The Gods of Good Luck
31 December, A.C. 197, 9 PM: the party begins
"Quatre-sama!" Rashid called up the stairs in a voice that, despite its mildness, could carry easily to the far ends of the house. "A car has just pulled into the driveway."
"They're here? They're really here?" Abruptly the tall Arab was almost bowled over by a flying blonde-headed form as Quatre sailed down the stairs. His excitement leaked from his brimming aquamarine eyes, radiated from his flushed face and the grin that threatened to split his face in two. He'd been glowing like a child all day, in anticipation of seeing his friends again.
Now he smoothed his shirt hastily, his gaze flickering to the door, waiting for the bell. Rashid watched him bounce on his toes for a few seconds before suggesting dryly, "Perhaps you should go out to meet them?"
"Do you think so?" Quatre's entire face lit up and he raced for the door, flinging it wide just as a young God of Death was reaching up to ring the bell. "Duo!"
"The one and only," the boy in question chimed, laughing out loud as Quatre threw his arms around his neck. "Yeah, Q-man, it's good to see you too. The rest of the gang here yet?"
Quatre shook his head, pulling Duo into the house after him. "Not yet, you're the first. Say--isn't Hilde coming?"
Duo shook his head with a rueful grin. "Not this time. I'm supposed to give you a big kiss for her though. She's going to a party with the Let-me-tell-you-about-oh-so-wonderful Tomas." He rolled his eyes at the image of his absent best friend and her crush, and shrugged. "Don't blame her for ditching us, Quatre, she's got it bad."
Quatre was too excited for his happiness to dim in the slightest, and Duo had a feeling he knew why. "Well I'm just glad you could make it, Duo. I really missed all of you. I'm sure there were other things you could have been doing tonight...."
Duo cut him off, laughing. "What, and miss the chance to get Heero good and drunk before he watches Relena's big speech on TV? What could possibly top that?" He tossed himself onto the couch and liberated a handful of chocolate-covered peanuts from their captivity in a nearby candy dish. "I've missed everybody just as much as you have."
"Then you should visit more often," Quatre reprimanded him playfully, then fairly flew out of his chair as the doorbell chimed again.
"Probably Catherine and Trowa," Duo said slyly, watching the blonde boy carefully. Sure enough, the mention of a certain former Gundam pilot turned circus performer's name sent Quatre into a new round of excited agitation, tugging at his wrinkled shirt hem. Duo just shook his head and laughed. Up for a mission, Shinigami? he asked himself as Quatre's undaunted exuberance provided him with an opportunity to give Trowa the same greeting hug he'd given Duo. Get those two fools together by the stroke of midnight? Why yes, I think I am. Ninmu Ryokai, as Heero would say.... Oh, but this party was going to be fun!
31 December, A.C. 197, 10:45 PM: the situation degenerates
"I never," Heero slurred, hoisting his glass toward the ceiling, "um...I never got my hair caught in a motorcycle engine."
Duo obligingly lifted his glass to his lips. "If I didn't know you better, Heero, I'd say you were trying to get me drunk."
"Remind me again," Wufei said carefully through his own alcoholic haze, "why we're playing this ridiculous game?" He tried to scowl, but by this point in the night, he lacked the fine motor skills in his face.
"Cause we always used to play it back in the old days, duh," Duo reminded him, ducking to avoid Heero's flailing glass. "The rest of us, who like to have fun, thought it would be kind of a nice trip down memory lane."
"Hmph." Wufei turned to practicing his angry glare in the reflection of his gin-and-tonic.
"Does that mean you don't want to take your turn, Wu?" Quatre asked sweetly, curled around himself, his back leaning against the bottom of the couch.
Wufei looked up sharply. "No! After all, it's only just that I get my revenge on you for your last turn, Winner!" A moment's pause for thought, and then he declared grandly, "I never went to a nightclub dressed as an onna."
Quatre turned several shades of pink and mumbled something into his glass as he took a drink.
"WHAT?" Duo demanded, choking on his own laughter. "Quatre, man, you never told us that! You went out in drag?"
Quatre hid his face in his knees. "Trowa. It's your turn. Hurry. Please."
Trowa shook his head, hiding a rather amused sound himself. "All right, but...." He wanted to hear this story too, but Quatre looking pathetic was a sight no-one could possibly resist. "Fine. I've never slept with Relena Peacecraft."
There was a general chorus of moans as Heero, Duo, Quatre, and Catherine exchanged unhappy glances and downed their penalties. Wufei and Trowa contrived to look drunkenly superior.
"True," Catherine muttered mischievously under her breath. "You've never slept with anybody."
Trowa decided the dignified thing to do would be to ignore her. Of course, drunk people are seldom if ever dignified, so he elected instead to pounce on her, pin her to the ground, and tickle her til she squealed.
"Hey, don't take your sexual frustrations out on me!" the knife-thrower was gasping through ragged giggles. "You're cute, but you're my br--ack!" One flailing elbow knocked into Duo's arm, jarring him and spilling the contents of his glass all over his lap.
"Watch it!" Duo tried to jump out of the way, but his reflexes just weren't what they would have been were he completely sober. He scooted backward, crabwalking, only to bump into the immovable object that was Wufei.
"Maxwell! Watch where you're going!"
"I'm trying to get away!" Duo, unable to defend himself, his glass empty and its contents soaking his pants, retreated to the kitchen for a refill and a towel.
Catherine extricated herself from beneath Trowa, gasping for breath. "Meanie, Trowa, you gave me the hiccups! I think I hurt something!"
Trowa did not look repentant in the least.
"Well?" Heero demanded, crossing his arms over his chest and staring hard at Trowa. The effect was diminished somewhat by the way the former Wing pilot was swaying like bamboo in a breeze. "Is it true?"
Trowa pretended not to have heard. Heero, normally a reticent person, didn't like being ignored after consuming several glasses of various distilled substances, and made a grab for Trowa's arm. "I said, is it true?" he repeated, latching onto said abused appendage like a limpet.
"Why on earth do you care?" Wufei asked, trying desperately to come to Trowa's defense, though even he wasn't sure why. "Were you hoping he was saving himself for you?"
"Naw," Heero confided--loudly. "I got over 'im a long time ago...soon's I saw 'im looking at Quatre...."
Quatre, who up til this moment had been staying away from the conversation where it was nice and safe, promptly tried to crawl under the couch. Trowa turned six shades of red and tried to shake Heero off his arm. Wufei rolled his eyes and gave up in disgust. Catherine, before the situation could degenerate further--never mind she started it--interrupted the general mayhem to announce, "There she is!" and all eyes in the room turned to focus on the TV screen and the new President of the World Nation. Whether they'd slept with her or not.
31 December, A.C. 197, 11:15 PM: the situation degenerates further
Duo, finally finished holding Quatre's hair dryer over his pants, decided his mission wasn't going very well. Thanks to Heero's little announcement, Trowa had managed to avoid any sort of eye contact with Quatre for the last half hour. And that, Shinigami vowed, would simply not do. There had to be a way to turn Heero's faux pas to their advantage, he just had to figure out what it was.
"Say...." He was distracted from his mission, when he went to put the hair dryer away, by the wealth of THINGS in Quatre's medicine cabinet. "He's got a lot of stuff in here. Aspirin...good, hell, we're all gonna need that tomorrow. He wears Drakkar noir? That's my cologne too. Always knew he had good taste. What the hell is...raspberry flavoured...? Quatre, Quatre, I never knew...." Shaking his head, he shoved the hair dryer back into the cabinet and tried to close the door. The cord got stuck, and the door flew open, dumping everything even remotely in contact with the hair dryer onto the floor at Duo's feet. He sighed as he knelt down to gather the things up and return them to the shelves--one container had broken and was leaking goo all over his boots. "Just me making a mess again...damnit..." But his self-deprecating laugh was tolerant and easy. Like Quatre, nothing would dim his enthusiasm for seeing his friends after such a long time.
He returned downstairs to see the rest of the drunken fools crowded around the TV. "Is Relena on?" he asked needlessly. "How's she look?"
"Tired," said Quatre.
"Fatter," said Heero.
"HEERO!" yelped Catherine, making a face. "She does not, she looks good."
Heero, no matter how many times he had insisted he wasn't bitter, shrugged. "Duo looks better. So do you."
Duo immediately coughed on whatever he was about to say. Quatre grinned up at him wickedly. "Remember," the blonde whispered, "you're the one who wanted to get him drunk before the speech."
Duo sighed. "I'd forgotten how he runs off at the mouth when he's drunk! It's been a year, so sue me!"
Quatre considered this course of action, as well as one that involved dumping a candy-dish of chocolate peanuts over Duo's head just for the fun of it, and decided neither was worth the effort.
"So." Duo scooted closer to Quatre and slid an arm around his shoulders, leaning toward him conspiratorially. May as well just do this the blunt and easy way. "Gonna make the moves on Trowa soon?"
Between excitement, alcohol, and scattered moments of embarrassment, Quatre had been varying shades of pink all evening. Now was no exception. "Am I what?"
"Going to put the moves on Trowa. Do I have to spell it out for you?" Duo repeated patiently. "You know what happens, don't you, if you don't get somebody to give you a New Year's kiss at the stroke of midnight?"
"No...what happens?" Quatre sounded skeptical.
"You start the year off on the wrong foot and have bad luck!" Duo explained, exasperated. "I thought everybody knew that!"
"Sorry," Quatre mumbled, though he looked nervous. Kissing Trowa was a highly preferable alternative to having bad luck for the rest of the year, but still....
"I think she looks fine," Trowa could be heard saying from the floor between Heero and Catherine.
"Hmph. Not worth it, Trowa, don't even bother," his sister--who also claimed not to be bitter--informed him flatly.
Trowa shrugged. "I just said she looked good, she's really not my type. But she's an old friend, and has just been elected President, so are you two gonna shut up so we can hear what she says, or not?"
"We know what she's gonna say," Heero pointed out. "It's going to be about total pacifism, not having weapons, and everybody living happily ever after in harmony."
Wufei sighed. "I never did figure out what was going on with you two...make that any of you...."
Heero shrugged. "The good guy's supposed to get the princess at the end of the story, what can I say? Things didn't work out once people weren't trying to kill us anymore and we had to interact like normal humans."
Wufei stared at him blankly. "You, Yuy? A normal human?"
Heero shrugged and stared at the floor. "Yeah, exactly. That's why she moved on to Duo, apparently."
Wufei turned his gaze to the boy with the braid, who shrugged. "Wasn't anything, really. She was just all broken up about things not working out with Heero. Don't you know how this stuff goes? You always rebound to the best friend." A wicked grin spread across his face. "You might say I was just the stepping-stone between Heero and Quatre."
Quatre had figured out by this point there was no way he was going to fit under the couch. "Yeah, well. We all know how that ended, right? So let it go."
Wufei shook his head, though it was hard to tell from his expressionless dark eyes if he was prolonging this torture on purpose or not. "Oh, I do, but I don't think the rest of them do yet. Won't you share, Quatre?"
"No." Quatre curled up into the smallest ball it was possible to contort his body into. "No, I don't think I will."
"This doesn't have anything to do with you going out in drag, does it?" Duo asked suspiciously. Wufei coughed delicately and Quatre whimpered. "Wow. You guys really did screw each other up--Relena moved on to Cathy...you dressed up like a girl...."
Quatre fixed Duo with what he hoped was a very Zero-system glare.
Duo took note of this and decided the conversation had gone on long enough. "So now we're all here getting drunk, and she's up in front of the world making speeches. That's the way the cookie crumbles. Truthfully, I'd rather be us."
Trowa, shaking his head at his friends as if they'd all gone insane, hauled himself up by the side of the couch. "Maybe this is too much for some of them...." he suggested, indicating Heero and Catherine, who were glaring at the TV screen. It was probably fortunate for Quatre's big-screen that the knives and explosives had been left elsewhere for the night. "Let's go out and find a good spot to watch the fireworks."
31 December, A.C. 197, 11:55 PM: the madness continues
Duo and Quatre were very intelligent people, with a good grasp of strategy and tactics, even when tipsy. They had put this expertise to good use in contriving to get everyone onto Quatre's roof and arrange things so that Trowa was stretched out on a blanket next to Quatre without--they assumed--ever knowing they had planned it that way. They were extremely proud of their subtlety. It probably never occurred to them that Trowa--who had won the I've-Never game so thoroughly he wasn't nearly as drunk as they were--might have been strategising a bit himself, let alone had his sister's help in doing it.
From the roof, they could see the entire village stretched out below them. Lanterns were lit along the streets, and crowds of people congregated in the middle of them. Raucous, electrifying music filled the air and trickled up to the former pilots to infiltrate their skin and set their nerves tingling.
"They're gonna start soon!" Catherine said happily, dangling her legs off the edge of the house.
"Everybody get ready!" Duo proclaimed. "I don't want anybody having bad luck all year, so you ALL have to find somebody to kiss!"
"WHAT?" demanded Wufei.
Duo was getting tired of explaining this. But oh, how clever he was to be insisting on this! Clever and drunk. Drunk people on the roof. What a brilliant plan this was. "You have to have a new year's kiss, or you'll have bad luck," he explained, just like he'd told Quatre.
"It's not the Chinese new year," Wufei pointed out, but he did look a little concerned. He didn't want bad luck all year....
"Hush!" Quatre said quickly, "they're starting!"
The shout began from the village below, and the pilots joined in. "9...8...7...."
Quatre was getting nervous. Suppose Trowa didn't want to be the one to kiss him? Then again, it couldn't hurt to try. Right? Thank Allah for alcohol. Wait--that wasn't right, Allah didn't approve of alcohol. Even on New year's eve? He was getting distracted again.
Catherine shot a look backward at Quatre and her brother. They'd better kiss. And then they'd better go off together, or she was going to have to tie them up and--
"3...2...1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!" they all shouted--the village, the pilots, the people on the television still blaring downstairs.
Quatre nibbled his lip awkwardly, and leaned over to kiss Trowa. They met halfway, and bumped noses, pulling back to grin at each other nervously in the half-dark.
"Let's try that again," Trowa suggested. Quatre threw his arms around Trowa's neck and did just that. And again...and again...and again.
Duo looked over at them with satisfaction. "Ninmu Kanryou," he muttered happily to himself.
"What was that?" a calm voice said next to him. "Duo, are you stealing my lines?"
Duo turned to grin widely at Heero. "Yup. I sure am."
Heero looked over his friend's shoulder at the couple still kissing on the blanket. "Is that what all the new year's kiss business was about?"
Duo shrugged. "It's true. Kiss somebody or you'll have bad luck," he said, his violet eyes gleaming with undisguised mischief.
"I've had plenty of bad luck already," Heero decided, his speech still slurring a little, and he grabbed Duo's face and pulled him close for a hungry kiss. Duo, his body abruptly forgetting how to breathe, threw his arms around Heero's neck and clung there.
Wufei and Catherine, after a long look around at the rest of their friends, just looked at each other.
"I don't want--" they began at the same time, and stopped, and grinned.
"I'm only doing this in case Duo's right," Wufei said firmly.
Catherine nodded. "I know. Me too. But a year's worth of bad luck just isn't worth risking."
They stared at each other for a moment longer.
"Maybe if we close our eyes?" Catherine suggested.
Wufei nodded. "Good idea."
They did. They reached out to cup one another's face, just to make sure they didn't mess this up too badly--was a bad kiss worse than none at all, or was it just the effort that counted? Have to check with Duo on that later--and bumped noses awkwardly, and giggled, and finally managed to press their lips together. They started to pull away, then, lest they tempt the gods of bad luck too much, they tried it again.
Hmm. The second time worked a little better. And the third.
Duo, finally remembering how to breathe and move, opened his eyes, pulled his mouth from Heero's and looked around. Despite the shock of seeing Wufei and Catherine wrapped around each other like that--he thought he might have a heart attack, but at least Heero seemed willing to resuscitate him--he decided the night was a definite, resounding success.
Heero pulled him into his arms again, possessively, and Duo smiled happily. "Happy new year, Heero."
"Happy new year," the blue-eyed boy replied. "Say, Duo--do you smell that?"
Duo blinked. "What?"
Heero shrugged. "I thought it was you--it smells like raspberry."
"Happy new year, Quatre," Trowa whispered, when they paused to take a breath.
Quatre nuzzled into his neck and beamed happily. "Happy new year, Trowa...it really is...I think I'm having good luck already!"
Trowa grinned at him wickedly. "Wanna get a whole lot luckier?"