I Know Who I Want... + Part 20 (cont)

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I shake hands with my lawyer, nod at whatever plans for tomorrow he's filling me in on, and finally step out of the conference room. It's after seven o'clock, and I haven't been out of the little windowless room since lunch. I was about to throw back my head and howl with frustration when the lawyer finally declared we were done for the day.

I wonder if the others are done yet. I want to go home and hear Duo fussing over Trowa's knee, watch Trowa put up with it in silence until he finally gets annoyed enough to throw sofa pillows at Duo's head, listen to Duo sing loudly in the shower - just to entertain us... I just want to forget about this day.

About Marquise. I feel the muscles of my neck and back, already tight with tension, harden to the point where they are almost painful. I don't think any of my friends realizes the depth of will it took to keep me from lunging over the table and grabbing the bastard by the throat, shaking him until...

"Heero."

I jump, startled at the sound of my name. I hadn't realized anyone was in the hallway with me.

I turn, and the words of irritation I had been about to drop on whoever had sneaked up on me stick in my throat. Wufei is staring at me, his dark eyes shadowed and unfathomable.

"I would speak to you," he says quietly. "Do you have a moment?"

I nod. I want to turn and run away. I don't want to have this conversation. But I can't deny him it.

I follow Wufei's neat, spare figure down the long corridors. He's only about an inch taller than Duo's five foot eight, but he's so compactly built and always so perfectly in order that he seems taller. Right now he's moving with his usual grace, but I can see the tension in the ramrod stiffness of his back and shoulders.

My mind races as I follow him in silence.

What am I going to tell him?

Finally, we reach the room he's looking for. I lose track of rooms in the Winner Mansion - I have no idea how many there are. Every time I'm over here I see new ones I didn't even know existed.

This one is much like others I've been in - a small study, with a sofa, a few armchairs, a few shelves of books and several long tables to work on. The major difference between this room and others I've seen is the windows - the whole back wall is made up of several floor-length windows, set right next to each other. The light from the setting sun floods into the room, brightening it enough that Wufei doesn't bother to turn on any of the overhead lights.

He closes the door behind us. "Sit," he invites me curtly, gesturing at the chairs.

"If you do," I reply guardedly.

He sits stiffly on the edge of the black leather sofa. Quatre is really into leather furniture. I wouldn't have thought he would be. I seat myself equally tentatively on the edge of one of the chairs.

A long, uncomfortable silence stretches between us. Neither of us seems inclined to break it.

"Why are you angry with Marquise?" Wufei finally demands. I look at him. He isn't looking at me - his head is up, proudly, as usual, but his gaze is directed downwards, toward the floor.

"I... He has always been my adversary," I stumble. "My enemy. Since the day I first got to Earth. He... "

"You had made peace with him," Wufei interrupts. "After the Eve Wars, and at your wedding... Why has your enmity with him suddenly been revived?"

I swallow. "I will never trust a man who threatened to destroy a planet... "

"You're lying," Wufei interrupts me. The words are calmly stated, quiet even, but somehow still have the effect of a shout. They stop my faltering attempts at evasion cold.

"Wufei. I... " I can't finish. I don't know what I want to say to him.

"You know, don't you?" he asks me quietly.

I nod, not looking at him.

He stands up and walks over to the window. He places his hands behind his back and stares out at the grounds for a long time. I stare at the floor, trying to give him... what? Privacy? Time to himself?

"How?" The words are quiet, but I dreaded hearing them.

"Wufei... " I can't reply.

He whirls, suddenly, glaring at me. "I asked you how you knew," he said, and his voice is cold with rage. "I never told you. I never told anyone, anyone in the world - not even Quatre. I can't imagine Zechs told you - so how do you know, Heero?"

I bow my head.

"Damn you," he hisses, moving closer to me. I look up and he's staring down at me from behind the couch, his face white and his hands clenched into fists. "How do you know?"

I sigh, rubbing my hands on my knees. "After I married Relena, when I joined the Preventers, I got a lot of jobs that Une felt couldn't be trusted to most people. Some were jobs she felt unable to do herself, even. One of those was to go through records left over from OZ."

"OZ?" he frowns. "You married Relena in '98. OZ had been gone for years. You mean to tell me that she never... "

"You know Une's mental state," I tell him. "She does too. She knows her own weaknesses. She had gone through some of the records, but others she felt unable to go through herself. Those included... Treize's records."

He pales even further, and his eyes cloud with pain at the name.

"She turned them over to me. I was to preserve what needed preserving, and destroy what I felt should be destroyed, ever with a mind to preserving the ‘glorious legacy of Treize-san.'"

I can't keep the bitterness out of my voice at that. Wufei flinches.

"It took months to go through Treize's official records. His personal records were harder - lots of them were encrypted, routed to different places, protected by passwords and firewalls."

I pause. Wufei looks up at me, his dark gaze challenging me to continue.

"Some of the records - in both his private and official files - were audio and video files - security camera clips, recordings of important conversations. Most of them I destroyed. Most, I imagine, didn't have any meaning to anyone other than Treize."

"Get on with it," Wufei orders me tersely.

"I'd been on the project for about a year, when I unlocked a vid file. It took me two days to open it." That's a long time for me. Experimenting later, I found that I could open the Treasury files for the Sanc Kingdom in twenty-seven minutes. That's been quite a temptation lately.

"What was it?" Wufei snaps. I look at him and see that he's trembling, he's so rigid with tension. I'm being cruel by prolonging this. My discomfort and pain are nothing compared to his.

"It was a vid of you. You and Zechs." I reply simply.

His jaw tightens, and I see his eyes close - involuntarily I'm sure - before he spins around to face the window again.

"Me and Zechs," he says flatly.

I can't make him drag this out of me. I must be strong, for him. "You were... shackled to a bed," I manage. "You asked him - told him - to stop, not to touch you, but he did," I say quietly, trying to establish that I realize that Zechs had forced the encounter.

Wufei is silent. His back betrays nothing.

"Did you watch the entire transmission?" he asks, and his voice is remote.

I wince. I run my hand along the arm of the chair, feeling the supple material beneath my fingers. "I was... surprised," I admit. "I... I watched it before I realized... Yes," I finish, forcing myself to stop hedging, to stop making excuses for myself.

I hear a soft sound, immediately stifled, and Wufei's head drops, bowed down into his chest.

I know why he asked. Eventually, Wufei's fifteen-year-old body had betrayed him, and from shouting for Zechs to stop, he had moved to shouting for him to continue. And now, Wufei is shamed that I saw that.

It wasn't his fault. I saw the recording. Zechs had coldly and systematically sought a particular physical response, and he got it. Even Wufei's fierce self-control couldn't stand up against such a determined onslaught. His surrender was purely physical, and he couldn't help it.

"Well, I hope you enjoyed the show," Wufei spits bitterly after a moment, not moving from his spot in front of the window.

Anger spurs through my veins at those words. Why in the Hell do we say things like that to each other, intimating that we somehow would feel anything other than sorrow at the pain of one of our friends?

"I didn't enjoy it, Wufei," I half-shout back, surging to my feet. "How could you think I would? How could you say that?"

"You watched it through," he accuses, still not turning around.

"I was shocked. I was horrified," I admit, "by Zechs," I qualify quickly, before he can decide that I mean that I was horrified by him. "I wasn't... I wasn't trying to watch it because I wanted to see it," I struggle to explain. "I just didn't... react in time to turn it off."

He's silent for a long time. "I apologize for accusing you," he says, and his voice is formal and remote again.

I sigh. I don't know what to say to him. "I traced the file back to every computer system it had ever been on," I tell him finally, trying to offer him something, some kind of comfort. "I scanned those systems to check for any sign of it, and then traced all the systems that had connected to those systems to be sure there were no copies of it there, and so on."

He actually turns around and looks at me. The expression on his face is incredulous. "You traced all those systems... there must have been... you couldn't have!"

‘I did," I insist. "It isn't as big a deal as it sounds - the only systems it had been on, and there were only two, were highly classified - it wasn't like I had to check every computer that ever linked into OZ."

"But how did you... " He shakes his head. "That's still... how did you break into all those files? Weren't they encrypted?"

I shrug. "Some of them." Most of them. "I hacked into what I could. What I couldn't... " I trail off.

His eyes narrow as he stares at me. "What?" he asks suspiciously.

Damn. Too much information. "If I couldn't get in, I erased the systems," I admit.

His eyes widen as realization dawns. "It was you!" he sputters. "Damn it, Yuy, do you know how much time... "

I ended up erasing several systems. I created a program that erased them, and any systems that they'd come in contact with. Some of those contact systems turned out to be rather important. I might have gone a little overboard. The hue and cry that had ensued when several thousand systems were eradicated had actually become a Preventer case.

It was never solved.

Wufei had worked on that case, hunting down the hacker who had destroyed so much.

I thought that that was rather ironic.

"Anyway, once I had finished tracing it down, I destroyed it," I finish, before he can get all worked up lecturing me about computer crime.

He stops, his eyes darkening again. Damn. Maybe I should have let him lecture me. It would probably have made him feel better.

"Was it... " He stops, swallowing. "Was it the only one?"

I look away from him again. "No," I admit hoarsely. "There were four more."

"Four more," he repeats dully. "I didn't know that he had... " He stops speaking, and I look up at him, but he doesn't bother to turn away, just lets me see the shame that twists his features. "Did you watch them too?" he asks, no bitterness, no anger in his voice. Just... resignation. That upsets me more than anger would.

"No, I didn't," I lie. "I just watched enough to see what they were."

I did watch them. I didn't want to. I hated seeing them. But I had to know what happened. I had to know who I had to kill.

It's been a source of never-ending frustration to me for years that Treize Kushrenada is beyond my reach.

The first tape I saw had just been Zechs and Wufei. Three of the others contained Zechs, Wufei and Treize, and one showed just Wufei and Treize.

I never knew how sick and twisted a man Treize Kushrenada was.

And Wufei was fifteen. A boy, who'd led a very sheltered life, surrounded by books, taught to be honorable.

Nothing he'd ever known, seen or heard of had ever prepared him for the likes of Treize Kushrenada.

And Treize knew that, and took advantage of it. And recorded it, so that he could relive it again and again.

Bastard.

I know what Wufei is afraid of now, what he worries that I saw.

The last of the tapes, the one I determined was last in chronology at any rate, displayed all three of them.

It was the only one in which Wufei was not bound. He had, in some measure, agreed.

It wasn't the informed consent of an adult. It was the tormented confusion of a boy, who didn't understand his own reactions, who believed himself disgraced and shamed.

Looking at the man in front of me, I realize he still doesn't really understand that, still doesn't believe that he wasn't responsible for what occurred then. He believes that the boy that he was was a willing participant in what happened to him, rather than a coerced victim.

I watched the recordings. I saw it, saw what he did, saw what they did to him.

Then that bastard Treize left the recording going after he left, and after Zechs left, leaving Wufei alone on the huge bed where they had taken him.

I saw that too. I saw him left there, alone. I saw him cry, saw him weep out his rage and humiliation and fear. I heard him curse Treize, and Zechs, and finally himself, in abject pain and shame.

And Treize taped it. And watched it.

I can only hope he's in Hell.

"I traced all of them too," I say finally. "And then I destroyed them. I never found traces of them on any other system," I admit. "I just wiped the systems as a precautionary measure."

Wufei looks up at me. His eyes are expressionless - not the purposeful blankness Trowa hides behind. This is the lack of expression that is born of shock. He doesn't really know what to feel, and his mind is protecting him by supplying him with nothingness.

"They are gone?" he asks listlessly.

I nod. "Completely eradicated." I promise him.

"You didn't watch the others?" he asks again.

I shake my head.

"Do you swear?" he asks fiercely, a spark of life reviving in his eyes.

"I swear," I tell him firmly, staring him straight in the eye. I'm not Duo. I have no problem at all lying.

"Did you tell... "

"I told noone," I stress. "Noone, Wufei. And I won't," I vow.

"Not Duo... "

"Not Duo, or Trowa. I won't, Wufei. Not unless you want me to. I promise."

I'm not lying now.

He shrugs, looking away from me. His shoulders slump. "It doesn't matter," he says flatly. "Why shouldn't they know? They have a right to know the sort of person they're... "

"Shut up," I say harshly, immediately regretting the tone when I see him flinch. Smooth, Heero.

"You did nothing wrong, Wufei," I tell him forcefully. "You know that. You're the smartest of all of us. You know the truth. Don't let yourself... "

"You don't know all you think you do, Yuy," he spits at me. "I... "

"You were a kid, Wufei," I tell him sharply. "Do you ever think about how god-damned young we were?" I shake my head in amazement. "We're not old enough now to do what we did then." I shake my head again. "You were a kid, and you were used by adults who should have known better. Who did know better," I amend, "but who didn't care."

"Treize... " he begins, stumbling over the name.

"Treize," I agree. "And Zechs." My voice hardens at the name. Treize is beyond my reach. Zechs, suddenly, is not.

"Heero." Wufei clears his throat, visibly, trying to pull himself together. "You must not... We must all work with Zechs," he says, his voice strained. "You must not hold him responsible... "

"The Hell I won't," I interrupt incredulously.

He shakes his head. "You don't know, Yuy," he reiterates heavily. "Treize was... ." He closes his eyes. "Zechs was as much under Treize's sway as I was. What he did, he did not of his own volition. He... "

"He was an adult," I argue. "A commander. He... "

Wufei laughs bitterly. "He was a child too, beside Treize. Zechs... " Wufei sighs. "Zechs was... I cannot discuss him," he stops himself abruptly. "But he was not responsible for... "

"He is responsible for his... "

"No!" Wufei shouts. "I do not want you to seek him out! It is not your place. Do you hear me, Yuy?" he demands. "Do you?"

I stare at him for a moment, knowing my eyes are smoldering with the same frustrated rage I see in his. Finally, I jerk my head in the affirmative. The choice is his.

"I will not seek him out," I say finally. But if he says anything to me, he's fair game.

"Thank you," he says stiffly.

I stand there, staring at him, feeling awkward.

"Thank you for coming to speak to me," he says, with that same formality in his tone. "I am... " he stops, struggling to finish, "I am sorry you had to view... my weakness... "

I sigh softly. "Wufei." I say his name quietly and wait until he looks up at me, almost wincing when I see the turmoil in his eyes.

"You are not weak," I tell him simply, hoping he can sense my sincerity. "I had always believed you to be strong, but I never realized how strong you are until I saw that recording. I am... honored... to have you as my comrade... and my friend. Please, Wufei - please never believe that you are unworthy."

I turn then to leave, knowing that Wufei is even more uncomfortable with anything that smacks of sentiment than I am, knowing that it will be very difficult for him to answer me and trying to spare him any more pain.

I hope he doesn't take my leaving as a sign of disgust. I don't... think... he will.

I pause at the door, and glance back into the room. He's staring out the window again. "Good-bye... oniisan," I say softly, and close the door behind me.

I don't close it quickly enough. I hear the soft, tormented sound echo in the empty room.

Wufei is crying.

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