Author: Maldoror
Genre: Action, Drama, Humour (some)
Pairings: 1x5, others tba
Rated: NC17 (I think, for later chapters)
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: This is part two of Arrangement. Part one was, The War Days and ended with, well, you remember right? This part is called Wu Tao, which will be the transition from the war days to the days with the Preventers. My timelines were well and truly all over the place in part one, now I'm trying to bring them back so the end of the war in the fic resembles the end of the war in the series. So heavy spoiler alert for the whole second part!

Big thanks to Arith for pre-reading it, and to CYT for letting me bounce Heero off of her, and for the rest of the war room for continued insanity which helps me write this and other fics!

The Arrangement + Chapter 8
Tao

Tao - from Chinese, 'way'.

Central concept of Taoism. It supplies the name of this philosophical and religious system. In Confucian usage, tao is 'teaching', and the way humans should follow. In Lao-tzu, Tao becomes the source from which all appearance derives, the unproduced Producer of all that is, and the guarantor of its stability and regularity.


- Definition from Bloomington's online (www.bloomington.in.us/ ~okolicko/ definitions-3.html).


---

The conference facility split like a rotten orange. A few chairs tumbled down the three story gap created by the jaws of Nataku's clamp.

That made five. Ah, there was number six, cowering against the far wall.

The wall ceased to exist.

We got him, Nataku. Easy enough. Too easy...

There, two more. Faces, white with fear and twisted in panic, appeared on Nataku's monitors, and the patterning program matched them to the faces of the targets in the database.

Two mobile suits appeared before Wufei and were dispatched with only minimal attention. The two men had hopped into an army jeep. Fools.

The dragon fang snaked out, whipped around a Leo that had put itself between the fleeing division leaders and the Gundam, and struck the jeep in an explosion of metal. A second later the gas tank caught and a fireball blossomed behind the Leo, knocking it forward into the beam glaive's scything sweep. Wufei's eyes were already scanning the rest of the base. That had been seven and eight. One more.

The base was burning, though Wufei had kept the destruction to a minimum. This was an administrative facility. Paper warriors deserved death as much as anything else in a uniform, but not the administrative staff of civilians doing their job. Or the many families living on the low-security base. He could see some now; women and children being herded into an escape shuttle. The base was a floating man-made island off the coast of Japan, and the only way out was by air or by sea. Wufei automatically scanned the panicked families being evacuated, made a mental note to try to avoid that part of the base if he could, avoid too many civilian casualties -

He turned horrified eyes back to his monitor as the program found a match; his last target was at that instant shoving women and children out of the way and running on to the shuttle.

Coward!! Monstrous coward! After Wufei attacked the conference room he and his peers had been occupying, he had to know he was a target! And he was hiding among women and children!

Nataku was already lunging forward, swatting an aries out of the air instinctively, but-...

He couldn't leave Nataku standing empty in the middle of the still-hostile base to go and drag the dog out. And the only way of getting his target in the Gundam would be to take down the shuttle.

"I guess we have no choice, Nataku". Wufei turned, strafed an MS depot with his flamethrower in a fit of anger, kicked a Leo into the sea, and took off. Behind him, the shuttle did so as well, heading in the opposite direction.

Wufei hit the comms, keyed in the Mission Finished sequence.

//Wufei?// Winner's voice. //Done?//

"Yes. One of them escaped." The Chinese pilot added, biting down on the words.

There was a shuffle in the background on the other end of the radio. //Status?// Yuy.

"Me or the mission?" Wufei asked acidly, knowing full well which one Yuy meant.

//Can the target still be reached?//

"No." Wufei snapped. If the bastard could still be reached, he'd be dead, or as good as! "He boarded a civilian shuttle evacuating the families on the base."

//You couldn't catch a civilian shuttle?!// Yuy barked. Wufei said nothing. In the background however, Winner and Maxwell had quite a lot to say.

//...it wouldn't be politically wise to attack unarmed civilians, Heero.// Quatre's voice, the usual sad but distant tones he used when he made a decision as their tactician rather than the human being he wanted to be.

//Good god man! Did you want him to shoot down kids?!// Duo said, practically at the same time, causing the radio to whine a little. //If the guy used them as shields, what was Wufee gonna do? I mean, for once he shows a bit of heart, ya gonna-//

Wufei frowned.

//The mission-// Yuy's voice was dark.

"Signing off." Wufei said, and switched off comms before they could acknowledge.

Politics? Heart? Mission?

Wufei leaned back and crossed his arms on his chest, trying to relax and feeling more annoyed than when he'd seen the target board the shuttle.

"Things were simpler when we were alone, right, Nataku. Sometimes-"

The radio hummed. Damn. Wufei hesitated but switched it on, maybe they had something important to say besides all the arguing.

//Come in, Gundam over Jap point. Chang Wufei? Come in.//

Wufei's hand froze - his whole body shuddered to a stop - on hearing those patrician tones from the speaker.

//Ah, you are now receiving me, according to this device.//

Turn it off! Turn it off turn it off turn it off-

Wufei's hand stayed frozen over the controls.

//This is Chang Wufei, isn't it? Well if it wasn't, you'd have already switched off the comm.// Treize's educated tones took a thoughtful turn. It was the same voice he'd used during their one and only encounter to date, when Treize had bested him in their duel and then decided, face amused but eyes thoughtful, to let him go instead of killing him. //I'm fairly certain it is you. When I heard of a devastating Gundam attack that killed all division heads on I45, but spared the coward who ran onto a civilian shuttle....I don’t know all you pilots but I know one or two of the others who would not hesitate long before shooting. You and I have only met once, but I think I know you too. You are honourable, you don't make war on women and children, do you....//

Wufei felt like he was caught in a web, the words tingling along the sticky strands, making his whole body and soul vibrate with helpless fury.

//Wufei?...Won't you talk to me? Well, I suppose not. I'm sorry I defaulted on our return match. I'm sure you heard of my circumstances.// Imprisoned by Romefeller. Betrayed by those who had put him in power. Locked away in...Luxemburg? Bruxelles?

//This is only temporary however.// The cultured tone betrayed a hint of a smile, a whisper of co-conspiracy. Turn it off turn it off turn it - //I believe my fortunes will change soon. I hope we will one day have the opportunity of facing off...Oh, for that to happen though, you will have to drop to sea-level and head north. I still have my ins and outs in the military channels, and a considerable fleet of mobile dolls are heading your way at bearing-// Treize rattled off a few numbers. Wufei watched in horror as strands of the spider's web jerked his hand to the keyboard where it entered the coordinates. //They are trying to get in below your radar but if you turn to channel 1349, you should be able to trace them via the radio waves of their controllers.// Click of keys. A series of radio waves started dancing on his screen. Wufei almost tried to ignore them out of sheer spite but he couldn't do that to Nataku.

//...did I mention how much I loathe those machines? Its one of the reasons I am where I am, I suppose. I think war should be fought among human beings willing to die for their beliefs, their notion of honour, of right and wrong. That's what gives it meaning. The dolls...well, it makes a mockery of it all. It empowers the weak and makes a warrior's strength and courage meaningless. But I don't have the time to chat about that. If you've changed your bearing as I suggested, you will be out of range of this pirated channel soon.// The transmission was starting to crackle. //Well, until we meet again. My friend. Out.//

He was all alone in Nataku's hard embrace. The waves rushed and whistled beneath them both.

Wufei's hands convulsed on the throttle and he bowed his head forward, lips curling in an unvoiced scream of anger.

---

He carefully parked the flatbed truck in his spot in the underground parking lot and switched off the engine. He sat for a minute staring at the steering wheel. Then he slipped from the cab, checked the perimeter automatically and headed out. He noticed in passing that Wing's hatch was open. Heero either didn't hear him or chose to ignore him.

Good. He didn't want to deal with Heero right now, he had the feeling he might get violent with the soldier. It was strange that he could-...that he could let Heero fuck him and that nothing would change between them and they'd get up the following morning and continue doing the impossible, opposing OZ with their small forces, working on as allies and sometimes partners, sparring, planning attacks...the occasional handjob...but blow a small-time assassination mission and watch your estimate tumble in the eyes of the oh-so-perfect soldier. If Heero said anything - even grunted - Wufei would probably beat the crap out of him in his present mood.

Wufei leapt quickly up the stairs towards the cloud-muffled afternoon, glancing around instinctively before leaving the shelter of the garage's exit. They were hiding out in the outskirts of Fukuoka, on Kyuushyuu. The suburbs they'd chosen had been near an Alliance base that had been severely bombed during OZ's coup. The base and the area adjacent had been evacuated, and in the various political and military upheavals that followed, they were still mostly unoccupied, many buildings unsafe. The underground parking lot was secure though, they'd checked it thoroughly for damage. The abandoned house they were using lay a few hundred feet from it, in a neighbourhood most people still avoided. Their informants had told them the family had emigrated and wouldn't return until things had definitely settled. It was a good hiding place. Wufei had been very careful in his approach to avoid leading the mechanised hounds on his trail to their doorstep.

The Chinese pilot entered quietly, slipping his shoes off and ghosting towards the dojo.

"Fei?"

He walked on as if he hadn't heard the hesitant question from the kitchen. From the corner of his eyes he saw Duo put down his cup on the kitchen table and at the same time he saw Quatre, without lifting his head from his laptop, reach across and put a hand on the L2 pilot's arm. He didn’t wait to see what Duo would do or say next, if anything. He continued on to the dojo.

It wasn't very big. This being japan, the small room, nine feet by twelve, was still a touch of luxury. It had been used as a TV room but Heero and Wufei had arrived in the house first and had, in unspoken accord, moved the entertainment system and chairs out of the dojo and into a bedroom (which Duo had promptly claimed on arrival), so that the small room could be used for its intended purpose.

The sprung wood flooring shivered lightly beneath his bare feet. A stray ray of light crept into the single window and brushed the decorative wooden inner walls. Wufei dropped his duffel bag in a corner and took up first position. Breathed.

He'd reached the third form when he faltered. He breathed out through his nose, took up first position again, breathed, then breathed again, paying particular attention to the play of muscles across his chest and abdomen, the movement of the chi from higher to lower.

It annoyed him that-

No, concentrate.

It just annoyed him that the others would think he was upset at failing the mission!

Concentrate. Begin.

First form, second, third-

As if actually cared about these missions...

His fist lunged and his body followed like a crane swooping into fifth form and he had to stop again because otherwise he'd have dealt the wall a vicious blow. Damn dojo was too small. But there were a few people still living in the neighbourhood, he couldn't risk doing this in the garden. The parking lot? No, Yuy was down there. He returned to the middle of the room and took up first position again, breathed in and out slowly, before plunging into the violence again, aiming the lines of movement at the corners of the room.

Treize. Mission. Justice. Enough!

He felt more than heard Duo creep up to the door, though the braided teen stayed in the shadows. He would not normally be able to notice their master of stealth...either Wufei's nerves were so shredded they were now better than radar, or Duo was deliberately revealing his presence, in an offer of- what, talk? Comfort? Moral support? Wufei continued the shortened movements of his main kata, knuckles and legs occasionally brushing the wooden walls like bird wings beating against a cage. After a few minutes, the presence at the door - which had mercifully remained silent - left.

Justice. Mission. Treize.

Wufei faltered and nearly fetched up against a wall. He lay both hands against it, head swimming at the sudden interruption of the movements that were as natural to him as breathing. The thin wood, lattice work covered in decorative panels, creaked a bit as he found himself increasing the pressure as if he could shove his way out.

He snarled silently and resumed first position. Took a breath.

Justice mission Treize mission justice-

From the kitchen he thought he heard the crash of a cup hitting the table and a chair being shoved back but the faint, distant sounds were lost in the hurricane.

Wufei could feel his lips curl back in the silent scream again and the second movement of the kata ended with his fist buried in the wooden wall, panel punched through and lattice work behind it snapped, showing a flash of the external wall, crude and bare, beyond. He swung back - ignored Quatre who'd appeared, eyes wide, in the doorway - spun and buried his bare foot in another panel, causing the whole thin frame of lattice to crash back into the outer wall a few inches behind it. He used the leg as support and spun again, bringing his other knee up into the fallen panel, breaking it in half. The rounded crack of the panel splitting, echoed by the smaller crunching sounds of the lattice beams snapping beneath it, nearly covered-

"Fei?!"

- the sound of Duo's voice as he ran up. Wufei spun into a new form, barely noting the braided pilot being shoved away from the door by Quatre. He scythed the intangible enemy with his right leg, shifted his support, shot up and spun and brought his left fist backhand into the wall again. The panel resonated like a drum and bounced, and then crashed into the wall as his right fist followed through, punching it savagely.

"Fei- let me-"

"Duo, get back!"

What was he doing?!

Turn, lunge, kick, straighten. Three steps, fists hammering the empty air.

What was he fighting for?!

He spun and crashed his right foot backwards into a panel, spun again and punched through the panel as it fell towards him. His fist ripped through the decorative wood. He brushed away the upper part of the panel before it hit him in the face, nerves on fire, a creature of pure reflex. He ripped his hand free of the lattice work that tried to capture it, tame it. He noted in the far corner of his mind the cuts and splinters on his fist. Unimportant. Ninth form.

He had just killed eight men from the Romefeller faction of OZ - fall back on one bent knee, dodging an invisible blow, fist lunging up to break the elusive opponent's leg - who had imprisoned Treize.

Sweep, lunge again.

Treize, whose men had attacked his colony and had caused Meiran's death.

Fist out, swing - a panel cracked and lurched towards him. He dodged it gracefully - splatters of blood on the wooden floor - and struck it with the edge of his left hand as it fell past him. It landed in splinters, scoring the floorboards.

Treize, who had beaten him and let him go, who hated mobile dolls with the same passion as Wufei, and for pretty much the same reasons.

Swing, balance, leg shooting out to score on the next panel in line-

Distant voice: "'Ro, come on! He's lost it!"

The panel screamed as a nail caught; a previously hidden metal joist behind it ripped through the wood like a hostile hand reaching for him. He caught himself just before punching it instinctively.

"Do something!" At the door.

"What do you suggest I do?" Heero, voice indifferent.

"Help me stop him!"

Step back, thirteenth form, lunge forward, attack the resisting panel again-

"Why?"

The panel shattered, pieces of wood skittering across the floor, catching in the grooves of the slats.

"Wh-why?! He's destroying the fucking dojo!"

"So? You don't use it."

"But-"

"The house doesn’t belong to us, who cares about the woodworks."

"But he's bleeding!"

Wufei could almost feel analytical eyes weighing him professionally as he spun into the next form.

"He's not injured himself seriously."

Lunge back, sweep, dart across the room to a previously untouched wall.

"Call me if he opens a vein. I suggest you don't try to stop him by yourself. You're good at hand-to-hand, but not that good."

"Damn it Yuy-" voices faded.

Wufei's lips curled back into a savage smile as he entered into the final five forms.

So here he was

-crash-

fighting and killing Treize's enemies

- lash, lunge, wham -

while the man himself sat peacefully under house arrest plotting his return

- fall back, dodge, swing, smash -

and told Wufei how to evade mobile dolls

- swing, aim for an intact panel, clang! Another joist -

so that Wufei could continue on and on with his hollow partisan activities

- backhand the joist, rip of nail from plaster -

in the name of colonies that had renounced them and were arming for war

- smash the joist with a bloodied left fist, tear it out of the wall -

and left him to return to a safe-house to have sex with a man

- foot shoots out and scythes the joist as it tumbles through the air, sending it crashing across the room -

and live with a bunch of near-psychotic teenage terrorists

- spin and slam leg back into remaining section of wall panel, crack it straight down the middle -

waiting for another mission that would send him to fight his enemy's enemies, with no sense of justice or right or wrong or honour just kill, kill, kill

- fall back, spin, sweep panel onto the floor -

until they shot him down like a dog.

Nataku!

Fall back, bloodied fists pulled back at his side. Breathe. Hands down. Breathe.

He sank to his knees, dropping immediately into meditation.

---

The slight awareness of the outside world he kept instinctively warned him when Duo came back. At first he only stayed a minute. Then an hour later - the small part of Wufei that had not escaped to timeless, painless nothingness was also keeping an eye on his internal clock - Duo returned, and stood, staring, for ten whole minutes, letting his presence be felt. He said nothing though. Wufei didn't even have to make a conscious decision to ignore him. His wise silence uninterrupted, Duo left again with a shrug, to get ready and leave on his own, nocturnal mission.

Quatre never showed up. He didn’t need to be near Wufei to know that it was best he was not disturbed.

The afternoon started to die. A small breeze crept hesitantly into the dojo, stirred the dust in the corners, tried to nudge the wood piled hither and thither.

Wufei felt not the slightest trace of hesitation or doubt in Heero's firm step as Wing's pilot flipped on the lights, stepped over decorative kindling and circled him. In the deep quiet of his trance, he heard/felt Heero kick a few pieces of wood out of the way and kneel before him. And wait.

Wufei slowly gathered the nothingness around him, grasped it in his hands, buried it in his heart to the hilt...His shoulder relaxed slightly, giving Heero permission to be there, not that the L1 pilot had sought it.

He felt Heero reach for his hand. "It's been three hours. If we don't deal with this now they could get infected." Heero's voice was practical.

Wufei watched with detachment the strong callused hands turn his over, angling the cuts to the dying afternoon light. Heero snapped open the medical kit he'd brought and fished out forceps, disinfectant, thread and curved needles -Wufei lifted an eyebrow but said nothing - bandages and, after a quick glance at the sky fading to slate outside and the dim lights overhead, a flashlight. He handed the last to Wufei without a word or a glance.

Wufei held the light with his free hand, watched the bowed head as Heero cleaned his cuts, fished out splinters, applied disinfectant.

Heero's hands finally stilled; cobalt blue eyes, flat as glass, caught his.

"You're leaving." It wasn’t a question.

"Yes."

Heero seemed to plunge into that breath of stillness for a few moments. Even his body didn't express what was going through his mind, what internal arguments he was trying out, what words he was attempting to formulate. If any.

Finally he turned slightly, put the plain suture thread back into the kit and took out the more expensive catgut instead. Wufei was silent as the brown-haired man bowed over his wounds once more, putting in the absorbable sutures with practiced ease. A flicker of blue caught his eye as Heero glance up briefly.

He's trying to understand...Wufei tasted the thought, trying to decide how he felt about that. Surprise was predominant. Heero probably knew Wufei wouldn't change his mind whatever he said - which was why he wasn't trying to argue with the Chinese teen - thus comprehension would bring no benefits, and so should not be required. That was the way Heero thought. It was efficient like everything he did; why waste mental resources pondering a problem whose solution would not help the war?

He knew Heero understood his display in the dojo. This was the man who had gone around to each member of the Noventa family and offered to let them execute him to make up for a single mistake. But Heero had done that when it had seemed the Gundams and their pilots were deadlocked, the colonies hostage, and their lives expendable. The fact that Wufei would consider leaving the war now, leaving the missions, and just go...no, Heero would not be able to understand that. On that one point, they were too different.

Heero reached for his other hand. Wufei switched the light around, feeling the three freshly-applied stitches stretch under bandages as he clasped the plastic casing.

"Peace..." Heero looked almost stunned he'd said anything. Wufei was not so surprised; that Heero had spoken and that his new-found ideal would be the first word out of his mouth. Heero had changed a lot recently. The man-boy who had thrown Wufei to the floor and humped him that first time had only one motto. Find your enemy and kill him efficiently. Since then, he'd been plunged into the same whirlwind of war as Wufei and the 'finding your enemy' part had become difficult for all of them when the factions aligned against them changed every week. Heero had apparently found something to believe in and anchor him; the peace that Relena Peacecraft advocated. Whatever he thought of her as a person, Wufei couldn't help but remember her in her Queen regalia, affirming universal peace as if it were a concept that was merely a matter of will. Heero had apparently decided to believe in it, with that same hard uncaring core of efficiency and brutality that he'd used to kill his enemies. Wufei tried to decide whether this was a good thing.

"Yes. Peace. And war. You and Treize are like two sides of the same coin." Wufei said, almost to himself.

Heero looked up at him blankly, hand poised with the forceps.

"You live and kill and die for your big ideals."

Cobalt blue eyes searched his with utter incomprehension. Wufei wasn't going to bother to explain, what was the point?

"I don't believe in peace, Heero."

Huh. The words had slipped out. Looked like a part of him did want to explain. How strange. He ignored the widening of the blue eyes, the sudden grip of the previously careful fingers on his cuts. He was listening to his own words with curiosity. What would he say, what could he say, to get through to Heero...

"Peace is not possible. It is an ideal you strive for, but it is not real. I don't believe in it. I don't believe it would be a good thing even if it was achievable." Heero's eyes widened even more and in that moment of surprise he looked his age. "Men will always use weapons on each other, it is their nature."

"If we remove OZ and Romefeller that will stop the production of mobile suits." Heero said firmly. Wufei wondered what was going through that strange head of his. How would the straight lines he lived by cope with Wufei's words? He should stop, shouldn't say anything more...

"And will you also remove tanks, Yuy? Bombs?"

"Yes. Peace implies-"

"Guns? Knives?"

"We will -"

"Broken bottles?" Wufei's lips curled. "Rat poison?" He murmured.

"- fight the war so that people can -...rat poison?"

"...Didn't you know? My colony was attacked over a year ago. By OZ, the Alliance...by ordinary men and women following orders. They were going to use biological weapons against us. The kind you use to wipe vermin from an unoccupied space station. I'd like to point out at his juncture that we weren't at war with anybody. They didn't know of Nataku's presence at that time." The Gundam, or the heart-strong girl who fought them tooth and nail to stop them. But he didn't go into details. That...was something for himself alone. "We were, for lack of a better term, at peace, Yuy. Tell me, will your Peace stop this from happening again?"

Heero was silent for a few moments, eyes flickering as they tracked every detail of Wufei's pupils as if trying to gage the depth of the darkness there. He was too honest to lie, or to gloss over the truth.

"Real peace would." He said finally. His eyes were turned inward now. Wufei wondered what he was seeing there.

"There is no such thing."

"I fight because I believe there is." He seemed surprised at his own words, and so was Wufei. Heero? Believe? An act of faith from a weapon?

"And I believe that if such a thing existed it would be a disaster."

Finally anger flared at the back of those eyes. "Why?" Heero snapped.

"Because it would bring the strong down to the level of the weak. It would castrate the human race, Yuy. Turn us all into sheep. But that won't happen because the wolf is more than skin-deep, and even your wonderful Relena can't drag him out."

Anger blazed in Heero's eyes, then flickered out. The L1 pilot turned his attention back to the hand in his palm and fished out a piece of wood with the forceps, a bit less gently than he could have, Wufei thought with a wince.

"So what was it that you were fighting for all this time?"

Heero knew, Wufei realized, he just wanted the Chinese teen to say it, to lay it out where they could both look at it.

"Justice."

"And...that's not an ideal?" Wufei watched Heero's brow crease as the L1 pilot struggled with unfamiliar concepts.

"It's definable, and it's attainable. So I don’t think it qualifies." Wufei said, using the slightly stuffy scholarly tones to hide the slight waver in his soul. Justice had seemed so simple and clear-cut to start with; but the only clear cut turned out to be the one that Treize failed to make in Wufei's throat with his sabre. After that everything got a bit fuzzy and messy and he started following other paths, fighting for others, for the weak, for missions, for, ultimately, a peace which he didn’t believe in.

As far as Wufei was concerned, a peace without justice could go hang itself.

And that was why he had to leave. The paths the others were dragging him down were not his own. He had to find it again, that one shining path that led to Justice. He wouldn't find it here, distracted by...distracted by other people.

"I'm taking Nataku to outer space." Wufei said abruptly. The path started in the ashes of his destroyed colony. He would begin there and see where he would go after that.

Heero was silent as he sutured a gash. Then he said: "Winner has been keeping an eye on the situation in space. There's a lot going on out there. I think that is where the next battlefield will lie." There was almost a question in that comment.

"I think you will all have to go into space sooner or later." Wufei said quietly. "But I do not think our paths will cross."

Heero's head sank the breadth of a shadow, in acceptance and dismissal. Wufei felt a stab of regret. He knew that without Heero to be his beacon/rival he would lose part of himself, but it was something he was going to have to accept.

The last bandage was fastened carefully. "The stitches will dissolve within ten days." Heero said needlessly. "But if you see any reddening or swelling you should try to get professional help." He didn't sound hopeful. Space was as hostile to them as Earth at present.

"I know." Wufei rose gracefully. Heero stayed on his knees, eyes flickering over Wufei's feet, checking for further injury.

The L5 pilot glanced back after two steps. “What are you going to do for an arrangement?” He asked curiously. He felt a fleeting concern for Heero's performance. Wufei didn't like the thought that his leaving might compromise his partn- his former partner's efficiency. But that wouldn't stop him from leaving.

Heero shrugged, eyes on the Kamiza that Wufei had left intact. He looked distant and unconcerned with trivialities.

“I’m sure Relena wouldn’t mind.” Wufei said thoughtfully. His spontaneous little barb earned him a horrified glare.

Neatly compartmentalized, Wufei thought with an inner smirk. Relena was the nucleus of the new world order, the big shiny new Peace, the living, breathing core of Yuy’s ideal; the soldier was too down-to-earth and short-sighted to be able to live, kill and die for a nebulous idea, he had to materialize it. As such, Relena wasn’t for sex! Never mind that she wasn’t an incarnate ideal but a real girl, and, Wufei thought dryly, a good tumble followed by a dramatic heartbreak would get her reacquainted with reality for the good of all.

Still, it was probably for the best. Even a normal man would hesitate to put a foot in that emotional mine-field. Yuy would rather self-destruct than go there. Well, good luck with Barton, Wufei thought, somewhat cruelly, from what I’ve seen he doesn’t have much need for an arrangement but he’s a good soldier and will do as he’s told.

“Chang?”

“What?” Wufei turned towards the door.

“There are a lot of factions in space. It's a complex situation. Who are you going to fight?”

“Everybody. Sayonara, Yuy.”

“Ja matta.”

Wufei cast one fleeting glance back at the kneeling form putting the medical kit back in order. See you later? At the gates of hell, maybe. That would be the only place their paths would cross now.

++

AN: A huge thanks for all your great reviews and encouragements, as I said before - but it bears repeating - they truly help when writing this fic which can be an emotional mine-field to negotiate. To answer a few questions haphazardly and in no particular order: no, Duo will never be included in the 1x5 or with either one of them (but he won't be on his lonesome either). And there will not be any romance as people usually define it in this fic, but the feelings between them will evolve and deepen in later chapters. Just don't expect flowery declarations and snuggles and fireworks. Things might get blown up...but no fireworks.

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