title: In Pursuit of the Goal
fandom: Gundam Wing
characters/pairings: Duo/Wu Fei
rating: G/Teen
warnings: philosophy and introspection
summary: Wu Fei longs for perfection.
notes: for thorn, because it was her birthday, but it sucked. and all i have to offer is fic. *hugs* hope it works.

He rolled the brush around the neck of the inkwell, staining it with the excess from the thick bristles. The ink had a sharp odor that pleasantly commingled with the lazily wafting tracks the burning incense was making. He had made the paper himself. He picked the materials carefully for color, but even still, it wasn't quite right. He put his hand down on the paper, curling his fingertips so he could really feel the fibers. He held the brush over the inkwell for a moment, paralyzed before the blank page. There was no room for error, nor any second chances.

Thick strokes fell onto the paper like rain. He was not entirely displeased with how it turned out, but it wasn't quite right.

He ran his finger just outside the edge of the lines, imagining that the paper was smooth, hard flesh, that he had had to brush his lover's hair off his back to make this mark, and that the paper that he kissed was really skin.

The klaxon kept wailing, strobing streaks of red over everything. He gritted his teeth, and pushed forward. He wanted to turn the damn thing off, but he didn't want to waste time looking for controls. There just wasn't enough time. Thank all the gods both great and small that he had been close. The freighter had torn the cruiser in half, but there had been three vessels in close enough proximity to respond to the distress call, and Wu Fei's patrol ship had been able to respond within the hour.

The first vessel to respond was a small speed ship called Death's Smile.

Wu Fei hadn't been on the freighter for more than ten minutes before he called in for as much backup as the Preventers could manage. The entire hold of the freighter was filled with Orange E, the latest and most addictive drug on the market. There were weapons, too, by the caseload. The freighter must have come from some rogue satellite controlled by a crime syndicate. It was distressing how quickly the void of Oz was being filled by those scavengers.

So far, Wu Fei hadn't had too much trouble, but he had run into seven armed men, barely more than boys. Thankfully, they were too panicked to be effective, but he didn't have a lot of time. The captain of the Reckless was managing the crisis on the cruiser, but he had told Wu Fei that the lone pilot on the Death's Smile had gone to the freighter.

The point of impact was the first logical place to look for someone attempting to give aide, but there had been no one there. Wu Fei had to assume that the crew of the freighter had overpowered him, and taken him as hostage. At best. Worst case scenario, they had killed him and sent him out into space with the rest of their debris.

It was a crippling thought, but Wu Fei was a warrior, and he had greater faith in the captain, pilot, and owner of the Death's Smile. He would find him.

Using the sort of instincts that all space-faring people grew up with, Wu Fei headed straight for the bridge. If nothing else, he could gain access to the ship's computers there. Best of luck, he would find the captain and Duo there.

A scattering of shots fired, and Wu Fei broke into a run. He couldn't wait for the doors to open, so he shot the override panels next to the doors as he ran, engaging the automatic releases. He turned to his side to slip through, not breaking his stride, and he entered the melee.

"Port!" Duo shouted out to him, and he reacted instantly. He dove behind the navigational consoles on the port end of the bridge, and then rolled into position. One beefy guard had a machine gun, and was spraying shots everywhere. If he wasn't careful, the fool was going to shut down life support. Wu Fei took just a moment to line up his shot, and then he downed the man with three quick rounds. He jumped up, knowing that Duo would use the time to go for the captain. Duo was faster, and had been here longer. Wu Fei went to the aft controls, knocked the man at the station out, and proceeded to lock down the bridge and lock out all ship's controls at all other stations.

Duo was true to form, handily putting down the captain and his first mate with two close range shots.

"Bit of a mess, huh?"

Wu Fei grunted. "You seem to have done well."

"Crew compliment was twenty-one. I took down eight, including the three here that I got."

"I can account for nine. That leaves four, but I'm not concerned. We have control of all ship's functions. We just need to wait for the Preventers."

Duo nodded, slumping against the captain's chair. "Good. Damn, I'm getting too old for this... Is it wrong that I'm a little turned on by the smell of gunpowder and blood?"

Wu Fei smiled, shaking his head a little. He was still too wound up to react to the image of Duo being turned on, but he saved it away for later. "It's good to see you again, Maxwell. Next time, try to stay out of trouble."

"But if I stayed out of trouble, when would I ever get to see you, Fei? Not like you take vacations..." There was an honest note of regret in Duo's voice, and it gave Wu Fei pause.

It was one thing wallow in memory, conjuring up idealized images as his thoughts drifted. It was another thing to be presented with the object of his conjectures. He had been missing Duo. "I..."

"I'm surprised you're even still with the Preventers," Duo mused. "I always thought you were too..."

Wu Fei leaned forward unconsciously, curious to how Duo would end that sentence. He could think of many answers himself, but he wasn't sure how Duo saw him at all.

"...Studious. Intelligent. Don't you get tired of the tedium of glorified police work?"

It was an astute observation that rang truer that Wu Fei would openly acknowledge. "I feel a certain obligation. I never thought I would continue like this forever."

Duo smiled sadly. "So what do you want to be when you grow up, Fei?"

He smiled back, warmly. "If I knew that..."

A quick sound of metal brushing against metal, and they were both shooting into the man dragging himself closer to a fallen weapon.

"Man," Duo sighed. "Some people never know when to quit."

Wu Fei nodded.

Instrumental music insinuated in the background. He wasn't even sure which disk it was, though he remembered the music well enough to know what was coming next at the end of each song. It had been a long time since he had even taken out his silks, and even longer since he'd spent any time with his hair down.

Duo had an odd effect upon him.

He set the tray down on the floor. His living quarters were serviceable, and slightly too appealing to be called spartan, but they were crisply Chinese. His decorations were few, his appointments were functional, and he had only had to make one concession to feng shui, turning the desk perpendicular to the wall so he had easy access to both the computer and the ship's control console.

Duo stood in front of his latest calligraphy, absorbed. He had left his hair down, too, and the tips were still wet from his shower. The Death's Smile had taken some damage from being left afloat among so much debris, so Wu Fei was towing him to the nearest port. Actually, the nearest port was a service satellite halfway to L4, but he was towing Duo back to L2. It made more sense, in a less logical way. Duo was bare to the waist, wearing only a pair of linen lounge slacks. There was a great temptation to stare at the fabric until the variations of color coalesced and rendered it transparent, but he did not know how to do that without being caught. He stood behind Duo, breathing deeply from the air that surrounded him. "Tea is ready."

Duo smiled slightly. "What does this mean?"

Wu Fei regarded his handiwork. "Passion."

"Ah," Duo sighed.

Wu Fei felt trapped inside his flesh.

"It's lovely."

"It's imperfect."

"It's the imperfections that lend it fragility, lend it mortality. Makes it breathe, like it is living. Passion is a vibrant force. The flaws give credence to it, make it real. Don't you know that it's the very inscrutably human nature of the Mona Lisa smile that makes it so absorbing?"

Duo spoke with hushed intensity, like he fervently believed every word he said, and he needed Wu Fei to believe as well. Wu Fei felt his nerves vibrate. "I... suppose so."

"When you strive for perfection," Duo calmly explained, staring intently at the calligraphy, "it's not the attainment of the goal in which the satisfaction is found, but the effort with which the pursuit is made."

Wu Fei nodded slowly, peripherally aware that Duo was not talking about the calligraphy anymore. He digested the statement, turning it around in his head a few times before commenting.

Duo elaborated. "If it is only the goal that you seek, failure is your only option. We're human, Fei. There's only so much we can do. If it's the journey, though, the potential is limitless."

"Where are you journeying to, Duo?" Wu Fei asked unconsciously, wanting to put his hand on Duo's shoulder, wanting to feel Duo's skin under his own, wanting to warm his body against Duo's.

Duo turned to face him. "I'm going to L2, with you."

"For you, then," Wu Fei smiled, "success seems apparent."

"But I'm not interested in the goal," Duo sighed. "I'm interested in the potential of the journey." He leaned forward and brushed his lips against Wu Fei's, just touching his hand to Wu Fei's arm as he did.

Wu Fei blinked.

Duo smiled, and knelt down to pour out the tea.

Wu Fei shook his head, letting his hair swing back and forth against his cheeks. "You are a challenging man, my friend."

"Have to keep you on your toes," Duo smirked. "Otherwise, you'd spend all your time on your knees before the altar of your suicidal ancestors. You deserve better than that. Hell, they deserve better than that, but I could care fuck all for them." Duo winked as he handed Wu Fei his tea.

Wu Fei was supposed to be the one serving. He sighed as he looked into the murky, glassy surface of the tea. "I didn't think you... thought of me like that."

"That's because you see yourself as a finished product. As the cumulation of a whole race of finished products, no less. I see the potential." Duo sipped his tea cautiously, holding the cup with practiced perfection.

Wu Fei smiled, and took a sip. "Have you always been this philosophical? Or have you undergone a personality transplant since last we met?"

"I have always had a tendency toward introspection, especially after battle," Duo shrugged. "I just... am not in the habit of sharing my thoughts."

"Why share them now?"

Duo dismissed the question with a shrug as he considered it. "I've missed you, Fei."

Wu Fei looked at Duo's eyes, and felt unsettled by the clarity he saw there. He reached out, almost without thinking, and caught a lock of Duo's hair between his forefinger and middle finger. He ran his fingers down the lock, using the touch to give him time to catch his breath. "More than you miss Heero?" He closed his eyes and froze. He bit his lip. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that..."

Duo put his hands around Wu Fei's arm, and slid them up to his hand, holding Wu Fei's hand and his own hair cupped in his two hands. "Fei... have you never wondered if there was potential here?"

Wu Fei could feel his heart in his chest, thumping. "You don't expect me to believe you've been pining away for me. I haven't heard from you in six months."

Duo shrugged. "And you never replied to that message."

Wu Fei blinked. No, he hadn't replied, because he couldn't think of what to say out of all the many things he wished he could say.

Duo pulled his hands to his heart, taking Wu Fei's hand with him. "Tell me you don't see potential here. Tell me that you are happier alone, patrolling space like a vulture. Tell me you don't want anything to come from this." He lifted himself up, and walked over on his knees to straddle Wu Fei's lap, releasing Wu Fei's hand to put his arms around Wu Fei's neck. "I haven't been pining for you, Fei, but I have been thinking about you. And then our paths cross. That's kismet, or fate, or just plain lucky, don't you think?"

"Lucky," Wu Fei echoed hollowly, but he didn't have much time to speak, because Duo had his mouth on him in the next breath.

Wu Fei slowly closed his arms around Duo, burying his hands in Duo's hair, clutching Duo's body desperately.

He turned Duo over, and laid him on the ground so he could cover him with his body. Duo's hair spread out around him in messy clumps. Duo's fingers dragged through Wu Fei's dark locks.

Wu Fei traced an invisible character on Duo's stomach. "This is my passion," he murmured into Duo's skin before kissing it. "Is this too fast?" He asked as he untied the lace on Duo's pants.

Duo grinned. "Don't you want to pursue your passion?"

Wu Fei heaved a sigh of relief, and relaxed. He put his mouth on Duo's again, reveling in the taste of Duo, the sharpness of the tea burning his tongue.

There was no fear of error, no cost for second chances.

It was better than perfection.