The Prize + Part 5 (cont)

+

The boy moved back upstairs and into the bedroom with glee. He felt glad to be out of that damned hard bed and back in a room with books and huge windows and a balcony and... Treize. He sat Indian-style on the soft Persian rug in front of the idle fireplace, waiting for Treize to return from wherever he went, so they could begin the lesson. Wufei tried to meditate, but his mind became too unfocused.

Treize entered the room quite and apologized. "Am I disturbing your exercises?"

"No," Wufei said simply.

"I have a present for you."

Wufei's eyes snapped open.

"Aren't you curious what it is?"

Wufei sniffed and Treize bit his lip. His little one had been dying to know, but would never show it, Treize understood. From behind his back, Treize pulled out a long katana, sheathed in a black hilt of the smoothest water buffalo hide. He knelt before Wufei and held the sword out with his head slightly bowed, in the traditional manner.

Wufei had been shocked, but he quickly took the gift, not wishing to be impolite. Treize said nothing, but watched him intently. Wufei examined the hilt, which had been decorated with large black pearls and one or two of the biggest diamonds Wufei had ever seen. His mouth dropped open. He unsheathed the blade and gaped at the engraving of a gorgeous dragon -- the kind with wings, like in old European fairy tales -- which draped itself around the shining silvery metal in an intricate spiral. "Treize... It's beautiful..."

"Happy Birthday."

"Huh?... Treize, my birthday isn't until -- Oh my Gods, it's my birthday!"

"Do you like it, dragon Fei?"

"Yes, Treize. I've never held anything so expensive in my hands before...That's why I can't accept it."

"In my culture to refuse a gift is an insult. You will need it, besides. Remember?" Treize motioned to brush Wufei's cheek with his glove.

"Oh."

"Also, your friends sent you a package. It's in the hall. I'll get it for you..."

Treize left and returned with a big cardboard box. "Here you go. Can you open it yourself?"

"Minna! They... they remembered!"

"Here are the scissors. I'll leave you be, this is a private thing. If you have anything you wish to send to them... letters and such... let me know. I'll arrange it." Treize turned to go.

"Treize!"

He turned back around with raised eyebrows.

"....Thank you."

Treize bowed deeply and simply said, "You're welcome," as he left.

After Treize closed the door Wufei jumped up and ripped into the box. He felt like a kid, but he couldn't help it. He had never gotten birthday presents before and it would be so nice to hear from minna! He tossed through all the styrafoam shells and white tissue paper till he came to four oddly wrapped gifts and a card. He opened it carefully.

Dear Wufei --

We hope this card finds you well. We are not sure if you will receive this package, but ever the optimist, Duo insisted we try. If you do get this letter, could you write us back? Trowa and I would so like to hear how you are doing, and also, to invite you to our wedding this June, if you can come. We miss you very very much. We hope you like your gifts -- happy birthday, love Quatre W.

Wu-chan! Heya freak! How's life in that plush palace of yours? I bet you got lots of servants running around in there. Dude, I HAVE to tell you this! Trowa got his HAIR CUT for the wedding! You can actually see his eyes! He has two!!! You GOTTA come see it. Oh yeah, me 'n' Heero are engaged. You'll never guess how that baka proposed to me. All I can say is there was a penguin suit involved and a high speed motorcycle chase and... --------- um, wow he's a good kisser!. Ok. Nevermind. Anyway, it was very romantic and now here's Heero, who by the way, is responsible for that mess...Happy birthday! Love D!

Hello, Wufei. I trust you are in good health and if not, making everybody around you suffer for it. Duo and I are engaged but the details are less than flattering to yours truly, so I think you can live without them. Let us know if you ever need anything. You can reach us at the Winner estate. We'll always be there for you, Wufei. Happy birthday, Heero.

Wufei kun. It's Trowa. Ogenki desu ka? Please do write back if you can, and let us know that you are all right. And if you can, come to our wedding. You will be our guest of honor: the man who brought the world peace. Happy birthday, Wufei kun. Yours very truly, Tro.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

Wufei read the note through his tears. So Trowa and Quatre were finally tying to knot. He felt so happy for them. And Heero got around to making Duo his. He hoped Treize would let him out for the wedding. He would just have to best him at the duel. He carefully folded the letter and placed it on a little flower table, then picked up his presents. He unwrapped Quatre's first, encased in paper with little yellow chicks on it, and pulled out a very old book on Taoism. How wonderful.

Next he "unwrapped" Heero's, which basically entailed unwinding the silver duct tape from his present. It looked like a little letter opener, but it was really a slender dagger. Leave it to Heero to smuggle a weapon into OZ.

He moved on to Duo's gift; and tore the comic strip paper away from the box. He opened the box and blushed as he pulled out a black leather g-string. "Maxwell!!!" He giggled.

Then he opened Trowa's, which had been wrapped in plain brown paper. He opened the box and removed a CD of tenko drum music. Wufei felt like he would cry. He gathered all the gifts to him and hugged them as if they were his friends.

Just then there came a knock on the door. "Wufei?"

"Yes, Treize, come in."

Treize entered. "How are you feeling?"

"Um... a little...." Wufei couldn't look away as the tears rolled down his eyes. "No one's ever... gotten me a birthday gift before..."

"Really?" Treize paused, unsure he could bear a weeping dragon. "Well, you're sixteen now right? So that makes fifteen presents you're entitled to. Milliardo and I will definitely have to take you shopping as soon as you are well."

Wufei smiled. "I... I don't have any place for these..." He motioned to the gifts.

Treize walked across the room and opened the highboy and removed some articles of civilian clothing. "Here. This will be your space. Put anything you like in it, and I won't go looking, I promise. Just no bombs or anything."

Wufei stood to put his gifts away but swayed unsteadily. Treize swiftly came there, taking his arm, guiding him back to bed. Treize took the gifts from Wufei, but Wufei stopped him with a little shout. "Can I sleep with them around me? Please?"

"Of course, dragon." Treize piled the bounty around Wufei and then nestled his dragon in the covers and pillows.

"Treize?"

"Yes, Wufei?"

"My sword?"

Treize smiled. He walked over to the fireplace and then lay the sword upon the bed, on his side of the mattress. "There you go. All your treasures. Now, get some sleep."

"Treize?"

"Yes, Wufei?"

"Read me Quatre's book?"

Treize's eyes lit up and he nodded. He drew a chair to the side of Wufei's bed and cracked open the old book. He laughed. "Wufei? I can't read Chinese..."

Wufei fell half-asleep already. "Really? That simply won't do! " Wufei mocked and smiled, shutting his eyes for a long nap.

+

"Harder dragon! You hold back too much!"

Wufei lunged at Treize with all his might, only to be parried with ease and thrown onto the ground, his own weight manipulated against him.

"Fuck!"

"Wufei."

"I mean drat, curses, oh darn!"

Treize pulled Wufei up to his feet and spun him around, taking each of the boy's arms in his own. "You are becoming unbalanced, Wufei..." he whispered, "because you are too focused on my blade, and not on me." Treize lifted the boy's left arm, for they were practicing with the traditional left standard, and not the right, which Wufei seemed more comfortable with. Treize insisted he learn the ancient French way, to build up his torn muscle.

"When I move my saber, it is to attract your attention. I never move the sword where you think it will go. That is a decoy. If you want to know where I will thrust or parry, look to my shoulder, from whence the movement comes. That is how I always won in the past, dragon Fei. Your shoulders gave you away every time. Learn to master this, and we are equals."

Wufei listened intently, trying to ignore the heat radiating off Treize's chest onto his back an arms. "If I do master this, and I beat you, I have a request."

"I will not let you go."

"Just for one day. For one very important day!"

Treize's eyebrows raised and he walked in front of Wufei, eyes searching. Wufei looked up at him with so much hope and want it became very hard for Treize not to give in right on the spot, without hearing the boy's reason. "Why?"

"Quatre and Trowa are getting married. They want me to be their guest of honor. It said so in the letter, I can prove I'm not lying. I just want to go to their wedding and then I promise I'll come right back. You have my word of honor!"

Treize thought for a moment. Surely this request had not been out of bounds. If Wufei gave his word he would return then he would. Treize knew that if his dragon pressed him, he could not tell him no.

"Very well. If you win, you may go. Only long enough for the wedding and reception and then you must come right back."

Wufei smiled so brilliantly, that Treize vowed to make him smile like that everyday. Wufei jumped into Treize's arms and sighed. "Thank you Treize! You don't know what is means to me!"

"What what means to you?" a familiar voice called.

"Milliardo!" the men chorused.

Wufei bounded up to him. "Look Milliardo! I got a sword from Treize for my birthday! See, look! It's got a dragon on it and pearls and everything....Geez, I sound like Marie... "

Zechs smiled and placed his arm around the boy. "No, even Marie doesn't get quite that excited! It's a beautiful gift for a beautiful sweet sixteen! But I, too, come bearing gifts, Wufei."

"You do?"

"Of course! I wouldn't forget your birthday!" Zechs cried indignantly. "There you are. I didn't have time to wrap it, sorry."

Zechs held up a large clear stone with a single red rose embedded in the middle.

"You got me a paperweight?"

Zechs and Treize laughed till there were tears in each pair of eyes. "No, no, Wufei. This is a very special stone, for sharpening swords. You can sharpen your katana on it."

"You knew I was getting a sword?!?!"

"Of course; we were always partners in crime before ne?" Zechs said to Treize as they shook hands and embraced for a warm hug. A hug that made Wufei prickle just slightly.

"Zechs, what does a yellow rose mean? Noin got me some when I was in the hospital..."

"Yellow means friendship..." Zechs answered.

"And red?"

This time it had been Treize who stepped up to Wufei and whispered, "It means love, Wufei. Passionate love. A red rose is my family's crest. Now, thank our good friend here and get your pretty little ass back on the strip and en guarde!"

Wufei blushed a new shade of crimson and bowed to thank Zechs, then put the stone carefully on the floor and hiked over to the strip and got into position. Zechs stood by their side.

"Fencers ready?" Zechs called.

"Sir!" they chanted.

"Fence!"

And so the dance began. Wufei learned quickly, a new determination set in his brow and soon he kept up with Treize. However, Treize had more energy and he took control easily. Wufei knew he would lose. He felt surprised when Treize stopped them.

"Why?" Onyx eyes peered at the General.

"You are tiring. I do no seek to teach you defeat Wufei. Quiet the opposite. Besides, it is time for dinner! And afterwards, if you feel up to it, I should like to hear you and the good ambassador play..."

The men saluted Zechs and each other and began to take off their jackets and gear. Zechs brimmed with happiness. Not simply because he had just gotten back from a fantastic and extremely satisfying trip with Noin, but because he returned to find his two favorites at ease and in high spirits. Perhaps it would take Wufei some time to get used to the idea of being intimate again, but Zechs felt sure as the sky turned blue, that Treize would bed the boy, and soon.

+

The weeks passed in much the same routine as before. Wufei studied, fenced with Treize, had dinner with Zechs and other company, and returned to the room to sit in front of the fire and listen to Treize read aloud. However, his healing went slowly and Wufei grew impatient to become strong enough to best Treize and win his chance to see his friends.

That had been why, today at least, Wufei attacked Treize as if the man had been the very devil himself. There seemed to be no rules and no boundaries in this match. Wufei went all over the room, on and off the strip, tumbling, swinging, even using some martial arts moves if it gained him advantage.

Treize for his part felt very happy to see Wufei with so much energy. But he didn't like the desperation his opponent displayed. As if Wufei thought it was a life or death match, like in the old days, during the war... The boy continued to be fiercely aggressive, definitely not taking his time to learn anything from the General today, and in a way Treize felt pleased. Fencing had been the only therapy he knew to give the boy. Yes, this would be good for his arm, but it would also be good for his rage, which lay just under the surface, Treize had been certain.

"Touche!" Wufei screamed. He stepped back and then with barely a nod, came at him again, using a scream similar to the ones he heard in kendo movies. Treize remained so mesmerized he forgot to retreat or perry, and the next thing he knew he sprawled on the ground with Wufei's sword over his throat.

Wufei backed off immediately and threw his sword to the ground. "Treize?!?"

Treize traced a hand across his neck and found a little trail of blood across his index finger. "Nice move, dragon," he said roughly.

Wufei dropped to his knees, tears brimming. This shocked Treize.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry! I hit you..." Wufei's eyes were huge now and he began to pale.

"It's all right, dragon; it doesn't hurt. Really. I'm fine."

"I hit you!" Wufei whispered, as if it seemed inconceivable. He grabbed Treize's arm and pulled him to his feet, as though Treize could not handle the task himself because of the little knick below his Adam's apple.

"It was a nice move. It's illegal in competition, but, if this were a real duel you'd have had me..."

Wufei lowered his head. "I... it was dishonorable of me, to draw your blood like that..."

"What's one more drop, dragon? You already have a whole pint!"

"What?"

"Oh... I didn't tell you because I didn't wish to upset you. When you collapsed, and then had an operation, you lost a lot of blood... I donated some... so... um, I hope... I hope that doesn't upset you..."

Wufei blinked. "You gave me your blood?"

"Yes. I know keeping the Clan's bloodline pure is important to your culture Wufei, but, I couldn't just let you die..."

Wufei blinked again. "He gave me his blood," he said in a daze.

Wufei got down on his knees again and bowed deeply. "I've lost count of how many times I've owed my life to you, Treize Kushrenada. How can I repay you?"

"Just don't hate me for it," Treize murmured.

"I... could never... hate you, Treize," Wufei whispered. He got up and took his sword back in hand. "Shall we go again?"

"And miss your chance to gloat your victory to my dinner guests?"

"What ever are you talking about?"

"Why dragon! You bested me! You even drew blood! You've won! Congratulations! Tomorrow Zechs and I will take you shopping. You'll need some clothes, for the wedding, at least..."

"For the...?" Wufei dropped his sword for the second time and rushed up to Treize, planting a little kiss on the man's cheek. Wufei felt too happy to blush. "Minna!" he squealed. Then he picked up his equipment and made to run out of the gym.

"Where are you going? What about dinner!"

"I haven't time, Treize! I have to pack and write them a letter!" Wufei called back as he dashed out of the room.

"He really is something when you make him happy, Treize." Zechs smiled.

Treize turned around to see Zechs standing at the other set of gym doors, leaning on their frame with his arms crossed over his ambassador's uniform.

"Milliard... I'm letting him go... For a few days."

Zechs raised his eyebrows and nodded. "Did you ever hear the story of the thorn birds, Treize?"

"Thorn birds? I don't think I know that one..."

"Well, I learned the legend from an ancient movie about this priest who had a love affair on some sheep farm in Australia... pretty boring stuff actually..."

"The priest had a love affair with sheep? Sounds interesting enough to me..."

Zechs hit Treize playfully on the back of his head as they picked up his equipment and started towards the door. "No you baka! He had an affair on a sheep farm not with a sheep farm. Anyway, half way through this dumb movie the priest starts going off about love. And he tells the story of the thorn birds. You see, in Australia there used to be this kind of bird, very small, plain, homely kind of things. The birds never speak, their whole lives. Then, one day, when a bird is ready, it will fly away from its flock and go far out into the desert. It goes for days, until it reaches this special kind of tree, with thorns all over it. Then, the thorn bird opens its beak and begins to sing. And all the world stops, and God in His Kingdom looks down and smiles, to hear the most beautiful sound in all His creation. The bird sings for a long time, saying all the things it held in side it's whole life, putting all its love and very soul into the song. And then, on the last note, which is too beautiful to bear, the bird impales itself on a thorn, and dies. The priest said that lovers were sometimes like this bird... Well, the priest was saying love is sometimes so beautiful that it kills us, but at least it gives the world the most beautiful song."

"That's amazing, Milliard. Now, why exactly are you telling me this?"

"Because someday your little bird will sing Treize, but first... you have to let him out of his cage..."

"I can't give him up Milliard. I won't. I won't loose another..."

Zechs's heart panged with guilt. "Very well, Treize. But then you will never know if he truly loves you..."

+

"Wufei..." Treize said as he opened the door. The boy continued putting some clothes in one of Treize's matching luggage sets.

"Can I borrow this? Just for the three days I'll be gone? I'll take good care of it."

"Everything in this room is yours," Treize said sadly... Everything...

Wufei flashed him a grin and perked up his ears. "Tired?"

"Ah."

"Too tired to read tonight?"

"Hai."

"Would you like me to?"

Treize began to remove his clothing. "Hai, dragon, if you wish..."

Wufei removed his top and spread out on his side of the bed. Treize ducked into the closet to change as Wufei attempted to find the page where they left off. Treize emerged in red silk pajama pants and slowly moved under the covers.

"How's your throat?"

Treize touched his little scab. "Ask me in Greek and I'll tell you..."

"I'm not that concerned!" Wufei retorted merrily. "Let's see where were we? Ah yes!"

And he began to read in a soft, breathy voice that clung around Treize's mind. Soon he began to focus on the way the boy read and not the story at all. He couldn't tell you what the hell happened in the story, but he had memorized Wufei's tonal qualities for sure. Treize closed his eyes to listen better.

After a while his dragon stopped, and shut the book. The boy turned off the lamps and slipped back into bed. "Good night, Treize Kushrenada... and thank you." Wufei kissed Treize's forehead and turned over to sleep.

Treize's heart pounded in his chest. Oh God. So close! Must wait for the boy. Treize afforded himself one weakness and feigning sleep, he turned over, snaked an arm around Wufei and pulled the ex-pilot close. The dragon did not fight the embrace, but merely yawned and snuggled closer. Treize nuzzled the back of the boy's neck, and then settled in for sleep, not wanting to blow his cover.

Wufei, for his credit, knew better. The pounding of Treize's heartbeat clearly told him the man had been awake. The frantic rhythm matched his own. He didn't know why he allowed this. Why he wanted this. Treize had protected him. Nursed him. Taught him. And now he gave him a little taste of freedom. Wufei didn't know exactly when he memorized Treize's face, and how he knew Treize's right earlobe hug slightly lower than his left. Wufei had no clue how he knew Treize's emotions based solely on his word choice or lack of tone. And Wufei could never be sure why Treize's touch sent small shocks of pleasure through him, making his heart beat faster, his stomach tighten and his breath come short. He only knew that he wanted Treize to touch him more. He wanted to hear Treize's opinion on everything; his likes and dislikes. Suddenly he felt like he couldn't spend enough time with Treize and he resented that Zechs had known him their whole lives. Wufei really wanted to see the other pilots, and to see the world again. But, he also knew, he wanted to hurry back. Well, best to get some sleep. Tomorrow would be shopping, and the Gods alone knew what that entailed with Zechs and Treize around!

+

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