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fic - unexpected guest [haven] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
turnippatch
turnippatch
fic - unexpected guest [haven]
Title:  Unexpected Guest
Series:  Moments of Haven
Summary:  I felt like getting someone else's point of view for a while.  Alas, Heero and Duo continued to dominate the conversation.



Unexpected Guest
A Moment of Haven


"Switch!" Heero called out to the class, keeping a wary eye on the door to his gym.  Someone was coming in again, and it had better not be Duo and the rest of his class.  Instead, however, he saw someone entirely unexpected.  He raised a silent eyebrow at his guest, and received one in return.  "Manning.  Alphand.  I said switch."

The two in question muttered their apologies and did as instructed while the visitor skirted the edge of the group on the mats and came to the side of their instructor.  "Yuy."

"Chang."  He drew them back a little from the class.  "What are you doing here?"

"Merely observing," Wufei responded calmly.  "No cause for concern."

"Observing what?"

"The advanced seminars.  Upper management is keen upon evaluating their utility."

"We just had an evaluation a couple of weeks ago."

"A paper evaluation."

"And, no offense, but somehow *you're* qualified to evaluate their utility just by -- Carlisle!  What did I tell you about your elbows?"

"Sorry, sir!"

A quiet minute passed as the class continued their exercises.  Wufei mentally noted the skill levels of each of the students, and found them most appropriately paired.  "I've been assigned to drop in on a number of classes, not just yours or Maxwell's, so you needn't worry about it in that regard.  Actually, I've just been following my itinerary, and didn't find out I would be observing your classes until this morning.  I'd have let you know ahead of time, otherwise."

"Not a problem.  Excuse me for a moment.  Johnson!  Do you see a weak point in Rock's defense?"

Wufei held his position and watched as Heero padded over to the pair in question and pointed out the missed opportunities.  He knew it was no coincidence that he had been assigned to come here of all places, and perhaps not even a coincidence that his itinerary had left out the information on whose classes he would be observing at this stop until he had gotten an update this morning.  Did the brass think that he would be able to judge his former comrades more keenly than another agent might have been able to, or was this in a way an evaluation for him?

For the third time that day, he set aside such paranoid wonderings.  For all he knew, perhaps Sally or Noin had thought he might get a kick out of visiting a couple of old friends.  No matter the reason, he would do his job, and do it well.

As did Heero, apparently.  Wufei watched him carefully, trying to discern his attitude.  That Heero would not let his personal opinions affect his professionalism, of that Wufei had little doubt.  Watching Heero guide his students with a sure, patient hand left him with no reservations about writing a modestly glowing report.  But his own curiosity was interested in what Heero thought about it all.  They all knew that these seminars were being held in an attempt to adjust for the less discriminating hiring practices of the Preventers organization in its early days, just as they knew that Heero and Duo had volunteered to teach two of these seminars, but that they hadn't really volunteered.

Once his pupils were settled into the next set of drills, Heero came back to Wufei's side.  "Any comments?"

He shook his head.  "You'll never know how effective your teaching is until they go out in the field."

Heero snorted softly.  "Would you be interested in giving them a demonstration of how it's done in the real world?"

"I'm only here to observe, Yuy.  I don't think I'm supposed to participate."

"Good.  Duo and I kicked each other's asses in front of these guys yesterday.  I don't think I'd be up to something similar again any time soon."

Ah, that explained the odd stiffness in the way Yuy was moving.  "I should be going soon, anyway.  On to Shevtsova's class, and then Maxwell's."

"A whirlwind tour.  Are they shipping you out tonight?"

"Tomorrow morning."

"Good.  When you see Duo, tell him we're having dinner with you."



Shevtsova's class was well-organized and productive, as he had expected.  As a rule, he wasn't sure he liked mission strategists to see nothing but blips on a screen representing the lives of men and women, but it would suffice in simulation for now.  Wufei moved on to Duo's class with only a faint trepidation.  As he was pushing open the door to the room, a rustle of sound made him pull back behind the door for cover.  A moment later, a faint *thwok* sounded against the door, and he continued cautiously with his earlier action.

From the front of the room, Duo blinked back at him for a second before laughing.  "Ha, sorry, man," he said, waving his gun in apology.  "Wasn't expecting company."

Wufei looked from him to the foam dart suction-cupped to the door and back and again.  "I see."

"What can we do for you?"

He pulled the dart off the door and took it with him to an empty seat in the back of the room.  "I'm just here to observe.  Please, continue."

Duo looked seriously at him for a moment as he divined the meaning behind the simple statement before shrugging and carrying on.  "I assume, my dear inspector, that you deliberately used the door for cover.  What gave me away?"

"I'm only here to observe, Agent Maxwell.  Pretend I'm not here."

"You came to observe the improv class, my good sir.  Observe me making use of a convenient teaching tool that has just happened to cross my path."

Fair enough.  Wufei waited out the class's snicker before accepting his fate.  "There was... a change in the sound in here as I was opening the door."  That, and an expectation that Maxwell would not let him enter this room quietly.  And, perhaps, an old instinct kicking in.  It was nice to know it was still serving him well.

"Okay, good enough," Duo answered, a tilt to his lips.  He knew such things were difficult to explain.  "What's on the other side of a door, Charlie?"

"Anything," the agent answered wryly.

"You got it.  Daven, you're hiding behind a door, ready to ambush someone.  Do you prefer the door that opens in or out?"

"Am I on the inside or the outside?"

As this was the last stop on his schedule for the day, Wufei watched Maxwell's class to the end.  He could imagine why management noted that they had denied a number of requests for 'field trips'.  Maxwell and his class of misfits-in-training sounded ready to wreak havoc upon the unsuspecting anywhere, anytime.  And yet Wufei knew that sitting in a classroom could only get a person so far.  Maxwell held a lively discussion, one whose near-dizzying pace would certainly sharpen the minds of all those involved, but he saw the same thing here as he did with most of the other seminars he had observed.

When class ended, Duo waited for the students to file out before hopping off his seat on a tabletop and approaching his guest.  "Sat in on Heero's class, too, did you?"

"Yes."

"He know you're eating dinner with us?"

Wufei half-smiled.  They couldn't have planned it any better.  "Yes."

"Great.  Let's go."  He led them toward their usual rendezvous point outside the Preventers gym facilities.  "Have a chance to talk to him much?  Probably not, huh?"

"No.  You, Heero, and Shevtsova all hold your classes at overlapping times."

"Shevtsova, huh?  Good guy.  Sharp.  Seemed a bit off-balance, though.  Could have been the fact that I was talking explosives that one time.  I'm told I unnerve people when I do that."

"You don't say."

"Of course, could have been the way Heero was talking about choking people out and breaking their bones, too."

"There was a note about that in the evaluations."

"Gee, evals of us, or the seminars?"

Wufei glanced sideways at him.  "Officially, I am only here evaluating the seminars.  If there were any evaluations of the two of you, I doubt I would be the one to carry them out.  I would probably be subject to the same evaluation myself."

"True, true.  What's it take to get a license to blow shit up without someone breathing done my neck around here, huh?"

"Fewer statements like that might help."

"Aw, come on!  Don't they think their troops should be enthusiastic about their jobs?"

Wufei would prefer dedication and passion to enthusiasm.  "It's that kind of enthusiasm that led to these seminars to begin with.  Enthusiasm means nothing to the organization without the skills to back it up."

"Hey, blowing shit up is a very fine skill."

"That's hardly--"

"Yeah, yeah, I know."  He caught Heero's eye and waved at him, waiting for him to get within easy earshot before continuing.  "So what do you think about all these classes?"

"They're that -- just seminars.  Management is playing it safe for the first round of them.  They're aiming for training on the back-end first.  From there, they can take those who excelled in the theory and place them in field operations to finish out their training."

"You mean Heero here will never be allowed to choke anyone out?"

Heero answered for him.  "They as much as said so during our mid-course evals.  As long as they get wet before being thrown into full-scale operations, I'm fine with not being the one to personally finish out their training.  Shall we?"  He gestured toward the parking lot.

Duo twirled his keys around his finger.  "Woohoo, a night on the town!"



Their conversation was not over by the end of dinner, and at that point it seemed only reasonable that Wufei be invited to stay the night at their home.  He had a room on base if he needed it and he didn't want to impose, but they insisted, and he had to admit to himself that he was curious about the place they had made their own.  Suburbia was not where he would have guessed that either of them would end up, but sitting in an armchair in front of their fireplace, he could definitely appreciate its charms.  "How much work have you done on this place?"

They sat across from him, a comfortable, cozy distance between the two of them.  Duo looked around the room as if to remind himself.  "Hm, refinished the floors in here, painted, changed out the moulding.  Amazing how much that can change the feel of a place.  Spiffed up the bathroom down here.  Swapped out some fixtures here and there.  You know, after all this time, it's kind of amazing how little we have done."

Heero seemed content to let Duo do most of the talking, stepping in only to provide counterbalance to Duo's remarks.  "We have a plan in place for the other room, but we're waiting until we have a few more things set so we can get them done at the same time.  Save on materials, maybe."

"And of course, you saw the plans in the kitchen.  It's funny, though.  I always figured I'd be the type to rebuild an engine or something, not a house."

Heeor shrugged.  "You already made all the reasonable improvements you could make to the bikes.  You've just moved on, that's all."

"Yeah, either way, I guess.  Either way, it's getting to build something up with your own hands.  Not to say the place wasn't great when we got it.  Well, okay, it wasn't *great*, and hell, it wasn't even ours to begin with.  If you look at it objectively, it's not too big, and it's got a funny layout, and it's not like we've got any swanky matching furniture sets or anything, but, well... it's just as cool to sort of work with what we've got and see what we can make of it."

Wufei had to agree.  "It's different living in the city, in an apartment."

"There's more life in the city," Duo pointed out.  "I guess I like the peace and quiet out here, but I gotta admit, there's a lot of stuff going on in the city.  Might be cool to not have to drive an hour to go dip our toes in it."

He glanced back and forth between the two of them, wondering if Heero thought the same, but Heero seemed content to stay silent on the matter.  If Wufei remembered correctly, it had been Heero's idea to come out here to begin with.  "I've thought about moving out of the city."

"Like, out-out?  Or just sort of farther away from the center?"

"I intend to continue in my job, and my job is in the city center.  However, my primary concern in choosing an apartment out there was its proximity to work.  I... have other things I'd like to take into consideration now."

"Yeah?"  His glance flickered briefly to the man beside him.  "Yeah.  Priorities sure have changed, haven't they?  Heh, ever think about finding a nice girl to settle down with?"

"So it's true what they say?" Wufei responded dryly.  "That those in relationships have an unhealthy interest in seeing that their unattached friends find mates of their own?"

Duo elbowed Heero in the side when he snorted.  "Shut up.  No, I don't care if you find a girl or not.  I was just interested in whether or not you had considered it.  Because I know I sure as hell never did.  Trowa, who knows what the hell goes through that guy's mind.  Quatre?  Sounds like he thought about it, in that 'ain't ever gonna find the time to do it, woe is me' kind of way, though that coulda been the booze talking.  And Heero here probably never would have gone any farther than getting a plant to keep him company.  I was just wondering where you were on the matter."

Heero decided to give Wufei some time to mull over his answer.  He turned to Duo and blinked at him.  "You're not a plant?"

"Oh, ha ha.  Very funny.  If you thought I was a plant all this time, then man, you got some serious problems, Yuy."

"You can insult me all you want, Maxwell, but you're the man sleeping with me, so it doesn't reflect very highly on you, either."

"Man, relationships suck."  He wagged his finger at Wufei knowingly.  "You're better off without them, you know?  Because no matter how great your insult is, the guy -- or girl -- next to you can always use the whole 'and you're the idiot that fell in love with me' comeback on you, and what can you say to that?  Hm?"

Heero patted his thigh comfortingly.  "Don't worry.  You may be an idiot who fell in love with me, but I'm an idiot who fell in love with an idiot, so it all works out."

"So that makes me an idiot who fell in love with an idiot who fell in love with an idiot?  Which would make you--"

"That's enough, dear."  He patted Duo's thigh more firmly than comfortingly this time.  "We get the point."

"Yeah, I get your point, too, thanks, sugarbear."  Duo removed Heero's patting hand to the lap of its owner.  "I'm injured, remember?"

"Not there you're not."

"See, Chang?  I'm totally not advising you to get a sugarbear of your own.  Kind of not worth the trouble sometimes."

"I think I'll pass on the sugarbear," he answered wryly.  "A normal human being, however...?"

"Seriously?  Normal?  You think you'd hook up with a normal person?  I mean, not to say, like, you *couldn't* hook up with a normal person if you tried.  Just to say, like, well, you really think you'd be interested in a normal person?"

That wasn't really what Wufei had meant, but now that the question had been asked, he had to consider it, and he realized that anyone he did consider as a potential mate would have to measure up to the many strong females he had known and not be found lacking.  "No one really wants 'normal', now do they?  We all want someone 'special'."

Duo half-smirked in appreciation of the point before winking and fluffing Heero's hair.  "Yeah, well, some of us are specialer than others."

Heero pulled his head out of reach and shook his hair back into its regular configuration.  "Moving out of the city doesn't require that you find someone else first, special or otherwise.  So whatever it was that he was getting at..."  He jabbed his thumb in Duo's direction.  "Doesn't really matter."

"Gee, thanks, snookums."

"Any time, dear."

"As cute pet names go, babe, you really suck."

"I have to let you be good at something."

"...Ouch."

"You don't have a permanent partner at work, do you, Wufei?"

He almost blinked in surprise.  There was something strangely mesmerizing in listening to the two of them banter.  "No.  As much as we would like to pretend otherwise, the government is still trying to figure out what to do with us.  It is just as well.  I don't think I would like whomever they chose as my partner."

"You work on and off with Sally."

"Po is... a competent agent."

Duo grinned.  "She so gets under your skin, doesn't she?"

He looked steadily at him for a few seconds before issuing a dignified response.  "Po is devoting part of her attention to finishing off her medical degree.  She would not be suitable as a full-time partner."

"At this time," Duo added.  "How much more has she got to go?"

"She has one more year of residency after this before she can consider herself a doctor.  There were some loopholes she could have exploited regarding her service in the Federation to shorten that length of time, but she chose not to go that route."

"Good for her.  Maybe one day she'll actually be our doc, and not just our 'medical liaison'.  The Preventers do paid leave for higher education, don't they?  You ever consider it?"

It seemed like a lifetime ago when it had been all he had ever considered.  "I did.  That was the obvious path for me, once.  It may be again some time.  But not right now."

"Aw, man, remember those 'career counselors' back in the school?  I just remember thinking, I can't even picture myself in high school, and I'm actually in high school right now.  There's no way I could picture myself in college any time soon.  The idea's a little less inane now than it used to be, but still... I mean, the idea of just studying stuff is kind of cool, but I don't see that as the life for me.  No way."

Duo looked over at Heero for his opinion, but Heero answered him with a tangent.  "Would you be interested in teaching more classes?"

"Ha, what, like those who can't learn from teachers, teach?"

He shrugged slightly.

Well, that was no help.  Duo stared up at the ceiling for a moment to give it some thought.  "Teaching's not bad.  Don't really see it as teaching, though, so much as, hmm, I dunno, like sharing my experience or something.  You know, I still don't have that much faith in what the Preventers can do to keep the peace, but... I feel like I should still be a part of it, teacher or field agent or whatever."

Heero nodded.  "I've put too much of myself into the cause for me to simply declare myself done with it."

Wufei felt compelled to agree.  "Have you given any more thought to officially joining the Preventers?"

Duo laughed.  "If it ain't broke, man, don't fix it."

"It'll hold us back in the end," Heero countered mildly.  "We can only do so much as... whatever it is they classify us as."

"We're already called 'special agents'."

"Some of us are specialer than others.  We're not agents that are special.  We're special because we're not really agents."

Duo gave him a strange look.  "What, you really want to be a field agent?"

"There are other kinds of positions available in the organization, other than field agent.  I probably wouldn't qualify, anyway."

He opened his mouth to say something, but after a moment of hesitation obviously changed what he had been about to say.  "If we were field agents, we wouldn't be able to work together, would we?"

"I believe the regulations are fairly clear about that.  'Don't ask, don't tell' is one thing, but pretending ignorance of policy is another."

Wufei shook his head, but was glad he wouldn't be asked to keep their secrets.  "It's unfortunate.  I maintain my opinion that the two of you would not let your relationship compromise your duty."

Duo smiled.  "Thanks for the vote of confidence, but... you know, it's like anything else all in these seminars.  I'd like to think there wouldn't be any problems, but you really can't know for sure what you'll do until you're out there in the field doing it, and it's really one of those things you'd rather not find out too late, after the fact.  We're probably better off not purposely putting ourselves into a situation where we have to find out."  He turned to Heero.  "I don't know what you think, but..."

Heero shifted his hand to the side enough that he could hook his last two fingers around Duo's on the seat cushion between them.  "I think we'd be okay, actually.  In all but the most extreme cases, perhaps.  I think I've figured out by now that it's okay to lose the battle, as long as we win the war.  No matter whom I was partnered with, I think I would be comfortable with scrubbing the mission in favor of saving a life.  Except in the most extreme cases, there will usually be a way to accomplish the goal at a later time.  But we don't get second chances after death."

Duo squeezed their fingers together.  "You're a different guy than you used to be, Heero."

"I hope so, Duo.  I hope so."

Wufei saw the loving smiles they gave each other and was forced to smile himself.  It was, perhaps, even a smile without any bittersweet feelings attached to it.  "You two seem much more relaxed about yourselves than you were last month."

Duo's soft smile turned into one edged with rue and good humor.  "Ha, man, maybe that's because Quatre's not here."  He raised their joined hands and gave a half-salute to the one sitting across from them.  "Hey, this is us when we're not trying to justify 'us'.  It's a lot easier being us when we're not constantly trying to find new ways to label us."

Heero snorted.  "You're still constantly coming up with new ways to label us."

"Hey, I've stuck with my current label for a while now, oh willing partner in my horniness."

"It's kind of wordy."

"Okay, not as succinct as some of the other terms, but a lot more accurate, I think."

"Yet certainly confusing to a stranger."

"Bah, who cares about strangers?"  He turned back to Wufei with a mostly serious look on his face.  "Hey, I swear I don't say this as someone who just wants to see other people in the same love boat that I'm in, but really... turns out the whole love thing's not as impossible as it probably sounded, a few years back.  Something interesting to think about, yeah?"

After a few seconds, Wufei nodded.  "Something to think about."





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