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fic - roughhousing [haven] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - roughhousing [haven]
Title:  Roughhousing
Series:  Moments of Haven
Summary:  The boys get hot and sweaty in front of an audience.

A Moment of Haven

For some reason, none of his students seemed particularly enthusiastic about attacking him anymore.  How did they expect to learn anything if they refused to engage?  He purged the battle-readiness from himself with one long breath, then 'sheathed' his duct-tape dagger.  "You're all good fighters, or at least, you better be if you expect to earn any certification from this class, but now I hope you've all seen that it's something entirely different to be a good fighting group.  Fortunately, group tactics is beyond the scope of this class."  Which was just as well.  The irony of being the pilot to teach effective teamwork amused him far too much.  "It's unlikely that your opponents will be well-skilled in that area as well.  We'll work in groups tomorrow, so be prepared to use that to your advantage.  Dismissed."

He twirled his practice knife around as he watched them retreat to the sidelines, still irked by his weapon's lack of balance and real substance.  But then, what could he expect out of a ruler, cardboard, and duct tape?  At the very least, he could get a laugh from the way Duo seemed even more irked by it than he was.  Duo had applied more innovation to the art of duct-tape daggers than Heero had previously thought possible in a quest to perfect the props, but it was seeing his students' own attempts at innovation that had allowed Heero the glimpse into why Duo got such a kick out of playing with his class.

Someone was giving him a look that was out of the ordinary.  He zeroed in on Agent Caulfield immediately.  Alright, maybe not out of the ordinary for Caulfield, but out of the ordinary enough.  "Yes?"

Caulfield studied him for only one more appraising second before dipping his head so very slightly and continuing his packing.

The door to the gym opened before any of his students had yet left.  Duo poked his head inside with a sly look on his face.  His glance swept the room briefly before he strode in confidently, trailed by a group of people Heero could only assume was the improv class.  He threaded his way through the students and came to a halt directly in front of Heero.

Heero regarded him with a patient look, but the barely suppressed smirk on Duo's face made it obvious that he was supposed to prompt Duo for information.  "Did you need the room?  We'll be cleared out of here shortly."

Duo's teeth were bared in a smile.  "Class, this is Agent Yuy.  Agent Yuy, I'd like you to meet the improv class."

He studied the assembled students.  They looked like they had been infected with Duo's madness.  They looked like they were expecting a response.  He provided a wary one.  "Hello, improv class."

"Hello, Agent Yuy," an alarming number of them answered dutifully.

He blinked.  Definitely infected with Maxwell's madness.

Duo's smirk grew just a bit wider.  "Agent Yuy.  We were wondering if you'd like to help us out with a demonstration."

"What sort of demonstration?"  From what he could tell of the stories Duo had been telling him after work every day, all of the demonstrations in the class seemed to amuse Duo enough that Heero probably didn't want any part in it.  He had, however, been giving Duo the benefit of the doubt and assuming that there were mundane practices in the class as well that were simply too boring to be narrated.

Duo unslung the sack from over his shoulder and dumped a pile of bean bags at Heero's feet.  "What do you say to a duel?"

"A duel?"  The tilt of his eyebrow seemed to imply, who do you think you are?  Treize?

"Yeah, a little one-on-one.  What do you say?"

They had gathered quite an audience.  Along with the improv class, the CQC class was sticking around to find out what was up.  Heero was interested in finding out as well.  The sparkle in Duo's eye was more than just plain amusement.  There was a dare there.  A dare to play along.  A dare to keep up, play by ear.  A mixing of two turfs.  In front of an audience.  "I fail to see what this has to do with your class.  How to issue an impromptu challenge?"

"And quite an honorable one, if I do say so myself.  I waited until you were free and everything."  The sparkle shifted momentarily into a glint: So don't get on my case later about disrupting your class.

Heero conceded the point with a nod that could have been mistaken for an idle twitch of his head by someone unskilled in interpreting his signals.  "The bean bags?"

The glint softened to a warm smile before returning to a twinkle.  "Well, improv isn't just standing at the front of a room and being the funniest guy there.  There's improvisational combat, too.  And I thought, well it's high time that the kids learned a little bit about that.  And who better to help me teach them the lesson than the lead CQC guy?"

There hadn't been anything about this on the class syllabus.  "And the bean bags?"

He shrugged.  "First one to nail the other three times with a bean bag wins.  Anything else is fair game.  Except, of course, the part where we still need to be able to come back to work tomorrow."

The muttering began around them as each class began supporting their respective instructor.  "Twenty bucks on Maxwell."

"Thirty on Yuy.  He'll kick your Maxwell's ass."

"That scrawny brat?  What does he know about fighting?"

"I could say the same about your scrawny brat."

"Brains over brawn, man.  Brains over brawn."

"Yeah, right.  CQC's an intellectual sport, man.  Shows how much you know."

"Why the hell do the Preventers have two scrawny brats teaching courses here, anyway?"

Heero wasn't surprised to hear the various statements of confidence from Duo's class, but to hear his own class laying bets in his favor was gratifying.  Gratifying, and... yep, he'd bet the look in his eye was about the same in Duo's now.  He didn't like to think he was so easily swayed by the voices around them.  Had he and Duo been alone, he'd be able to walk away, but something about a circle of supporters, each cheering and egging them on, something was getting to his inner juvenile, testosterone-driven ego.  He couldn't pretend not to have one at all, but he at least preferred to keep a tight leash on it.

And, well, if he decided to give it a little bit of slack just now, it was okay, because he was still holding on to his end of the leash just as tightly as before.  There was nothing wrong with making the conscious decision to lengthen the leash just a little bit.  Nope, a well-reasoned, conscious decision to do something stupid made everything better.  "Let's keep it to the mats."

Duo's expression went both triumphant and eager.  "If a bag goes out of bounds, one of the kiddies can throw it back in."

"If they hit somebody, it doesn't count."

"Rules, rules, rules."  He rolled his eyes dramatically.  "Figures.  You sure you know how to play this game?"

"Why?  You want to back out?"

Cue the schoolyard oohing around them.  Duo's grin got a bit cutthroat.  "One-on-one.  You guys..."  He turned and swept his fingers around to encompass his students.  "Stay out of it."

"Same goes for my class."  Heero tore his eyes off Duo for a moment to act responsibly.  "My class is officially dismissed, though.  You don't need to stay for this."

"Fuck," someone toward the back muttered.  "I gotta go.  You staying?"

"Of course!"

"Tell me what happens!"  Two students left reluctantly.  The rest stayed and started to form a ring around the mats.

Heero and Duo stared at each other across a small stack of bean bags, each in their own idle, nonchalant pose.

Again, the color commentary on the sidelines.  "Hey, didn't he tell us to make our own openings?  What the hell are they waiting for?  They trying to psych each other out or something?"

They stared at each other some more, caught in their own narrow, intensely focused world.

And then they moved.

The opening gambit wasn't a lunge for the bags, as the students had assumed it would be, but a feint off to the side that wasn't a feint at all.  The sidestep turned quickly into a dodge grab reverse grapple kick counter exchange that left them three meters from the untouched pile of ammunition.  They backed off from each other slowly and resumed their patient stalking.

"He's better than I thought he'd be."

"Huh.  I'm raising my bet to fifty."

"Whoa.  Wasn't expecting that."

The comments were just background noise to them.  Duo bolted for the bags, twirled in an evasive maneuver but got caught by Heero anyway.  His momentum was turned on him, but he took Heero along for the ride with an arm twist that was countered by an elbow that was followed by kick behind one knee that was returned with a good grip in a shirt.  Heero's back touched the mat first, but Duo was quickly thrown off.

Four meters.  The bean bags yawned.  And the classes muttered some more.

They got back to their feet.  Heero straightened his regulation t-shirt calmly before taking a ready position.  He stayed in that stance for two seconds before nearly flying toward the bean bag stash.  Duo was just a breath behind him, using his slightly longer limbs to lay first claim to two of the bags, but when he rolled away immediately after and came back up with his arm cocked back and ready to throw, he found Heero mirroring him.  They both held their fire and considered their strategies.

"Holy shit."

"Huh.  Can I put money on both of them?"

"Still questioning his qualifications?"

Apparently they both decided that a short-range attack would work out in their favor.  They closed in on each other with cautious steps.  Duo was the first to attack, a bean bag in each hand as he went for a quick jab.  Similarly equipped, Heero deflected the blow with one arm, then twisted to avoid the bean-bagged fist aimed at his midsection.  He landed a glancing hit with his elbow to Duo's chest, but Duo fell to the ground rather than chance the bean bag to the face.  He was quick with his legs to foul Heero up, bringing him in to range for another shot, but before he could launch the bag, Heero slammed his arm back to the mat and took his own chance.  He tagged Duo on the hip with a bag, but Duo managed to toss his bag just enough to land on the forearm that was holding his throwing arm down.

They glared at each other and each conceded a point before disengaging.

"Um.  Are you sure they're sparring?"

"Hello, I am totally signing up for this class next time."

There was only a breath before they were on the attack again.  The opening hits were only meant to soften each other up for a kill, but they were hardly negligible.  The struggle ended with only one bean bag between the two of them, and literally at that.  On his back, Heero fought to keep Duo from driving down with a bean bag to his shoulder.  From above, Duo could put a lot of weight behind it, but Heero's strength was considerable.  The improvisational gears in Duo's brain informed him that he was putting a lot of effort into something unnecessary, and thusly reminded, Duo began to open his fingers, but in no time at all, Heero's grip shifted to keep his hand closed tightly around the bean bag.  The brief bout ended when Heero finally managed to get the leverage to throw Duo off.

"Sweet Jesus, did you just see that?"

"Stronger than they look, aren't they?"

Duo was closer to the stack of remaining bean bags.  He scrambled over and laid claim to most of them, but Heero got three, and the rest were scattered across the floor.  From afar this time, they went ranged and tried to peg each other with their ammo hurled with precise aim at painful speeds, as learned by the ring of students around them.  Most of them ducked or dodged hurriedly as the bags came their way, but three of them did get hit in fine yelping fashion.

Heero was out of ammo when one came sailing in his direction.  He caught it out of the air and flung it back toward its point of origin.

Duo dodged, successfully if not gracefully.  "Point!" he declared triumphantly.

Heero frowned, using a glare's worth of time to get caught up on some breathing.  "You didn't hit me.  I caught it."

If he'd had enough air in him left for a laugh, Duo might have considered one.  "Same thing.  I threw it.  It made contact with you."

"I caught it and redirected it, which means it did me no harm."

"What do you think it is, Yuy?  It's not an arrow or something."

"I think it's a bean bag.  As projectiles go, it can't be harmful merely on contact, or else we wouldn't be able to handle them the way we've been handling them."

"They're just stand-ins for something real!"

"I can't think of anything real that would fit the parameters of your bean bag challenge."

"The 'parameters' said I just had to nail you with a bean bag.  Nailing you in the palm of your hand is just as legitimate as planting one in your face."

The one time Heero decided not to take something literally, Duo insisted that it was meant to be taken literally.  Figured.  "Fine.  I'll grant you a one point handicap."

Duo considered an indignant comeback, but instead decided not to dignify it with an equal response.  He left it at a wry sound and put his mind back on track.  He had expected the two of them to get serious about this little game, but he hadn't quite expected it to get so serious so quickly.  And yet he wouldn't have it any other way.

"Ha, two to one.  Anyone wanna change their bets?"

"Bah, technicality!"

Their next serious exchange was unnecessary confirmation that they were participating in a full-body contact sport.  After some very grapply wrestling, it was Duo's back to the floor this time.  He paused to take stock of the situation when he noticed Heero's satisfied look above him.  "Crap.  Am I lying on a bean bag?"

"Yep.  Point."

"That totally doesn't count as nailing me with it!"

"I just got you in the middle of your back.  Sounds legitimate to me."

"You didn't get me.  The bean bag got me.  The floor got me.  *You* didn't get me."

"I put that bean bag there."

"You dropped it there!"

"I put it there by dropping it.  And then I threw you on top of it.  Doesn't that sound like a clever trap to you?"

"No."  Well, okay, yes, but he so wasn't admitting it.  Nor was he admitting that it was probably going to be a good teaching example for his class.  "But in the interest of moving things along, fine.  Point."

The chatter started up again.  They didn't notice it when it started to fade into a respectful, almost stunned silence as they cranked it up a notch.  One more point to win the game, and though it was just a game, neither of them was particularly fond of losing.

They had been going at it with no conclusion for another few minutes when they squared off again at a safe distance from each other.  When Heero could hear himself think over the pounding of adrenaline-laced blood through his veins, he decided that this was getting absurd.  "Duo."

"Yeah?"  Duo inserted the word between two puffs of breath.

"Maybe we should call this a draw?"

"What?"  Huff huff.  God, his arms hurt.  "You chickening out?"

"I prefer to think of it as, finishing this some other time."  Some time when they were able to bring things back down to 'just a game'.

"So you're getting tired then?"  Good.  Glad to know he wasn't the only one.

Heero made sure he made solid eye contact with Duo to be certain his point was understood.  "We're just going to hurt each other if we keep this up."  His right knee was already feeling a little funny, and there was a stitch in his side he thought would probably stick around for a few days.

Duo considered the point carefully, and could only agree.  Their sparring did get intense on occasion, but when they were just messing around for their own sake, they could back off when things started getting too rough.  That was harder to do when there were points involved.  He straightened slowly and snuck a glance at the students around them.  The general consensus seemed to be that they were already hurting each other, but no one had wanted to interfere.  "Okay.  Let's end this civilly."

Heero stepped forward and offered his hand, then snatched it away just before Duo made contact with it.  "That's not my idea of a civil ending, Duo."

"What, this?"  He opened his hand innocently to reveal the bean bag he had been palming.  "Of course it's civil, Heero.  I'd be very civil toward you if you'd let me win."

"Can't score an honest win on your own?"

"Honest?  This is improv, man.  Or CQC, if you like.  Either way, a win's a win.  Wouldn't be down here if it weren't."

Heero just shook his head and turned to gather the stray bean bags.

Duo's class closed in on him, but he waved his hands a little to get a bit of space.  He needed some uncrowded air in his lungs.  Holy hell, he was going to be feeling this tonight, but he perked right up in thinking about what he and Heero could do later to make each other feel better.

"Yo, Maxwell!" congratulated one of his students.  "Why aren't *you* teaching the CQC class?"

"Ha," he laughed tiredly.  "I got a big heart, Davies, but there just ain't enough of me to go around, I'm afraid."

His bean-bag sense tingled, picking a rattle out of the noise that sounded just a little too out of place, and he sidestepped quickly.  A bean bag landed on the mats where his feet had been.  He chuckled and turned, and saw that Yuy had apparently lobbed one over his shoulder at him.  "Nice try, Yuy!"

Heero shrugged with a unrepentant look on his face and went back to answering the questions of his own students.

Not one to stand in one place for long, Duo roved the floor to collect the bean bags on his side of the gym.  "So, kids.  What did you learn today?"

"If I ever get into a fight with one of you guys, run like hell!"

He nodded amiably, hiding a wince as he bent over to pick up a bean bag.  "Alright, that makes a good lesson one.  Next?"

"I would have stuck with throwing them.  I wouldn't have done frontal assault."

"So you telling me I'm an idiot, or was there a lesson in there?"  He started juggling his bean bag like a hacky-sack with his knees.

"More than one way to use a bean bag, I guess."

Another student chimed in.  "I need to use my legs more in a fight.  What style was that?"

Hadn't these kids learned anything?  He waved a hand to clear a student out of his way.  "What do you think?"

"An improvised style?"

"Duh."  He kneed his bag higher into the air this time, then spun-kicked it across the room.

Heero dropped to the ground, and the bean bag sailed into one of his students.  He turned to shake a finger at Maxwell.

Duo winked and turned back to his kids.  "I remember one of you suggesting that freestyle was probably only effective at the beginning of a fight, that it wouldn't hold up for long if the advantage of surprise was lost.  And I remember telling you that the advantage of surprise didn't just happen at the beginning of a fight.  Anyone wanna argue with me?  No?  Good."


He twitched around quickly, expecting another bean bag, but he got a towel wrapped around a bottle of water instead.  Glancing over, he saw Heero with his duffel slung over his shoulder, his faint smirk saying, 'have fun suffering through the next hour of your class.  I get to go relax somewhere instead.'  Of course, the even fainter crinkle around his eyes said, 'you need those more than I do right now.'

Once that message was thoroughly conveyed, Heero gestured toward the full sack that one of Duo's students was carrying.  "You got what you came for.  Now get out of my gym."

Duo mock-saluted him with the water bottle and turned to leave.  "Okay, kids.  What else have we learned today?"

huh.  you know, the bean bag idea made sense in my head, up until i actually started writing it...

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4 comments or Leave a comment
my_midevilmind From: my_midevilmind Date: November 12th, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love this chapter so much. I re-read it every time I feel down.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 13th, 2011 07:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I'm glad the bean-bags worked for you. ^_^ They're beating the stuffing out of each other, but I like to think they do it with love and affection. ^^'
my_midevilmind From: my_midevilmind Date: November 13th, 2011 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
the way I look at it the more they beat each other up the more they love each other ;)
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 15th, 2011 02:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I can see that, if you take it all as a sign of deep respect. ^_^ (not for-realz beating-up, of course...)
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