Disclaimer:Gundam Wing belongs to its owners (Bandai, Sunset, and a whole
host of others, none of which are me) and I'm not making any money off
of them. Not a single peanut.
see chapter 8 for warnings
Arrangement + Chapter 10
Tears cannot put out a fire.
- Chinese proverb
It was amazing how life's greatest upsets could often be summarized in
a few words, distilling the essence of the pain.
My wife died in my arms.
I was too weak to avenge her.
Wufei focused on the wire he was tugging, made sure the laptop was still
sending the counter-order to the tamper device. 99822.
You only fight for your ego, Treize! How many have died because of
As of yesterday, 99822. Lady, how many dead today?...ah...please give
me their names later...
Why had Treize done that to him. Was this some kind of sick revenge? To
make Wufei understand just what kind of man - what kind of great man -
great in a way...It would be nice if it had been for revenge, because
that would, in a measure, tarnish his image.
But Wufei didn't think that he rated high enough in Treize's schemes to
merit revenge. He was beginning to realize just how little he had mattered
99822 and one broken dragon.
...My eternal friend...
Was that some kind of recognition to a fellow warrior? Thanks to Treize's
executioner? Or just one last head-game that would amuse the Machiavellian
bastard beyond the grave?
Did it matter?
99822 dead, not counting the soldiers who had fallen in the final hours
of the Last War. That's how people were calling it now; overly optimistically
in Wufei's view. The scholar had studied the history of many other 'Wars
to end all wars', which had claimed a great many more dead than that one.
And ten, twenty or a hundred years later, 99822 or more men and women
died to fulfill the ambitions of a man who wanted to shape history to
Unlike most of those dictators, Treize had known - and visibly cared -
about this number. That had hurt Wufei in a way he couldn't even fully
But the fact remained that, however much Treize felt those deaths, he
had caused them. 99822 was just a number; you had to multiply it by one
man's hopes, fears, dreams, ambitions, petty sins and desires, his family,
his friends, his pets, his favourite food, his hobbies, his place in the
world, to grasp the full extent of that tragedy. And Treize had, willingly,
caused these thousands of finalities for his own ends. Knowing the full
extent of his sin. As if knowing could somehow justify it.
Wufei's eyes were two black, blind pits as his fingers moved quickly on
How many people have I killed?
Does not knowing this make me better or worse than him?
What the hell am I doing?!
Wufei froze just as he was about to plunge the wires into the detonation
device and realized he no longer knew which ones were from the laptop
and which were from the cascade trigger.
...oh good job, Chang. What a brilliant move. Daydreaming while you're
wiring enough explosives to spread a Gundam over three city blocks.
...might save the world a lot of trouble...
...but I'm not sure it deserves such consideration...
He shook his head, carefully followed the leads back to their ports -
he had been about to plug in the right ones, after all - then concentrated
until the last device was calibrated and reset on the fuel tank.
Then he rested his forehead against the cold Gundanium and let his hands
tremble, for a little while.
Why was he doing this? This was the second time he'd checked and rewired
and improved Nataku's self-destruct device - remembering how Duo's had
failed when it mattered. But he shouldn't need it, should he? The war
was over. No one was asking him to blow himself up anymore. So why-...?
Because he felt as weak and uncertain as he had during those weeks of
defeat after his first encounter with Treize, and he wasn't even sure
he could defend Nataku any longer. He needed to insure that if something
happened, the mecha would not fall into the wrong hands.
Now he just had to figure out who the wrong hands were.
And what should he do with himself in the meantime? He'd had some...interesting
offers. Some more interesting than others. He couldn't seem to care about
any of them. It was as if he had been the one who died; a ghost had no
future, only a past.
Damn, I wasn't expecting to win...Why am I still alive?
"I can't kill one who understands me."
Why hesitate to kill one more?
Wufei suddenly punched the metal just to feel the pain slam through his
fist. Enough. He had to go over the security details of the hangar now.
And make sure no innocent bystander could accidentally wander in here
His ears pricked. The echoes in the hangar were treacherous, he had heard
nothing but the occasional creak of metal. It was his warrior's senses
that told him he had missed the noise of someone creeping up on him.
Oh good! Wufei smiled fiercely at the metal before him as he idly picked
up a wrench. He could take these clowns down with his bare hands, but
he had warned them last time. This time he'd hear some bones crunch. This
would steady his mood for a little while at least. He stood up casually,
pretending to put away a few instruments. When his senses told him the
intruders were near the control room and he was temporarily out of their
sight, he darted sideways, threw himself from the repair platform, leapt
as silently as he could from its cabin to the pile of empty fuel drums
to the ground and ran the thirty meters separating Nataku from the steel
walls of the small control bunker, stranded like an abandoned lunchbox
in the huge hangar.
He steadied his breathing, put the wrench behind his back and stepped
out to meet his guests. He'd let them attack first, if that was their
plan. Maybe he'd even listen to them some more, though he'd made his conditions
clear last time. He didn't want to deal with goons and he didn't want
to go anywhere. If this mysterious leader wanted to talk to him then it
was up to him to come here -
It wasn't several muscle men walking stealthily. It was only one, naturally-quiet
young man who was taking no particular precautions at all.
Wufei was speechless. This he hadn't been expecting.
"Your security is lax." Heero said with his usual charm and manners.
Wufei put down the wrench - somewhat reluctantly - and shrugged coldly.
"It's only a preliminary system. I haven't been here long." And how the
hell did you find me?
Heero looked around. He didn't seem impressed. Wufei had done his best.
There weren't that many places you could hide a Gundam on a colony; you
couldn't stick it in your backyard, cover it with a tarp and tell the
neighbours it was an ornamental gazebo under construction. He'd moved
twice in the last week before finding this hole. It was perfect, he'd
thought. An old MS development base, deserted now, nobody around for a
mile. The hangar had been the engine testing area. The wind tunnel had
been dismantled but the hangar was heavily reinforced and shielded, which
hid his Gundam from scanners and casual searches. And it would protect
the colony from damage if he was careless with his explosives.
"It's not a very secure location." Heero commented, with a glance upward
as if the ceiling had been removed and he could see the curve of the colony
above their heads, with its buildings and factories and inhabitants all
looking down upon the Gundam in their midst.
"Where's Wing?" Wufei asked tightly, already annoyed.
"I hid it on an abandoned satellite. With full protective measures." Heero
"Well I want Nataku close by." Wufei countered sharply. "What are you
doing here, Yuy?"
"What are you doing here?" Heero leaned against the steel wall
of the reinforced bunker which used to house the wind-tunnel's controls.
"How the hell is that your business?"
Heero seemed to weigh his response to the words, and the aggression behind
Wufei knew where his anger was coming from. There had been a moment...Right
after Treize had thrown himself on Wufei's weapon - that was beautiful,
Wufei - there had been a moment when he could have ended it all. There
were still plenty of opportunities, in the battleground that was Libra,
to follow his enemy into the peace of oblivion. Hell, you couldn't fly
three feet in a straight line without bumping into a mobile doll or an
Earth Alliance suit and they were all shooting at each other. The crossfire
alone was deadly. He had been standing there, watching the last pieces
of the tallgeese shoot away, no gravity or atmosphere to dampen the inertia
from the explosion that had sent them rocketing towards the four corners
of the solar system. If he'd stayed put a few moments longer he would
probably have been targeted by, well, one side or the other, it really
didn't matter at that point...
And then he found his eyes focusing on a piece of metal that was not part
of tallgeese's rapid exodus from the battlefield, one that he knew well.
Wing's buster rifle.
The clench in his heart had reminded him it was still beating. Heero?!
Had Wing been destroyed?!
Dragged back to life, the desperate words on the comm. channels finally
filtered through. And he'd reacted as a warrior, putting his confusion
and grief aside to do his duty, one last time.
He still wasn't sure it had been the right thing to do.
Heero, of course, had probably never had any doubts.
Wufei resented him terribly for that.
And for not getting in touch after the so-called Last War, when Wufei
had been staying on L5 with a few survivors of his clan...
And also for popping up now, when Wufei was hiding and trying to figure
things out by himself...
Wufei turned away abruptly in dismissal. He knew his body language would
probably give away the confusion and anger he was feeling. He didn't need
his face to get in on the act and confirm it. He had nothing to say to
"Wait." Heero said firmly. Wufei's steps slowed but he didn't turn around.
"Do you have any plans? For the future?"
Wufei put his hands on his hips. His eyes fixed on Nataku on the concrete
apron of the test bay. He'd ran a check on most of the circuits but the
vernier rockets still needed going over if he wanted to get back into
space. That was as far as his plans went and that was quite enough.
"The mobile dolls and MS that belonged to the Earth Alliance were destroyed
when they returned to MO2." Heero's voice was brisk and neutral, as usual.
"But most of the factions on earth did not join their suits to the war
effort. There are still quite a few weapons around the colonies as well.
There's still enough out there to cause trouble."
Including five Gundams, Wufei found himself thinking. That fact was of
great interest to certain parties. Had the other pilots been approached
as well? Well, not Heero, of course, unless these people were really stupid...
"Une is setting up an organisation to watch for any groups that might
try to collect these weapons. To make sure none -"
Wufei's laughter echoed through the hangar's empty space. It was a cold,
"Une?!" He turned to face Heero, who looked blank. "That's just rich.
Treize's number one lackey, his most faithful devotee...even she can't
trust this so-called Peace he inflicted on us? She thinks she has to clamp
down on it to maintain it?"
Heero glared, face suddenly rigid. "It's not an army, Chang, she's not
going to force people to- it's just an agency to watch for potential trouble
"Trouble spots? You always had such a way with words, Yuy. I thought we
were all supposed to get along now. Why do we need this...agency?"
"...it appears there are still some die-hard elements who might not accept
Total Pacifism..." Heero said softly looking straight into Wufei's eyes.
The Chinese pilot had to swallow another fit of laughter.
"How uncooperative of them. And how inconvenient for you. But there's
no need for an agency. Just sick Relena onto them." Why, why am I baiting
him? "After a few hours of listening to her drivel, they'll either convert
or blow their brains out." Why am I so angry with him?
Blue eyes were cold now, but Heero was still - of course! - perfectly
in control of himself.
"When I heard you'd left your clan's new colony, I thought you might be
at loose ends. I thought you might want to join us." Heero's voice was
tight but he was apparently going to ignore the direction the conversation
was heading and try to wrench it back to its original purpose which was...what?
"Want to make sure I play nice, Yuy?"
Heero stared at him, then crossed his arms abruptly, in a move that was
almost defensive. He turned his head slightly, his body language conceding.
Barely. "I need a partner."
The way his heart trembled was the same as when he'd seen that buster
rifle floating through space, and realized he still had something pulling
For an instant he hung on the thread of that decision. But...not this
He turned abruptly and walked away. "Get the hell out of here." He snarled
over his shoulder.
"Why are you still so-?!" Heero's voice was cold with anger. The rapid
footsteps behind him were punching into Wufei's nerves like fists. "We
won! The war is over!" A hand landed on his shoulder. "You defeated Treize-"
The hand spun him around and Wufei accompanied the movement, using momentum
and every ounce of his balance and chi to land the blow. Heero's eyes
were wide with shock but his body had read the danger in time and he'd
twisted instinctively to let the blow land on his shoulder. He staggered
back, clutching his numbed arm.
"I didn't defeat Treize! I just killed him!" Wufei's angry shout
seemed to shove Heero back another step, into a defensive stance.
Wufei's fists were clenched and he stared at them, aching to punch his
way out of this situation. "You're a fool, Yuy! We didn't win! He did!
This is his peace, his idea, his plan!"
"It's peace!" Heero snapped. The shock had faded from his eyes and the
cold fury of the soldier had replaced it. "It's the peace Relena advocated-"
"And you know what?! I still don't believe in it!" Wufei let his anger
and his fists lead him into the attack.
Heero fell back another step and his arm rose to parry as his other hand
shot out, to grab and immobilize. Wufei almost laughed again as he dodged
into a crouch, spun on his axis and swept Heero's legs out from under
him. Wing's pilot cursed and rolled back, giving himself more room, but
Wufei wasn't having any of that. He followed through, pressing the advantage.
Heero growled, and retaliated with the ease and violence his opponent
remembered all too well. Wufei dodged a sharp uppercut and kicked in the
same motion. Blue eyes widened but Heero's body knew what to do. Wufei
staggered as one of Heero's forearms blocked the kick and the other hammered
into his leg, thrusting it sideways. I taught him that, Wufei thought
with fierce pride as he used the momentum Heero had given him to spin
again and connect a vicious backhand to his opponent's already wounded
shoulder. Heero didn't even flinch. The bastard was tougher than his Gundam.
Wufei smiled fiercely and stepped forward to meet the hail of blows as
Heero used his power and stamina to take back the advantage.
Muscles coiling slowly Wufei took a step back. He rubbed his forearm,
wondering if the bone was cracked, not caring if it was. The pain was
lost in the rush. Heero mirrored his move, his stance aggressive.
Beautiful, Wufei thought. Heero's eyes were slits and the blue had darkened
to the colour of the deep sea; he was silent, face set, giving away nothing,
but Wufei could read that powerful body and it was singing with the harmony
of violence. The soldier was never more alive than in these moments and
Wufei's heart beat the fierce tattoo of war drums knowing he was one of
the rare people in Earth and Space to be able to fully bring this out
in Heero Yuy.
"What's wrong, Yuy?" He whispered. "Aren't you supposed to stand down,
tell me about peace, convince me not to fight?"
Heero's posture shifted, ready for the next attack, assuming this was
"You won't. Because this is who we are. We are meant to fight. It's the
only time we are complete." Wufei dropped his own stance a bit so that
Heero would actually listen to what he had to say. He saw the blue eyes
widen as his words penetrated.
"We are soldiers." Heero acknowledged coldly. "But soldiers are now redundant.
We can still be useful to-"
"Beat the swords into ploughshares?" Wufei sneered. "People are even less
malleable than Gundanium. You, Relena, Une, you're all blind fools. This
will be the Last War for all of a year, if that. Then-"
"No." Heero's voice was tight, eyes blazed. "The people have accepted
Wufei's laughter interrupted him again. "Oh yes, the people. So traumatized,
weren't they, when Une beamed your fight with Zechs across the Earth sphere.
Such an ugly display. Yes, it didn't make for pretty television, did it.
"It's not going to change anything, Yuy. They'll get over the shock soon
enough. You can hunt down the suits and artillery to your heart's content!
They'll use guns, Molotov cocktails, kitchen knifes, their fists if they
have to, but sooner or later we'll be at war again! Treize was wrong!
Just showing them what war is like won't change them! There's only one
way they'll understand! It's if they have to go through the same hell
we did! That's the only way they'll earn it!" There, he'd said
it; the idea that had been gnawing at him and tempting him and tormenting
him, in one guise or another, since Treize's death. He could barely acknowledge
it until now...
"And how many people will have to die this time?" Heero asked softly.
"As many as it takes!" Wufei shouted and threw himself forward, fist swinging
down like a hammer.
"You could be right-" Heero whispered.
Wufei's punch connected - hard. He staggered in surprise. Watched Heero's
body hit the ground limply five feet away.
He'd-! Heero had dropped his guard! He'd not even tried to parry-
He'd just let Wufei's fist smash into him. Wufei found himself taking
a hesitant step towards the fallen man, hand outstretched. Then Heero
stirred and Wufei fell back.
Heero shook his head, looking dazed. He was clutching his chest where
the blow had landed, and he winced as he moved. Wufei could almost hear
the grind of cracked or broken ribs.
"You could be right...in which case, I can tell you." Heero's voice was
weak and his breath was uneven.
"T-tell me-..." Wufei stared, completely confused.
"How many it will take. If you are right, it will be all of them. They'll
all have to die. Even her."
Her? Wufei felt an icy thread of pain and horror run down into his gut.
"Over and over again. Even the innocent." Heero's eyes were unfocused.
"Even young girls can grow up and wield a weapon if they want to. She'll
have to die. Again and again."
How- how could Heero know?! Wufei felt himself tremble. How had he found
out about Meiran? Her name echoed through his mind. He hadn't thought
much about her these days...
Heero's voice was a whisper lost in the screaming, howling thing his soul
had become. The soldier's words barely made sense.
"How many times, Chang? How many times will I have to kill her? How many
dead bodies? I know I'm a soldier. A killer. That's why I had to join
Une, have to believe in peace, otherwise I will have killed all those
people for nothing. And they'll have deserved it. If that's true I might
as well terminate myself because nothing I can do will ever matter."
Wufei found himself looking back at Nataku. She stood, gleaming in the
dim light from the hangar's dirty windows.
His wife had not deserved to die. She had fought, true. But she had warred
for Justice and he knew that once that had been achieved, she would have
put down her weapons and gladly returned to him in that field of flowers.
She would still have been strong. She would still be Nataku. She didn't
have to fight to prove it.
How many times would she have to die, if war broke out again?
Would his Gundam deliver the killing blow this time?
I don't think they deserve peace, Nataku, Wufei thought. He heard Heero
stir behind him, stand up slowly, but he was lost, his thoughts spiralling
into a vortex. They are weak. This peace was given to them, bought by
the blood of the strong. I don't think they've earned it. They've not
learned their lesson. But...but I will not become a new Treize in an attempt
to teach them. They'll learn it on their own, or not. It's their choice.
It has to be, or it's all meaningless.
- Forgive me, Nataku. I am weak, and your strength tempts me. I won't
go down that path. I'll find my own strength.-
His fingers fumbled at the device, removing the securities numbly.
- There probably will be another war but mine is over. -
He heard Heero gasp as he raised the detonator and hit the button. An
instant before the air solidified into pressure and light, something hard
rammed into him and hurled him behind the far wall of the reinforced bunker.
His ears were ringing so badly it was as if the explosion was going on
and on. His lungs and head ached at the sudden compression of the air
around him. Around them. He realized Heero was lying next to him, with
his hands over his head.
Wufei glanced around prudently. The bunker walls had protected them from
the backlash of the explosion and pieces of Gundanium hurled at twenty
thousand feet per second. The hangar doors had been ripped off and were
resting twenty feet away but the rest of the building looked fairly steady
still. Or so he thought until he reluctantly crawled forward and poked
his head around the edge of the bunker and realized the entire end of
the hangar had been blown clear off. The ceiling would be weakened as
a result. It was already a proof of the designer's ingenuity that the
building was still standing at all.
He felt movement behind him and he turned, too quickly. His head swam
and he stumbled. He sat and leaned against the bunker's walls. Heero had
risen to his knees, hand pressed to his chest. He was shaking his head
slightly as if to clear out the tinnitus.
Wufei's eyes flinched from a huge chunk of plate-armour, red enamel still
clinging, embedded in a side of the hangar. From the angle, it might very
well have scythed through the space he'd been standing if Heero hadn't
dragged him behind cover. Then again maybe not, it was hard to tell. He
tried not to think this was a piece of Nataku while his heart ached.
"I should tell you." Heero said stiffly, his voice louder than usual.
"If you were trying to self-destruct, that wasn't the most efficient way
of going about it."
Self-...? Right. It was nice of Heero to believe Wufei was actually thinking
that far ahead when he hit that button.
"I know you speak from personal experience." Wufei grumbled, as Heero
slowly got to his feet. "Don't worry, I'd do it efficiently."
"No you won't."
"What?" Wufei tore himself from his thoughts. Heero was scrutinizing him
"You won't self-destruct. You're stronger than he was."
Wufei stared at him for a long time, then he turned his head and shrugged.
Movement in front of him made him look back. Heero's hand was extended
towards him. It reminded him of that time in the shed, their first time,
after the sparring and the sex. He'd refused it without a second though
then. He didn't hesitate long now, using the wall instead to haul himself
to his feet. Heero let the hand fall back, more slowly this time, but
his eyes were steady and he didn't seem surprised.
Wufei, still leaning against the wall, turned the corner and took the
full measure of the destruction. He could feel Heero move to his side,
and sigh ever so slightly. Even the cold, efficient soldier must feel
a pinch in the chest area at the destruction of one of their partners.
"I know this is probably not a good time-" Heero started with uncharacteristic
"There is a man."
"I don't know his name, he's been quite coy about approaching me. But
I dug up some information about one of his middlemen. Here." Wufei dug
out the card from his pocket. His laptop was now blown to hell, along
with his research, but he'd jotted some of it down. "This is the phone
number they gave me to contact them. This - " He pointed to the name and
address he'd scribbled down, as Heero took the card with a puzzled frown.
"He's the man who hires people for them. He works here, it's a big company
in the L3 cluster. I get the impression his boss is a big man there too."
Heero read the information carefully, probably memorising it while he
was at it. Then he glanced up, an eyebrow arched quizzically.
"They approached me with an offer to join them. With...Nataku. They didn't
give me many details, but I have a feeling they're trying to form some
kind of force."
Heero's eyes were on the card again, and they were as cold as the vacuum
of space. Then he looked up slowly.
Wufei knew what he was going to ask, and for an instant he was tempted.
But, unlike Heero, he'd always been told to follow duty rather than feelings.
In the void that his life had become it gave him something to guide him;
now that revenge and the need to watch over Nataku were resolved, there
was another obligation to focus on.
"The information I gave you should be sufficient to determine who they
are." Wufei said softly. "I...have duties to attend to."
"Yes. Several minor branches survived and they have regrouped. They want
me to pursue my education. They have accepted that warriors are no longer
needed." That's when he'd left. "They wish me to become an arbitrator,
a politician, and direct our clan to fight for peace another way. They...may
have the right path. It's my duty to follow it if I can." And maybe he
"Hn." Heero slipped the card into his jacket's pocket and glanced back
at the mecha's remains. "I can take care of this for you, if you want."
Wufei cast a glance over the Gundanium scraps, the remains of sensitive
circuitry, and the damaged but still salvageable weapons. "That might
be a good idea. Thank you, Yuy."
Heero made a dismissive gesture and they turned towards the hole where
the door had been.
Heero looked up from the number he was dialling on his cell.
"I...you honoured me with your proposal." Wufei said carefully. "I'm not
entirely convinced about this peace, but I wish you luck in maintaining
Heero shrugged - luck was not something they counted on, Wufei remembered
with a small flicker of amused recognition. His body spoke of resolve.
There was no resentment towards Wufei in his stance. No regret either.
Wufei felt he'd dropped below Heero's radar again. The man thought in
straight lines, and Wufei was no longer his concern.
The steel soldier's mask unbent a fraction. "Find your peace, Chang. You'd
better leave before the locals get here" Heero added as the faint sound
of a siren trembled in the distance. "I'll deal with them."
Wufei nodded and moved towards his bike. He didn't look back as he gunned
the motor and drove away from the remains of his life.
[chap. 9] [chap. 11] [back
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