Author: Asuka Kureru
Warnings for this chapter : Feifei-chan as OOC as ever, but he gets a lil bit better ^^; Maybe some 13+5...
Notes: BTW do NOT think that I even slightly know shit on what I'm talking about, on the business of the Colonies and the operation Meteor and stuff. I'm using what little bits of memories I have on that subject and mixing them all up, probably, and then adding some things on them. And I don't respect the chronology of the series at all . I'm pretty sure (but not ready to swear it ^^; ) that Wufei's Colony was destroyed after he had already met the other pilots.

Normally after Heero and Tro's trek, they were going to space before Duo and Heero could meet again, didn't they? (not sure, have to watch it again) Here they didn't go to space at all. So most of what happened when they were in space never happens in my story, like Trowa's amnesia, Fei and Duo in a cell, stuff like that. But then, I told you that that you could only take into account the events I was telling you about, and not the others, not even the ones logically happening between them. You should have read the introduction better, so there! ^__~

Thank you Mikkeneko for having betaread this chapter! *glomp*

Garou + Part 15
Flashbacks

Tomorrow night would be a full moon... Quatre was as tense as a crossbow string and started at the littlest noise. He couldn't prevent himself from imagining what would it be to transform, to become an animal. Would it hurt very much? What would it change in him? Physically, would walking and running on all four come easy? Or did it have to be learned? From Heero's descriptions, the boy hadn't needed to, but as an human he was perfectly coordinated, so...And mentally? Would he think like an animal as long as he was transformed, would he continue to think as a human? He had already changed so much just this month... Did it precipitate the changes in his already unrecognizable psyche?

He was going crazy with all these questions. He was starting to wish it were tomorrow night already, so that everything, the best and the worst, would already be over; and at the same time, he didn't want to pass the point of no return.

The young Arab threw himself on his belly on the bed and closed his eyes, wishing with all his might that he could just fall asleep, just to be able to stop thinking.

The others were trying to help him, but he was so terrified by the nearing of the deadline that their support didn't have any effect anymore. And, when you looked at it, there wasn't a single thing they could really do.

Quatre hugged his pillow hard and hid his face against it. He felt so bad, complaining and being a such a wuss, when the others needed someone strong and competent...He didn't understand why Heero hadn't rejected him for his whiny and bitchy behavior, after all being a wolf sure didn't have this effect on him!

Duo still listened to him as attentively as ever, but Quatre knew that he couldn't really understand, just sympathize... so, it wasn't of any use other than to vent his petty problems and his fears on his friend's back, and Duo sure didn't need those on top of his own. And Trowa, how could Trowa still respect him when he saw him so weak and frightened of such an inevitable thing?

And Wufei who was still missing...

His comrades in arms, his teammates, his... packmates? His friends.

Never would he have believed, the first time they all gathered together on the scientist' orders, that they could become so dear to him, so very close to him. They had been trained to operate as independent agents; most of them were independent even before the training...not even feeling the most basic social urges. Duo alone seemed to agree with him on the necessity of knowing each other in any depth, of familiarizing themselves not only with the combat methods they used, but their moods and thoughts too.

* * *

He remembered it so well...The day when he had received the order to come get Trowa who had been unable to contact his mentor and to go meet the other pilots. He was feeling so excited, nearly childishly so. He had already met Duo before but that was all.

When he asked his comrade, when they still were in the middle of their trip to the rendezvous point, Trowa admitted to having met 05 and 01 already, but apart from telling that he had invited them to the circus for a moment, refused to tell anything more.

As for Duo, he had talked about 01 when they had stayed at the Magagnac village, but it was in the period following his self-destruction... When they were believing him dead. And apart from ranting and raving on him, his stupid stubbornness and his bloody conditioning, and asking Quatre to leave him alone so that he could cry for him in private, he hadn't revealed much about the person Heero was...Quatre had felt he didn't have the right to put his nose in Duo's memories when it was obvious that Duo was trying hard to stop thinking about the dead boy he had tried to befriend.

Well, now it would be very different. Duo had to be much more happier now that he knew that 01 was alive! He and Duo could appreciate a little bit more each other's presence now that grief wasn't darkening their tentative friendship.

Quatre thought that he could become good friends with Duo. But after all, he was friendly and the American boy too, it wouldn't be hard... far less than with the others. If he believed what he had heard about the two other pilots, it wouldn't be as easy to maintain cordial relations with them.

If he believed what Duo said, but he had noticed that the boy tended toward exaggeration, 01 was a sort of automaton with inhumane strength, gifted with pitiless reflexes, without any feelings. And 05 seemed to be pretty rigid too. As for Trowa... Personally he found him pretty interesting, but he had always had a weakness for the mysterious kind. His position about the question was a little biased.

He was feeling so impatient...

* * *

Because of their timing, the golden-haired Arab and his acrobat comrade had to come straight from the circus to the rendezvous point. Trowa was walking with his backpack on a shoulder, with all of his possessions inside.

Quatre found it strangely sad that apart from Heavyarms and his gun and a set of knifes, all the boy's possessions consisted in three t-shirts, a few briefs and socks, and a spare turtleneck and pair of jeans, but he knew that Trowa couldn't afford not to travel light. Still, Quatre had all of his personal things waiting for him at home. Did Trowa Barton even have something he could call a home?

They had decided to meet where they wouldn't attract attention: in the middle of a mall situated just between a college and a high school, a Saturday evening, when all the teenagers living close by came to roam the shops. As Duo said, where to hide a goldfish better than in a goldfish pond?

Speaking of the American pilot...Quatre could see him seated on a fountain in a corner, a dark-haired boy leaning against the wall beside him. His braid was hidden under a black cap, but Quatre could still recognize him. He dragged Trowa after him and they joined the two others.

"Is it Heero or Wufei?" the Arab asked his comrade while they were approaching.

"Heero," answered Trowa in an absent tone, preoccupied by his attempt to gain passage in the crowd.

The blond-haired boy used the time they took to join them to observe the L1 pilot. He was exactly as Duo had described him: messy hair, a slim and compact body, hard and determinate-looking. His calculating glances attracted nearly as much attention as the shout Duo gave when he saw them and jumped on Quatre, laughing.

"Oi, Q-man!! How are ya since last time, buddy?"

"Well, very well, Duo, thank you. And you?" answered the little blond, laughing, half choked by the hold the braided pilot had on his neck.

"Great, man! Heero'n me got to the fast-food before coming here, I ate enough to make my belly explode!"

Quatre laughed again, especially at the face the other boy made when he heard Duo boast about the fact that he had succeeded in dragging him to a fast-food.

Trowa and Heero had saluted each other with a discreet nod before Trowa took place at the Japanese's side against the wall. When the two laughing boys stopped fighting, they saw the two somber boys staring at them, reprobating.

"You're attracting too much attention," hissed Heero.

"You attract nearly as much stares with that serial-killer face, Hee-buddy," Duo shot back, not scared at all by the menace in the first pilot's voice. "And, shit, look 'round you, normal teens that meet their normal friends are supposed to act exuberant... "

"At this level, normality may be abnormal then," calmly answered Trowa.

Duo blinked, then, not a sore loser, burst out laughing.

"OK I'll try to calm down. "

Heero glared in a dubious way, as if he was used to these kinds of promises, then turned away to scan the crowd.

"05 is late" he grumbled.

* * *

Wufei saw the green-eyed boy he had met already turn to him and point him out to the other dark-haired boy, the one who looked so dangerous. Two eyes of a blue as intense as a laser turned to him, singling him out, and he took his time getting up from the café table he had been sitting at for the last hour. The two brown-haired boys seemed competent enough; but the slim, fragile-looking blond one and the joker with the cap didn't look like they truly were qualified for the work! Especially the joker. He had to be 02, the black-winged Gundam. Hard to believe that he could be efficient, with his attitude...

"Wufei," saluted Trowa.

"You the fifth? Hi!" chirped the boy with the black cap.

"Let's go elsewhere," he demanded, glancing with disdain at the crowd pressing them from every side. "We will take care of the introductions later on."

"We're relatively safe here."

"But we can't talk."

"... Well. Do you have a place where we can?" asked the friendly blond.

He nodded stiffly and signaled for them to follow.

* * *

This idea was ridiculous. Master O would pay. He got by fairly well without any support! Why couldn't they continue to operate as independents, giving each other a hand when they happened to be in the same area or with the same objective?

"As you probably understood already, I am Chang Wufei, pilot of the Gundam Shenlong... "

... only heir and surviving member of the late Dragon Clan, he didn't add to complete the presentation.

"I am Quatre Raberba Winner," the slim blond smiled at him.

"Connected to Winner enterprises?"

"The heir. Although not for long anymore," he sighed, his shoulders slumping. "Father threatened to disinherit me when I left... But I have the support of most of my family and the others don't know, and all the money I could ever need and then some; I am prepared to finance what you'll need."

The Chinese nodded. Winner looked to be at a disadvantage as far as pure strength went, but he hadn't come so far with being as weak as his appearance suggested, and no one could pilot a Gundam if they weren't a genius with piloting Mobile Suits. Furthermore, his connections would ease their way... if Wufei decided to stay with the group. He had to get a better idea before taking that decision, he reminded himself.

"Trowa Barton," deadpanned Trowa for Duo's benefice, the boy being the only one he had never met face to face.

"Barton family?" asked Wufei, lifting an eyebrow.

From what he knew, the Barton family, apart from some dissident branches, was highly involved with Romafeller in politic games, but was playing double game against the Earth. There were the ones who would have set in motion the "true" operation Meteor, the one which aimed at using the Gundams to kill here and there and sow the fear of the Colonies in the minds of the Earthlings instead of fighting only against OZ. Wufei knew that well, his father and the head of his clan had had for habit to have meetings with them on the business of the L5 Colony cluster.

Listening to closed doors was not polite. But it kept him highly informed.

"No. Just a codename."

"Like Heero then," noticed the longhaired boy, playing with his cap. "I am Duo Maxwell."

"Is that your true name?" asked Wufei, frowning. "You should forget it, like Yuy and Barton. It's stupid to use it. Especially when you don't have the protection of a rich or influent family to back you up ... "

"That's not a problem," answered Duo with a strange smile. "There are so many Maxwells around anyway... and the good one is dead. Anyway, I chose this name myself. You can search for years in all the databases you'll find. Officially, Duo Maxwell does not exist."

The four boys stared at him, surprised.

"But you have to have met people, didn't you?" asked Quatre, astonished. "And if they pressured them?"

"You'll never get your hands on anything concerning my origins. Even the rare information you can have about my younger years wouldn't be of any use. And the only people I have now are the Professor G and Howard's friends, and they're already in the resistance, so... "

"How do you mean, they wouldn't be of any use?"

Duo briefly grimaced, then gave them a big grin, too big to be credible, and lifted his cap. His braid escaped from the cap's confines and unrolled along his back, balancing with the momentum.

"They all dead anyway. No one else to los," he chirped in a falsely jovial voice.

Wufei started as if he had been hit. So, he didn't have anyone either...

How did he still smile then? To look joyful? How had he not to sunk in bitterness and avenging rage? He was stronger than Wufei, morally, to have succeeded in that. That boy was much more remarkable than what he had thought at first glance.

Maybe he could teach him things... Every one of them could teach him things on inner strength, in a way. Trowa and his stoicism before a trial, Heero and his unstoppable will, even Quatre with his wish to fight anyway, to dirty himself, even if he knew that he wasn't really made for it and had to his disposal every occasion in the world to forget the war in a golden cocoon...

They were all so strong, each in their own way...

Wufei didn't know if he could get on well with them. But to fight by their side... that was something he would feel honored to.

* * *

[cont]