Author: Asuka Kureru
Warnings for this chapter: If you're in this frame of mind, you could even find 5+1+5 hints, even if in fact, there isn't any in the story (tho there will be some smallish sorta *coughcough* 1x5 wayyyyy later on), but who am I to deny you the pleasure of interpretation?)
Thanks to NekoMelly my pal who had the idea of sending them out there, and to my alpha-reader Lady Blackbutterfly who helped me about what they did in there once they were there.
And like always, thanks and many cuddles and yet another honeymoon for my wifeys-beta-readers Arabiana and Sara ;p

Garou + Part 7
Wolfwood

In the lights of the hangar's projectors, Wing was standing up, gleaming, and, stopping shortly in his ministrations of his own Gundam, the boy with the black ponytail stared at it for a few seconds, lost in thoughts about its pilot. Wufei sighed before turning back to his own Gundam. He had more or less finished his maintenance check, but after all, it wasn't as if he had anything better to do at the moment, and the gentle rhythm lulled him into a slight, resting daze.

He needed to think. So many things had happened recently... things he had had to see to believe. He still had doubts too, when he thought of it.

Hindsight was 20/20, yes, but still, each time he remembered the events, he found more and more evidence as to Yuy's abnormal condition, things that should have alarmed him. But he wasn't stupid enough to blame himself too badly because he hadn't seen. After all, how could he have begun to even imagine a thing like that?

Yuy's hours of activity... his nocturnal habits. It was strange, but justifiable if you thought about the need to go unnoticed. And terrorists seldom had what passed for normal hours of work anyway.

His claustrophobia... Heero had done admirable work of hiding the signs, of muddling it up in something else, like for example simple annoyance at the idea of staying in their presence. He was antisocial enough for it not to be surprising. Vexing, yes, for Maxwell, hurtful for Quatre, annoying for himself... but not so strange.

The blood on his clothes had been more subject to suspicions. But after all, he could very well receive private missions from J, assassinations or something, that he wouldn't have had the right to talk about. Wufei supposed that with a sadistic bastard like J, anything could happen; he had been lucky that Master O was a friend of his family and that their relation was a little bit more on a personal level. J considered Heero as more of a self-repairing weapon with AI, rather than as a human being. And the old cybernetitized scientist had such tight control over what Yuy did...it was slightly scary. Even he himself had more freedom. The other pilots received objectives to fulfill and sometimes the means to do so, but Heero often received the entire mission designed in its smallest details, down to the number of shots fired... And never in this case did he forget to fulfill every little bit of his plan, nor did he forget about those long, tedious mission reports, not even when listing every little occurrence lasted for hours.

The emotional instability was a clue that there was a problem, yes, but it could have been anything other than a furriness attack. After all, you couldn't really consider an orphan boy, conditioned since God knew when, trained since childhood to be an ace pilot, an obedient soldier and a top assassin all in one, as an example of well-adjusted youth, especially in the middle of puberty.

And even for someone as desperately not gifted with easy socialization and people skills as Wufei was, Heero's eyes screamed repression. It had to come out one day. No one could withstand this kind of mental pressure forever.

Wufei smiled... mentally at least, when he heard his own thoughts. From time to time, he surprised himself with an American-accented thought. It had begun soon after they had been forced to stay together. And that he had been forced to endure Duo Maxwell, and his jokes and babble and his too brilliant flashes of insight.

There was a truly strange guy... Harder to understand than Yuy, despite his apparent openness.

The sound of nearly silent steps made him tense slightly. Only a few people that he knew had access to this level of control. And Duo often didn't try this hard outside of a mission, unless he was going for a prank, and then he became nearly undetectable. So it could be Trowa, who walked this way naturally, or...

Heero was standing at the hangar's doors, and was looking at him, visibly hesitant to come in. Seeing that he had been spotted, he saluted Wufei with a stiff nod and walked in. Without talking, he went to his Gundam, slid inside of the cockpit, and soon a quiet beeping could be heard, indicating that he was tinkering with Wing's programming once again.

Wufei finished the last of Shenlong's verifications and wiped his hands on a rag. He glanced pensively at the Gundam where the other pilot was. He had questions to ask, but he never knew how to ask them without sounding stupid or even offending Yuy; after all he wasn't easy to unnerve usually, but lately, you couldn't be sure of anything with him. And while the Japanese boy often went to check on Quatre in a shy-big-brother kind of way, and happened to submit himself to Duo's company when the other boy would seek him out, and just didn't seem to care if he was in Trowa's personal space sometimes, he seemed to be nearly allergic to Wufei's very presence. Wufei knew that it wasn't without reasons. They both had a strong and dominant personality... he probably felt the same thing Wufei felt, this need to compete, to prove that the other boy was not better than themselves, only, his new condition made him more aggressive about it.

However, they did need to push their disaccords aside if they wanted to function as a real team.

Something Wufei had recently found that he really wanted to try... Not only to bear the presence of the others like a necessary evil, like he had done at the beginning of their forced association, him, the loner. But to be a team. A... hunting pack maybe, as the wolf side would think?

Just had to make things cooler between him and the other alpha-type male.
Wing's door was wide open... In this case, he couldn't want to be left alone, could he?

* * *

"Yuy...?"

Heero had heard Wufei approaching since the second he had put his foot on his Gundam. Luckily for the Chinese boy, because otherwise, Heero, who had been daydreaming, would surely have had a misplaced reaction before recognizing him. For a few seconds he was tempted by the idea of just sending him away with a pretext, but then it would be a blatant lie, he didn't have anything to do inside of Wing. He had just come to feel a little bit more secure.

And to stop hearing Duo singing three rooms down the hall, with his low and warm voice impossible to block out anymore because of his improved hearing, and to stop smelling the minute changes in Quatre's scent, as much because of the metamorphose than because of his fear of the phenomenon.

"Hnn?"

"Hello..." Wufei politely nodded to him. He pointed out the door's threshold. "Does it bother you if I sit down?"

The Wolf was growling low, seeing the other boy invading his den. But Heero didn't want to listen for once. He was not just a human-shaped beast, unable to push past his instincts. And Wufei didn't act or smell as if he was coming for a fight anyway.

"... Go ahead."

Heero stared at the Chinese who was sitting down with his usual unconscious grace.

They sat face to face in silence, not knowing what to say, but feeling that there were too many unresolved issues between them to just walk away.

"Did you want something, Wufei?" Heero asked after some time.

"... Just ... socialize a little?" the Chinese answered, with the littlest touch of uncertainty behind the irony.

Heero snorted mockingly. "Yeah right. Quatre and Duo ganged up on you too and hammered in their speech on camaraderie and trust, didn't they?" asked the Japanese teen.

Wufei began to laugh quietly. It was a welcome surprise to discover that Yuy indeed had a sense of humor, of sorts... and one that he could appreciate. "That, and the emails I regularly receive from my sensei..." admitted Wufei.

"Hn" Wing's pilot agreed, nodding slightly.

They stayed silent for a bit longer, but this time it was far from being as tense. They were hardly the type of people who cannot bear a silence during a conversation after all.

"How does it feel?" asked Wufei suddenly, slightly surprising Heero, who had been letting his thoughts wander.

"Nani?"

"Being a wolf. How does it feel?"

Heero pondered the question.

Since they had learned, Duo and Wufei had been the only ones to dare ask questions on his transformation. Quatre was too scared about what the answer would be, and Trowa acted as if he already knew all he needed to know to function, and didn't give a rat's ass about the rest. But from 05, it had been mostly oriented on his new capacities and the impact it could have on eventual missions. Contrary to the American he had never tried to know about the more personal things.

"I am free," Heero murmured.

The Japanese boy bent a knee under his chin, blocking his heel on the seat. He closed his arms around his leg and let his eyes wander on the hangar.

"There isn't a soldier anymore, nor any duty to perform, no dilemmas... no war. Just the night, and freedom, just scents and noises and animals hiding, and the thrill of the hunt, and the knowledge that I am on top of the food chain, and I don't have to be on the lookout because nothing could even dream about trying to hurt me... there is just the present... I can want a thing, and then do it, just like that, without having to ask myself if I can, if maybe it would be better not to, if it contradicts my training... I don't have to second-guess myself, to weigh the consequences of each act... I am free," he repeated.

Wufei nodded slowly, lost in his thoughts. He could understand fairly well the desire to be free of such a yoke. He himself was, had always been, prisoner of a series of rules and traditions. He had accepted, of his own free will, to shoulder this armor-prison, this auto-discipline... but even if most of the time he knew fairly well why he felt it was important he let those demanding rules reign over his life. Sometimes, he caught himself wishing that the heavy responsibilities had been dropped on shoulders other than his own.

Sometimes he didn't know anymore if he was still bearing his obligations because he judged them to really be that important, or because he had been too well trained to even question it. In his misfortune, Yuy had received the chance to discover himself, the boy under the imperatives, behind the soldier.

What he thought had to show on his face, because when he looked up, he saw a light of understanding in the blue eyes.

* * *

No one would even know what they could have said after that. An enormous bag thrown on his shoulder, Duo barged into the hangar running full tilt, and the fragile moment of comprehension shattered. The two Asian boys closed up as if nothing special had transpired, and Wufei got up and walked calmly away, while Heero began casually looking through some program once again.

"HEY GUYS!!! Wufei, Heero!! You there?" the American shouted while rushing to the far end of the hangar, where DeathScythe was waiting. "We've got a problem!"

The boy wasn't smiling, and he had called Wufei by his correct and complete name. And he was running too fast and sounding too serious for it to be a joke.

"Nani?" demanded the Japanese, poking his head out of his cockpit.

Duo bent forward and put his hands on his knees, head low. He panted for a few seconds before he could talk again. "OZ spotted us. There's an entire battalion heading for this area. We've got to be out of here in fifteen minutes if we don't want to be trapped."

The Chinese pilot had taken off running for the house before the braided boy finished his first sentence. He had heard "OZ", that's all he needed to know.

Duo dashed off to DeathScythe and clenched the cable to get lifted to the cockpit. Heero wondered if he too should return to the house to get back his things, but he didn't possess anything irreplaceable. It was just clothes. For the weapons, he always had his gun on him anyway, and the stocks of grenades and explosives in the house were nothing compared to what he kept in Wing. As for his laptop, he was annoyed to lose many of the works he had on it, but it could be redone. With difficulties, and it would take time, but it could be redone.

Well... He'd lose some information and his way in a few networks, and would have to just abandon some of the identities he was creating, but it couldn't be helped.

It was still damn annoying.

"Don't turn Wing's engines on just now, we're gonna get spotted before the others can come back!" Duo advised by the intercomm. "Hey, wile I'm thinking of it, I have your laptop, it's in my bag, I'll give it to you when I can, ok? Were there any other things you wanted to grab?"

Heero blinked. Had the boy been reading his mind or what?

"No, there wasn't," answered Heero, shaking his head to dispel his astonishment. "... thank you" he added in a vaguely surprised voice.

As for knowing if he was surprised that Duo had gone to the trouble of grabbing his laptop, or that HE took the trouble to thank him, he didn't quite know.

Duo refused himself the need to let the silence fall after Heero’s thanks. It would make too big a deal about it... But the fact was, that to see his thoughtful gesture recognized out loud was making him feel warmer. He continued, casual. "I grabbed two or three of your tanktops and a pullover in passing, but I'm afraid I've got nothing for the lower part. I'll have to lend you pants if it gets colder, I'm afraid ..."

The Japanese snorted when he imagined himself wearing a pair of those ridiculous black pants his teammate seemed to favor. No way.

Resolutely, he began to hack into the other Gundams' mainframe, greatly helped by the fact that he had built most off their anti-hacker protections, and so had a backdoor in all of their systems, and gave the machines the order to put themselves in standby and to open their cockpit door. Meanwhile, Duo was feeding Wing what DeathScythe's more efficient radar was catching, and sending him plan propositions to escape. In a few minutes they had chosen together the best road to take to avoid a confrontation they were ill prepared for.

"Heero, it's all well and stuff" admitted Duo after a few seconds of deep thinking, "but after we lose them, where will we go? We can’t go far from this region, we didn't complete the mission yet, remember?"

Heero shrugged helplessly.

"I don't know, we'll see after we get away."

"I don't like that at all," mumbled the other boy.

Heero didn't answer. He didn't like it either, but, hell, what could they do?

The other boys were running to their Gundams. "Four minutes thirty-five seconds before contact" the Japanese informed them.

They all roared the engines to life at the same time. When Duo signaled that they had been spotted and the flocks of MS were closing in, Heero demolished the hangar with the beam saber before changing Wing to bird mode and leaving by the hole, unwilling to bother with the door.

Wing was the fastest in flight mode and DeathScythe the best equipped for stealth, their role was already designed. They would deter the troupes and confuse them while the others flew far enough away. Then they would meet with the others later, in a place... that they hadn't found yet. They hadn't had the time to communicate with the doctors to ask which safehouse would be better in the area. And now that the communications leaving the area were probably mostly monitored...

* * * * * *

A few hours later, once the moment of alarm had gone, a coded message with coordinates was sent to the other pilots by the secret frequencies they had devoted to communications between the five of them.

Like the other four, Heero had tortured his brain, but sadly he hadn't found anything correct... except his own old hideout, the one in which he had vegetated for two weeks after his contamination. It would be frankly small, without taking in account that it surely didn't contain enough food and other necessities for five growing teenagers, but they would have to make it do the time the aftershocks stopped and their enemies thought them elsewhere. It was just far enough from the zone the base was on for the enemy not to think about including it in the search area and just near enough to permit them to make a reasonable time going to and from the base. It would give them some time to find better establishments too.

He received confirmation and sent back to all the coordinates to a place where to hide their Gundam. He had found many himself while exploring the area, grottoes big enough or lakes deep enough for that. The farthest was one hour of walk from the safehouse, the nearest at twenty minutes. It was a decent time.

Just before he sent the mail, he couldn't prevent himself from adding a little word of advice. "Keep your hand on your weapon. It's here that I was bitten."

The need to keep silent on the radio was the only thing that prevented Duo from sending him back an email composed of swear words and commentaries on his mental health and the various institutions he had frequented.

* * * * * *

[cont]