The Prize + Part 6 (cont)

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Where the hell was Milliardo? He needed a drink. Several dozen, actually. He headed for his friend's apartment, the ache in his chest growing with each step away from the bedroom.

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Wufei sat on the bed and gaped at the door. He looked around the room for a few seconds, and then plopped to the floor. And then, for reasons he couldn't quite articulate, he cried. Hot fat tears slipped down his cheeks and stifled his sobs into the comforter hanging off the edge of the bed. Treize didn't want him! Minna would surely hate him. He never felt so alone, and his stomach twisted in knots.

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"Milliardo!" Treize boomed as he rapped on the door.

Zechs ran across the room and flung open the door. Treize threw himself into Zech's arms, not stopping to look at the man's half open shirt, little golden nipple rings exposed and a giant purple hicky forming on the man's neck. Treize buried his face into Zech's shoulder and began to shake.

"Treize? Treize what's wrong? Is it Wufei?"

"I let him go," Treize said in a voice so small and so child-like that Zechs felt tears sting his own eyes.

"Um, come in... Tell me about it..."

"I was just leaving..." Noin said as she patted her purple locks back into place and adjusted her shirt.

"Noin?" Treize gasped. "Oh... Oh, Milliard... I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt with my problems..."

"No! Treize! Its okay. Noin understands, don't you darling?" Zechs held his breath.

"Of course my love...I'll go to my room now. Good evening General, and if I may say, good luck, sir."

"Thank you, Noin. I promise I won't keep him long."

Noin hurried off, looking only slightly peeved and Zechs ushered Treize onto the bed. "Now, sit down, and tell me what happened."

Treize gave his version of the details, trying his best to hold back any tears or signs of weakness, which seemed just stupid, considering the man before him new his every tell at poker, let alone in personal matters.

"Oh Treize, I'm sorry. It seemed like you were finally breaking down his walls. But it's like I said... You have to let him go. Otherwise, you'll never know what he truly feels."

"Fear. Disgust. Shame. That is all he feels for me. I saw it in his eyes..."

"Oh, my friend. Have patience!"

"No, Milliard. He won't come back. And after all that has happened, I can't blame him! I was such a fool!"

"Treize!" Zechs leaned down and rested his head on his best friend's chest, listening to the broken heart that beat there.

"Get me drunk, Milliard. Get me drunk or I won't have the strength to let him leave..."

Zechs didn't move. He just held Treize tighter, and Treize returned the embrace, his body now wracking with unbridled sobs.

Zechs didn't even bother to drivel at him that it would be all right. His friend truly felt like dying inside, and saying it will be okay wouldn't going to cut it.

"Milliardo... I'm sorry I stopped you and Noin..."

Zechs laughed. "It's ok. The really important part was over..."

Treize glanced down. "But you don't even have your clothes off..."

"Baka!... I asked Noin to marry me and she accepted -- " Zechs snapped his head as fear washed all over his heart. Poor Treize! He would feel like he had abandoned him!

Treize smiled down at him. "From my heart, Milliardo, congratulations. I expect to be best man!"

"It's a promise."

Treize lifted his body a little to kiss his best friend, to show him that there were no hard feelings, to show his happiness for the other man. At this inopportune moment, Wufei chose to barge into Zech's room.

"Milliardo! Treize doesn't want -- " Wufei stopped dead in his tracks as the two men broke apart. His eyes quickly took in Zech's open shirt and hair in disarray, and Treize underneath him on the bed. Something in his little heart cracked and a wave of pure sadness and fury swept over him. Wufei straightened his back and cleared his throat. "I merely came to say good-bye, Milliardo. Take care of each other." Wufei spun on his heel and bolted out of the room.

Treize fell back on the bed and sobbed.

Zechs held his head in his hands. He tried to go after Wufei, but the door had been locked and techno music blared for hours. Treize had been no help, drowning himself in the liquor cabinet until he passed out on Zechs's floor. Zechs tucked Treize into bed, and left a note under Wufei's door then he slipped into Noin's room and trembled in her gentle embrace, his heart heavy for his friends.

+

Wufei had stepped off the plane in a daze. He only took the clothes on his back, the tailored tuxedo and the katana -- something to remember Treize by -- as he hailed a cab and recited the Winner's address from memory.

Wufei arrived in the middle of elaborate preparations. Dozens of women -- Quatre's sisters he presumed -- were lacing the house and grounds with chains of flowers and setting up chairs and buffet tables. He hadn't been noticed in the commotion as he walked into the mansion and strode right up to Duo, who had tangled himself up in white lights.

"Hello, Maxwell."

"Hello Wufei.... Wufei!" Duo ran to him, lights and all, and glomped on top of him, showering him with kisses and playful punches.

"MINNA! Wufei's here!" he screamed. "Oh Wu-man! Look at you! An earring?!! And what a hot outfit! Life in a palace must be tough! How ya feeling?"

"Maxwell," Wufei whispered, as he crushed the boy to him.

"Wufei!" Quatre squealed as his ran down the stairs and dropped to his knees to throw his arms around Wufei's neck. "How do you feel? Are you jet lagged? Are you hungry? Did they treat you well?"

"Welcome home, Wufei."

"Yuy."

Heero walked slowly over to Wufei and bent down to place and gentle hand on Wufei's head. Wufei's eyes stung. This marked the first time Heero had ever shown him any affection, and though the gesture had been small, coming from Yuy, it spoke volumes. "Did they treat you well?"

"Ah. I was treated with the utmost respect and hospitality, just like I said in the letter."

"Wufei-kun! Okaeri!"

"Hello, Trowa! Congratulations on finally getting up the courage to ask him to marry you!"

"Actually," Trowa blushed, "he asked me..."

Wufei raised his eyebrows in a remarkably Treize gesture. "Is that so?"

"Wufei! Get up off that floor and over here this instant! You must tell us all about the land of OZ!"

"He must be tired Duo, let him rest."

"Heero you are such a wet rag!"

"That doesn't make any sense."

"Its an American expression. It means you are no fun!"

"You thought it was fun when I tied you up last night.."

Duo and Heero peered over at Wufei, waiting for a nosebleed or sharp comment. Instead he brushed Duo's bangs back and placed a small kiss on his forehead. "It's good to be home, minna."

+

On the following day, the warm Cancer sun graced the sky and smiled down on the Winner estate. Wufei sat in the first row, watching as Duo and Heero shifted nervously from their places as best men. Trowa stood at the tops step of the gazebo, his eyes looking down the isle for his love. "Bell Canon" by Pachell began to play and everyone rose as Quatre, in the most elegant and simple white tux, slowly walked down the isle, a bouquet of pink roses in his hands.

Pink roses. A young and innocent love. Wufei's chest ached with the memory of Treize, but he banished the thoughts and focused on the sweet face of his fellow pilot and friend. Quatre looked radiant. Ecstatic. Wufei wondered if he would ever find a love like that.

Quatre joined Trowa on the gazebo, and soon after, they exchanged vows of undying love and the promise of a life together. Wufei, despite himself, felt pangs of joy and sorrow, spasms of release and intense pain. They had made it so far, through the war, through life itself. They were barely sixteen and they had experienced so much. Now Trowa and Quatre would experience life together. And soon, Duo and Heero would follow. Much as he loved being with minna, he knew he could not remain here. He would only be in their way.

The reception had been pleasant enough with music and dancing and lots of wine, typical of any expensive celebration. Quatre and Trowa were in their own world, however; since the first song played, they had begun to kiss and hadn't stopped half an hour later. Wufei took his turns with Quatre's sisters, impressing Duo and Heero with his ability to waltz. Another sad smile graced his face as Yuy stepped up to him and extended his arm.

"May I have this dance?"

Wufei took his arm and let Heero lead him to the floor for a slow song.

"Wufei? What's wrong? Are you unhappy?"

"Only a little," Wufei said through closed eyes.

"Did they hurt you? You don't have to pretend for me... I know what it's like..."

"No... Treize didn't hurt me. Une did, but that's forgotten. No one was rude to me once I got there."

"Then are you sad to have to go back so soon?"

"No. I... I don't have to go back, Heero."

"What?"

"He... let me go."

Heero paused and then tucked Wufei's head under his chin. "Then why are you sad?"

"He let me go."

Heero pulled back and looked at Wufei's onyx eyes. "You... love him?"

Wufei's eyes flooded with tears. "No!... Yes.... I don't know!" He sniffed and pulled Heero back into their embrace. "It doesn't matter now. He doesn't want me. He gave me back."

"Why? What did he say?"

"Some crap about not deserving me and how I deserved the world... bull... shit." Wufei hiccuped. "Please don't let them see me like this..."

"It's okay. They'll think you're drunk anyway. God knows I am. I hate big affairs. They make me nervous."

"They used to make me that way, too."

"Not anymore?"

"I got over it at... at the palace."

"Oh. I see. Why... not go back and try to work it out, Wufei?"

"No. It's over. He doesn't want me..."

"Are you sure?"

"Milliardo said -- "

"Milliardo?"

"Zechs Marquise... said that Treize was letting me go because he loved me. I don't know what to believe anymore. I'm so tired and I can't think straight. I miss him. I miss him. I miss him. But... he's the enemy. He made me his pet. I have my pride. But my pride doesn't take away this... emptiness... this loneliness."

"Wufei..."

"A thousand times a day I turn around to ask him his opinion on something, or to practice my languages or even to just get a rise out of him... I never realized how big a part of my life he became... I miss him, Heero.."

Heero pulled Wufei close to him and breathed into his ear. "Then... then you must go to him Wufei."

"I can't, Yuy."

"Listen Wufei. I almost lost Duo because I was a coward. No don't you be one, too, you hear me? Follow your love, at all costs. Even if it turns you into a fool..."

"A fool in a penguin suit on a motocycle?"

Heero blushed. "Even then. Find out if Treize loves you. If not, then come back. You always have a place with us... you know that..."

Wufei kissed Heero gratefully, which shocked Heero to be sure, but the kiss had been returned. Then Wufei had been let loose into Duo's embrace as the braided boy cut in without a word.

"Hey there, Wu-man. I know you got a dance for me, ne?! And a kiss too?"

"Maxwell no baka!" Wufei said, as he smiled at Heero and pulled Duo into a tight frame. They danced, and for once Duo remained quiet, and Wufei appreciated that, just letting him feel, just letting him adjust. When Quatre and Trowa finally broke for air, Wufei got his chance to dance with each of them, and in doing so, got to say his good-byes.

+

"Wufei-kun. If you love him, then don't care what anybody else thinks. Go and take him. Take your happiness. That is where your real freedom lies."

"I never knew you were such a romantic, Trowa!"

"I wasn't, until I met Quatre. Wufei, never give up, ne? That way, you never lose..."

"Wufei... we love you! You will always have a home here."

"Thank you, Quatre. I love you, too. I'm sorry to only stay for such a short time... I will come back sometime, I promise, minna. I won't lose you again."

"God's speed Wufei!" Duo grinned.

"Make sure he treats you well, Wu. Remind him who your friends are!"

"Thank you Duo, Heero. Minna. I can never -- " Wufei began to choke up and the words wouldn't come past his throat, so he merely bowed as slowly and as deeply as he ever had in his life. Then he picked up his bag and sword and without another word, stepped into the cab and raced towards the airport.

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