Disclaimer:Don't own them, don't make any money off of this.
Warnings: Male/Male sex, graphic, language, violence, NCS Flashbacks
Wu Fei POV
Bob. What a completely ridiculous name for a dog, Wufei thought, as he unpacked
the last of the sack of supplies Duo had insisted he would need for his new...
Or at least it was ridiculous when he tired to think about using the name out on the training grounds. Recalling Duo shouting orders to Soda in that commanding voice, and trying to imagine himself shouting like orders to... Bob, just made him snort in amusement.
'We shall have to come up with something better,' Wufei told the puppy that was currently tugging at his leash, trying to poke his nose into every corner of Wufei's apartment all at once.
Bob was not the slightest bit interested in the future of his moniker, and was currently trying to wedge his head between the refrigerator and the counter, snuffling loudly, on the scent trail of some wayward crumb. Wufei sighed heavily, and after a moment's thought, bent to lift the corner of the kitchen table, hooking the leash under the leg so that he had his hands free to work, effectively keeping his new pet confined to the kitchen. The kitchen that, incidentally, was the only room in the apartment that had a linoleum floor.
There was newspaper to be spread, and food and water dishes to be put out. The chew toys that Duo had stressed were all important, to be distributed, treats to be put away on the advised high shelf.
Filling the water dish before setting it down on the spread newspaper, Wufei found himself sighing again and turned to lean against the counter looking down at the dog trying to drag himself clear of the table.
'Ancestors,' he muttered out loud. 'What have I done?'
What indeed. It had seemed such a small thing, sitting in Yuy's backyard. It had helped take the dark depression from Maxwell's face. Had made Yuy happy with him for the first time since they'd argued over those damn pictures. Had... seemed like a good idea at the time.
'Maxwell and Yuy's backyard,' Wufei reminded himself and was a bit surprised by the lingering bitterness in his own voice.
Across the room, the puppy stopped his straining, turning to look at Wufei with his head cocked quizzically to the side. Man and beast just stared at each other for a long moment, but then the puppy whined and Wufei relented with a shake of his head.
Going over to unhook the leash, he bent to scratch the top of the furry head and was rewarded with mad tail wagging. He couldn't help a chuckle.
'You shamelessly use that cuteness of yours, don't you?' he said, and the puppy responded to the tone of voice by trying to climb his leg.
'Down,' Wufei commanded with a frown, and instantly felt bad as tail and ears drooped, and liquid brown eyes seemed to beg for forgiveness. Squatting down, he buried his fingers in the thick ruff and sighed. 'I am not going to be any good at this,' he informed the room at large and got his face licked for his trouble.
Standing, he led the puppy over and showed him where his dishes were. The dog instantly shoved his nose in the bowl, lapping loudly and slopping water out the back side of the dish. Wufei started to sigh, but then repressed it, vaguely aware that he'd been doing little else since his moment of insanity had led him to taking the white dog off Maxwell's hands.
The images he'd had of himself working side-by-side with a canine partner, much the way Maxwell did, the images that had led him to agree to this, were difficult to maintain in the harsh light of watching his new pet prepare to lift his leg on the corner of the kitchen cabinet.
'No!' Wufei commanded and gave the leash a sharp tug. 'None of that!'
Puppy tail tucked, puppy ears drooped and Wufei pulled the beast toward the front door with a growl, wondering idly if it might all turn out to be a nightmare he could hope to wake up from.
He had been late leaving Yuy's house, and arrived home even later after the stop to purchase the list of supplies Maxwell had insisted he had to have immediately. So it was dark out as he and the puppy made their way down the sidewalk. 'I am walking a damn dog,' Wufei thought ruefully, and jammed his hands in his pockets, leash looped around one wrist. It was almost more than he could fathom. He felt like his life had just been turned upside down. These walks were going to become part of his day. This animal was going to become part of his day. Had become part of his life.
'Damn it, Maxwell,' he ground out in a hiss of frustration, unable to keep his thoughts contained behind his teeth. 'Turned my life upside down again.'
Not-Bob paused in watering his third bush and looked up at the sound of his voice, giving his tail a tentative wag and cocking his head.
Wufei gave in to the strong urge to sigh, there was no one to hear him but the damn dog anyway, and found his hand rubbing over his face.
That wasn't fair. He knew that, and he tried hard to squelch the resentment that wanted to well up in his chest. There had never been any doubt where Heero's loyalties had been. Never been any doubt where the center of the man's damn universe had been. He'd lived and breathed through that year of Maxwell's institutionalization for nothing but the hope of his return.
Wufei shuddered, recalling the look on his partner's face back before he'd even been his partner. That night at the end of the war, when Maxwell had come so damn close to giving it all up. Had put his gun to his head and... damn well almost killed them both.
For Wufei had no doubt that Heero would have followed not long after. If Maxwell had succeeded in his aborted suicide attempt, Heero would have used the same damn gun in the next moment. And had his friends managed to stop him... it would only have been temporary.
'Yuy is an ass,' Wufei informed his dog, even as his head was whirling with a dozen emotions that said otherwise. He'd been... appalled that the tough and dedicated Maxwell could just quit like that. And not just on himself.
He'd been horrified at how close he'd come to losing half his circle of friends in the space of an evening.
Had been angry at the both of them.
Had been... jealous of the bond.
The puppy stopped his investigations and returned to lean against Wufei's leg, as though sensing the turmoil in his new master. Wufei chuckled and shook the depressing thoughts out of his head. 'You are such a suck up,' he whispered, leaning down to scratch the soft ears, suddenly feeling foolish standing out in the dark talking to his dog. 'Are you done yet?'
A wag of the tail seemed to indicate a positive response, so Wufei turned around and began the trek back down the block. After several feet, the puppy felt the need to do more than water. With a blush and a guilty look around, Wufei walked away and left the pile.
'Damn that Maxwell,' he grumbled under his breath and his puppy looked up as though recognizing the name.
Would the man never cease to inflict his chaos on other people's well ordered lives? Would he never stop turning the world upside down? Would he...
Wufei sighed a bone-weary sigh, and rubbed his hand over his face again.
Not fair. Totally not fair.
If anyone deserved his irritation, it was his own damn partner, Yuy. Maxwell, when you got right down to it, was doing his damnedest. Was trying as hard as humanly possible to overcome his past. To overcome his training. Heero was the source of half the tension in that house. Heero was the one who had cast off his own best friend as though...
Another sigh. Another rub of calloused fingers over weary eyes.
'Ancestors,' Wufei muttered under his breath. 'What is wrong with me tonight?'
A warm, furry body found its way against his leg again, and soulful brown eyes gazed up as though offering support.
That damn dinner. It had been so close to the old days. It had been so damn nice to just sit with friends again and talk. To be in that house and not feel tied up in knots.
That house. Yuy's house. Yuy and Maxwell's house.
If he were bluntly, ruthlessly honest with himself, Wufei had to admit that a lot of his resentment was tied up in that house. He'd helped Yuy paint the half of it. Had actually been the one to choose the color for the kitchen. Had been the one to help man-handle in the bigger pieces of furniture. Had helped rake leaves and wash windows in those final days of preparation before Maxwell had finally come home.
Home to a place he'd never really lived.
And Wufei had been evicted.
Something in his chest felt... tight, and at his feet the puppy whined again, stretching up, and attempted to stand on his hind legs without putting his feet on Wufei's leg.
Wufei chuckled and squatted down to the puppy's level. 'You really are a quick learner,' he murmured into the soft fur. 'No matter what Maxwell says.'
The tone of voice, doing its best to tend toward affectionate despite Wufei's best intentions, was enough to make the puppy wriggle and practically crawl into his lap, licking at his face.
Wufei was suddenly moved to hug the damn creature to his chest and muttered, 'We really have to figure out what to call you,' in an effort to cover the moment, and was appalled at the thickness of his own voice.
Snorting at himself in derision, he stood and began walking back toward his apartment building, puppy gamboling along at his heels. Disgusted with his inability to put aside his ridiculous hurt feelings, his strides were long and purposeful, making the puppy practically run to keep up.
'Ridiculous,' he grumbled to himself and wondered if this new habit of talking to himself could be blamed on Maxwell somehow. Some sort of contagious psychosis? He stopped dead in his tracks, and despite there having been no way anyone could have heard the thought, his face burned in shame. A glance down found his pet watching him with cocked head and lolling tongue, his expression somehow one of disappointment.
Perhaps because Wufei was disappointed with himself.
He knew way more about Maxwell's past than he was entirely comfortable with. Intellectually he knew that if there was anyone in the world who had a right to... have issues, it was Yuy's partner. And the man had honestly won his grudging respect recently, and not just with his performance on that last mission. But there was just something about him that rubbed Wufei the wrong way sometimes. Perhaps it was his sarcastic manner. Perhaps it was his lack of a proper education. Perhaps it was his constant string of ideas, like that damn notion that he and Yuy go through training like a couple of rookies.
Or perhaps it was how often the damn baka was right.
About little things like the basis of Wufei's resentment.
'Maybe I am jealous,' he told Not-Bob, and got a gleeful little yip for his trouble.
Wufei snorted and shook his head. 'Quiet, beast,' he commanded and resumed his walk.
It was, he reflected, a rather nice night out. The day had been warm, but now that the sun was down, things had cooled to a pleasant crispness. The sky was clear, though the city lights kept him from seeing more than the brightest of stars. He tried to remember the last time he'd taken the time to look up at the stars and couldn't. Perhaps it had been when he'd been out among them.
The click of heels on the pavement alerted him to the presence of one of his neighbors and he glanced to see the woman who lived down the hall from him coming up the walk from the opposite direction. Their paths intersected on the steps of the apartment building and Wufei graciously held the door open for her. He was both amused and embarrassed as his puppy came to attention in front of him, looking for all the world as though he were mimicking Soda's protectiveness of Duo. The effect only lasted until the woman bent to scratch his head, and then he was nothing but a wiggling puppy again.
'Oh, how sweet!' the woman exclaimed before straightening to precede the pair into the building. 'Mr. Chang, isn't it?'
'Yes,' he admitted and then was embarrassed to have to admit, 'I'm sorry, but I...'
She chuckled quietly. 'Andrea Hurst, I live at the other end of your hall.'
'I recognized you,' Wufei quickly admitted, feeling the familiar discomfort of making small talk with a stranger. 'We'd just never been introduced.'
'That's because you're never around!' the woman laughed delightedly, as they stopped in front of the elevator bank.
He felt his face warming and covered it by bending down to pick the puppy up, concerned that he might get caught in the elevator doors. 'I have a rather... demanding job,' he temporized, but it only garnered another laugh.
'I've seen the uniform,' he was informed, and there was a strange tone to the woman's voice that made him glance at her. The realization that she was flirting with him was rather disconcerting, and he wondered if leaving to take the stairs at that point would seem overly... rude. He grunted his response as the elevator doors opened and they stepped inside. Once the elevator was in motion, he set the puppy back on his feet, and the animal immediately started sniffing every square inch of the elevator floor.
'Oh, don't you just wonder what they smell?' his unwelcome companion suddenly asked, watching the puppy with open delight.
'Feet?' Wufei supplied helpfully, at a total conversational loss, but the woman laughed boisterously.
'Oh, that's good!' she opined, but then looked back down at the pup. 'I just wonder when you see those news stories about those rescue dogs, just what kinds of stories they can read with their noses.'
Wufei blinked at her, trying not to let himself look at the elevator display. 'Stories?' he questioned in confusion, but she was already off on another tangent, sighing dejectedly and bending down to scratch at the puppy's ears.
'I wish I could have a dog,' she said, her inattention allowing Wufei to look to verify that they were almost to their floor. 'But I can't afford the rent hike.'
He was just opening his mouth to mention that he knew someone who was looking for homes for several puppies when the second part of her statement hit him. Rent hike? The ding of the elevator arriving covered his muttered, 'Damn it, Maxwell!'
Andrea stepped out of the elevator first and considerately held the doors open until Wufei had disembarked with his dog in tow.
'What did you call him?' she asked as they began the walk down the hall. 'Max?'
It was all Wufei could do not to laugh out loud. 'No, I'm afraid we haven't settled on a name yet.'
Digging in her purse for her keys, the woman grinned. 'Waiting for him to pick his own name, are you?'
Wufei managed to keep the scowl toned down to a mere frown, fishing his own keys out of his pocket, and thankfully coming to a stop in front of his apartment door. 'Well, I believe a pet's name should fit their personality, and I only brought him home today.'
The almost mocking grin faded to a meaningful smile whose meaning Wufei chose to ignore. 'That's sweet,' she informed him matter-of-factly. 'You are both very sweet.'
He snorted, but that seemed to be the parting comment, for she walked away then with a jaunty wave over her shoulder. Shaking his head, he unlocked his front door and went inside.
Deciding that he couldn't keep the dog on a leash for the rest of its life, he unclipped the lead with an unconsciously held breath, coiling the leather strap to place neatly on the table by the front door as he watched the puppy investigate his surroundings. He reminded himself that there would inevitably by accidents, but couldn't help hoping some of Maxwell's training had 'taken' well enough that he wouldn't be spending all his evenings cleaning up after the beast.
He followed the dog, keeping a close eye on him as he walked each room, sniffing and snuffling and generally getting to know his surroundings. Wufei couldn't contain a grin as his brain supplied the word 'recon' to the endeavor.
The dog's trek through the living room took them past the stack of folders that Wufei had brought home from the office, and he repressed another one of those sighs, realizing that he wasn't going to get to a one of them.
That thought somehow drove home more than any other, just how much he had... no; just how much Maxwell had changed his life in one fell swoop. He went off to take his shower with a rather inarticulate growl, leaving the damn dog to its own devices. He certainly couldn't watch it every second. The animal was going to be left alone a good part of the day; Wufei had a damn job after all.
The howling didn't start until Wufei had been in the bath long enough to be good and lathered up. Jerking the shower curtain aside, Wufei glared out at the dog. He'd deliberately left the bathroom door open, and his nameless puppy was standing in the middle of the bathroom floor, looking like he wanted to attack the tub. His tail was tucked, and he was visibly shaking, but still barking furiously at the offending shower.
It can probably safely be said that Chang Wufei has never 'melted', but he came about as close as he ever has in that moment. 'Idiot dog,' he said affectionately. 'It's just water... I'm fine.'
Snowy ears perked slightly at the reassuring tone, but the tail steadfastly refused to believe, staying tucked up tight. With a sigh, Wufei finished rinsing as quickly as possible, turning the water off and getting out to comfort his obviously upset puppy.
He ended up having to completely leave the bathroom, taking the whining creature into the bedroom where he was graced with much snuffling and puppy kisses.
'Idiot dog,' he said again, ruffling the soft fur, and marveling that the pup was already so protective of him. It was oddly... warming. 'Maybe you'll turn into a Preventers agent yet... Max?' He got no response and shook his head, rejecting the idea. 'Just as well... Yuy would have killed me.'
It was late, the day had been damn long, and Wufei was tired. Already undressed, he decided to just go the hell on to bed. He hesitated, looking down at his companion.
Maxwell had attempted to send home a damn cage of all things, but Wufei had been appalled at the idea. It had seemed unnecessarily cruel. Standing in the middle of his bedroom, trying to figure out what to do with the puppy... it suddenly didn't seem quite so horrible.
The kitchen seemed the logical place, with its linoleum floor, but somehow seemed very cold and lonely too. The poor pup was used to sleeping with his litter mates and was likely going to miss them, especially on his first night in his new, unfamiliar home.
Wufei went to fetch the dog bed he'd bought and settled it in the corner of his bedroom, then lifted the puppy and sat him in the middle of it. 'Stay,' he commanded, trying to sound firm. The puppy danced in place, looking up expectantly, but stayed where he'd been placed. Some of Maxwell's training, at least, had stuck. He patted the furry head. 'Good boy,' he said by way of reward, then turned out the lights and went to crawl in bed.
The dog lasted almost four and three quarters minutes before he began to whine.
'Quiet, beast,' Wufei called, still aiming for firm and commanding. 'Go to sleep.'
All he got for his trouble was louder whining.
'Bad dog!' he snapped, already exasperated and wondered if he was going to have the patience to be a damn pet owner. There was a moment's quiet and then the puppy let out with a plaintive little cry. Visions of irate neighbors danced in Wufei's head.
'Oh, for the Ancestor's sake! he growled, disgusted with how easily his resolve had faltered, but totally not able to listen to the sad little sounds. 'Come the hell here and be done with it!'
He did not have to call twice, though he did end up having to boost the creature up onto the high bed. He could almost hear Maxwell laughing fit to burst a vein.
Wufei sighed heavily, wondering if he was going to be able to break himself of the new habit, even as the pup was curling up beside him with his own contented sigh.
He was more than a little surprised at how... nice the presence felt. At how strange it seemed to have this creature already bonded to him so much that the little thing wanted to be with him. Wanted to protect him.
Wufei stared up into the dark and had to chuckle ruefully. He'd owned the idiot dog less than a day and he'd already taken a walk out under the stars, spent an evening not working, and met one of his neighbors. The pup responded to the sound by yawning and stretching up to rest his head on Wufei's bicep.
Wufei hated it when Maxwell was right.
'But as far as he is concerned,' he warned the dog. 'You spent the night in the kitchen, is that understood?'
Puppy breath tickled his ear and Wufei reached out to scratch the velvet ears, with another self-deprecating sigh. He fell asleep that night thinking about proper dog names.