Genre: Action, Drama, Humour (some)
Pairings: 1x5x1, others tba
Warnings: Violence, language, sex, adult situations
Spoilers: Yes, quite a lot for end of series (no EW though)
Feedback: Please! Particularly what you like/don't like about the fic.
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.
AN: As most people have guessed, Heero was eavesdropping (he probably
sees it as 'scouting and gathering information') during Wufei's confession
to Quatre. So now he knows. He's obviously going to approach Wufei to
confess, they will have a long discussion on the subject, barriers will
crack, tearful confessions of love will be made and they'll head off into
the sunset and if you actually believe that then you're probably reading
the wrong fic. Hang on to your seats, the real tough stuff is about to
AN2: HUGE thanks for all the people who filled in those nifty little Review
boxes in GWAddiction! I can't express how nice it is to know people are
reading and enjoying my fic =-_-=
Thanks, as always, to Dawna for beta-ing and assuring me I'm not a raving
Arrangement + Chapter 35
"Chinese Poles", Part I
a mouse trying to pull a turtle out of his shell; don't know where to
"Chinese Poles": An acrobatic act, evolved from an ancient military technique
to allow soldiers to cross enemy walls. Involves balancing on two upright
bamboo poles. Once balance is lost it is virtually impossible to regain,
and the more efforts made to do so, the worse the loss of equilibrium
Wufei awoke in total darkness. His slight gasp of surprise was muffled;
he must be inside a building. It smelt musty and disused, with a slight
taint to the air that made his skin crawl. And there was the sound. Soft
skittering, little clicks...
He had a torch in his hand. He flicked it on without thinking.
He knew where he was.
Somalia. OZ had cordoned off the route out of Kisimayo. He’d gone to ground
in a bombed out area.
The bodies were reduced to dry bone and brownish gristle. The flies no
longer wanted them. The rats had taken over, gnawing for marrow.
Wufei felt his gorge rise. Beetles were still crawling around one of the
corpse’s torn jeans, as well as all around him. As he lay there, petrified,
a few ran across the back of his hand, up his forearm, over his chest
and thighs. The rats had turned and were eyeing him, eyes little green
specks of refracted light as they easily dodged around the torch’s beam
and scurried, feet pattering -
He hissed and fought against the musty air, so thick and cloying that
it held him pinned down. Freeing himself, he sat up abruptly.
Reality factured into kaleidoscopic shards: he was in his room - but there
was a slight wiggle out of the corner of his eyes as the beetles darted
out of sight. The sound of the rats had been real! He spun - he realized
he was sitting up in bed but the sense of danger was overpowering that
distant observation. He glanced around wildly, looking for the source
of the noise-
Heero was near the opposite wall, half out of his chair, staring at Wufei.
His laptop had slid towards the floor, though he’d apparently caught it
before it hit; he had it pinned against his leg with his left hand. His
right hand had his Glock partway out of his back belt holster.
The partners stared at each other for a few tense seconds. Heero’s expression
was carefully weighing. Then he must have decided Wufei wasn’t going off
the deep end despite his abrupt and agitated awakening; he slipped his
gun back in its holster and gathered up the laptop in both hands.
“How long-“ Wufei cleared his throat, which was so dry the words were
a hoarse whisper. “How long have I been asleep?” He shivered, the ghostly
touch of the beetles crawled along his naked spine. His skin felt tainted
by the smell of old carcasses and the scurry of rats.
“About six hours.” Heero straightened and moved towards the dresser. His
matter-of-fact monotone was refreshingly familiar, banishing much of the
dream still miring Wufei’s mind.
“Six hours? I thought Sally’s pill was supposed to knock me out for more
than twelve,” Wufei mumbled. He felt dull, numb. Except for his bladder.
Heero had frozen again, this time in the process of putting the laptop
on the dresser. He was looking at Wufei in a careful, measuring way.
“Sally gave you that medication two days ago.”
“What?!” Wufei croaked.
“You’ve been sleeping for two days. Winner and I got you out of bed yesterday
for some water and six hours ago to make you eat.”
Well, that explained the bladder.
“Oh.” Wufei felt a shudder run across his shoulders, making his skin goose
bump, like a little skitter of beetles. Heero was obviously telling the
truth. But there was nothing in Wufei’s memory except a huge stretch of
darkness and a distant souvenir of the war, that time in Somalia he’d-
rats, bugs...Wufei found himself glaring at the laptop as Heero rapidly
clicked keys, saving and terminating programs before shutting it. So that’s
where the skittering and pattering noises had come from.
He bit back a groan as he threw off the sheets and stood up. His head
swam briefly, and he caught himself against the wall. When his eyes focused
again, Heero’s hands were an inch away from his arm, ready to catch him.
“M’okay, just need to go to the bathroom,” Wufei muttered, though he waited
another three seconds before moving away from the wall's support. Heero
hovered near him but Wufei didn’t condescend to notice, as he made his
way slowly yet steadily towards his goal.
Heero’s hand stopped the bathroom door from closing. Wufei stared at his
partner in puzzled silence; his brain felt like it was wearing three layers
of fuzzy socks.
“Sally said that we should watch you at all times; you could be subject
to black outs,” Heero announced, as if this was all the explanation needed.
At that Wufei came fully awake. He managed to bite back the first three
responses that came to mind, and then he throttled the fourth and fifth,
which weren’t much more helpful, as he reminded himself that this situation
was partly his own fault.
“I will leave the door unlocked,” he finally said, in a voice that sounded
oddly neutral, as if it were still half asleep and not up to expressing
all the emotions currently sizzling and popping in his brain. “If I’m
not out in ten minutes - or if you hear a loud thump - you have my permission
to come to investigate.” He made another move to close the door. The hand
still held it fast. He glared at Heero, who gave him a puzzled look in
return; apparently the soldier did not think that propriety rated higher
than essential safety precautions. Or maybe he was thinking he’d seen
it all before. Some of the old fire must have returned to Wufei’s eyes
because, after a few seconds, his partner let the door close without further
Wufei went about his business in a slight trance. Then he drank three
glasses of water and glared at his reflection. He looked more tired now
than he had when he’d been about to lose his mind from sleep deprivation
and drug-induced hallucinations. The pillow creases on his face weren’t
helping. The rest was probably due to the lack of stress; his body was
finally catching up. Two days - scary to have eaten and not remember it
- he’d not brushed his teeth, he’d warrant, as they felt as wooly as his
brain. He filled a fourth glass of water, drank it more slowly. Two days;
Sally’s pill had long stopped affecting him. But he’d slept pretty well,
except for that last nightmare that was due to a certain partner of his
who couldn’t sever his ties to his blasted laptop for more than a few
hours without going into withdrawal. He really had to get around to teaching
Wufei stared at the mirror blindly as he remembered aiming at his partner,
his finger tightening on the trigger. The memory felt surreal. But this
he was quite certain had not been a nightmare.
He poked his mind for something more constructive. It felt like prodding
a bag of linen.
Wufei made a strategic decision.
Heero started slightly as Wufei wrenched the door open; he’d been leaning
patiently against the wall next to the bathroom. Wufei strode right past
“I’m going back to bed. Wake me tomorrow.”
Wufei woke, choking with raw anguish. Insane! Susan?! Poisoning him?!
That was mad! Fuck, another nightmare! It had all been a nightmare - he
was still having them - he was going crazy! He-
He lifted his head abruptly from the pillow as he felt/heard another presence
in the room.
There was a sleeping bag on the floor, half way to the door. The occupant’s
back was turned towards him, but a patch of blond hair poked out, reflecting
a bit of light in the dimness of early dawn.
Wufei took a deep breath, slightly shaky. His mind felt clear after the
wash of adrenaline - clearer than it had all month. He touched the memories,
tentatively to start with. Then, ignoring the pain, shame and guilt, he
ran them through his mind slowly, like a film rewinding. It was fuzzy
and occasionally out of focus, but he thought he could now distinguish
what had been real, these past few weeks, and what had been a drug-induced
hallucination. Finding out that Susan had been drugging him for some twisted
revenge: reality. The house on fire, the madness of those final hours:
hallucinations. Threatening to shoot Heero: reality.
Quatre was breathing slowly and regularly, deep in sleep. Wufei was fully
awake now and was not surprised to see Quatre here; he remembered Sally’s
instructions that he be watched at all times. He also remembered waking
up yesterday to the sound of Heero's laptop. Quatre and Heero must have
been relaying each other.
Quatre...Wufei flinched and curled up, knees against chest, hands rubbing
desperately at his forehead as if they could scrub out another memory.
He remembered the essence of what he’d told Winner just before passing
out. And it was definitely not a hallucination, or delirium, and how he
wished it had been. Wufei’s mind shied away from the crack that had appeared
in his soul. No. No, don’t go there. Just...ignore it and it will go away.
It has to. It just-
A noise made him tense; he thought it was what had woken him. Heero was
moving around in the hallway. Wufei heard his partner’s door close.
Wufei lay back and stared at the ceiling - something he’d done a lot of
during his month of torment. First things first. He gathered his courage,
his pride, and then his words. He knew what he had to do. It would sting,
but it was necessary.
Finally he slipped out of bed and ghosted around Quatre, his familiarity
with the room stopping any creak of floorboards. Quatre’s breathing hitched
and grew lighter in response to Wufei's movements, but he didn’t wake.
Wufei eased the door open and slipped out into the hallway.
His knock on Heero’s door was very light, barely brushing the wood; this
was going to be difficult enough without Winner being present. He’d deal
with Quatre too, in his own time. But he owed his partner the greater
debt. He opened the door without waiting for a response, confident that
Heero would have heard the slight signal and would have recognized its
Heero was sitting at his desk. He had several disks out, and the laptop
was booting up. A protein drink rested on a stack of papers. He was looking
at the door, but he didn’t have his hand on his gun. Wufei hoped this
was a good sign.
He glanced out of the window while he closed the door behind him. A grayish
light broke the night outside; it must be around five in the morning.
His usual time to get up during the past month, but it was rather early
His partner was staring at him, his entire posture guarded. Wufei licked
“Yuy.” Wufei crossed his arms over his chest - noticing absently that
he could faintly feel his ribs below the padding of muscle. He didn’t
let the realization distract him. Get on with it, Chang. "May I have a
word with you?" Might as well be polite. Maybe Heero was doing something
Heero didn’t twitch. Wufei noticed an odd tension running through his
partner’s body. Well, not tension exactly. More like watchfulness. Attentiveness.
It seemed oddly out of place; normally his partner expressed his few emotions
bodily, especially if he was annoyed. This was more akin to the total
focus Heero normally accorded to flying a Gundam or planning an arduous
field mission. This wouldn't be surprising if he was still concentrating
on his laptop, but Wufei was a bit surprised at finding that looked directed
He took Heero’s silence for permission to continue.
"I apologize for that regretful incident in Susan Wu's apartment. I knew
I was under the influence of a drug, I'd deduced it by then," Wufei added
that just to salvage a little bit of his pride. "I should have given my
gun to Winner before leaving the workshop."
Heero stared at him.
"Actually I shouldn't haven't left at all, I should have explained myself
to Quatre and yourself first. I wasn't thinking straight. But I should
never have pulled my gun on you." His words sounded stiff and formal even
to his own ears, but he didn't think Heero would notice, or care.
Wufei was struggling to read his partner. For a month now, he’d been pretty
far off, but he’d been so exhausted and confused that wasn’t surprising.
Now though, he felt clear headed and awake. But Heero’s forced immobility
was removing any clue that might allow him to see how his apology was
No anger, he thought, a bit relieved. Just...a single-minded attention
that was rather unnerving. Heero was looking at him like Wufei was a bomb
he was trying to disarm in his mind before his hands took the risk instead.
Oh. Of course.
“Ah. I also apologize for my temper this past month. I obviously wasn’t
If the silence had lasted one millisecond longer Wufei would probably
have snapped; his fingers were already digging into his arms as they lay
crossed over his chest. Fortunately Heero immediately answered those last
“I know that.” Heero was matching Wufei’s quiet tone. His voice was as
shorn of emotions as his stance, and it, like his posture, also gave no
clue as to what he might be thinking. Wufei started to frown. This didn’t
feel right. Heero wouldn’t be able to hide anger from him, but he was
clamping down on something. This utter stillness wasn’t normal.
Heero turned slowly towards his desk again and stared blindly at his laptop.
The silence hung, full of undefined expectations; Wufei had a feeling
he had more to say.
“I should have realized,” Heero finally added, still softly. His voice
held no trace of self-recrimination or regret. It was a perfectly neutral.
“You and me both,” Wufei snorted, leaning back against the door, Heero’s
words loosening some of the tension despite the odd body language that
accompanied them. “I guess that will teach me not to let my guard down.
Peace-time my ass. I’ve had more fun in an OZ cell during an interrogation.”
He looked at his partner carefully. Heero appeared to be listening to
his words as attentively as if he was supposed to decrypt them for some
sort of hidden meaning. Some of Wufei’s tension returned.
“Yuy?” He waited until Heero turned towards him, still moving very slowly,
as if making sure no extraneous body movement might escape the tight prison
of his motions. Blue eyes scrutinized his face. Heero could be thinking
about the chemical composition of Gundanium or planning to strangle Wufei
in his sleep for all the latter knew.
“Are we good?” Wufei tried to sound straightforward, but some of his consternation
made it into his voice.
Once more his words appeared to be snatched from the air, dissected and
“Yes. I realize that none of this was your fault. You were under the influence
of a very clever disinhibitor. You were not accountable for your actions.”
The words were slow and deliberate. Heero was watching him closely, as
if weighing their impact.
“...Good,” Wufei concluded, a bit weakly. Actually, good wasn’t what he
was feeling at all. There appeared to be no hostility in Heero’s manner;
he’d seen his partner stretched out on the rack of war, his soul bared,
he knew exactly what an angry Heero looked like and this wasn't it. Wufei
wasn’t sure how to interpret this watchfulness though-
Oh, get a clue, Chang. Last time he saw you - bar the past sixty hours
he was watching you snore into your pillow - you held him at gun point.
Partner or no, friend or no, Heero Yuy doesn’t forget little things like
that. He probably understands you were not in your right mind, but until
he’s one hundred percent sure that you are, he’s not going to relax around
Maybe not even then.
No, that didn’t bear thinking about. Wufei licked his lips and glanced
at his partner who was still staring at him with those careful eyes as
if Wufei was someone he'd never seen before, who had inexplicably wormed
his way inside his house. No, he couldn’t bear to think that his partner
would be watching him like this from now on.
But he wasn’t going to press the issue. Whatever Heero said, Wufei blamed
himself, partly. Okay, Susan deserved the biggest share of the guilt pie,
but Wufei had fallen into her trap like a real cadet. He’d been trained
to resist that sort of mental manipulation, but the coincidence of her
scheme and the investigation on his colony’s destruction, that so handily
explained away his nightmares until he’d spiraled down too far, had hidden
the truth from him. He felt sure that Heero, in his place, would have
had the emotional detachment necessary to realize something was wrong,
and he would've reacted appropriately long before things had gotten out
Well, it had been his mistake; it would be his duty to repair it. He would
have to work hard on regaining his partner’s trust. Wouldn't be the first
time, Wufei thought with a mental huff. He wasn't about to forget war-time
Heero Yuy who wouldn't let Wufei take any kind of responsibility that
could compromise a joint mission. He'd shown Heero his worth back then,
he'd taught him respect. Wufei didn’t think this one lapse had undone
all the work since then. Heero’s eyes were not mistrustful or condescending,
merely...watchful. Judging, maybe. Waiting to see what Wufei did now.
Well, he’d go about proving himself to his partner all over again. And
maybe to himself as well.
Wufei nodded once, severely, the gesture both for Heero and himself. He
could feel the eyes on his back as he turned and left to shower. Heero
wasn’t the only one he’d have to work on. His own confidence had been
cracked, his spirit partially broken - Wufei remembered, and oh how he
wished it had been also a nightmare, his shameful breakdown with Quatre,
his whispered confession. Damn. Facing Winner again was going to be about
as pleasant as being set on fire. But he'd get over it, he'd move past
his momentary lapse. He had to work to rebuild himself, both physically
and mentally. Then, if Heero was still not convinced, Wufei would find
a way of beating into his partner’s cautious skull that the old Chang
Wufei was back and most definitely ready for action.
It took an inordinate amount of time to properly apologize to Quatre,
mainly because he refused to let Wufei get more than half a sentence out
each time before interrupting him and assuring him that this wasn't his
fault. Quatre seemed unusually insistent on that point; he normally had
a bit more sense about the way Wufei worked. The latter wouldn't be able
to move on until his debts were squared.
It took even longer to get rid of the Winner heir, who probably had better
things to do than nursemaid a Preventer agent. Quatre didn't seem to think
so. He only agreed to leave after Wufei solemnly promised on the heads
of all his Ancestors, even the ones he didn't particularly like, that
he would call Quatre the minute he was needed, or if Wufei felt the urge
to talk and get things off his chest.
Then he was alone with Heero.
The day was spent quietly. Wufei meditated, as well as he could manage.
Things still tried to crawl on the outskirts of his vision sometimes,
skittering across his skin if he let his guard down, but he ignored them.
He had more serious things to concentrate on.
Just when the beetles were leaving him alone...
"What?" It took some effort not to snap.
"I'm going downstairs."
Wufei stared at his partner. This was the third time this afternoon that
Heero had checked in on him - well, presumably that was what he was doing.
Fair enough; Wufei could understand that he needed supervision for a few
days. Sally's warning came back to mind: after effects of the drug could
include mild hallucinations, black outs, seizures.
What he didn't understand was why Heero was giving Wufei an itinerary
every time he moved around the house. If Wufei started seizing, it wouldn’t
be helpful to know if Heero was in the kitchen, the toolshop, or his room.
His partner was looking at him in that intent manner again. Maybe this
was just some sort of awareness test. Or an excuse to check on a potentially
"Okay," Wufei finally replied, since Heero looked to be expecting a response.
If he asks me what day of the week it is, I'll be sorely tempted to answer
'orange', he added mentally.
"I'm not doing anything crucial. If you need anything, tell me," Heero
added after the silence lasted just one second longer than it should have.
"Need anything?" Wufei stared. "I can walk now, Yuy."
Heero stared back, then nodded slowly and closed the door. Wufei glared
at it, then shrugged and resumed his meditation, without much more success,
His appetite was returning cautiously, like an animal frightened by a
loud noise. At least the cramps and nausea had abated. Since Heero was
cooking, Wufei didn't have to worry about the meal being too spicy, or
too rich, or indeed anything but too bland. He ate the rice and unsalted
fish balls on automatic.
"Huh?!" Wufei sat up abruptly. He was on the dojo floor. "What am I doing
Heero was cautiously kneeling just out of arm's reach, his face and entire
body as neutral as his voice. "You went to sleep while you were doing
some stretching exercises."
Wufei's mouth went dry in panic, and then he relaxed. No, he hadn't lost
time; he could remember the end of his meal and his decision to start
nibbling away at the physical damage caused by both the drug and his physical
reactions to it. He even remembered Heero risking life and limb by telling
him to go slowly. Wufei hadn't answered back; his partner had racked up
a good deal of credit to spend on that account. The memories were a bit
fuzzy but they were there. Good, those periods of zoning out were more
frightening than hallucinations; he couldn't stand the feeling that he'd
moved around, talked, acted normally, and couldn't remember it.
"Hey!" Wufei's thoughts were interrupted as Heero leaned forward
and gently scooped him up. Or tried to. Wufei slithered right out of his
grasp, landing back on the mat with a thump.
"You should go to bed," Heero said guardedly. He'd immediately retreated
again and was watching Wufei with eyes narrowed. Man, I must have really
been unbearable these past few weeks, Wufei thought, though somehow Heero's
attitude wasn't that of someone afraid of getting bitten in two.
"Well, I can get there on my own two feet," Wufei mumbled. He didn't feel
sleepy - that was a bit worrisome too - but if he was going to nod off
abruptly, then it might as well be in bed, reading.
Heero stood up and backed off. "Narcolepsy was one of the side-effects
Sally Po warned us about," he informed Wufei quietly, "so be careful going
up the stairs."
Wufei stumbled at the edge of the dojo. "Narco- when did she say that?!"
Not another black out-
"Yesterday. You were sleeping. She dropped by to examine you. No, she
didn't even enter the room," Heero added, correctly interpreting the way
Wufei's back had tensed in confusion. "We left you to sleep. Both Winner
and I can recognize the signs of organ failure, and you were presenting
none of them."
"Oh. Right." Wufei shook his head; it was feeling fuzzy again after his
sudden unplanned nap. "You said...this morning, you said the blood samples
had shown no damage either."
"Nothing significant," Heero corrected. "Sally had the results when she
came to check on you. Your body is stressed, dehydrated, and weakened.
She still wants to check you for possible lesions of the digestive system.
She suggested a low protein, low sodium diet for a few days, since your
liver showed signs of strain. Some damage but recoverable, with the medication
she left you. You’ll feel tired for a few days, and we need to watch for
jaundice or other signs of degeneration but Sally thinks there’s no permanent
harm done. Nothing else."
"I was lucky," Wufei grunted, heading towards the stairs.
"You were strong."
Wufei stumbled on the lower step and glanced back. His partner was looking
at him with that intent, unreadable expression again. But those words
were not ones Wufei would expect from someone who was doubting him. He...he
didn't know how to interpret that. He didn't want to think. Wufei nodded
a bit warily and went to bed.
Wufei stared at the weapon cabinet's lock. A mild anxiety prickled his
neck. He had entered the right code. Right? Like many things repeated
automatically, now that he thought about it he could no longer be entirely
sure he remembered it correctly. Especially in his own tired state of
mind. He'd read until two in the morning and slept fitfully after that.
He knew that his three-day sleep was to blame, but it still seemed the
height of injustice for someone with narcolepsy to also suffer from insomnia.
He'd gotten up at five this morning - hopefully one day he might actually
sleep till six, or maybe even indulge in the sinful luxury of a lie-in
until seven. He'd made himself breakfast, his appetite still shy but willing
to try. Then he'd practiced his martial arts, just simple Tai Chi forms
to start with, trying to judge how much he'd harmed himself over the past
month. He'd lost weight and a bit of muscle tone, and his leg and shoulder
were stiff, but after an hour he'd felt the extent of his fall from his
physical peak, and it wasn't too bad. With a proper diet, rest and exercise,
he could retrain himself into top shape in the few weeks of sick leave
Sally had given him.
Heero had moved around upstairs while Wufei finished his routine, but
didn't come down. Wufei, a bit at a loss for something to do, decided
to do maintenance checks on their weaponry, only to be foiled by their
"What are you doing?"
Wufei started and turned around, the obdurate lock still in his hand.
One look at Heero's face and he knew what had happened.
"Did you change the code on the locker?" He needed to hear it confirmed.
Nice simple answer, and no explanation. Wufei slapped an iron clamp on
his emotions, his sudden surge of anger. He'd mentioned the hallucination
where he'd tried to get weapons out of the locker to Sally. Quatre had
been there, too. Heero had undoubtedly heard about that.
"I'm not hallucinating any more, Yuy." Wufei kept his tone as neutral
as his partner's. "Anyway, what's the point of changing the code? I have
my Luger upstairs." If he was going to blow a fuse and start shooting-
"I removed the charger from your weapon."
"You-" Wufei swallowed. Heavily. Keep your temper, Chang.
"That was unwise," his voice was tight but steady. "You should have at
least told me. If I had needed my weapon I would not have known it was
unloaded. What would I have done if we were attacked?"
"I was here."
Wufei felt his eyes bug out. Temper, temper. You brought this on yourself.
"I-..." Wufei took a deep breath because he wouldn't be able to finish
that sentence otherwise. "I do not want you to defend me, Yuy. I am no
longer injured. I am not helpless. I am not suffering from any more hallu-"
Wufei stared at the silver oblong that Heero had produced from his pocket
and handed out to him. It was the 12 9mm JSP ammo charger specifically
built for Wufei's modern version of the Luger he'd had constructed on
special order when he'd started working for the Preventers, as familiar
as the back of his own hand.
"3479 star 9."
"What?" Wufei asked weakly. Maybe he wasn't the one who was hallucinating
"The code." Heero jerked his chin at the weapons locker, wrapped Wufei's
fingers around the charger, and then turned and climbed back up the stairs.
Wufei checked the charger automatically. He found himself staring at the
lock suspiciously as well. He felt a strong urge to make sure his partner
had given him the right number. It gnawed at his mind, trying to bring
him to scrutinize Heero's actions and words for any sign of distrust,
of anything suspicious.
Sally had mentioned mild paranoia as a side-effect of stopping the drug...Wufei
groaned internally and opened the weapons locker, trying to convince himself
it was because he wanted to go through with his original plan and check
their equipment. The slight relief he felt as the lock beeped and released
the latch made him a liar.
Damn, he hoped things would go back to normal soon; in his own head and
in the partnership. He couldn't even put his finger on what wasn't quite
right, either. Normally, Heero should have dryly and sarcastically reminded
his partner of why he'd changed it in the first place, instead of immediately
giving him the code without comment. Heero shouldn’t have passed up that
opportunity to score one over Wufei. It was their way, their own private
bushido - you did not let a weakness in your rival pass unchallenged.
A sort of tough training tool. Seen in that light, the whole exchange
felt wrong. And still that impression that Heero was watching his every
reaction while letting none of his own slip out, as if running an elaborate
undercover operation at Wufei's expense-
Mild paranoia, he reminded himself with gritted teeth.
It was frightening not to be able to trust his own instincts, his own
mind. Wufei stayed frozen with his hand on his micro Uzi. Was he doing
this because he wanted to perform maintenance? Or was he just looking
for some subconscious reassurance, the feel of heavy artillery in his
hand? Or was he about to lose it and run amok, and his mind was just trying
to find excuses to pick up a weapon-...would he even know?
Wufei carefully closed the weapons locker again and almost wished Heero
had not given him the code. Almost. But Wufei was a warrior, and his mind
was disciplined and sharp. He knew the signs of post-traumatic stress
disorder, dementia and hallucinations, and could distinguish each when
he was forewarned and actually awake. No, he wasn't about to crack and
start shooting up the house or blow his brains out. He had to stop second-guessing
himself too much. Well, up to a point. He would take just one day at a
time and concentrate on getting his centre and his body back into shape.
The rest...would probably take care of itself, or he'd cross that bridge
when he came to it.
He climbed the stairs, intent on meditating on this new state of affairs,
and look for his balance. He fingered the charger now in his own pocket.
Just to be on the safe side, he put it in the dresser drawer which contained
his Luger but didn't rack it into the handgun, for now.
It was hard to chase away the memory of that watchful look in Heero’s
eyes, or forget that he'd come down as soon as he’d heard Wufei try to
open the locker; or the bulge at the back of his loose tank top that meant
he had his Glock on him - hell, that last was understandable. Wufei would
have done the same had the positions been reversed.
The way he’d given Wufei the code without any hesitation...
Confusing, Wufei thought, growling internally, but that’s okay, Heero’s
probably trying to reestablish himself in our partnership too, trying
to figure out where we stand. And he's not the only one.
Wufei stared at his ceiling. His throat and chest felt tight, his eyes
He knew what this was. He knew the symptoms. Hell, he'd been tortured
before, and he knew exactly what the consequences were, even if he'd always
been extremely lucky and never had the truly bad treatments, the kind
that could unfailingly break even the strongest spirit.
But he knew all about the choking depression that followed: the darkness
that bled the colors from the world, the helplessness, the feeling of
being weak because he was merely human, because he'd wanted it to stop.
Knowledge didn't make it much easier to bear.
This time it was even worse. He knew, clinically, that feeling guilty,
feeling that there had to be a reason this had happened to him,
a reason why the interrogator has put him through that, was also part
of the emotional package bequeathed to torture survivors, like a departing
But in this instance, that feeling was probably justified.
Susan...Une had called earlier. She was being indicted today. Charges
of attempted poisoning. But it was doubtful they would stick. Since Wufei
had told Une immediately that he would refuse to be a witness for the
prosecution. Une had actually bellowed down the phone. She'd also mentioned
subpoenas, at which point Wufei had hung up.
Then she'd apparently called Quatre, who'd called Wufei and asked the
Wufei had told him.
Because he would be incriminating himself.
Quatre had been silent for awhile, said he understood and hung up.
Wufei had been sitting at the kitchen counter during both calls, reading
while his partner worked in silence at the other end. Heero had been looking
at him very oddly when he'd put the phone down the second time. It had
probably gone right over his head. Heero Yuy might have guilt, regrets,
but he kept them carefully in line and would never let them interfere
with what had to be done.
Wufei envied him.
He turned on his side, starting to curl up into a reassuring little ball,
then snarled and straightened out again. He didn't like giving in, even
that little bit, and besides, Heero's habit of sticking his head through
the door ten times a day to check on him stopped Wufei from relaxing his
guard. He didn't want to show Heero his weakness.
The depression pounced once more.
Susan...was Wufei as guilty as she had said he was? Shouldn't he be a
lot more tortured about his colony's destruction?
No! a part of him shouted, fighting back. Susan was simply out for revenge;
she was hurting, and she was trying to hurt right back. She hadn't been
there. She hadn't seen Master Li's calm resolve as he pushed the button.
Did not understand...
Or was it Wufei who didn't understand.
If only he'd surrendered. Well, surrendered more quickly, because he'd
been about to do so. He could have escaped from OZ again, like he had
on the Lunar Base!
No, fool, his reason immediately countered. OZ wouldn't have taken a second
chance. They'd have destroyed Wufei and Nataku where they stood. And then
probably destroyed A0206 for harboring a wanted terrorist.
But he couldn't be sure...Master Li and his clan might have survived...
It was their choice to go out this way...
But they made it because of me...
Wufei realized he'd curled up into a ball after all.
It hurt...and in that moment he couldn't see how the pain could ever go
...maybe he should take Sally up on that offer...let her prescribe some
No. Both sides of his soul rebelled at that. The part which thought that
this pain was Justice, the kind Susan had tried to apply. And the half
that wanted to know that when he conquered this beast, he'd done so without
help. He really needed that victory.
Somehow, that flash of resolve soothed him. The darkness receded, a few
colors returned to the world. Wufei sat up, sighed, scrubbed his face
with his hands, as his own mental discipline finally reasserted itself.
He wouldn't be a witness for the prosecution. But he wasn't going to put
himself on trial, either. Meiran, Master Li, the followers who'd stayed
with the man to the last, refusing to evacuate, even Treize...they would
not want Wufei to curl up into a little miserable ball like a whipped
puppy, punishing himself for their choices, their deaths. They would want
him to make sure that they had not died in vain. He had to get better.
He had to get back out onto the field. He had to justify his survival,
his choices, and make sure that he never made a wrong one again.
He had to-
He really, really had to get out of this bloody house.
Wufei swung his feet to the floor, mind hunting for an excuse. He glanced
at his watch and realized it was late afternoon. Be eating dinner soon.
Oh boy, there was a good excuse! Hell, not so much an excuse, more of
a necessity! He walked swiftly towards Heero's room, the promise of a
tiny speck of action, of taking charge of a part of his life helping him
fight back the darkness that would always be hovering on the edge of his
Heero, seated at his desk, looked up at him, still with that indefinable
"I'm going to the shop; do you want anything?"
A few moments of silence, as Heero appeared to weigh the significance
of Wufei deciding to go and buy some supplies. "I'll go with you."
Wufei bit down on his response. He'd figured it out by now. The reason
why Heero kept an eye on him at all times. It wasn't just Sally's instructions.
Wufei had been to see her yesterday and she'd declared him well on the
road to recovery. Even the beetles had disappeared. But Wufei was ready
to bet that Une had heard a version of the gun incident and had not been
His partner had been made into his keeper. Wufei swallowed the bitterness
at the revelation. His fault, he reminded himself, this was all partly
He repeated the litany over and over again as Heero watched his every
move in the shop, discreetly but intently, as if there were anything important
to be learned from which vegetables Wufei picked. Wufei concentrated on
what he was doing fiercely, fighting both depression and a rising annoyance.
His fault, partly his fault.
And still he felt there was something slightly off with his assessment
of the situation. Heero didn't have the feel of someone ready to subdue
him at the slightest sign of Wufei going over the deep end. But he couldn't
interpret Heero's actions any other way. There was still this distance
between them; his partner was all but completely closed to him. His interpretation
was the only one that seemed to fit the facts; he tried to forget about
Heero giving him the gun locker codes without blinking the day before
yesterday. He didn't know where to fit that fact. Along with Heero's neutral
statement about Wufei's strength.
Wufei tried to shove his confusion from his mind and continued his shopping
philosophically, dropping some noodles and a bottle of hoi min sauce into
the basket. Heero's version of a nutritional diet would have Wufei recovering
from his deathbed at record speeds. If he didn't have something even mildly
tasty to eat tonight, he really was going to go ape-shit with the shotgun.
"Damn, forgot to get some instant coffee, Winner drank-" Wufei turned
to find Heero striding back along the aisles, presumably to go get the
coffee. Wufei frowned at the departing back - noting where the Glock swelled
Heero's jacket - then glanced around. It was a Thursday afternoon; the
shop was filled with mothers and pre-schoolers. If Heero was following
him around to avoid his harming others, he wasn't doing too good a job.
Though Wufei wasn't armed, he was opposite the butcher's stand and a nice
big knife was just on the other side of the glass. Wufei found himself
looking at it nervously, wondering if his mind had noticed it to make
the point that Heero was being a bit derelict in his duty, or because
Wufei was about to start a massacre. The moment passed, and he shook himself.
"Are you okay? Do you want to go home?"
Wufei glanced once more - a bit longingly - at the butcher's knife, and
then counted down from twenty, in Japanese, before he answered.
"I'm fine, Yuy. Did you get the coffee?"
Heero nodded sharply - for a crazed instant Wufei expected him to say
ninmu kanryu- and placed the instant coffee in the cart.
That's the problem; he's so serious and attentive. We're not sniping at
each other any more. This lack of aggression is unhealthy, Wufei thought,
irritated. How was he supposed to regain his edge if his partner coddled
Wufei glanced up. "What?"
"You look annoyed." Blue eyes scrutinized him.
Wufei hesitated. 'Stop being so nice and start tearing strips out of me
already' was probably not the thing to say if he wanted to convince Heero
of his recovered sanity. Besides, Wufei hadn't been going for his usual
jibes either, still aware he'd stretched his partner's forbearance this
"I- I'm not." Wufei wished once more that he was a better liar.
Oh hell, his thing was aggression and coming right out in the open. He
spun on Heero, letting the cart roll a foot down the aisle unheeded. "Did
Une ask you to watch me? Do you really think I'm going to start shooting
innocent bystanders or myself because I held you at gun-point while I
was under the influence of a hallucinogen?"
A mother stared at Wufei, then packed up her three-year old and headed
towards the door at high speed, leaving a full shopping basket behind
her. Wufei barely noted their departure over Heero's shoulder; most of
his attention was on his partner. Heero's eyes had widened slightly, and
his whole body had frozen into an unreadable chunk.
"No," he replied softly. "Une did ask me to keep an eye on you, same as
Sally, but only so you didn't come to harm. She gave me full leave to
stay and work from home. Une suggested you might be better off in the
Ops clinic but Sally insisted that you would recover more quickly in a
well known environment."
"But I don't think that you're about to harm anyone. Why did you think
that was on my mind?" Heero's eyes were going over Wufei's face an inch
at a time, as if he were trying to read letters scrolling across Wufei’s
"...you're always around. You're watching me," Wufei answered, a bit lamely.
Heero was silent once more, apparently adding one more variable to the
difficult Chang equation in his mind; Wufei was beginning to dread what
lay beyond the equal sign. "Does that bother you? Would you rather be
at the clinic?"
Silence again. A few shoppers passed them in the aisle with a glare for
the space they were taking up.
Wufei dropped his gaze, annoyed at himself for the small ache where there
shouldn’t be any. Why should Heero think he’d recovered, when Wufei’s
centre was still shattered? He mumbled: "I just don't like the feeling
you don't trust me - though I understand perfectly well why you don’t-"
"I trust you."
Wufei blinked. He was staring at Heero's back; his partner had taken the
cart and was heading towards the cashiers. Those words had not been in
a neutral monotone and had not sounded calculated for the first time since
Wufei had woken up. They'd been immediate, soft, but intense, with something
like an undertone of frustration, as if Wufei was a dolt for doubting
They had sounded very, very honest.
Wufei shook his head. One day at a time. One day at a time. He trusts
you, and he doesn't think you're going to snap. That’s already very good.
Probably more than you deserve. Just deal with the rest one day at a time.
Wufei licked a bead of sweat from his upper lip.
Rhythm was soothing.
No more questions, anger, frustration....
Just moving, thrusting-
Muscles rippled, harmony, power.
Wufei let the weights spring back gently and grabbed his towel.
Without the repetitive noise of the weights, the clicking noise from Heero's
laptop filled the silence of the main room, along with Wufei's deep breaths.
Wufei rose, wiped his face, and started moving around to keep warm. He
tried not to glance at Heero. It was an effort. His gaze tried to sneak
off that way as soon as his attention let up.
It was stupid; Wufei felt pretty confident he wouldn't catch Heero watching
him obsessively any more; his partner had stopped that abruptly two days
ago, after their shopping trip. Just like that. Wufei stretched and moved
his arms, glaring at the matting beneath the weight machine.
Heero wasn't watching him like a bug under a microscope any more. But
it was a fact that each time Wufei came down to the main room, Heero had
some reason or other to be there three minutes later. It was pretty reliable.
Wufei was starting to use it instead of a stop watch these days. Ah, Heero's
coming down the stairs, that'll be three minutes, tea must be ready.
Moron. He didn't think Wufei would notice? Or did he just not care if
Wufei did notice?
At least Wufei could get away from it in his room. Though 'getting away
from it' implied it was unpleasant, and that was too strong a word...confusing.
Mildly annoying. But mainly because he couldn't read Heero and couldn't
figure out what he was thinking these days. Yeah, mainly that.
Even his room wasn't a complete refuge from his mystifying partner. Heero
would still pop his head through the door half a dozen times a day, to
see if he was hungry, or to tell Wufei where he was. 'I'm going to be
training downstairs. Setting up my laptop at the kitchen counter. Getting
a drink. Going to work on my bike.' On that occasion he'd invited Wufei
to join him, and that had been nice, it was a return to the normal routine
that Wufei craved.
But then things would go back to being strange. For instance...
Wufei told himself not to but found himself moving towards the kitchen
area anyway, the towel around his neck. It was like prodding a sore tooth
with your tongue; you just couldn't stop testing if the pain was still
"Hn." A positive 'hn'. One thing that hadn't changed was his partner's
economy with words.
"What are you working on?"
There it was. That little glance, a flicker of blue through thick brown
bangs. And the silence that lasted just one second longer than it should,
making Heero's answer less than spontaneous.
Wufei rolled his eyes-
"On a suspect's IP connection," Heero added quickly before Wufei could
"Ah. What case?"
"Current investigation. Work for Grecko. Nothing interesting."
Oh, and why not let me be the judge of that? "Syndicate?"
Wufei waited. After four seconds, the flicker of blue again, slightly
He waited some more but it was obvious that no more information would
be forthcoming. He didn't push any further. Heero would give him a curt
brush-off - nothing you can help with, Chang, you're not assigned to this
case - and then Wufei would-
...Then Wufei would have to confront the reason this bothered him so much:
that he just wanted to talk to Heero, listen to him describe his work
in his usual monotone, discuss the difficulties, find solutions together,
enjoy the synergy that used to define them and hold them together...
Wufei turned abruptly, stretching his arms to hide the stiffness of hurt
and anger that would otherwise radiate from his shoulders.
Damn him! Wufei's mental grumble was an empty clap of thunder. He didn't
know why he was so frustrated. After all, Heero was right, this wasn't
his case, he was on full sick leave. And in little over a week, Sally
would certify him fit for duty again and then Heero would damn well have
to start talking to him!
For some reason, the thought brought him no pleasure.
Wufei swung his leg over the bench and sat down again, with something
a bit more like a discontented slouch than usual. Heero was confusing
these days, and Wufei's feelings - the ones he shouldn't be having anyway
- kept tripping him up as well.
It was Heero's fault! That was established, Wufei thought grumpily. Wufei
was sure that if Heero treated him normally, Wufei would be able to regain
his usual cold detachment. But one minute he was getting a cold brush-off,
or being watched like a tiger in a zoo, the next-
Wufei grabbed the weight bar but couldn't avoid yet another replay of
yesterday's unusual occurrence. Heero had dropped by Wufei's room to say
he was going to work at his desk - he'd been tidying up the toolshop downstairs.
Wufei had grunted something.
The next moment, Heero was in Wufei's room. And sitting down on his bed,
the far corner away from Wufei. To date, that was the first time Heero
had come in contact with Wufei's bed without sex being in the equation.
Wufei had nearly dropped the book he'd been reading.
"Are you okay?" Heero had asked him gruffly.
Wufei had stared at him, wild-eyed. He'd just been reading quietly alone
in his room, he hadn't done anything! Unless he was starting to hallucinate
"Is there anything you wanted to talk about? You've been very quiet."
Wufei had been rather grateful that he'd already been sitting down at
that point. "I-" What could he say? He'd been very quiet because Heero
wasn't talking to him, was what he'd wanted to say, but he didn't want
an argument. Every time Wufei raised his voice, or used a cutting comeback,
he'd have an almost physical flashback to that month of nightmares and
shredded, raw nerves. Heero had born the brunt of it, and Wufei was too
achingly aware of how badly he'd treated his partner to let his temper
loose now; instead he caught it and leashed it inside his soul where it
"I'm okay," he'd muttered.
Heero had stared at him then gotten up and left without a word. Only after
he'd left had his words come back to Wufei. 'Is there anything you wanted
to talk about...' Had that been a cue for Wufei to ask Heero about his
life and work these days? Then why did Heero give him the brush-off when
he did ask? What had that been? He didn't know.
Just didn't make sense.
Wufei started pressing the weights. Muscles warmed. This was simple. Clean.
Appeasing. This made sense.
Heero sitting on his bed...
Heero in his bed...
Rhythmic - thrusts-
Muscles coiling - thrusting -
- into Heero-
Wufei fumbled the weights and tried to keep the repetitions regular, not
looking at his partner who'd probably glanced up at the break in the rhythm.
Shit, he hoped his thoughts weren't written all over his face! Or his
body for that matter.
Two months without sex...
When Heero had sat down on his bed, Wufei had been expecting - hoping
- for something other than words.
It was...frustrating. The weights started to crash a bit at the end of
the press, but Wufei ignored them, the discordant noise suited his thoughts.
Two months. Just like when Heero had been injured. But Wufei wasn't physically
unfit any more. Swish-creak-clash! No he wasn't! So, what was Heero waiting
It was always Heero who made the first move in their ritual. Wufei accepted
or declined, but Heero made the opening gambit.
Except now he wasn't doing so.
And Wufei was having quite a few hormones curdling up along with the confusion,
the anger and the frustration.
Shit, now he'd lost count.
Well, maybe it was time Wufei stopped waiting for their arrangement to
return to normal.
Maybe it was time he took matters into his own hands.
And he knew just how to do it.
A frown had crinkled Heero's brow at the final clash of weights - he never
mistreated the equipment, except for the martyrdom of the punching bag
that was the designated sacrificial lamb those rare times Heero was in
a bad mood.
Wufei uncoiled from the weight bench, wiped his face and arms with the
towel, and stalked towards the kitchen counter.
Fingers flew over the keyboard, strangely delicate for someone who possessed
such strength. But Heero was careful with all his necessary tools: weapons,
laptop, training equipment...the only necessary items in his life that
he treated roughly were the punching bag, which he replaced on average
every three months, and Wufei, who could take that and more. Time to remind
his partner of that little fact.
The click of keys faltered minutely and slowed, and Heero peeked up through
his bangs. That look, as he was caught slightly off-balance and pinned
by Wufei's stare, was...well, strangely appealing. Especially the way
his fingers were still curled up over the keys, hovering delicately, unsure
but ready to caress the keyboard again if allowed to. Damn, I need to
get laid, Wufei thought, noting the familiar prickle at the base of his
"I'm finished with the weights," he purred.
Heero blinked and straightened up slightly. He still looked nonplussed.
"Now I need some combat training. No use having muscles if my martial
skills have rusted away to nothing."
Heero glanced down at his laptop, then up again. "You want to practice
"No," Wufei murmured, "I want to slam you down on the floor and pin you
in a lock until you give up." And then we'll take it from there, he added
mentally. Wouldn't be the first time one of their wild sparring matches
ended up with a savage hump on the dojo floor.
Heero's fingers had been on the keys again, possibly closing programs,
but he froze at that. "You want to fight?"
Normally, that would have been said with a feral grin, a 'you really sure
you know what you want, and that you know it will be painful?' sort of
This time, the four words were said in a guarded, neutral tone that made
Wufei's eyebrows arch.
"Come on, Yuy. I've not had any actual combat for two months, and the
last fight I had was with a car. But if you're scared, I'll promise to
go easy on you." Okay, he was going to pay for that, Heero was going to
make him suffer for that remark, but at least he'd-
Heero didn't even twitch. He was looking at Wufei with eyes half-hidden
by his bangs, motionless. Wufei started to frown.
"Is that what you want?" Heero asked slowly.
Huh? Wufei tried to analyze that. Not the words, which could have meant
anything, but the tone. Intent? Searching? What the hell-
"Yuy, stop dithering! My leg and shoulder are fine! Or if not, I'd rather
know now than next week when we have to go back on a mission! Now get
your ass on that tatami!"
Heero closed a few programs slowly and stood up. "Okay. We can take it
easy to start with, and we do need to test your fighting levels," he acknowledged
with a frown. He carefully shut the laptop and walked over to the springboard
floor, Wufei following him like a hungry tiger stalking an oblivious deer.
"What did you want to -" Heero started, turning around, and gasped and
leapt back as Wufei's first probing attack flew towards his face.
"Wake up, Yuy," Wufei sneered, immediately pressing the advantage, moving
forward and swinging again. They were just light strokes to start with,
testing the waters; Heero caught them on his forearms without even trying.
Wufei absently noted blue eyes wider than usual and a mouth open as if
to say something but he really wasn't interested. The first flesh-on-flesh
contact had switched on his adrenaline; battle lust was starting to burn
in his veins. He pushed his strikes a bit more, and Heero took a step
back, regaining his balance. Wufei jumped forward automatically, his body
trained to react instinctively to any perceived weakness. Heero had to
take another step back, and then another, as Wufei's attack became quicker
and more vicious.
...Odd that Heero was backing off. Pacing himself? Observing Wufei's technique?
The last suggested a difference in skills; it ignited Wufei's battle fury.
Heero gasped as a well-placed blow got through his defenses, scoring his
abs. He twisted and retaliated, probably on instinct. Wufei tilted his
head to let Heero's fist whistle past it and was on the offensive again.
No thinking. They were dogs of war, trained to fight on instinct, their
minds focusing on higher strategies while they killed without caring.
This was it, this was their edge. Elation made Wufei feel light on his
feet as he darted forward. He'd forgotten about sex - this was just as
Heero was fighting back - whatever had held him back to start with, wasn't
going to stop his body from moving in the deadly dance that had been trained
into its very fibers. Wufei grinned savagely as he received a few blows
on his arms and thighs, his body twisting to dodge them or minimize their
impact, already retaliating. Yes. This was them. Blow - counterblow- this
was the heartbeat between them-
Wufei stumbled. A tiny slip-up. But in this kind of battle, the rhythm
of the fight - as primal and reliable as sex - meant that any break caused
an opening. One that Heero exploited immediately and instinctively. Wufei
managed to grunt a curse as he overbalanced on the dodge, and stumbled
to the mat. Heero landed on top of him, accelerating his fall.
That was more like it! Muscles and mind sang in fierce harmony. His only
goal: throw Heero off and back on the tatami. Before jumping on him in
He bucked, turned-...and found himself twisting in air. Overbalanced again,
he thumped back against the mat on his side like a landed fish.
Levering himself up, he glanced around, bewildered.
Heero was three feet away, half crouched, a knee to the ground, hands
out as if to catch him. “Are you okay?”
“Huh?” was the most intelligent thing Wufei could come up with.
“I didn’t come down on you too hard, did I?”
Wufei just sat there. He absently wondered if he had little question marks
comically floating around his head. Or possibly cartoon stars from the
way Heero was checking him over visually with a touch of worry.
“Are you alright? You didn’t hit your head, did-“
“Yuy, what the hell was that?! You got lucky, my own balance did more
to bring me down than you did, I landed soundly, I was ready to toss you
like one of your bloody Japanese pancakes! Where was your follow-through?!”
Heero stared at him, and Wufei’s spirit sank like a stone. It was back.
That watchful, weighing look. It hadn’t left, it had only gone undercover.
Before Wufei could do more than glimpse it, Heero was standing and had
his back to him, as if aware of having shown something he shouldn’t have.
“We agreed to go easy,” he said flatly, over his shoulder.
Wufei made spluttering noises. Well, that’s what he’d said, but that had
been a joke! His whole body language should have screamed that he wanted
a real duel. And a good deal more after that, thank you very much.
And Heero knew it, he was sure. Those quick words were an excuse to cover
up the moment, his odd actions. He'd been attacking quite satisfactorily
up until that point; there had been no doubt in anybody's mind that they
were going at it as hard as they could.
Then Heero had backed off. As if suddenly alarmed by the intensity they
“Do you want to continue?” Heero was looking at him. Wufei wasn't sure
how to read him any more but he didn't think his partner looked all that
enthusiastic. “You’re in form, I can see that.” Heero added quickly.
Wufei stared at him, his mind spinning in slowly diminishing circles like
a fallen gear. “...no. That’s okay.”
Heero’s eyes were on him - discreetly, while he grabbed a towel and made
a show of wiping his face - and why the hell was he doing that, it’s not
like Wufei had managed to get him sweating!
Wufei stood and turned away. “You have work to do. I’ll practice my forms.”
He could feel Heero's eyes on him, watching him silently. He ignored his
partner, taking up a stance at the centre of the tatami and flowing into
first form. After a few movements, he heard Heero move towards the counter
again, and the laptop boot up.
There's something wrong.
The forms followed one another. A dance he'd been practicing since he
There's something different.
In the back of his mind, voices barked out the names of each movement,
and corrected or praised him: his father, Master Li, a succession of respected
This is more than his worrying about my injuries.
Tenth form - 'eagle pouncing on snake' - eleventh form, flowing into twelfth
and thirteenth - his father's favorite combination -
This is more than worrying about the after-effects of the drug.
Fifteenth form, leg scything out. The dojo was the perfect size for his
wushu; he was well clear of the walls at all times.
It's as if...no, he said he trusted me. He actually said it.
'Snake going up bamboo' - arm punching air from full extension of the
body, enough power in that uncoiling to kill someone - he'd done it before.
It's as if...
The forms slowed ever so slightly.
It's as if...
He faltered, but caught himself on the twenty-second form before he accidentally
twisted his spine the wrong way around. His mind stopped paying attention,
though his body continued in the movements, both violent and graceful.
No, Quatre had promised; at Wufei's insistence, he had sworn he'd not
told Heero about- about what had been said, and wouldn't in the future
Twenty fifth form, twenty sixth.
Wufei had even double-checked, knowing that Quatre would not be above
dropping a big fat hint even if he didn't give Heero a verbatim account
of Wufei's shameful breakdown.
Punch-punch. Balance back on the rear foot. Crouch and kick.
What Quatre had said, was, 'You already asked me not to interfere before,
Wufei. It's not my place to volunteer any unasked-for information'.
Turn, stand, parry, and dodge an invisible attacker-
Which, now that Wufei thought about it, left quite a few loopholes...but
Quatre knew better than to meddle with the complicated and delicately
balanced arrangement between the two ex-pilots. Although Winner had insisted
strongly and for longer than was proper that Wufei talk to Heero, ASAP.
Destroy the invisible opponent with well placed kicks and lunges.
Maybe he should...just walk up to Heero and ask him what the hell was
going on, and refuse to take a blank look or feigned ignorance for an
Stand back, gather balance. Fists drawn back at the waist.
But what if Heero wasn't acting all that oddly? What if it was just Wufei's
damned emotions and remnants of perfectly understandable tension between
them, making him paranoid...?
Breathe in, breathe out. Put fists down. Relax.
Or rather, try to relax. Wufei found himself caught between two opposing
forces yet again. He wanted to make sure there was no problem, if it meant
sitting down and glaring at his partner until the latter talked. And he
also wanted to maintain the silence, go back to normal, not risk losing
what he had over something that might not even exist.
He started stretching on automatic, his spirits sinking; he wished he
had someone to talk to.
That feeling was so alien to him, it made him pause, and then he shook
it off, and continued with his stretching, ignoring occasional glances
from the sidelines.
[chap. 34] [chap. 36] [back
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