Man Like Me
~Whenever I see your smiling
I have to smile myself
Because I love you (Yes, I do)~
Wufei walks into his shared office, in a foul mood. He has just come back
from a briefing, on a case that is going nowhere good fast. Une's pissed,
Merquise has his hands full trying to keep the political lid from blowing
right off this one, and even Winner is getting snippy with the lack of
leads. Meanwhile, those damned warning notes keep coming in, through the
same untraceable route that has Yui nearly pulling his hair out. He would
dearly love to rip the inch-think folder of worthless paper he
is carrying into so much confetti, but there has to be something
in there they can use - if only they can find it. He settles for slamming
it violently down onto his desk and swearing at top volume.
Duo looks up, startled, at the sudden concussion blast created when the
folder meets the desktop. He stops the recording he's been listening to,
pulls off the headphones, and stands up. Then he walks up behind Wufei,
turns him around with one hand on a shoulder, and uses the other hand
to lift his partner's chin so that, for a moment, they look into each
others' eyes. And then he smiles, and says, "come listen to something
Wufei blinks as he is lead over to Duo's seat, and the recording forwarded
to a certain point, and a certain pair of frequency ranges are amplified
while the rest of them are muted out. There, clear as miso soup, is the
name they have been hearing all along, but now, so close after it that
it is almost obscured by the echo, and two octaves higher, is another
name -one that could be the clue they have needed. More than that, it
is one that Wufei recognizes - and one that they have been desperately
trying to tie into the case.
Wufei gazes up at Duo, standing over him and checking a dial, then stands
up, tugs the headphones down, and kisses Duo, hard. "I knew there was
a reason I loved you," Wufei says, and positively beams at his partner,
before kissing him again, very thoroughly, arms locking around his back,
not caring that the door is open and by now everyone in the office - most
of whom came running at the initial outburst - has discovered exactly
what sort of relationship the two share.
A chorus of whistles and catcalls brings the pair back to reality, and
in half a second, Wufei is all business again, pulling away to turn and
bellow, "Alright, people, we have a lead! Yui! Merquise! Conference room,
10 minutes. Bring everything on Saitoushi you've got, including all known
female relatives, associates, and acquaintances. The rest of you, party's
over, we have some work to do around here!" People scatter every
which way like so many chickens before a dragon.
This time, Wufei closes the door and takes the headphones off before kissing
Duo again. He's got a few minutes, after all.
~And when you give me that pretty little pout
It turns me inside out
There's something about you, baby (I don't know)~
"I have to go talk to her, Duo, and you know it as well as I do. There's
no other way to get the information. And it has to be me; it's vaguely
possible that I'm a distant cousin or from the same village, and so there's
some innocent reason for her to see and talk to me. Saitoushi's too jealous
to let anyone but a relative or another woman talk to her alone, or even
get close to her. I don't see a whole lot of women in this department,
Duo is clearly unhappy with the entire set up. He hasn't said a word in
fifteen minutes, and Wufei isn't making much headway towards making him
feel any better about it. In fact, Duo seems to be on the verge of pouting,
and Wufei, who has seen him like this before, knows it's time to give
"Alright, fine. You want me to take backup? You find a qualified female
officer who's willing to shadow me into Chinatown's District and not stand
out doing it - with the costume that implies - and I'll take backup. Okay?
Because otherwise, there's not a hope in your hells that I'm going to
be able to get close enough to Liuli to talk to her, much less get any
information from her, without having Saitoushi's goons all over me."
Duo actually grins, then, and bounces once on the balls of his feet, before
dropping a kiss on Wufei's cheek and turning towards the door. "I'll be
right back, Wufei, I need to go find Dorothy."
"Dorothy? She's hardly qualified to be backup!"
"Nope, but I am - except for one thing - and that's where she comes in."
And he is gone, leaving Wufei to stare open-mouthed at the closed door.
//Ancestors... he can't mean...//
~Isn't it amazing a man like me
Can feel this way~
Wufei is having a hard time. In more than one way. Duo's outfit and disguise
are perfect - brassy red hair rinse, tight black leather skirt and the
little zipped crop top and the same stilt-high heels all the other girls
are wearing. He moves like all the other girls out there, down to the
nonchalant gum-chewing. Even the too-pale colouring isn't enough to single
him out as anything but what he appears. But it's not just the great curves
- Dorothy outdid herself - that are attracting the attention of a lot
of potential customers, it's the way that hip-shot come-hither stance
accentuates them. The only real difference is that he isn't actually going
off with anyone. Duo must be charging quite a lot for them to be leaving
in search of a cheaper ride elsewhere. //And it really doesn't help that
I know exactly what he tastes like.// The fact that he's one of the few
carrying a small clutch bag makes no difference. He's probably the only
one with a Preventers' badge and a Derringer in it, though.
Wufei is so wrapped up in his contemplations, studiously picking out peaches
from the small vendor's stand and paying for them, that he is truly surprised
when a high voice calls his name. He starts, then looks around, and identifies
the speaker when she waves, and calls again, "Wufei! Elder cousin! It
is you! I thought for certain I was wrong, no-one from the village
ever comes here, but I just had to find out. I'm so glad
to see you!" She bustles up and stands before him, and he lets
his eyes widen in delighted surprise.
"Liuli? Is that you? It has been so long! But you are looking well. Are
you terribly busy? Perhaps you have time to take some tea with me at the
little shop there?"
No, she isn't very busy, and tea would be lovely, and this is her, um,
employer, who has brought her downtown for the afternoon, and isn't it
fortunate that she has run into someone from her old village? She is sure
her cousin has lots of baby pictures to show her, what with that pretty
wife of his and all... //pretty, yes; wife, no...//
Saitoushi's men never notice that the black-clad streetwalker has moved
down to a new spot within an easy shot's distance of the small tea shop
where they sit, politely two tables away from the two cousins who are
chattering rapidly in Mandarin, and happily looking at a plastic folder
of portraits of small children.
~Tell me how much longer
I will grow stronger every day
Oh, how much longer~
Another meeting with Liuli, this one by arrangement, at a different tea
shop in a slightly nicer area of town, and all under Saitoushi's watchful
eye. There is very little that she can tell Wufei, and of course names
are impossible to pass along verbally, but a few kanji are drawn as she
points to some more of the pictures he has to show her this time.
And absolutely no-one notices the new waitress, even when she accidentally
drops a handful of napkins by the table where Wufei and Liuli sit. Liuli
never does figure out just when the note in her pocket disappeared, except
that whoever it was was a damned good pickpocket; she only hopes it was
the right pickpocket.
In fact, Saitoushi doesn't even notice that the disc in his pocket is
missing for a good twenty minutes - more than long enough to copy and
decode its contents - because by the time he thinks to check that it is
still in place, it has been just as skilfully returned.
~I thought I was in love
A couple of times before
With the girl next door~
Wufei dodges yet another attempt by Sally to mother him to death on yet
another very late night spent poring over research notes, and as she slips
out leaving the pair sandwiches and coffee he thanks his ancestors that
he didn't let his gratitude to her and his loneliness turn into anything
else. No, far better that he had let himself grieve for Meilan first,
before trying to form a new relationship. Sally makes a far better elder
sister than mate.
The third meeting with Liuli had gone off without a hitch. It had been
a brief contact - according to the plan, Wufei claimed urgent business
that had come up, but he had brought her a small present - something his
wife had baked - and to not worry about it, they would be able to see
each other again soon enough. The real present, of course, was supposed
to be delivered to her pocket.
The only thing that had worried Wufei about it, really, had been that
he never did spot Duo, and one would think that much hair
would be unmistakeable. But the only person who had been anywhere near
them had been a dirty street beggar of about 50 winters. He had had backup
in the form of Trowa with a sniper's rifle from a rooftop vantage point
this time, in fact, because Duo had claimed that, no matter how good Dorothy
was, Saitoushi's men weren't stupid, and his eyes were going to give him
away sooner than later.
But Duo had been grinning broadly when he reappeared at the office. Not
only had the message been delivered, but Liuli had had one for them as
well, which might lead to something else even more interesting. And his
hair had still been damp from washing it.
~But that was long before I met you
Now I'm sure that I won't forget you~
It's the night before the last contact with Liuli, and Wufei is going
over the plan on his screen one more time - for the fourth time. Almost
all the puzzle pieces are in place, and there is only one question that
remains to be asked. But this meeting has not been planned, and it must
be done officially. For all that Wufei has made some minor changes to
his own appearance for his meetings with his "cousin", he may very well
be recognized. And as Duo pointed out, he might be as well. And both of
them know, with this operation, that being recognized could well prove
to be fatal.
Finally, when it becomes obvious that Wufei will stay where he is, worrying
over details, until he either dozes off in the chair or the sun comes
up, Duo decides to take some action. He pads out of the bedroom, and slips
up behind Wufei, and taking one tawny earlobe between his teeth, he reaches
for the mouse with one hand, and Wufei's buttons with the other. By the
time Duo has gotten the terminal to run its shutdown procedure, Wufei's
shirt is half undone, and he has dropped his head back onto Duo's chest,
closed his eyes, and begun to purr like a happy kitten under the ministrations
of fingers and tongue.
"Come on, D-baby, let's get you into bed," Duo whispers, sultry voice
tickling Wufei's ear, "and let me make it all go away for a while, hmm?
I've got tonight to love you, and I want to be sure you know how much
~And I thank my lucky stars
That you are who you are
And not just another lovely lady
Sent down to break my heart~
Agent Shadow arrived at Saitoushi's main office building with a very official-looking
summons in hand for one Tong Liuli. It seems her distant cousin has been
involved in some unsavoury business and the Preventers have a few questions
to ask her. The guard calls upstairs. Anything to comply with the Preventers,
and had they known there was a problem with the cousin they would never
have allowed her to speak with him!
On the other side of the foyer, the second security guard is checking
the credentials of the efficient-looking young woman who has come in clutching
a temporary services booklet. Everything seems to be in order, and she
is directed to the elevator and given instructions on how to get to the
mailroom, where her assignment for the day is.
Agent Shadow is escorted up to the penthouse floor by the security guard,
after a replacement has been called to help man the front desk, and in
to a cushy waiting room. He settles himself on one of the chairs beside
a small table, and nervously adjusts his tie, then squirms a bit uncomfortably
in his seat. Liuli enters a short wait later, and he stands to greet her.
"I am sorry, Miss Tong, to be the bearer of bad tidings, but it appears
that I need to ask you a few questions regarding your recent conversations
with your cousin."
Things are going well - until Saitoushi Hiideru himself appears in the
same doorway from whence Liuli appeared, and takes one good look at Agent
Shadow, and produces a small handgun. A shot rings out, and Liuli collapses
to the floor. "You! You will not be the one who betrays me, my little
doll. And you, cousin Wufei, you are next." The gun swivels to aim at
The door of the waiting room slams open, and a voice from the hallway
barks, "drop it, Saitoushi!" A dishevelled figure in a nondescript grey
dress levels a gun at the crime lord.
"Or what, girl? You'll join them on the floor to die!" For Wufei has,
indeed, slipped down to the floor to cradle the dying woman in his arms,
leaning close to hear, and record, the words she is still struggling to
gasp out. Then, her head lolls back, and Wufei cradles her closer and
bows his head over the still form.
"Nobody else is going to die here today, Saitoushi," Duo says, and fires.
Saitoushi drops his gun from suddenly nerveless fingers, and raises the
other hand to clutch at his shoulder before slumping to the floor. "Don't
move, Saitoushi; I don't want to have to kneecap you. Chang, you got what
we need?" A curt nod from Shadow, and a look at Saitoushi where he sits,
and then Duo is calling for backup, cleanup, and two medical teams, on
the small televid operator's headset slipped over one ear.
It is only when he looks up at the call for two medical teams that
Wufei realizes that Duo had some trouble getting upstairs - his hair is
falling out of its prissy bun, there's a long rip in the back of the sensible
grey skirt and a bloody slash to his left arm, and his pumps have gone
missing somewhere as well. Dorothy won't be pleased. But he's alive, and
Wufei doesn't think he's ever seen a more beautiful sight.
~Isn't it amazing a man like me
Can feel this way~
"No, husband, you... were always... the strongest one..." Nataku's voice
fades into the silence of the grave.
"Don't you think it's time to forget about her, Wufei?" Master O's voice
echoes in the hangar.
Wufei's fist connects with his Master's solar plexus with a sickening
thud. "Say that again! I dare you!" He screams his defiance into
"Shh, Wufei, it's alright, we remember her, love, come on, wake up for
me sweetheart, Dragon of mine," the soft low voice murmurs, and he is
drawn into warm arms, pulled close against a strong shoulder. Wufei sobs,
all the anguish of losing Meilan again ripping free in jagged shards that
melt like ice in the sunlight, while he is held safe in Duo's arms.
As he gently rocks his lover, Duo thinks about the young woman, whose
voice on a tape led them to a killer, and who died in Wufei's arms that
morning. She had been a sweet young girl, whose only crime had been bad
timing, and even with her last breath she had spoken the words that, when
played back for the judge, would put her owner away for a very long time.
He knows, had it been him who had reached her first, that he would most
likely be the one grieving tonight, for the long-dead woman who died in
his arms. So he does what he can, murmurs soft words of reassurance and
holds Wufei close until the tears ease and the broken sobs gradually come
to a stop.
With one final sniffle, Wufei brings a hand up to wipe his face, and then
swipe ineffectively at Duo's bare chest, until a small towel is pressed
into his hand. "Ha... pretty stupid, crying over her still, no?"
"No, Wufei, never. Let me tell you a story..."
~Tell me how much longer
I can grow stronger every day
How much longer~
The court room is crowded with reporters, all trying to get a look at
the agents responsible for the most sensational arrests - for the most
sensational crimes - since the Sanq Kingdom was nearly blown up almost
a year before. They seem almost disappointed when a small unassuming Chinese
man, dressed in white coat and pants and carrying a large file of papers
and some small audio discs, mounts the stand. It doesn't improve their
mood at all when he pulls out a pair of glasses and puts them on. Their
disgruntled murmuring dies out almost immediately, however, when the judge
bangs her gavel and the bailiff addresses the witness.
"Chang Wufei, Preventer Agent Shadow, do you swear to tell the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?"
"I do so swear, by my Ancestors, by my name, and on the grave of my wife."
"Please be seated."
"Mr. Chang, is there a reason you are appearing before the court out of
"A brave woman died to provide this evidence, your honour. I wear mourning
to honour her, since she has no other kin."
"Very well, Mr. Chang, you may begin."
"If it please your honour, I would like to have the following audio recordings
entered into evidence as People's Exhibits A through F, and the following
document prepared by Agent Maxwell as People's Exhibit G. Discs A and
B are the recording of a conversation between one Saitoushi Hiideru and
his buyer, and an audio-enhanced version of the same conversation, in
which Saitoushi can be heard being identified by Tong Liuli; discs C through
F contain recordings of four conversations between Tong Liuli and myself,
including her final statement. The document contains a precise description
of the method of audio enhancement used by Agent Maxwell, should the court
wish to recreate his work; this is followed by complete transcripts of
all five conversations."
"Thank you, Mr. Chang. Let the exhibits be so entered into the record.
I presume you wish to play the recordings now?"
"If it so please the Court."
~No one can tell me that I'm doing it wrong today
Whenever I see you smile at me~
Outside the courtroom the mood is jubilant. The final verdict has been
handed down, and Saitoushi will, indeed, be going away for the rest of
his natural life, and then a few more years after that before anyone will
even consider releasing him. Further, he is to be held incommunicado for
the first three years, so that he cannot, in any way, direct the remaining
members of his organization for that time.
The front steps of the courthouse are packed with reporters, eager to
ask questions of the young officer of the Preventers, but they are being
held back by a group of four uniformed Agents, all of whom look just as
young as the surprisingly competent Agent Chang. They form up around their
white-clad fellow as he emerges, the taller of the two blond officers
taking the lead and opening a path by sheer physical presence, and the
rest managing to keep the crowd from converging upon him after the fact.
The rearguard, the darkest of the lot, is even more frightening than the
point guard, for all that he is nearly as small as Chang.
The small group forges quickly down the stairs and across the wide patch
of sidewalk to a waiting car, where a fifth officer is waiting for them,
an impossibly long braid draped over his shoulder. He smiles a dazzling
smile as the group approaches. Agent Chang smiles a matching smile, and
when they are within a couple of metres of the vehicle, he taps the man
in front of him, who steps aside enough for Chang to arrive at the car
first. The reporters are astounded to see the staid, sober, and restrained
Chang give a whoop of joy, leap forward to catch the braided Agent in
a spinning hug, and then kiss him soundly.
This time, not even the whistles and catcalls of the crowd penetrate,
and finally, the shorter blond agent checks his wrist, then reaches out
to tap one of the smooching Agents on the nearest shoulder. The two separate,
and the blond gestures towards the cheering crowd. Agent Chang grins suddenly,
then pulls open the door to the back seat, and hauls his partner in after
him. The tallest of their guardians slips into the back behind them, while
the remaining three slide into the front seats, and the car pulls away.
~No one can tell me that I'm doing it wrong today
Whenever I see you smile and face my way~
The debriefing on the court's verdict is nearly as gruelling as the case
itself was, and Wufei is nearly ready to drop by the time all the questions
have been answered. Just as he is about to go, someone knocks, and brings
in a copy of the early edition - which has, splashed across the National
News section on the second page, a very nice 2-column-wide photo captioned
"Preventer Agent Chang celebrates after stunning win in Saitoushi case."
In the photo, perfectly backdropped by the dark vehicle, the white-clad
figure of Chang Wufei is wrapped in a soul-deep kiss with an unnamed and
mostly unidentifiable officer, while four slightly blurry uniformed figures
stand guard over the happy moment. Une passes the paper over, and raises
an eyebrow at Wufei. "The 'human touch' is always nice, Chang, but you
don't think you could have avoided creating such a wonderful photo op,
"I suppose we could always introduce the stunning Agent Maxwell, without
whose assistance the case would still be nowhere at all, to the press?
Duo chooses that moment to knock before bouncing into the room, waving
his own copy of the paper. "Dragon! Didja see? We're national news, isn't
In the face of that reaction, there's only one thing Wufei can do. He
smiles, and, with a small bow to Une, wraps an arm around his love's waist
and accompanies him out to the party that's just waiting on their presence
~No one can tell me that I'm doing it wrong today
No one can tell me that I'm doing it wrong today~
to Bronze Tigress' fiction]