Notes:  Sorry for the lapse in updating :(  I am lazy and bad and evil, and deserve to be punished by getting lots and lots of feedback, because you know how I hate that ;)  Lots of Wufei angst ahead!
by: Shoori

I Know Who I Want... + Part 22

I sigh, put down the brief I'm reading, and glance at the clock on the bedside table.

12:14 AM.

Exactly two minutes since the last time I looked at the clock.

Four minutes since the time before that.

Five minutes from the time before that.

Obviously, I am neither going to get any sleep or any work done like this.

I push the blankets aside, swing my legs over the side of my bed, slide my feet into my slippers and stand up. I cross the room, grabbing my robe from where it's draped over one of the chairs, and leave my bedroom.

I cross our private study and let myself out the big set of doors that separate our private wing from the rest of the mansion.

Wufei's not in this wing. Not only would I have found him when I went looking here after I got done with the lawyers around seven-thirty, I would feel him if he were this close.

So, I've only got a house the size of a city block or so to look in.

Sometimes I wonder why I actually live here. It's more like an office building than a house.

That's probably my answer, though. I don't have to bring my work home with me - I live with my work.

That in itself is probably a kind of scary commentary on me and my priorities.

I do have at least one thing in my life that I place a higher priority on than my work, though, and that is currently missing.

I should have gone and looked for him earlier. I know that something is very wrong.

I just... hoped he would come find me, when he was ready.

Maybe he still will. But I can't let him be alone any longer. It's very hard to bring him back to me if he's alone with his pain for too long.

I almost couldn't bring him to me at all. We all let him be alone too long, after the war. He wandered by himself for years, not even returning to us for Heero's wedding to Relena. He worked for the Preventers, but he traveled so much that he didn't even have an apartment of his own. He had no home at all, nothing but hotel rooms, for over three years.

Then, he and I ran into each other at a Preventers event in the French nation. He didn't know I was going to be there - I had decided at the last minute to fly in, to be present for the speech that was being given by the French representative to the Preventers. It was the first time I'd seen him in over two years.

I was shocked when I saw him, horrified at his condition. He wasn't physically ill. He looked healthy and strong - he had grown in the years we'd been apart, though not as much as I had. He was well dressed, clad in formal attire that accentuated his dark good looks. But behind the surprise and guarded pleasure in his eyes when he recognized me I saw something else.

Desperation.

A desperate need for... something. Anything. As we chatted and exchanged news and gossip and stories of our lives, I felt his despair radiate off him in waves.

It scared me.

Wufei had nothing, and the need for something was killing him.

I mean that quite literally. I think that fate or Allah or God or someone intervened and made me decide to attend that meeting at the last minute. I really believe that if we had not met each other then, before long Chang Wufei would have been gone from this world forever.

Maybe he would have continued to exist, physically, for an indefinite amount of time. But he would have become less and less himself, and there would have been no bringing him back.

By the end of the night I had convinced him - told him, he claims now - to transfer to a position based in Sanc, and stay in the mansion with me. I had plenty of room, but I was alone. Trowa had left me more than two years before, and by that point he was with Duo. Heero was married to Relena. Wufei and I were the only ones left unattached, so it just made sense for us to be with each other.

He lived in the private wing, in his own quarters, for a long time. Ever so slowly, without even realizing it was happening - which is saying a lot when it comes to me - we fell in love.

I feel myself smile even as I shuffle through chilly, dark, empty corridors, opening doors at random and peering in, even though I know before I look in them that he isn't in the rooms behind the doors.

In love. With Wufei. If I'd been told when we met that I'd be in love with him some day, I wouldn't have believed it. I was totally wrapped up in Trowa, in his mystery and silence. I liked Wufei, but thought he was a little odd. His intensity made me a little nervous.

Not anymore. I like his intensity now.

It took us a long time to admit to ourselves, a long time to say to each other, and even longer to act on. Everything happened so slowly, so gradually, it seemed just a natural progression of events rather than a planned relationship. When it came out we were together everyone thought we'd been hiding it. That's not quite right, though. There was no "we're a couple now," moment, so there was no big announcement.

I guess we could have told people after the first time we made love, but I don't think Wufei was too keen on the idea of spreading that news around. He's kind of cagey when it comes to personal details.

I sigh, and lean against a wall, stopping to think for a minute. He told me, well before we'd slept together, about some of the things that had happened to him in the war. He told me about Treize, and rarely have I been so angry. I don't think I've ever been that angry and not killed somebody.

People are surprised by my temper, sometimes, by the violence that I can display that is so at odds with my normal personality. Most people don't realize how really awful it is, how great the potential for violence that lurks inside me. I didn't realize it until about a year ago, and it freaked me out. Wufei accepted it like he has accepted everything that bothers me, about myself or anything else - quietly, without any negative comments, with just calm support and the willingness to help me do whatever I need to do to solve, fix or deal with whatever it is that's wrong.

I need to do that for him now.

I have never pressed him to tell me more about Treize than he told me on his own, which is probably why I'm standing in a drafty hallway in my robe and slippers being irritated with myself, rather than lying somewhere cozied up next to my lover. You'd think that after what the two of us saw Trowa, Duo and Heero dealing with, we'd have realized you have to really hash out the things that are bothering you with the people you love, or someday they'll catch up to you.

You'd think that I, of all people, who am supposed to be so in tune with the emotions, would have realized that.

Nah. I'm like an ostrich. Head in the sand. Only, for me, the sand gets suddenly and uncomfortably hot a lot quicker than for your average person, so I have to yank it up, look around, and figure out some way to cool off.

The sand got boiling hot during lunch today. The moment Zechs walked in the door, I actually felt dizzy and nauseated from the amount of volatile emotion suddenly radiating off of everyone in the room.

Heero was so angry, I had to actually push him away. I had to... .it's hard to explain. Break a connection to him? There's nothing tangible, but... I kind of had to stop feeling him. Duo was confused, Trowa upset, a little confused... suspicious. Zechs himself... I felt chagrin, a little irritation, embarrassment... and regret. That's nothing new, really. Zechs lives with a vast amount of regret, so much that a miasma of guilt and remorse swirls around him all of the time.

But the shock of feeling was the worst from Wufei, maybe because I'm so emotionally close to him. There was utter amazement upon first seeing Zechs, then such pain that it shocked me. There was fear, and guilt and shame. I reached out and touched him, an unconscious movement born solely of my desire to comfort him, though I wasn't at all sure exactly what he needed comforting for. When I touched him it was like getting an electric shock - he looked into my eyes, I felt the skin of his arm beneath my hand, and all of those emotions intensified so suddenly, so abruptly that I was almost physically sick. Then he looked away from me, and suddenly they were gone. Not totally gone, like Trowa does, but nearly so. Just a faint echo of them lingered, like the ringing in your ears after a sudden, loud noise fades away.

He left before I could talk to him, and then I was stuck with Une, and more lawyers, then Wufei was with the lawyers, then I had to talk to the lawyers again... and by the time I was finally finished with them everyone was gone and I couldn't find Wufei.

And I haven't looked for him for almost five hours.

I wince with guilt, push myself away from the wall, and start looking again.

I'm a chicken. I've been leaving him alone to give him time to calm down, so that I don't have to feel that shock of emotion again.

I suck.

But with feeling that intense bombarding me I'm powerless to do anything, and it makes me physically ill. I don't really think I'd help him much by upchucking in his lap. I had to give him time to collect himself a little.

Sure, Winner. Keep telling yourself that.

As I knew would happen, once I decide I'm really looking for him, I go right to him. I stop in front of the door to one of the medium conference rooms, and I know he's in there.

If I'd thought about it, I probably could have guessed that he'd be here anyway. If he has to schedule a meeting for himself, with his aides or constituents, he always schedules it in here. He likes this room better than most of the others, because it has a view of the little rock garden I had constructed for him when he moved in here. He says it reminds him of home.

I think he's just being polite. I've seen pictures of the landscaping on Wufei's home colony, and, in comparison, my little rock garden is pathetic at best.

I open the door quietly, and step into the room. It's dark, except for the moonlight flowing in from the windows. Standing in the center of the bank of glass, his back to the room, is my lover.

I frown, immediately feeling more worry flood though me. Something is very wrong.

He's standing there, staring out, his hands behind his back - a familiar enough position for him. When he's thinking, trying to work out a problem in his mind, he'll frequently stand just like that, before any window that happens to be nearby, just staring out it, seemingly unseeing. He never seems to move, never seems to note what happens around him, but after a length of time - sometimes very brief, sometimes very long - he'll turn around and briskly announce the solution he's devised to the problem. But what's really weird is that he can also tell you what happened in the room, who came and left, who said what, and comment on those happenings. He'll also mention the bird that flew by the window outside and tell you which tree it's nested in, inform you that the third rosebush on the left is blooming, and offer praise for the gardener who was pruning the hedges.

I don't know how he does it. He reacts to nothing, and I would swear his eyes never move. But he's totally aware of everything, and nothing, at the same time. He's completely focused on what's going on within him, but nothing happening outside of him escapes him either.

And he thinks that I'm gifted.

But this time there's something different. His hands are behind his back, but instead of resting with the palm of one hand wrapped around the back of the other, with the outer fingers fisted, his fingers are laced together tightly. His back and shoulders, usually straight and squared, are slumped and bowed. And his head... Wufei always stands and walks like my nurse used to nag me to when I was a child. Head lifted high and proud, chin up... But now his head is bent, the back of his neck looking oddly vulnerable, his chin pressed into his chest.

I stop, staring at him uncomfortably. I don't like seeing him like this, don't like seeing him look so... defeated.

"Wufei," I call softly, keeping my eyes on him as I switch on one of the overhead lights.

He jumps, startled, and turns to face me.

That movement makes me even more uneasy than I was before. He didn't know I was here.

He looks at me, startled, and I feel the pain start to build in my chest. This is my own pain, now, not his, but it is for him. There are dark smudges under his eyes, and I see the trail of dried tears on his cheeks.

Wufei was crying? He rarely cries. I have seen him cry only a handful of times in all the time I've known him. But he's crying now. Because of Zechs.

Suddenly, I'm very angry at the former Lightening Count. I don't know why, but if his presence in our home can drive Wufei to tears, he must have done something horrible to my lover. If he has hurt Wufei, then Zechs Marquise is now and forever my enemy.

"Wufei, are you all right?" I ask quietly, as gently as I can manage, slowly crossing the room toward him.

He watches me for a moment, then turns back toward the window, looking out into the night.

"Do you know what happens when a son dishonors his family?" he asks me abruptly, when I've covered about half of the distance between us.

I stop, regarding him uncertainly. "No," I answer quietly.

"His name is erased from the family genealogy," he tells me, his voice hollow. "He is one never born. He cannot worship the ancestors any longer, for he is not one of the family. When he dies, there is no biography written and no eulogy recorded for him in the genealogy. His deeds and offices are not remembered or recited with pride. Noone will ever leave offerings for him after his death, and his po will rage and his hun will mourn, deserted, uncared-for and unacknowledged, throughout eternity."

The words are measured and precise, and sound like something that he's reciting from memory, rather than telling me now.

"What are his po and his hun?" I ask softly.

"The two halves of the soul," he answers remotely, almost absently, still in his lecturer's voice. "The po is the animal part of the soul - the life force. It decays with the body, lingers in the area of the grave. The hun is the mind, the heart, the intellect of the person. It lives as long as the descendents remember the name of the dead, and perform rituals and offerings in his name. Without these honors, the hun fades away - not completely, but it becomes powerless, shapeless and wretched. It is then unable to confer blessings upon the descendents or monitor the affairs of man. It's... a ghost, miserable and unhappy, forever."

He's silent for a long time. I say nothing - I'm not sure what he's trying to tell me, but I don't want to interrupt before he's done.

"That is what will happen to all my ancestors, all my family, when I am gone," he says quietly.

I close my eyes, conscious of the agony he feels at that revelation. I hadn't realized before, somehow, how much a part of him Wufei's beliefs are. There is a little room in our private wing, a room noone but Wufei ever enters, that he has set up as the shrine for his ancestors. Every day, at some point in the day, he goes in there. If he has no pressing business, he can be in there quite a long time.

I knew all this. But... The faith I was raised in isn't like that. It's a strict and sometimes angry creed, and I break many of its major tenets every day - whenever I shake hands with an ungloved woman or sip wine with dinner or kiss Wufei. So it's hard to be immersed in that faith, to believe in it whole-heartedly, because if I were to do so I would have to believe myself the worst of sinners, which is a rather uncomfortable way to live.

Wufei doesn't talk about the beliefs he was raised with, so I'm dismayed to realize that I know almost nothing about them. I've never asked to go into his shrine. I don't even know if I can, if I'm allowed.

"I'm... sorry," I tell him softly. That's so inadequate. I don't know how to help him.

"There will be noone left when I am gone, and they will all begin to fade," he says dully, as though he hadn't heard me. He sighs. "It has probably already begun," he says quietly.

I frown. "Why?" I ask quietly. "Why would it have already begun? Aren't they... You... take care of them," I flounder. "Aren't they here to watch over you?"

"There have always been Changs," he said quietly, seemingly irrelevantly. "A Chang was the first Mystical Teacher. My father was the ninety-second order of descent from him. Changs have been scientists, artists, poets, generals. And now all that is left of all of them is me." I'm close enough to him now to see his face in profile. "The last unworthy son of a great family," he finishes sadly.

"Wufei!" I reach out and grab his arm, pull him gently around to face me. "Why do you say that?" I demand.

"I have dishonored them," he says quietly, not looking at me. "I have dishonored my name. I am not worthy to bear it. Were they alive, they would erase me from the genealogy."

"Why?" I interrupt. "What have you done that is so dishonorable?" I demand.

"I am weak," he tells me softly.

Oh, dear. I hold back a sigh. It's hard to get Wufei off the 'I'm weak' track once he's on it.

"You are strong, Wufei," I tell him heatedly. "You fought at the risk of your life many times. You saved millions of people. You fight for what you believe in now... "

"I didn't save them," he interrupts bitterly.

I shake my head. "They died because they knew how worthy you are," I tell him. "They wanted you to be free to reach the heights you could reach. They didn't want to hold you back."

Well, as comfort, that failed miserably. His face contorts, and he squeezes his eyes shut tight, digging his chin into his chest in sorrow.

"Wufei!" I shake him gently, alarmed.

"Do you know what I did with their sacrifice?" he demands, jerking his head up suddenly. His eyes are bright with unshed tears, but flash with anger and self-loathing nonetheless.

"Fought?" I venture. "Helped to save the world, three times at the last count? Dedicated your life to working with the organization that strives to protect the peace your family died to attain?"

"They died," he says, ignoring me, "and I went and... and... fucked the man ultimately responsible for their deaths!"

I am shocked into silence. I have never heard Wufei utter that word before, certainly not in that context.

"And that wasn't the first time I did it," he rages. "Or that last. It was... " he stops, almost choking in his shame, "It was the first time I went of my own volition. It was the first time I was not restrained, or tied... They died, Quatre, and I gave myself freely to their killer!"

He's shouting, not heeding the tears that run down his face.

"I gave myself to him!" he shouts. "A man who had dishonored me, taken me against my will, forced me to respond to him, given me to another for his pleasure... "

"Another?" I say quickly.

"Zechs," he spits, as though this is not important.

"He'd done that, Quatre, but until then... It wasn't me. I resisted him, as best I could. But I... I feared the day I wouldn't be able to. And then... not even the sacrifice of my family could make me strong!" he howls, weeping.

Allah. I can almost see the psychiatrists eagerly lining up to explain this one. Wufei, in his guilt over the deaths of his family, punishes himself by surrendering himself to his greatest fear. And then that surrender itself becomes another thing to punish himself over. What a terrible irony. And how tragic that Wufei, so intelligent, so perceptive, can not see this cruel paradox that is tearing him apart.

He tries to pull his arm away from me, but the movement throws him off balance and he falls to his knees, still wracked with his grief. I can see the truth, see what happened to the child that he was, see his act as remorse and atonement and an attempt at expiation. But he can't. And I can't explain it to him, not now. In a few days, or a few hours or a few minutes, maybe. He'll hear me, and eventually he will understand what I'm telling him, and one day he will believe it and know it to be true. But now he is wrapped in the torment of confessing this guilt for the first time, and so now he can't hear me.

There is only one thing I can do for him now.

I kneel down with him, in front of him. I take a deep breath, and deliberately lean into him, wrapping my arms around his shaking body, holding him tightly to me.

My own body jerks as I feel, physically feel, his anguish flow into me. My head swims; I sway, disoriented, as his agony floods my body. My eyes water, and my stomach roils but I ignore it all, holding him tighter, feeling his trembling against me and his tears soaking into my shoulder.

I push all my physical sensations away and just hold him, absorbing his pain into my body. Above everything else, above his pain, above my own discomfort, I am conscious of one feeling.

He is mine. I love him, and he is mine, and no one, no one, will ever cause him to hurt like this again.

I swear that upon the soul of my father.

[part 21] [part 23] [back to Shoori's fic]