Just a week ago, Trowa had found a file with Duo's picture in it during an undercover mission in a higher officer's privet safe. The file had only said that Duo was a volunteer, but not for what or where. Duo sure didn't look like he volunteered to anything from where he was glaring daggers at the person behind the camera, his jaw almost black of bruising.
They had managed to track the file to an underground laboratory in Sri-Lanka, owned by a rich surgeon, who at one point had worked together with Dr. Emerson.
Heero had hacked into the labs security system, getting full control of the surveillance cameras, using their own technology against them. The second Heero had confirmed that Duo was located there, they attacked.
Wufei, who together with Trowa had been assigned to take care of any help coming from Oz, had been forced to wait anxiously while Quatre and Heero got Duo out.
And now he was free to breathe easily again… or as soon as he managed to shake the annoying Leos that were coming after him. Wufei frowned as he positioned his gundam to attack.
Barely half an hour later, Wufei managed to get rid of his enemies. Leos really was dishonorably weak opponents, canon fodder sent out by men too cowardly to fight on their own. After a long flight where he made sure that he wasn't followed, Wufei returned to their latest hide out.
Their gundams were hidden in an abandoned flight hangar located in the middle of a seemingly endless forest. It was far enough from the nearest town to make sure that no one ever took the time to walk all the way out there to explore the restricted area. If they even knew that it existed. The only road there had been over grown long ago, showing no signs of once being a heavily traveled path.
Nataku landed effortlessly next to Sandrock and Wufei shut all the systems down. He climbed down quickly and started running, barely pausing to lock up and set the alarm before making his way over the old runway. The concrete had long ago given way for grass, small trees and a sea of dandelions making its abandoned status even more obvious. The wind that managed to pick up its speed over then empty runway gave him an extra boost as he almost flew towards his destination.
The fence that once had circled the entire area now hardly deserved the name and Wufei ducked through one of the many large holes in it. The surrounding forest was thick and old and ancient oaks stood like marble pillars, holding up the roof of leaves. The pilots had tried not to create any paths between the safe house the hangar, but at the moment, Wufei couldn't have cared less. He needed to get back as fast as he could so that he could see with his own eyes that Duo was alive.
Half an hour later he stumbled out into a large, unkempt garden. Wild rose buses lined the weed covered garden path that he started running down. His heavy boots slapped loudly against the stones, softened slightly by plants that got in his way. He ran past a large pond covered in water lilies, floating just as calm and just as white as the swans beside them. The large birds watched him curiously as he past them, but he paid them no mind. He was too focused on reaching his lost comrade. Wufei left the patch, taking a shortcut up a hill and past the old pavilion standing on top of it. There, on the other side, was the old, almost palace looking building that were their latest safehouse.
The once white, now light brown, wooden building had four floors and an out of place looking tower standing in the middle. It made you question in just what era it had been build and just what the architect had been smoking.
Duo would most likely think it looked like a brownie with a candle in the middle. Inspired by the thought, Wufei pushed himself to run the last distance up to the house.
You had to be careful when you pushed one of the double doors open since they were on the verge of falling off. Wufei didn't care. He just about ripped it off in his haste to get through. The large hall that could be found on the other side stank of rotting wood and mold. There were several doors leading on to different parts of the house but Wufei ran forward, following a dark hallway further and further in, past termite infested furniture and crocked paintings. It opened up into another large hall shaped like a large dome with a wide, almost majestic wooden staircase, spiraling upwards in the middle. He knew that the stairs led all the way up to the top of the tower, even if he himself had never gone there. He had been informed by a too pale Trowa that if they though the stair was crap at the bottom, they didn't want to see the top.
The floorboard protested loudly under his feet as he hurried towards the stairs. A saner person then a wanted terrorist would not willingly put his foot on the obviously unstable spiraling stair but Wufei didn't spare the rotting wood a single thought as he rushed on. The second floor contained everything from a ballroom to a fancy dining room, but also what the pilots had chosen to call a kitchen. It was the closest thing they could manage when the original one were beyond saving.
It had a sink, or more exactly the room now had a sink since Heero had taken down the wall that had separated their kitchen from the bathroom on the other side. Their kitchen did therefore, not only have a sink, it had a toilet too. Trowa had managed to find an old noisy refrigerator that they had dragged up the stairs, placing it next to the sink. An old washing mashing stood in the far corner with a couple of clothing lines hanging above it. The table and chairs standing in the middle of the room had been collected from the third floor, the only part of the house spared from most of the rot, mold or water damage.
Wufei didn't spare their make-do kitchen a look as he reached the top of the stair, his eyes landed on just one person.
"Duo." He breathed out in relief, like he hadn't dared to really believe it until he saw the other pilot with his own eyes.
Duo slowly turned his head towards him from where he was sitting at the kitchen table, clutching a mug of what looked like tomato soup. The braided boy swallowed several times before he managed to rasp out a "Hey" in a broken voice. Duo looked like death warmed over, like someone who hadn't slept or eaten in far too long. He had dark circles under his eyes and he was several shades too pale. He was dressed in big, baggy clothes in a dirty, gray color with a black cloth wrapped around his head like a turban.
Wufei let himself hold for just a few seconds as he let his lungs catch up, before he felt a rarely used grin spread over his face. He quickly strode over to his comrade, gripping his arm in greeting.
He wasn't usually one for such bold and affectionate greetings, but on the other hand, it wasn't every day that one of your comrades came back from the dead.
"It's good to see you again Maxwell, you have been missed."
Duo gave him a tired smile, but the joy in his eyes told him that his uncharacteristic show of sentimental was appreciated. Wufei did not turn away as he had done so many times before. For once he hoped that his own happiness was just as visible.
The moment was interrupted by a movement over at the far side of the table. Wufei glanced over at Winner who was obviously hovering, peeking down into Duo's mug to see how much he had eaten.
Duo caught the look and rolled his eyes before nodding his head towards the pot standing on the table. "Soup?" He just about whispered.
"Yes please." Wufei's grin melted down into a comfortable smile. He walked over to take a mug from the draining board standing on the toilet seat, before returning to pull out a chair on the other side of the table.
He pretended not to notice that Duo's hands were shaking as they slowly lifted the mug up to his lips.
Duo might be a bit damaged but he would be alright, they would make sure of it. Feeling content, Wufei sipped his soup.
Duo could almost not believe that he was free. It was almost like one of the many drugged dreams that he had been having during his stay in the dungeon, as he had named it the second that he woke up in the windowless, pale yellow room.
Duo never wanted to see a yellow wall again as long as he lived. Thankfully, the bedroom Quatre showed him to had light green walls and a large window overlooking the unkempt garden and the forest further away. He awkwardly looked around the room, taking in everything. Like the rest of the house, it smelled old and musky but at least it didn't have any mold. A tall wardrobe stood in the far corner, a desk, two chairs on both sides of a small table and a large bed standing in the middle of the room. Duo shivered unhappily. There was no way he was sleeping in it. It was too open, too much like the hospital bed they had strapped him to.
There was a door to his right next to the desk and he slowly crept towards it. Skittishly, he opened it, almost like he expected something to attack him from the other side. Nothing jumped him and a quick look informed him that the door lead to a bathroom. He was grateful to see that he had his own. It would make things easier.
He walked in, turning on the light before closing the door behind him and locking it. Then he unlocked it before locking it again, just to be sure.
Slowly he turned towards the mirror. His tired, haunted-looking face stared right back at him.
Damn, he looked like crap. No wonder Quatre had hovered over him like crazy. He looked pale. Too pale, too thin, too sick to still be alive. Duo actually wasn't sure that he really wasn't dead after all.
His lifted his hands, slowly started to unwrap the cloth that he had bound around his head the second he heard the alarms going off and the unmistakable sound of Wing's powerful beam rifle.
The black cloth fell to the floor. For a second, Duo could not lift his eyes off the dirty rags, scared off what he was going to see in the mirror.
With a shaky breath, he looked up.
Large, golden brown cat ears were poking out of the bird's nest that was his hair.
"Oh god, it's worse than I thought." He whispered, leaning forward over the sink. The ears twitched at his distress, proving that no, they were not a part of a fancy masquerade costume.
He pushed his hair to the side to get a better look. Black stitches that were lining the edge of the ears, holding them to his head as they were slowly merging with his own skin.
The thing that made his skin crawl wasn't just that they were attached to his head, no the fact that he could hear almost everything around him did. He could hear the sound of Heero working on his computer a few doors down, Quatre and Trowa was talking quietly on the floor below. Luckily he couldn't make out the words since he was pretty sure that they were talking about him. He leaned forward, tipping his head as he tried to look into the ears to see just how much effort they had put into making the damned things authentic. Duo had never looked into a cat's ear, but he had the feeling that it would look very much like what he was looking at now. The ear opening was dark and deep.
Duo shivered, wrapping his arms around himself. He could still feel the vibration and the sound of the drill they used on his skull before the drugs pulled him under.
Not stopping to think, Duo took a hold of the bottom of his sweater, pulling it over his head. He ignored the way his ribs were pressed out against his skin to turn around to take a look at his back in the mirror.
He had a large, cross shaped scar over his back. One following his spine all the way from his tail bone and up to the edge of his skull and one straight across his hip.
He hovered his fingers over the rough looking area. It didn't hurt but Duo feared it. What exactly had those bastards done that made it necessary to cut him open like this?
Duo sank down on the cold floor, staring at his hands. His nails looked too thick and as he stared at them, they extract out off his fingers, growing long and sharp. Impossible to deny, he had claws. Long, animalistic ones. His stomach rolled and he wrapped his arms around himself so that he couldn't see them. He felt very alone and he wanted nothing more than for someone to hold him.
But he was too ashamed and too self-conscious to go to one of the other pilots.
Quatre would be the best option but he would ask questions that Duo did not want to answer. Trowa could most likely fake a caring embrace, but they just didn't have that kind of friendship. Heero wouldn't understand what it was he wanted and Wufei had a personal space as large as the moon.
Loneliness echoed inside of him as he left the bathroom and curled up under the bed, hugging a pillow to his chest. He wished that when he woke up, the horrors that he had lived through the last couple of months would be just a bad dream.
Wufei hesitated. It wasn't his business and it would be rude to interfere, but he was a bit worried. Duo hadn't been acting the same since he came back and Wufei found himself missing the loud happy talking that the other boy used to shower them with.
He had observed his fellow pilot when he could without making it seem like he was following him. It was like Duo couldn't relax, he was always tensed, roaming around the house. Up and down the stairs, opening and closing doors at the strangest times. At any sudden noise, it didn't even have to be very loud, Duo almost jumped out of his skin.
Duo had abandoned the almost turban looking wrapping that he had covered his head in, for a black bandana that were strapped tightly over his head, holding his braid trapped against the back of his neck. His usual tight, black outfit had been exchanged for soft baggy clothes. One of the several too-big gray sweatshirts that Wufei had no idea where he got them from was constantly present. The sleeves were always pulled down as far as they would go, covering Duo's hands. The clothes made him look smaller and younger then he really was, like a child wearing his older siblings cast-offs.
Wufei wanted to ask what was wrong, but Duo would most likely not answer him. They weren't close enough that it would be acceptable for him to invade Duo's privacy to that point. Quatre would be the more natural option but it was obvious from Quatre's nervous hovering that Duo wasn't sharing.
At the moment, Duo was trying to make himself comfortable at the end of a couch, but was failing miserably by the looks of it. He was fussing around, pulling at the pillows, twisting around with a look of discomfort on his face.
Wufei sat down on the other side of the couch, putting his glasses on before opening his book. Since Duo almost never stayed in his room during any longer periods of time, he had taken to sleeping on one of the old couches standing in the room next to the kitchen. Wufei suspected that Duo didn't actually sleep during the night and that the cat naps that he was taking during the day was all the sleep he got. Wufei, who had never put a foot in this specific room before had taken to reading in there just so that he could keep an eye on the braided pilot.
He didn't know how to approach the other boy. Human interaction wasn't one of his strong points and he was at a loss. He supposed that just being there was going to be the most he could give right then.
He flipped the page, aware that he couldn't remember a single word he had read.
He glanced over at Duo who was absently rubbing his lower back with a pained expression on his face.
Wufei put a finger between the pages, looking over at the other pilot. "Is your back hurting?"
Duo jumped, twisting in his seat until his whole body was facing him. Wide eyed he stared at Wufei, body so still that it appeared like he had stopped breathing. The air was thick with tension.
A couple of unbelievably long seconds later, Wufei forced himself to go on, despite the awkwardness. "If you are in pain, I could help." Learning how to give a massage had not been a part in his training, but he knew the theory behind it. To understand your own body's movement and limitations, you had to know about your own muscle structure.
Duo didn't say anything, he just, in what seemed like a nervous gesture, tightened the bandana around his head, forcing it down.
"I'm not an expert, but I know how to relieve tension."
Duo violently shook his head before bolting out off the room without a word.
Wufei was left staring after him in confusion.
Duo didn't show up for lunch. It was unusual, but not unheard of so no one questioned it.
Then when Duo didn't show up for dinner, Wufei became worried, even more so then before.
"Maybe we should go up with some food." He suggested quietly, feeling guilty for upsetting his fellow pilot, even if it had not been his intention.
Quatre shook his head. "I already tried at lunch, he won't open the door." He looked over at the stair as if willing Duo to come down.
"I'll give it a try." He said quietly. It wasn't that he thought that he was going to have better luck then Quatre, especially since the blond was actually a friend of Duo, not just a fellow pilot. But his honor wouldn't let him give up without trying.
He filled the plate up with spaghetti and the pasta sauce that Trowa had made. He also made sure to bring a large glass of water since the banged pilot had a habit of using a bit too much spices.
He made his way up the creaking stair and over to the end of the corridor. Trapping the glass between his forearm and chest he raised his free hand and knocked on the door. There was no response. He tried again but with the same result. The door was unlocked, but it would be dishonorable to just step in, he could not be that rude to someone who wished to be alone.
He knocked once again. "Duo, if you don't want me to open the door, then let me know." He waited for a second, but there was not a sound. "I'm coming in now." He said, pushing the handle down and stepped in. Duo wasn't in the room but the window was open, curtains dancing in the breeze.
He put the plate and glass down on the desk by the door, hoping that the other teen would be back soon and that he would feel like eating then.
He went back down stairs, settling in with his book once again. The room felt very empty when Duo wasn't sleeping on the other side of the couch.
Time past and as the dark started to fall, he put a bookmark between the pages and got to his feet. The house was quiet apart from the tortured creaking of the stair as he made his way up to the third floor.
His room was at the end of a long hallway and he glanced over to its other side. Duo's door was still firmly closed. He shook his head; there was nothing he could do. He didn't know why he even tried. He wasn't the type to befriend people, he was a loner and he had always been one. Even as a young child he had never had friends, just acquaintances at the boarding school who he would share meals and lessons with.
Wufei looked away. Duo most likely had more than enough on his plate to deal with his fumbling tries of friendship. It sure didn't help that Duo was one of the most attractive guys he had ever seen. Things like that had a way of making conversations more difficult.
Wufei had always had a hard time talking to attractive boys. Hell, he had a hard talking to people under normal circumstances but when it was pretty boys, well, he was pretty much screwed before he even opened his mouth. He would get flustered and uncomfortable which made him stressed and annoyed. His reaction was more often than not to rant angrily and drive people away from him. Problem solved. Unfortunately he did not want to drive Duo away so that method was out.
With a sigh he opened his bedroom door, only to pause when he noticed that there was a small piece of folded paper lying on the floor. It must have been pushed in under the door. He picked it up, unfolding it. All it said was 'thank you' in small crooked letters.
Wufei smiled and closed the door behind him. Maybe he was getting a hang of this friendship thing after all.
I feel like I've been around too many cats lately and it's only going to get worse XD PLEASE! Tell me what you thought about the chapter. I will be extremely happy if you do.
A applaud to Smartass_shrimp who beta read this for me, without her this would never have been posted. Hopefully she will be able to stick around for a while despite me curse (I'm starting to lose count of how many beta readers have fallen under it).
Next chapter will be posted on Friday.
Now to something completely different.
As some of you might know I put up a poll to find out which fiction you wanted me to finish first. My dark eyed wallflower quickly ended up on first place with over half of the votes while Isn't life a kick in the crouch was a pretty close second, followed by Normal people's sequel. There was no misunderstandings there... until now.
Since I finished Wallflower I started working on Kick and everything was going well. Then I looked at the poll. Kick and Normal people have the same amount of votes now. Shit. I would have ignored it and kept writing on Kick if it wasn't for some people who had been pretty insistent that I should update Normal people *cough*cristalake*cough.*
So now it's up to you. Isn't life a kick in the crouch or Normal people? I will keep the poll open for another two weeks.