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17 May 2011 @ 09:48 pm
'go ahead, push your luck' for teagoblin  
Title: go ahead, push your luck
Recipient: teagoblin
Rating: PG
Warnings: A few mild swear words? Seriously, not much.
Summary: The first time Trowa Barton's circus comes by Sanc after Mariemaia's war, Wufei nearly doesn't go.
Author's Notes: Thanks go out to my currently anonymous beta, and all the tolerant housemates who let me brainstorm at them!
Author: genarti

AC 197

The first time Trowa Barton's circus comes by Sanc after Mariemaia's war, Wufei nearly doesn't go. He only hears of it from Po, who asks if he's planning to see them; she's going, and she'd be happy to get another ticket. She's going to ask the Vice Foreign Minister, too.

Wufei grunts something noncommittal and stalks off. He doesn't look back to see what kind of expression Po is making.

It's not that there's any reason 03 should have told him, exactly. They're not friends. They're both Gundam pilots, but that's not the same thing. And Wufei has no real interest in going to see a bunch of acrobats and trained animals in an overcrowded tent full of yelling children and cheap foreign food and insufficient sightlines. 03 -- Barton -- probably knows that.

Besides, Barton probably figures that if Wufei cared he'd be tracking their movements, or something. It's the kind of thing Barton would do; he likes sneakiness, of the kind Wufei would have called dishonorable before he fought two wars against overwhelming numbers. He sometimes thinks it uneasily anyway. But no; Barton has strength and honor in his own way, and an understated regard for justice. Anyway, he has a point. Wufei hasn't been tracking the circus, so what does that say?

There's no reason, Wufei decides, to go see a show he has no interest in, just so he can watch somebody who's seen him at his worst (and stood beside him at better times) do some flips on a wire. No reason except checking in on a fellow pilot who doesn't need to be checked on. Barton can contact him if he needs to.

In the end, though, he goes anyway. But not with Po.

The show is about as interesting and as boring as he expected. There are strong people in the circus, and skilled ones, and Barton is of course one of them. But they're putting their talents to frivolous use. He doesn't understand what Barton sees in it. Still, he stays to the end.

Barton bows under the stage lights, his adoptive sister a flutter of spangles and skirts beside him, and his eyes meet Wufei's. Wufei is off to one side, near an exit row and more than ready to be out of this crowd of unknowns, but he nods anyway. He sticks around.

"If you let me know next time," Barton says in what he presumably means as a greeting, "I'll reserve you a better seat."

Wufei grunts. Barton's still wearing the ridiculous spandex and greasepaint of his trapeze act; it shows off the muscles he's acquired since the war to good effect, but no one looks dignified in green tights. Backstage smells of sawdust and animals and sweating people. "Why do you do this?"

Barton slides a glance at him from under that Euro-style hair. Wufei can't tell if he's surprised by the question. "It's home," he says, simply enough to catch Wufei off guard. Barton seems matter-of-fact, but he likes oblique approaches and non-answers -- except when he doesn't, of course. Wufei remembers Heavyarms in the front lines, all guns blazing. But he also remembers smoking holes in Dekim Barton's ship where 03 didn't hit 02.

Wufei's aware that he's left the silence too long, but he doesn't know what to reply except another grunt. That's when Catherine Bloom comes bustling up, all scolding and uncertain glances and bossiness, and simplifies matters. Wufei watches her warily, and lets himself be chivvied into staying for dinner, mostly out of curiosity.

He regrets it when he tastes her soup. But he stays for dessert anyway, despite a strong temptation to do otherwise. Thankfully, the brownies turn out to be store-bought.

AC 198

It's been not just a long day, but a long month. Po's stuck on desk duty with a badly sprained ankle, which means Wufei is too except when they loan him out to other departments for training (irritating in all ways), helping with raids (sometimes not entirely irritating), and consultation (not too bad, except when it is.) It doesn't help that the entire month has been busy, and Wufei knows that there's more they could be doing; he knows the idiots across the hall aren't doing half the work he and Po could -- if Po could walk without crutches, and if they didn't have their own stack of cases to deal with.

None of the cases are particularly grinding, even the difficult ones. He's just surrounded by incompetents.

(In the privacy of his own mind, and in a grumpy lack of disagreement with Po, he'll admit that they're not really incompetent. They're just weaker and less competent than they could be. He knows you can't hit or yell somebody into being better than their limits, but he still wants to.)

Wufei gets back to his apartment at almost 2300, after a day that started at dawn. Nothing new, but it's been a full week of these hours, and without satisfying results to show for the time. He sticks a bowl of leftovers in the microwave without even bothering to make rice to go with them.

He's been at the computer most of the day, cross-checking and analyzing, but all the same his laptop catches his eye. He considers, and then reaches for the laptop instead of his reading glasses.

He doesn't email the others much. None of them do, even Maxwell who tries the hardest to keep in touch. There's not much that needs saying.

All the same, Barton's somewhere in Europe right now, so he's on a similar time zone. And it would be really welcome to talk to somebody with sense right now.

AC 199

He's started to think of Trowa as -- well, as Trowa. Not Barton, not even Trowa Barton.

He doesn't slip up in speech, of course. Wufei was brought up with manners, and Trowa has enough of his own strength to earn courtesy. They're companions with a shared history, not --

All right, maybe they're friends. But still.

AC 200

The first time Wufei realizes he's interested in other men is when he's watching Agent Kwame Addo punch the heavy bag in the Preventers gym. Addo asked him for pointers -- Wufei's better at hand-to-hand than anyone in the department, of course, and by this time no one tries to challenge him on it -- and Wufei notices plenty of minor corrections to mention, but he also notices that a good part of his brain is getting distracted. By Addo.

He grits his teeth and reminds himself that he's a Gundam pilot and a scholar. He's good at multitasking.

(He doesn't know if he's interested in women too. He doesn't ask himself. There hasn't been anyone since Meiran, who was engaged to him in childhood anyway and dead by fourteen, and he hasn't wanted there to be. Meiran was -- Meiran, was Nataku. He may have destroyed the Gundam that held her name and some ghost of her strong spirit, but he couldn't replace her.)

He doesn't do anything about it, of course. He doesn't have time for that, especially with someone who works in his own department. It would only mess things up, especially since Addo is older than Wufei and doesn't seem to notice him except as a competent fellow agent anyway. So there's no reason to overthink things. Wufei reminds himself of that firmly -- he's not a weakling, to moon about or waste his own time -- and keeps his mind on his work.

He doesn't connect this to Trowa until the next time the circus comes by. They talk before that, and of course Wufei looks for his emails, and of course he's gratified they come frequently, but that means nothing. They're friends. Wufei's looked forward to Trowa's emails for years. It's good to hear from someone sensible, that's all. So Wufei goes to see the circus, as usual, and he watches Trowa's acts, as usual, and it isn't until nearly the end of the trapeze act that he realizes that he's been watching Trowa, and not just his friend; he's been watching the muscles in Trowa's back, the practiced shift of his weight, the faraway on-stage shadow where his deltoids meet his bicep and the lean curve of his jaw. The shock of sudden awareness jolts him upright in his uncomfortable circus chair.

He'll act normal, he shouts at his own brain. They're friends, and Wufei is noticing too many things in a shirtless man who happens to be his friend because his hormones have decided to be on overdrive, and he is not going to lose control to that like a feeble civilian teenager. He'll act normal, and everything will settle down inside his brain.

That resolution carries him through right up to the point when Trowa says "Wufei." in greeting, and Wufei's brain stutters a little as his eyes drop to Trowa's chest, and he knows with a horrible certainty that today, at least, this is untenable.

At least he manages an excuse credible enough that Trowa won't think it's a coded distress call, before he gives in and flees.

He's a coward. He's a weak and craven coward.

Emails to Trowa he can manage, at least, after that. He rails at himself -- he's weak, cowardly, unfit for conversation until he gets proper hold of himself again -- but he knows that if he went silent without explanation now, Trowa would think something had happened to him. Everyone who was at the center of the Eve Wars watches each other. The least Wufei should be able to do is manage normalcy now.

So he second-guesses himself, agonizes over every sentence and then hastily hits send, scrutinizes and re-assesses and then, furious at himself, goes to lift more weights in his apartment's cramped living room. But he manages. He's almost sure he manages fine.

At least, he tells himself, Trowa's no better at this. Unless he is. He could be; they don't gossip. And whatever 'this' is -- is Trowa even interested? Wufei can't tell. If it were Maxwell or Winner he could, because they wear their emotions on their faces around friends, but Trowa's always kept his feelings close, like Heero. Wufei admires him for it, but right now it's one of the most frustrating facts of the world.

Wufei lifts more weights, and reaches new heights of thoroughness in his incident reports. He suspects Sally is pointedly saying nothing (and sometimes suspects Winner is too), but as long as he refuses to take the hint they don't push.

AC 201

It's the third time Wufei's crossed paths with Trowa since that disastrous one. The strength of his attraction hasn't diminished in the least; on the contrary, he notices it more every time they talk. But he's pretty sure he's hiding it well now. They're friends, as they have been for years, and Wufei has mastered the art of acting relaxed and normal.

Or, at least, he's convinced of that right up until the moment when Catherine stomps up to him. Trowa left half an hour ago to feed the lions, and Catherine is tiny and scowling and fierce enough to fill the trailer's cramped kitchen with her anger. For an instant and despite her purple flowered sweater, he's taken utterly aback by a flash of memory of Meiran.

"Listen." She points a callused finger at him for emphasis, and Wufei closes his book slowly. "If you're going to keep ogling my little brother, you should just ask him out!"

Wufei stares at her.

Catherine plants her hands on her hips. "He'll never say that, and you'll probably never say anything if you can avoid it because you're both idiots! And if you break his heart, I'll burn my soup on purpose and make you eat two bowls of it."

"...I'll remember that," Wufei manages, after what feels like about five minutes, because it's that or yell shut up, woman, you don't know what you're talking about! and he's fairly certain Trowa would disapprove of that one. Also, Catherine's soup is a valid threat.

Catherine apparently takes that as agreement, because she beams at him. "It really will be okay," she tells him, and pats him lightly on the arm. Wufei barely manages to keep from jerking away in offended stiffness. "He likes you a lot."

She bounds away, which spares Wufei from having to come up with a response to that. He's seriously considering leaving anyway, though he doesn't know what excuse he could truthfully make -- and of course that's when the trailer door opens again, and Trowa steps through.

Damn it.

He's casting a bemused look over his shoulder, probably at Catherine, as he opens the door, but a moment later he gives Wufei a faint half-smile that makes his insides turn over.

Damn it, damn it, damn it.

Wufei takes a deep breath, and decides that maybe it's worth it to take Catherine's advice.

dictator_duck on May 18th, 2011 06:56 am (UTC)
This isn't really a pairing that I'm a fan of (I'm not not a fan of it, I just haven't considered/"seen" it), so I really appreciated the amount of access into Wufei's mind that you gave! I also really like that you had Cathy scowl at him but I have a weakness for Cathy, so. Very well written :)
genarti on May 29th, 2011 11:58 pm (UTC)
Ha! THANK YOU, MY BETA. *laughing* I remain glad you liked it! (And, as you know, I also have a weakness for Cathy.)
lil_1337 on May 18th, 2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
It is really hard to get into Wufei's head and write him, but you've done an admirable job. His reserve comes off as a shield and his sense of warrior honor is shown strongly. Thank you for a very enjoyable read.
genarti on May 30th, 2011 04:56 am (UTC)
Thank you! I really enjoyed getting in his head; in a lot of ways Wufei is just a teenager turned up to eleven, I think, except with a much better poker face than most. (A very angry poker face.) I'm glad you liked it!
cailamaia on May 18th, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
Can't say that this is a pairing I've ever been really fond of, but that was more due to the lack of well-written fic for it than anything else. This though. :D Very well done. And I like Cathy's threat at the end! Hee. That soup.
genarti on May 30th, 2011 04:59 am (UTC)
Cathy's soup is a serious threat! *laughing* Thank you; I'm glad you liked it!
cailamaia on May 30th, 2011 04:05 pm (UTC)
That it is. *shudder* Bleh.
teagoblin on May 19th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
YAY! JUST what I wanted :) Thanks so much, this is awesome. I love Wufei's thought process and indecision and I adore Trowa's little smile at the end.
genarti on May 30th, 2011 05:05 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it! :) I hoped it would suit. I had a lot of fun getting inside Wufei's head; he's not a character I've written before, and there's a lot of interesting stuff going on in there. (And Trowa is totally more aware of things than Wufei thinks he is, in here. *grin*)
frzn_mmnt on May 24th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
Love being in Wufei's head! Not a favorite character of mine, but very very well written!
genarti on May 30th, 2011 05:18 am (UTC)
Thank you! I find Wufei a really interesting character; there's so much going on in his head and backstory, and it comes out in so much lashing out at the world. It was a lot of fun to get inside his POV. Glad you enjoyed it!
cuteciboulette on June 4th, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
5+3, uh? I don't think I've ever read 5+3 before. I'm fairly certain that I (still) don't like this pairing... but you fic was priceless and goes right into my Memories.

"In the end, though, he goes anyway. But not with Po."
Tss... guys...

The whole "AC 199" bit --> :DD

"because they wear their emotions on their faces around friends"
Oh yeah, so cleverly said!

And, of course: "Also, Catherine's soup is a valid threat."

Aaah... Wufei... <3 <3 <3
genarti on June 10th, 2011 05:08 am (UTC)
Heee. Thank you! I've never written it before, either, but it was an interesting challenge; Wufei's head is fun to get inside! He's so cranky and judgmental, and yet despite his (many) blindspots he sees a lot of things pretty clearly, I think.

Emotional self-awareness will never be his strong point, though. Oh, Wufei.

I'm glad you enjoyed it!
tealrose39 on January 3rd, 2012 06:06 am (UTC)
great!!! i love wufei fic XD and this is a great pairing, pretty rare, but i feel like it works whenever i read it ^_^

i particularly like wufei's slow progression of feelings (and his little crush on an older man, haha)

genarti on January 3rd, 2012 06:30 am (UTC)
Hee, thank you! It's not a pairing I'd ever written before this challenge, but I found I really enjoyed writing it; it was lots of fun getting inside Wufei's head and poking at the emotions he would rather just ignore. I'm glad you enjoyed it!